Saturday, April 16, 2011

Our next post is coming soon!!!

We are going to post a new project in the next day or so so look for this.  We are also going to start our series of how to projects, we intend to have a new project weekly (at least one simple project weekly we may up that to two if time permits).  We want to teach people who are in need of this learning.  So I wanted to let everyone know we have not neglected or forgotten about this blog, we are simply in a small stall that is somewhat of a creation and development phase.  So bear with you and you will be pleased with the outcome!!

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sewing Machines

By request I am going to tackle this topic.  I have to admit that I am not a sewing machine expert but I know what I like and I know what makes a good basic machine.  Currently I own three different machines one is a digital special edition project runway brother, I love this machine as it has alot of different stitches and comes with many different tools.  This machine is a tad finicky in that you must do things in a specific order or you get an error read out on the digital screen.  But once you get used to it the machine has great stitches and sews very smoothly.  A machine that is comparable to mine is the Brother 60-Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine, CS-6000i.  This machine is about the same price that I paid for my project runway edition it will cost about 170.00  (I am looking at walmart and also hancock for prices on machines I am sure that amazon or ebay might have different prices on machines), this might be a bit high if you are just looking for a machine to do everyday repairs but if you want to get into sewing more then I recommend looking at a machine that has more features such as this one.  Other machines that are nice in this same price range are the Brother 50-Stitch Limited Edition Project Runway Sewing Machine, CE5500PRW (this machine is also similar to mine however, it has less stitches then mine and is set up a tad bit different), this machine is about 150.00.  Another great machine that can be bought in this same category is a singer, (my mother owns a Singer), Singer is a great brand the machines I have used also have great stitches and are fairly user friendly.  If anyone is interested in a singer brand I can put up some recommendations for those as well but for now lets move on and look at a basic machine.

For your basic machine you will want to look for a few things.  I recommend that your machine have a switch to adjust needle position, a dial or button to change your type of stitch, and a dial or button to adjust the length/width of your stitch.  All machines will have a reverse button and there should also be a button/knob used to adjust the tension of the machine.   A basic machine with these features should not cost you a terribly large amount of money. I would as I mentioned above stick with a good brand Brother is a good brand and so is Singer, my surger is a Janome this brand came highly recommended by the specialists at Hancock fabrics (they said that this is the only brand of machine that is built entirely in the same factory or rather all the parts are made my Janome I believe is the case, you will not find this in other machines according to the information I was provided), a Janome will be slightly more expensive so if you want the feature of a machine that is completely manufactored by the same company than you could go this route.  However, I do not feel this is a necessary feature if you want your machine for simple projects or for repairing clothing.  My basic machine cost me under 50 dollars but I must tell you I got it on sale during black Friday, so don't expect to find one that cheap unless of course you hit an awesome sale.  A few basic machines that I have found that I like are: 

  • Brother 25-Stitch Free-Arm Sewing Machine, XL-2600i
  • Brother Limited Edition Project Runway 20-Stitch Function Sewing Machine, LS2250PRW
  • Singer Simple 23-Stitch Sewing Machine 2263
  • Brother 10-Stitch Portable Sewing Machine, LS-2125i
  • Janome RE1706 Sewing Machine (this is a nice machine but it runs about 100)
  • Singer Inspiration Basic 5-Stitch Sewing Machine(this machine is about 150.00 but is a pretty easy use machine if you want that, I personally for a basic beginner machine would keep it under 100.
I want to state that I am not endorsing any specific brand or stores, these are just the places I have shopped for my machines in the past and would shop there again. The types of machines I just listed I choose because I would be happy as a beginner using any of these machines.  If you don't like the machines I listed and are looking for a basic machine just take with you the basic components that would make for a good first machine:

  • A free arm ( I find this to be very helpful)
  • Adjustable length and width for stitches
  • Adjustable needle position
  • A variety of stitches to include a straight stitch, a zig zag and a button hole
  • Adjustable thread tension
  • I didn't mention this above but look for an easy load bobbin some older models make loading the bobbin a tad difficult. 
  • You also want the machine to come with necessary tools, and a few interchangeable presser feet
I hope this is helpful!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Creating a Simple Hem

Our topic for today is creating a hem!  (I intend for all of our post in the recent future to add photos of each step this was suggested to me today and I agree that it is a fabulous idea so look for this feature soon!) In order to create a hem you must decide how large you want your hem to be, if you are using a pattern it might already tell you how large to make the hem.  For this blog we are going to create a 1" hem.

>Items you will need, scissors, iron, ironing board or something to iron on, thread, and a sewing machine. (we will talk about hand sewing a hem in a different post)

>Okay first take your garment and turn it wrong side out.



>Take your tape measure and measure up 1 inch  and begin ironing this amount up.  Iron all the way around the garment. If you are good at eyeballing you don't have to keep measuring as you iron but if you are new to this process I recommend that you keep your tape measure handy and frequently check your ironing to make sure that your hem is not loosing or gaining inches.

>After you have gone completely around your garment ironing up1 inch, you are going to start the process again on the raw edge of the garment.  The raw edge is considered the top edge of the 1 inch you just ironed up.  Begin by measuring 1/4" and turning that under.  You are again going to iron this piece so you have a nice neat hem.  Do this all the way around your garment.  Or you could practice all these steps on a scrap piece of material.

>Now we sew!  If you are sewing on a pair of pants or shorts I recommend if your machine has a removable compartment in the front of your machine, remove this your pants will fit much better without this. For a skirt and most other garments you can leave this piece in place. You want to sew as close as you can to the top folded in and ironed edge.  But make sure you go down enough to ensure that you stay on the hem.

>Start sewing the hem by going forward a small amount then backtracking and going forward again.  This will ensure that your hem has a nice solid start.  Go slowly and try to stay in a straight line sew completely around your hem.  At the end of the hem backtrack once again.  Now your hem is finished.

    That wasn't to bad was it :)!  I hope the pictures have added to the ease of making a hem!  If not let me know if there is something I can do better!

    Happy Sewing!

    Saturday, March 26, 2011

    Sewing a Circle or Poodle kirt

    Hello fellow sewers!

    Recently a friend requested that I assist her in creating poodle skirts for a charity her organization was holding.  We only had a pattern for a very small child, however, I knew that a poodle skirt was in fact just a circle skirt so I went to work looking for instructions on how to make a poodle skirt and what I found was some amis information. So today I am going to highlight how in fact to do a very successful poodle skirt.  No pattern necessary just a few tools. 

    Supplies:  You will need a tape measure, something to mark with (I use chalk but there are actual fabric marking tools you can buy if you want), scissors (nice sharp scissors to cut the fabric easily), thread, of course you need your fabric a poodle skirt is typically made of a wool or wool blend but you do not necessarily need to have this type of fabric a medium weight non stretchable cotton will work perfectly, you are also going to need some type of string that you can use as to create both the inner circle or the waist of the skirt and the outer circle or the hem of the skirt, one or two safety pins, and finally an iron if you have one available.  Of course you will also need elastic, thread and an applique for the skirt or some felt if you plan to make the poodle on your own.  For the purpose here I will assume that you are using an applique.

    So here goes step by step instructions on my take for making a poodle skirt:

    • It is important to start with preparing your fabric, if its terribly wrinkled give it a quick iron.  Most patterns also suggest that you wash your fabric first ( I have never done this unless absolutely necessary and honestly I haven't had any difficulties in my hundreds of projects).  After making sure your fabric is relatively wrinkle free you will need to depending on the size of the skirt you are making unfold the fabric from the manufacturers fold  and then fold the fabric the opposite way.
                          Diagram of this step: 
    • Now we need to take the time to take some measurements.  Measure the waist or the area you intend the skirt to sit (poodle skirts typically sat at or just above the waist). Now for the length measure from your waist down to halfway between the knee and the ankle (note: you can go shorter or longer the length is a matter of preference so measure to where you want the length of your skirt). 
      • Example:  The current skirt I am working on the waist of the child is 30 inches, and the length we want is about 38.5  inches.  The length you want the skirt plus the radius you use to draw the inner circle and another inch for the hem.
    • After you are all set with your measurements you are ready to begin on the skirt.  Note a circle skirt can in fact be made with no seems if you have fabric that is wide enough however for these instructions we are going to pretend that the fabric is not nearly wide enough to make the skirt in one piece. 
      • A few things to think about that will in fact impact your finished product.  Do you want your skirt to gather a considerable amount or do you want it to have just a small to moderate amount of gather. 
      • Okay have you decided how much gather you would like your skirt to have in the end this is important because we will do two different measurements depending on how much gather you like.  For a large amount of gather you can follow this calculation (note this is the calculation I have found in my searches for making a circle or poodle skirt but I find that this produces a waist that is much larger than I like).  Anyway onto the calculation you take the waist which is from our example 28 inches and you divide that by 2 that gives you 14 inches or your diameter, now divide by 2 again and you get 7 this is your radius and the length you will use to create your inner circle.    The second calculation that I like to use is just slightly different.  Okay you want to make sure the skirt will go over the hips of the person you are making the skirt for and that it has some gather at the waist so we are going to add some to the waist to provide us with room for these things.  So instead of 28 for the waist I am going to use 34 inches (34 makes for easy math thats why I made it six inches larger you can make it as large as you want at this point but remember you need to go over the hips a child usually doesn't have alot of hip but an adult will have hip and if you are making this for an adult then I would personally use the first measurement).  Moving on take 34 inches divide by two this gives you 17 inches, now divide by two again gives 8.5 now here is where it varies we are going to divide by two again 4.25.  The reason we are dividing by 2 the extra time is if you made the radius to be 8.5 inches and have to make the skirt in two pieces you are going to end up with a skirt twice as large as you want and on a child that might be to much skirt.
    • Okay so now you have your measurements, use whichever set you like it doesn't matter in your preparations.  With your fabric folded you need to gather your tape measure something to mark with and also something to use as a sort of compass/plumb line in order to make our half circles.  I am just going to show this in a diagram I think it will make more sense:
                          Diagram of this step:

      • A few things to remember.  You must repeat the steps in your diagram two times as you need a front and back for your skirt! You may want to add an inch or two to the waist measurement to allow for hem allowances.  I realize that my measurements in my example in the diagram and the written above are different I did this on purpose to show a few different options.  When you are using your plumbline make sure you keep it straight and tight a loose, floppy or cricked line will not produce a circle/poodle skirt. 
    • Now simply cut out the skirt at the lines you drew for the half or quarter circles.  Do not cut the fold! Only cut on the lines you drew.
    • The next step is to put the skirt together.  You are going to put the right sides of the material together and pin the skirt together on both sides. If you are not used to sewing it is ok to put your pins very close together this will create a nice matching up and will help with making a straight line.
    • After you have pinned both sides of the skirt together now you are ready to sew.  Take your sewing machine (Hopefully you have it threaded or if you don't know how to have someone to help you as all machines are different in threading them, we will do a basics of threading step by step at a different time but for now we are going to assume the machine is threaded).  I like to sew a 3/4" or in rounding this is 2 cm seam so using your tape measure (this step you will need to do only if your machine does not already have labels on the sewing plate) put the needle down just so it is touching the tape measure and measure out 3/4" or 2 cm (use something to put a mark to remind you which line you are using as most machines have some sort of lines you can follow for your seems).  Then just sew up both sides of the skirt make sure you stay on the line you marked if you are new to sewing take it slow this isn't a race (even though it is fun to see the machine sew fast sometimes).  You can now iron flat both of the seems if you wish.
    • Ok now the main part of your skirt is built and we have two choices for a waist band we can fold down the waist or we can add on a waist band, I like to add on the waist band for this skirt it isn't to difficult and makes for a nicer product in my opinion. Follow the diagram below
      • Diagram:

    • Next we take the waist band we just cut out and with right sides together pin the waist band onto the skirt using only one end of the cut out piece.  Next use your machine to sew the band onto the skirt again at about 3/4" for the seem (Note remove your pins as you sew).  Now fold up your band that you just sewed onto the skirt.  You may want to iron this fold up to make it nice and neat.  Next you will fold the band in half as shown in the diagram, use your iron for this fold as well.  Now fold the opposite end of the band up about 3/4 of an inch and then under again about a 1/4 of an inch.  Now we sew, sew as close to the edge of the band that you just folded and sewed onto the skirt as you possibly can sew completely around the circle except for a small amount that you will use to put in the elastic.
    • Now take your elastic put a safety pin in one end and affix another safety pin to the other end and attach that with the elastic to the skirt waist band so you do not loose the elastic (this is handy as believe me i've lost elastic in a waist band and its such a pain). Thread your elastic through your tube that you created and attached to your skirt. When you thread the elastic through the entire length of the waist band pull it a little extra to create a nice bunching effect.  Now you can either use your machine or you can sew the elastic by hand I find it quicker to overlap the elastic both ends about an inch and sew both ends I like to sew over the same seem a few times to ensure that I have a nice strong connection.  A few notes make sure you haven't twisted the elastic around and make sure you don't make the elastic to small. You want the elastic to be the original length of the waist you meaured in our diagrams above that is 30 inches plus an inch or two for sewing the ends together.  After sewing the ends of the elastic together put the elastic up into the band with the rest of the elastic make sure none is showing and now sew together the opening that you left in order to put the elastic into the band.  Make sure you do not catch the elastic into the sewing. 
    • Two more steps.  First we are going to hem the skirt.  Take your iron and iron up an inch all the way around the bottom and then tuck under the top edge of the inch.  I like to tuck the top edge until it touches the fold original inch fold this makes for a nice slim hem.  Iron down the folded part, and then simply take your machine and sew as close to the folded edge as you can, careful to make sure you stay on the hem.  Now your skirt is done and your final step is to put on your poodle.
    • Now as I said before we are going to pretend you have an applique.  Take a sewing needle and some thread that matches your applique and hand sew the poodle onto the bottom front of the skirt wherever you like. Typically the poodle is sew to the side on the bottom of the skirt.  Now if you like you can take some nice sequined trim and hand sew a leash that goes from the poodle all the way up to your band.  (I am assuming here that know a tad bit about hand sewing for this step no worries if you do not know about hand sewing we will tackle that topic as part of our sewing basic series).
    • I will add some pictures of a few finished skirts as soon as I get my camera working again. Hopefully I can put these up tomorrow sometimes a picture speaks a thousand words for me.  Also know that we are here to help you if anything does not make sense or you just don't understand some of the steps send us an email or let us know in the comments section and we will see if we can help you through whatever issues you are having.  The diagrams I created for this were done on paint and that program is clearly not perfect so if something is unclear please ask!
    Happy Sewing!  Have fun with this its a fun project!

    Note I had great difficulty putting in the diagrams let me know if they are not working (I did finally load google chrome and it seems to have worked at least on my end!