A Halloween outfit that'll charm even the evilest of the spirits

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

There's something spooooky in the air and we just can't get enough. With the official start of fall, our minds immediately jump to the upcoming holiday season.

Making it with Minky

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Everyone loves Minky fabric because it is soft and great to cuddle with. With sites like Pinterest and Etsy, making homemade blankets, car seat covers, changing pad covers, taggies, pants, jackets, skirts, pillowcases, and even stuffed animals have become very popular. The holidays are right around the corner and making gifts with minky fabric is a great idea.

Recommendations to start checking off that Christmas List

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It is that time of year again whether you're ready for it or not. Truth is, Christmas is really just around the corner. And, as any crafter or seamstress will tell you, if you're making your own gifts this year, you need to start now.

Yes, it's daunting. It's overwhelming. It's freaking me out just writing this. Eeeeek! But, isn't it so much fun, too? Thinking about one particular person that you love and care about and imagining the perfect gift for them is one of the best parts of Christmas. Then, add tooling away at making their gift by hand to the mix and it can be a very joyous experience.

To help you on your journey of finding the perfect hand-made gift for your loved ones, we're suggesting two books. Each of them have lots of ideas to help you check off multiple people from those Good Boy and Good Girl lists.

The first of them we've talked about quite a bit on the blog already. It's Sew What You Love by Tanya Whelan.

Sew What You Love by Tanya Whelan
Laura raved about this book during her Summer Pattern Challenge and made a few items from it to help her reach her goal of completing the 20 patterns. Laura's "Everyday Tunic," "Apple Pie Ottoman," and "Easy Sling Bag," all came from this book and if you've read the posts, you'll know how simple and easy creating each of them was for her.

As Laura explained, the book is full of a variety of project options. From clothing and home dec, to bags and baby toys. The 30 patterns in this book really do run the gamut of project ideas and you're sure to find something perfect for the one you love.

Our second recommendation for your Christmas sewing is actually a series of books. It's the One Yard Wonders books by Patricia Hoskins and Rebecca Yaker .

One-yard Wonders by Hoskins and Yaker.
One-yard Wonders by Hoskins and Yaker.
Each of these books are packed with a whopping 101 sewing projects. As you can imagine you'll find projects for everyone in the family (including Fido) as well as home dec, clothing, seasonal items, and accessories. Anyone you know up for a custom umbrella? Or what about a gym bag? Who wouldn't want a new scarf? And market totes are the rage for the eco-friendly these days.

Seriously you can't go wrong with either of these books for this Christmas and every other gift-giving holiday you can think of. They are year-round go-to guides for every home sewer.

Be sure to check out all of our sewing books as these are just three of the many that would behold your loved one's perfect Christmas gift.

Get More Out Of Your Serger

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It always amazes us how many of our customers actually own a serger, but never really use it. Sure, they can be a little daunting with the blades and all that threading, but sergers are really a great investment for any sewer, espeically the ones who like to use special techniques like ruffles, piping, lace, and such.

That's right. Serging isn't just for finishing your seams. Don't get me wrong, it is great for that. It gives your clothes a great finished edge and makes sealing the raw edges stupid simple. But, sergers are great for so many other things, too.

A serged seam with four threads.
If you're only using your serger to finish your seams, you're really missing out.

Today, some women got together in the store to take our Serging Basics class. All of them owned their own machine but most had never done anything more than finishing a seam and some hadn't even done that. One machine came in the door this morning still in it's box. :)

Our serging classes and the serger in the store are all using the Brother 1034D. We love this machine because it's affordable (on sale now at Amazon.com for $190!) and portable, mostly. But, also because it's easy to use. No matter what brand of serger you buy though, get one with 4-threads. These are much more versatile and allow you to do more with your machine.

The Brother 1034D
In class, we discussed machine basics like using your blade (or not), changing needles, threading, using two needles, and thread tension. These are all tools that you can use to make your machine work better for you and get perfection out of your projects. It is important to remember that sergers (especially the threads) are very tempramental. Even the slightest change can make the biggest difference. In class, the students learned quickly that serging, like sewing, is going to take lots of practice.

We always recommend the book Successful Serging by Beth Baumgartel for our customers. It's a great go-to guide for getting to know your machine as well as a quick reference for more advanced projects. Serged rosettes, anyone?

Successfull Serging. $19.99

Our first task was a rolled hem. This finish doesn't use a special foot, but does require you to remove the finger which is located under the blade.

Scrap serged with a rolled hem on both sides.

It's not our favorite for clothes, but it is nice for napkins and to finish specialty items like holiday stuff. Consider buying specialty thread like silver to give them a fancier edging, but be sure to ask if it can be ironed before using it. Don't want your thread to melt, or worse, for you iron to get ruined. There is a rolled hem foot for your sewing machine but it only turns under the fabric. It doesn't actually finish the raw edge like the serger does, but if you're in a hurry and don't mind the rough look to it, give the rolled him a try on your next pattern.

Next, we practiced gathering with the serger. It's really simple to do and works best when you add the second needle. All of the gathers are perfectly even and they look very professional, but it's important to note that it's hard to change the length of the gather. If you're trying to gather for a waist hem, for example, you should probably do it on your sewing machine so you can adjust the gathers to fit the exact measurement of your waist.

But, wait! There's more! There's a special foot that will actually attach your gathered piece to your flat piece at the same time! I know! It's really cool! Look...

Ruffle (dots) serged to main piece (elephant).

Everyone in class loved how simple it was to do this and were impressed with how professional the gathers looked. But, like with anything with serging, it can be finicky. We all agreed that it will be so worth it when you get it down.

Lastly, we attached a piping foot (not provided with your machine) to see how much easier it is to pipe with your serger than with your sewing machine. It gets the fabric really close to the piping and it also finishes the interior of the seam with a serge. 

Right side of piping.

Wrong side of piping.

Too cool, right? The foot can be a little pricey, but after trying it out everyone agreed it was worth it especially for larger projects like pillows. 

So, if you have a serger, grab your user manual and/or Successful Serging and go for it. We will host more serging classes in 2013 after a whole new slew of eager serger owners (from Christmas) look for advice. Brooke is available for private lessons between now and then if you just can't wait. Just call the store for details. 

Football Field Table Cloth

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I absolutely love football season! 

The weather, the food, the excuse to hang out all weekend...I just love it. Every year we go to at least one Clemson University game and one Cincinnati Bengals game. I have seen so many cute tablecloths on Pinterest that I had wanted to make one of my own for a while. When my sister told me she wanted a football themed bridal shower, I knew this was the time to do it. The idea of a football field tablecloth had been floating around in my head and now I had two excuses to make one -- for my tailgating parties and my sister's shower!

Finishing seams: Just The Basics

Monday, September 10, 2012

Finishing your seams is an integral part of sewing any garment. It can be a little tedious but it's important to do to ensure your piece looks professional and will last through a lifetime of washing and wearing.
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