Saturday, July 18, 2009

Style #61002 - Pattern on Manilla Paper

I've remade another pattern on Manilla File Folders. This one is bigger so I had to tape some together. I can't believe how much easier it is to have them this way!
pattern #61002 on manilla paper

Some of my new pattern tools. A screw punch and pattern notcher from here.
pattern tools

Recommended by FI. I really need that see-thru plastic ruler, but it will have to wait.

My new bag, I love, love, love it!
style #61002 #102

It is on Etsy!

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Babylock Evolve

Remember my Evolve from last years PFF challenge? (And by the way, in case you were wondering, I did not send in an entry for this years contest, maybe next year....) Well I finally gave it a try. Hey! Its only been 9 months!

Anyway, the machine came with a video that shows how to thread it. It is definately appreciated. I'm not sure I could have figured it out without it. The machine works great! I had some piecework that needed a coverstitch.

My machine and sample coverstitch.
Baby lock Evolve
Baby lock Evolve coverstitch

What a beautiful stitch! I'd like to have the clear foot and I definately need more practice lining up the stitch on the round, but the machine is amazing. No problems with the tensions, the machine does all the work. Its not an industrial machine, and feels kinda slow to me, but I think I read it will go 1200 stitches per minute.

So with the contest last year I've tried the wide overlock stitch, rolled hem and now the coverstitch. All stitches look great and no problems with any of the different weights of fabric.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Making Motivation

I've been reading FI and I decided to practice and update some of my tote patterns. I'm issuing style numbers, making production patterns with color coding and I will be making a direction card after I streamline the sewing (again).

In order to motivate myself, (I'm a procrastinator, I finished sewing about 5 things before I started getting paid to sew) I signed up for a tent at a local festival this September. Only problem is I have NOTHING to put in the booth. (OK I have a dozen things, but it feels like nothing)

Here is what my original pattern looked like.
old pattern

Here is what the new color coded, labeled and separate pattern pieces look like. (I have the blue in pencil because I don't have a blue pen yet)
new pattern

traced out on jeans
bag pattern ready to cut

Here is a finished bag from the new pattern on manilla paper. It isn't perfect and I skipped the pocket, but it is much easier having everything ready.
finished product

It makes me crazy seeing what a difference it makes to have each piece separate and labeled. It took forever to make the patterns, but I was doing it every time I made a new bag! I was redoing the placement for the handles and pocket every time. And I didn't even have a strap pattern just a measurement written on the shell piece! Now I can just go thru all the pieces and I'm ready to sew, before I had to remember which ones I reused for lining and interfacing (and they aren't supposed to be the same size anyway!). The harder paper makes a huge difference too. I haven't purchased a roll yet, I'm just using manilla file folders.

My style number is 61001. I have chosen 6 for accessories because I like the way it sounds. I have 5 numbers because I am prone to excess, plus I am considering using the second number to differentiate between recycled,recycled patchwork,and just plain fabric. Even though I'm not using a different pattern, the work and cost for each of the different styles would be notable for customer ordering or inventory. The last three numbers are for numbering the 999 bag patterns I plan on making (ha ha!).

An example:
recycled denim
Mini, Small, Medium Denim Totes
recycled patchwork denim (different size bag)
etsyjuly 002
Canvas Tote- 2 mini, 1 Med

I also need to make a direction card, as the link explains, it is necessary for sewing production. In my case I'm lame for not having done it sooner because my memory is good, but I rarely sew it in the most efficient order when I haven't touched it in a while. That is my next task.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tutorial: Thread a Bernina 950

This is how I thread my Bernina 950. This is a pic of mine, I added a thread stand after I bought it.

This is a view from the back. Right now the machine is threaded from the thread stand. If using cone thread and a thread stand, first the thread goes through the top of the stand, then the hook behind the thread post, then the hook behind the take up lever. If you are using a spool on the thread post, the only hook you use is the one behind the take up lever.

Another closer view of the hook behind the take up lever. And showing the thread going into the guide toward the front of the machine.
Back 2

The thread comes from the back on the right through the guide. Down and under the thread regulator, up through the take up lever, and down through the thread guide just above the needle, then through the needle.
Front 2

Hard to see, but it is important to note that the needle is inserted slightly off center. The eye should be facing between the 6 and 7 on a clock. The long groove is the front of the needle. Organ 16X231 BALL POINT Needles and Organ 16X231 SHARP Needles .
Needle Position

This is how the bobbin goes in the bobbin case. The thread rolls off over in the direction you see the thread going.
Bobbin Direction

Another look. Bobbin in case. Sorry its a little fuzzy, you get the idea...
Bobbin Direction 2

I hate winding bobbins in the middle of a project (thought you can with the Bernina 950)or unwinding bobbins for a new thread color. I bought 20 extra Bobbins as soon as I could find them. 

update September 24, 2017: I made a video!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Some Basic Sewing Information.....

1.Don't turn the hand wheel backwards. Never. It should only be turned towards you.
This is something that comes naturally to me because I learned to sew on a treadle machine. I'm surprised at how many people try to do this. This is the best way to mess up the timing on your machine.

2.Leave the tension on your machine alone! The only reasons you should be touching it are for speciality feet, special needles or some machines ask the tension dial to be set differently for the button hole. First rethread, make sure the bobbin is in correctly, and make sure the needle is the right size and type for the fabric you are sewing. Otherwise leave it on the factory setting.

3.If you want to slow the fabric down, step lighter on the presser foot. Don't slow the fabric down by holding it back. You will get an uneven stitch and just might break your motor too.

4.The sewing machine sews in a straight line. You are not making the sewing machine sew straight, you are guiding the fabric under the presser foot in an even fashion. If you veer off correct gently, don't try to do it too fast.

That is all I can think of right now, I've been reading Yahoo answers and I'm not happy with some of the sewing advice that is given. I really have to stop reading. They are always telling people to adjust tensions! I RARELY touch my tensions. I have to stop reading them. Someone is insisting that you have to thread your machine with the presser foot up?!? Huh? What nonsense! As if that makes any difference at all. In fact, I'd say I'm more likely to thread the machine with the presser foot down! My Industrial machines have a knee lift, so the presser foot is definately down when the machine is threaded. And with my home machines, I put the foot down when I'm threading to get it out of the way of the needle. The only time I can think of it making a difference is if there is an auto threader that requires it to be up.

OK, I think I feel better now. Sigh....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Christine has a Blog!

Christine Jonson Patterns now has a blog! Keep updated on what is new in Christine's studio, what kind of new fabrics she has found and when the new patterns are coming out.

Christine hired me in her retail shop in 1995 and it began my career in sewing. I've learned an incredible amount from her over the years. She is always willing to pass on what she knows. I hope you can learn from her too!

Visit Christine and see what is new!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lots of fun at Swap-O-Rama-Rama!

I had a great time at the SORR booth at the Green Street Fair. As always it was fun to be around others who were interested in sewing. I took a picture of the booth at the beginning of the day and promptly forgot about my camera. Sigh... I hate when I do that...

Anyway here is how it looked before the fair officially opened:
Swap o rama rama booth at the Green Street fair

There were half a dozen sewing stations and a bin of reusables on both ends. The machines are the Singer 3116 Simple Sewing Machine

Singer 3116 Simple 16-Stitch Sewing Machine, 1 Step Buttonhole - Factory Serviced

I really have mixed feeling about them. On the one hand, they are a reasonably priced, lightweight, multi function sewing machine and operate at a slow speed. I think it would be a good machine for a young person just beginning to take an interest in sewing, especially if you weren't sure that the interest would continue. On the other hand, they had some trouble with multiple thicknesses and their lightness could become a problem quickly if the interest did proceed quickly. They would be good mostly for quilting fabrics or other lightweight materials. And larger projects could be a problem because they might drag on the machine. So you see my indecision...

I still enjoyed myself. I spent about 4 hours in the tent. I helped to make a shawl, turban and some tote bags. I hope to have another opportunity. I'll keep you posted on local swaps as I find out about them. I'd love to have a permanent swap with a huge pile of recyclables, sewing machines and interested stitchers!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tutorial: Redo a worn out elastic waistband

You know you are getting old when you hear that crackle of elastic that has stretched its last stretch. Or hey! Maybe you aren't old, but you love a good thrifty find or vintage garment.

I've got a favored pair of pants, I bought them at a yard sale in 1995, for a dollar, I can remember the rack on the porch in Royal Oak, MI where I found them. Isn't that strange, that I can remember? I've called them my elephant pants, but I always get compliments when I wear them.

The old elastic is overlocked (serged) in and stitched down. I'll be redoing it the same way, but I'll offer suggestions for sewing if you don't have an overlock machine:
old sad elastic

Click on any picture to see a larger photo.
Find a thread to clip in the right side, I use my Fiskars Softouch
clips, but you can use a seam ripper.
Clip between the layers, gently pulling apart, 2 to 4 threads at a time.
Clipping old step 1Clipping old step 2

I secured the pocket with a pin because it doesn't go to the top of the waistband and because I don't want to waste time later figuring out which way the pocket goes.

pinned to hold pocket placement

Next cut the threads on one side of the elastic, then separate the layers again, slightly pulling and cutting a small amount at a time.

Clipping old step 3Clipping old step 4

Old elastic-New elastic. My new is a little thinner, but that is OK because I plan on cutting a little of the fabric off with the overlock to have the stitches in securely. It is a good idea to replace the elastic (braided 1'' wide) with as similar as you can so you aren't changing the way the garment fits or changing the seam allowances.

measure old elasticnew elastic

Just wanted to show here that I switched the direction of the pin so it wouldn't have to be taken out while overlocking.
switched the direction of the pin

I don't have a good and fast rule for elastic length, only that whatever you use needs to be shorter than you think. Elastic grows every time you sew through it. If you know of a good chart I'd be happy to see it. Another suggestion is to look at a commercial pattern that has the same kind of waistband you are doing and use your corresponding measurement.

First butt ends together, extra secure. I'm using my Bernina 950

I mark the elastic with a pen in 1/4 before sewing.
Marking 1/4

Next using my Juki MO644D to overlock the elastic to the pants. I match my pen marks to the side seams and center front/back. I'm also taking off about 1/4" with the knife blade. (I should have pressed the waist before sewing, but what can I say :D) If you don't have an overlock, finish the raw edge at the waist with you preferred method and sew with a straight stitch or zigzag to secure the elastic and the following step works the same way.

Finally stitch the elastic down with a straight stitch, you can do right side up too, I just wanted to make sure I caught the pockets.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Time to Enter: Passion for Fashion Challenge 2009

The American Sewing Expo, in Novi, MI, is now accepting applications for the 2009 Passion for Fashion Challenge! Head on over to their site and print out the entry form for the Design and Sewing Competition. Entry garments must be postmarked by July 1, 2009. I entered my skirt, had a blast last year and won 2nd place! I'm not sure yet if I'll do it this year, September 25 and 26, 2009, but if you'd like to enter it is only $25.00.
Prizes will include but are not limited to:
First-An exciting trip to New York with the ASE tour and a Baby Lock Aspire Sewing Machine
Second-Baby Lock Imagine Wave Serger
Third-Baby Lock Decorator's Choice Sewing Machine
Good Luck!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Swap-O-Rama-Rama in Plymouth, Michigan

Handmade Detroitis sponsoring a Swap-O-Rama-Rama in Plymouth at the Green Street Fair this weekend, May 1 to 3,2009. I'll be in the tent offering help to aspiring designers Sunday morning. It sounds like a load of fun, so stop by, bring some unwanted clothing and bring home something new!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Issues with Commercial Patterns

I just made some robes from this pattern. For a church ceremony.

Simplicity 4213
blog09 003

I only made view 1, and it had to be finished quickly so I didn't take pictures.

But here is the issue:
blog09 001

The bottom of the sleeve is drafted to be too small to fit the fold back hem. It is a simple fix, I extended the line so that the hem now will fold back easily.

The problem with this is that someone who can't see that this fix needs to be made will automatically assume that the problem is them and that they can't sew. The pattern overall was great, but this affects the final product. I understand how something like this could happen, whenever I need to make alterations to a pattern or something I'm working on, I have to step away so I can think about it. The pattern companies need to be more careful. This was a simple mistake, but has the potential to cause great frustrations. And frustrated sew*ers stop trying!

A good source for pattern reviews is here. I'm on it too.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Value in Quilting

Whether you are just starting to sew or you are a pro, don't under estimate the value in quilting. Quilting is a good way to get to know your sewing machine*, become comfortable sewing without pins and become a faster sewing machine operator.

I took a quilting class many years ago and we used the Make a Quilt in a Day : Log Cabin Pattern book. This is how I quilt. First I cut 2 1/2" strips with my Rotary Cutter and Cutting Mat. Then I do minor planning and just happily sew away!

An added bonus is choosing beautiful Designer Quilting Fabricsand other Quilting Fabric at And you don't have to have much of each to make a small lap quilt 45" X 60"! Just make sure one style has enough to do the back. I'm always surprised at how wonderful they turn out, even if I'm not sure of my fabric choices.

I've been making some quilt tops for the Prayer Blanket Ministry. Its my way of giving back. One a month is the current goal. Another person is happy to finish them so it works out for both of us!

December 2008:
Dec 2008
January 2009:
Jan 2009
February 2009:
Feb 2009
March 2009:
March 2009