Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shaina's Sewing School - presser feet

Night one of Shaina's Sewing School was spent exploring all the presser feet that accompany your machine and all those that can make your sewing life much easier.  How many times have you pulled out your accessories and wondered what they are for or you know what they are but have no clue how to use them.  My problem is thinking that the time spent figuring out how to use it will outweigh the benefit.  BUT I assure you, every time I have have taken the time to play around with with a foot I've never been disappointed.  There are learning curves that accompany everything. 

Shaina demonstrated the various feet and shared some great tips! Above she is showing us the foot used to stitch a button on...YES! no more hand-sewing on buttons! ...and they come with just about every machine.

The proper organization of your sewing feet is a sure fire way that you will remember what a foot is for and use it!  Shaina picked these boxes up at building supply store.  Less than $10 for 3 boxes!  If you have more than one machine you can use a separate box for each machine.  Notice she's also included the page number from her manual that shows how to use the foot - Genius!

Adjustable Hemmer Foot - no need for ironing!

A portion of the class was spent hands-on.  Several machines were set up and ready to go with a special foot for test driving.  Plus, each person brought along their own machine so they could become more familiar with their feet and settings.

Ruffler Foot

Next week we will be exploring different threads!  There are so many different threads with so many different purposes that give you so many different looks.  Learn how to use them with your machine!  Sign-ups are still being taken on and individual basis.  Check out our website, call or stop in!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

to establish a new blog or not....

All told I've had a shop open for just over two years.  What a crazy adventure.  I never dreamed I would be where I am today.  (cliche? yes.) Some days, probably more than not, I question my decision to become a business owner.  It's round the clock and if you own your business you know what I mean.  There's no going home to get away from it or taking a vacation without thinking about checking in..everyday.  It's certainly freeing, to a certain extent, being your own boss and yes you can take time off when you need it but if you take that time off then there is no money being made.  And then there's a certain now 4 year old and 6 year old that really like to be active.  It was almost easier when they were 2 & 4. 

So what does this have to do with the blog title? no idea.  sometimes the thoughts just start flowing and you have to go with it. 

What I did sit down to write about is the fact that I have been pondering starting a new blog under my retail shop's name, Stitch Lounge.  Then it occurred to me that the Stitch Lounge is me and part of my everyday life.  My kids are there with me many times and I've made a special space for them.  It's our home away from home.  Part of me wishes that it was my home!  So with all that said - I think I will keep this blog as my shop blog.  It's important to see where it all started and how it morphs into what I don't yet even know.  Plus, keeping up with two blogs is a little more than I want to add onto life right now.  So, following this post you will now see more business updates...along with tips, tricks, techniques and tutorials!

Monday, August 5, 2013

slippery fabrics

Ordinarily you would not find me planning and picking out any fabrics that would cause me to use vulgar language.  However I recently was asked for help in hemming some curtains made from chiffon.  If you have ever tried to work with chiffon you are probably shuddering right now.  I had 6 large panels to create the rod channel and hem.

At first I said no then I thought, ok this is challenge time.  I love me a good sewing challenge, although more in the design department!   Let the research begin.  Nothing really gave me a good explanation of how to tackle it.  I felt bummed.  So it was time to figure it out on my own.

First what I did was tape down a piece of fabric to my work surface.  Without it this *&$)! stuff slid right off the table.  The next challenge I had was how to make sure it was straight when I cut it.  This was the biggest challenge since if you just breathed on this stuff it skewed everything.  Luckily the selvedge edges were kept in tact for the sides so this made straightening MUCH easier.  Basically I kept the selvedge edges straight with the edges of the fabric I had taped down.  I made sure the pattern on the fabric was not way out of whack by lightly moving and manipulating.  It took time for sure but by the 3rd one I had it down.  Believe it or not there is 10 yards of fabric sitting on the table above.  Just goes to show you how deceiving this stuff is!

In the photo above you can see the edge of the fabric.  This is where the woman who brought me in the curtains to hem originally cut them thinking they were straight.  I'm sure they did look straight when she was cutting them but again this just shows how difficult this stuff is!

For cutting I used the largest straight edge I had then used my Chaco liner to mark it.  Then a good pair of scissors to cut.  I tried using a rotary cutter but I felt like it was moving the fabric too much plus it presented a big problem trying to figure out how to avoid cutting the fabric underneath.

The next big challenge was ironing or pressing rather.  I found that working in small baby steps was the only way.  I also found the pinning (with glass heads) before ironing while it was still flat on the table was the best way to make sure that it was going to stay straight.  I did find the use of lots of pins essential for making sure the slip factor did not drive me absolutely bonkers.

As far as sewing, I changed my needle to a 10 and just used a regular poly thread.  The first curtain had a bit of a wave to the top edge because the top fabric layer slipped a bit but after that I figured out if you gave a slight pull both ways on the fabric as it went under the foot it did not move and slip as much.  Looking back now I probably should have used a walking foot. 

Unfortunately I do not have a finished picture.  I was just glad to get rid of them!  They did look beautiful though and I now know why curtains made from that fabric is not normally available in stores. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Quilted Star Quilt

These stars started as an figuring out how to make the quilted star - fast!  I love to quilt but get bored with the monotony of making block after block.  Thank goodness for modern quilting!

All four blocks were made simultaneously.  If you look close you can tell I used triangles, 12 quarter square triangles to be exact.  I think the original size (before cutting the quarters) was 10".   This would be a perfect project for a layer cake. 

The binding was made with leftover scraps.   This gives you a good look at the quilting as well.  I did it on my domestic machine.  I love, love, love my Viking Mega Quilter with it's 9" throat space perfect for fitting in large quilts.

For the backing I just grabbed whatever fabric I had the most of.  I've never been a one-fabric-backing kinda girl.  I really didn't have a particular color theme in mind for any part of this quilt except for the grey background.  All the fabrics I just pulled from my stash or scraps with only the idea of keeping it bright and bold.

The final home for this quilt is supposed to be my home since I rarely make anything and keep it.  Until then it will hang in my shop.  I can't wait to get it back.  My quilts are made to be used and loved by everyone, young, old, 2 or 4 legged.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rain Rain

I finally got around to making my raincoat - the one I said I was making last year at this time and never got to it.

This is an Amy Butler pattern.  I found it easy to follow and geared towards a beginner to advanced beginner.  I am normally a size larger when it comes to most commercial patterns so I took my measurements and opted for the XL jacket since the pattern said it was supposed to be worn with something thinner underneath and be more of a tailored fit.  Even with a larger size typically I tend to need a little extra give around the middle so I added a bit there as well.

After all that I found that this pattern is right on with my normal fit so a large, and maybe just a slight waist adjustment, would have been perfect.  Next time!   It is fully lined although I am considering making one that is not lined for these warmer summer months. 

I omitted the belt since I'm not comfortable with them and I also decided to go with a the pleated pocket.  I'm not quite sure which marks I was looking at but when I put the front together I realized one pocket was way too high.  It would have looked ridiculous to leave it so I lowered it even though it left marks in the laminate.  Now the marks are almost invisible especially if you don't know they are there.

One of my favorite features of this jacket is the nice deep hood! 

Photo's taken courtesy of the above 3 year old...or 3 and 1/2 as she will correct you every time.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

quilt as you go

"Quilt as you go" is entirely new to me even though I've been a quilter/sewist for some time now.  It's such a simple concept and one of those things you hit your head and say, now why didn't I think of that!  The process allows you to assemble the quilt including piecing the top and layering the batting and backing all in one step.  My first project I attempted last week was this table runner.  There's all sorts of patterns out there to buy but I just opted for a simple strip pattern which didn't require too much thought.

First you decide how big you want your project to be.  I probably should have started smaller like a place-mat, but I was in the mentality of creating a runner for some reason.  You will want to first cut your backing fabric and lay that right side down.  Next layer on your choice of batting.  Once again, I was itching to do this and only had a fusible high loft batting.  Ideally you would choose something low loft and cotton.  A spray adhesive is pretty essential for this project as well.  Spray the backing fabric to the batting.  Once that is all stuck down you will start in the middle of your project and work out.  I chose to do 3 different color strips across the width of my runner.  So the first strip went down in the middle.  I sewed down both the long sides with a scant 1/4".  Next you will grab another strip and lay that face down on top of the first strip.  Sew one of the long edges with a 1/4" seam and then fold back and press.  Continue on like this all the way to the end then work your way to the other side.

I have seen where you make the backing about 1" larger all the way around then fold in over the top to create the binding.  For my project I chose to trim and square up all the edges then bind in a traditional way.  I think next time I may choose an actual pattern because there are some really neat ones out there that are not just strips.  I had a few little areas that needed to be ripped out but only because by fusible batting was not really fusing and the backing fabric kept puckering.  I can't wait for the next "Quilt as you go" project!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

snow day

Snowed is most of New England.  I think we got about 20 inches overnight and with an order from the governor to stay off the roads we were all stuck at home today.  This was my first Saturday home since I opened the Stitch Lounge in April of 2012.  I was feeling kind of restless...ok a LOT restless.  I did a whole lot of thinking about something, starting something, moving on to something else and about the only thing that got finished was the dishes. 

I did manage to cut up and sew together some strips for my knitted rug.  


I am amazed at how many scraps have already gone into this rug.  I have saved every last selvage edge and scrap I have had over the past several weeks.  I've started to add in several old curtains my mother-in-law gave me.  One inch strips seem to work the best and sewing together the strips vs. tying is my preferred method so I don't have any hard knots to feel on my feet.  

I guess today was not a total loss.  I got 4 loaves of my bread made, plus snuggle time and naps with my girls.  It was a great change of pace and a great way to spend a snow day.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Laminated Tablecloth

What do you do with this stuff? is the number one question I get asked about laminated cotton.  Because of the great texture we are all drawn to it.  My answer is always: rain coats, umbrella covers, bags (great for a wipeable inside especially with cosmetics or lunch bags), tablecloths, placemats and so much more.  Laminated cotton can be a little difficult to sew only because it wants to stick like saran wrap to the foot of your machine.  In this project I have overcome that with the use of hand-made bias tape.

Here's a little project I was asked to create for someone and thought I would share with you how I went about creating it.

Approx 1 1/2 yards laminated cotton.
(Laminated cotton comes in about 55" width so we used the full width but you could certainly make this smaller.)
2 1/2" bias tape

Get your fabric cut to the same measurement as the width then fold diagonally to create a a triangle.  This will make your piece a square.

 Next fold again meeting points and forming another triangle.

Then fold one more time. 

You will now have two edges that are folded.  Measure the shortest folded edge and then move the measuring tape from the point and keep marking that measurement along the edge.  This will create your curved edge as shown below.

To create a scalloped edge... I opened up the tablecloth just once from all that folding so it's easier to cut.  You can use any curved edge (bowls are great here) but I had this curved ruler which served me well. 
Between the top of the curves I left about a 1/2" space and then hand drew in a curve to connect the lines.  This is so that when attaching your bias tape it will be much easier to manipulate.

 Cut out all your curves.  When you get to the folded edges you may need to do some adjustments.  I found that I was slightly off in the curve but I was able to make it look fine with a little extra cutting and shaping.  Not even noticeable if you didn't know it was there. 

Next you will want to make your bias tape.  If you don't know how there are a ton of tutorials out there. You are first attaching the bias tape to the back of the table cloth.

Flip the bias tape over to the front and  the big trick for this last step is lots of pins!  I made one of these tablecloths without pinning and it was a big mess of puckers.  Next stitch close to the inside edge of the bias tape and your are done!