Leather is a major trend this season and continues on into the spring, yes leather for spring and summer! Here are a few tips to get you started:
TIP 1. FABRIC
Check the fabric for flaws, especially in faux leather you might find scratches or cuts that you will need to work around when cutting out the pattern pieces.
Consider the weight and feel of the fabric for the design. For example a biker jacket will need a thicker fabric than say a peplum style jacket. Also, squeeze the fabric in your hand and if it has deep creases or wrinkles, that is how it will look after wearing it (better to know now :))
TIP 2. NEEDLES
Use a Leather Needle in the sewing machine. Start with a size 12 or 14 for light to medium weight fabric.
Go up to a 16 or 18 for heavier fabric, but be sure to CHECK your sewing machine as to what is the largest size needle it will accommodate. One of my older machines will only allow up to a size 14.
For sewing faux leather I prefer using a Jean Needle size 14. If you are having a problem with skipped stitches try this needle.
When it comes to hand-stitching, standard needles have a difficult time piercing the fabric. Instead use a Leather Hand Needle, this needle has a triangular point that pierces the fabric. Just be careful, the tip is REALLY sharp!
TIP 3: NO PINS
Just as difficult as it is to pierce leather / faux leather, once you do pierce the fabric the hole is there forever! Use clips to hold the fabric instead of pins. They are lightweight and don’t damage the fabric.
I got these getta grip sewing clips from my friend Paul Gallo. I met Paul at Craftsy while we were both shooting classes. He showed me these clips that he designed and I have been a fan ever since. Awesome guy! Have you ever met Paul or taken any of his classes?
FASHION DRAPING: DRESSMAKING BASICS with PAUL GALLO ON CRAFTSY!
FASHION DRAPING: BIAS DESIGN with PAUL GALLO ONLINE CLASS ON CRAFTSY!
TIP 4: TAPING SEAM ALLOWANCES
When sewing garments, pressing the seam allowances open with a Tailor’s Clapper is the best option. Unfortunately with leather, faux leather, vinyl, and suede, even if you safely press the fabric with an iron shoe, the seam allowance will not stay open. The best solution for securing seam allowances and hemming is either topstitching or leather tape (a special double-sided tape).
This is how easy it works:
1. Place a strip of LEATHER TAPE in the seam allowance with the sticky side down.
2. Remove paper backing, revealing the other side of the tape.
3. Fold back the seam allowance or hem allowance.
I use the 1/4″ wide tape for seam allowances and 1/2″ wide tape for hems. I purchase the tape from WAWAK SEWING and the rolls come 60 yards. Don’t be caught off guard by the quantity because you will use more than you think and the price is incredible! Well, this should get you started – next in line is quilting and embroidering faux leather.
With October’s Wardrobe Challenge including zippers, I thought now would be a good time to share a few easy ways to embellish with exposed zippers.
A fun way to change the look of a pair of jeans is to embellish the leg with an exposed zipper. Follow along:
Step 1: On the wrong side of the fabric, mark the center of the pant leg (could be front or back, wherever you want the zipper).
If marking an existing pair of jeans, rip out the hem at least 5″ from each side of new mark. Press the fusible interfacing along the newly marked center line.
Step 2: Mark the hem, hem allowance, and the length of the zipper opening down center of the pant leg.
Step 3: Determine the width of the zipper opening (depends on the width of the zipper teeth). Draw in opening, top edge, and then add a triangle from the center cut line to each corner (as shown above).
Step 4: Cut along center marking. Cut each triangle point (if you are worried about the fabric fraying, add Fray Check to the top corners)
Step 5: Press the seam allowances back and press triangle tip up.
Step 6: Line up the zipper with the metal teeth in the center of the opening. Check the placement of the zipper stop and zipper tab.
Step 7: Fold back the zipper tape and press in place at the hemline.
Step 8: Pin zipper in place.
Step 9: In this example, I am using standard polyester thread, cotton or silk thread would work too. Set the sewing machine to a triple stitch and lengthen the stitch length to 4.0. (Note: if you don’t have this feature, use denim thread, straight stitch, stitch length 4.0)
Step 10: Stitch along the edge of the zipper. Open and close the zipper as needed in order to get the foot by the zipper tab. Step 11: Notice how I have lined up the edge of the zipper foot with the metal teeth, a very easy to get a straight stitch … or this would be a great time to utilize the laser vision guide feature on your machine! 🙂
Step 12: Press up the hem with the tailor’s clapper for a crisp crease. By the way, did I mention WAWAK Sewing is now carrying my tailor’s clapper! Yeah!
Step 13: Hem the jeans and move onto the other leg.
That’s it! Now this is just one quick, easy way to install a hidden zipper. I will give you some more ideas next time.
Fab-ri-cate (from dictionary.com unabridged – based on the Random House Dictionary)
- To make by art or skill and labor; construct
- To make by assembling parts or sections
- To devise or invent
- To fake; forge
That definition pretty much leaves the door open for ultimate creativity, wouldn’t you say? One idea includes designing your own fabric or altering a fabric into something totally different, which is what I did with the above jacket.
The fabric used for the applique trimming is a polyester / satin. A lightweight fabric with fabulous drape, perfect for a blouse or lining (both of which I plan to add to jacket). That fabric, if left alone, would be a nightmare to create appliques or cut-outs, so I fabricated – sounds like a bad word 🙂 !
The trick – Heat N Bond, now available from my favorite place WAWAK Sewing and comes in 5 yard and 35 yard pieces. At first I wasn’t too sure about this stuff, but basically you iron it to the back of the fabric and it makes it easier for you to cut out an applique – especially if you are using the Brother Scan-n-Cut
This is how easy an applique can be:
- Choose a design – for the sleeve I enlarged a design already in the scan-n-cut memory.
- Place the bonded fabric onto the cutting mat (the paper backing on the heat –n-bond makes it easy to stick)
- Press the start button (told you it was easy!)
Peel off the backing and place the appliques on the garment.
Once you have the perfect placement, use a press cloth and press the applique in place. Notice I attach the appliques before sewing the sleeve together.
Even though the cut of the scan-n-cut prevents the fabric edges from fraying, I still stitch the applique in place. I choose the blanket stitch and stitched around each applique. That took some time, but it looks great. Almost looks like leather!
I followed all those steps for the jacket front and again used a blanket stitch.
Of course I could cut these appliques by hand, but I really like the fact that all the front pieces are exactly the same! By the way, don’t look too closely at my studio – can you tell I have been working 🙂
Well, that’s one fun way to fabricate. Have you ever tried appliqueing apparel?
There are so many sewing machine feet to choose from, it can get overwhelming deciding which foot is best for the job. Why bother, right? If using a specific foot for a specific job could drastically cut the sewing time down and offer professional looking results, wouldn’t you want to try? I sure would.
Home sewing machines usually come with a fabulous manual explaining what each foot is for and a tutorial explaining how to use it. Industrial machines don’t always offer such advice, at least mine didn’t. With a 5 page manual, written in a language I don’t speak, I am surprised I got the thing put together in the first place! I don’t use this machine as frequently as all the others, mainly because it’s loud, doesn’t have a thread cutting feature and I don’t have any accessories for it. I bought it for speed and that it has.
Scanning the list of additional feet for industrial machines, I found the feet to be are very inexpensive, but again I ran into the issue of which foot is the right foot for the job. I thought I would start testing some of these feet and share with you my findings.
A Narrow Rolled Hem
I sew a lot of garments with sheer fabrics (especially this months wardrobe challenge; Dress the Part) and my go-to stitch is usually a narrow rolled hem on the serger – its super fast and looks professional. But sometimes a rolled hem on the sewing machine would be more appropriate. I found 3 different feet for the industrial machine:
From left to right: Rolled Hem Foot, Ball Hemmer Foot, Double Fold Spring Hemmer Foot
Rolled Hem Foot
You have probably seen the Rolled Hem Foot, as it comes with most home sewing machines. This is the only foot I had ever seen used for the job. It does make a rolled hem easy, but has its challenges as well. Getting over thick seams can be interesting and sometimes the fabric doesn’t feed evenly. Of course there are tricks:
- Hold the fabric to the left side of the foot as it feeds into the machine and trimming seam allowances for less bulk.
Results: A nice rolled hem, I had to use the tweezers to get the fabric started and the rolled hem is a little uneven. With practice this foot will work.
If you have an industrial machine, you have more options and each offers different results:
Ball Hemmer Foot
This foot has a plate that covers the front feed dogs allowing the fabric to feed perfectly. You can see the ball at the tip of the foot, the fabric will roll over that ball as it double folds into a narrow hem. I must say, I love this foot! This is how it works:
- Feed the fabric into the foot, above the plate. Notice how the place covers the front feed dogs. Insert the fabric the same way you would for the rolled hem foot.
- The fabric folds over the ball.
- Hold the fabric a little to the left side of the foot as the fabric feeds into the foot (as shown above). Stitch.
- Results: A perfect narrow hem! This foot offers the easiest rolled hem I have ever tried! I hardly had to do anything with the fabric except guide it into the foot. I even sewed at a high-speed and the rolled hem is perfectly even. A definite A+++++
Double Fold Spring Hemmer Foot
The “spring” part is what intrigued me about this foot. You can see the foot looks very similar to the Ball Hemmer Foot, yet there is not a ball. Instead, there is a movable area that the fabric will go through. Look closely, this is the back of the foot:
Looking at the left photo first: see the corner touching my finger tip. When I do nothing with that corner, the opening on the foot remains unchanged (see opening at yellow arrow).
Take a look at the right photo: Here I have pushed that corner in and the opening gets larger (see yellow arrow).
Now we know what the “spring” means. This opening adjusts for the thickness of fabric as the fabric flows through.
- There is a plate protecting the fabric from the front feed dogs, just like the ball hemmer. Slide the fabric on the top of the plate.
- Again, feed the fabric into the foot and stitch.
Results: Another perfect rolled hem! Just as easy as the ball hemmer foot.
My favorite foot for the rolled hem on silk charmeuse is the Ball Hemmer Foot. The rolled hem was a little thicker than the other two and perfect!
What about crossing seams and thicker fabrics? I will test these and more, and let you know the results. So far both feet are winners!
I also have to check to see if these feet will work on my Brother PQ1500. The PQ1500 straight stitch machine is just like an industrial machine with speed and ease of use, plus it’s not attached to a large table and easy to move around. Fingers crosses on that one! Otherwise, I have my eye on the Brother Industrial Machine used on Project Runway. Do you have an industrial machine? Have you tried these rolled hem feet?
A little creative serging! I wanted to share a quick serging stitch that you might find useful for restyling or adding embellishment to one of your outfits.
This is a 3-thread flatlock stitch with a decorative crochet thread in the upper looper. The left needle and lower looper have a similar color polyester thread. The photo above shows the front of the flatlock stitch and the backside. The backside looks like a ladder stitch. (the peach thread is just the serged edge of the seam).
I started with a basic gored skirt. The front has 2 seams and after I finished flatlocking those two seams I decided to add embellishment to the center front. So the center front really does not have a seam. Instead I drew a line with tailors chalk down the center front, folded the fabric in half along the chalk line, and ran through the serger. What a great way to create unique fabric!
Here is the back view. Again there are 2 seams on each side back and this time there is a seam down the center back with a hidden zip. In order for this stitching to look even (with the zipper), I stitched the flat-felled embellishment down the edge of each center back seam, then added the zipper and closed the seam. That part got a little tricky and you can see the stitches are not perfectly even. I haven’t decided if I am going to rip it out and start again or hope nobody is looking at my tush that closely to notice 🙂
Setting up the Serger:
- Set your serger up for a 3-thread overlock: I am using a serger from Brother and the standard setting for the needle and looper tensions are 4. When I give you new tension numbers you can compare this with your serger, if your serger has manual tension dials. If you are serging with an air-threading serger, like this Babylock, set up your serger for the 2-thread flatlock – wide.
- Thread the upper looper (or the only looper for the 2-thread flatlock) with a decorative thread. Use standard poly serging thread in the needle and lower looper.
Decorative Thread Ideas:
Get the idea – be creative!
Next, there are a few changes to the serger settings:
Stitch Width: 5mm
Stitch Length: 2-4mm
Needle Tension: Decrease to 0 -3 (remember my standard setting is 4 so adjust for your serger)
Upper Looper Tension: Decrease to 2 – 3
Lower Looper Tension: Increase to 6 – 9
Disengage the knife
These setting serve as a guide. It will depend on the fabric and thread you end up serging with.
See if you have a Blind Hem Foot, if not you can use a standard foot.
There is a setting on the foot that moves to the right and left, allowing the needle to pierce more or less of the fabric. Test the stitch on your fabric to determine the setting.
Fold the fabric in half or if you are embellishing a seam, fold along the seam line. Align the fabric along the shield on the blind hem foot (if using a standard foot, mark a spot to align with).
The idea is for the needle to pierce the fabric – half the stitch is on the fabric and half is off the fabric. In fact the stitches look really messy coming out of the serger!
Stretch out the folded fabric to lie flat and press.
Pretty simple, but so fun! Have you ever tried this before? I would love some more ideas for decorative threads or yarns to use with this stitch.
There are so many sewing products on the market, it can get overwhelming trying to decide which ones to try. Here is one for you … Hug-Snug Seam Binding. Take a look inside some of your nicer pants and skirts, you will often see a rich looking ribbon covering the hem allowance edge. Hug-Snug is probably the ribbon you see. This ribbon is 100% Rayon, has a satin finish and it comes in a TON of colors.
Regardless if you are sewing a garment from scratch or doing alterations, this is a fast, professional looking hem and it’s really easy:
Press up the hem. Working on the right side of the fabric, align the ribbon over the raw edge of the hem allowance.
The edge of the fabric should land in the middle of the ribbon. Stitch along the edge of the ribbon. (I am using contrasting color ribbon and thread so it’s easier to see :))
The above photo shows the single stitch line and how the ribbon covers the fabric raw edge.
Attach the ribbon all the way around the hem. When you get to the end, trim the ribbon leaving 2″ – 3″ extra.
Stitch just past the starting point …
… fold under the end of the ribbon, enclosing the raw edge of the ribbon.
Turn the fabric and stitch the folded edge of the ribbon in place.
The ribbon is attached, covering all raw edges. Hem the garment as usual, using the edge of the ribbon as the hem allowance edge. The ribbon is so much thinner than fabric and really makes a perfect blind hem! Below I am using a blind hem machine:
Notice how the ribbon edge is connected to the garment, finishing the hem. If using the blind hem stitch on a sewing machine or hand-stitching the hem in place, do the same thing; connect the edge of the ribbon to the fabric.
I told you it’s easy! Again, Hug-Snug Seam Binding comes in a ton of colors:
I borrowed this color chart from WAWAK SEWING SUPPLIES. In fact, if you want to give this product a try, WAWAK is offering 10% off until March 31st.
How are the jeans coming along for the wardrobe challenge? Don’t forget to upload your photos to the Flickr group, there are some really cute outfits showing up 🙂