Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Colorado Quilting Journey!


          Even though it may seem like I am still in Texas managing the shop and writing all of the store emails, I have really been in Colorado for nearly three weeks. I have been spending quality time with my hubby:) This is where I come to renew and regenerate . . .  and cook! Well, that is only one of my pastimes. I also do a lot of hand embroidery, knitting and sewing. This trip I have been practicing my quilting skills in particular. I have pieced one and started another. 

I chose both quilt patterns from issues of Modern Quilt Studio. The first is "Making Waves" from issue #3 and the second, "Fade Away" is from issue #5. I have learned so much! And, had so much fun along the way. That is one of the most wonderful things about sewing; it is the process, the journey. The final outcome is also quite exhilarating, but for me it is the always the actual step by step process.

Making Waves: Pieced, Pinned and ready to machine quilt!
The Top Third of Fade Away
The Bottom Third of Fade Away; now for the middle!

Now back to Colorado! I thought that I would post just a few pictures of one of my favorite places on the planet!
Our Cabin 
Downtown Riverside
Aspen in front of the cabin.
Wildflowers Everywhere!
And Wild Roses too - my favorite.

Tomorrow is our last day here before we begin our drive back to Texas.
I will be back in the shop on Wednesday trying to catch up!
Next Saturday I will be teaching "Sewing with Knits"!



Going home:(

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sewing With Knits: Part III

          I've been sewing! I made the new Tara by Serendipity Studio a couple of weeks ago and just love it! So, I decided to give it a try in a jersey ~ as opposed to the woven cotton, which was my 4th of July dress pictured two posts ago! Kay Whitt, the designer of this pattern just happened to include two bodice choices. My first dress had the cute bodice tucks parallel to center front, but in thinking through making this out of a knit, I decided that the tucks could potentially cause "problems". So, I choose the plain bodice, BUT I rotary cut 6 strips of my knit twice the length of the bodice front by 1".  After running a gathering stitch down the center of each strip, I attached them to my bodice front (I chose an open zig zag stitch) before construction. This worked great - at least I think so! You'll see a close-up photo at the end of this post.

          When you are studying your patterns trying to decide which one to use for a knit project, my advise is "keep it simple"! Naturally, you can go with patterns that indicate "Knits Only", but who wants to make it that easy! If I am using a regular pattern, I almost always cut out the next smaller size - because knits do stretch! Most of the time, I look for simplicity in the design lines. Next I figure out what changes need to be made to make the construction process the easiest possible for the most "professional" results! 

If the pattern shows a zipper, I determine IF it is really necessary. If the fit is very close, then you will probably need the zipper. Next I look at facings. I really hate facings for knits, so I eliminate them and replace them with a lining - no more flippy facings! Keep in mind that the lining needs to have the same properties as the fashion fabric, so it also needs to stretch. Hold the two together to test their compatibility. First, trim your lining pieces along their seam allowances about 1/8". Next, sew up the side seams of the fashion fabric as well as the lining pieces. Now, with right sides facing each other, sew the outside to the lining going around the neckline and armhole openings ~ leave the top of the shoulder seam open. See my photos below for examples. After sewing, you will trim your seams closely, turn and press gently and then sew the shoulder seams (of the fashion fabric only!) You can slip stitch by hand the shoulder seams of the lining.




If you shy away from linings, then consider making your own "ribbing" as your finish for the neckline and sleeves. This is not difficult to do, but it requires a delicate touch: 
  • Cut out your strips with a rotary cutter (much easier!) It is not necessary to cut these on the bias and best you do not unless it is a knit that barely stretches.
  • Measure them against the garment opening that you are "facing" and sew together to create a circle.
  • Then press them in half width-wise - very carefully - do not to stretch it at all.
  • Pin to the wrong side of your garments and sew slowly,
  • Trim.
  • Turn the "ribbing" to the right side of the garment.
  • Press 
One last thought, IF you need to interface your garment, say for example, the knit is very stretchy (we call this an "unstable knit") then you may want to interface your raw curved edges. That would be the neckline and armhole opening for sure. Your interfacing needs to stretch along with everything else, so be sure and use a fusible tricot interfacing.  You will be very happy with the results.

Happy Sewing with your Knits! 

I will be leading a two part class on sewing with knits in August. I believe that it is already on our website.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sewing with Knits: Part II

The next two subjects that I would like to talk about are the stitch type and length that you choose for project as well as the choice between facings and linings.

I like to take a "scrap" of my chosen fabric, put in a new stretch or ball point needle, and run some sample stitches to see what works best. There are many weights of knits: some are "thinner" or "slinkier" that others, so it is a good idea to preview your stitches. Sometimes the foot pressure may seem to heavy, however, I have found that if the knit seems to drag through the feed dogs, all you need to do is lengthen the stitch length a little. I know that machines now come with built in stitches for knits, but I still test to see which is going to give me the best finish. On the rayon jersey knit pictured to the left I chose to use a regular straight stitch setting of 2.5 for my seams and a zig zag stitch (W=2.5;L=3) for my hem. These two settings allowed my fabric to lie flat with no stretching issues. I just finished a Maxi skirt with the fabric shown here and it hangs beautifully! I call this my "15 Minute Skirt".  I will go over this in detail in an upcoming class on sewing with knits at the shop. It will be a two part class with the first being a "Prep" class (in which I will also share my pattern and techniques for this skirt); the second part will be a workshop where you choose between 3 or 4 pattern suggestions and we make a dress!

             Now, for the discussion of Facings Versus Linings. 
Most patterns for garments include facings rather  
than a lining as it might seem an easier way to finish off the neckline and possible sleeves. This method does use less fabric, but when you are working with knits, you either need to bind the neck opening and sleeveless armhole openings or just line the entire bodice. To me, lining the bodice is by far easier! All you do is cut another bodice front and back out of a lining fabric. Pretty easy! Of course, the issue becomes finding the right lining. A sheer lightweight knit is the best choice and, of course, Sew It Up does stock this in white and natural at this time. See how this drapes ----
Perfect for knits because it IS a knit. It will stretch along with the rest of the dress and lays beautifully inside your garment without any puckering!

In our next installment I will cover interfacing for a garment using a knit fabric as well as pattern and fabric choices as well as how to cut it out!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sewing with Jersey Knits: Part I

                 Let's get started! Today, I am going to highlight the necessary notions to have on hand before we start sewing.

1. NEEDLES: One of the most important items to have on hand when sewing with knits is the proper kind of machine needle. You absolutely without a doubt need a ball point/ jersey needle. (Also sometimes labelled "stretch") They do come in different sizes - so choose the size based on the weight of the knit you are going to sew. Most jersey's are lightweight, so I use a 70. If you are using something like a Ponte, then use an 80. I will talk about hemming later, but you will need a twin stretch needle to do this unless you have a serger that does a "cover lock" stitch.

2. PINS: Use glass head and preferably new ones as knits can snag easily. And, speaking of snagging,make sure that you do not have any dry places on your hands or nails. Maybe lotion up the night before and do a little light filing:)

3. THREAD: Most of the time I use regular sewing thread in my sewing machine, but only Gutterman or Metrosene. Occasionally I will use "wooly nylon" in my bobbin ~ if I need the seam to stretch a lot. If I am serging my seams, I put the "wooly nylon" in the upper looper of my serger (regular thread in the needle and lower looper).

4. INTERFACING: Sometimes you will need a little interfacing for your project and it must be able to stretch along with the knit. My favorite is the tricot fusible; it comes in white and black. Another one of my favorite is a fusible stretch tape for stabilizing seams and even hemlines. You can cut your own from the tricot fusible interfacing.


5. WHICH FOOT TO USE: If you have a teflon foot, I find that this works marvelously; however if you do not have one, you can still sew up your project with ease.

6. PRESSING CLOTH: Imperative! And, do not set your iron on the highest setting ~ cotton! This is where most of us leave our irons set at, so just be careful to change the setting to silk or poly. 

Tomorrow I am going to discuss how to cut out your project! You do not need to pre-wash your jersey knits as you are most likely going to wash them on delicate in cold water. 


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sew Sew Sew Serendipity!


              Last Saturday we hosted Kay Whitt, the designer for Sew Serendipity Designs for an event. She brought us all of her new samples for her three newest patterns: The Jade Jacket,  the Willow Tunic/Dress & the Tara Dress (which she is wearing in the photo to the left). She even brought the samples from last Fall Market which were: Fashion Formula Volume 3 (12 Skirts 12 different ways!), the Jordan Jacket (a denim jacket look-a-like) and the Ramona Wrap Dress. We oohed over all the delicious garments ~ they totally inspired all of us to go sew them up! I was no exception. Just this morning, I finished my first Tara Dress. I made it up in a beautiful light weight cotton sateen. After studying the fabric I decided that it simply did not need any complimentary fabric. I choose the mid-calf length with a single deep ruffle (3"). I made the tie, bias binding - everything out of the one fabric. I love it! The pattern directions were a breeze to follow and, believe it or not, I only made one small change! I like having elastic in the back rather than the tie going all the way thru the casing. You cannot tell at all when you have the dress on, but for me, it is just more comfortable. As far as fit, I cut out the Small, except the front bodice. I cut out a medium to help fit me better. Its perfect!

        On Saturday, for the event, I wore one of Kay's slightly older patterns, the Juliet Nouveau, which I had not made before. I had this wild idea to make it out of a jersey! I cut out the small for all pieces. For the bodice, I eliminated all of the facings and lined it entirely out of a stretch jersey lining. I will go into more detail about how I sewed it up in my next post! I think that I will make it my goal to make up as many of Kay's patterns in knits! I will keep blogging on the topic of knits. I know that it has been a great while since my previous post. I will try to do better!

Here is the Juliet Nouveau out of a jersey:



Monday, September 30, 2013

Finished my first PDF pattern last night.

Fini!
Between the laundry, housework, cooking and packing for my trip, . . . I managed to finish a blouse and sew up this "Crossover Capelet" yesterday. Naturally, I had to take sewing breaks! This is the pattern that I downloaded as a PDF earlier in the week. First of all, I really love it! I chose a very nice herringbone wool in a soft gray/blue and paired it with a dusty navy lining; both from the shop. The buttons came out of one of my button boxes. A very nice glass button with a metal shank; actually Victorian. I love buttons!
I had to restrain myself from making any changes to the project as I wanted it to be just as the pattern designer intended. Well, okay, I did make one change: I eliminated the interfacing as I did not think that the collar needed it. I tried! I will make just a couple of changes on my next one though:)
So, what are my conclusions regarding the PDF pattern idea. Well, I made a list of Pros and Cons. 
On the Pro side:
  • The pattern is FREE.
  • You get instant gratification downloading a pattern; no need to order.
  • This is great if you don't happen to live near a "nice" fabric store!
  • This type of pattern costs the designer very little to produce; less profit, but far less risk of investment.
On the Con side:
  • To me the printing, taping the pages together accurately and then cutting was too time consuming.
  • I do not feel that it is truly free as you need to own a printer, have ink in printer, have plenty of paper and tape. Naturally, most people do own printers, but how much is it really costing??? Hmmm....
  • I prefer pinning through tissue rather than printer paper. Perhaps I should have traced the pattern off first like I usually do with my multi-sized patterns. More time....
  • Storage: There is no envelop to store your pattern in. A large manilla folder or a ziploc bag works, but it looks messy with my other patterns. I know, I am picky!
  • And, on a more "personal note" as a retailer, I cannot sell these patterns, so what incentive is there for me or my personnel to "test" the pattern for our customers. (I know that as a store owner it is considered to be in poor taste to mention $$$, but I do want to stay open for business:)
I'll show these Capelets off in my upcoming class in Ft Worth, "Vintage Effects on Modern Clothing" at the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo TEXAS debut!

Today, I have travelled all the way to Fredericksburg, Virginia to teach for the same Expo. I'll be sharing my love of Ruffle Fabrics AND hopefully inspiring others to sew more for the holidays!





Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sewing with my 1st PDF pattern!

Are you familiar with Stitch magazine by Interweave Press? It IS my favorite sewing magazine! They have great projects with great instructions and photographs that always make me want to go home and create something. But do I? Well, I must admit that the magazines do stack up with plenty of "dog eared" pages. I do look at them over and over again - does that count? 

So, I finally have picked a project as seen to the left here: The Criss Cross Capelet by April Moffat, featured in the Fall 2013 issue. Since I am teaching, Vintage Effects on Modern Clothes at the upcoming Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Ft Worth next month, this project fits right in. I would have already made it but what has held me back is that the pattern is available only as a PDF which is downloadable on their site, SEWDAILY.COM

I do not have a problem with PDF patterns at all, however when the project involves printing out more than 20 pages . . .  which you then have to tape together (very carefully matching up the dots) and then cut it out of the "stiff" inkjet printer paper (rather than the tissue paper that we know so well) well, need I say more? I know that it is FREE, but is it really??? I do not know what it costs per page on my printer, but we all know that the ink is not cheap. Paper; not too bad and neither is the tape very expensive. BUT,  do you know how long it took me to do all of this? Probably a little over 30 minutes! Hmmm . . .  I am not sure about this after all. Maybe I should change my opinion about these PDF's . . . . what does everyone else think of these? I think that I personally would rather have a pattern on tissue all printed out, with directions all inclusive. I would gladly pay for this service But wait, haven't we already been doing for decades!

Wow, I never thought that I would say this, but it must be my age! I must be getting "old"!
Okay, I am going to cut this out today and start sewing it up, so follow my progress and comments right here:)

Here is what the cover of the magazine looks like if you want to check and see if you have this issue.

PS Has everyone already ordered their tickets for the show in Ft Worth? If we want to have our own fabulous sewing show in north Texas, here is our chance to get one and keep it!