Archives for February 24, 2011

Zipped Up

I realize that it’s been kind of a heavy week here.  But, I have to talk about one more very serious thing, something that has troubled me for years.  I am not sure why I waited so long to do something about it.
See, we have these “Bob Books.”  I can’t say that I find them particularly aesthetically pleasing. However, they are proving pretty instrumental in teaching Gabriel how to read, and my little girls like them too, which I think is so weird given the black and white simplistic illustrations.  Some day I will tackle them all with colored pencils, but then of course someone will tell me that there was this very important reason that the illustrations were in black and white (maybe one of you) and it didn’t have anything to do with keeping costs down.
The big problem for me is that these books come in sets, and each set has a box, and the boxes don’t hold up well to children.  This is a real problem for me, these ripped up boxes sitting on my shelf. They look so…ugly.  I have had Set 1 for nearly ten years, since Seth was a baby and we were given them as a gift, and I am not sure why I have held on to the beat up box they came in for so long, rather than finding another solution.
On another note, I also have an entire box full of vintage zippers.  These were given to me by my Aunt Genie, whom I believe inherited them from another aunt.  I’ve had them for a year or two now thinking that if I ever need a zipper, I’ll be set.  However, the thought of sewing a zipper in place just overwhelmed me and caused my brain to shut down, so I have avoided any and all sewing situations that would involve zippers.
But then on Tuesday, Jonny left with the boys and it was just me and the girls all day.  The table was slowly covered with their art supplies as the morning wore on, and then they lost all interest in everything and became very whiny.  I was feeling pretty tired and whiny myself, so I came up with a really good idea.  I would let them watch something highly educational, highly educational I say, on Netflix, and I might try to sew a zippered pouch.  I pulled out my Bend-the-Rules Sewing book because I remembered that there are instructions there for a simple zippered pouch, along with my sewing machine manual.
Of course the instructions in my manual, and those in Amy’s book conflicted a bit and I was very tempted to quit before I even began.  I decided that this was really a stupid idea, me, sewing a zipper.  Impossible.
Then it occurred to me, what would the harm be in just trying?  What would it really matter if I failed?
I switched out my presser foot for the zipper foot.  Okay, that was easy.  I did a bit of folding and ironing, and then I sat down to line up the zipper with the edge of the fabric and wondered why they don’t put a big neon dot showing you where you should line up the top (or is that the bottom?) of the zipper with the top of your fabric?  I guess it’s supposed to be obvious.  I started sewing, and before I knew it I had all this fabric attached to zippers, and it was really easy.  I assumed I was messing something up though, which would become apparent when I actually sewed the pouches together.
But once I sewed the edges and turned the pouch right side out, it actually looked like a pouch!
I topstitched little pieces of muslin on each pouch to use as labels and used these special pens to label each one (they write nicely on fabric and don’t bleed–something else I learned from Amy Karol.)
And look!  Two big accomplishments in one day:  a pretty place to store Bob Books, and I learned how to sew a zipper in place.  Regarding technical details-I cut out two pieces of fabric, 8 x 6 inches each for each pouch, resulting in 7 x 5 in pouches, which proved the perfect size to contain a set of Bob Books.  These are actually incredibly simple and quick to make, especially if you make several assembly line style.  I omitted sewing a lining in to the pouches because I didn’t think it was necessary for what I would be using them for (and I ran out of time), but it would make them nicer.
This is so much better than that pile of ugly boxes!
For more sewing fun, visit Julia’s Sewing Bee!