Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Perfect Quilt for Baby

HI! My name is Stacy and I am the newest member of the We are Sew Happy team! I have been interested in contributing to the blog but wanted to find the right project. When I decided to get my feet wet with quilting, I knew I didn’t want to jump into anything too hard. So, I googled “beginner baby quilts” and found this gem.  I wanted a baby size quilt because I didn’t want to get overwhelmed with anything too big and because I am expecting in May. 

The Colorblock quilt by Bijou Lovely is a fat quarter friendly quilt that has a modern look. The finished size is 40x55”. You can use bold solids fabrics or fun prints to make the quilt really pop. There is a vertical strip that runs down the quilt, breaking up the horizontal strips. I choose to pick a printed fabric for the vertical block and use it as my main focal point and select the rest of the fabrics around it. I used fabric from the Littlest collection by Art Gallery Fabrics and mixed them with solids, so it evened out the prints. I am in love with the entire Littlest collection, and they can be found at Five Eighth Seams. If you haven’t seen the collection, check it out and more Art Gallery Fabric  here or below as shown.

I am thankful that I purchased a miracle mat, ruler, and rotary cutter for this project. The cutting process wasn’t bad, but it would have been a lot to cut with only scissors. So, I highly recommend these tools for this project.

The cutting and assembly instructions to this pattern were so easy to follow. I was able to have my quilt cut out and ready to be pieced together in one night.

The assembly of the quilt was a very fast process. It was the first time I ever used my ¼” quilting foot on my machine, and I think having that saved time on the project as well as having the mat, ruler, and rotary cutter. Pressing my seams open as I went along on the piecing process is what took the most time. Be careful not to skip this step though; it really does make a difference.

Now that my quilt was finished, I had to decide on what to do for the backing. The backing is a single piece of fabric 42 x 57”. I choose to use one of the same fabrics from the quilt top because it is a panel piece and wasn’t able to show the whole design on the front block. I also felt like it pulled it all together and showed off the panel very nicely.  However, because my backing was a panel piece and directional, I had to add two white strips of fabric on the top and bottom to get the length I needed for the sizing.

After you have your quilt top and backing, it is ready to be quilted. I sent my top and backing to a local quilter. She will use a long arm quilting machine to do the quilting. I can’t wait to get it back, so I can finish the binding and have it ready for my little one.

I would recommend this pattern to everyone! If you are a seasoned quilter, it would be a fast and easy baby shower gift. And, this quilt is perfect for beginners and really allows you to build your confidence on quilting. I'm excited to join the We are Sew Happy team I look forward to sharing more projects with you!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Dress by Debbie Brooke Design

This is it! Finally, the My Dress is on sale! 

The My Dress pattern started with an idea to make a simple pattern for beginners. I wanted to make something that would be easy for beginners yet still allow them to learn new techniques, and I also wanted something that could be worn anywhere and be sewn out of anything. The MyDress does just that. It’s a very simple silhouette that is flattering on almost all body types. Make the MyDress out of a knit or a woven fabric. Put a print on top, on bottom, or both. Pregnant? There is a maternity option as well! A simple invisible zipper on the side makes it easy to get on and off. With quick and easy construction, this one is the perfect Sewing 101 dress. 

This process when through multiple rounds of testing. Thank you to all of the testers!

Jen Bennet of Dotted Llama
Sarah Coker
Chrissy Fleming
Katrina Friedman
Shannon Friedman
Mo Geisler
Daniela Jennings
Jeanean Jenkins
Erin Klinar
Mary Lake Newton
Daphne Rice
Stacy Sams
Michelle Smith
Sew Dayton
If you were a tester and would still like to send  pictures or feedback you can email me at debbiebrookedesigns@gmail.com or post them to the facebook group Debbie Brooke Patterns

Thank you Alison Stanfield for the wonderful pictures! 

Pictured below 

Group pictures 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Introducing Debbie Brooke Sewing Patterns

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For weeks, I have been trying to decide how to introduce my new pattern line. I have been negligent of our blog the past month because I have been sketching, scanning, grading, writing, and rewriting my first two paper sewing patterns. I've always wanted to make my own patterns, so I've been researching and reading about pattern making for a long time, but, finally, I have actually done it! I'm starting small and will probably stay small producing 2-6 patterns a year. I have a long list of ideas and a handful of patterns I have made; I just haven't graded them out to all of the sizes. Originally, I only wanted to make patterns for adults; however, my girls are just too cute not to make patterns for them.

If we haven't met, my name is Brooke; well, at least that is what people call me. My birth certificate and everything up to the 4th grade reads Debbie; that's where the name Debbie Brooke comes from. When I was little, just like a lot of other kids, I wanted a nickname, and, instead of Deb or D, I wanted to be called Brooke. I’m not sure why, but I just loved that name, so when we moved schools half way through the school year, I did it. I told my teacher, my new friends, and my family to call me Brooke. Most likely thinking it was a phase, everyone participated and called me Brooke, even my parents. In college, I made a small attempt to go back to my birth name, but it didn't work; everyone calls me Brooke even though, on paper, it has nothing to do with my name.

Since then, I have always kinda been like that; ya’ see, I’m a doer. If I decide I’m going to do something, I just do it; no looking back. I was that way in high school when I ran for class president out of no where, after college when I moved to Charleston and bought a house before I started my job, when my husband proposed and I planned quickly, when Laura and I had the idea to open a shop we did it in just 4 months, and now starting my own pattern company. I love to sew, and I love to share my love for sewing with anyone who will listen. I’ve made patterns for myself and my kids, but, now, I want to share them with you. All of my patterns are created start to finish by me. I use Adobe Illustrator and InDesign to create them, and, currently, they are all being printed by a local print shop, and the pictures are taken by a local photographer. Please use my patterns to create for yourself, others, or even for sale. Just please to not copy the pattern in any way. If you would like to produce the garments commercially, please contact me directly. 

Although I am originally from Ohio, I have lived in Charleston, SC for 7 years now, and my inspiration comes from Charleston Fashion: cotton everything, seersucker, twill, baby corduroy, modest necklines, and chic cocktail hours. Everything looks polished but is very comfortable. 

I will post separate blogs introducing each pattern before they are available for sale. Here is a list of my current and future patterns:

The Birthday Dress- Modest Twirly Dress for Girls sizes 6m/12m, 18m, 2T, 3T, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12
Release Date - 1/1/2014
Presale Starts- 12/15/2013

My Dress- Looks great on all body types Sizes, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22

Future for 2014 
Rugrat Tunic - A tunic perfect for crawling  for Girls sizes 3m, 6m, 9m, 12m, and 18m
November Tunic- A pleated front Fall Tunic for Girls Sizes 6m/12m, 18m, 2T, 3T, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12
Corduroy Hoodie- an Adult hoodie made with woven fabric sizes TBA
Genesis- Princess Cut, sleeveless tunic/dress
Priscilla- Short, full skirt, sleeveless Cocktail Dress for women
Easy Summer Skirt - Knit skirt for girls

I really hope you enjoy my patterns. I am always open to constructive criticism and would love to hear from you if you have a question or a problem. 

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Do you love blogs? You will love Bloglovin'! It's easy to use and makes following all of your favorite blogs quick and easy.

We are Sew Happy! We are a collaborative blog that posts pattern reviews, sewing tutorials, tips and tricks.
Our main contributors are Brooke, Laura and Daniela. We are looking to have guest bloggers and local contributors.

If you live in the Charleston area and do not have your own blog but have a project you want to share do not hesitate to contact us we would love to give you an opportunity to post with us.

If you have a local blog and would like the opportunity for us to feature you please contact us! We will be featuring other blogs monthly.

Thank you for visiting  We are Sew Happy!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My New Machine & New Sewing Area

I have never been a sewing machine snob.  I have sewn for many years on several Brother sewing machines.  From the Project Runway model I purchased at Wal-Mart to my slightly upgraded Brother from Costco, I have always found that I could sew anything I wanted.  I can’t even begin to count the number of pillows and curtains I’ve made, and I’ve sewn on all types of fabrics with my faithful little Brother machine. I’ve made a lined wool pea coat, knit maxi skirts and dresses, raincoats with laminated fabric, all sorts of apparel items with silks to cottons and all other fabric types in between.  People often asked me what type of sewing machine I had, and I would proudly boast that all I had (and needed) was my $150 Brother machine.  

This past Christmas, however, my sewing machine perspective changed.  My incredibly generous and wonderful mother told me that she would give me money for Christmas to purchase a sewing machine, so I purchased a Viking Opal 670!!  I have been sewing on this machine for the last 2 months, and it truly has changed my sewing.  When I begin a new project, I simply have to touch the computer screen and select my fabric type and the tension, needle size, stitch width, and length best for that fabric type all appear on the screen. These recommendations from my Opal 670 always seem to be perfect even if I am sewing with a knit or silk.  The needle moves to the left or right in 29 different positions!  My other machine had 2 different needle positions.  And, putting in a zipper has never been easier.  I can also fill a bobbin while my machine is still threaded, and nothing is better than the alarm that sounds when my bobbin is getting low and is about to run out.  I can’t tell you the number of times I thought I was seaming together the sides of a skirt just to find out I had “sewed” the entire thing with an empty bobbin.  I even decided to tackle sewing a button up shirt, something I have always avoided because I hate sewing buttons, but my Viking Opal 670 machine sews on the buttons with ease.  I sewed nine buttons on my shirt in less than 30 minutes. 

I was so proud to get this machine that I even changed my sewing area to prepare for my new machine like I was getting a new baby. I bought a new sewing table for baby Opal 670, and I reorganized all of my sewing notions neatly in the table drawer.  Then, when I started sewing on it, I was so re-energized about sewing that I bought a new glass front storage cabinet to neatly place all of my fabric stash in so I could see all the fabric and be inspired to start new projects. 

I can’t believe that I spent so much time sewing with my other machine.  Why didn't I ask for a new Viking machine sooner?  Well, like many other sewers, I had very good reasons.  My Brother was sewing just fine, thank you very much, and this high school science teacher didn't have enough extra cash to splurge on a sewing machine.  And, honestly, I didn't think I was a good enough sewer to need that type of machine.  I had been sewing faithfully for over five years and even helped to start Five Eighth Seams, but I still felt that only the really good sewers needed a higher end machine. Now, I realize that was silly.  The sewers who have these amazing sewing machines didn't get them because they were better sewers; they are better sewers because they have these amazing sewing machines!

I put my Brother machine in the back of a closet last weekend to store.  I felt a little guilty since he’s helped me make so many things, and we've really had some good times together.  I slowly shut the closet door and thought of how great he'd been to me.  Then, I dashed downstairs to my sewing room and gleefully turned on Opal 670 to begin a new stage in my sewing journey.

Monday, February 03, 2014

I want to start sewing, what machine should I buy?

"I want to start sewing. What machine should I buy?"

I hear this question almost daily from friends, customers, and family. Although I have been in the fabric/ sewing business for almost three years now, I never know how to answer.

It is like asking me  
"What car should I buy?"
" Which dryer is best?"
" What dishwasher should I purchase?"
" What computer should I get?"

Essentially, without knowing more about you, how much you will use it, what you are using it for, and what you can afford, it would be impossible for me to answer. 

I used to answer with "If you are new to sewing, then go out and buy a cheap machine to see if you like it."

I said this out of the idea that there was one answer for everyone. Meanwhile, over the past three years, I have learned one-size-fits-all-beginnings is not the case.  I have a lot of friends that bought a $100-$200 dollar machine only to buy a new one a few months later. Take your time and do your research. Don't waste your money on something you are going to replace soon. Just like a car, dryer, dishwasher, or computer, you get what you pay for; sewing machines and technology have come a long way. 

I remember summers sewing at my Grandmother's house in Mississippi. I remember being hot, really hot, and I remember the prep work, the mess, and the smell of the iron, but most of all I remember some cardinal rules for sewing.
1.     Take your time cutting out your fabric; every 1/8th of an inch makes a difference.
2.      Always press your seams.
3.     Always put the needle down every time you stop sewing, so your fabric doesn't move and your stitch doesn't jump.
4.     Always put the foot down before you start sewing, or you will have to rethread your machine.
5.     Raise the bobbin thread every time you rethread.
6. Always, always, always backstitch.
7.     Keep your user manual with you, so you can adjust your tension, your stitch, or your needle for different fabrics.

I followed these rules for years, and although I loved sewing, I’m not going to lie: these rules were no fun and stopped me from sewing in college. It was just too much work!  

I used to believe that all you needed was a straight stitch and a zig zag, and you were good to go. That statement is true: you can sew anything with a straight stitch and a zig zag. But, will you enjoy it, will it last, and how much time will it take?

I think these things are what gave people headaches and made entire generation quit sewing. Sewing is a lot of work, but what I have learned over the past three years is that, with technology, it doesn't have to be. 

The resurgence of sewing is part due to blogs, Pinterest, new fabric designers, and trendy patterns, but most of all because sewing can be easy…very easy.  Yes, you still need to cut out and iron, but with newer sewing machines, sewing can be fun, relaxing, and worthy of your time. I know a lot of new sewers take this technology for granted, and, honestly, that is okay.  I'm sure people thought the same thing when sewing machines first had engines. I often find myself wondering if my Grandmother was still alive, what she would think: I think she would love it. 

Okay, so, going back to the real question: "What machine should I buy?"

Honestly, here are my thoughts:  Get a machine you can afford. You will enjoy sewing so much more if you just do it, spend a little extra money, and get a machine that is worth your effort and time. I say this because everyone’s situation is different.  You get what you pay for, and with sewing machines, every penny is worth it. 

Every hobby has a price tag, and most people have to settle at some point based on what they can afford. This holds true with golfing, fishing, hunting, biking, running, painting, cooking, and surfing, etc.

There is always a new technology, gadget etc. The reason why a lot of sewers do not look at it this way is because it is a common belief that people start this hobby to "save money." I hate to break it to you, but you will never save money with any hobby—at least that has been my experience. You do it because you love it. Yes, I do save money making my kids clothing, but would I buy them custom clothing if I didn't sew, probably not. 

Just like cars, there are a lot of different brands…Do your research before you purchase!! 
Do not just buy a Singer because you remember your Grandmother sewing on a Singer. 
I personally recommend Viking, Bernina, or Brother. I own all three brands and love them. I have heard a lot of good things about Janome and BabyLock as well. 

Another thing to think about is how long you want your machine to last. If you want to buy a new machine every two years, go ahead and get one from Walmart or Costco. I say this because it’s not worth the price to fix those machines, and you will have to buy a new one in two to three years. Even if you never use your machine, you will need a new one in 3-4 years because those machines do not sit well.  If you are in for the long haul, go to your local fabric store and buy a machine you will love.

Bells and Whistles
What type of bells and whistles do you want? Remember those rules I talked about. Almost all newer machines have an option to put the needle down when you stop sewing, and they have a top loading bobbin. Some machines, like the Viking machines, change tension settings, foot pressure, and settings depending on what fabric you are using. No more need for the quick manual references! The Vikings also do a lock stitch when you start sewing, no more backstitching!!! Also you can make a new bobbin without having to unthread your machine. Some machines will even cut your thread after each seam! If you haven't sewn before, you wouldn't know what you need or what is of value to you. If you quilt, then a larger arm might be important to you. Again, this goes back to you get what you pay for, and just like comparing car makes and models, you really need to do your research and give a new machine a test drive. 

At Five Eighth Seams, we waited to sell machines for two reasons. The main reason is because we didn't want to turn into machine pushers; we wanted people to just love sewing without feeling like they had to invest in a lot to start a new hobby. I still feel that way which is why we still have machines you can rent, so you don't have to take that initial plunge right off the bat. We sell notions, but we tell you not to go out and just buy every gadget you see; buy them as you need it. We offer a kit with the essentials to get you started, but, after that, buy as you need. The second reason was that Viking was already being sold in Summerville. We really like Viking and what their machines have to offer. Although we are not officially a machine dealer, and we are really just another location Sew' n Sew is using to sell machines, I am happy about the decision. We can now offer all levels of machines, all levels of help, and more accessories and notions. I do love Viking as a company, and, of course, I love their machines, but I know everyone is different, and we welcome all machines in class, open sew, etc. 

I hope this helps answer your questions. If not, or you have more questions, do not hesitate to ask. 

Get a machine that you will love not something you tolerate. 

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