Monday, January 30, 2012

DIY Fabric Weights

Some fabrics can't be pinned, so cutting out can be a disaster unless you have some nifty pattern weights.  This can include some knits, sheer fabrics, and leather.  Joann's sells a package of 4 pattern weights for $11.99.  For that price, I could buy fabric for another project or put it towards some pinking shears (if only I could find left-handed ones!!).

I set out to make my own for less than $3 each.  Pinterest had great ideas pinned from other sewers, so the tutorial below is not my idea, but it's a good one!

I bought the heaviest washers I could find at my local hardware store.  I needed to stack the wide ones 3 washers high for each weight, so at $0.35 each they were a bargain.  The smaller washers were $1.25 and I didn't have to stack them.  The washers, total came to around $9.

I used a glue gun to stack the washers.  I had to be really quick about sticking them together because the cool metal makes the glue dry crazy fast!

I've seen these wrapped in ribbon, but I found an even thriftier idea of using fabric scraps to cover them.  I ripped a remnant of a failed skirt project (Uh...a fitted skirt in this color and this type of fabric? What was I thinking?!!!  I discovered my blunder just after the side seams were sewn.) into strips across the crosswise grain and wrapped the washers in them.
I secured the ends with glue.

And here are my wonderful DIY pattern weights!  They only took me an hour to make.  These are soon to be my cutting out buddies!  I hope they will keep pinning to a minimum because no matter how hard I try to clean up they hide in the carpet!  I feel bad every time Mr. A steps on
a pin in the carpet.  This happens a lot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Roses are Red Apron Tutorial

Today I am over at Jenny's blog, Days of Chalk and Chocolate, sharing my Roses are Red Apron Tutorial.  She's been busy remodeling her house lately.  Go take a look!

And about that it is for you as well:

I love the fact that aprons are in style now and I think every lovely lady should have one.  This retro-style apron was inspired by Valentine's Day and would make a great gift for a friend, or you could use it as a reception apron for a bride-to-be.  You will need two coordinating prints. 

For the apron front, get some tracing paper and cut out a pattern that is 11 inches wide on the top and 13.5 inches long on the right side.  Freehand a curve from the left top to the right bottom sides.  Place the 13.5" side of your pattern on the fold of your fabric and cut out.

For the ruffle you will need a strip 70"x2.5".  Most fabric is 44" to 60" wide so don't worry if you can't get an entire strip in one piece.  As you can see, I had to sew two pieces together.

For the side ties, cut a strip 33"x5".  For the top band you will need strips 27"x3", 2 of fabric and 2 of fusible interfacing.  Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of your top bands.

You will also need 1 1/8 yard of rick-rack trim.

To sew the apron ties, fold them right sides together and stitch a 1/2" seam , as shown with the dotted lines.  When finished, grade the seam allowances and turn the ties right sides out.

Take your ruffle piece and finish one of the long edges with your rolled hem presser foot.  If you're thinking, "Rolled hem presser foot, what the what??" visit my tutorial and your worst fears will subside.  This is one darn cool piece of metal!  If you don't have a rolled hemmer foot, finish the edge with a narrow hem.

Take the unfinished long edge of your ruffle piece and run 2 rows of gathering stitches (stitch length 4-5) at 1/2" and 3/8".  Make your gathers and pin them around the curved edge of the apron front piece, right sides together.

At regular stitch length, sew a 1/2" seam.

When you are done, finish the edge with a serger or zig-zag stitch and press the seam toward the apron front.  

Take your rick-rack trim and sew it to the apron on top of the seam.

Now it's time to attach the top band pieces.   Take the first band piece and pin it right sides together, to the top apron front.  Allow the band to go past the ruffle 1/2" on each side, as shown.  Sew a 1/2" seam.  Press the seam one way, towards the top.  Attach the other band piece above it and press it open.  

Fold the un-sewn top edge towards the wrong side of the fabric at 1/2" and press.

Pin the unfinished edges of the apron tails to the right side of the lower band.  Stitch at 1/2".

Fold the top band to the bottom band and secure the apron tails in place again, this time incorporating all of the layers.

 Grade the top and trim the excess off the corners.

Give your apron tails a good ~YANK~ which will bring everything right sides out.  Iron the seams you just pulled out so everything is nice and crisp.

It's time to secure the back edge of the top band to the apron. Carefully pin from the front because this is the side you will stitch on...

...but pay attention to where the pins catch on the back because you want the stitching to catch. are catching that fold from the back while you topstitch.

And there you have it...the perfect half-apron!  Stand back and admire your hard work!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

How to Sew a Rolled Hem

If you've ever pulled this foot out of your sewing machine accessories pouch and felt intimidated or thought 'what the heck is this thing?' you're not alone.  A few months ago I finally overcame my fear of the rolled hemmer foot and conquered!  (This specialty foot and I are like best friends now!)

The rolled hemmer foot folds and stitches a narrow hem like the one below:


 It accomplishes all of this better and more accurately than your could ever do on your own.  You can use it to finish the edges of tablecloths, blouses, linings and scarves.

I used the rolled hemmer foot to finish the edge of the apron and blouse, above.  To get started, you will need the rolled hemmer foot that goes with your machine.  As you can see, mine is foot #69.  If you're unsure if your machine has a rolled hemmer foot, or where to find it, call a store that sells them or check the internet first.

How to make a rolled hem:

Identify the edge that you want finished and fold it over about 1/4".

Fold the fabric over again.  Now, using your seam ripper, guide your fabric into the scroll.

Begin sewing.  The scroll controls the width of the rolled hem so it is even throughout.  Stitch along, carefully guiding the fabric into the scroll, folding it as you feed it into the foot.

When you are done, you will have a beautifully crafted rolled hem on your garment so nice that your friends will think you bought it.  No really, it is that awesome!

Have fun and good luck!

If you need additional help, there are some very informative YouTube videos on the rolled hemmer foot. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Valentine Exchange

Hi everyone!  I am participating in Happy Hour Projects Valentine Exchange.  If you are interested in giving/receiving a valentine, click on the button below. You still have until Friday to sign up here:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

M6360 - Misses' Leggings

 This week I whipped up my very first knit project on my new serger.  I started with something simple, and hopefully fail-proof.  I made some knee-length leggings using McCall's 6360 Misses' Leggings pattern.  Luckily, I already had some nice cotton/poly spandex leftover from this project so I got to work.  The pattern was so simple I didn't read the instructions at all.  If you have made pajama pants - and I have made more than my fair share - you can make a pair of stretchy leggings.

View A was too short for a knee-length hem and View B was too long.  I cut the bottom edge of the shorts 1 1/2" above where the line for View B is for a size 10.  I cut out a size 12 at the waist, then tapered to a size 10 at the hips and used a size 10 for everything else.  I sewed all of the seams using my serger with 100% polyester thread.  I used 1" elastic for the waistband because I already had it on hand. (The pattern calls for 3/4" elastic.)

I realized a casing wasn't necessary after examining some leggings at Denver's new H&M store over the weekend.  Score!  (---Am I the only geek who examines clothing at stores to see how they were made? Let me know if I'm not alone.---) Instead of making a casing for the elastic, I folded the upper edge of the leggings under 1" and placed my elastic loop in the fold.  I pinned the fabric to the elastic evenly, all the way around the waist.  Having previously finished the edge with my serger, I just needed to secure the fabric to the elastic was a line of stitching.   With my twin needle, I stitched near the bottom edge of the elastic in a circle.

I bought a twin needle for this project because it is needed to finish the edges of the jersey.  (That is, unless you have a coverstitch machine....which I don't.  If you do, we should be friends!)  The advantage of a twin needle is that it builds stretch into the stitch by having two parallel rows of stitching on the top of the fabric and a zig-zag stitch on the underside.  All you have to do is use two spools of thread on top, thread one in each of the needle eyes, thread your bobbin normally, and you're good to go.

I used a 5/8" hem on the bottom edge.  I chose a 3mm stitch length and slightly stretched the fabric in front of the presser foot.  After reading more about knits, I realized I should have stretched a bit in front and behind the presser foot when I sewed this hem.  I tried this second method on a test piece of fabric and the fabric didn't look one bit wavy.  I'll use this method next time.  All in all, the finished result is still a lot more even than just a single row of stitching.

My only complaint about this pattern is that the edge of the leggings doesn't hug my knees like they do in the pattern envelope.  But...I do love my new leggings and can't wait for it to get warmer so I can go walking in them.  I am not quite as afraid of knits as I used to be and love how quick and easy this project was.  It took only a few hours to complete!!  I am totally use this pattern again.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thread Organizer

Over the years I have collected a lot of thread.  When you have a lot of thread, a thread organizer is key to not losing your mind.  I outgrew my thread organizer a few months ago, and that led to excess thread purchasing.  I couldn't see what I already had in my collection, so I kept buying more of the same thing.  The extra black and white spools above are proof.

I finally gave in and bought a wooden spool organizer.  Instead of placing it on my desk, I tied the top with a ribbon and hung it from a nail on the wall.  I love that I don't have to go digging in a drawer to find the right color ~ everything is in plain sight!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Edelweiss Skirt ~ Self-Drafted Pattern

When I found this fabric at Hancock Fabrics, I knew I had to make it into a skirt.  I love the print, especially the edge design, the reds and violets, and the paisleys.  I think the pattern was pretty much made for me and I love the way this challis fabric feels in my hand.  The fabric was $5/yd originally, and it was Veteran's Day so I got an extra 20% off thanks to my Navy husband...SCORE!! 

I wanted a pleated dirndl skirt with a narrow waistband.  I didn't have a pattern, so I drafted one.  Dirndl skirts are really easy to draft because the body of the skirt is essentially a big rectangle....more on this later.  

I also included an inseam pocket on the left side and an invisible zipper on the right side with a button closure.  The buttons were thrifted from my husband's old Hawaiian shirt.

 Most side zippers are on the left side of a skirt, but since I am left-handed, I prefer them to be on the right. 

Typically, when cutting out any piece of clothing, you want the lengthwise grain of the fabric to hang vertically.  This fabric had a design on one of the edges of the selvage, so I had to butt the bottom edge of the pattern against the edge of the selvage.

  I finished the edge of the skirt with some mini ric-rac and topstitching.  LOVE this look!!

No, my knees aren't really that white....yeah, that would be creepy.  

Stay tuned for an upcoming tutorial on this dirndl skirt!  Thanks for reading!