I finished all the baby changing pad covers for my niece and thought I would send a hooded towel to Germany with them, just for an added surprise! Since the hooded towel would have rounded corners, I needed to use bias binding to finish the edges. When working with corners that are 90 degrees as is the case when binding a quilt, you can use binding cut on the width of fabric (WOF) since no stretch is needed when making mitered corners. For rounded corners however, WOF binding will not lie down and conform to the curve making a big mess with much more struggle than the task deserves. The finished product would be a “Bless your heart, you made that yourself, didn’t you?” moment that no one could deny! Here are a few tips I hope you find helpful the next time you give bias binding a go.
In my March 28th blog I shared that I was making a flannel baby changing pad cover for my niece in Germany. Well, the cover fit so I purchased more flannel online and proceeded to prepare it for making more covers. Now, I am a long-time garment sewer and learned very early the importance of pre-laundering any fabric I intended to make into a garment. I know there are many of you who rarely pre-wash your fabric, either because it is not customary for the sewing you do or because it just takes too much time, but I wanted to share with you the facts of what happened to me so you may have cause for pause on your next project.
A large variety of fabrics come to the consumer with a finish on them. This is a mill practice of coating the fabric with some type of sizing product or a starch of some kind, but it is applied to the fabric to give that fabric a more substantial “hand” (how the fabric feels and drapes) and to catch the consumers’ eye in the store. A limp fabric is rarely appealing and the manufacturers know this, so does that make the finish applied to fabric a marketing tool? Hmmmmm. Anyway, when you pre-launder a fabric, you get the true look and feel of the fabric. You also get its true size. I ordered 2 yards of each of three flannels and received 2 yards + 1 inch of each. I also ordered 3 yards of terry cloth and received 3 yards + 1 inch.
Before I washed them, I serged the raw edges on either end of each cut of fabric so I wouldn’t lose anything to fraying in the wash.
I then washed all the fabrics together in warm water with a cold water rinse followed by time in the dryer until all the fabric was completely dry. (I needed to empty the dryer filter every 10-15 minutes and it was completely full each time!) Now the reveal….each of the fabrics lost 4 inches of length during the pre-wash process! (That’s about 1/8 yard). I started with 2 yards + 1 inch of each of the flannels and ended up with 1 yard and 33 inches. The terry cloth also lost 4 inches, but did so over 3 yards, not 2. What does this mean? For me it means if the finished product will be laundered after it is completed, anytime during its lifetime, I will pre-launder the fabric in the way it will be laundered in the future. Also, I always buy more fabric than I think I will need just in case the fabric gets substantially smaller in the pre-wash process. By the way, fabric rarely shrinks on the crosswise grain. If the fabric is going to shrink it will do so along the lengthwise grain, so those pants you own with the waistband that shrank: probably not a laundry issue! Happy Sewing!
I have talked many times about sewing projects that can have either a “bless your heart, you made that yourself, didn’t you?” look or a professional look. Many times, the difference between the two is simply how attentive you are to the details. For instance, are you using the correct size and type of needle for the fabric you are sewing? If you are sewing a woven fabric using a knit or stretch needle, you will not be pleased with the amount of skipped stitches you get. It will probably be so noticeable that you will think something is wrong with your machine! On the other hand, if you are sewing a knit fabric with a universal needle, you may find the fabric develops little tears or runs in it, like pantyhose tend to get. There are some fabrics such as vinyl, leather and some less expensive cotton fabrics (such as some Christmas prints), that simply will not heal once you put a pin or a needle through them. These fabrics necessitate clips, pinning inside the seam allowances or even just holding the fabric as it goes through the machine.
Stabilizers are not just for machine embroiders. If you are using a thin quilting fabric or you are using any type of decorative stitch or buttonhole, you need to stabilize the fabric in some way. For example, silk dupioni simply cannot be stitched and have a professional look to it without some attention being paid to stabilizing the fabric: it tends to pucker. Knowing your fabric and the end result you are hoping to achieve is important when choosing how you will support your fabric.
Since needles, threads and stabilizers are so important to your finished project, no matter what that project might be I have included some websites that you may find interesting. Once you find what you like, stick with it!
Well, I finished all the onesies I started last week and was ready to send them to Germany when my niece called with a request. She had purchased an irregular sized baby changing pad, different from those sold in the United States and wanted to know if I could make a cover for it. I was willing to give that a go, so I asked her to send me a picture of the pad with the measurements for the length, width and height. She wanted the cover made from flannel and wanted it to be more of a pillowcase in style. This type of project is a little tricky when you can’t see or touch what is being covered and working with flannel can be a little tough but with some know how the task becomes a one day project.
Flannel, when working with small pieces, such as 5” charms, is not tricky to work with, but when you start working with larger items, grain and slipping can be a problem, not to mention fraying. See if there’s anything I do working with this fabric that may help you.
Today I was working on embroidering onesies for my youngest niece, who will be having her first child in July. I usually use a baste-to-the-hoop method of hooping since the knit material of a onesie tends to stretch and develop a hoop burn when hooped traditionally, but today I used both the baste-to-the-hoop and the direct hooping method to stitch two of the six onesies I promised to make. I thought I would share the differences between the two techniques with you to see what you think. I used two different size hoops as well as two different embroidery machines. I even used a positioning projector and a positioning app! Let’s take a look and see what technique you might choose to use.
I hope this helps you if you are also called upon to embroider onesies. They are a bit tricky to handle due to their small size, but they are beautiful when finished and can add such a personal touch. If you are interested in the 80x80mm hoop, follow these links for more information. Pfaff and Husqvarna Viking Happy Sewing!
Have you ever had one of those weeks where you seem to learn, or re-learn, a lot about sewing? This week seemed to be one of those weeks for me. In the re-learn category, I had to remember to lower the presser foot pressure when quilting on my Husqvarna Viking with the Interchangeable Dual Feed (lower to about a #3 to avoid “snowplowing” of the fabric) because, of course, my material started to snowplow! Thank goodness I had remembered to turn my fabric often while quilting (see last week’s Stippling blog) or I would have also been dealing with a fabric skewing problem. In the new knowledge category, I did not know that the industry standard for stabilizing machine embroidery designs is to use one layer of stabilizer per 25,000 stitches. I knew my stitch-outs looked better when I used more layers of stabilizer but I was not aware there was a formula I could follow. I also learned, when using no-show mesh stabilizer (my personal favorite to use on garments) it needs to be preshrunk. I just never thought about it since it is a non-woven stabilizer and I didn’t remember reading anything about this in the directions, but my lack of preshrinking explains a lot of wrinkles in my finished embroideries though the years after I have pressed them! From now on I will use a press cloth to iron the stabilizer, using plenty of steam, before hooping it or hold the hot steam iron about an inch from the stabilizer and shoot it with steam and see if that fixes my problems. Be careful if you try this because the stabilizer is not a woven fabric and may tend to melt if it actually touches the hot iron for any amount of time. (Think of how nylon doesn’t like a hot iron!)
I hope you have had a week of new or remembered knowledge. All of our projects should be better for it! Happy Sewing!
P.S. Here are some Karen Charles videos (SVP Educator) and Amy Baughman videos that I viewed on YouTube this week. Maybe one will be of interest to you.
In honor of National Quilting Month, I thought I would talk briefly about the art of stippling. Stippling is the bread and butter of the free motion quilter; usually learning to master stippling before all other free motion skills. But what about a machine stippling stitch? Is that something that can really be used in a project?
Many free motion quilters are not thrilled with a sewing machine’s stippling stitch due to its linear nature. The machine needs to create the illusion of meandering while, at the same time, stitching in a straight line, which is what machines do. How does one get around this problem to use the machine stippling stitch successfully without the project having that “bless your heart, you made that yourself, didn’t you?” look? Take a look at my sample and see what you think.
I’m not at all suggesting that the machine stippling stitch should replace free motion quilting. I am suggesting there might be a time and place for this stitch to be useful in a future project. Happy Sewing!
I started sewing when I was a small child and began by sewing garments. My parents both sewed and they taught me. I remember being shown how to find the information I needed on the pattern envelope and what it all meant. If you are starting your journey into garment sewing or if you are planning to use a commercial pattern for a home décor project, I thought it would be helpful to know a few things before purchasing your pattern so you too would know what the pattern envelope says!
The Butterick pattern company, in particular, gives a lot of clues as to what you are getting by sewing this pattern. The envelope tells you the pattern is easy, which speaks to the level of sewing experience you will need to make it (it has no linings, zippers, pockets or anything considered more advanced) and that it is loose-fitting. A loose-fitting garment generally has 9″ – 12″ more ease in it’s fit than a regular fitting pattern.
P.S. For those of you interested, here are two videos you might enjoy. The first is Soni Grint, SVP educator, in a January Facebook Live session demonstrating the new subscription embroidery software. The second video is on how to fix an embroidery hoop that has come apart. This is valuable to watch since, if you embroider, this will probably one day happen to you!
When purchasing a new machine, even the most stoic among us have a bit of “I can’t wait to get home and try this out!” going on in our mind. When purchasing a new embroidery machine, while still in the store you will be imagining all the items you will embroider when you get home. Basically, if it doesn’t move, it’s getting embroidery on it somewhere! It’s the nature of the purchase and that excitement is such a joy. But, as I have written here before, I am all for getting and using all the features that come with my machine’s purchase, so after bringing my Designer Diamond Royale and my Pfaff Creative Icon home, I went directly online and downloaded the free software that came with those machine purchases. I wanted my embroideries to be placed perfectly so I wanted to make sure I could make templates of all the designs I wanted to use, just as I had seen used in the many online tutorials I had been viewing pre-purchase. In case you have an embroidery machine and have not downloaded the free software, I wanted to give you some quick guidance on where to find it and download it. The complimentary software, though limited in its features, is also a fun way to preview the more feature-rich software before making an additional purchase. Most of the pictures in my explanation below will have a link to the page shown. Please look through all the pictures first before clicking on a link so you end up going directly to the page you wish to be on without winding your way through the entire given path. I hope this helps.
There are so many really useful storage options for your machine’s presser feet, some that come with your machine and others that are optional. The whole point of these storage items is to keep your presser feet organized and handy, all in one place, so you don’t spend your creative time searching for the different tools you might need. If you are new to sewing, I would suggest you invest in one of these after-market storage options so you can keep, not only the feet together, but all of the user information items with them as well (the instruction sheets that come with each new optional foot) so you can refer to them as needed. I have boxes and accessory trays that came with my machines, handled totes and specialty cases that I have purchased from Bonny’s as well as plastic storage items I have purchased from other retailers that I have made use of through the years. I have made my storage decisions based upon where I will be keeping my machine and ease of use. Suitcase style storage for accessories is even offered frequently as part of a gift bundle when buying a new machine, as with the Pfaff Creative 4.5 throughout the month of February 2021.
I have also made use of storage options from crafts other than sewing. For example, I wanted to take just a few presser feet and my machine with me to a friend’s house to work on a project. I was going to take my extension table and would not be taking my machine’s accessory tray, so I looked in the jewelry making department in a local craft store and found a very compact tray that had a locking feature so I would not lose the few feet I took with me. Perfect! Bottom line, find something that works for you and that keeps you the most organized. There is nothing more frustrating than finding yourself in the middle of a project in need of a specialty foot you know you have but are unable to find.
P.S. In honor of National Embroidery month, I thought you might like to watch some recorded Facebook Live presentations that aired this past week. The Husqvarna Viking presentation is on embroidery hoops and the Pfaff presentation is focused on machine felting. Since the hoops and felting attachment are the same for both machine brands, you will find useful information in both presentations!