Thursday, April 28, 2011

Letter Wallet - Simple Sewing for Tweens

The girls got in some sewing with their grandmother (my mother), before she left, last week. The project they picked was one their other grandmother (mother to the Man of the House), left behind for them.

While she was here, she showed the girls a simple wallet she had made, based on a Civil War letter pocket project from Kathleen Tracy's Civil War Sewing Circle.

The purpose of the pouch is either to hold stationary items, like envelopes, stamps, pens, and paper, so you can carry it with you, and be ready to write a letter, whenever or wherever the mood strikes, or to hold dear correspondences you received (click here, to see a beautiful 18th century example).

My mother-in-law showed the girls how hers was put together, and gave them instruction for adding Velcro fasteners in a way, that wouldn't show from the outside.

She even took them out to a fabric store to pick up supplies for making there own. But, then she ran out of time, and had to leave the project for the girls, and happily, my mother, who stayed a little longer, since I try to avoid the sewing machine whenever possible.

But honestly, this project turned out to be so simple, even I could handle it, making it perfect for my 12 and 10 year old.

We started by making an 8.5'' by 12.5'' template out of a piece of cereal box. You can really make this any size you like, in fact, I noticed on the author's website, that she recently made a deeper version, to use as an E-Reader case.

The trick is to cut the template as wide as you want your pocket to be, plus 1/2'' for a 1/4'' seam allowance on each side, and three times as long as you want your pocket to be deep, again with a 1/2'' added for a 1/4'' seam allowance on each end. So, our pattern, being 12.5'' long, made for a pocket about 4'' deep, more or less. How's that for real world math?

We used the pattern to cut one outer piece of fabric, one lining piece (in a different pattern), and a piece of fusible interfacing.

We fused the interfacing to the wrong side of the lining fabric, with a hot iron.

Then, in order to figure out where our Velcro should go, we laid the pieces together, as they would look for the finished piece - so our outer fabric laid right side down, topped with our lining fabric, interfacing down, so we could fold the piece in thirds, as for the pocket...

...and mark where we wanted the Velcro to go - the bottom, fuzzy piece, on the right side of the outer fabric...

...then, folding the top down, to make sure the Velcro pieces would match up, before marking the spot for the scratchy piece... the top, of the right side, of the lining piece.

Which, we could then sew on. Of course, if you have stick on Velcro, you could skip these steps, and go straight from the fusing on of the interfacing, to the steps below, and then just stick the Velcro on at the last, where you want it, making the project even easier.

Once both pieces of Velcro were sewn on, we laid out the lining piece, right side up, with the Velcro toward the bottom.

And, topped it with the outer fabric, wrong side up...

...with the Velcro toward the top.

We pinned the pieces together, and sewed, almost all the way around, 1/4'' in from the edge...

...stopping about an inch short, to leave a gap for turning.

We turned the fabric right side out, and then folded in the raw edge, ironed, and sewed it closed with a straight stitch on the machine.

Grandma came in handy when it came to making sure the raw edges were folded, and ironed in, before stitching.

After the edge had been closed, we folded the pocket into approximate thirds, lining up the Velcro, and ironed it.

We opened the top flap, and pinned the bottom thirds together.

Leaving the flap open, we started at the left hand, bottom corner, and sewed up the edge, as close to the edge as possible, across the top of the flap, just above the Velcro, and back down the other side, to the bottom right edge.

We reverse stitched to secure, trimmed the threads, and had a letter pocket, ready to be filled with all of our letter writing essentials (or precious correspondences).

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Ticia said...

They did great! I love projects like that.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Wow - they are good. One day I will conquer my deep fear and dislike of sewing machine instilled by home economics teacher in my school. For now I am leaving all the sewing in the house to my husband who quite enjoys it.

Debbie said...

I really like this idea. I remember making something similar when I was first learning to sew. Of course we didn't have the velcro, so used ribbon to tie it shut.

Christy Killoran said...

How nice that they were able to start this project with one grandmother and finish it with their other grandmother! I'm still not sure I could handle this project. I really should learn how to sew.

Brimful Curiosities said...

I'm impressed that your girls are tackling sewing projects. I remember trying to sew a pair of shorts when I was that age. I don't think I was pleased with the result. The letter wallet project would have been more desirable, I think.

Susan said...

Great project, and they did such a nice job! My girls are learning to use the machine, too.
I am a bit intimidated by my sewing machine, but have had some satifying experiences with sewing more recently...I only wish I could find more time to do it!!

Phyllis said...

It is so nice you are teaching them to sew. Wish I had been!

Joyful Learner said...

I want to learn how to use a sewing machine. In my school, we had shop classes so we learned to make power drills bits and plastic name tags. But don't ask me to make one because I've forgotten everything!

Lady Chadwick said...

I finally helped my daughter make one of these for a gift....after nearly 2 hours, 10 different repairs to the machine. I am not sure she nor I will ever sew again! Though really the pattern itself is super easy to manage. If we can get the machine to not break on us I think she will want to make herself one.