Craftsy Class Review: Learn to Sew: Simple Bags with Nicole Vasbinder

Craftsy

So, if you've been listening to my podcast or following my blog for awhile, you'll know my intense dislike for fiddly bits and anything that even vaguely smacks of garment sewing. 

I love seeing other people's completed fabric purses, totebags, and duffle bags. But let's just say that my own brief forays into the field haven't been stellar. I made one totebag years ago that I still use frequently but I can still see the places where seams didn't match up and I didn't quite box the bottom correctly. Still, it's pretty functional and nice fabric so I live with it. I had another attempt at a purse that ended up in the trash. My biggest issue? I'm not a garment-sewer, and a lot of purse/tote/duffle patterns are written with the assumption you are.

  Foldover tote completed

Foldover tote completed

While toodling through Craftsy classes a week or so ago to see what was new, I saw Learn to Sew: Simple Bags with Nicole Vasbinder. I thought, maybe that's the ticket. Maybe if I take a step back and put myself in garment-sewing school (just the basics, ma'am), I'd grow more comfortable and wouldn't find these kinds of projects as frustrating. 

I completed the class in one weekend. It wasn't too painful, and I completed both projects in a reasonable length of time and with only a few curse words here and there (all while working on the dang boxed bottom of that pouch when my machine decided to throw a hissy). Enough background. Here's the review:

  Demonstrating the pockets on the front (1 pocked subdivided into 3 parts)

Demonstrating the pockets on the front (1 pocked subdivided into 3 parts)

This class would be great for someone who's never touched a machine before. It really does start out with how to sew, as per the name of the class, "Learn to Sew." The first lesson walks through parts of a sewing machine (in brief), how to thread machine and bobbin, and so forth. There are some neat graphics in the first lesson about how the sewing machine works. The second lesson is sewing seams--of course, this class is doing it "garment-style" so seams are generally wider than this quilter is used to. I was proud of myself that I only went to default-mode of 1/4" seams twice--for the most part, I remembered to do those gargantuan 1/2" seams she uses. 

The third lesson had a little information about fabric in general, as well as some suggestions for picking fabric for the totebag. From there, it goes directly into the projects with some "teachable moments" interspersed. 

  Showing the interior pocket and lining

Showing the interior pocket and lining

True confessions: I watched most of the lessons on 2x speed, until I got to parts I felt I needed to watch more carefully. I did get frustrated a few times because the video doesn't always completely match the written instructions in the downloadable materials, and the instructions sometimes leave out key information about placement and so forth. I had to keep referencing the video over again to make sure I was doing things correctly. It's not a huge issue in this case, but I would have wished for more accuracy in having the written and verbal instructions match. I made notes on the written instructions just in case I ever go back to use them again and don't want to have to watch the whole lesson over.

  Zipper pouch completed

Zipper pouch completed

My suggestion is, if you're new to sewing or new to this kind of sewing, watch each whole lesson first, and then back up and start doing the steps with her. In some things it's confusing until she gets to later steps and finally explains how she's got things laid out or why she's doing something the way she's doing it. 

I can't say this class has made me all gung-ho to run out and start churning out purses and bags. But I think it did increase my comfort level with the differences between garment-sewing and quilting to a degree. The totebag and zippered pouch are cute, but if I were to make either of them again there are several adjustments I'd make to them to have them work better for me. I'm just not committed enough to either design to poke at them like that. I already own a lot of patterns for totes and purses; I guess this is something I can just keep plugging away at when I get in the mood...once in a blue moon.

  Interior

Interior

The Basics

  • 7 lessons, ranging from 11 minutes to nearly 30 minutes
  • The first two lessons are introductions to the basics of your sewing machine and sewing in general. Lesson 3 includes some more of that introductory information, but then goes into the cutting of pieces for the tote.
  • Lessons 4 and 5 are the foldover tote, and lessons 6 and 7 are the zippered clutch. 
  • The class materials give some troubleshooting information about sewing on your machine, and then supply lists, instructions, and templates for the two projects. As noted above, I was disappointed that there were some discrepancies between the materials and the video lessons. Just have the materials in front of you while you're watching the lessons so you can make notes to yourself as you go.

This is a tough one for me to rank because it's a topic that I come to having a bit of an attitude already. In the grand scheme of learning how to do garment/accessory sewing rather than quilting, I guess I can give Learn to Sew: Simple Bags with Nicole Vasbinder my usual thumbs up. But I'm still not an enthusiastic garment/accessory sewist. 

Don't forget, Craftsy is having a Valentine's weekend sale--lots of great classes to check out. I'm working on another one I just picked up this weekend that's just chock-full of great information and much more in my wheelhouse...but more on that one in a later post!

(Using Craftsy links in this post helps support my podcast and blog. Thanks so much!)