Wrap Your Christmas Gifts in this DIY Drawstring Bag

Wrapping Christmas Gifts

Wrapping paper is expensive. Unless you are one of those people who carefully peel the tape from your gifts, chances are you will not be able to use that wrapping again. It can take weeks to get all your Christmas gifts wrapped and having all that beautiful paper strewn across your floor on Xmas morning is not only terrible for our carbon footprint, but it also means a sheer waste of time, effort and money. The environmentally-friendly alternative to rolls of wrapping is the DIY drawstring bag. These nifty little bags can be used at Christmas time, birthdays or any other special occasion.

Use Your Sewing Machine to Create Lasting Drawstring Bags

Drawstring gift bags are an easy to assemble, cost-effective solution to wrapping paper. You can choose cotton, muslin, velvet – just about any fabric you fancy – for your drawstring bag. Because you are making these bags from scratch, you can select prints your loved ones will absolutely adore (think Disney princesses and Star Wars for the grandkids!). 

This Is the Sewing Equipment and Other Tools You Will Need to Create Your Fabulous Gift Bags: 

  • Safety pin
  • Pins 
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Overlocker
  • Fabric of choice
  • Ribbon of choice or string
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Cotton thread

Follow These Easy Steps:

  • Step 1: 

Fold the fabric double. Put the gift on top of it. Measure out the correct dimensions for your gift bag and cut out two identical halves, allowing 1 cm at the sides and bottom for the seams, and a 4 cm allowance for the drawstring tunnel on top.

  • Step 2: 

Line up the halves, with the wrong sides facing outward, then use your overlocker to run up the sides and bottom. Overlock the top edges separately to guard against fraying.

  • Step 3:

You can now see your bag taking shape. Fold the top sides over, allowing enough space for your ribbon and safety pin to slide through. Remember the drawstrings will be lined up double, so leave enough space and do not sew the edges closed (the tunnel must be open on either side). Use pins to hold the tunnel in place.

  • Step 4: 

Line the top of your bag up to the sewing machine. Use plain stitching to secure the drawstring tunnel, removing the pins as you go along. Use reverse stitching at both edges to secure the tunnel. Repeat the procedure on the other side of your bag as well, carefully trimming any loose threads with a scissor.

  • Step 5: 

Fold the overlocked seams open and iron them flat. Now turn the bag right side out.

  • Step 6:

Fold the short end of your ribbon in half and put the safety pin through it. Close the pin and push it into the drawstring tunnel. Thread the ribbon through the tunnel and pull it out at the other side. Now flip the bag over and stick the drawing pin into the tunnel on the other side, threading it through until both ribbon ends are sticking out on the same side. Once this is done, take out the safety pin and securely tie both ends. 

  • Step 7: 

Complete step 6, but on the opposite side of your bag. 

Once you have put the string through the top of your bag, simply pull on the sides to close it and you are done. 

You can use this video tutorial for a more detailed guide. Or, click on some of these festive designs for more inspiration.

To create a bigger bag that could double-up as a backpack, increase the dimensions, use rope instead of ribbon, add a grommet to the lower corners of your backpack, and string the rope through it and then tie a double knot. You can view a drawstring backpack tutorial here.

Like with most DIY sewing projects, you will need to prepare these Christmas drawstring bags ahead of time, but they will save you money and have a much longer life than wrapping. Your guests will be thrilled to receive their personalized, 100% reusable bag. Depending on the size, they can be used as storage space for Christmas ornaments, or slung over the shoulder when you pop out to the shops or the gym. Contact us today to learn more about Empisal overlockers and affordable sewing machines.

How to Sew A Quilt – A Quick Guide

How to sew a quilt

In the cooler winter months, everyone loves to get cosy under the blankets, drink steaming cocoa and watch their favourite movie. What better way to get comfy than under a quilt you made? Or you could spread the cosy joy and sew a quilt for your friends and loved ones! All you need is a sewing machine and a can-do attitude! This guide will teach you how to sew a quilt!

  1. Sewing a symmetrical and even quilt starts with symmetrical and evenly cut squares of fabric. Ensure you have the right sewing equipment (scissors, cutting mats and a wide ruler) before you get started. Assemble your thread, safety pins and fabric and ensure you have all the necessary accessories.
  2. Pre-wash and iron your fabric. This will make the cutting and sewing process a lot easier and it will be kinder to your tools. It will also wash out any excess dye. Importantly, any possible shrinking that may have happened will take place now, during the first wash, ensuring your quilt stays even after future washing.
  3. At this point, you should decide how big you want the squares on your quilt to be and cut them to the appropriate size. Remember to leave a 0,25cm allowance for sewing and overlap.
  4. Lay out all the cut pieces and assemble your quilt. At this stage, you choose where each individual piece should go in the whole.
  5. To reduce the amount of workspace needed, stack the rows in the order in which they need to be sewn. This will allow you to keep the pattern right but not have to keep the entire quilt laid out on the floor.
  6. Sew each individual row, then sew all the rows together. Remember to press the fabric with a hot iron before joining pieces to keep them smooth and wrinkle-free.
  7. If you want a heavy, multi-layered quilt, at this step you should sew the layers together.
  8. Sew the binding along the four edges, leaving the corners unsewn until the end. Then fold the corners and finish the binding.

Congratulations! You have just sewn a quilt.

Empisal

Empisal is a leading supplier of sewing machines, overlockers, ironing equipment and haberdashery items in Sub Saharan Africa. The Creations sewing machine is perfectly poised to take on any project you have in mind, and the EOL4D overlocker will finish any seam with professional integrity.  Empisal can provide you with both an affordable sewing machine, and the practical guidance and knowledge to turn your idea into a reality. Contact us for more information.

How to sew with knitted material

sew with knitted material

Knits are lovely, versatile fabrics but they do present a challenge for anyone who has only ever used their sewing machine on standard fabric types because the knit weave behaves differently to cloth weaves. But this shouldn’t put you off! With a few tips from Empisal, the sewing machine specialists, you can start creating beautiful knit clothes and furnishings in no time at all.

What is a knit fabric and why is it different to work with?

Standard fabric is made either by weaving fibres in an overlapping grid pattern, horizontally and vertically, or simply meshing fine fibres together. Knits can be woven in numerous differently patterned loops, and this means that it can stretch and pull in any direction – making it more difficult to work with. Knowing the direction in which your knit pulls as well as how much it pulls is key to working with these fabrics.

Using your sewing machine to sew knits

  • Rather than pulling your knit through the sewing machine as it sews, let your feed dogs do all the work. This will prevent overstretching, along with wavy or curled seams. Make sure that you aren’t putting too much pressure on the presser foot, as this can also cause too much stretching. Your user manual should be able to help you manage your pressure properly.
  • Another tip is to use the right type of needle. A ball point type needle will work best with the loops of a knit fabric, while a sharp pointed needle will likely cause missed stitches or poorly formed stitches.
  • Basting is a good technique to use while hemming or seaming a knit item, as it prevents the fabric from twisting out of shape.
  • Remember to set your sewing machine to a stretch stitch setting if it has one. If it doesn’t, then you can use a zigzag stitch setting. Try out the different settings on any scraps you have to see which one holds the material the best. If you have an overlocker, now is the perfect time to use it as it makes it a lot easier to sew with knits!

This winter, get sewing with beautiful cosy knits and Empisal!

At Empisal, we’ve been providing high quality, affordable sewing machines, sewing kits, overlockers, haberdashery products and ironing equipment to South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa for over 35 years. Ideal for anyone who wants to learn to sew as well as accomplished crafters and professionals, our machines and equipment are reliable, precise and durable.

For more information on our sewing machines and products, please contact us today.

A beginners guide to quilting

Quilting is an ancient craft that reaches back through many different periods in history and civilisations, from China to Egypt and the Americas. No one knows quite where it originated, but this diverse, functional and beautiful art form is here to stay.

What are the different types of quilts?

  • Hand quilting: This technique uses a needle and thread, sewing a running stitch by hand across the quilt’s surface to bind the two layers together. Usually, a quilting frame or hoop is used to hold together the section that is being worked on, and quilters often use a stab stitch, rocking stitch or loading the needle to create their pattern.
  • Machine quilting: This is done using a home sewing machine or longarm machine to sew the pattern into the material and connect the pieces together. It is a popular method, as it allows the work to go much faster and smoother than hand quilting. It requires a special quilting needle to prevent puckering and bumps, as well as the right strength thread for your project.

Interesting quilt styles

  • Wedding ring quilts: Dating back to the Great Depression and using a pattern found in fourth century Rome, these quilts were a traditional wedding gift. It consists of interlocking circles pieced together with small arcs of fabric in colours and patterns of your preference.
  • Amish quilts: Made by hand and known for their very high quality of stitching, these quilts make up for their sedate patterns and colours with their incredible quality. Usually, you can find them in dark, solid colours and simple geometric patterns with little embellishment.
  • Applique quilts: This is a French technique that sews different pieces of material on top of each other in layers together to form a design. Often complex and eye-catching, these often ornate quilts are the centre of attention in any room, creating an immediate and detailed focal point.
  • Patchwork quilts: Like applique quilts, patchwork quilts use different pieces of material to create eye-catching designs. However, the similarities stop there, as the pieces of material are joined together by their edges rather than placed on top of each other.

Start quiting today with Empisal sewing machines

At Empisal, we’ve been providing high quality, affordable sewing machines, sewing kits, overlockers, haberdashery products and ironing equipment to South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa for over 35 years. Ideal for anyone who wants to learn to sew as well as accomplished crafters and professionals, our machines and equipment are reliable, precise and durable.

For more information on our sewing machines and products, please contact us today.

A guide to pattern grading

Pattern grading is essentially all about how to take a single size pattern and make it bigger or smaller in order to fit a different sized figure. This is especially important in vintage clothing patterns where the pattern was made in very limited sizes and your own size may not be available at all. While it sounds simple, it’s much more complicated than just adding a few centimetres onto your current pattern! Here’s a quick and easy guide to this valuable process from Empisal, leaders in sewing machine technology.

The cut and spread method

This is the easiest method by far – all you need is a ruler, tracing paper, measuring tape, pen, scissors and your pattern.

Step One: Trace the pattern out onto tracing paper. This way, you will be able to keep your original pattern intact.

Step Two: Compare the original size to the size you want to achieve and note down the difference. For example, if the waist is say 90cm and you want a 100cm waist, the difference is 10cm. Do this for each and every measurement.

Step Three: Place horizontal and vertical lines on your traced out pattern in a grid marking out where the pattern is going to increase or decrease and cut along those lines.

Step Four: Divide the difference by each piece of the pattern, adding equal amounts to each side. For example, if you have a 4cm difference, you will add 2cm to the front and back. Two vertical cuts with need 1/2cm between the pieces and, as a general rule, horizontal cuts need 1/2cm as well. Once your pattern is spread out properly, you’ll have the correct size pieces.

Step Five: Pin your new outline onto a new sheet of tracing paper and redraw your pattern, giving you a whole new pattern to sew from!

grading

Empisal – Sewing machines you can trust

At Empisal, we’ve been providing high quality, affordable sewing machines, sewing kits, overlockers, haberdashery products and ironing equipment to South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa for over 35 years. Ideal for anyone who wants to learn to sew as well as accomplished crafters and professionals, our machines and equipment are reliable, precise and durable.

For more information on our sewing machines and products, please contact us today.

How to sew a summer dress

Nothing says ‘summer’ quite like a dress, and the best thing about them is that there is a design to fit any style, body shape or age! Here is how to make your own summer dress from scratch on your sewing machine.

  1. Find your pattern: First, take a good look at your body and think about what you’d like to emphasise and where you’d like to cover. This way, you can create a tailored look that is perfect for you, which is what sewing is all about! Once you’ve decided on the look you are going for, measure your bust, waist and hip. This will give you a guideline when you are choosing your pattern. Keep in mind that there is everything from vintage patterns to boho dresses, so you have a lot to choose from.
  2. Choose a fabric: This might be the most difficult part of your whole project! There are so many beautiful fabrics out there but it’s vital that you find on that is right for your pattern. A pattern for a highly structured dress wont work with a light and insubstantial fabric. Likewise, a heavier fabric won’t compliment a beach wrap. If you’re not sure what type of fabric to choose, speak to a salesperson. They can help you narrow down your choices between crease-free fabrics, natural fabrics, synthetics and stretchy fabrics.
  3. Cut your fabric: Pin or weight your pattern down onto your fabric, being sure to pin inside the seam allowances to avoid making unsightly holes. Use a special fabric marker like a water-soluble pencil to mark out your pattern, as this will wash out easily. Once all your pieces are clearly marked out, you can start cutting.
  4. Darting: There are very few patterns that don’t require you to add some darts. These are folds in the material that will allow you to move and bend easily within the dress. They are often found in the bust and waistline as well as the sleeve.
  5. Add your finishing touch: Your pattern will walk you through the basics of assembling your dress, but remember that it’s actually all about you. Using a different hem or seaming method, buttons, embroidery and other small extras will take your dress from simple to stylish.

Speak to Empisal – the sewing machine specialists

At Empisal, we’ve been providing high quality, affordable sewing machines, sewing kits, overlockers, steam presses, haberdashery products and ironing equipment to South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa for over 35 years. Ideal for anyone who is learning to sew as well as accomplished quilters, crafters and professionals, our machines and equipment are reliable, precise and durable.

For more information on our sewing machines and products, please contact us today.

Commercial sewing patterns or tailor-made – What’s best?

When you’re making clothing on your sewing machine, you’d usually work off of a commercially available pattern that you’ve bought online or through a sewing shop. However, these patterns only follow a certain range of body shapes and measurements that often don’t provide the best fit. A tailored pattern is one that’s been developed to specific measurements, but will likely cost more because it will be a once-off pattern.

The solution is to combine the availability and affordability of commercial patterns with techniques to tailor them to your own measurements – getting you the best of both worlds! There are three ways to do this:

  • Making a mock-up in muslin before sewing the final garment.
  • Altering the garment after you have sewn it up.
  • Altering the pattern before you start sewing.

The first option is the most time-consuming and the second is only really good for minor adjustments like altering a hemline. The third option is the most effective and involves pattern grading (increasing or decreasing particular parts of the pattern by spreading the difference equally over particular parts of the pattern, like the hips or bust) or working with a sloper (the term for a flat dress form that accurately represents the perfect fit for your body).

With a sloper, you can lay the commercial pattern on your flat form and see exactly where the pattern needs to be adjusted to give the perfect fit. You will likely have to pivot the sloper’s darting shape to match the pattern’s darting, but it does solve the more complex issues around fit.

Because the sloper is designed to be a completely accurate representation of fit on your body, you can also use it to make more intuitive changes to the fit of your garment based on how tight or flowing you want the finished product to be.

Affordable, reliable sewing equipment from Empisal

At Empisal, we’ve been providing high quality, affordable sewing machines, sewing kits, steam presses, overlockers, haberdashery products and ironing equipment to South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa for over 35 years. Ideal for anyone who wants to learn to sew as well as accomplished crafters and professionals, our machines and equipment are reliable, precise and durable.

For more information on our sewing machines and products, please contact us today.