I love sweaters and shawls, especially since I am always cold in the air-conditioned restaurants (not that we have needed air conditioning in Michigan this summer!). Thinking of the wardrobe challenge, sweaters are one of the items that I end up buying. Yes I do know how to crochet, yet trim on a jacket is about as far as that usually ends up. A small knitting machine sits in the corner of the studio (on my bucket list to learn how to use 🙂 ).
I was recently sewing a fringe skirt and the tweed scraps falling on the floor reminded me of meeting a women wearing a really cute, long, loosely woven (sweater looking) vest. It was at the annual conference for ASDP, so I had to ask the question that only sewer’s are allowed to ask each other “did you make that?”. She had indeed! I was really intrigued when she mentioned using water-soluble stabilizer and scraps from her last sewing project – yes, scraps!
Below is an example of using scraps from my tweed skirt:
Decorative Yarn, tweed fabric threads, or other scraps
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Purchase a minimum of $30 and receive 10% off your entire order – Use coupon code WAB714 when checking out (expires July 31st) Thank them when you order, they are the best! :))
Lay out one layer of water-soluble stabilizer (54″ for a scarf)
Randomly place yarn, scraps, hairy yarn, etc.
Place another layer of water-soluble stabilizer (same length as the first piece) on top of the yarns
Using long pins, pin through all the layers
Starting at one end, stitch down the center of the stabilizer, stitching through all the layers. Be careful not to sew through any pins, stitch all the way to the end. (Draw a straight line down the center if you need something to follow).
From the center, align the edge of the presser foot with the first stitched line. Stitch a second row, and a third, and 4th, until you get to about 1″ from the edge of the stabilizer. (If your machine has a Laser Vision Guide, like my BrotherDreamweaver, this would be the perfect application!)
Continue stitching rows along the entire length of the stabilizer until you have the desired width.
Turn the fabric and stitch a row from side to side, across the width of the stabilizer.
Continue to stitch row after row until the entire length is filled.
The width of the stitched rows depend on how tight you want the weave of the new fabric or lace. Just be sure to keep it somewhat tight or the yarns will fall away.
The next step is easy! Rinse the fabric panel in warm water and watch the water-soluble stabilizer disappear or throw the fabric in the wash on a hand-wash cycle, again with warm water.
Above you can see the stabilizer has disappeared and I am left with a loosely woven fabric. Notice the stitching lines, this is good to keep in mind when you choose the thread color.
Who would have ever guessed
could go so far!
A few more tips:
Throw the fabric in the dryer to soften the hand
The stabilizer and yarns shrink up after washing and drying, keep that in mind if you need a specific length.
The more yarn and scraps, the thicker the fabric
To make an outfit, stitch all the pieces together before washing out the stabilizer
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:
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:
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+++++
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?
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 🙂
This is my new DVD with Threads Magazine and this was a fun one. I took a basic pattern and teach you how to alter one pattern into 4 different styles. Click here for details and behind the scenes photos with the crew!
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!).