All tips are copyrighted by Nancy S. In Wis and may not be used or reproduced without permission. 

 

Get acquainted with your machine(s).

 

Practice with them. Practice is what some people call play. Some people don't think that they have time to play. You can't play the piano or a sport without practice. Practice is necessary then so that you can play. The play will be what you then can do  with your machine(s). You'll be a winner even when the results aren't what you wanted because you've learned something even through mistakes.*

 

Why do I suggest this? Years ago when I was freelance teaching sewing in small town fabric/sewing machine stores I found that many of the people in my classes didn't know either the name or the model of their machine. They might know the color, but that's about it. Your machine needs to be your friend and you want to know all about your friend whether it's a new one or an old one. How else can you learn to get along? And if you don't get along, how can you expect it to do what you ask of it? You don't have to have a TOL to do many, many wonderful things. I have taught people to make their own swimwear and lingerie on an old used straight stitch machine.

 

* There are no mistakes in sewing, just an opportunity for creativity.**

 

** Oh, yes, you can. You CAN be creative! Don't sell yourself short.  Make friends with your machine today. How can you expect it do what you want when you don't even know it?

 

 

Taking care of your best friends:

 

OK, now that you know their names and how old they are, you want to care for them--nurture them. For those of you who grew up in the oil everything in sight era, if you have computerized machines, you're in for a real eye opener.

DON'T That's right, you probably aren't going to find anything about oiling in your manual. That said, some Janome dealers do allow you to put one (maybe two)

drop(s) of fine machine oil on one place. When you take out the horizontal bobbin case to clean the race track, you will see a little wick. Don't pick it out with tweezers! It's not lint! In newer machines it's white. In older machines it may be grey. Anyway you can put one drop of oil there.

 

Now, if you have a mechanical machine, follow your owner's guide. And, if you have a mechanical serger, take out all of your oiling frustrations on it. (I counted that mine has 16 places to oil).

 

BUT (you knew that the teacher was going to come up with that, didn't you?), before you oil, clean, clean, clean your machines but not with that can of air nor any spray cleaner. Use a small brush. I have an old toothbrush for the feed dogs. Floss the tension disks. How about some of you out there share how you do this? Thank you! And use a soft cloth to dust the outsides of your machines. Think of that as love pats.

 

And, how often should you do this? Every 8 sewing hours is recommended, but how do you know when that is? If you don't remember when you did it, then it's time. Others say after every long or linty project. Each evening before I leave the sewing room, I see that my machines are clean and then put a vinyl cover over each machine.

 

Why? So the next time I want to use the machine I know that it's ready to go.

A couple of minutes of self-discipline can be worth it's weight in gold.

Every day upkeep is great therapy.

 

Depending on how much you use your machines, especially the ocmputerized ones, visits to the tech for R&R is highly recommended because they're the only ones who can get into some of the places needed help. Many machines need to have their timing checked and maybe even adjusted. We stitch, the techs do what they do. They're your machines' other friends.

 

 

To test or not, that is the question:

New design, gee, it looks ok, guess I'll go ahead and stitch it out. Ooops!
that's the time it's going to screw up, right? Oh, you know all about that--you've been there?

To help you take the time to test out a design, I'm going to suggest that you make up some rolls of fabric. We bought a yard each of 108" wide bleached and unbleached muslin which we cut into lengthwise strips. Determine how wide you need them to adequately be hooped and cut that width. For our machine it was 7" and since the fabric actually measured 37.75" in length and 112" in width we got 16 lengths which I rolled one at a time on an empty paper towel tube.
(Just in case you're trying to figure it out--we got 100 feet of testing
fabric.) The reason not to cut into pieces any further is for being able to put more designs, one after another, on the fabric or to use in your bigger and littler hoops to better advantage. Soon I'll tell you the other reason. Anyway, we have smaller rolls of tee shirting, sweatshirting, and denim fabrics. Instead of these 3 fabrics you can recycle old tee shirts, sweatshirts, and jeans--either free or from a resale shop or garage sale. In place of the fabric that we bought, an old sheet could have been used too.

Now, you don't have an excuse for not having the correct fabric to stitch out your trial run. And, in my case, it does keep DH, the embroidery machine warden from grabbing whatever he could lay his hands on. (I also had to rescue my good sewing machine bobbins from his grasp too. He was hot into filling bobbins that particular day. How about wished for him to get a job real soon? Thank
you!)

OK, everything goes fine. What are you going to do with these lovely stitch outs?

Stay tuned!
 

Whatta ya gonna do with those samples and tests?

You know, the ones that have come out perfect. Here are some of things that I've done or that friends have done with theirs. Some simply make a scrapbook of them. I've framed them and given them as gifts (thank goodness for the dollar type stores!) for birthdays, anniversaries, illnesses, just because, etc.
Make badges or patches out of them (I personally like Steam-a-Seam 2 for putting them on; for some reason or other I can't get the Bond stuff to work correctly). Cut them to size and use them in garments, quilts, wall hangings, etc.
They can go on totes or slipcovers for notebooks which then can hold recipes, pictures, planners, etc. You're beginning to get the idea, aren't you? They can go on aprons. They can go on anything that stands still for a split second.

How about those cards of designs that you bought just because you "had to have it"? Now you probably don't have 32 kids to wear one of each of those darling things.
Get one of those purse or mini photo albums (grandma's brag books). Stitch up each of them. Cut to fit (4"x6" is a good size) and put them in. They're just perfect for little hands and are quiet too. They spark the imagination and encourage their story telling. skills.

This Christmas, short on money, we stitched out a free design called the Holy Family originally intended to be blue work and went on to do it in red, gold (matte), green, and gold metallic. They soon quit being samples, that's for sure. We went frame hunting and found a lovely double enamel painted metal frame which would take a 3.5" x 5" picture. We put them on felt and slipped them into the frame. I turned the card on the other side and invited each family to put in their favorite family picture. I go so many reports of the fun they were having deciding on the picture, etc. Then our dil said that it would be fun to have inserts for other seasons. Another friend with whom I shared the design had done her sample by increasing the size and stitching it with gold metallic frame on green glitter felt. She found some quilt scraps for the back and binding. Then she found a length of gold stars to make a handle or hanging wire.
In the back she put a money gift for her elderly parents. They loved it.
Well, our dil's idea sparked us to putting a couple of white snowflakes on glitter navy blue felt and some red hearts on glitter white felt, cut them to size and sent them to all the recipients of the original frames. March (shamrocks on a bright green felt) and April (a cross with lilies on yellow felt) are all stitched, ready to go out. The cost is very minimal and it's become a gift that keeps on giving. Oh, and the original samples of each design? I trimmed around them with pinking shears and am giving them to our neighbor's 6 year old daughter who is very sick with leukemia. She's loves to feel them, look at them, just play with them. Watch a very small little one and see what brings them delight. It doesn't take much. Have some in your purse and when you see a mother having "one of those days" with the wee wiggle worms, hand them one of these little stitchouts to play with.

Now, how about imagining all the things you can do to share your love?
Remember, you have to practice in order to play. This practice will be fun, I can almost guarantee it. You may very well turn it into play.
 

Fabric frenzy

Did you haul home all sorts of fabrics today from the big 3 day sales? Sew, whatcha gonna do with it? How about taking a few minutes right away to tame the tiger.

1. If you have a serger, run the ends of each piece through it right away. If not, then sew the two ends together with a long stitch. The idea is to get those lose threads under control.
2. Now wash it and dry it the way that you plan to in the future. If you always do this as soon as you bring fabric into the house, you won't have to wonder "have I prewashed this" or be frustrated at wanting to start a neat new project but have to wait for the fabric to wash and dry.
3. Snip a corner of the fabic and put it on a card. On the card list the kind of fabric, its care, its measurements, where you bought it and for how much, and any ideas you had at the time about its use. Also note where you store it.
This card will give you an inventory of what you have, help you in the future in determining a project, and can even go in your purse to the stores for matching other pieces and/or notions.
4. If you've been very good and already gotten all that you will need for the project, then put it all together in a big plastic bag or a little basket of some sort. Whatever your method is as dictated by your very own set up.

There now, don't you feel virtuous? And you got to handle (dare I say
"fondle") that fabric that you so loved in the store. A chore really gave you the opportunity to play.
 

The numbers game

Ever wonder about the numbers on threads and needles? They can be confusing and certainly misleading. I'm not sure who did this to us, but they couldn't have been sewists. We're too smart for that! LOL!

With the needles, the higher the number, the fatter and stronger they are.
(That makes sense, doesn't it?) A 65/8 (first number is European/Asian and the second is American) is very thin and therefore fragile--good for the batiste baby gown. And the 100/16 is tough enough for those jean hems. The bigger the needle, the bigger the eye. That stands to reason, you will want to use heavier thread with the bigger needle to go with the heavier fabric.

But, with thread, the lower the weight number, the fatter the thread is, so that the higher the weight number, the skinnier it is while the higher the number, the thinner and finer the thread is going to be. 30 wt. is pretty common sewing thread. 40 and 50 wt is what many of the embroidery threads are. And 60 wt is where the embroidery bobbin threads seem to start.

So, You need a high numbered thread to fit through the eye of a low numbered needle. On the other hand, you need a low numbered thread to fit through the eye of the high numbered needle. Remember opposites and you should just be fine in matching up needles with threads.

And they thought that they could confuse us? Not any more!
 

No one right way!

We all know people who firmly believe that their way is THE only way of doing something. Did you have to take that junior high required class in sewing?
Oh, and you're still sewing today? LOL! Probably you were taught that each thing you did in sewing could only be done in one way. (Lots of frog stitching,
right?)

Well, I'm here to tell you (and break that illusion) that it ain't sew! There are many routes in getting to the same destination. And YOU get to choose the way! Some of us have arrived to that stage in life where we've been able to attend all sorts of classes, lectures, whatever on sewing; have bought many books; have read many magazines; and have watched tv how-to shows. Out of this vast collection you have witnessed a variety of ways of doing the same thing.

But how do you know which way to do it? Ah, now, that IS the question, isn't it? Start off by determining the various ways that you've seen it done. Try them out. That's right--we're back to that practice routine. Which technique are YOU most comfortable with? Which technique gives YOU the results that YOU want? Then that's the right one for YOU!

Simple as all that. Give yourself permission to make the choice. Park your perfectionist vehicles, climb out, and try some other modes of transportation.
You just might find something that you really like where you can sit back but still be in control of how you're getting there.

And a corollary to this would be with those specific bugaboos that are your own personal hang-ups. You know, the things that you avoid doing because you struggle so with them and they never come out right? You very well may be using the wrong technique for YOU. Or, perhaps there's something in that technique that you are missing out on. Scan your library or get on/line and look for more than one way. Practice them. Again, which one "seams" to suit you? In following through the directions, does the light bulb suddenly come on and you find that your technique wasn't bad or wrong? You finally find that one little sticky wicket that once it's freed up you can do what you've avoided at all costs.

You're free--free at last! Dare to be different by making sewing truly your very very own, and you'll be able to say, "I did it my way."

Some of you may have seen a few of us who fondly use the saying, "Different folks, different strokes!" Recently a discussion on another list led one writer to post a whole list of related sayings to this one. Even this thought has a variety of ways to communicate the same idea. There are many ways to do it, not just one "right" way. Pity the person so stuck in a ditch that she wants everybody else right in there with her. There's nothing the matter with her view, but there are so many others to see, try, and experience because, after all we are all unique individuals. It stands to reason that we'll do things differently too.
 

 

When to cut your losses

UFOs. Know what they are? (unfinished objects) Got any? (You don't? Then don't read on. You do? Then this is for you--guilt free!)

Since the UFO doesn't improve with age, it doesn't really matter its date.
You see it and you immediately feel guilty. You've failed. You've wasted time, money, materials. No, no, no, and no. But why not, you wail? Remeber that bit about practicing to learn?

Now, one at a time, pick up the UFOs (sometimes referred to as "wadders") and do a short analysis as if you were a stranger to this particular project (you probably are or wish you were but doing it this way removes some of the personal attachments and emotions). Why did you start it? What went wrong? There are so many possible answers to these questions, that we won't even tackle them now. Sometime we do make uninformed choices. Other times we bite off more than we can chew. This isn't wrong. This isn't bad. Simply learn from your answers and experiences. If you "had" to do it, you may very well have set yourself up for defeat. But maybe there's something about the fabric, the pattern, who it was for that you liked very much. Use that to start over another time. Did you learn that there were some things that you didn't know about or how to do?
Have you since learned it or are you at a point where you can learn it now?

See? You've looked at this UFO with new eyes. Good for you! Now, what are you going to do with it? If it's a perfectly good garment or item that might be of use to someone else, give it away or donate it. Can you rescue any of the fabric for something else? Is it something another person might be able to complete?

None of these? OK, then, it's time to simply let it go. Stop letting it torment you. Get rid of it. It doesn't owe you anything more as it's already taught you many valuable things. Consider the money and time put into these lessons an investment. Lessons learned on your very own are really the very best education.

It's time to cut your losses, because the guilt trip you're on from these UFO's are costing you too much (more than they are worth) by weighing you down.
You've learned from them and it's simply time to move on, quilt free.

Oh, and you've also learned WHEN to stop and that it's ok to sometimes quit but really, it's not quitting. It's about gathering up all that you've learned and applying it elsewhere.
 

BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS

Are you a book lover? I have to admit that it's one of my major passions which I love to indulge. I have several shelves in the sewingroom filled with them--some certainly on the older side. How about you? Books can be a major source for learning, inspiration, and direction. For some of us, classes aren't available. For others, there's nothing on tv. Those of us in the back side of life are suppose to be answering the questions for those new sewists on the front side. But none of know it all. (I'm always thrilled when on other lists I see questions from people I regard as the "big names" in the field. If they're still learning, why shouldn't we all?)

Life long learning can be a valuable goal. Books can help us along that route. On the internet there are several vendors who have even the newer books for sale at lower prices, because the print medium can be quite pricey. Try your public library and their inter library exchange to get what you want to read.
If you're near enough to some of the big box book stores where they encourage reading, treat yourself to some delicious reading time there.
Check out places like Sewing Rummage which frequently has used books for sale. You don't always have to own the book.

Today's books have wonderful pictures, drawings, and diagrams. Yesteryear's books can delight and charm you. All can be very useful tools for your sewing passion. Do they all need to be in your private collection? No, of course, not...

BUT, if you could only own one book on sewing, what would it be? why?

Please share with us--when you do though: Change the subject line to Books, pretty please, so that others can find your selections and suggestions easily.

Read to learn. Read to be encouraged. Read to be inspired. As we tell little ones, books are our friends. Make a new friend today; renew an old acquaintance.

 

It's a guy thing!

It saddens me when I hear sewists talking about another baby boy--oh, they love him to pieces but they feel they can't sew for him. They want to do all the "girly" things. They feel that there's nothing out there for the guys. I'm hear to tell you that this isn't true! (I have sewn for my father, fil, dh, son, nephews, grandsons, and other special males in our lives the past half
century.)

You're right--there aren't many patterns for males regardless of age. Guess what? You don't need them! Analyze male clothes. They're really just variations on basic patterns. When in junior high school, our son would come home with sketches of the jeans' back pocket designs and the color blocking of knit shirts (both the in thing of that period). Pockets, collars, sleeve lengths, pants leg shapes and lengths are among the choices you have in their clothes. They need things to cover their upper body and lower body. They need things for warm weather, cold weather, wet weather, sports, dress up, whatever their every day wear is, and whatever their tastes are. Make a list of all the things they wear. Now, take each item and make some more lists--what are all the choices for each piece? There's lots out there that you can do, isn't there?

Want to know two absolutely delicious experiences? #1--almost everything can be done on machines (none of the "h" word needed!) and #2--they are usually quite delighted with anything that you make for them. Although this may sound sexist, the guys aren't nearly as particular and opinionated about what you make for them. In the beginning you maybe distressed when you want to make them exactly what THEY want (and showing them a pattern doesn't work real well because they either want or don't want exactly what they see on the envelop), but in the end it really frees you to do YOUR thing.

So, if there are males around you, please do sew for them. Their response will be well worth your while. No, you don't get to do the ruffle and frilly bit (I've had to learn that now that there are girls too to sew for in my life), but there are many ways to "decorate" male clothes too. The payback is priceless!

Go for it -- give of your passion to the guys!
 

Questions--I've got questions...

So often I see/hear questions prefaced with "I know this is a stupid (dumb) question, but..." Let's get this straight once and for all, there is NO such thing as dumb/stupid question unless it's the question that you don't ask. The only thing that urks me more is asking a class full of teenagers, "Are there any questions?" and being met with dead silence. Then as soon as you set them down to work, out comes, "I don't get it." Don't get what?

Got it? Good! Then ask away.

Now, there are going to be times when you don't feel you even know how to ask a question. That can happen when everything is new and overwhelming. Where to start? First, read as much as you can, especially if you're on lists and bbs.
Look for just one thing that you do know or understand. Find something that seems to link up to that but that you don't know or understand. That's the place then to start asking questions. Don't try to do it all at one time though.
Learn by asking one question at a time and for that you need to start at the beginning.

When is a question not a question? When it's used to express your point of view or is a "polite" way of either disagreeing or getting others to agree with you. Fine in some cases, but not if you're really trying to get a group to be on your side while you're drawing lines in the sand. That's less than an honest question. It may mean that getting people to agree with you is more important than honestly learning. These questions can be recognized by a statement with the tag line, "don't you agree?" or "don't you think so?" of "isn't that so?" That puts the other person between a rock and a hard place.

Any question which seeks to learn should always be asked and in return, kindly dealt with. People generous with their talents and knowledge are most often flattered by questions. When some body asks, "Are there any questions?", ask away. Practice asking the questions so that it comes out of your mouth freely and naturally--seeking an answer. Be clear, be concise, be confident. These are useful skills that will always make you a life long learner. Observe how people you admire ask questions and you will have a role model.

So, no more "I know this is a dumb question, but..." You don't need to put yourself down. That's what you're really doing by prefacing your quest for expanding your knowledge and skill bases when you call yourself a self-defacing name. You're entitled to ask questions, so ask away.

(End of sermon!) But I hope some food for thought that will help you learn more and more and more.
 

Sewing at a distance

Ever wanted to sew for someone--but they were far away from you and your tape measure? Or, have you been asked to sew for someone--but they too were at a distance? Even had them insist that they were a perfect size 10--always wore a 10? (By whose measurements?)

You can still do it although the perfect size 10 isn't going to understand that the sewing world and the RTW world use different tape measures. (Just tell them you want to fine tune the garment so that they get a true custom fit.) First, decide what measurements and other information you need about each person for what you are going to make.  (For example, when he was just an infant, my dil and I noticed that Jake was long waisted. All of the one piece things pulled up very tight on him so we had to put him in bigger sizes to get his outfit to stay snapped in place or to get zipped up.) From a sewing book or pattern magazine, sketch off a body. Draw arrows to exactly where you want the measurement to be made. Make the arrow a blank space for recording the measurement.
List with spaces what other information you want. (You may want to make copies of this masterpiece.)

And even more important: send a tape measure along with this paper and even some string for them to mark the waist. Enclose a self addressed stamped envelop for them to return the tape and the filled out paper. You're making it as easy and fool proof for them as possible. And, you want that tape measure back because that's the one you're going to use in preparing the pattern. With small children and even babies you may want to have someone lay the child on a piece of paper and trace around him/her (kids love to do this) and send you their "flat self" so that you can get a better idea of what they look like. Also be sure to ask for height and weight of the little ones. It's helpful. If they wear a particular brand and size real well, get that information because you can always go to the store and measure away. You can even go so far as to have the person send a garment that really fits them well. (My 80 something mother did this when she wanted a shirt made out of some cotton she'd brought back from Egypt. She even picked the design out of a catalog and gave me the page number with the item letter. We got a perfect fit!) In the event that there is a need for lots of fitting or the person is extremely hard to fit, then do a muslin test and send that for a trial--make sure that same tape measure goes back and forth.

The hard work is done, and you should have smooth sailing. The one drawback is with a person who is ashamed of their measurements and doesn't tell the truth either in numbers or in the size they actually wear in RTW. (You can check in catalogs to get a measurement approximation if you know the actual size.)

With grandchildren, greatgrands, nieces, nephew, greats of those, or whoever is growing like a proverbial weed, do this at least twice a year or after the parent notices a major growth spurt. And for that person not wanting anyone knowing their measurements? Outfox them, show them respect--punch holes by each arrow, send a pack or two of twill tape (it won't stretch), have them "measure" with this tape, cut to fit, and put through the appropriate hole. Just as "only her hairdresser knows for sure," then only you will know--she won't be embarrassed by numbers that she doesn't see. And, after all, they are just numbers--nothing more, nothing less, but they are one of the tools of our trade, so we tet them whatever way we can.

You're going to be quickly called the smartest sewist they know as they proudly wear your creations and show off for all the world to know. So, don't let the miles prevent you from sewing for those you love. They'll be wearing you close to them.

(And why the same tape measures? Alas, all are not equal. Grab up a handful when they're on sale. At the first sign of stretching or wear, retire it.) Now you know the rest of the story.

 

Color me WHAT?

Do the names given for colors often leave you wondering what they're talking about? How about when you and someone else are talking color--either together or at a distance? We all have a different perspective of what a color is and what name goes with it.

There are ways to get all concerned on the same color wave length. Paint chips and DMC embroidery threads have a wide wide range of colors. You and your mother or sister or daughter are trying to describe a color or decide on one.
One can get the paint chip at one of the major centers or the number of the embroidery thread. Give the number to the other one. Now you're both talking the very same language colorwise.

People have come up with other ways to get everybody on the same color track, so if you know of one, please do share it. The idea is for all of us to be on the same color wave length when we talk about it. Color us bright!

Needle in a haystack

1. use the correct brand needle for YOUR machine 2. use the right kind and size of needle for your project 3. change your needle often

Wah!!

1. I don't know what kind of needle MY machine takes. For starters, what came with it? Janome made machines use Janome needles which are made by Organ as are Kenmore needles and Schmetz also works on the majority of these machines, but the Singer needle doesn't. Even though they are numbered the same, there is an itsy bitsy teeny weensy difference in length so you may have stitch quality troubles.

2. There are charts all over the place and even in your owner's manual suggesting the kind and size of needle for each fabric and technique. This sort of means having a wide selection of needles on hand especially if you don't ready access to buying them. You may want to look into buying them in bulk, especially the ones you use the most frequently.

3. How often? You don't wait until it breaks, that's for sure. It depends on the fabric and the amount of stitching. Polar fleece practically wears out the needle just on sight. Feel the needle very carefully for any burrs. Look at it carefully to make sure it's not bent or anything like that. Do this even before putting in a new needle. Every once in awhile, even the very best of needles gets my quality control.


So, now it's beginning to sound as if you might need some storage ideas.
Please don't discard the container or you'll be in big trouble trying to figure out the kind and size of the needle. For those needles that have hardly been used, no, you don't need to throw it out (and when you do, be careful--an old pill bottle or 35 mm film canister will give you a safe means for disposal). Get some tomato pin cushions and with a black Sharpie, write the kind and number of each needle in one of the sections--even divide a section. When you take a needle out of the machine, stick it where. Or, take a length of cloth (such as
felt) and again with the Sharpie mark the name and number of the needle so that you can "pin" your slightly used needle in its proper place.

How are you going to store this collection of needles? There are several types of vinyl pocketed pages that will keep them in order and let you see what you have (and don't have). There are the ones that use to be used for slides.
Then there are the ones for sport cards. Most recently I found some for business cards. I put mine in those and can put in more than one paper or plastic box of needles if they're the same size and kind. Any of these sheets, small or large, can be kept in loose leaf binders. They certainly aren't going to be floating around nor will you have to wonder where they are, what you have or need, and they're easily at your finger tip.

No excuse now for not using the right needle for the project and changing it often! If you've come up with other ways to keep the needle out of the hay stack, won't you please share them with the rest of the list?
 

The almighty iron

Next to your machines, the next most important tool in your sewingroom is an iron. Often it is said that you should press as much as or more than you sew.
Good sewing with bad pressing can result in a disappointing end result of your project, while good pressing can save not so good sewing. This means that you need a good quality iron. (Some people even like to have a second, non-steaming one, for certain functions such as fusing interfacing, so that no hole impressions are left.) Keep your iron clean inside and out. There are a variety of ways for doing these things, depending on the materials used to build your iron. If high heat is one of your needs, then do consider a stainless steel bottom with high wattage. And I was amazed that when I recently melted a plastic bag (with green printing) on my rather new stainless steel sole plated high wattage iron, a dab of iron cleaner from a tube wiped it right off.

Using the iron is another matter. There is a huge difference between ironing and pressing. Ironing is moving the iron in a sliding back and forth motion.
Pressing--what you need to use in sewing--is an up and down sort of thing. Put the iron down, hold it firmly in place, and then lift it before moving on to the next spot.

If the directions for you iron say not to use distilled water, they mean just that. Your iron needs water with enough minerals left in it for good steam.
But, you may say, I've always used distilled water. I want to take care of my expensive iron. You will be doing that by knowing what your own tap water is like. If it is really hard, then use mineral or spring water, but still not the distilled water. This is the word from Rowenta specialists.

Finding irons today without automatic shut off can be difficult, but you can get in the habit of every so often just tipping the iron or moving it. It will be ready for your next pressing session while you're sewing. What about if you have an iron which doesn't automatically shut off but have a brain that does? Put your iron on a power strip with a light. You can easily see if the iron is on. If the light on the strip is on, then the iron is. Hang a sign in the door way asking you if you know where your iron is. Do anything to jog your mind and trigger your finger into turning off the iron's switch.

Does your iron want to spit and drip--especially at the very worst time? Be sure that you have allowed your iron to get hot enough before you start to steam with it. There is a whole technical explanation to this, but just remember, keep the iron clean inside and in the vent holes and let it get hot. An awful lot of tears can be avoided by these habits.

Blowing fuses? With the newer, high wattage irons, you simply may have too much going on for the circut. It may be necessary to make some changes with a visit from the electrician.

Iron? Press? There is a difference. Know when to use each technique. Keep the iron clean. Turn it off or better still, unplug it when you leave. Have a sturdy ironing station so that the iron is less likely to take an unwanted dive.
With a little care, your iron won't be lording it over you.
 

Making your machine work for you

Get to know your machine. Select just one stitch or one technique/function on your machine that you've never used. Maybe you didn't even know your machine could do this. Get together all that you need to do it. If your owner's manual doesn't have enough information, look in a more generic sewing book or ask right here on the list. Be sure though that you tell us what machine and model you have, so that the right people can help you out.

I did just this today. I've always wanted to get a respectable hand quilting stitch by mahcine. I'd tried it before but hadn't been happy with the results but today I am. I used a stitch that on my screen was a dash block dash block dash, etc. I put .004 mm invisible thread on top and regular sewing thread in the bobbin. I zapped the tension to its highest setting and left the stitch length at its default setting of 2.5. Not bad until I started doing curves. So, I kept turning down the length and it looked better and better, more like the finest hand quilters who do umpteen stitches per an inch. For those of us who can no longer do the handwork, this becomes an alternative.

But, while I was at it, I found that if I changed the tension back to auto (sort of in the middle or just below) and lengthen the stitch to between a 3.5 and 4.0, I could get a lovely hand picked stitch such as couture stitchers use to install a zipper.

Sew what you can find out. What can your machine do that you didn't know about?
 

Foot fetish

Good thing I didn't put that in the subject line or Yahoogroups would have probably refused it as is would be porn.

But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm taling about the feet for your machines. They came with feet. Have you used them all? Can you find them? Do you know what each one does?

Oh, you don't? Then get with the program. While you're trying out a new stitches and techniques, how about doing the same with a foot that you hardly even know?

Instead of a tip, this is a challenge. Sort of mean, eh?

sewingly yours,
nancy s in wis
one of your list moderators.

Oh, and did I take my own advice? Indeed I did--it was the button foot for sewing on buttons and I used the actual program for it two--killed two birds with one stone, so as to speak.

"Ruffing" it with the ruffler

(This one's for you, Connie, our list mom, so that you won't have to practice any more patience for tonight anyway.)

Several of you have mentioned having the ruffler foot, which in some ways may be misnamed, because what it really does is make little pleats--nice, neat, tidy ones. The foot doesn't look that way though. It use to be included with sewing machine many many moons ago. Directions with this confusing looking machine aren't its stong suite.

Getting it in place is the first trick. Unless you have one of the generic snap ons, you need to remove your ankle (or foot holder) along with the foot currently on your machine. Your ruffler may even come with its own screw for putting it on the machine. If so, then use it. Then there's this two prong fork like thing that needs to go over your needle bar. At my Janome dealership they had a little vinyl sleeve to put around the bar to keep the needle from falling out.

There are two settings for consideration on this contraption: the screw on the front will determine the depth of each ruffle or pleat and the ratchet gear feed plate has four slots with the labels 1-6-12-*.This adjusts the ruffling interval. Your machine needs to be set with straight stitch in the center needle position, pressure dial 3 (if you have this feature), needle thread tension 2-6.

However, this is just getting you started. By now you are probably either confused or just plain lost. But not completely! There is a 32 page book which will really give you all the help you need. It's called LEARNING AND USING YOUR RUFFLER and it's by Leota Black. It's available from Clotilde's and Nancy's Notions. You'll learn all about setting up the foot for your project, testing, and then either ruffling a piece by itself or ruffling and applying it to a straight piece of fabric at the same time. In the new Kenmore book SEWING IT UP (a book with techniques for 33 feet that work with the horizontal bobbin sewing and embroidery machines made by Janome under several brand names), there is a shorter discussion on using the ruffler. (Currently this book is available only in Sears USA stores through the RSOS or Brand Central process.)

The mystery of this strange foot should be partly solved. Now, finish it up!

Zip Zip the zipper foot

A good number of years ago when I was buying a used TOL sewing machine the dealer noticed the zipper foot which came with the machine and declared that it just wouldn't work. So he handed me another one to use (at no cost!). The zipper foot that came with the machine and has come with all my machines ever since, was that little snap on one that you have to figure out which side to install and then watch it wabble. But...but, snap on feet are so easy and fast to get on and off, you may say.

What did he give me? A screw on one with a second screw so that I could slide the foot back and forth from side to side while getting it as near as need be for quality stitching. Take the extra seconds to do a better job.

This foot can be used for more than just zippers. Installing piping is another technique that comes to mind. What other ways do you use a zipper foot?

What is your shank IQ?

Your sewing machine has a shank--also called an ankle or a foot holder.
Whatever its name, there are times that you need to know the height of the shank you have. There are low, high, slant (some Singers), super high (some older Kenmores), Bernina, and the Janome embroidery machines such as the 9000. There are adaptors for some of these so that you can use generic feet or those from another brand. Every foot cannot be made to work with every machine (unless you have it specially remilled because you just "have to have that foot"). You also need to consider the maximum width of your machine's stitch, the needle position, the way the foot interacts with the feed dogs, and those with a Pfaff, the built in walking foot.

To give you an idea of the actual size of some shanks, here are the
measurements: low is 3/4", high is 1.25", and the Singer slant is 1 1/8". That measurement is made from theupper side of the foot when attached to the shank up to the screw hole. You can find out all about these shanks and more in at least two widely available catalogs: "Clotilde's" and "Nancy's Notions." Both of their web sites have some feet too: www.clotilde.com and www.nancysnotions.com

There just may be a way to have that foot that you've wanted but that isn't made by your machine's manufacturer. You just have to know somethings about your machine. (Gee! I think that that was one of the first things I advised: get to know your machine.)

 

Where do you sew?

Not everyone has a specific place to sew--a place that they can leave all set up, a place on which they can close the door. In order for others to sew they have to haul everything out and set it up. That can be discouraging and time consuming especially when time is short. You'd rather be sewing! Funny thing, but your family might want to eat at the table and you might need that counter. You know the routine. Life, space, and economics can stifle your creativity. But they don't have to.

There are wonderful cabinets that open and fold out made especially for sewing but with a matching big price tag. A workable alternative is a vertical computer center cart on wheels. You can arrange and outfit it to suit your needs.
You can add a light, power strip, or anything you want. It's yours to hold your things all in one place with space to sew too. Get a folding cardboard cutting mat to lay on the counter, table, or bed. It can quickly be moved with whatever you're working on. The whole idea is to have your equipment all together, ready to pull out in a matter of seconds, and easy to put away afterwards.
Roll it wherever you want to work and then tuck it back in its corner until the next sewing session. You'll find yourself becoming much more productive and even happier as you can do your favorite kind of sewing at the drop of a hat.

A little over a year ago I broke my femur and was bedridden in the livingroom (in front of the fireplace though) for several weeks following surgery. DH got a computer cart for under $30 and fixed it up to my directions to hold my serger, sewing machine, and embroidery machine. One machine at a time could be used on the pull out shelf. Supplies went on the shelf where the monitor was suppose to go. For cutting, etc., a small folding table (2'x4') with adjustable legs. A cutting mat went on top. And a table top ironing board could be put there as needed. A 5' x 3.5' vinyl mat sat in the middle of the floor. A second matching computer cart with my computer, printer, scanner, and necessary paper, etc. was at the other end of the mat so that I could roll my adjustable chair back and forth. It was amazing what I could do in that small area. When sewing time was over, the whole cart was moved out of the way and the table was folded up and pushed under the sofa.

Decide what you need and want for your sewing center, then put it together.
Take a new look at your surroundings and you can carve out the space and the place. Finding the time is a whole other matter.
 

World Play Day

Connie and I got our heads together (might be a dangerous thing!) and have decided that since this is a holiday week-end here in the USA (Presidents' Day is on Monday) and since we have members from all over the world, that we would hereby declare a World Play Day.

You do love your machines, don't you? Then give yourself permission to play with which ever one you want. There is just one rule--you can't use this play time to work on something that you've already started.

You choose the day and the time, the machine and the game. Have fun!

Remember though--NO working on a project already underway.

Happy World Play Day! Let the games begin!
 

Bobbing the bobbin's tail

If you already keep your bobbins in bobbin boxes, then you're half way there.
But do those threads seem to make a thread nest when you leave them unattended? A while back we ran into an idea for nipping their bad behavior in the bud and have become very fond of it. The directions on the internet showed elaborate pictures and took two pages of print outs but they all boiled down to a very simple process.

A one foot long piece of 9/16" soft round (not oval) plastic tubing available in the plumbing department of a hardware store will be all that you need for about 4 dozen of these little dandies. Take your bobbin and measure the distance between the top and bottom--the area where the thread goes. Janome bobbins are about a quarter of an inch. Slice rounds this size from the tubing. Cut open the ring and snap it around a bobbin partly filled with thread. Pop the bobbin back into the box. No more thread tails hanging out or doing the twist with others in the box. DH got 3 feet for under a dollar to mass produce the bobbin wraps in the two sizes that would accommodate my collection. Extra ones were dropped into little jars with screw on lids, sitting just behind the boxes of bobbins kept near the appropriate machine.

One more tangled problem unknotted for less than a penny a piece.
 

More thread tails

Those of you into machine embroidery know about those slippery shiny cones of thread. Not all of them come with fancy ways of tucking their tails away.
This idea is for you, but it also works for all spools and cones of thread.

There are some rather pricey pieces of vinyl rectangles called thread wraps.
If you'd like to save some money, you can easily make your own. Buy some yardage of clear middle weight or heavier vinyl from a roll. (We get ours from Wal-Mart and I think that it's something like $1.67 a yard or prehaps a little
more.) Measure the height of the thread on the spool or cone. That's how high to cut your strips. Now measure around the thread and add enough for over lapping. We cut our strips for ARC mini cones 2" x 5". If you mark your cutting lines with a permanent marker such as a Sharpie, you will have a visible line afterwards so that you can easily find the end to unwrap. If you want to make a bunch at one time, try using the rotary cutter. We didn't wrap all our thread at one time, but did cut a bunch so that as a color was used for the first time, it would get its new see-thru overcoat to keep it dustfree and tidy.

Trust me, even one yard goes a long way!

Seeing double?

Got a real yearning to do cover stitches? Can't afford or justify a machine to do them? Have the machine that does them but don't have or want to take the time to convert your machine? If so, then this one's for you!

For the cost of a twin (or even triple) needle, you can have a very nice faux coverstitch. Only I don't know what's so "faux" about it because it's what we used back before they had coverstitch machines for the home sewer. It's especially useful in hemming knits and children's wear. Most (but not all) machines can use a twin needle. There are some Janome machines though that take a different one from what the majority uses. Check your manual or with your dealer for specifics.

There are four things that you need to know about a double needle. 1. The smaller number such as 1.6, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 6.0, and 8.0 is the distance in mm between the two needles. You can only use one that is slightly smaller than your maximum zig zag width. 2. The bigger number is the size of each needle (80, 90, 100). 3. There are different types of needles--besides the universal ones there are stretch ones. And 4. they not only come in twin needles that match each other but also as triple (usually a 3.0mm/80) and double wing needle which combines one universal needle with one wing needle on a crossbar.

Measure the distance between the two rows of straight stitching on RTW and you'll have a good idea of which size to use on your garments. The 1.6 and 2.0 are generally for heirloom sewing and pintucks on delecate fabrics while the 3.0 and 4.0 make the usual hems. If your machine can use them, the 6.0 and 8.0 are for embellishing and texturizing the surface of fabrics. The triple is for heirlooms, embellishments, and hemlines. (Thanks to "Nancy's Notions" catalog for some of this information.)

Your manual will tell you the exact settings for using these needles. You will need to be able to put two (or even three, with the triple needle) separate threads on yours machine. If you don't have a second spool pin, put your thread on two bobbins and put them on your spool pin. You can use this bobbin technique if you require a third thread. Just stack them on the second spool pin.
If your only spool pin or both spool pins are vertical, slip a straw over the pin and pile small spools or a spool and a bobbin on it. We use to say to split the two threads to either side of the tension disks, but more currently we are told to thread your machine with both threads together as if they were one until you get to the last hooks before the needle. At that point you put one on one side and the other on the opposite side. Thread each needle with the thread nearest it. Slightly loosen the tension and lengthen the stitch.

Not all machines have a setting for these needles. That setting us a safe guard against using a stitch which is too wide for your machine. You don't want to break the needle! So, do use the hand wheel and slowly test out the stitch you want to use.

Now you can cover stitch hem anything and in the width you want. If you find your knits "tunneling" (making a ridge between the two rows of stitching), loosen your tension some more and even add strips of tear away stablizer underneath (gift wrapping tissue paper will work fine for this).

But why stop at cover stitching? Use some of those decorative stitches. (Now you know one way that the advertisers suddenly have so many more stitch functions than built in stitches on a machine.) Try a different color of thread in each needle. The sky's the limit!

 

How wide is your seam?

Traditionally in the USA we've been using a 5/8" seam allowance--the width of a measuring tape and the place often hard to to find marked on your sewing machine throat plate. It was chosen because it was easier than a half inch seam to press open and letting out a whole seam gave an inch and half extra.

However, if you're a quilter or have worked with patterns especially for knits for example, you will find that the quarter of an inch is what is used. So, check your pattern first off to see what is called for (if any--there are a couple of brands that you trace off have you add your own seam allowances). You can then, in the cutting out process, use the size of seam allowance that best works for you. If you're going to be doing some fitting, then maybe an inch would be better. Around the neck-line many prefer a quarter of an inch. Some people find that if they take a commercial pattern with the usual 5/8" and they sew at 1/2" or 1/4' on certain seams they will get a perfect fit. Be careful that you can comfortably sew an accurately very narrow seam.

Sew seams the width that works best for you after you've made sure of what a pattern has used to calculate the measurements for that item. You may choose to cut using your choices and then not nave to trim the seam allowance. It is most important to carefully sew each seam the proper width if you want pieces to exactly fit together or a garment to feel comfortable and look good. Let's say that you're off by just an eighth of inch on each of four seams and suddenly there's a whole inch difference. Use something to help you keep that seam even, straight, and at the width you need. There are fancy things. Prehaps something came with your machine. Even a piece of blue painter's tape will mark the place, is movable, and leaves no stickiness. If you really have trouble keeping the fabric straight in line, take a little pad of post-it notes, stick it in place, and you will have a little wall against which to run the edge of your fabric as it goes through the machine.

Make your seams be your own.
 

It's your call!

On another message list there is a discussion going on about selecting the correct needle. The question is do you match the needle to the thread or do you match the needle to the fabric?

Let's hear from you. Which way do you do it and why?

It's your turn to give some ideas.

 

Let there be light!

No, I'm not going to get into a discussion of the pros and cons of Ott lights or any of their clones. I'm just going to share with you what we have been using in the sewing room for quite a few years now--shop lights.

These are 2 bulb 4' long white lights that hang from two hooks in the ceiling and run $6.98 at the home improvement center. We have made two adaptations.
>From the very beginning we got big white covered link chain for the
>hanging
part (and took the left over length, hung it from the ceiling too and use it for hanging ironing as they are finished) which makes the posititioning of each light quite easy. Several years ago after a lot of discussions on line, research, and our own experiments we put one cool and one warm tube in each light.
This has given us terrific lighting for seeing as well as very good color matching. There has been one light over the cutting center and another over the machine work area, but this week's rearrangement of the sewing room is making a third one necessary so that the machine area will have two and the cutting area still its own. Guess these aging eyes won't mind the help. By the way, the plug in cord from the light goes into a strip outlet that is easily turned on and off. I didn't use to like fluorescent lights, but this combination of warm and cool tubes has made all the difference.

Just an affordable idea which is still working well for us.

Hit a bull's-eye with your darts

Darts in clothing are very nice and helpful in shaping the garment to fit the body but badly stitched darts can ruin the whole look, spoiling the effect.

Two marks are needed for a dart: a little snip for each leg of the dart and a small dot with a fabric marker. Match the two nips and finger press to the dot. Pull out a length of thread before you start to stitch. Put your needle down in the fabric on the wide end of the dart. Lay the thread from there to the dot. This is your guide for stitching straight. Stitch straight off the fabric at the dot. Lift the presser foot so that you can take a few locking stitches within the dart itself near the point. Press the stitches to set them. Press the dart in the direction it should go. Then press the outside over a pressing ham so that the point is nicely rounded and smoothed out. You will hardly be able to see the end of the dart this way.

There are variations on how to make a good looking dart, but this is just one way. It's a reminder to take care in the basic details of garment construction.

You may not know how to describe a good dart, but you'll know it when you see it. Then you've hit a bull's-eye for sure.

Serge ahead! (and fake them out)

With some requests to include some things for sergers, I'll give you an idea for making a five thread stitch without a five thread serger. Let's just call it the faux five thread seam. This is for the simplest of sergers, even the bottom of the line ones.

With your regular sewing machine straight stitch the seam as usual. Now go to your serger. Set it for a three thread overcasting stitch with the left needle. Make a second pass on your fabric, with the left side of your presser foot on the seam you've just seamed while the knives cut off the excess and the serger overcasts both layers of the seam at the same time. It's really very hard to tell this seam from a true five thread seam or one on RTW clothes.

Don't have a serger? Not to worry. You can do this one too. In place of the serger use one of the over casting stitches on your machine. Don't even have that? Then how about a wide zigzag which goes just off the edge on one side?

"You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of time." This is one of those times that you'll be able to fool them all with your own private secret of how you managed to make a five thread seam. Maybe it isn't faux after all. There were two threads in the first pass and three in the second if you used a serger. Guess that the only ones pulling the wool over anyone's eyes would be those using the sewing machine for the total application. You only used 4 threads.

Pity the patterns

Patterns seem to multiply when you're not looking. The one that you do want disappears. And then you find that you have 3 copies of the same pattern. Gee!
No wonder you liked it so much--you'd already bought it before!

Two ideas here: 1. create a data base on your computer and/or 2. create your own pattern book. You can carry a print out of your pattern collection with you when you shop.

To make your own pattern books, take the pattern and directions out of the envelop. Put then into a plastic bag so that the brand and number shows.
Organize the patterns by brand and number. Put the pattern envelops in page protectors and organize in loose leaf binders by category. When you want to make something, go to your own personal pattern book and pick out one or more pattern envelops. Keep a thin notebook for these to take them shopping. Fabric samples can be slipped in here along with any notes. When you get out the pattern itself it's easy to stick the envelop and protector into the plastic bag along with any notions you've gathered for the project. If you've drafted any pattern changes or additions, they can go in this plastic bag. Best of wll, after your project is finished you don't have to try and force the pattern back into that now too small envelop. It goes into the pattern file and the envelop along with any samples, pictures, and notes goes into its binder.
 

A GATHERING PLACE

When you need something gathered quickly or you need help in getting something ready to ease in, here's a fast way. After you have the fabric under the presser foot and lower the foot, sew a few stitches until you have some fabric behind the foot, put your left index finger or the side of pair of shears/scissors on top of the fabric and up against the back edge of the foot, but resting on the bed of the machine. Start stitching. Let the fabric pile up. Every so often (if you're doing a long piece) lift your finger or the scissors to release the piled up fabric. Repeat the holding, stitching, and releasing process until you're done.

This is an excellent method for preparing a sleeve head to be set in.
 

WHERE DO YOU STORE DESIGNS?

Regardless of the brand of embroidery machine that you have, you may have a considerable collection of designs from the internet, both paid for and free.
DH Roger is a computer professional administrator and insists that they be in at least two places and one of them isn't the hard drive. So, if you do have them on your hard drive you may want to consider two other ways. (I know that this is hard to accept for those of you with very large hard drives. The decision is yours.)

Depending on the design size, we down load to either a floppy or a zip disc and these are also what we work from. They are backed up by burning them on a cd. More recently we have started putting them on a compact flash card such as the Janome/Kenmore .JEF machines use. DH's all in one printer has a slot for these little cards which have gone down in price. Because they have become more standardized, they are therefore more stabel. And since the price of DVD burners is getting lower, that will be another possibility.

As pretty as they are, those labels on cds limit the life span of a cd according to recent reports. Again, Himself agrees with that and says to just keep a Sharpie handy for marking the front of the cd.

Use whatever you have access to and are comfortable with. There's more than one way, but the important thing is that you do save them in stable environments for both using them and as back up.Please do back them up frequently regardless of which form you choose for saving you design collection. You don't want to be sorry about losing any of them. Be regret free!

Develop your own system for filing them, but that's for another day.

A PLACE TO CUT UP

We have just finished rebuilding a cutting work table for the sewingroom. It works if you have the space as it is big. A 36" x 80" hollow core door has been the main stay of this whole set up for several years so we knew that we wanted to keep it. It needed a new base though since I wanted the two cabinets (each was 20" d x 36" w x 36" h) for use elsewhere. It needed to be sturdy and stable while still allowing for storage underneath. At a building center in the legs department DH found a pair of metal legs for building a workbench in the shop. (Goes to figure--they go with the shop lights.) You make the base then the size that you want (the doors also come in various widths) and can even make it higher to fit your own height. Since there is a wall on one end and along one side, the whole unit is wobble free.

On top of the door are two layers of cardboard cutting mat. We had taken two of the 40" x 72" folding mats, cut them in half, matched the pieces that I wanted to use, and taped them together to form an 80" x 36" surface. Then I have a 32" x 59" rotary cutting mat which can be either on top or underneat the cardboard mats, according to needs.

To complete this work area we continue to use two swivel, padded seat, and backed stools. This is a very useful area for drafting patterns, cutting out, wrapping gifts, and even machine embroidering. A big ironing mat is also laid out here for pressing large flat items.

The cost is very reasonable too: $15 for the legs and the door had been under
$25 (get the kind not in a frame with a hole bored for a knob). DH used scrap lumber. Underneath, the space between the legs and wall houses polar fleece yardage in rolls. The middle area has six large tote bins. The open end has two
3 drawer units on rollers facing out. We were building around the heat/air register, so that had to be kept open.

Bogey, the big Russian Blue cat, has given it his stamp of approval since he can still get up and look out the double windows while also squeezing underneath and behind to hide important toys.

 

SEW MUCH TO SEW, SEW LITTLE TIME

We make choices in life. We can choose to do what we really want to do.
Sometimes we need to break things down into little parts and pieces in order to do what we would like to do.

When sewing, list the steps that you need to do in a given project.  Estimate about how much time each of the steps will take. When you run into a segment that is longer than you can possibly give at one time, then break that down.
Nancy Zieman has a very good book on the subject TEN-TWENTY-THIRTY MINUTES TO SEW. It will give you lots of ideas of what you can get done in limited time frames. If you know what you are going to do, when, and in what order, then you will start looking for the time here, there, and elsewhere. Pretty soon even you will be amazed at the completed project.

Another idea is to make an appointment with yourself to sew. You set aside time for all sorts of other things, why not for sewing? Can you barter the time with others to get them to take care of whatever/whoever is keeping you from doing what you want to accomplish?

You will find yourself much happier and more content when you do what you want to do--that makes you feel good and satisfied. Besides, you'll have the results along with a sense of accomplishment to show for it.

Sew, what's keeping you from sewing?
 

THERE ARE NO MISTAKES IN SEWING

I heard this many years ago at a class ("Sewing for the '90's") that was introducing the Janome Memory Craft 8000:

"You don't make mistakes with your sewing; you create new things."
---Hilda Bedford, October 25, 1991

It is an idea for the ages and moves well into this mellenium.
 

A SCOUT BADGE SEW-IN

(Soon you will know why today's column is so late.)

The Scouts have these nice little stiff, densely embroidered badges. They supposedly have a fusible back, but nobody bothered to test them out when there was a change from cotton to polyester sashes. Since both the badges and the stash require real piercing power from the needle, 23 hand sewn ones were out of the question. Father of Scout had tried super glue which didn't hold at all (but sticks very well to fingers). This is a rural area with not much available.
Call in Dr. Nana to the rescue--have machine will travel.

Machine is set up with fabric matching thread in the bobbin and .004 nylon invisible thread on top. Size 11 sharp needle. Tesnsion lowered. Speed set at slow.

What did not work:

1. beading/pipng foot
2. metal piping foot
3. adjustable zipper foot

Time to regroup.

4. free motion with no foot but badge flags like all get out-- however, showing some promise

Calling all freemotion quilters and embroiders! Here's a new business for you because of what did work:

5. free motion with embroidery/darning foot.

With practice the back will look better, but the front is fine and the badges aren't about to come off. (Left a sheet of Steam-a-Seam 2 for short term placement until the next rescue mission.)
 

MACHINES TO GO

There come times when for any variety of reasons one or more of our machines needs to go with us, prehaps for the day or longer. One way to safely, easily, and economically cart them is in a cooler on wheels with a telescoping handle.

They seem to come in two formats. One way has the wheels and handle along one long side while the other has the wheels and handle on the end. The important thing is to measure the INSIDE of the cooler. My Rubbermaid side wheeled one with a split lid (handy for setting your beverage in one of the holders but still able to get into your supplies) is 10.25" deep (front to back), 22" wide, and 13.5" high (top to bottom).

You will need to decide which format is best for you and what size you need.
The price is around the $25 mark, give or take (mine was $22.44 from Wal-Mart). I really prefer this hard sided unit to the softsided ones. I have read several cases of the one from JoAnn's breaking , even the first time it was used.
I do know that people with Janome made ones are satisfied, but the prices are more than some can afford or wish to pay.

Now our grandchildren know that Dr. Nana has machine, will travel.

THINK SPRING

Although the calendar doesn't say so and this isn't exactly a specific sewing tip, as soon as the first part of March rolls around it's time to start thinking spring, especially if you're living in the wintery part of the world.

Do one thing in your life that will help you spring forward.

It might be planning a new sewing project. Or maybe get out some silk flowers. You know what will make you think, feel, be spring like. So do it right now (as soon as you get off/line). Spring ahead! Smile!

 

UNIVERSAL OR EMBROIDERY NEEDLE

Guess what? The only difference is the size of the eye. The embroidery needle has a bigger eye than that universal. So, if you're not having any trouble with thread shredding, the universal needle will do just as well and save you lots of money. If you are experiencing shredding, then do go with an embroidery needle for the bigger eye OR simply go up a size (from an 11 to a 14) and that should solve the problem.

Aside from the size of their eyes, they're the same needle. I found this information in an ezine from Design Inspirations. Some of you may have gotten it too. I was surprised but glad to hear this news and see the pictures.

EACH ONE TEACH ONE

You may have heard this before, but have you done it? Share your passion and your skill with someone else. That someone else can be family, friend, or stranger. There's someone out there waiting for YOU to teach her/him how to sew.

You can do it! And you will be assuring the continuity and future of sewing for at least another generation. Sew, go forth and be one to teach one.

ANOTHER FAUX STITCH

Unless you really need a flat felled seam that looks finished on both sides, then here is a way to get the look on the outside without the tedious and exacting steps to do the real thing.

Several routes will get you there, but they all start with wrong sides of your fabric together. A five thread serged seam would be the fastest way. Another way is a regular straight stitched seam and then a second pass with a three thread overcast on the serger or one of the overcasting stitches on your sewing machine, both ways treats the two layers of fabric in the seam as one. If you're using the sewing machine all the way, you may want to trim the seam.
Press to set the stitches and then press the seam in one direction. On the outside, topstitch with parallel lines of straight stitching so that one line is nearly an edgestitch to the seam line and the other is about 1/4" away or whatever width you want your flat felling to look like. An even faster and neater way, is to use a twin (double) needle to do this top stitching. Simply choose a size which is the width that you want for your flat felled seam-look.

If you look at some RTW clothes, you will see that this is being used some of the time.

Get the flat felled look without the hassel. Make an easy faux flat felled seam.
 

PIN TUCKING

Often considered an heirloom stitch, pintucking can be use to decorate, embellish, or create a different fabric. It is simply two parallel lines of straight stitching. There are feet especially for doing this stitch along with accessories (please see the last three entries in the list files under feet).
Without them, you can still do the stitch though. Either with or without the foot you will use a twin (double needle).

You want to get a little ridge, bump, or tunnel between the two lines of stitching. Some fabrics will do this automatically, but to be sure you may want to cord this stitch. Without any of the feet or accessories, cut a short length of a drinking straw and tape it on the front of your throat plate. Fill it with something along the line of perle cotton (for practice you can try some string). The size of the filler will determine how big the ridge is along with the size of the twin needle. Put in your twin needle-- 1.6 or 2.0 are pretty good for this stitch. Pull the filler thread through the straw and let the ball of thread or string sit in your lap while the filler is all the way under the fabric where you want to start stitching. Thread the machine for twin needles.
Here you can have fun with colors, prehaps one in each needle, or you may choose to just match your fabric. After you stitch you should see a nice bump between the two rows of stitching. You may want to tighten your tension a bit to help the stitch look even nicer on top. Filler and fabric will determine how soft or how stiff the finished stitch will be. And, be sure that you use one of your feet with a tunnel underneath such as for satin stitches. On most Janome-made machines this is often the "F" foot (the fun foot).

This stitch can go in straight lines, having many rows all the same distance apart or grouped with varying nows. They can wave, meander, cross each other to form squares or a pattern to make a plaid. The sky's the limit!

As long as your machine can use a twin needle, you can make pin tucks even without special feet.
 

ONE FOR YOURSELF

Do something, make something, sew something just for yourself. You need not be like the cobbler's children who had no shoes. What have you made for others that you would have liked to have had for yourself? Or, what is it that you've really always wanted to have but haven't done for yourself?

This one's for you!
 

THE SERGER WAVE STITCH

Some of you may have seen the "new" stitch done on the Baby Lock Wave Imagine serger. I have run across some directions for doing this stitch on any 3 thread serger. Let me warn you up front though that it really does take a lot of practice. I've put in a couple of hours already and am not completely sold on the results. This is being offered for you to try and see what you can get..

The wave stitch is one in which tension is put on the needle thread at regular intervals and the looper threads are brought forward.

1. Set the serger for a balanced 3 (or 4) thread stitch.

2. While sergering apply extra tension to the needle thread(s) at regular intervals.

3. Do not pull the thread tails. Secure them instead.

The directions that I got were rather vague. I wasn't sure where to put my finger to get this additional tension nor how much nor for how long. This was all a part of the learning and practicing process. The keys seem to be in the amount of tension and the frequency of it. They need to be very regular--all the same.

I got some results that looked like a wave but still need to practice to get a good rhythm going. Using different colors of thread for each looper would add to the attractiveness of this decorative stitch. As you practice it, keep telling yourself that this is much cheaper than a new serger.

You now have the technique for the wave stitch. Now practice it, practice it, and practice it.
 

INDEPENDENT PATTERNS

There are more and more patterns being produced by private designers and their small companies. They can give you some original, creative, and innovative garments or they can be an experience in horror. To get the first and avoid the latter, there are somethings that you should know or find out ahead of time.

1. Does the pattern give you body measurements?

2. Does it provide a yardage chart?

3. Are there directions? Are they clear? Are they correct? Are they complete?

4. For what type of body does the designer create?

5. Does the pattern provide pieces which fit together?

I'm sure that there are other things that you might want to know -- add them to this list. These questions represent some of the problems that sewists have run into with independent patterns. Since they tend to cost more than the Big 4 and other better known patterns (Kwik Sew, Burda, Stretch and Sew, etc.), you want to be sure about them upfront to avoid expensive frustration.

Some of the designers are very good about working with any problems you might encounter. There is a web site (www.patternreview.com) where some patterns are reviewed which might give you some help.

Independent patterns may open up a whole new avenue for you. Do your homework and give them a try.
 

 

A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING

...and everything in its place. Easier said than done though, isn't it?
However, if you have the same things always being left out, it may not be your fault for not putting it away. It could be that these things don't have a particularly good home if they even have one.

Are they in a logical place? Are they near to where you use them? Are they relatively easy to get at? Do you maybe need more than one of the item so that you can have it in more than one location?

Answer these questions to get a better idea of how to create a place for everything so that you can have everything in its place.
 

WHAT SHALL I DO?

"One of the toughest things in life is deciding which bridges to cross and which bridges to burn." source unknown

Sew, you're not alone in trying to decide what to do for a project, which project to do first, and which project to dump.

Some questions to guide you:

What can I do, do to my standards, and enjoy doing?
When must the project be done? Prioritize! Outline the steps!
What have I learned from this project that isn't going anywhere?
What will happen if I don't finish it? You've already learned something, now let go.

You get the idea. Talk with yourself. Answer yourself. Listen to yourself.

Easy? No. But you can do it.

 

SAVE A PATTERN

That sad, dying pattern that you love so very very much (and use even more) can be saved. Carefully press the old pattern so that it's wrinkle free. Then fuse cheap interfacing to the back of your pattern pieces. With a new life, your favorite pattern is good for a long time.

Of course, you can always trace it off too.

 

BLOOMING WHERE YOU'RE PLANTED

"Life traps keep you from breaking out of your comfort zone." source unknown

To break out of your comfort zone and bloom creatively, you may need to reinvent your life.

1. Of what are you afraid?
2. Is it a realistic risk?
3. What will be the advantage?

Apply these questions to whatever it is you'd like to do in your sewing or if you've met up with a sewing block or if you've run into a creative opportunity.
(Remember there are no mistakes in sewing just as there is no crying in baseball, at least according to the movie "A League of Their Own.")

Using all that you have at your disposal, you can break out of your comfort zone. Then you'll be blooming where you've been planted. Just because you're planted, it doesn't mean that you have to stay still. It means that you break through the stuff that is covering you and holding you down.

Isn't the light wonderful? Don't look back or down, but remember where you've been and see how far you've come. What have you created? Whatever it is, it's lovelym it's wonderful because you've broken out of your comfort zone and bloomed. Enjoy the blossoms--they smell so sweet.

 

SWEATLESS COASTERS, part 2

With a little more thinking and consideration, DH and I have decided that my original thought of placement of the Glad Press 'n Seal wrap might be the better one after all. In my tests I pressed the wrap on the felt square backing before slipping it under the stitched coaster so that the final stitching of the border could be done. In putting the wrap on the back of the top, all of the stitching would be going through the wrap, leaving stitch holes for both moisture and heat to seep through.

Sew, put the wrap on top of the bottom piece.

 

KWIK PUT AWAY

The Kwik Sew books come with master patterns. From those master patterns you draft individual pattern pieces. Whoops! Are you beginning to see a lot of paper? They need homes. A cyber friend showed me this system which she devised and was using.

There are binders with clear vinyl slip-in pockets on the front and back.
Here's were you will put the books. Inside, front and back, there are shorter pockets, just right for the master patterns. Using vinyl page protectors, you will have places for your drafted patterns. Each can be labeled as to what item, size, etc. is in it. So, one binder can accommodate two books and these binders do come in various sizes according to the number of inches the rings are.

There are many other ways, but this approach keeps everything together in one place and lets you see quickly what you've already traced off ready for for reuse. A time saver, a space saver, and clutter free--what could be better?
 

GOOD OLD DAYS???????

Sewing machines were mostly foot powered.

Steam irons were about a foot long and 9" high.

Fabrics were uninteresting and had to be ironed.

Oh, yes, there were many, many good things about the good old days, but not everything. I love modern technology in the sewing room. Full speed ahead! Have you told your machines and other equipment how much you appreciate them and their faithfulness that enhances your skills?
Put your pedal to the metal without fear of a ticket.

 

HOW LONG?

The length of your stitch is partially determined by how thick the fabric is that your stitch must go through. The thinner the fabric, the shorter the stitch. The thicker the fabric, the longer the stitch. The longer stitch is needed in order to form correctly top and bottom when there is a lot of fabric.

To get a balanced, more perfect stitch, match the stitch length to the the gabric loft (thickness). This can be a stronger stitch too because the thread won't be strained.

How long should the stitch be? Long enough to do the job right.

 

BASICALLY SEWING

Every home sewist should have at least one good basic sewing book in her/his sewing library. When directions in a pattern or for a project assume that you know what they mean, it's best to look it up to make sure you're both talking the same language and are on the same wave length.

Two of my favorites, under $20 each, are the revised edition of SIMPLICITY'S SIMPLY THE BEST SEWING BOOK, edited by Anne Marie Soto (also on staff with the American Sewing Guild) and from the Singer Reference Library, The New SEWING ESSENTIALS. Both books are easily available in the USA. Mine came from Wal-Mart--I have had to buy replacements more than once, because I've given them away.

Both of these books have a wealth of information--you'd pay tons of money and need eons of time to take classes for all that is included in these two volumes. The Simplicity book lays open flat and has mostly hand drawings (but very clear). The photography in the Singer (not machine brand specific either) is tremendous, something that is a hallmark for their entire series of nearly three dozen volumes.

Don't guess at what is meant. Look it up in your very own basic book. You'll save time and frustration in the long run, maybe learn something new, refresh your memory, and even be inspired to go on to another venture.
 

THREADLESS BASTING

In a word, glue stick. (Buy it in a discount store or office supply.
The same thing costs more at a sewing store.). Or, double sided basting tape.

The tape needs to be put to one side or the other of your stitching line because, if sewn through, it will gum up your needle. Easy to use right on the stitching line, the glue stick, if allowed to dry, will not gum up your needle. Therefore it can be stitched right through.
In a recent show (a fund raising for PBS) Nancy Zieman told how she had become a glue stick convert. She was using it for landscape quilting placement.But, she has recommended it for other sewing projects. You have a little grace time for repositioning the pieces before it dries and is ready for stitching.

I bought the smaller glue sticks by the dozen. Since they may dry out after being opened, you lose less with the smaller ones than the bigger.

Stick it in place; then sew with confidence.

UNCOMMON SEWING NOTIONS

In looking around my sewingroom today I noticed that I had quite a few unusual, uncommon items.

paper clips
stapler
scotch tape
freezer paper
waxed paper
plastic wrap
plastic bags
Glad Press 'n Seal
clothes pins
push tacks
Soil Separator Paper
architect's paper
clip boards
glue sticks
bamboo skewer
waffle shelf liner
architect's tape
painter's tape
secretarial chairs
stools
a hollow core door
shop bench legs
banquet folding tables
school chalk
fat kindergarten pencils

I'm sure that there are many more things, but maybe they've been around so long that they don't seem that uncommon any more. But, you get the idea. Just because it doesn't say "sewing" or some other related word, doesn't mean that it isn't useful for sewing activities. Don't be afraid to use them if they'll do the job for you. And, usually the price is right too.

MORE LIGHT

This is based on ideas gleaned from "Quilting with Fons and Porter" on PBS.

Add a flashlight to your sewingroom equipment. It can be be used to see and find what you've dropped on the floor. It can be taped to a slanted rubber door stop from the hardware store and set behind your sewing machine at just the needed angle to shed light directly where you need it.

Can't see the titles of the books in your sewing library? Use the flashlight.
In
fact, whatever you're having trouble seeing can often be overcome with more light.

See more. See better. Light the way with a flashlight. (Guess that means more batteries should be available too.)
 

CHILL OUT

After moving some of your kitchen to the sewingroom, it is now time to move some of your sewingroom into the kitchen. Anything losing moisture or building up static can be renewed in the refrigerator or freezer.

a glue stick once it's been opened
Steam-A-Seam
threads
problematic yarns
elastics
liquid stablizer made from water soluable stablizer scraps

Somethings can be spritzed with a misting of water and then wrapped in plastic as we did back in the dark ages when we sprinkled the ironing and put it in a pillow case, storing it in the refrigerator when we couldn't finish all of the ironing in one day.

If it's dried out, it needs rehydrating and a cooling off period. It's then ready to use rather than being discarded.

 

WASTE NOT DUSTERS

Whoa! Don't throw away those polar fleece scraps and don't discard those Swiffer forks. Today I was reading on another list about how good polar fleece was for dusting, better than Swiffers. Since DH is madly in love with Swiffers, I mentioned this to him but didn't think anything more of it. He did ask if I still a collection of polar fleece scraps. I do.

Awhile later out he comes with a pretty cherry red polar fleece cover on one of his Swiffer handles. The closer I looked that more I saw just how dusty it was. He'd made one all by himself and tried it out on the furnace door (the only place that he could find dust he said). He suggested that this would make a good column for today, so I measured what he'd made.
When I asked if it should be longer. He said that any longer and it would just flop over the end. Then I asked about fringing since the originals are that way. Good idea! So I made up a prototype. He tried that out and decided that the fringed was good for general dusting and the flat for blinds and louvered doors, etc.

The flat is a 6" x 8" piece of cloth. Overlap slightly the two short ends in the middle of the 8" sides. Stitch through all three layers. Slip on the fork.

The fringed starts out as a 6" by 12" piece and you overlap the short ends in the middle of the longer sides, again, stitching through all three layers.
Stitch
a seam about 2" in from each folded edge. Slash the folded edge. Create fringe by cutting from the cut edge up to but not through the stitched line at about
1/3
of an inch intervals.

He also wanted to point out that once the bottom is dirty, just reverse it so that the clean top is down.

With a a couple of minutes of time you have made use of scraps, recycled a plastic handle, and created reusable dust cloths (just toss them in the washer).
Don't you feel good about yourself? LOL!

No Swiffers where you are or don't have any? Make a mitt of the scraps and add a wrist of ribbing or more polar fleece scraps (cut on the cross grain, it stretches like all get out).

Dust away! Or maybe now others will be anxious to use your new toy.

 

GOT THE NUMBER??

How about adding a little calculator to your sewing room? It is recommended to measure twice and cut once. Let the calculator help you be absolutely sure.
 

HOLD IT TIGHT

Got some machines which want to scoot around when you're using them (between your pushing and their vibrating they go on lots of unauthorized walks)? For you machine embroiders, do you find that at times you can't get things snug enough in the hoop?

That waffle mesh shelf liner is the answer to both challenges. Similar to this product which will also work is the waffle mesh for putting under throw rugs to prevent skidding (or under chair cushions that tie on to wooden seats so that the cushions don't twist and slide, tearing out the ties).

Use a waffle to prevent waffling.
 

BLEND TO MATCH

You need thread to "match" what you're sewing because it's going to show. BUT, you can't find the exact match. It's either too light or too dark.

That's not a problem. Take one spool of each (a lighter and a darker) and thread them together, handling it as one thread all the way through the eye of the needle (do make sure to have a needle with a big enough eye). The two shades together will blend to make it look just like the color you wanted in the first place. Use the same set up for two spools as you would for twin needle sewing, or if you don't have a second spool pin, fill bobbins with the two colors and put them on the spool pin which you do have.

For top stitching, this combination becomes about the weight of the old buttonhole twist or top stitching threads that we use to use.

"VELCRO BUTT"

Sorry about that phrase, but that's what it's called. What is it?
It's when the top you're wearing rides up in back and stays there, below your waist, but above your buttocks. It doesn't look very nice and you may fruitlessly tug at it.

There is something that you can do to cure this affliction. Cut a piece of fusible tricot interfacing ("Fuse-Knit" is one brand name) the width of the back of your top and high enough to cover from the hem to about the waistline or a bit higher. Fuse in place according to the directions. The inside of the lower back of your top will now be slippery and stay in place, rather than affixing itself up higher where you don't want it to be.

You'll look better and feel better too.
 

HARD TO CUT?

For a variety of reasons, it's hard for some to cut. Dritz electric scissors and Fiskar's Softouch shears are good, workable solutions if rotary cutters won't work for you.

"The Fiskars have a cushion grip for better control, spring action opening to reduce hand fatigue, a locking mechanism for safety's sake, and a longer lower blade for even more control." (--Clotilde's Sewing Savvy, May 2004, page 33) They come in both regular shears and pinking shears. There are also some little nippers along the same line. I have the regular shears and the nippers--love them both.

The Driz eclectic scissors cost more, but are rechargeable with replaceable blades. They are black and yellow with a curved ergonomic handle. My testing of these showed them to be much better than I expected.

Some rotary cutters are more ergonomically than others.

Try out one or more of these to see if you can find something that will allow you to cut without difficulty.

 

SPRING CLEANING

If you haven't done it recently, it's time to give your machines some tender loving care by cleaning them and oiling those which take such treatment.

It's ok to use the new canned air for electronics (they'll say "moisture free" on them) on mechanical sergers, but for all the rest, please vacuum with a little attachment.
Why? The canned air can blow lint and threads further into the machine causing further troubles, not solving them.
You want to suck that stuff out.

Check your manual for all the places to clean and where to oil, if you should oil. On many of the Janome-made sewing machines there is a small wick in the bottom of the drop in bobbin case on which you may put one drop of fine machine oil. Use non-waxed dental floss or lint free cloth to clean the tension disks. Sergers seen to eat oil for a three course meal.

Now's a good time too to put in brand new needles. Take a soft cloth and shine up the outside of the machines too.

A clean machine is a happy machine. A happy machine sews better. A better stitching machine means less frustration for you. So, you're really doing it for yourself.

 

STRAY BUTTONS

When you find buttons that have come off garments they may continue to be missing in the future without a system. Take a long corsage or hat pin and put the offender on it. Stick the pin either in a bulletinboard or pin cushion. Then when you find a garment without a button, check that pin first to see if it's there.

This is one little way to have less frustration in your life and to save time looking for something that you just know you had but can't find now.

 

CURBING THE FOOT PEDAL

The foot pedals to machines seem to have wanderlust. Several solutions have already been mentioned on the list:

use the commercial holder for foot pedals use Velcro with carpet put something behind it put waffle mesh shelf liner under it

Out of the clear blue the other day came another way. The pedal had done another power walk and somehow had ended up nearly underneath me. So, instead of stretching my leg out to reach the pedal, I put my foot on top of the pedal and it didn't move.

Also successful for me has been having something behind the pedal.
Even better is when what is behind the pedal is also on both sides of it. It's basically wedged in.

Recently we added an utility cart (to which we added a back) for the serger and other machines when more are needed for a given project.
It has a bottom shelf, so that's where the pedal and my feet have to go in order to be close enough to the machine. No more playing tag with the pedal!

And that reminds me of another good method. My legs are short from the ankle. When the table for machines can't be adjusted lower so that my chair needs to be higher, then I'm stretching to reach the pedal.
And that's what pushes the pedal around. DH has made boxes which slant and have a lip so that both feet are high enough to put my legs in a correct and comfortable position with the pedal being held in place too.

It appears that the part of the cause for runaway pedals is the relationship of your leg and foot to the floor and the pedal. Examine your own situation to see what you can easily change. Finding the cause may be the beginning of putting on the brakes.
 

DON'T WAIT FOR THE WEIGHT

Please do not wait for weight loss to dress yourself the way you'd like to. Sew yourself up the wardrobe you dream of having.
That's the really neat thing about sewing. You can pick the fabrics, colors, and styles YOU want right now. And YOU can get a pretty good fit too.

There are books written and patterns made for the plus size.

All this waiting for what may or may not happen in the future will do is waste time when you could be wearing what you want to.
 

SEW FITTING

Yes, you can--you can fit yourself. Here are some books with lots of helps for the home sewist to create a wonderful new wardrobe NOW!

SEWING FOR PLUS SIZES by Barbara Deckert

FIT FOR REAL PEOPLE by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto

FANTASTIC FIT FOR EVERY BODY by Gale Grigg Hazen

LIFE IS NOT A DRESS SIZE by Rita Farro

SEW BIG by Marilyn Thelen (old--from the Palmer/Pletsch series)

A GUIDE TO FASHION SEWING, 3rd ed., by Connie Amaden-Crawford pricey at $55 but highly rated -- take a look at it here:
www.fashionpatterns.com/books/guide_fashion.html

 

PLUS SIZE PATTERN INDEX

One of the best sources for a great number of private label patterns has been Full & Sassy Pattern Boutique www.fullfab.com but it now says that it's going out of business. However, if you hurry over you'll find some great buys on the following patterns:

Brown Paper Patterns
Birch Street Clothing
Carol Lane Saber
Christine Johnson
CNT by Karen Nye (cntpattern.com)
Cutting Line Designs
D'ates D'signs
Design & Sew
Dos de Tejas
Elan
Islander Sewing Systems
LaFred
Lingerie Secrets
LJ Designs
Loes Hinse Design
My Sister's Patterns
Park Street Bench
Petite Plus Patterns
Purrfection
Revisions
Sewing Workshop
Silhouette Patterns
Textile Studio

Many, if not all, of the above list are available elsewhere too.

Fashion Patterns by Coni
(1X-7X: B & H 44"-66", W 40"-56")
www.fashionpatterns.com/catalog.html

Pavelka Design
www.pavelkadesign.com

Purrfection Artistic Wearables
(XS-5X: B 33"-65", W 32"-64", H 34"-71") www.purrfection.com

Sewgrand Patterns
(12-26: B 36"-50", W 28"42", H 38"-52")
www.sewgrand.com

Stretch and Sew patterns
https://www.gmidesign.com/stretch/home.html
or www.stretch-and-sew.com

Kwik Sew patterns
www.kwiksew.com

Burda patterns
(distributed to fabric shops by Simplicity patterns)

8 links from http://sewing.about.com/plussizepatterns

www.google.com "plus size sewing patterns" (I got 77 links.)


Now, don't say that there isn't anything out there that will fit you!
You can probably find even more. Happy wardrobe planning! Some say that they are Raggedy Anns in a Barbie world while Rita Farrow maintains that she use to want to be a Cher when she looked like Rosanne. No more! You've been encouraged to sew what you want right NOW. You've been given a list of books to inspire, encourage, and instruct you. And here you have a long list of patterns which doesn't even include the major pattern companies.

If you see it, if you dream it, if you want it, you can make it! Be seen the way that you want to--a wonderful original you, stylishly garbbed, ready to meet the world.
 

MISSING SOME TIME??

If you feel that time is getting away from you and that you don't have time for sewing, you very well may be correct. The Weather Channel for the Madison, WI area in reporting the forcast posted, "Sunday night and Monday not available."

Now it's official--days are just plain disappearing off the calendar. I knew that we lost an hour in some parts of the USA Saturday night, but I'm really going to miss these 36 hours. No wonder I'm tired and behind.

Wonder where they went?

 

THE TRICKY TAPE

A measuring tape needs to be replace every so often as even the ones that aren't suppose to stretch sometimes do. Besides measuring in inches and metric, it does have some other uses too.

For those of us who use the inches system, we have the odd 5/8 of an inch for many seam allowances to deal with. That's how wide the average tape is.

Stand a tape on its edge along a curve to get the proper measurements.

Consider a quilter's tape of 120" if you find that 60" isn't always enough.

Have more than one tape in your sewing room. They have a bad habit of disappearing.

And from 5 year old grandson Jake comes his favorite: carry a small retractable tape with you. Besides entertaining him for a very long time, it's so very handy to use in stores. So often I've been told how smart the idea is and I've even lent it out.

Don't guess--measure. What a handy dandy gadget!
 

LET ME INTRODUCE YOU...

Today while reading my e-mail I ran into a URL which sounded and looked awfully familiar -- and it was! It is a wonderful article about organizing a sewing room done by a real, true sewist (she tailored blazers for her two sons and doctor husband). It's nothing like the HGTV's
"Mission: Organization's" program (repeated Monday, April 5, 2004) where many of us have felt that the so called experts didn't have a clue about sewing.

Go to it--enjoy it--learn from it.

www.organizedhome.com/sewing/storage.html

While you're there go to the kitchen area and read the article about "The Great White Whale." It is pure, vintage CEO. Oh, you may ask, "Who is the CEO?" That's none other than Cynthia Ewers, Organized. We go way back to Prodigy days in another decade and century.