My sister-in-law bought a new down coat last week. Yesterday I got a panicked call from her telling me her dog had jumped up on her and left two tears on the front and side of the coat: could I fix it? I’ve told you before that I get some tricky tasks since I’m the only one in the family who sews, but sewing on a goose down nylon coat is one I have never previously tackled. My immediate answer: bring it over so I can look at it. With a day to consider different options I wanted to share with you my conclusions and solutions to this repair problem. A few things came to mind as soon as I saw the coat. 1. The fabric is so slippery!! 2. I won’t be able to pin or secure the fabric in any way before I sew it since holes will not heal on this fabric. 3. Down feathers were coming out of each hole surprisingly fast! 4. The nylon fabric was fraying just by looking at it! Maybe some of my decisions may help you if you find yourself in my position one day….
So just to recap…measure the mending stitch you plan to use by actually stitching it out. Use a small needle to lessen the size of the holes you will be making as you mend. Use something to stabilize the fabric, inside and outside, so the mend does not pull the fabric apart at the edges (nylon, once torn, has little strength on its own. It needs help). I used cotton bias tape on the inside of the coat, in between the layers of coat and the down feathers. While stitching I used a stabilizer that will disappear either with water or with the air (it will dry up over time and flake off). Also, when I was putting the coat under the presser foot on my machine, I dropped the feed teeth so the nylon did not get snagged.
I hope you find some useful hints here if you ever find yourself in this type of situation. Have a great week and Happy Sewing!
This pandemic has proven to be a real “norm changer” for all of us. My family and I think that face masks will be in our foreseeable future longer than we ever thought they would be. Of course, if that helps to keep me, my family and those around us safe and healthy, we’re all in! I have been making masks with horizontal pleats by the dozens ever since March, but have found after wearing them for a while, the fogging of the glasses gets to be a bit annoying. When I came across this video today for a mask with vertical pleats, I just had to try it and share it with you. I followed the directions in the video very carefully, so the first mask took about 45 minutes from cut out to finished product. Now that I have done it once, I think I will put my own spin on it and things will go much faster as I make more. Follow the link to the original video and I will share with you the little things I did to change the process for me.
I did make some small changes to the original pattern given in the video. I changed the elastic to an 8.5” cut. Also, the cut size of the fabric given in the video (6.5”x9.5”) produces a mask that fits me, but is too small for my husband. I will have to play with the fabric’s cut size to find something that fits him comfortably. He will also need longer ear elastic and would probably benefit from the stoppers used in the video. I didn’t have any of those on hand, so the elastic on my mask was measured to fit me. Also, the mask, since it uses an inverted pleat, has a definite right side/wrong side. The horizontal pleats lend themselves to reversibility, but the inverted pleat used in the vertical pleat mask, really fits best one way. The inverted pleat will mold best to your face one way better than the other. Wearing it “the right way” is very obvious. Once I tried on the mask, I was pleasantly surprised how much more comfortable it was for me and my glasses had no fogging! I will be making more of these tomorrow! Happy Sewing!
The variety of machines; sewing, quilting, sewing/embroidery, serging, has something for everyone. All of the Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff and Brother machines have “normal” or default settings for each stitch and technique on the machine. These default settings (another name for the settings created at the factory) make some assumptions about what you are sewing and what settings would make the stitch look and perform the best. Once you move up the line from the entry model machines, the stitch length, width and tension start to be set automatically by the machine. In the case of Husqvarna Viking machines, the Sewing Advisor gives very specific parameters for stitch settings and even recommends the use of particular stitches so customers don’t have to worry about a thing. All of these automatic settings make sewing fast and easy but can also cause some customers to be hesitant to change those settings: sometimes ever!
The settings you can change on your machine are settings the manufacturers expect you to change. Making changes in stitch length or width, upper tension, presser foot pressure, the feed teeth, needle position, etc. can all help your project look its best. Some customers are afraid if they make a significant change to their machine, they will not be able to return it to the way it used to be: the way it came from the factory. Here are some guidelines to help you feel confident about making changes to your machine.
There are two types of changes you can make in the settings of your machine: default and temporary. Default changes change the settings until you change them back again, even though you turn off your machine. They change the machine to a new set of default or factory settings. On mechanical machines, default settings include any change you need to make by turning a knob or dial, such as a tension knob, dropping the feed teeth or a presser foot pressure knob. On these machines, the changes you are making are mechanical and the machine cannot change them back again without your help. On computerized machines, default changes are usually done on screen with an icon. On these machines, once you change something like the stitch width safety or drop the feed teeth, these will remain changed even if the machine is turned off. For instance, you will need to disengage the stitch width safety by touching the icon or it will stay engaged. You will get a warning message every time the machine is turned on or when you try to change from a straight stitch to another type of stitch, but the default setting of the machine has been changed, by you, until you change it back again.
Temporary settings usually last only until you change the stitch. Computerized machines, even if you change the tension or the presser foot pressure, as soon as you change the stitch or turn off the machine, will reset to the factory default settings. Mechanical machines, if you need to turn a knob or dial, you will still need to return that knob or dial back to where you had it, even if it’s a temporary setting change. (Even changes such as stitch length or width, if you turned a knob or dial to change it, need to be reset manually.) That is one of the reasons computerized machines have become so popular: they do a lot for you automatically. If you own a computerized machine, the fear of messing up your machine is eliminated. As soon as you turn the machine off and back on again, all is back to the original, fresh from the box settings. This ability to “sense” when its settings have been changed makes it really important to have your machine up to date with its free updates from the website. If you own a computerized machine purchased in the last five years that has a USB port, you can probably update your machine. Updating your machine takes it back to its original factory settings as well as fixes bugs and glitches that showed up after the machine was in use with the worldwide customer base. I hope this helps you make confident changes to your machine! Happy Sewing!
P.S I promised you a picture of the finished hooded pullover vest I made last week for my sister-in-law. The lined hood was a big hit!
Sewing gives us the opportunity to make what we want or need exactly when we want or need it. I can’t imagine not having that option. As a garment sewer, I am often asked to make something for friends or family that fills a particular need and today was no exception. My sister-in-law has just started her first chemo therapy treatments for a recently diagnosed cancer and I was asked if I could make something to keep her warm, but not too warm; something that had a hood and that would be soft against her soon-to-be bald head. She preferred something that went over her head without a zipper. I went to the sewing room and found a pattern for a pull-over vest that had a hood. Perfect! The only problem: the hood was an unlined hood. Since I was making this vest from fabric I already owned: a purple knit boucle (she likes the color purple and boucle can be warm without being too warm), I decided to line the hood with a soft purple interlock knit (basically t-shirt knit). Lining something that originally has no lining is not hard. You are essentially making two of the pieces instead of one. This is how I did it.
P.S. Sorry this didn’t come out on Sunday evening. With the increasing winds our power went out and therefore, no internet. Now that the power is back on, here is the blog! I will post a picture of the finished garment next week!
Unless you own a serger (also known as an overlock machine) you may not be familiar with the term Differential Feed. There are no home sewing machines that have this feature, though the effect of a differential feed may be imitated, to a certain degree, on a home sewing machine by changing the presser foot pressure or the presser foot itself. The true differential feed feature can only be achieved by having two sets of feed teeth, one in front of the other, that can move at independent speeds to move the fabric at different rates. Home sewing machines have one set of feed teeth (sometimes referred to as feed dogs), some with more rows of feed teeth than others, but one group of feed teeth that always move at the same speed together. Feed teeth on a home sewing machine are either up or down, but they always move together. A serger has two sets of feed teeth, one set in the back under the foot and one set in the front, that can move together or at different rates depending upon how the differential feed adjustment is set. The back set of feed teeth on a serger always move at a constant speed, but the front set of teeth can change speed to bring fabric into the feed teeth faster or slower. If, for example, you have your differential feed set at 1 (or on some sergers on “N”) both front and back feed teeth will be moving at the same speed (a 1:1 ratio). If you change the setting to 1.5 or 2.0, the front set of feed teeth will be going faster than the back set and will bring more material into the feed teeth area faster. This can create gathers if you are serging lightweight material or can get rid of waviness in knit fabrics. If you set the differential feed in the other direction, more like 0.7, the front feed teeth will move slower than the back teeth and will cause the fabric to stretch as it moves through the machine. Using this differential feed feature can cure problems with fabric puckering when creating a rolled edge as well as create beautiful effects, such as a lettuce edge for your projects, depending upon the fabric you’re using. Once you really understand how this feature works, you will find yourself using it often. Happy Sewing!
Here are some links if you would like to learn more!
I have many projects waiting to be started or in various stages of finishing, but this past week I have had trouble getting myself motivated to work on any of them. I am definitely a sewer who needs to be interested and motivated to work on any project. This is probably the reason I am such an eclectic sewer. If I lose interest in one type of project, I have something from a completely different area of sewing waiting for me. I find inspiration in many different places. I often just stand in my sewing room and look around at the different bins of fabric and all the projects those fabrics represent (the curse of the “just in case” rather than the “just in time” buyer!) This week I found some inspiration watching some videos on different presser feet, accessories and a special easy quilt to try. I’m sharing them with you hoping you too will find some inspiration. Happy Sewing!
Husqvarna Viking Facebook Page – please remember the link takes you to the page, not to the individual daily posts. I have given you some post dates I watched and you might find helpful. For instance: October 6th – Mickey Hudson’s post on how to use the quilt binding attachment. Mickey shows how to use the attachment but also shows some advanced concepts on how to adjust the accessory for different binding effects. Those of you who purchased or are thinking of purchasing this attachment might find this very interesting. October 13th – how to add a ruffle to a plain piece of fabric using the Ruffler attachment. October 14th – how to embroider with puffy foam. Remember, you need to use an embroidery design that has been digitized to use puffy foam. September 23rd – a recorded Facebook live program by Karen Charles, educator for Husqvarna Viking. She is talking about different embroidery hoops and stabilizers, but also has a great “trunk show” to share that everyone will enjoy seeing. September 29th – Karen Charles gives some tips on the metal hoops available for hoop driven embroidery machines.
Pfaff Facebook Page – October 12th – Attaching and using the Quilting Guide. This is usually an included accessory for most machines. October 6th – using the circular attachment to create an original appliqued quilt block using your machine’s decorative stitches. September 29th and October 8th – using the multi-line decorative foot to create interesting original decorative patterns.
A Youtube post from Donna Jordan of Jordan Quilts. This is a great looking quilt, easy to assemble, but striking when done. This quilt, “Dresden Bloom” uses my favorite Dresden template in an original design layout.
Last week I talked about a needle storage option that works well for me. I thought this week I would share some of my favorite specialty needles that you may not have known were an option. There are those that are more readily available, such as twin needles, and then there are the ones that you will probably only find in the shop of an independent dealer, such as Bonny’s Sewing and Fabric. If you have not tried these options before, you may want to explore a bit. I have used each one of these options on projects and have been really pleased with the results. For all of the specialty needles I use, I always slow the speed of my machine and increase the stitch length. This is not the time to sew at the fastest speed the machine can handle and by increasing the stitch length, the specialty needles I am using really show off the stitches they are creating. Also, depending upon the specialty needle I’m using, I make sure to stabilize my fabric really well. Because there are many top threads coming into one bobbin thread, the chances of your top fabric being taken into the needle hole of the zig-zag plate is high. This will jam the machine and probably result in broken needles. Since most of the specialty needles have a width to them, you will not be able to use a straight stitch plate to prevent this problem: thus the use of stabilizer under your fabric to help keep the fabric supported and out of the needle hole. Happy Sewing!
With the double and triple needles, I want to remind you to go into your machine’s Settings Menu and choose twin needle. The machine will ask you which one you are using. They are referring to the width between the two needles, which you’ll find on the needle package. If you are using a triple needle, don’t worry about it’s size. Just choose the largest option your machine has: usually that’s the 6.0mm.
For years I kept my sewing machine needles in a drawer in my sewing cabinet. Each time I wanted to change a needle, I went through the sizes and types that were lined up in one big row inside the drawer until I found the one I wanted. As you can imagine, my lineup of needle packages was neat, but it was not in any organizational format that allowed me to access the needle I wanted in a quick and efficient manner. One day a few years ago, I decided to take the time to organize my needles, not only by size and kind, but by whether or not they were used for sewing or embroidery. My organization took the form of an inexpensive lock-lid plastic storage box with two Dollar Store baskets inside. Not much to brag about, but it works very well for me. If you have been thinking about organizing your own needle collection, I hope this gives you an idea to get you started on your organizational journey!
After organizing your own needles, please remember to change your needle every 6 to 8 hours of sewing time, if you are using a standard needle. If you are using a chrome or titanium coated needle, that sewing time between needle changes usually stretches anywhere from 20 to 25 hours. As a general rule, if you are breaking the top thread more than twice in a sewing session or if your machine is skipping stitches, you may want to change your needle. Chances are, all your troubles will disappear! Happy Sewing!
I told you a couple weeks ago that I was interested in a deeper exploration of the quilting stitches themselves rather than concentrating on the piecing aspects of my own quilting projects this fall. I really love the embroidered quilting designs my machines can produce for my projects, but I am also interested in what I can do outside of embroidery to really make my projects stand out. I am the first to admit that I am not an accomplished free motion quilter. I have not put in the kind of practice time that art form requires, but I can still make quite a statement in my projects outside of my hoop driven embroidery by trying a straight forward technique I know I can do: echo quilting. I have been exploring the online offerings lately (what did we do before YouTube and Facebook?) and have found some things that might interest you as you also plan your upcoming projects. I have included video links as well as links to accessories needed. Remember, accessories for Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff machines are still 20 percent off through September 30th!
If you happen to own a walking foot, this video by Angela Walters gives some good instruction on quilting using the feed teeth and this foot.
I think you will find this Angela Walters echo quilting video quite inspirational. I know I did!
Now that machines have hoop driven embroidery, the built in stitches that come on our machines, which used to be considered “embroidery”, are now known as decorative stitches. Whatever you call them, even though they are not, for the most part, as big as hoop driven embroidery designs, they can still make a very big impact on a project. Brother, Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff all have the ability to sew these decorative stitches as borders, and if you use the programming/sequencing feature on these machines you can create your own patterns, but don’t forget the impact that can be made by using just one decorative stitch placed at just the right spot! All three of these machines can produce a one-at-a-time striking decorative stitch; they just go about it in different ways.
My Brother and my Pfaff machine have an icon that allows me to isolate just one decorative stitch out of a border and use it as a stand-alone accent. My Husqvarna Viking goes about the same task a little differently. Let me show you…
I hope this gives you something to consider for your next project, big or small. Remember, it’s the little things that sometimes make the biggest difference! Happy Sewing!