This week, I spent some time working up some knitting-related storage solutions. When I started knitting long, long ago, I kept telling myself that I was going to bring out the sewing machine and whip up one of those roll-style needle cases. At this point, I hardly every use straight needles since I prefer circular needles and lean pretty heavily on my interchangeable needle set. But I do have a robust set of double-pointed needles (DPNs) that I use frequently enough that my current storage solution–an old shoebox from a pair of shoes that wore out years ago–isn’t cutting it anymore. I also have a pencil case that I keep all of my knitting notions in, but I’ve loved it to death and needed to replace it. Thus, my plans for this DPN case and zippered notions pouch were born.
Double Pointed Needle Case
For this case, I followed this tutorial from Crafty Avocado. The tutorial was really clear and easy to follow. On the whole, this was a simple project–it basically just requires some careful measuring and a lot of straight stitching. And in the end, I’ve got something a whole lot better than my current shoebox storage solution. All of the fabrics are quilting cottons from JoAnn’s.
There is a lot of top stitching on this project and the piece just gets thicker and thicker as you go, so I tried out a technique I’ve seen other people use before and kept a folded up square of fabric close by to put underneath the back of the presser foot to keep it level as I started stitching. I used this when I started stitching, whenever I turned a corner, and at the side of the piece when I was sewing over the closure tab and my presser foot needed to get over 4 more layers of fabric—it was a lifesaver every time. Because you end up with so many layers towards the end, the tutorial recommends switching to a heavier needle like a leather needle. I used an 14/90 universal needle for almost the entire project, but switched to a 16/100 heavyweight needle for the final step when you top-stitch around the fully-constructed case and the heavyweight needle worked fine. If I made this again, I’d probably use a large button and add a buttonhole to the closure tab rather than the recommended magnetic snap. The snap is really easy to install, but it’s also a bit bulkier than I’d like.
As you top stitch across the closure tab, you have to sew through the outer fabric, the lining, the two needle pockets, the two layers of the closure tab, four layers of interfacing, and the seam allowances for all that business. I was able to get through it without a problem, but while I was sewing, I couldn’t help but think of my old, crappy machine and how, if confronted with the same situation, it would have dramatically packed it’s bags and stormed out, letting the door slam behind it. I am endlessly thankful to have a machine with some chutzpa now.
Zippered Notions Pouch
I used another free tutorial for this one–specifically, the Brigitte Needles and Notions Pouch tutorial from Very Shannon. It’s a great tutorial, but this tiny little pouch gave me trouble at every turn, mostly because I’m a newb. I screwed things up right out of the gate by trying to sew while tired. The directions were perfectly clear but I couldn’t process the difference between the “pocket” and “pocket flap.” From there, I managed to screw up just about every step at least once before getting it right. I ultimately had to recut two of the pieces and ripped more seams than I can count, making this little 5×9″ pouch a bit more work than I had anticipated.
Most of my troubles were born out the fact that this is the first time I’ve installed a zipper before so I made a lot of stupid mistakes like waiting too long to shorten the zipper and then shortening it too much. Since I’d never done it before, I also had a little trouble figuring out how, exactly, to sew the lining to the zipper since the lining gets attached to the underside of the zipper. Basically, what I ended up doing was lining the right side of the lining fabric up with the teeth at the underside of the zipper and then pinning it into place from behind. Then I flipped the piece over and sewed the zipper to the lining with the zipper and the wrong side of the lining fabric facing up. It was super simple to sew together (once I figured out how to do it) and I was able to catch the lining fabric without any issues.
So this pouch was definitely more challenging than I expected, although it would probably be a no-brainer for someone with some basic bag-sewing experience. I’m glad I stuck with it—I think it will be really useful given it’s size and handy front pocket, which will be good for holding things like extra needles and such. And I’m proud that I managed to sew in my first perfectly functional zipper.
I know I’m going to get a lot of use out of both of these items, and I’d absolutely recommend both of the tutorials. But I think I’m done with this kind of sewing for awhile. I can’t quite articulate what the difference is, but I think I really prefer garment sewing—it gives me a much greater sense of satisfaction. As a palate cleanser, I went ahead and attached the elastic to the last two pairs of underwear that I cut out and constructed a couple of weeks ago. (You can read more about my underwear-sewing adventures in this post.) And now I’m ready to get cracking on my April garment project!