Category Archives: Product Review

What does Cooking have to do with Sewing and Serging?

First off, I want to wish you a Happy New Year and I hope you are off to a great start in 2015! So far so good on this end J

I started the year with a mini-vacation up north. Although, the snow didn’t arrive until after the mini-vacation, which resulted in another mini-vacation at home, not all bad J

yes, I took this fuzzy photo and it's on the new years list to get better
yes, I took this fuzzy photo and it’s on the new years list to get better

I am not big into New Year’s resolutions, as I would hate to set myself up for failure – that being said I still have a very long list, as I do every year:  work out, eat healthier, go to bed early and get up early, take more time for friends and family, get organized, get rid of clutter, and on and on …… I have to ask, why not just take time each month and re-evaluate life – wouldn’t it be so much easier to try changing and improving on things one month at a time versus an entire year? What a novel thought, that ultimately has become my New Year’s Resolution!

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Resolutions #1: Get in Better Shape

 

To start, I bought Jillian Michaels ripped in 30 workout DVD and a slew of new workout clothes. You can’t work out properly without the proper clothing, right? (even if I am working out in my own living room … and yes, I bought them as I didn’t have time to sew them)

Day 1: REALLY?!? Have any of you tried this workout?!? I really thought I was in pretty good shape – she had no problem proving that different! First day, thought I would die in the middle (remember this only 30 minutes – longest 30 minutes of my life!)

Day 7: Let’s just say, this is going to be re-evaluated at the end of the month – as I am SO out of shape!  And thank heaven’s I can do this in my own house and no one is taping me!!!!  Oh – and by the way – I will not be offering before and after photos! J

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Resolution #2: Learn How to Cook

 

As many of you already know, cooking is not my forte. I am not ashamed of that, as those of you that have read my book already know, for the first years out of college – my custom apparel business was my main focus and the kitchen cabinets were only to be used for fabric storage  – they made excellent storage if I might add.  My last cooking attempt was 7 years ago, 3 days of it and it was catastrophic, so let’s give it a go in 2015. What the heck, don’t they call it the 7 year itch J

First, let me just say, I have the best husband ever! Winn, loves to cook and he is really good at it, so I am a bit spoiled. In order to not starve the man the death, I will attempt cooking while he is away:

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1st Recipe: Cooking Light Magazine – Parmesan and Pine Nut – Crusted Oven-Fried Chicken  (Winn’s up north ice fishing, perfect opportunity!)

Take 1: Spent 2 hours in the grocery store trying to find all the ingredients, got home and was way too tired to attempt.

Result: Dinner served is cottage cheese and triscuits.

Take 2: Ready to go … everything went well until the “sauté the chicken for 3 minutes” and mine turned black instantly!

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I will just give you a hint, Tyler (the cat) is more like a dog and love’s people food.  Last weekend, my husbands chicken dish:

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My dish?  He snubbed, in the kindest way:

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In fact, if it wasn’t for Ranch dressing (which makes anything taste good) Tyler’s dinner was even looking a bit enticing.

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Cooking is just like Sewing!

 

This is when I realized cooking is so much like sewing! When I teach a class, I assume you know how to do certain things, just like these recipes:

  • 2 TBSP Pine nuts, toasted (for us beginners, how do you toast these – in the toaster LOL J )
  • Sauté for 3 minutes or until brown – well, mine turned black so fast, there wasn’t a brown option! (Maybe the author had a better quality pan?)
  • Cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is done: what if my oven is hotter than yours? What if I use convection cook? 

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As I am pulling a blackened chicken breast out of the oven, two things occurred to me.  Sewer’s have this same problem. For example: interfacing – What is it? What kind? Where do I put it? How do I press it in place?

I can just picture a new sewer in Joann fabrics staring at the rack of interfacing, as I am in the grocery store staring at the spice rack – totally lost!

And then the comparison of sewing machines and sergers to stoves and ovens. They are all different. I read the recipe and followed by the book, but maybe the person writing it has a gas stove, did they bake with a convection oven, or were they using a different pan?

After botching my dinner, I sat down to answer my online class questions and had to laugh when I got to one of my serging class questions: my gathering foot doesn’t gather like you showed. WOW! This is exactly what I am experiencing with cooking! My serger is different and all serger’s don’t offer the same stitch quality or feet accessories.  See where I am going? There are so many factors to creative learning.

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To improve my cooking, I have enrolled in Brendan McDermott’s Essential Cooking Techniques Class. I will let you know how it goes – no pressure Brendan, LOL!

And to help my fellow beginner sewers, I have fun plans for you this year! I can’t tell you them all yet, but my blog will feature a “Back to the Basics” section to help you learn the basics of sewing as I am learning to cook! Let’s learn together J For my advanced sewing fans, don’t worry, I have a lot in store for you too!

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Wardrobe Challenge

 

How can I ever thank you all for participating in my wardrobe challenge of 2014, the response in email, flickr, and pinterest was phenomenal. My wardrobe challenge started with the idea to inspire you to fill your closet with clothes sewn by you! The best part was getting sponsors to offer great gifts to inspire you even further: Brother, WAWAK sewing, Threads and SewStylish Magazines, Coats & Clark, It’s Sew Easy Tv, and myself. As you know, I extended the deadlines into 2015 for many reasons and look forward to awarding the final winners. This contest was an inspiration of mine to get you all to fill your closets with your own sewn clothes! I will be announcing a slew of past winners this week and giving you the last challenge for the grand prize, don’t worry the last challenge is the easiest J

Happy New Year! Can you share some of your resolutions for 2015? I would love to hear J

 

And, any tips on cleaning this pan?!?

xoxo

 

Angela Wolf

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Compare: Rolled Hem Foot, Ball Hemmer Foot, and Spring Hemmer Foot on an Industrial Sewing Machine

How to sew a double fold narrow hem DIY26There are so many sewing machine feet to choose from, it can get overwhelming deciding which foot is best for the job.  Why bother, right?  If using a specific foot for a specific job could drastically cut the sewing time down and offer professional looking results, wouldn’t you want to try?  I sure would.

Home sewing machines usually come with a fabulous manual explaining what each foot is for and a tutorial explaining how to use it.  Industrial machines don’t always offer such advice, at least mine didn’t.  With a 5 page manual, written in a language I don’t speak, I am surprised I got the thing put together in the first place!  I don’t use this machine as frequently as all the others, mainly because it’s loud, doesn’t have a thread cutting feature and I don’t have any accessories for it.  I bought it for speed and that it has.

Scanning the list of additional feet for industrial machines, I found the feet to be are very inexpensive, but again I ran into the issue of which foot is the right foot for the job.  I thought I would start testing some of these feet and share with you my findings.

A Narrow Rolled Hem

I sew a lot of garments with sheer fabrics (especially this months wardrobe challenge;  Dress the Part) and my go-to stitch is usually a narrow rolled hem on the serger – its super fast and looks professional.  But sometimes a rolled hem on the sewing machine would be more appropriate. I found 3 different feet for the industrial machine:

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From left to right: Rolled Hem Foot, Ball Hemmer Foot, Double Fold Spring Hemmer Foot

Rolled Hem Foot

You have probably seen the Rolled Hem Foot, as it comes with most home sewing machines.  This is the only foot I had ever seen used for the job.  It does make a rolled hem easy, but has its challenges as well.  Getting over thick seams can be interesting and sometimes the fabric doesn’t feed evenly.  Of course there are tricks:How to sew a double fold narrow hem DIY35

  • Hold the fabric to the left side of the foot as it feeds into the machine and trimming seam allowances for less bulk.

 

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Results:  A nice rolled hem, I had to use the tweezers to get the fabric started and the rolled hem is a little uneven.  With practice this foot will work.

If you have an industrial machine, you have more options and each offers different results:

Ball Hemmer Foot

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This foot has a plate that covers the front feed dogs allowing the fabric to feed perfectly.  You can see the ball at the tip of the foot, the fabric will roll over that ball as it double folds into a narrow hem.  I must say, I love this foot!  This is how it works:

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  • Feed the fabric into the foot, above the plate.  Notice how the place covers the front feed dogs. Insert the fabric the same way you would for the rolled hem foot.

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  • The fabric folds over the ball.

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  • Hold the fabric a little to the left side of the foot as the fabric feeds into the foot (as shown above).  Stitch.

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  •  Results:  A perfect narrow hem!  This foot offers the easiest rolled hem I have ever tried!  I hardly had to do anything with the fabric except guide it into the foot.  I even sewed at a high-speed and the rolled hem is perfectly even.  A definite A+++++

Double Fold Spring Hemmer Foot

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The “spring” part is what intrigued me about this foot.  You can see the foot looks very similar to the Ball Hemmer Foot, yet there is not a ball.  Instead, there is a movable area that the fabric will go through. Look closely, this is the back of the foot:

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Looking at the left photo first: see the corner touching my finger tip.  When I do nothing with that corner, the opening on the foot remains unchanged (see opening at yellow arrow).

Take a look at the right photo:  Here I have pushed that corner in and the opening gets larger (see yellow arrow).

Now we know what the “spring” means.  This opening adjusts for the thickness of fabric as the fabric flows through.

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  • There is a plate protecting the fabric from the front feed dogs, just like the ball hemmer.  Slide the fabric on the top of the plate.

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  • Again, feed the fabric into the foot and stitch.

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Results:  Another perfect rolled hem!  Just as easy as the ball hemmer foot.

My favorite foot for the rolled hem on silk charmeuse is the Ball Hemmer Foot. The rolled hem was a little thicker than the other two and perfect!

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What about crossing seams and thicker fabrics?  I will test these and more, and let you know the results.  So far both feet are winners!

I also have to check to see if these feet will work on my Brother PQ1500.  The PQ1500 straight stitch machine is just like an industrial machine with speed and ease of use, plus it’s not attached to a large table and easy to move around.  Fingers crosses on that one!  Otherwise, I have my eye on the Brother Industrial Machine used on Project Runway.  Do you have an industrial machine? Have you tried these rolled hem feet?

Cheers!

Angela Wolf

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning! Organize the Sewing Room with Thread Racks

Spring is such a great time to clean and organize … two of my least favorite terms :) One of the biggest clutter issues in a sewing room is thread, I want to share a few ideas for organizing:

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Hang numerous thread racks on different walls to organize spools of thread by color and content.  Although you can’t tell by this photo, I organize the neutral colors in one area, green and blues in another, red, yellow and orange in another, etc.  I also use the top row for topstitching and other specialty threads.

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There is a separate section for serger thread.  When I  run out of pegs on the rack, I hang one cone of a specific color with a sticker that lists the quantity. Then I store the other cones in a cabinet below.

angela wolf thread organizing wawakSpeaking of serger thread, I leave one serger thread rack on the table with the sergers and coverstitch machines.  This is a quick way to hold the spools I am using and prevent them from cluttering the sewing area and rolling off the table!

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Here is a fun spool holder!    The base rotates so it’s easy to find a thread and the pegs are long enough for serger cones.  Another option is coordinating the bobbin and the thread color together, both fit perfectly on one peg.

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You have to assemble this rack, which only takes a few minutes, but that offers additional options  for organizing.

I find myself only using the bottom half of the rack.  With the lower half I can load up on weight with heavy spools and the rack is not tippy.   Another idea is to use the thread spools at the bottom and smaller spools or bobbins on the top half.

Speaking of bobbins, I always order an extra 50 for each machine.  There are so many colors I use frequently and I don’t enjoy unspooling the bobbin so I can use a new color.  Not only is that a waste of thread, that extra thread attaches to my clothes for the day!  To organize all the bobbins, I use a plastic container  with a lid.  These stack neatly and the lid keeps the dust out.

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Check out this magnetic bobbin holder.   I keep one of these next to my Brother PQ1500 and one next to my commercial machine since those are the only machines I have with metal bobbins.

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For the machines that have plastic bobbins, I either use the turning thread holder shown above, the plastic thread container, or a smaller thread rack free-standing on the table.

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In case you haven’t seen WAWAK Sewing’s April magazine with the sale of the month, ALL the thread racks are $5 off (and don’t forget shipping is free if you spend over $100 – which is easy to do with all the great items they have :))

Now, back to writing the serging book.  I do have a serging technique I think you will like, I hope to share that with you tomorrow.  How are you doing on April’s wardrobe challenge Simply Serged?

Cheers,

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Product Review – Hug Snug Seam Binding for Hemming

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There are so many sewing products on the market, it can get overwhelming trying to decide which ones to try.  Here is one for you … Hug-Snug Seam Binding.  Take a look inside some of your nicer pants and skirts, you will often see a rich looking ribbon covering the hem allowance edge.  Hug-Snug is probably the ribbon you see.  This ribbon is 100% Rayon, has a satin finish and it comes in a TON of colors.

Angela Wolf Hug-Snug WAWAK8 Regardless if you are sewing a garment from scratch or doing alterations, this is a fast, professional looking hem and it’s really easy:

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Press up the hem.  Working on the right side of the fabric, align the ribbon over the raw edge of the hem allowance.

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The edge of the fabric should land in the middle of the ribbon.  Stitch along the edge of the ribbon.  (I am using contrasting color ribbon and thread so it’s easier to see :))

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The above photo shows the single stitch line and how the ribbon covers the fabric raw edge.

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Attach the ribbon all the way around the hem.  When you get to the end, trim the ribbon leaving 2″ – 3″ extra.

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Stitch  just past the starting point …

… fold under the end of the ribbon, enclosing the raw edge of the ribbon.

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Turn the fabric and stitch the folded edge of the ribbon in place.

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The ribbon is attached, covering all raw edges.  Hem the garment as usual, using the edge of the ribbon as the hem allowance edge.  The ribbon is so much thinner than fabric and really makes a perfect blind hem!    Below I am using a blind hem machine:

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Notice how the ribbon edge is connected to the garment, finishing the hem.  If using the blind hem stitch on a sewing machine or hand-stitching the hem in place, do the same thing; connect the edge of the ribbon to the fabric.

I told you it’s easy!  Again, Hug-Snug Seam Binding comes in a ton of colors:

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I borrowed this color chart from WAWAK SEWING SUPPLIES.  In fact, if you want to give this product a try, WAWAK is offering 10% off until March 31st.

How are the jeans coming along for the wardrobe challenge?  Don’t forget to upload your photos to the Flickr group, there are some really cute outfits showing up 🙂

Cheers,

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