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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Making a Rolled Hem…without a sergeror a rolled hem foot

This one is for Amy. She’s a novice and I encouraged her to take the plunge and give it a try. So, she made a list of everything she needed to make a couple of Twirl Skirts for her adorable little girls. She placed a few orders online for fabric and elastic, along with a rolled hem foot. We made a few adjustments to the pattern/tutorial so that she could make a longer skirt and traded a couple million emails back and forth. Tragically, the elastic arrived in the wrong size, so we had to make a few more adjustments. Expectantly, her rolled hem foot was in transit somewhere between China and Uranus. So, I told her to try a zigzag stitch to finish the hem.
I tell you this little bit because often times it isn’t the actual sewing that becomes the challenge, but rather the logistics. Fortunately, once you get that matter sorted out, and read your machine manual, everything else seems to fall into place quite easily.

Once again, I will recommend The Dressmaker’s Technique Bible by Lorna Knight for all sewers, novice and pro, alike.

Now, if you ever find yourself creating a garment from a circle, like the Twirl Skirt found in my Etsy shop, you will be begging for a way to finish the hem without an iron. The easiest way is to roll the hem using a serger. If you don’t have a serger, you can check and see if your machine has a rolled hem foot or if there is a suitable one for sale on the market. You may also try using a zigzag stitch to finish the hem.
So, follow along with the photos as you read through the steps. I hope you enjoy this one, I’m sure many folks out there will find it very handy!

1)You have a piece of fabric that needs a fast and easy finished edge that resembles a rolled hem.
2)Select a zigzag stitch on your machine and set your stitch length one notch above zero and your stitch width to its widest setting. Mine happens to be 0.5 and 6.0. You can choose a different length and width; this is just a good starting point.
3)Place the fabric in you machine so that when you sew, the stitch falls just off the edge of the fabric.
4)Run your stitch down the fabric. You may need to encourage the feed slightly.
5)If you would like you may run the stitch a second time to get a more uniform and secure finish.
6)This is what my fabric looked like after the second round of zigzagin’.
7)This is the rolled hem of my skirt, done with a serger, just so that you may compare.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Machine Shirring Tenderfeet Style

This is such a fun and easy technique that too many people find initially intimidating. Take heart, the web is full of how-to tips, free, affordable and adorable tutorials, videos and information. I have read a great deal on the subject and applied it time and time again. So, I decided to compiled the included information for my followers, in particular Pamela ;). Enjoy, and feel free to add your own tips and information in the comments section.

It’s as simple as this...

What you need:
Your sewing machine
Regular machine sewing thread
Elastic thread (you can usually find this in the elastic section of your craft store)
An empty bobbin

A few things to consider:
Every machine and every person sews differently. You will likely need to spend some time practicing on scrap fabric until you find that sweet spot. Different weaves and weights of fabric gather differently. A satin fabric will gather more readily than a denim. When considering how wide your fabric should be, a simple rule to follow is 1.5 to 2 times wider than the desired width of your completed project.

So here we go and remember, it’s easy!

1) Begin by loosely hand spooling the elastic thread onto your bobbin. Be sure you go in the same direction that your machine does when it spools the bobbin automatically. Also, take care not to stretch the thread.
Some have had better success letting the machine spool the thread, possibly because it adds just a little bit of tension. I have tried this and seen little difference. To do this, I began by spinning a little bit of elastic thread onto the bobbin. Then, I placed it onto my machine, just as I would when spooling regular thread. I held the elastic in my hand and began spooling; taking care not to put too much tension on the elastic.

2) Load the bobbin into your machine as you normally would when you’re about to sew.

3) Set your straight stitch length to its longest setting.
Some have had success with a normal stitch length and still others, somewhere in between. This is where you have to play around with your machine a bit to find that sweet spot. Adjust your stitch length and tension until you gain the desired results.
For me, I set my machine to a standard straight stitch and adjust my length to a 6.0.

4) Starting at one end of your fabric, run a stitch down the width to the other end. Make certain you backstitch several times at the beginning and end of your shirring stitches. Also, do not pull your fabric through the feed. You don’t want to stretch the elastic thread. I will admit that I do, at times, encourage my fabric through the feed. The important thing to consider is if you put too much tension on your elastic thread, it may break with use.
Some prefer to knot the thread tails by hand, instead of backstitching.

5) Add as many rows of shirring stitches as needed to achieve the desired results. The distance between each stitch row can vary, depending on your project. The closer your rows and the more you add, the more your fabric will be drawn in. If you have many rows close together, you may begin to lose your stretch. So, the size of your project is directly proportional to the distance between each row!

6) Place your project on the ironing board and hold your iron over the elastic, not touching, and let loose on the steam button. This will make it shrink up, giving you more ruffle and stretch. The same effect will be achieved in the dryer, the first time you launder. So, if your project doesn’t seem to have gathered quite enough, add a little heat and watch it retract a bit more.

For a simple project to hone your skills give my free sun hat tutorial a try. If you think you’re ready to move on to something a bit more entailed, search the web for free dress tutorials or check out my Etsy shop. I offer several adorable and easy to make patterns at affordable prices.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Name Game

Well, in light of several current events, I am moving the name game for my upcoming tutorial onto this blog. I have selected many of my favorite suggestions and just ask that you comment below with your favorite(s). You may choose up to three names. If you are having trouble commenting, simply email your choices to The winning name will become the name of the pictured dress and the contributor will receive the completed tutorial free of charge. Thanks so much for helping me decide and following me to my blog. Voting will close when I finish writing the tutorial, within the next week.

Please choose no more than three (3) names.

Mandy Carey Sweet Sassafras
Leah Curran Picnic in the Park
Courtney White Martin Sweetheart Dress/Top
Abbie Simpelo-Dyer Tallulah
Little Tickle Boutique Bella Rose
Pamela Bell The Meadow Brooke
MaukyJo Shoulder Tie Apron Dress/Top
Jheri Jordan Heart of Dixie
Jheri Jordan Shabumpkin Summer Dress/Top
Micheline Nadeau Fairbank Little House on the Prarie Summer Dress
Amber Wirth Mommy's Little Helper

Votes via email

Mommys little helper
Little house on the prairie
The Meadow Brooke

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Finishing Your Seams! Without a Serger…

This is part 2 of many posts containing valuable sewing tips! I’m going to assume that most of the people who purchase my tutorials know how to or will figure out how to turn on their machines and thread a needle, so I will begin with a straight seam and finishing. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment below.

Now, remember seam allowances may vary; I always use 3/8”. So, you will begin by placing two pieces of fabric, right sides together and running a straight stitch 3/8” inside of the edge. I like to run my straight stitches at a stitch length or three. Play with your lengths until you find one you prefer; usually, somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5.I will cover two finishing methods, but keep in mind, there are several more. These are simply simple.

After you have sewn your straight stitch, you will use pinking shears and trim the edge of the fabric just outside of the seam.

Once you have sewn your straight stitch, run a narrow and short zigzag stitch along the raw edge, just outside of your straight stitch.

You may or may not choose to sew these seams down with a top stitch. Many regular machines also have an overcast stitch that will secure the edges of your fabric, much like the zigzag. It does a great job of finishing the raw edge, but it can be slow and may use more thread. The symbol looks something like these, but consult your machine manual.