Isn't Kim doing a great job on these lessons? I mean… her instructions are so easy to follow. I can't wait to try my hand at making her retro tissue holder.
Hi Craft Snobs! Kim here, from Retro Mama, back for week three of the Sewing 101 series. In week one I let you know about all my favorite sewing tools, in week two we were sewing straight lines and corners, and this week is all about curves.
Once you've added sewing curves to your repertoire, you can make things like pockets and necklines and bags…and tissue holders, which we'll make today, after a little bit of curve-sewing practice!
There are a couple of different approaches to sewing curves, and I use one or the other depending on the situation:
- Long, gradual curves: Sew at a slow and steady pace and whatever you do, don't stop! As when driving, it’s best not to overcorrect if you notice that you are veering a little off course, just calmly adjust your path and you’ll be back on your way in no time, without little swervy stitches giving you away.
- When sewing around smaller, tighter curves or circles: I sew these in a very slow and methodical way, sometimes just a stitch or two at a time if necessary. I’ll sew one or two stitches, then, with the needle in the down position, lift up the presser foot, turn the fabric slightly, then put the presser foot back down and go another stitch or two. Sometimes I’ll even just use the hand wheel on the side of the machine to move the needle to avoid accidentally shooting ahead a few stitches with the foot pedal. I’ll repeat this process typically for just the tightest part of the curve, and get back to a normal speed whenever I can.
The best way to become an expert at sewing curves is to sew curves, so let’s dive into it!
Take a scrap piece of fabric and fold it over (you'll rarely need to sew through just one layer of fabric, so sewing on the doubled fabric is closer to how you will sew in real life). Draw some large curves on the fabric, as in the photo below, and then sew over the lines. For additional practice, try drawing circles of various sizes, and then sew over them.
If you don’t have scraps you could use for practice, I recommend picking up some inexpensive cotton muslin at your local fabric store. Muslin is perfect for practicing sewing techniques, trying out a new clothing pattern to get the size right, and as a lining in certain types of projects.
Now, it's time to put your curve-sewing skills to work! Below you will find my quick and easy tissue holder tutorial. These make cute teacher gifts, and I like to keep a brightly colored holder in my purse so my tissues are easy to find.
Tissue Holder Tutorial
- Scrap of fabric for the outside of the holder 7" x 10" (quilting cotton, linen/cotton blend)
- Scrap of fabric for the inside of the holder 7" x 10" (quilting cotton, solid cotton, or muslin)
- Thread Package of prefolded travel-sized facial tissue
- *Pattern (you may want to print the pattern on card stock so it's easier to trace around)
*When printing the pattern PDF, make sure that “Page scaling” under the print settings is set to “None” so the pattern pieces will print at the proper size!
- Sewing machine
- Disappearing ink fabric pen
- Chopstick or point turner
- Iron and ironing board
1. Fold your fabric in half, right sides together.
2. Place the pattern on the fabric, with the long straight edge along the fold (important!!) and trace around the pattern with a fabric pen.
3. Cut out the fabric along your drawn lines. Do not cut on the fold.
4. Cut out another identical piece with your lining fabric. Unfold the two pieces and press.
5. Place your outer and lining pieces right sides together and pin.
6. Sew around the outside edge of the pieces with a 1/4” seam allowance, leaving a 2" hole unsewn on one of the long sides, for turning. Backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam. I used red thread so it would be visible in the photos, but you'll want to use a neutral or matching thread so it won't show through on the other side.
7. Trim the seam allowances on the curves to about 1/8”, and also trim the fabric close to the corners.
8. Turn the holder right side out, and use a chopstick or point turner to carefully push out the corners, being careful not to stretch the fabric.
9. Tuck in the unsewn edges of your tissue holder to create a straight edge and press the holder with a hot iron. Take care to press the curves so that you don’t see the lining fabric from the outer side; this will help make your topstitched edge nice and neat.
10. Topstitch, close to the edge, just around the curves.
11. Fold the holder into thirds, with the outer fabric on the inside, so the curved edges are centered and touch in the middle, and the edges overlap (one side goes on top of the other, the other side goes underneath – see photo below) and pin.
12. Sew all the way across the short straight edges of the holder with a slightly less than 1/4” seam allowance (to make sure that the turning hole gets sewn over), on both sides, using your triple stitch function. If you don't have a triple stitch, then you'll want to sew a single straight stitch, and then sew over that two more times for reinforcement.
Just in case you're not sure what the triple stitch symbol looks like, it is 3 parallel dashed lines–here's a photo of the symbol on my machine:
(Triple stitch tip: the faster you sew, the smoother the needle movement will feel! Practice with different speeds on scrap fabric and you'll see what I mean.) Turn right side out, tuck in a pack of tissues, and you’re finished!
Happy Sewing! And if you want more practice sewing curves, try out my fabric Easter Egg tutorial! Next week I'll be showing you a very fun and versatile technique, and have one last sewing tutorial for you.
See you then!