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Simple Sewing Projects for Beginners

Lesson 4 of 23

Backpack: Rainbow Appliqué Prep

Susan Beal

Simple Sewing Projects for Beginners

Susan Beal

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Lesson Info

4. Backpack: Rainbow Appliqué Prep

Lesson Info

Backpack: Rainbow Appliqué Prep

So for the t shirt which I was working on earlier for my son ah, the e letter is still in progress and we can focus on that after the rainbow it's a simple one. But it's a great one toe work on at you know your own pace. The nice thing with applications that you can come back to them. So once we have a chance to finish our current project, which is one of my absolute favorites, it's a rainbow that my daughter inspired she is was started canada in last year at age five. And I really love this project, it's just one of the ones that when I look at it, it makes me happy. So when I bought her a plane backpack before school started last year, she really loves bright colors. And so I came up with this very simple, very graphic all solids applicator. She chose the colors one by one, and then I free hand cut and put them together in a simple rainbow order configuration. I did a little or a jeep of alterations so that instead of indigo and violet, I finished with violent and pink. Um here she i...

s on the first day of school, just about to walk in, you'll see the actual backpack is right here. It's seen some fun times, including some hiking trips. Ah, school field trips every single day on the school bus or coming home from with me, and I will say, with the distinctive advocate like this, you will never lose this thing for too long. I think every child at her elementary school news it's hers for all the coat it's and things that have gone missing and gradually come back to us that rainbow backpacks never been gone for more than ten minutes at the most because somebody recognizes it and knows her and her co classroom. So one thing I love is that I free handed this entire project, and now that I've had a chance to revisit it, I was able to dio a really simple, I think even more beautiful version in all prints, I found all of these at fabric depot, which is a big fabric store in portland where I live, but you can find your own from your stash or do a special shopping trip. But fabric deeper does have these on their web site, and it was a lot of fun to go in person. It's ah, several acre size fabric store. And so I was able to stack bolts to my heart's content until I came up with the ones that were perfect for this. Um, once again, I'm using my sketchbook I fabrics watched all of these, so I just I love having the visual records, so if I make this again next year, I'll remember which ones to pull. Um, I stapled these in from when I made this version the other day, but you can do yours as you go. Um, what will start with is the materials from the course. Pack it. This is the rainbow backing pattern, and then these are pieces one through seven, one being the largest, the red arch all the way down to the tiniest little seven. So what I love about this is that it doesn't take a lot of fabric to make something with a ton of visual pop. The largest piece you'll need is like an eight and a half by eleven size sheet of paper, piece of fabric for the red. By the time you get to the pink, you can use a pretty small scrap just a few inches across, so here's a really simple backpack will be embellishing. You'll want to choose something, and this part it does come later, but you'll want to choose something that has, like the t shirt we originally embellished in the earlier segment you want have something with a nice flat surface, the hot pink backpack I used when worked perfectly but because it's more complex with zippers and layers and I didn't want to sit through and make a pocket unusable I ended up having to do a lot more kind of finicky hand stitching so something like this is wonderful because it's just a flat flap that's very easy to so onto so it's begin we'll start with our pieces of fabric I have my seven and will press him quickly justus we did our applicator fabrics and the simple application ah layered application is very very similar tio a single layer one but you'll use zigzag to join the layers and work with us that way so good good straight pens are ideal for this project she'll want tohave quite a few for this because you'll want to get a good need flat one thing you could dio is you can't even iron your paper patterns thes they're the ones I've already used once so they have a few curves and depths don't iron paper for along just a quick zip over it and you'll smooth it out nicely there we go so start by pinning it at one end get a nice even catch keep going I used at least five pens for this larger one and you want to cut it on green if you can when you use a bias which means that the diagonal your fabric contend to get wavy and can easily distort so you'll want to just pin this. And if there's any part, I'm doing mine on the front or the right side of the fabric, because I just like to see that I've gotten a nice mix of thes white circles in this overall graphic read print. So when it's flat in penned all the way across the arch, we will start cutting that out. So one thing I'd love to mention as a quick reference is the's arch pieces fit this overall pattern. The part with the dotted line is a seam allowance, it's, just an extra spot that will be layered under the next one, which is orange, so that they're not just joined without any overlap. If youse exact with a fabric with a little layer underneath, you'll make sure you don't have any raw edges or any gaps and it's much easier to just be sure that your joint is neat and secure. But growing up susan was that my mother had dressmaking shares, which we use the fabric, and we were never allowed to use them, even for cutting out path, and she had other shares. Do you use different shares for different things? Yes, absolutely. Jake oh, it's, nice having a really sharp scissors, her fabric that, you know will do a great job, and then paper and other materials you can. Issues ah inexpensive or blunter scissors that don't need that precision for really beautiful paper crafts there's wonderful sharp scissors but I don't mix the two either just like your mom, so I've done my outer curve and then just to let you know this inner curve as I mentioned will be covered by the next layer and so it's not as crucial that this be exactly precise you wanted to be in the same general neighborhood, but if there's a little waving us here it's going to be covered by your next layer and moving kind of quickly through this because we're we've got seven of these two d'oh and I am looking forward to the fun part I'm getting to sew them together and make the rainbow so here's my first one and off to this final trump here so when you're done with the first one lay it flat and we will work with our next piece of f usable to form the base now for this one, I'll lose my pattern pieces out of the way until I'm ready to cut them again. But one thing you'll notice is you end up with this really nice inner curve that creates just a pretty shape and whether you use it as a scrap or just for another project, I'll show you what you'll end up with here is a sneak peek to get you through the next few minutes of cutting you since we end up with the underside of the rainbow so I'm trying to figure out what little you think I'm going to do with us, but it is fun having these kind of pretty scraps leftover I love it yes wouldn't that be huge, turtle? Yeah. So anyway, just to show you, you'll end up with these kind of fun curves of your colorful fabric. So for this rainbow what's nice is as we discussed earlier are complex application simple application some of them have correct side some don't it doesn't you know it just depends on what you're working with, but this one doesn't it's completely symmetrical, so it doesn't really matter whether you're tracing it to the right or the wrong orientation. So what we can dio is creator basically or now take your steam aseem or other if usable and trace this rainbow outline onto the back you do not need to trace every single one of the arch is you just need to trace the perimeter so this is another one where it really doesn't matter if your pencil line waivers it's totally easy to fix your scissors again are going to be the on ly things that give the final line so as you can see, my pencil lines are just a little wavy here and there but that's really fine for this one you're going tio flatten it neatly and we'll want to just it has a tendency to curl but we're going to take our very first red arch and as we and they're just stop here you mentioned there are two ways that you can build this it's a very flexible project one is to take thiss cut pattern and press it directly into your backing fabric, which in my case is very simple white quoting cotton and create the base that way joining them together so you're pressing it directly into that I'm going to just leave it as a curl for is just curling for now but go ahead and cut out my rainbow and put it under something heavy so that it has a chance to flatten a little bit because if you buy your fuse herbal and sheets which I often do it will come flat just like a piece of you know a pack of typing or printer paper it will come very flat and need but this is a flexible projects or depending on the materials you're using, you may find it easier to work with the fuse herbal just as is this I am or you may want to go ahead and join it to the white paper and have that be you're a perch so as you can see, I've cut the top of my arch and now I'm doing the inner arch again very simple just trim away the other one and one thing you can do if you have some prep time for your next time we're doing this project is put this under a dictionary or something heavy overnight, and it'll smooth it out, so I'm just going to choose to put it under my quoting ruler try to give that a little flattening and continue with my cutting. So I finished my first one, which is read, I'll leave that here. My second pattern labeled number two, the second biggest will go right on to this orange everyone's got their own process, and this is kind of jumping around a little bit, but for me, I liked the monotony of cutting to be broken up by other little tasks like doing my quick press and then pending and cutting it can be more efficient to do all your pressing at the same time, all your pending at the same time and all you're cutting at the same time, maybe while you're watching a movie or just ableto do something else at the same time. So now I'm petting my second rainbow how's it going with all those good, whatever this kind of like you did with the off cuts in building everything on top of each other rather than cutting each color of the rainbow may be building it. Yes, and that is definitely a way to do it, but the on ly issue is that you may want to cut away some of your overlap because by the time you layer seven fabrics together it will be very heavy and very thick, so it kind of has some bolt to it so you'll be sewing through at that point seven layers of fabric plus for usable interfacing plus a backing so yeah, the smith it is a little more fit early on the front end, but oh my gosh, I love how it turns out and I love that at the end if I can just show this quickly for as layered as this is it's very flexible it just has a lot of easy simplicity to it. Worse, if it were seven layers thick, I think would have a lot more bulk so it's very flexible and light, so coming my way earns one. I chose the's prince with just a variety of, uh, design scales and other kind of contrasts thiss would be beautiful in the same fabric line if you have a favorite dot or other geometric or design that comes in a variety of color ways it's wonderful and solids like my daughter's original backpack, but this time I just thought, how fun would it be to mix prince and make it feel almost a little bit more like a patchwork quote but this carnage dot is one of my favorites. I love how simple it is, but it and it almost reads like a solid, but it's still has so much going on so almost done with the second one, and if you have little spots to go back and true mme that is totally fine. This doesn't have to be we're gonna be is exacting over all of these, so they'll have a very neat overall finish if you just two even cutting without too many from little places where the fabric curves out online susan's asking about the templates that you're using did you draw them by freehand? Did you have a program that you use? How do you go about creating your temples? That is great question, and I am a very pencil and paper improvisational drawing person often. Ah, and I'll just interrupt my own answer just to mention that what I'm doing since I just cut this just want to give it a little more stability while I set it aside. You can still leave them penned that's fine to just love seeing the fabrics come toe life, so I just enjoy seeing them together. Ah, but my friends michelle friedman, who lives in portland, was generous enough to translate my hand drawn pattern, which I did just totally improvisational in the morning before school started a year ago for my daughter and take my original pattern, scan it and work on it. I believe in illustrator and come up with us absolutely organized need approach that has all very even perfectly placed with and just took a lot of the kind of the hand drawn elements out and made it just very clean and very curved in a very intentional way. So I have kind of did I came around the long way on this one, but I have some friends who do wonderful designs with computer programs that create very sophisticated, beautiful patterns. And I was so lucky to have her help on this one for the course packet stitching going on with our ladies good, yeah, and one thing I'll mention to about pattern pieces is will be making a really nice folder and on upcoming segment that is going to be perfect for storing these in fact, that's what I've been keeping mine in for this class, but be sure and keep your pieces together after you're finished with this, whether you make one again yourself or just want to do a simpler version, maybe with, you know, just a completely different approach it's so nice to have all your pattern pieces together in one place I've recently reorganized all my sewing patterns, whether they're ones I hand drew myself like for my headband, I designed a pattern for, and one of my strong books got something for all seasons, but I have all my patterns on comic book card boards inside clear plastic bags, and I keep them all, whether they're vintage sewing patterns with all the fragile paper pieces inside, or my own hand drawn patterns like this one, I keep them all on the cardboard from the comic book store it's acid freeze so they won't deteriorate, and so they're all together inside a clear plastic bags. I can see them, and I store them in a big box there's a million ways to do it, but just so annoying when you have six of the seven, but you don't have a clue where the last one is, so just encourage you to keep them organized, so I'm just going to keep this one pen just so it stays and saves me an extra five seconds off, cutting time and next for the green. One thing I'll mention is what I love about these simple application is that because you're doing the layering and such a neat, clean, organized way, and with the narrow zigzag, even though in some of the colors are darker than others and they can read completely differently and you might think that, for example, the orange would show through to the yellow where they overlap it really doesn't, which is nice there's just something about it that the way it's built you don't have to be, you know, as worried about, for example and if you've ever layered fabric southern a sewing project, you noticed the back when his darker heavier and it just shows through this one I've learned just by doing it doesn't. So you if you're welcome to use for example in my daughter's backpack there's a very dark purple that's much darker than the others and it doesn't impact our show through we're that ah much later when is it does have ah as ah a friend of my mom said there's a lot of fun on that backpack, so yeah there's plenty of dust and dirt, but the fabrics themselves have held up really well and I just love that so don't be afraid to use great colors light colors start colors you can use solids you can use very, very great bounce prince very subtle ones to be very pretty and delicate and pastels and it's just one of those ones that has a lot of life to it so you can be a cz boulders calm as you like yes and that for a project like this where the pieces are quite skinny so to speak that the scale of the print be small that is a great point becky I definitely if there's anything you're very attached to I would make sure that you didn't use a large print that you know for example the one that probably loses the most is the red it really it doesn't show quite as much of the overall but in a way I think it can be very attractive to just see a narrow sliver of a print and just kind of enjoy what you do see but yes I would definitely keep that in mind you don't want to be you know choose something that you absolutely love and then realize that none of that element really shows in the final project product because it is so narrow and it looks like a hand stitching doesn't really like that too and I really enjoyed mixing quite a bit as I mentioned with my fabric choices but I really think this would be stunning in a single collection with the multi colors so I'm giving everything just a quick press before a pen and cut it have crossed the halfway mark known my cutting it does take a little while but this is a bit of a labor of love project and you end up with something really cool ity and an example of a much simpler layered project is the mini fig had that I made my son a zaha easter present. As for his t shirt, the bold yellow mini figs faces the black eyes and mouth are layered over it, and then another very simple one that is similarly, uh, you know, a several fabric, but very quick and easy to put together is the little oregon flag. I improvised for him for his fourth of july short this year, I mimicked the american flag with the red and blue fabrics. I chose and divided our state outline up into the where the stars and then the stripes would be. And it was so much fun being able to layer quickly and just have a little bit more of an instant gratification project. But this one is definitely kind of ah, one that's worth putting a little time into. If you have a rainbow lover in your life.

Class Description

Are you intimidated by your sewing machine? Don't be! Join experienced sewist Susan Beal as she guides you through the basics of sewing, including using straight stitches, zigzag stitches, simple appliqué, and easy binding.

Using simple projects in kid's sizes, Susan will teach you to customize t-shirts, create simple tote bags, reusable napkins, and more! You'll learn tricks that the experts use to create their own contrasting binding tape, how to sew on a variety of fabrics, and how to incorporate snaps and eyelets into your projects.

If you're a beginning sewer this course will give you clear, easy-to-follow ideas and inspiration for projects that tap into your family’s creative spirit.

Class Materials

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Susan Beal Back to School Craft Ideas and Projects.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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What a great class! Susan does a fabulous job explaining each project and is great at giving you a heads up on what issues you might face with each project. I've now made two applique projects with another in the works. I've also made two of the girls skirts. Susan gave me the confidence to try and I am really happy with the results. Hope to try the binding tape soon. Thanks for offering this video.

Amanda Siska

Susan's projects were the best introduction to sewing I could have hoped for! I wasn't able to watch every project, but the ones I saw were simple, VERY clearly explained, and perfect for a beginning seamstress like myself. I'd never used binding tape before, or elastic, but now I'm confident about making my own binding tape and adding elastic waistbands to pretty much anything. I was immediately inspired to make a few skirts for myself after watching the simple children's skirt in this course, and I'm planning to make cloth napkins and an oilcloth lunch sack as well. I wish I'd gotten to see the applique portion, so I think I'll have to purchase the course in order to see that part. I'm positive that it will be just what I need to learn the process! I see that the previous reviewer was disappointed by the lack of diversity of crafts for this course, but I find that the name "Simple Sewing Projects for Beginners" was completely accurate for what it was. Perhaps it was categorized in a craft category, which would still seem applicable. I think it was advertised as having back to school projects to make for your kids, which is an even more detailed description of the course, since it includes clothing for boys and girls, as well as a lunch tote, cloth napkin, cape, and maybe more things I missed. Overall, this was my first Creative Live experience, and I was blown away by how informative and fun it was to watch!


Fun projects to make for your little one. Susan explains things so clearly. Very nice that she also offers patterns and written instructions for free