New Craftsy Class Giveaway!
Sewing Tip of the Day!
NEVER use a dull seam ripper!!!!! I buy my seam rippers in bulk from WAWAK Sewing and you should too 🙂 Then you can throw them away at the first sign of dullness and grab a new one.
NEVER use a dull seam ripper!!!!! I buy my seam rippers in bulk from WAWAK Sewing and you should too 🙂 Then you can throw them away at the first sign of dullness and grab a new one.
Leather is a major trend this season and continues on into the spring, yes leather for spring and summer! Here are a few tips to get you started:
TIP 1. FABRIC
Check the fabric for flaws, especially in faux leather you might find scratches or cuts that you will need to work around when cutting out the pattern pieces.
Consider the weight and feel of the fabric for the design. For example a biker jacket will need a thicker fabric than say a peplum style jacket. Also, squeeze the fabric in your hand and if it has deep creases or wrinkles, that is how it will look after wearing it (better to know now :))
Use a Leather Needle in the sewing machine. Start with a size 12 or 14 for light to medium weight fabric.
Go up to a 16 or 18 for heavier fabric, but be sure to CHECK your sewing machine as to what is the largest size needle it will accommodate. One of my older machines will only allow up to a size 14.
For sewing faux leather I prefer using a Jean Needle size 14. If you are having a problem with skipped stitches try this needle.
When it comes to hand-stitching, standard needles have a difficult time piercing the fabric. Instead use a Leather Hand Needle, this needle has a triangular point that pierces the fabric. Just be careful, the tip is REALLY sharp!
TIP 3: NO PINS
Just as difficult as it is to pierce leather / faux leather, once you do pierce the fabric the hole is there forever! Use clips to hold the fabric instead of pins. They are lightweight and don’t damage the fabric.
I got these getta grip sewing clips from my friend Paul Gallo. I met Paul at Craftsy while we were both shooting classes. He showed me these clips that he designed and I have been a fan ever since. Awesome guy! Have you ever met Paul or taken any of his classes?
TIP 4: TAPING SEAM ALLOWANCES
When sewing garments, pressing the seam allowances open with a Tailor’s Clapper is the best option. Unfortunately with leather, faux leather, vinyl, and suede, even if you safely press the fabric with an iron shoe, the seam allowance will not stay open. The best solution for securing seam allowances and hemming is either topstitching or leather tape (a special double-sided tape).
This is how easy it works:
1. Place a strip of LEATHER TAPE in the seam allowance with the sticky side down.
2. Remove paper backing, revealing the other side of the tape.
3. Fold back the seam allowance or hem allowance.
I use the 1/4″ wide tape for seam allowances and 1/2″ wide tape for hems. I purchase the tape from WAWAK SEWING and the rolls come 60 yards. Don’t be caught off guard by the quantity because you will use more than you think and the price is incredible! Well, this should get you started – next in line is quilting and embroidering faux leather.
With October’s Wardrobe Challenge including zippers, I thought now would be a good time to share a few easy ways to embellish with exposed zippers.
A fun way to change the look of a pair of jeans is to embellish the leg with an exposed zipper. Follow along:
Step 1: On the wrong side of the fabric, mark the center of the pant leg (could be front or back, wherever you want the zipper).
If marking an existing pair of jeans, rip out the hem at least 5″ from each side of new mark. Press the fusible interfacing along the newly marked center line.
Step 2: Mark the hem, hem allowance, and the length of the zipper opening down center of the pant leg.
Step 3: Determine the width of the zipper opening (depends on the width of the zipper teeth). Draw in opening, top edge, and then add a triangle from the center cut line to each corner (as shown above).
Step 4: Cut along center marking. Cut each triangle point (if you are worried about the fabric fraying, add Fray Check to the top corners)
Step 5: Press the seam allowances back and press triangle tip up.
Step 6: Line up the zipper with the metal teeth in the center of the opening. Check the placement of the zipper stop and zipper tab.
Step 7: Fold back the zipper tape and press in place at the hemline.
Step 8: Pin zipper in place.
Step 9: In this example, I am using standard polyester thread, cotton or silk thread would work too. Set the sewing machine to a triple stitch and lengthen the stitch length to 4.0. (Note: if you don’t have this feature, use denim thread, straight stitch, stitch length 4.0)
Step 10: Stitch along the edge of the zipper. Open and close the zipper as needed in order to get the foot by the zipper tab. Step 11: Notice how I have lined up the edge of the zipper foot with the metal teeth, a very easy to get a straight stitch … or this would be a great time to utilize the laser vision guide feature on your machine! 🙂
Step 13: Hem the jeans and move onto the other leg.
That’s it! Now this is just one quick, easy way to install a hidden zipper. I will give you some more ideas next time.
I love sweaters and shawls, especially since I am always cold in the air-conditioned restaurants (not that we have needed air conditioning in Michigan this summer!). Thinking of the wardrobe challenge, sweaters are one of the items that I end up buying. Yes I do know how to crochet, yet trim on a jacket is about as far as that usually ends up. A small knitting machine sits in the corner of the studio (on my bucket list to learn how to use 🙂 ).
I was recently sewing a fringe skirt and the tweed scraps falling on the floor reminded me of meeting a women wearing a really cute, long, loosely woven (sweater looking) vest. It was at the annual conference for ASDP, so I had to ask the question that only sewer’s are allowed to ask each other “did you make that?”. She had indeed! I was really intrigued when she mentioned using water-soluble stabilizer and scraps from her last sewing project – yes, scraps!
Below is an example of using scraps from my tweed skirt:
NOTE: WAWAK sewing has offered my readers a discount for July – yeah!
Purchase a minimum of $30 and receive 10% off your entire order – Use coupon code WAB714 when checking out (expires July 31st) Thank them when you order, they are the best! :))
The width of the stitched rows depend on how tight you want the weave of the new fabric or lace. Just be sure to keep it somewhat tight or the yarns will fall away.
The next step is easy! Rinse the fabric panel in warm water and watch the water-soluble stabilizer disappear or throw the fabric in the wash on a hand-wash cycle, again with warm water.
Above you can see the stabilizer has disappeared and I am left with a loosely woven fabric. Notice the stitching lines, this is good to keep in mind when you choose the thread color.
Who would have ever guessed
could go so far!
A few more tips:
This is a great technique to use for June’s Fabricate Challenge – which I extended the deadline until July 31st.
Have you ever tried this? If so, please share any tips you might have!
Many of you have asked about the design on the cover of June’s wardrobe challenge and I can’t think of any better way to get back on the blogging roll. Where have I been hiding? Actually, I have been traveling quite a bit: some for work, visiting family, and of course getting a little fishing in.
I keep my blog notebook with me and write ideas and topics when the inspiration comes. The book is getting pretty full, so the good news is I am back from my trips and have caught up on all my crazy tight deadlines (what a breath of fresh air 🙂 ) and now I have the time to blog, yeah!
I have spent the last two weeks sewing and embroidering up a storm. I am excited to share what I have been working on and ready to get going on the wardrobe challenge … I need some summer clothes!
June’s Challenge – Fabricate!
First, I have some great fabricating techniques to share with you; therefore, I am extending the deadline for June’s Challenge until July 31st. There will still be a separate July challenge, but with summer in most of our backyards, this will give you more time.
That definition pretty much leaves the door open for ultimate creativity, wouldn’t you say? One idea includes designing your own fabric or altering a fabric into something totally different, which is what I did with the above jacket.
The fabric used for the applique trimming is a polyester / satin. A lightweight fabric with fabulous drape, perfect for a blouse or lining (both of which I plan to add to jacket). That fabric, if left alone, would be a nightmare to create appliques or cut-outs, so I fabricated – sounds like a bad word 🙂 !
The trick – Heat N Bond, now available from my favorite place WAWAK Sewing and comes in 5 yard and 35 yard pieces. At first I wasn’t too sure about this stuff, but basically you iron it to the back of the fabric and it makes it easier for you to cut out an applique – especially if you are using the Brother Scan-n-Cut
This is how easy an applique can be:
Peel off the backing and place the appliques on the garment.
Once you have the perfect placement, use a press cloth and press the applique in place. Notice I attach the appliques before sewing the sleeve together.
Even though the cut of the scan-n-cut prevents the fabric edges from fraying, I still stitch the applique in place. I choose the blanket stitch and stitched around each applique. That took some time, but it looks great. Almost looks like leather!
I followed all those steps for the jacket front and again used a blanket stitch.
Of course I could cut these appliques by hand, but I really like the fact that all the front pieces are exactly the same! By the way, don’t look too closely at my studio – can you tell I have been working 🙂
Well, that’s one fun way to fabricate, much more to come. Have you ever tried appliqueing apparel?
There 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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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!
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?
May starts, what I call, the “party season”. Graduation parties and wedding festivities are forefront on the invitation lists, then we move into garden parties, yacht club parties, fashion shows, … and so much more. Please tell me you are like me – scrambling at the last hour for something fun and fashionable, then wishing I would have taken the time to sew something new ( just because I design and sew for a living doesn’t mean the closet is full – have you ever heard of the shoe-maker with no shoes J) Not saying my closet is not full, it’s full of business and casual wear. When it comes to party attire, the closet could use some MAJOR improvement.
The challenge for May is to plan ahead and add some party attire to the wardrobe. Parties don’t always require cocktail dresses and fun skirts (although that is what I am going to focus on), maybe a simple pair of silk pants with a sequin top. This is exactly why I am calling the challenge Dress the Part.
Pinterest is such a great place to share ideas, meet people who have a common interest, and look for inspiration. The reason for Pinterest being part of the challenge, is that you can go the wardrobe challenge board, not only follow other people with the same interest, but when you search for #wardrobechallenge – you will see what inspires others. There is no right or wrong wardrobe challenge board, as long as you follow the simple guidelines below (which is why the pinterest boards are now random drawing).
Random drawing from the Pinterest board (must follow every Pinterest item below to qualify):
Pinterest Contest Rules:
As you get going on May’s pinning, post a comment on this pin with a link to your Wardrobe Challenge board. (Enter before May 31, 2014)
And Congratulations to the March winners!!!!!
Flickr name: Shawn Hiestand – hairyfroggrafix – unique jeans and very professional looking inside and out!
Flickr username: Deb Schimmel – Best Distressed Jeans!
Flicker username: Vgladysdillon – Creative topstitching, a little distressing, and most unique pockets! Can you tell what team she likes? J
Deborah Bowles – excellent fit and fun back pockets
Pinterest username: Lisa Marshall
Pinterest username: Dawn Ramsdell – Cross – Pinterest board full of decorative pockets!!!!
Winners email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for info on receiving your prize.
Well, do you have any parties to plan for? What are you going to sew for May’s challenge?
A little creative serging! I mentioned I am finishing up a serging book. The book has challenged me to play with new threads, new stitches, new serging feet, and more. I wanted to share a quick serging stitch that you might find useful for restyling or adding embellishment to one of your outfits.
This is a 3-thread flatlock stitch with a decorative crochet thread in the upper looper. The left needle and lower looper have a similar color polyester thread. The photo above shows the front of the flatlock stitch and the backside. The backside looks like a ladder stitch. (the peach thread is just the serged edge of the seam).
I started with a basic gored skirt. The front has 2 seams and after I finished flatlocking those two seams I decided to add embellishment to the center front. So the center front really does not have a seam. This would be a great way to create unique fabric!
Here is the back view. Again there are 2 seams on each side back and this time there is a real seam down the center back with a hidden zip. In order for this stitching to look even, because of the zipper, I stitched the flat-felled embellishment down the edge of each center back seam, then added the zipper and closed the seam. That part got a little tricky and you can see the stitches are not perfectly even. I haven’t decided if I am going to rip it out and start again or hope nobody is looking at my tush that closely to notice 🙂
Decorative Thread Ideas:
Get the idea – be creative!
Next, there are a few changes to the serger settings:
Stitch Width: 5mm
Stitch Length: 2-4mm
Needle Tension: Decrease to 0 -3 (remember my standard setting is 4 so adjust for your serger)
Upper Looper Tension: Decrease to 2 – 3
Lower Looper Tension: Increase to 6 – 9
Disengage the knife
These setting serve as a guide. It will depend on the fabric and thread you end up serging with.
See if you have a Blind Hem Foot, if not you can use a standard foot.
There is a setting on the foot that moves to the right and left, allowing the needle to pierce more or less of the fabric. Test the stitch on your fabric to determine the setting.
Fold the fabric in half or if you are embellishing a seam, fold along the seam line. Align the fabric along the shield on the blind hem foot (if using a standard foot, mark a spot to align with).
The idea is for the needle to pierce the fabric – half the stitch is on the fabric and half is off the fabric. In fact the stitches look really messy coming out of the serger!
Stretch out the folded fabric to lie flat and press.
Pretty simple, but so fun! Have you ever tried this before? I would love some more ideas for decorative threads or yarns to use with this stitch.
Today is officially the end of National Serging month, did any of you pick up a good deal on a serger?
If you are thinking of adding a basic serger to the sewing room, really inexpensively, take a look at this Brother 1034D – on sale for $217 and free shipping! I had to double-check that, kind of thought it was a misprint 🙂 I have no idea how long the sale is on for or how many are in stock, but that is a great deal.
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:
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.
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.
Speaking 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I recall a class I taught years ago, one of the students gave me a review “great class, she is a pressing fanatic!” Well, that is true. In reality, pressing is what makes your sewing look professional. I thought I would share how I have my studio set up:
My all time favorite iron is the Hot Steam SGB-600 and I can’t believe how long I went without splurging on such a reasonably priced powerhouse steam iron. This iron plugs into a standard outlet (make sure to check that when researching commercial steam irons) and has a water container that holds almost an entire gallon of distilled water. The water container is attached to a wall and then the hose needs to hang from the ceiling or a high point. I have ceiling tiles in my studio and I am using clips that would typically hold a plant, I think I found them at Ace Hardware.
The iron came with the rubber mat, which is nice! I added the Iron Shoe which allows you press ANYTHING and it won’t leave shiny marks – even on cheap satin and poly! I will share more about that later.
One more thing, this iron has a powerful burst of steam and it DOES NOT leak, yeah! Have you ever ruined fabric from a leaky iron? Um, this brings back a memory … years ago, I was making a custom suit for a client. Just visualize a rich colored brown fabric – silk, wool blend. My iron was having a bad day and a few drips (or I should say a burst of drips) later the suit ended up in the trash. Very expensive fabric, but I couldn’t get the spots out! I have had this iron for quite a while and have never had as much as a drop.
Did I mention, I can’t stand irons that automatically turn off! What a waste of time, it’s never hot when you need it. That being said I do keep around a couple inexpensive Rowenta’s
for applying interfacing. They are easy to clean, very hot, and don’t usually leak (I say that with a squint in my eye as every iron seems to have its own personality, although out of about 30 Rowenta’s I only had 2 that dripped and 1 that caught on fire – another eventful day in the studio!).
Tip: keep a tube of Ez-Off Iron cleaner around – perfect for removing interfacing gook!
Do you have a favorite iron or a dripping horror story to share?