Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What Do You Iron With

I am beginning to get tired of constantly refilling my iron during a sewing project.  Not too long ago, I did change over to an iron that has a feature which allows it to stay heated, rather than automatically shutting off after a number of minutes which is very frustrating.  But, the water thing is getting to me.  I've been looking more and more into a boiler iron, something like the Reliable i300 or i500 but it's a lot of money, with no guarantee I'll love it.

I'm wondering what all of you are sewing with.  Have you moved to a boiler iron?  a gravity feed iron?  a special board? 

I'd love to hear from you!


Monday, April 23, 2012

No Cutting Corners

This is the first project I've started since getting back from the Worcester Expo.  At that time, I really made a commitment that, if I am going to sew, I am going to do it deliberately and treat each piece as if it would be judged.  I would like to develop a few perfect fit patterns for my daughter and new daughter in law so I can sew for them.  I've made, and then altered a muslin for DIL and am finally getting around to putting the finished skirt together.  

The first thing I did was a carefully pick apart the final muslin in order to develop a pattern.  Because the seam allowances had been adjusted a couple of times, I did not want to use them.  So, I carefully pressed my pieces without the seam allowances and laid them on top of pattern paper.  For my patterns, I usually use Swedish Tracing Paper which you can easily find on line and it comes in a good size roll.  This time, I used paper I had purchased from Cynthia Guffey at the Expo.  As you can see, it is very transparent, but it is also very sturdy, not at all like commercial patterns which tear easily.  This is my first time using it and I liked it a lot.  I believe you can purchase it from her website.  I laid down my pieces and then established my seam lines, using 5/8 inch for my lengthwise pieces and 1/2 inch for my crosswise pieces (e.g. waist).  I put in my grain lines.  As you can see in the picture, my muslin piece had become distorted and was not the full 2 3/4 inches across the whole piece as it should be and so I drafted my lines to make certain it was drawn correctly.  When making a pattern, I never rely completely on the shape of my muslin.  I make a pencil mark every couple of inches around my muslin piece and then connect those marks with either a straight ruler or a curved ruler, as appropriate.  This is a must if you are to have perfect lines.  Hand drawing just isn't accurate enough.  In the picture below, I have made sure my pattern piece is the adequate width all the way around.  I have drawn in the side seam and the bottom seam.  The top seam is yet to be drawn.  You also want to add in notches so that the pieces match appropriately.

Before I cut my fabric, I pulled a thread on each cross grain to make sure my fabric was perfectly on grain.  I know most of you have done this, but for those who have not, you can see in the picture below with the tiny blue arrow and line, what I mean.  You make a cut in your fabric about an inch from the edge.  Grasp a thread or two and gently pull them the width of your fabric.  In all likelihood, it will break more than once, but you will be able to follow the line that the pulled thread makes and cut along that line.  In this case, my fabric was nice and straight, but often, you will find that the thread will go way off as you pull.  Taking the time to do this step will assure that your garment hangs nicely.  If your fabric is slightly off grain, you can sometimes gently stretch it back.  If it is way off, and cannot be straightened, it is not worth using. 
After I cut out my pieces and done my stay stitching, I took the time to finish my edges before I did any seaming.  I am lining the skirt, so I was not doing any special finishes such as french seams or hong kong seams.  But my fabric was linen and I didn't want any raveling.  Using an overcast foot and a zig zag stitch that was very close together and fairly wide, I stitched the individual fabric edges prior to seaming them.The overlock foot keeps a fabric even as thin as linen very flat.  The foot has a wire in it and you snug the edge of the fabric right up to the wire and the stitch forms over the wire and then back over the fabric.  Sample below.  It is not a very good picture of the foot, but if you look it up for your particular machine, you'll get a better image.  

I just want to show you one other thing in this post.  There is a front center seam in this skirt and I wanted to top stitch it.  An edge joining foot is very helpful in creating even top stitching.  As you can see in the picture below, the foot has a flange in it.  If you position the flange over you seam, you can then adjust your needle position to the right or left of the flange.  In this case, my needle is 3.5 mm to the left.  Once that top stitch is done, do the other side by moving your needle the same distance to the right of the flange.  My machine will no go any further than 3.5 mm so if I had wanted my stitching further away from the seamline, this foot wouldn't be as helpful.  But for this skirt, it worked very well. For my top stitching, I also like to increase my stitch length to at least 3.0 as I think it looks nicer.


I still have the lining to do, but here's a peak.  Sheryl wanted me to incorporate some silk I had from an obi, so that is what the front yoke is done in.  I didn't have enough to do more than the front, so the back yoke is the green linen.  Hopefully today, I'll get the lining in.

 Thank you Cynthia Guffey for prompting me to slow down, enjoy the ride, and put my all into it each piece.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Presser Foot Fun

Those of you who know me know that I am not a quilter and that I don't enjoy doing most crafts other than garment sewing.  I just don't have the patience.  But I did commit to doing some squares for work in order to show people the versatility of presser feet.  I thought I'd share a few of them since they can be worked into garment sewing.  The Spanish Hemstitch foot does beautiful delicate work attaching ribbons or edges of fabric for lingerie and the flat feel foot makes easy work of flat feel seams, though they can definitely be done without a specialty foot as well.  

If nothing else, this little exercise made me learn how to use those presser feet that I've bought on impulse over the years and put away only to wonder each time I came across them, just what it was I bought them for!

Stems use 3 hole foot with 2 strands of 12 weight thread in each
Pintuck Foot
Yarn Couching Foot with free motion sewing
3 Hole Foot With vintage crochet cotton
Ribbon Foot with bias strips of sheer fabric
Gimping Foot with vintage cotton
Edge Joining Foot
Candlewick Foot
Spanish Hemstitch Foot
Flat Fell Seam Foot


Saturday, April 14, 2012


I've been away from blogging for several weeks and my plan is to go back three weeks and catch up with what everyone has been doing!  Work has been busy, Passover came and went, and my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  She started five weeks of radiation this past Monday.  Her spirits are great, but she is exhausted.  She turned 87 last Sunday and her prognosis is very, very good.  Prayers welcome!

I did get to the Worcester Sew and Quilt Expo this week and took 3 classes with Cynthia Guffey.  What a wonderful experience.  I guess some of you have come across Cynthia over the years.  She is a gracious lady and a designer of beautiful patterns, books and DVDs.  She is all about precision and details and a believer in good old fashion touches like hand basting before sewing and tailor tacks.  We studied beautiful seam finishes that incorporated wrapped outside seams, piping, fabric insertions between seams.  I loved her techniques and I loved her approach.  Her garments are classic, yet edgy.  If you haven't looked into any of her classes or seminars, I would say treat yourself.  It will be worth it.  I came home inspired!