2 more people turned into sewers!

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

Expect the cost anything made from cotton to increase

The sudden surge in prices—cotton has risen up to 56% in three months—has alarmed manufacturers and retailers, who worry they may be forced to pass on higher costs to recession-weary consumers.


Horse Lover’s Skirt and Top

This little outfit was made for my 7 year old grand daughter, who loves anything horses, especially riding them at the other grandma’s house.

The top is store bought, a Faded Glory Girl Tee (about $4)

1/3 yard of Robert Kaufam, “The Real McCoy” fabric, for the skirt body

6″ x45″ 85% cotton/15% lycra knit fabric for the yoga pant type waistband

The embroidery on the shirt was done on my Brother PE-700II with a free online download.

I changed the suggested  colors to coordinate with the fabric’s horse colors.

The yoga waistband did not require elastic, since it has Lycra in the fabric.

To make this little skirt without a pattern, here is what I did.

  1. Cut the cotton/Lycra knit strip 1″ smaller than desired finished  waist measurement.
  2. Sew waistband  6 ‘ ends together , right sides facing each other with a 1/2″ seam using a stretch stitch.
  3. Turn waistband right side out and fold in half, so the long cut raw edges are together. HINT when pulling knit fabric it will always tell you the “right” side, since the cut edge will always curl TO the “right” side.
  4. Along the long cut edge divide the waistband in quarters, marking with pins.
  5. Trim off selvage from skirt fabric.
  6. Sew up edges to create a back seam where selvage was trimmed off. (I used a french seam).
  7. Quarter the top edge of the skirt fabric and mark with pins like on yoga waistband.
  8. Run a very loose gather stitch around top edge of skirt.  Only gather to fit the yoga waistband when it is stretched to its maximum length.
  9. Match up quarter marking on yoga waist band and skirt fabric.  Match center back seam of yoga waistband and skirt match.
  10. Stretch the waist band to fit the gathered skirt fabric as you sew using a stretch stitch.
  11. Turn up bottom and hem as desired.

HINT  If you have an “overedge” presser foot, you may want to give this foot an opportunity to show you how nice it works.  The black ledge under the tiny white brush is the seam edge guide. The bush keeps the “fuzz” from the raw edge at bay.  The zig zag stitch (check your machine stitch options) works with this foot giving you a type of serged edge finish.  I was in a hurry and my serger had hot pink thread on it, so I opted to used this foot to sew the back waistband seam and attach the yoga waistband to the skirt body.

Bobbins That Work

One of the biggest issues with sewing machine users is bobbin “puke”, as one student called the rat’s nest of thread that developed in and around her bobbin case of her sewing machine. One important thing to understand is that not all bobbins fit your specific sewing machine. The best way to be assured you are using the correct bobbin for your machine is to make sure your model is specified on the package before you buy.  The backside of a bobbin package will tell you if your sewing machine will accommodate the packaged bobbin. If it doesn’t say your machine brand, do NOT buy.  Just to be safe, I buy the bobbin brand that is made by my machine’s company.  I don’t believe there is a generic/universal bobbin that works well, and for a few pennies more a cause for bobbin “puke” can be eliminated.

I have found some wonderful prices on large quantities of bobbins on eBay. Anyone who sews lots can never have enough bobbins. Search by brand name and the word bobbin to locate your machine’s specific bobbin.

It is never a good idea to wind thread colors over other colors.  If you have a small amount of thread on a bobbin and you wind over it with another color you can’t use the first color anyway.  HINT Drop a bobbin you want to empty into a clean coffee mug, and let the bobbin dance in the mug as you pull off the un-needed thread.

Pre wound bobbins, which are often used by quilters and embroidery machine users should also be brand specific.  Pre wound bobbins can save time when using large amounts of thread.  There also are small bobbin winder machines; Sidewinder is one brand name (it may be machine brand specific, so check this out before buying one).  Some people love them.  The rational I have heard for using one is people hate it when their bobbin runs out of thread while sewing, and they hate to unthread their machine to wind a bobbin.  In my opinion, you still have to unthread your machine to use a bobbin winder device, unless you have 2 spools of thread. Most sewing machines can be left threaded if you use this second spool of thread to wind an additional bobbin.  My machines wind bobbins just fine, so I don’t have one, but I know some people love them. HINT If you are fearful you will run out of thread on a sewing project, and don’t want to unthread your machine to wind a bobbin, wind a spare bobbin with thread.  It can always be used just like a spool of thread at a later time.

Power Surge CAUTION!

We had a huge thunder and lightening storm last night!  If you’re like me, rain makes perfect weather for reading or sewing.  If you have a sewing machine that has a computer “brain”, you need to remember to use a power surge protector that grounds your precious sewing machine.

What a SHOCK it would be to ruin your sewing machine tool!

Single Plug surge protectors are available from the $6 to $8 range.  I like these small ones, since they are portable like my sewing machine.

Look Mom! “No Feet”

Sewing machines have morphed over time, becoming more user friendly. Machines have gone from the hand crank, which made fabric control difficult, limiting a sewer to one helping hand.

Treadle machines gave both hands back to sewers and also gave them a good work out, vigorously pumping with the feet to power the machine. Treadle machines still allow one to sew without electricity. (Janome makes a more current model of one of these “exercise” machines http://janome.com/index.cfm/Machines/Specialty/712T).

With electricity came the knee lever.  The sewer pushed a lever, secured at knee height onto a sewing machine cabinet.  This was not great for bad knees and it forced the sewing machine to stay in a stationary location.

The foot accelerator/peddle seemed like a natural since more people were driving cars. Today most home sewing machines use this method. These foot controls have allowed for portable sewing machines.

With quilting arts being done on home sewing machines, many of the new multi-use sewing/quilting machines have the “no feet” ability.  (Note: I am not talking about the presser foot that a sewing needle goes through). These machines have the ability to start and stop the machine sewing with the tap of a finger. I feel like a race car driver who taps the button when the race call “start your engine” is heard!   This feature allows for sustained consistent machine sewing as one quilts for long periods of time.  Many of these machines also have a thread cutting option that snips the thread next to the project when finished sewing. This is the machine I most recently used when a student brought it to class, I was impressed! (http://janome.com/index.cfm/Machines/Sewing-Quilting/3160QDC).

This machine is a Godsend for people who quilt for long periods of time, but also for people with bad legs, hips or  knees who love to sew, or for those who no longer have use of part of their lower bodies

Sewing machines have come a long way.  Just like I wonder what Thomas Jefferson would have thought of email, I wonder what the early sewing machine inventors would think of these machines today!

These inventions are to keep us happy, productive sewers!

Those funny dots on fabric edges!

Have you ever marveled at those dots on the edge of decorator or home sewing fabric?  Well here is a clue to what they mean!

When selecting fabric for a project, you may find printed information on the selvage edge of fabric.  (Selvage:  The self-finished edge caused by the weaving of the fabric.  A raw cut edge, cut at a fabric store, goes across this selvage on both sides of yardage)

This printing tells several things.

Often the name of design, year it was put into the marketplace, who manufactured the fabric, and then the “color dots” (color ways).  Designers who work with fabrics use these color clues.  Each of these dots will tell you the exact colors used in this fabric.

Decorators will use these colors to help with color selections for a project.  Sewers can use these colors for selection of other fabrics and notions needed to complete a project.  The selection of commercial bias tapes colors was huge with lots  of greens and yellows to select from, this required I have the color “dots” which were the key to selecting the exact color of trim needed.

Oh, and what in the world am I making from broccoli print fabric?

I am going to draft a vintage apron and attempt to make it!

To see it, check back later.

Happy Stitching – – – – – –

Easy To Thread Sewing Machine Needles

Helping us sew

As a sewing instructor I have a large spectrum of ages and abilities of sewing students.  There are sewing aids to help with some of the basic physical problems for sewing machine users.

– – – – – – – -Easier to thread sewing machine needles – – – – – – – – –

This type of needle is great for:

  • Low vision sewers
  • Hands that have limited mobility or feeling
  • Sewers without machine with built in needle threaders

Schmetz makes a sewing machine needle to assist with threading a machine needle.  The needle is “universal” in function, and comes 5 to a pack and in two sizes:  12/80 and 14/90.

Here is how this needle is threaded.  Instead of passing the sewing thread through the eye of needle from front to back, which is like attempting to hit a bull’s eye on a tiny target, this needle has a small opening/slit on the right side of the needle.  The sewer can simply pull the thread down the side of the needle and it will snap into the eye of the needle.

When using this needle  be aware the thread can come out of the same opening.  When completing a seam never pull the fabric to the RIGHT to cut the thread, it will UNthread.   ALWAYS pull the thread to the LEFT and BACK before cutting.  Once this habit is learned this needle is wonderful sewing assist!

A window into my childhood sewing room

My ears are always open when I sew.  As a young girl sitting upstairs on warm summer Southern California days at my mom’s Necchi Sewing machine, I listened to the radio.

Arthur Godfrey (Arthur Godfrey Time, 1960-72) was one audible window to my world.   I adored the voice of  Kate Smith http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Smith; she had a wonderful strong voice that thrilled me to be an American girl! She is the person that made Irving Berlin’s God Bless America a well-known classic.  This American girl wants to share a bit of my window of the world from the early 1960s, which I enjoyed while learning to sew.  Enjoy, and Happy 4th of July.

Kate Smith introduces “God Bless America”

Sewing Tip #1: Thread your Needle with Ease!

Thread has a nap* and we are supposed to thread the needle with the tail that comes off the spool.

Use 18″-23″ of thread.

If you want to sew with a doubled thread:
Instead of folding the thread in half and knotting the two tails, cut a second length of thread and feed the two ends through the eye of your needle, then knot ends together. The nap of the two lengths of thread will be going the same direction and not fight each other the way the thread does when you fold it in half and knot the two ends.

*Nap: Projections on the surface of the thread in the direction which they naturally lie.