Thursday, September 26, 2013

Craftsy Blog Posts

I Have a New Gig

I will be posting weekly tips on the blog. I will be offering simple yet helpful sewing tips designed for the new to experienced sewer. Sewing can sometimes be frustrating but it doesn't have to be. I hope with these weekly tips I can help to make it a bit easier and a whole lot more fun. 

Check out my first post where I will introduce you to the stitch starter -the purple fleece fabric in the photo. It's something I'm sure you'll find very useful as you begin to work with the season's bulkier fabrics.

Thursday, September 19, 2013 Webinar

Whew! Have I been busy!

I will be conducting a live webinar for this coming Monday, Sep. 23rd at 2pm EST. The topic is "Sewing Winter Fabrics". I will be delivering an hour long presentation discussing tips and techniques for sewing some of the season's extra special and less conventional fabrics. In other words, fabrics with unique characteristics that require special handling and in some cases, an altogether different set of sewing methods. 

The fabrics I will discussing include fleece (also microfleece and cuddle cloth), velvet, no-fray woolens, (like boiled wool and melton cloth), leather, suede and fur, (both real and faux). Its a lot to cover, but it addresses fabrics that come into favor this time of year and have moved to the front of the our favorite fabric stores.  

I plan to cover basic strategies for dealing with these sometimes difficult fabrics.  How best to layout patterns, pin, cut, and mark them.  I'll address what settings or strategies work best to sew these fabrics on the  sewing machine. I will offer my recommendations for the best seam finishes for each, and how best to press or care for these far from ordinary fabrics. 

It was a lot of work to put together, but it is chock full of information. So, if you are thinking about sewing with one of these fabrics for the first time, or simply wish to further hone your skills you might want to listen in. The presentation is live on Monday at 2pm EST, but if that day and time don't work, you can still purchase the recorded session. 

I hope you can squeeze me into your day. I'll let you know how it went. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hemming Stitch

Wednesday Tip of the Week

As a sewing instructor I am continually amazed at how many of my students abhor the prospect of doing any hand stitching (the same can be said for ironing). Granted, most of my students are beginner sewers so any and every new sewing technique is greeted with some hesitation. I expect that, but if you want to sew, some hand sewing is going to be necessary.  Learning how to do just a few simple hand stitches is all one needs to handle a wide variety of applications.

There is one stitch I consider my 'go-to' hand stitch that I believe any sewer must learn. I use it almost exclusively for hemming, but it is also the stitch I use to attach linings around a zipper or kick pleat or facing. It's a particularly good one because the stitches (if done carefully) are hardly visible, both on the right side and underside which makes any garment look professionally done. 

The technical name of this stitch is a slip stitch. When done to join one fabric to another or to add an applique where the underside will not be visible, it's called a fell stitch. The difference of the two is their appearance on the underside of the project. Both look exactly the same on the right side - a small, simple pick stitch is all you should see. On the wrong side, or underside, the slip stitch produces a very small, hardly visible pick stitch.  For the underside of the fell stitch, a longer diagonal stitch is visible. In either case, the process of producing the 2 stitches is very similar. 

Here is how you sew each of them:
Slip Stitch -- my default stitch for hemming

 1.  Pin the hem in place. Position the garment so the hem is turned up (north) and facing you. You are going to sew from right to left. Begin at a seam. Thread a needle with a fairly long length of thread.

To strengthen the thread and prevent it from knotting up, I run it through some beeswax. Now knot one end of a single thread. 

2. Begin the stitch by running the needle from the backside of a seam allowance, as shown in the photo, up through the top of the hem edge (6 o'clock).  Notice the needle placement is roughly 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the hem edge. 

3. Now take a tiny -no more than a thread- stitch directly above (12 o'clock) into the garment base. The resulting stitch should be quick small and perfectly vertical. 

4. Next, angle the needle to enter the hem edge approximately 1/2 inch from the first stitch. (The space between each stitch will depend on the nature of the application and the fabric) Bring up the needle at the 6 o'clock position and repeat the process described in steps 2 and 3. 

5. Continue this process throughout the hem making sure only a thread or two is captured of the garment fabric. Also make sure the spaces between the stitches is consistent.  On the underside or right side of the garment, only small, evenly spaced pick stitches should be visible. If applying on lofty or dense fabrics, the stitches will most likely not be visible at all. 

The Fell Stitch- used for securing one piece to another where the underside will not be visible. The directions are based on attaching lining to a zipper on the inside of a garment.

1. Begin in the same fashion as the slip stitch - in this example start at the top of the zipper. From the 6 o'clock position direct the needle to enter the zipper tape at 12 o'clock as in the slip stitch. The difference is instead of just capturing a thread of zipper tape, the needle is inserted into the zipper tape, and while under the tape angles 45 degrees and comes out into the folded edge of the connecting lining.  Repeat.

2. Only the small vertical stitches going from the 6 to 12 o'clock positions should be visible. Nothing should be visible on the underside or right side of the garment. All of the stitches should be contained between the zipper tape and the garment fabric. 

3. Here again, the stitches should be evenly spaced, but closer together -  1/8 to 1/4 inch apart.