Adventures in Sewing: Book Pouch

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Lindsay and I took an introductory sewing class at Wholly Craft, a local handmade goods store. This prompted me to purchase my own sewing machine because I have been wanting to learn this skill for a long time. My mom and I had planned on doing a project together since last summer, but we never seemed to have time when I visited home. So I decided to teach myself.

When my sewing machine arrived earlier this week, I was thrilled. I wanted to start playing with it right away, but I made myself read through the basic instructions and do some practice stitches. I am not someone who likes to wait or follow precise directions, so sewing is going to be a bit of a challenge for me.

On the first night of owning my new machine, I decided to try a project for a zipper snack bag that I had sitting around.

It went okay, but mostly, it was a disaster.

It turns out that sewing straight lines is a little hard when you’re a beginner, and apparently zippers are nearly impossible. When I posted a picture of this little project to Facebook, a few friends commented on how brave I was to try a zipper with my first project. I was so naive that I didn’t even realize adding a zipper was renowned as something difficult.

Today, however, I decided to try something that was hopefully a little easier.

I am a lover of all things book related, so I thought that it would be fitting if my first project would be a book pouch. I hate sticking books in my purse/school bag without any kind of protection, so this was the perfect project for me.

On Friday, I went out and bought some cute owl fabric that I could use for the book pouch. I also learned that you shouldn’t hit up JoAnn’s fabric counter on Friday afternoons unless you want to wait for an hour.

My friend Lindsay and I had planned to have a craft day today, so she came over with her own project (crazy difficult mittens), and I got started on my book pouch. We set up our sewing machines on my kitchen table and got to work.

I didn’t really have a plan going into this project – I stupidly thought that I could just kind of wing it. Sometimes that works in knitting, but it definitely doesn’t work in sewing.

I ended up finding a tutorial on See Kate Sew this morning that was quite similar to what I wanted to make my book pouch look like. I tried to adjust it to fit my vision, but that didn’t work, and I ended up just following the pattern, only a bit larger.

One of my biggest takeaways from the craft session today is that you really need to be precise with measurements. I just cut my fabric roughly the size of my book plus a few inches, but that didn’t quite work out.

First, I couldn’t cut a straight line. Once I started marking up my fabric with a marking pencil, I had much more success. Initially, however, I just wanted to skip this step. It seemed like too much effort, but it really was worth it in the end.

Next, I kept having to re-size and re-cut all of the fabric pieces I was using for the pouch. I didn’t factor in how much space the seams would actually take up, so the book I had used to originally plan this piece didn’t really fit anymore.

After some tinkering and some trial and error, I finally finished the pouch. It’s not perfect by any means, but I am very proud of completing a project that I can use on a daily basis, or at least with small books.

I also needed a way for it to close, and I was initially just going to attach some elastic to loop over a button, but my super cool new sewing machine has a one-step button-holer, which I thought I would try out. I was so glad that I read over the directions first and did about 10-12 practice sewing button holes on scrap fabric. I was nervous to finally put the button hole in my book pouch, but it worked! I should get some type of razor to help me rip the button holes (and also for ripping stitches) if I need them, but today, I just used a sharp knife.

I hand-sewed the button on because I was afraid to use my machine for that. Baby steps.

Overall, I view this project as a success. Lindsay finished two pairs of mittens, and I have a cool new book cover! I can’t wait to continue this new hobby and improve my skills!





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