Ask Angela …: There are countless women like me who must have the same question to ask, so I’ll make an attempt to speak for the group. After reaching those golden years, we start to wonder why our clothes — especially shirts and blouses — seem to have lost all sense of shape. We might just as well be wearing ponchos because our collective shoulders have gradually disappeared over the years. How about a hint on making conservative shoulder pads . . . not like the 80’s kind and not just for jackets/coats and blazers. I would like something that can be used with casual or dress shirts and blouses, so it should not be too bulky.
Sarah from Ohio
Sure hope you can address this problem — I’ve seen you on It’s Sew Easy many times and feel that if anybody can solve this issue, it is Angela.
P.S. My next project will be creating a bra with suspenders to keep it in place. Any ideas?
This was a great question from Sarah, and although I’m not going to talk about making your own shoulder pads, I am going to give you a few tips that have worked for other clients of mine in the past.
All of us have different body shapes, meaning I might not need the same thickness of shoulder pad as you or maybe I don’t need extra padding at all. With that being said, there are just as many sizes and styles of shoulder pads.
Do you remember the shoulder pads of the 80s – they were very, very, VERY LARGE! In fact, I’m pretty sure the shoulders of the jackets extended at least 2 inches past the actual edge of any female’s shoulder. I always laugh at some of the old photos where I am wearing enormously huge shoulder pads – my head looks SO small! 🙂
Take a look at these two shoulder pads. Both are considered a raglan shoulder pad, meaning that part of the shoulder pad will be directly on your shoulder and a small part of the shoulder pad will extend past your shoulder to fill in the sleeve cap. These are typically used for jackets, but the smaller one will work in tops as well.
This shoulder pad is very thin and a perfect option for blouses and tops. It gives that soft edge to your shoulder and evens out your profile, without standing out that you are wearing shoulder pads..
It can get rather expensive to add shoulder pads to every top that you own, not to mention shoulder pads turn out disastrously after being washed. So why not design your own removable shoulder pads!
You will need:
1” wide Hook & Loop tape; which comes in a variety of colors including beige, black, foliage green, olive drab, and white
Shoulder pad options I would consider:
Hand Sewing Needle and Thread
CHOOSING A SHOULDER PAD
Shoulder pads are listed by thickness and length. The thickness is the height of the shoulder pad, so if you are looking for the bare minimal to even out the shoulder area – start with the ¼” thick shoulder pad. For unlined jackets and sweaters consider using the raglan shoulder pads (which is what I will be using here). For knit tops and blouses, choose a flatter shoulder pad that won’t extend into the sleeve cap but the straight edge will line up with the edge of your shoulder.
PREPARE HOOK AND LOOP TAPE
Take a close look at the hook and loop tape. There is a softer side (which will be attached to your garments) usually referred to as the loop side. Then, there is the hook side that is (more…)
Spring is such a great time to clean and organize … two of my least favorite terms :) One of the biggest clutter issues in a sewing room is thread, I want to share a few ideas for organizing:
Hang numerous thread racks on different walls to organize spools of thread by color and content. Although you can’t tell by this photo, I organize the neutral colors in one area, green and blues in another, red, yellow and orange in another, etc. I also use the top row for topstitching and other specialty threads.
There is a separate section for serger thread. When I run out of pegs on the rack, I hang one cone of a specific color with a sticker that lists the quantity. Then I store the other cones in a cabinet below.
Speaking of serger thread, I leave one serger thread rack on the table with the sergers and coverstitch machines. This is a quick way to hold the spools I am using and prevent them from cluttering the sewing area and rolling off the table!
Here is a fun spool holder! The base rotates so it’s easy to find a thread and the pegs are long enough for serger cones. Another option is coordinating the bobbin and the thread color together, both fit perfectly on one peg.
You have to assemble this rack, which only takes a few minutes, but that offers additional options for organizing.
I find myself only using the bottom half of the rack. With the lower half I can load up on weight with heavy spools and the rack is not tippy. Another idea is to use the thread spools at the bottom and smaller spools or bobbins on the top half.
Speaking of bobbins, I always order an extra 50 for each machine. There are so many colors I use frequently and I don’t enjoy unspooling the bobbin so I can use a new color. Not only is that a waste of thread, that extra thread attaches to my clothes for the day! To organize all the bobbins, I use a plastic container with a lid. These stack neatly and the lid keeps the dust out.
Check out this magnetic bobbin holder. I keep one of these next to my Brother PQ1500 and one next to my commercial machine since those are the only machines I have with metal bobbins.
For the machines that have plastic bobbins, I either use the turning thread holder shown above, the plastic thread container, or a smaller thread rack free-standing on the table.
In case you haven’t seen WAWAK Sewing’s April magazine with the sale of the month, ALL the thread racks are $5 off (and don’t forget shipping is free if you spend over $100 – which is easy to do with all the great items they have :))
Now, back to writing the serging book. I do have a serging technique I think you will like, I hope to share that with you tomorrow. How are you doing on April’s wardrobe challenge Simply Serged?
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 🙂
I recall a class I taught years ago, one of the students gave me a review “great class, she is a pressing fanatic!” Well, that is true. In reality, pressing is what makes your sewing look professional. I thought I would share how I have my studio set up:
My all time favorite iron is the Hot Steam SGB-600 and I can’t believe how long I went without splurging on such a reasonably priced powerhouse steam iron. This iron plugs into a standard outlet (make sure to check that when researching commercial steam irons) and has a water container that holds almost an entire gallon of distilled water. The water container is attached to a wall and then the hose needs to hang from the ceiling or a high point. I have ceiling tiles in my studio and I am using clips that would typically hold a plant, I think I found them at Ace Hardware.
The iron came with the rubber mat, which is nice! I added the Iron Shoe which allows you press ANYTHING and it won’t leave shiny marks – even on cheap satin and poly! I will share more about that later.
One more thing, this iron has a powerful burst of steam and it DOES NOT leak, yeah! Have you ever ruined fabric from a leaky iron? Um, this brings back a memory … years ago, I was making a custom suit for a client. Just visualize a rich colored brown fabric – silk, wool blend. My iron was having a bad day and a few drips (or I should say a burst of drips) later the suit ended up in the trash. Very expensive fabric, but I couldn’t get the spots out! I have had this iron for quite a while and have never had as much as a drop.
Did I mention, I can’t stand irons that automatically turn off! What a waste of time, it’s never hot when you need it. That being said I do keep around a couple inexpensive Rowenta’s for applying interfacing. They are easy to clean, very hot, and don’t usually leak (I say that with a squint in my eye as every iron seems to have its own personality, although out of about 30 Rowenta’s I only had 2 that dripped and 1 that caught on fire – another eventful day in the studio!).
Tip: keep a tube of Ez-Off Iron cleaner around – perfect for removing interfacing gook!
Do you have a favorite iron or a dripping horror story to share?
I am thrilled to see all of the excitement for my 2014 Wardrobe Challenge! The month of January is so full of new years resolutions, crazy weather and catching up from the holidays, I wanted to make this month’s challenge simple and fun. All you have to do is create a Pinterest board “wardrobe challenge 2014” and pin photos that inspire you. This is not a trick, just post anything that inspires you to design and sew, this can be absolutely anything. Ideas: colors, animals, architecture, food (that is the downfall of pinterest, everyone posts such fabulous looking food, I swear I can smell it through the computer screen!) Pin something from each sponsor – that can be a repin from their pinterest board or pin something from their website and leave a comment here or on my pinterest board with a link to your new board. In case you need the links to the sponsors here they are again: Brother, Threads and Sew Stylish Magazines, WAWAK sewing, It’s Sew Easy, Angela Wolf Patterns, and some of you couldn’t find my pinterest page. Again, if you need an invitation to pinterest email me firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details on January’s Challenge, there is still a week to enter, then we move on to February’s challenge! Good Luck 🙂
Olfa 60mm Rotary Jumbo Cutter, Replacement Blade, and Cutting Mat from WAWAKsewing.com
Now, onto a quick time-saving tip. When I sit down to sew, there are a few items that I quite often need and I find it faster to prepare these in advance. One example is fusible interfacing: hemming jacket sleeves, plackets, zipper placement, bound button holes, these are just the first few areas I need the interfacing and to get up, unfold the interfacing and cut 1 strip is a total “time sucker”, my new word for the year! For jacket hem’s I typically use 3″ to 4″ wide strips of interfacing and for the zipper placement 1″ to 1-1/2″ strips.
This is light-weight fusible interfacing (HTC fusi-knit) and with two layers you can still see through the interfacing to line up the 1″ grid on the Olfa cutting mat.
Keeping the grainlines and stretch of the interfacing in mind:
- cut strips parallel to the selvage 28″ long by 1 1/2″ wide. The most common use for these strips is to support the center back seams on a dress when inserting a hidden zipper (I am hooked on sewing dresses lately!) and it is rare that I would need longer than 28″ for a zipper.
- cut strips perpendicular to the selvage 4″ long by the width of the interfacing (in this case 22″ wide). These strips are perfect for re-hemming jackets and sleeve hems. If you do alterations, this is really a bonus to have these cut strips on hand.
Store these strips in a photo box next to your sewing station and you are all set!
A few tips on the rotary blade:
Always clear your cutting area from pins! It always amazes me how one little dent in the blade can ruin the cutting, but it is true. Maybe it’s not quite as noticeable when cutting thick fabric, but try cutting bias strips of silk chiffon. If the blade is damaged, even in the slightest bit, the cutting is fragmented and you end up cutting the strips over with scissors. Pain in the tush 🙂 I used to try to sharpen the blades, but seriously I am trying to save time not cause more work. The blades are not that expensive, especially this month they are 25% off at WAWAK sewing, time to stock up for a few months! The replacement blades come in a nice plastic container. As I am always fearful of throwing a blade in the trash, I use one of the containers to store bad blades. See the blue dot in the photo above, that dot tells me this package is bad blades. When its full, snap the container closed, add a piece of tape for extra security, and toss with no worries.
Lastly, take extra precaution and close the blade cover when not in use. It makes me crazy when anyone in my studio leaves the blade exposed when they are not using it! I have a pretty long cutting table and I am often grabbing bolts of fabric and sliding patterns around, one slip could end up being a bloody mess. Thankfully that hasn’t happened, but I have heard a few horror stories 🙁
My question to you – Have you ever tried sharpening your old blades and did you have any luck or do you prefer stocking up on replacement blades when a great sale hits?
Have fun filling your pinterest board, remember to add #wardrobechallenge when sharing your experience!