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Easy Way To Transfer Embroidery Design Pattern Items needed: Design you wish to embroider by hand. I googled images to select one and printed it out in the size I desired) Fabric of choice (I tend to use fine muslin, or linen fabrics) Embroidery...

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Make Easy Grip Sewing Washer Weights Sewing weights are wonderful tools for arranging and holding your patterns on fabric.  They allow making adjustments easy, since pins are not used to secure the pattern to the fabric. There are...

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Mark With Ink And Remove With Heat I was introduced to this pen at a Quilt Show.  Marking fabric is always something I am interested in, so I had to own a few of these pens     Pilot FriXion Ball Erasable Gel Pens,...

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Latch Hoop Fabric Tube/Strap Turner There are a number of fabric turners and methods.  I was just at a quilt show where one was being sold upwards of $50. Yes, people have used little safety pins and cord to turn fabric tubes, but this...

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Seam Rippers, YES there are different kinds and they... Robert Kaufman Fabric   Seam rippers are a new sewers handy dandy tool.  The seam ripper does just what the name says, it rips out the mistaken sewing stitches.  Over the years methods...

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Make Easy Grip Sewing Washer Weights

Category : Sewing Tools


Sewing weights are wonderful tools for arranging and holding your patterns on fabric.  They allow making adjustments easy, since pins are not used to secure the pattern to the fabric. There are just two down sides to washer weights; they can get lost in the folds of fabric, and they are not fingernail friendly. So I created these little sewing notions.

Here is what is needed to make these weights.

  • A collection (I like to use the same size and brand) plastic easy off juice bottle lids.
  • Super glue, used for plastic and metal
  • Washer the same size as the bottom of the lid
  • Protective paper for your work surface
  • Acetone nail polish remover (for finger clean up)

I use the “Simple” brand juice lids (get friends to save them for you, too!) since they have a nice grip sides. They also have a sweet “S” on them which says “sewing” to me. (Of course any plastic lid can be used.) Remove any stickers then wash/dry well.


Measure the bottom of the lid to make sure you get the correct washer size from your local hardware.


Notice washers are little different on each side. Feel with your fingers, you will find one side a little smoother/rounded on the edges.  This smoother side is NOT the side you want to glue to your lid.  This smoother side is what you want to touch your fabric, since it is more fabric friendly.



Place protective paper on work surface, and have lids upside down, and washer set so you know each good and bad side. (You may wish to note the bad side with a sharpie “x”, if needed).

Working fast place a thin line of glue all around the edge, it may be hard to see.


Using your fingers, hold through the center of the washer and place evenly centered over glued edge and press in place then leave alone for about 10 minutes. Quickly move on to your next lid, since glue dries fast. (I used single use tubes of glue, which allowed me to make about two at a time from each tube.) Centering is what gets glue on your skin and you will need to remove excess with acetone when done. Don’t make these when your nails are polished!



Voila! You have just created a new user friendly sewing tool without spending a lot of money!



Happy Sewing
Picture 7


Mark With Ink And Remove With Heat

Category : Sewing Tools

I was introduced to this pen at a Quilt Show.  Marking fabric is always something I am interested in, so I had to own a few of these pens

Gel Pens



Pilot FriXion Ball Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point are what I am talking about.  They come in a variety of colors (check out Amazon). Not just any gel pen will do what these pens will do.  They are sensitive to heat and cold.  This is important to know when using them.

Tracing with gel pen

Here I have taped fabric to a pattern to a window and I’m using the fine tip gel pen to traced a design to be embroidered by hand. They could be used for marking almost any type of pattern markings.

The interesting thing is these inked lines will go away with heat.  Below I have drawn a simple flower then I removed the bottom half with a warm iron.

Gel Pen drawing before heat

    Gel Pen Ink removed with heat

A word of caution, leaving a gel marked fabric in a hot car or in any place where it is subjected to heat can cause your markings to leave.  Some markings can be restored by placing it in a freezer for a few minutes…but I would not depend on this, if I didn’t have to.

Try these, you may love having them in you stash of tools.

HINT:  Try to store any liquid pens used for marking in a zip lock bag to give the pens an extra layer of protection from air that could dry them out.

Store Gel Pens

Happy Sewing

Picture 7


Latch Hoop Fabric Tube/Strap Turner

Category : Sewing Tools

There are a number of fabric turners and methods.  I was just at a quilt show where one was being sold upwards of $50. Yes, people have used little safety pins and cord to turn fabric tubes, but this little tool hangs on my cork board in my sewing room, and I find this tool handy and affordable.  Just a few things need to be considered when using it.

This is a Dritz Loop Turner, it sells for less than $5. and is 9.5” long.


Hoop Tuner 1

How to use:

Sew you tube along cut edge, no need for any fancy stitcing at either end of your tube, you may wish to back stitch at the ends.  Just remember to have rights side of fabric facing each other when sewing. Trim you seam edge if wider than the finished tube/strap desired.


Open the latch before inserting the turner into your tube.


When you reach the other end of your tube, allow the latch to poke through the fabric or stitched side about 1/4” from the end.


Close the latch, which locks the 1/4” end of the fabric into the hook.


Start Gently for the fibrin to start folding into the tube.  Once it gets started keep a steady pulling action, not pushing the turner back up.

Once the latched end begins to show, you can remove the turner and finsih pulling the tub/strap with your fingers.


Remember to store this tool safely since it is thin and could easily bend or get lost.

Seam Rippers, YES there are different kinds and they get dull!

Category : Sewing Tools

Robert Kaufman Fabric - Seam Rippers

Robert Kaufman Fabric


Seam rippers are a new sewers handy dandy tool.  The seam ripper does just what the name says, it rips out the mistaken sewing stitches.  Over the years methods to remove mistakes in sewing have taken many forms.  Early on tiny little scissors with very sharp points were the most common tool.  Latter came the use of blades (yes, like straight edge razors).  And some people used surgeon’s scalpels used to preform surgery.  I remember being introduced to a seam ripper when my dad bought a sewing machine for me to use back in 1962.  In the machines tools and feet was this strange very little tool, with a cap on it and the name of the sewing machine printed on the side, like a promotion item.  Once I got the hang of using it, I have never been without one by my side sewing side.

Years have passed and the seam ripper has only become better.  With the introduction of a longer handle, one’s hands didn’t cramp when lots of seams needed to be ripped.  When the ergonomic handle arrived life as a sewer took another great leap.  A shaped and fatter handle made all the difference in ones ability to control the ripper as used.

Let’s take a look at a few seam rippers.

Seam Rippers

It is easy to see these tools all belong to the same family.

The white one at the top is generic and came in the tool assortment with my latest sewing machine.  It is tiny, has a handle that also doubles as a cap for protection of the tip. You will notice it also is missing the little red protective ball on the dull end.  This ball is present on rippers as a protection for your fabric as you remove threads.  I keep this ripper with my machine tools, and rarely use it.

The second blue and pink ripper was my first ergonomic seam ripper.  It has a cap, for protection of the tip.  The cap does not fit anywhere but to cover the sharp tip, so it can be easily displaced or lost.  It has a thin blade, which is excellent for working with small stitches and fine fabrics.

The third and forth rippers made by Dritz look a lot alike, with one being just slightly smaller than the other.  The important thing to notice is the cutting blade end. The bottom one it longer and much thicker.  This size  ripper is used for heavy duty stitches and fabric, think blue jeans.  It is a stronger blade with a littler larger handle which helps make this type of seam removal easier. These two seam rippers do not have protective caps, so I keep mine in a snap lock box when not in use.

Now for those who like to risk doing surgery when they remove seams!  Havel’s Ultra Pro I Seam Ripper comes with replacement blades.  Thankfully I have never felt the need to invest

Blade Ripper

All rippers get DULL with use!  If you have had one for awhile and used it quite a bit, you may want to consider buying a new one… you may find out you were working pretty hard to rip seams with a duller blade.  Also, like a dull knife, a dull ripper can cause one to use excessive pressure, making slip-ups more likely. We change sewing machine needles, why not our rippers!

If you want to see the large variety of seam rippers do a computer image search.  This past summer I was in Ashland, Oregon and found a beautiful hand turned wood handled ergonomic ripper which became a gift for a friend.

Sewing Hint: If you find lots of small cut treads left after ripping a seam, use some sticky tape to dab at the treads.  This pulls out these thread specks and makes it easy to dispose.

Happy Stitching…and ripping.




Marking Sewing Patterns With Disappearing Ink Pens

Category : Sewing Tips, Sewing Tools

There are 2 basic types of disappearing ink pens used for marking sewing patterns. These are not your everyday felt marking pens, but pens designed for the sewer.  One type of pen is made to disappear on its own after 3 or so days, so you need to consider this when you mark your pattern.  The other type of marking pen is made to disappear when moistened with water.

Both of these types of pens need to be tested on fabric before they are used on the specific fabric.  This will tell the sewer what to expect as an end result.  Some ink is set with an iron, so make sure you read the instructions and test you pen before use.

1. Identify the marking spot on you pattern and pin down straight through the pattern and fabric layers.




2.  Open back the fabric pattern to expose the pin marking.  Select the pen you wish to use.




3.  Using the fine tip of your marking pen, mark a dot at the exact location where the pen entered the fabric.  When markings are completed, remove the pattern from fabric.



Always keep the caps tight on your pens when not in use!

There are other methods and materials used to mark fabric, this is just one method which is often used on cotton and cotton blend/washable sewing projects .

Kathleen’s Easy Peesy Iron Up Hem Guide

Category : My Sewing Room, Sewing Tips, Sewing Tools

This is one of the most useful tools I use when sewing.  For years I have hand made my own to use, then tossing out when they get “used up”.  I hope you will find this as handy and useful in your sewing as I have.  Follow the images below to see how I use this device.


Download Sewing With Kathleen Easy Hem Guide This is the improved guide!


IMG_0725IMG_0726IMG_0728IMG_0729When the card is “used up” just print out a new one and keep sewing. Contunue Reading

Reading a Ruler or Tape Measure (non metric)

Category : featured, Sewing Tips, Sewing Tools

When sewing, measuring IS the most important skill! Without proper measuring skills, construction just doesn’t work. Imagine someone building a home who never measured. Nothing fits well or looks correct!

Here is a simple graphic of how to read the most basic portion, an inch, of a non metric measuring device. Bookmark this section if you need to reference it if you are not sure in the future!

Re-Visiting a Sewing Machine

Category : featured, My Sewing Room, Sewing Tools

Today I taught a private lesson that took me back in time. My student was new to sewing, but had been given a very old “vintage” Husqvarna Viking sewing machine, not much different than the one I sewed on for years. Here is a picture of the model I was presented with today.

All the bells and whistles of this wonderful machine came back within a few minutes. The best part of using this machine was the feel. I will never forget the feel of a smooth running mechanical sewing machine and to use it was pure bliss! The machine model I had is below, and yes, I just plain wore out this machine! You will notice the machine I had was a newer model since it had a carry handle, something the older machine didn’t have, but it was still the “same” machine in many ways.

This was a fun teaching day and this student is going to do so well. I love giving “birth” to a new sewer!

Happy stitching!

Teaching a 7 year old to sew.

Category : Fabric Information, My Projects, My Sewing Room, Sewing Tools, Student's Projects

Making lasting good sewing memories!

For several years I have sewn with my oldest granddaughter by my side.  She was always egging me on to sew doll clothes and other critters (see my post here) with a little Janome Mini sewing machine. I purchased this machine on sale for $39.99 on a whim from Hancock Fabrics since I had small granddaughters (You can get one here).  I kept the carrot out in front of her that soon she would be able to sew with the machine.

FINALLY she was old enough and we had 2 glorious days when she was on vacation from school and mommy and daddy were on a mini get away vacation.  I kept in my head that if it was too hard for her we would not proceed, but this child is very good at drawing, writing and cutting.  Along with a good attention span, and I felt it might be the right time.

I started her introduction with Sharpie lines drawn on paper, straight line, then lines that formed boxes, then in curves like ocean waves.  Without thread in the sewing machine she punched away, holding them up to the light to see the holes.

  • First teach what the sewing presser “foot” and take up lever are /do on a sewing machine
  • Second name the foot power pedal the “pedal” so the difference from the foot can be explained when sewing.
  • Third learn what the hand wheel is and which way to turn it.
  • Turning corners is a great practice to learn to use the take up lever, needle down concept while learning to control the pedal use.

As I fixed supper she was working away with the machine, hopping up and down to show me what she had done, giggling with delight!

We then traced out a very basic pine tree and drew it onto a brown paper sack and cut it out.  We were going to sew around it in green thread.

  • How to wind a bobbin (the cute little spool of thread that is wound on a bobbin that looks kind of like a donut).
  • How to put a bobbin into the bobbin case of the sewing machine
  • How to use the spool to thread a sewing machine, using the thread guides
  • Threading the eye of the needle
  • Testing the stitches to see if we did the job correctly (HINT: Ugly on top, bobbin not correct. Ugly on the bottom, the spool not threaded correctly)

Now we were ready sew around the paper tree.  We laughed, if it was funky, we would just do it again…no big deal!  We cut new shapes, and around we went.  She used the edge of the presser foot as her guild for sewing even.  While I fixed breakfast the next morning, she was back at the sewing machine working away.

Kit, her beloved 18″ American Girl doll is the perfect size with which to start sewing projects.  I went to the web page that has the .jpg ( free ) for Molly clothes and downloaded the one piece pajama bottoms.  As a side, this is the same project, but adult size I use to start beginning adults. (If you are interested in the dolls pattern:  http://www.agplaythings.com/AG%20Patterns/DollDressPatterns.html ).  After I printed out the 4 pieces that make the pants, we taped them all together like the puzzle they are, and with PAPER scissors, cut them out.  I started the girls cutting paper dolls at 4 to help them with basic skills.  We then went into Grandma’s stash of fabric, picked out our “favorite color, pink” fabric.  We pinned and cut together, with Audrey doing most of the cutting as I sat and watched.  Lots of praise, never a “let me do it” from me, but a “let me show you” then turning it over to the child.  Sure I could have done the whole thing, but this is not what teaching sewing is about.  I would tell stories about how I goofed up lots, and how every time I made a goof I learned something new!  We talked about how our bodies are not flat, but curved and we have to remember that when we sew.  She asked me, how do people know how to make patterns, and we talked about how some people do that for their jobs.

Step by step WE worked through the process of the pants.  Patience is the name of the game for Grandma, learning is the game for the child!  We talked about how irons and sewing machines work together.  I have a mini iron, that does not get too hot, and she learned to use it.  Before long we had performed magic, and she turned her Kit’s sleep pant right side out, and saw the “magic” of sewing.

Audrey doing the “magic”!

As I was driving her back to her house, she was planning what she was going to make next time!

WE both had a good time!

More information about Janome Mini?  http://twowildflowers.typepad.com/two_wildflowers/2009/11/janome-mini-sewing-machine-manual-instructions.html  I have referred to this as a “toy”, and it is NOT, it is a mini sewing tool!

*BOLD used to indicate sewing vocabulary

2 more people turned into sewers!

Category : Sewing Tools, Student's Projects

Just finished a class taking non sewers into sewers.  I always love giving “birth” to new skilled sewers.

They were introduced to the value of using a “bodkin” to insert elastic into a casing.  If this is something you struggle with when using a safety pin, you might want to give this little inexpensive tool a try.  I have used one for a LONG time, and find it a great tool in my tool box!

Happy stitching