Tag Archive | iron

The Sewing Studio – Part One of Sew It Begins

It’s Ready!” That’s what I declared the other day as I looked around my new sewing studio. The machines were in place and plugged in, the notions boxes were empty with the all the notions stored in their appropriate baskets, and the stash was organized. It was now time to sew. After almost a year of not sewing anything, both the husband and myself are in need of new shirts so that is where I decided to start sewing.

You may have noticed that I did not say that the new sewing room was ready for sewing to start. That is because I now have a sewing studio. Now, it is not as glamorous as it sounds. Since my sewing and crafting has now taken up three rooms in my new home, instead on just the one and one-half as in my previous home, I am calling my sewing space a studio. Plus a sewing studio sounds bigger and better and more exotic. Who wouldn’t want a whole studio for their sewing and crafting over just a room.

I started my first sewing project in my new sewing studio by going into the stash room where I found just the right fabric for me and the husband a new shirt and retrieved our basic sloper patterns for the pattern stash in the stash room. After laundering the fabric, I took the fabric to the prep and cutting room, which is also the crafting and amigurumi assembly room. Here, the fabric was ironed and the patterns cut out. Next, the pieces were carried into the sewing room where the sewing machines and notions reside and the sewing of the shirts began.

It took longer than expected to get to the point of sewing again because I decided to unpack the stash from the many boxes it has lived in for so many years. I placed the contents of all those boxes on wire racks so that the stash is fully visable and readily accessible. I gave the “unpacking of the stash boxes” a lot of thought before I started. I had my picture organizing method in place and it had served me well for many years, but as I organized the boxes in the stash room and opening some to see just exactly what was in each one, I realized that having the stash on the racks was a better way of organizing and using the fabric than the pictures. The husband helped be picked the correct size, weigh and style of racks and helped me assemble the racks. It was then my job to unpack the boxes. I had mixed emotions as I unpacked the stash boxes. My emotions ranged from glee and excitement to see all the precious pieces of fabric I possessed, to terror and fear that I might actually be a true fabric hoarder.

It is great fun to be sewing again. Sadly, I feel that my sewing skills had diminished with the time off, but happily, they seem to be coming back quickly. I am super excited to be sewing and crafting again.

Stay tune for details on the new shirts.

Until then, sew forth and sew on!

Covering The Board

IMG_3802My ironing board is old. Well old for an ironing board anyway. I am still using my very first ironing board that I purchased nearly 30 years ago! Of course, the ironing board cover has been replaced many times over that 30+ years. An ironing board cover can only have so much iron-on interfacing glued to it before it needs to be replaced. And each time I replace the ironing board cover, I wonder if I should just replace the whole ironing board instead of just the cover.

IMG_3800I ask this because the cost of a nice cover is about the same as an new inexpensive board with a cover. The question I ask myself every time I buy a new cover is “Have ironing boards technically changed over the years and gotten better to where I am missing out on something by not buying a new board?”

So, this time when it was time to replace the cover, I decided to purchase a whole new ironing board and see if I have been missing out on anything over the years.

IMG_0894While standing in the middle of the isle of Walmartia, I found that I had three choices (i.e. three prices) to choose from. I decided to start at the lowest of the prices. I purchased the least expensive ironing board and took it home. Unfortunately, this ironing board was not inexpensive, it was cheap. To start, it only stood on two pole legs and it was very unsteady. It teetered this was and that every time I pushed my iron across the board. I had to keep catching it to keep it from falling over as I ironed.

IMG_0899The cover on this board was super thin with no padding at all and it was drawn tight around the board with a thin string and a clamp. The board itself was not a solid piece of metal either. It was a metal mesh desk with giant diamond holes in it with an attached outside edge. The diamond mesh was very bumpy to iron on, but the lip made by the attached edge caught the iron and interrupted the ironing process. Plus, this board had a very narrow tip end to the full size of the board, giving me less ironing space where I iron the most. This ironing board was certainly not a replacement for my current ironing board, so undaunted I tried again and back to the store I went!

IMG_0893This time I purchased the middle priced ironing board with higher hopes. It was just a little more expensive than a new cover for my old board was, and this ironing board had two legs in each direction, so I already knew it was going to be superior to the cheap ironing board I had previously purchased. It still had the diamond mesh board top, but I was hopeful that it would be made better and have a better cover, plus it had accessories. This ironing board had an iron holder at the end to give you more board to work on and keep the iron from tipping over when not in use. It also had a shelf on the legs.

IMG_0900This ironing board was certainly steadier than the last board and it did not fall over with the pressure of the iron moving back and forth, but the edge of the mesh top still had a lip. I might not have noticed the lip so much if once again, this ironing board did not have the same thin, non padded, tied on with string, cover that the cheap board had. If I kept this board I would immediately have to replace the cover. So, it was up to the accessories to “wow” me into replacing my old ironing board with this one.

I’m sorry to say, the accessories did not “wow” me. I am sure that for some, the shelf attached to the legs of the board is the greatest thing ever, but for me it was not. My ironing board has to be movable and with stuff stacked on the shelf, this board became unmovable. So, for me, the shelf would never be used. Plus, I don’t need another shelf to stack stuff on.

IMG_0897The next accessory was the iron holder. This holder is a great idea in keeping a hot iron from becoming a hot burn. But, what I found was that the holder created more work for me when ironing so I would never use it. When I iron, I mostly use the top half of the board, so I had to take extra walking steps to place the iron on the holder. It did not take long to tire of – iron, take two steps to set the iron on holder, take two steps back, move the garment, take two steps to pick up the iron, take two step back to the garment, and then repeat these steps. Simply put, my iron was not at arms reach, so if I kept this board I would not use the holder. Since the accessories did not work out for me, I saw no reason to replace my current ironing board with this board either.

IMG_3797Upon examining the highest price ironing board at Walmart, I found a duplicate of my current ironing board. Walmart had two styles of the this price ironing board. The first was the same diamond mesh board as the lower priced boards and there was no way I was purchasing that one even if the cover was thicker and nicer because of the previous issues with the mesh boards. The second board looked just like the ironing board I currently have at home in the sewing room, except that the cover was not as nice. So, why spend the money for a new ironing board when it was exactly what I already had?

IMG_3798I guess nothing new and revolutionary has occurred over the years to improve the ironing board. With my new knowledge of ironing boards, I decided I would be keep my same old ironing board and replacing the cover.

As I looked at new ironing board covers, I learned that they are the same as new ironing boards. You get what you pay for with the lowest price covers being thin, non padded and string tightened and the higher prices ones being thicker, padded and velcroed on. With what I had learned from my ironing board experiment, I went ahead and purchased the higher priced, thicker, padded, velcroed cover. The new cover fits my old ironing board great and I am back to ironing on my latest sewing project. Stay tuned to see it soon!

Until then, sew forth and iron on!

I Don’t Like Spam!

imageBut I do love my new ham!

Over the years, as my sewing career has progressed, I have found that I iron more and more during the sewing process. This fact has lead me to purchase my first ironing tool, a ham.

When I finally decided to purchase a ham to aid in my ironing while sewing, I went to Joann’s and gasped at the price of the ham, and debated if I really needed one. With the help of a coupon, I purchased a ham for half off and went home to try it out.

imageUsing the ham was an instant success!

How did I ever iron without one? The ham made ironing curves and seams so much easier. I did notice though that using the ham in the ironing process was time consuming.

As you know, ironing is all about positioning. Ironing a little, move the fabric, ironing a little more, then move the fabric. With the ham, there is more moving of the fabric to iron the piece that is on the ham compared to ironing without the ham. But, the end results, the nicely pressed seams and the ease of ironing that seam, are worth the extra time and work of using the ham.

imageSince the use of the ham has been such a success, I have started looking at other ironing tools like a sleeve roll or a clapper. I do see some new purchases of ironing tools in my future.

Until then sew forth and iron on!

I’ll Never Fall In Love Again!

Screen-Shot-2013-11-05-at-9.01.40-AMYou can see it from across the fabric store and there is a whole wall displaying it…

You’re drawn to it and it is so soft, fuzzy and warm, and some of the cutest designs ever are printed on it…

You MUST buy some and, as a general rule, its on sale…

Of course, I am talking about polar fleece and everybody just loves this fabric! Everyone it seems except me. Dare I say it out loud, I may not be in love with fleece or enjoy working with it as much as everyone else on the planet seems to be.

And here is why.

I, like everyone else, love the idea or the concept of fleece fabric. And who wouldn’t? It’s soft, warm, fuzzy fabric with no fraying, no shrinking, it looks good on both sides, it has some stretch but not too much stretch, and all the other fun features that fleece offers a sewer. What isn’t there to love? But, after sewing the last girl’s fleece jacket and starting my next sewing project with fleece, I’m not convinced that it really is all that easy and wonderful of a fabric to work with.

When I first started purchasing fleece fabrics, I planned to only make blankets with it, and who cared if the blankets were a little off grain and the print wasn’t perpendicular, or that it can’t be easily ironed or caused several headaches when sewn with the serger due to the amount of bulk.

DSCN2567For the blankets I was making, I did not give these concepts a second thought, so I was in love with fleece just like everyone else, and I bought any and all I could get to hide in the stash for future projects I had dreamt up. When I decided that I wanted to expand my skill set a little bit and make more than blankets from the fleece, I was at a point in my sewing skills where I did not worry about grain line, or matching designs, or ironing seams. So for the first couple of fleece projects that I made, I just cut it out and sewed it up, and I was still in love with fleece.

DSCN2575 (1)As my sewing skills have advanced over time, I am now far more concerned with thing like grain lines, matching the designs, and ironing the seams. So, when it was time to make the latest girl’s fleece jacket, these things were foremost on my mind. As I cut out the pattern and the froggy’s and rainbows weren’t straight, making it difficult to cut on the grain line and match the designs up, working with fleece became more than just cut and sew.

DSCN2572Looking at the piece of fleece, there were spots where I had to move over 21 inches from the edge of the fabric before I could find a good spot to cut. This was crazy! I decided that the froggy piece of fleece was just flawed until I started my next fleece project. Although not as much, I had to move 9 inches from the edge to get the footballs and helmets to line up.

Does all fleece suffer from this problem?

DSCN2563If it does, I’m going to have to watch WAY more closely when I buy fleece for pieces that I only have to move over 9 inches rather than 21 inches, or hopefully I can find some fleece that I will only lose a couple of inches on the edge. Plus, I’m going to have to buy extra fleece to accommodate for the lost fabric. I wanted to make my latest project a size large but had to switch to a size medium when I lost the 9 inches along the edge.

DSCN2566I turned to the Internet to see if I was alone in my wavering love of fleece, and from what I was reading, I was alone, everyone else seems to love fleece, but I did find several article titled, “How to sew fleece.” So, maybe you just have to learn the skill of sewing with fleece, just like learning to sew knits, furs, silks, actually any and all other types of fabrics. Maybe after learning some lessons about sewing with fleece, I will then be completely in love with fleece like so many others are.

Well I ldid learn a lot from the articles that I read on how to sew fleece, and I am excited to try out some of the things that I learned.

Luckily, I have my next sewing project involving fleece all cut out and ready to sew, so stay tuned to see how it turned out!

Until next time, sew forth and hopefully fall in love again.

Girl’s Fleece Jacket (Done Backwards) – Part 2

DSCN2088When I started this jacket, I decided to go ahead add the optional cuffs to the sleeves.

The cuffs looked so cute on the jacket on the pattern envelope, that I wanted this jacket to have the cuffs. But when it came time to sew the cuffs on, they were not turning out very well. They were just too bulky. The cuffs are made from two pieces of fleece. The first piece is sewn to the sleeve, then the next piece is sewn to the first piece and then folded over to make the cuff. I cut out the cuffs, sewed the cuffs to the sleeves and then removed the cuffs. In my opinion, this was a bad design for a fleece cuff due to so many seams in the cuffs and the bulkiness these seams caused. There are four layers of fleece in the top seam of the cuff, and that is just too many layers of fleece.

DSCN2084If I wanted to keep the cuffs, I had to come with a solution, so I gave it some thought and came up with some ideas.

First, the sleeves could be cut longer to make the cuffs. This would eliminating the bulky seams, but I had not cut my sleeves longer so this solution was out for this particular jacket. Another solution would be to use a thin lining fabric as part of the DSCN2086cuff, but I did not have it in me to dig through the stash to find a matching fabric. My third solution was to skip the cuffs, and make more bias tape. I would finish the edges of the sleeves with yellow bias tape to match the pockets. (My first thought was to use the bias tape to finish the edge of the cuffs, but eliminating only one of the layers in the bulky cuff was not enough.) So, I choose this as my plan. This jacket would not have cuffs, and I would finish the sleeves edges with the yellow bias tape.

Thinking back, I could have had cuffs on this jacket by combining the solutions. I could have used a lining fabric and the bias tape to make the cuffs and eliminate the bulk. Hmmm. Maybe I will try that on the next jacket.

DSCN3414By using the bias tape on the sleeves, I did not have to worry about a hem or the fact I had not cut the sleeves longer to accommodate a hem. I applied the bias tape to the edges of the sleeves, trimmed the seams and turned the bias tape to finish the seams. I noticed that the thin bias tape looked weak at the bottom of the heavy sleeves. The way I got rid of this weak look was to not trim the seam inside the bias tape so much, which was different from any other time I have applied bias tape. Previously, when I applied bias tape, I wanted the seam allowance trimmed out before folding the tape over. If the seam allowance was left inside the bias tape this time, the look was much fuller and it looked better.

DSCN3418It was now decision time. Which way did I want the jacket to cross, left over right or right over left? After a lot of thought and debating, I decided to cross the fronts as if it were a boy’s jacket, the left front on top of the right front. This will probably drive the little girl that wears this jacket nuts as she tries to button the jacket backwards, but the half froggy’s that I got from folding the jacket the other way just didn’t look good. Hopefully whoever wears this jacket won’t mind the backwards buttoning buttons if it is a girl.

I was dreading making the buttonholes on this jacket. I was not sure how my sewing machine would handle sewing buttonholes on fleece. Sometimes, even with thin non-stretch fabric, my sewing machine has a mind of its own when it comes to making buttonholes and sews whatever it wants to. To help combat this problem, I made horizontal buttonholes, and held my breath as the buttonholes were sewn, but my sewing machine did great and the buttonholes turned out just fine.

DSCN3413If I had known then, at the beginning of the sewing of this jacket, what I know now, nearing the end of the sewing of the jacket, I would have added piping to the peter pan collar to coordinate with the finished design of jacket. It would have been really cute to have had the bright yellow piping around the collar to match the piping on the pockets and the bias tape on the sleeve. This is definitely something I will keep in mind for the next jacket.

DSCN3416With the sewing on of the last button, the jacket was finally done!

The making of this jacket was a learning experience from the beginning to the end, from the cutting of the fleece, to the sewing of a back facing, to the piping curved pockets to the designing of the fleece cuffs. There were many lessons learned on this fleece jacket.

All in all, I think the jacket is very cute and I hope some little girl will be willing to wear it and will enjoy it!

Until next time, sew forth and fleece on!

Girl’s Fleece Jacket (Done Backwards) – Part 1

DSCN3413Over the years, I have accumulated a massive amount of polar fleece in the stash. At first, these fleeces were only purchased with blankets in mind, but over time, my ideas for fleece fabric has expanded. So, when I saw this pattern, McCalls M4981, especially designed to be made from fleece, I knew what I wanted to sew next.

IMG_0002 (2)M4961 is a pattern for a girl’s unlined fleece jacket with a peter pan collar, patch pockets and buttons closures. I was excited to get started, but I quickly learned that this project was not going to be an easy sew or a fast sew.

To start, I selected a piece of fleece from the stash. I chose this cute girl’s design of froggy’s, bees and rainbows on a brown background. I did not have to launder the fabric before I got started since their was no preshrinking needed with this fleece. I traced the pattern, size 6, and got started with the cutting process.

DSCN2575Cutting out this jacket was not an easy or quick task. The print on this fleece was so far off grain that it was almost impossible to cut the pieces so the froggy’s and rainbows were standing up straight. I pulled the fabric and repositioned the pattern pieces until I finally got the pieces cut out. When I finally finished the cutting process, I realized I had lined up the right and left front backwards from each other.

DSCN2572When I folded the right front over the left front for a girl, I got a nice froggy edge on the right side and half of a froggy edge on the left side, but if I folded the front as you would for a boy, left front on top of the right front, then I had a nice froggy front. So, should I have a poor looking front with half froggy’s and cross the jacket for a girl or have a nice looking front and cross the jacket for a boy? That was the question. This question did not have to be answered right away so I decided to move on.

DSCN3411I did add some thin interfacing to the facings and the collar. The husband thought I was crazy for adding more bulk to the fleece, but I explained to him that was why I was using such thin interfacing. I just wanted something to stabilize the fleece at those spots and keep it from stretching while sewing, particularly when it came time for buttons and buttonholes.

DSCN2074To start the sewing process, I did not read the pattern guide at all. Looking at the pattern pieces, the sewing of this jacket seemed pretty straight forward, So, I just got started. Who needs directions anyway? Am I right? I sewed and pressed the collar, serged the facings edges, folded them over and sewed the facings to the collar. Normally, my next step would be to sew a piece of twill tape to the collars inside edge to finish it and then tacked the facings to the shoulder seams. This pattern has a back facing as well though, and I stopped for a moment as I pondered how I was supposed to sew it on. I then turned to the pattern guide and read that sewing the back facing to the side facings should have been the first step before adding the collar.

Too late now!

DSCN3410I was certainly not unpicking all my sewing that I had done up to this point. My first instinct was to grab my twill tape and just throw away the back facing but then I came up with plan to attach the back facing. After some tedious sewing, I got the back facing sewn on, only to find out that I had sewn it on backwards. The wrong side of the fleece was facing out. Augh! There was no way I was unpicked the back facing just to flip it over. It would just remain backwards. Sometimes, just when you think you know it all, and you certainly know better than some pattern maker and you get ahead of yourself, you find out too late just how wrong you are…

DSCN2080When it came time to sew the pockets, I debated about how to get nice smooth curved pockets since the use of the iron was of limited use with the fleece. I had read about using piping to help curve the pockets so I decided to give it a try. I cut bias strips from yellow cotton scraps and made the piping for the pockets. When it came to sewing the piping to the pocket, I was having trouble starting the bias tape in the fold of the pocket because of the bulk of the fleece. I turned to some liquid stitch for help. I folded the yellow fabric over the top of the cording in the piping and glued it down with the liquid stitch. This gave me a finish at the top of my piping so I did not have to keep tucking it into the fold. I did the same thing at the other end of piping on the other side of the pocket.

DSCN3409I don’t know if I really like the look of the piping at the top of the pockets done this way but it is fine for this time. I think I need to read more on how to start and stop the piping on pockets. The piping did do its job and it helped to curve the edges of the pockets and hold the curve in place as I stitched the pockets on.

Plus, it looks really cute and makes the pockets stand out from the rest of the jacket.

There is a lot more to say about the sewing of this jacket but I’m going to stop here and give you a break from the long list of lessons I was learning on this project. Stay tuned for the finale of this backwards jacket next time!

Until then, sew forth and fleece on!

It A Trap (ezoid) Skirt!

DSCN2926When I found this trapezoid scalloped edged girl’s skirt pattern on the internet, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the scraps that I had leftover from my minion shirt. The combination of the minion fabric, the banana fabric and the blue fabic had made for a fun shirt and it would definitely make a fun skirt too.

I was excited to get sewing but I knew that I had to start with a little math before I could take the first stitch.

Yes that’s right kids! Your teachers WERE RIGHT about the using math outside of school thing! Imagine that!

Since I was sewing empirically here, and not making this skirt for anyone in particular, so no particular size, I had to calculate how big I could make the trapezoids versus the amount of scraps that I had.

DSCN2554Luckily I’m not afraid of a little math, so after a few calculations, I found that I had enough scraps for a girl’s size 6 to 8 skirt, making the trapezoids 3 inches at the top and 5 inches at the bottom and 15 inches long. And as per my calculations, I would be cutting out 18 trapezoids in total, 6 from each of the three different fabrics and that would use up all the scraps I had.

I first cut myself out a trapezoid pattern piece and then I used it to start cutting. I tried to cut as accurately as possible so that all the pieces fit together nicely and would be even.

DSCN2717Cutting out the pieces took some time, but sewing the trapezoids together took even more time, plus each seam had to be pressed after I sewed them. I sewed each trapezoid from the bottom to the top to keep them as even as possible.

After the trapezoids were all sewn together, I used the skirt as my pattern to cut out the lining for the skirt. The pattern only called for only a small strip of lining to be used at the bottom of the skirt to make the scalloped hem, but I decided to fully line to skirt. This would take care of finishing all the trapezoid seams, and it would keep the girl’s panties from showing through the thinner minion and banana fabric and eliminate the hand stitching the pattern called for at the hem from only using a strip of lining.

DSCN2718Cutting the lining caused me a few moments of anxiety because of the amount of fabric needed to cut the lining. The skirt was made of scraps so really no large or useful sizes of fabric were used, but when the trapezoids were sewn together, they formed a circle skirt, and cutting a full lining on grain for a circle skirt did require a real size piece of fabric.

In fact, cutting this lining pretty much used up all the yellow lining fabric I had purchased on sale a while back. I was sad that this lining fabric was now all gone. It had been a great piece to turn to when I needed a lining for the little girls dress I had made. But, the husband comforted me by reminding me that there was now one less piece of fabric in the stash and that now I could go and buy more lining fabric. And who doesn’t love to go fabric shopping? Not me, that’s for sure!

DSCN2720With the lining all cut out and the its side seams sewn, placing right sides together and matching the hem, I sewed around the hem. At this time I cut out a cardboard circle to use as the pattern for the scalloped hem. I traced the circle onto the skirt, matching the seams of the trapezoids and the stitch line at the hem. After tracing a scallop on each trapezoid, I carefully sewed around each scallop edge. Trimming and snipping around each scallop was the next step followed by turning the skirt right side out. It was now time for a lot of pressing to the skirt hem.

DSCN2727Once the scalloped hem was done and pressed, it was time for the waist band. I had planned to use 3/4 inch elastic in the waist, so with a few more calculations, I cut the waist band from the blue fabric 2.5 inches wide and long enough to go around the top of the skirt. With right sides together, I sewed the waist band to the top of the skirt, serged the edges and pressed it towards the top of the waist band. I then serged the top edge of the waist band and pressed it over about 1/4 inch. I then folded and pressed the waistband over and stitched in the ditch to finish it off. I left a small unsewn portion to insert the elastic. I also added a small tag to the waist band to denote the back of the skirt from the front, although this skirt really does not have a front or back.

DSCN2723After the waist band was sewn up, it looked short, too short to fit 3/4 inches elastic into it. I am not sure where my calculations went wrong but I should have cut the waist band wider. I debated about unpicking the waist band and cutting a new wider waistband, but the thought of unpicking all the serging was unbearable, so I decided to use 1/2 inch elastic instead of the 3/4 inch that I had planned on. The 1/2 inch elastic fit into the waist band just fine and I think because this skirt is for a younger girl, the 1/2 inch elastic will wear fine too.

DSCN2725To determine how much elastic to use in the waistband, I measured the length of my finished skirt of approximately 15.5 inches. Looking at a chart I had downloaded off the internet, I cut my elastic 25 inches in length. 24 inches for the waistband and 1 inch for sewing it together. This length of elastic plus the length of the skirt meant I had made approximately a small size 8 skirt.

This worked for me. I do not think an eight year old girl is too old for a minion skirt. If I’m not too old for a minion shirt then an 8 year old girl is certainly not too old for a minion skirt. Perhaps I am just still young at heart!

DSCN2734I decided to do a decorative top stitch around the scalloped edge of the hem of this skirt. I think the scallops were sewn fine before I did this, but because this is a play skirt, and I am expecting it to be worn while running and jumping, a little extra strength at the hem certainly won’t hurt.

I think that this skirt turned out to be just adorable, and I am excited for a young girl to wear it and enjoy the minion and banana fabric as much as I have enjoyed making it!

This skirt has also given me one more option to use up my scraps with and I will keep it in mind that next time I am debating about what to do with a pile of scraps.

Until next time, sew forth and trapezoid on!