Tag Archive | ironing

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!

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!

Being Biased – Part 3 – Button Fitting

DSCN1300I believe I have fallen in love with bias tape.

Even though, I had a number of trial and tribulations in the making of and the sewing on of the bias tape with these tops, I can see were bias tape can be a fun accent to many sewing projects and I can’t wait to start another bias tape project.

But before I do that I needed to finish these cross back summer tops before the summer has ended so that the girls can actually get some use out of them.

All I needed to do to finish them was to add buttons and buttonholes to the back of the tops and they would be done and ready to wear.

Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well, I wish would have been as easy as it sounded.

DSCN1303I knew when I cut this pattern out that this pattern does not have a true side seam. I did not think it was going to be a big deal, but it was!

The backs are cut so that the shoulder and side seams are towards the front of the top. There is no seam directly under the armscye or on the shoulder. It is just to the side of the armscye and front of the shoulder.

This pattern also has no indication of where the buttonholes should be placed. So, when it came time for me to determine where to sew the buttonholes and buttons, I had some guessing to do. DSCN1304

I started the guessing by trying to determine where the true side seam would have been on these tops. Should the back come towards the front of the top a little, like 1/2 inch, or a lot, like 2 inches.

Next, I had to determine if the cross over should match at the top and leave a big “V” at the bottom of the back or should the “V” of the cross over be smaller by lowering the top. I spent hours measuring, folding, pinning, and deciding where to put the buttons and buttonholes.

I would think that I had it all ready to sew, then I decided that it wasn’t right and I would start again. After awhile even the husband grew tired of me showing him each variation that I tried. He tried to help, but I just could not make up my mind if I had it right or not. DSCN1302

Finally, I reached a point were I truly believed that I had it measured, folded and pinned where I wanted the buttons to be so I went to the sewing machine. I carefully sewed the buttonholes and buttons in place on both tops.

When I was done, I was quite pleased with myself until I held the tops up and the back curve of the cross over flopped down over one of the special buttons I had paid a lot of money for. Crap! The buttons needed to be higher on the top.

Now, how was I going to fix this? Version 2

My first thought to solve this problem was to sew a hook and eye to the curve which would attach the curve to the back of the top. This would keep the curve from flopping over but that did not work. When the curve tried to flop over, you could see the hook and eye and it looked worse than the flopping curve of the fabric.

My next thought was to use some velcro. As I went to sew the velcro on, the husband asked what I was doing. I showed him the flopping curve and how I was trying to fix it. He said to stop. He said that since girls were sisters they could keep an eye on each other’s backs when they were wearing the tops and if the curve flopped, they could fold a crease in the bias tape so that the curve would not flop as much. This seemed like a reasonable solution to the flopping curve, so I left it at that.

20150530_124144The REAL answer to this whole problem was to have the girls try the tops on before I placed the buttons.

I could have quickly determined where the “side” and “shoulder” seams should be, how big the “V” in the back should be and where the buttons needed to be. But, I had wanted the tops to be a surprise for them so I didn’t. Even though they had picked out the fabric, they did not know what I was making from it. Plus, with them not knowing what or when I was making something, there was less pressure to get the tops completed.

With that all in mind, I determined that the surprise and less pressure to get the items completed were not worth the button/buttonhole headache, and with this lesson learned, the next time I make something for the girls, there will be fittings during the process. Version 2

Upon receiving the tops, their mom says the girls like them and will wear them. I explained to their mom the button/floppy curve issue and she said it would not be a problem.

I don’t believe that the girls were nearly as excited about these tops as they were their fun vests or their Dr Who bags, but that is ok because I learned a lot from these tops both in the sewing process itself and in the process of sewing for others. 20150530_124000

And the next time I sew for the girls, I am getting them involved in the process.

No more surprises!

I want them to pick their own fabrics, colors and styles. I want to measure them so that I have the best fit, instead of using a year old measurement that their mom took (no offense to their mom), and I want fittings and alterations done during the sewing process.

I think I will learn even more sewing for them this way and they will have exactly what they want as well. Plus NO more guessing!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Being Biased – Part 2 – The Sewing of the Bias Tape

DSCN1308I gave the process of sewing of the crossed back summer tops a lot of thought before I made the first seam.

I had read the pattern instructions, but I wanted to sew the top together with fitting in mind. I wanted to sew the seams so that the minimal amount of unpicking would be necessary if I needed to alter the size of the tops for the girls later. So, my plan was to start with sewing on the bias tape before sewing the shoulder seams or the side seams. After the bias tape was sewn on, I would sew the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams as one single seam. That way if I had to alter the shoulder seams or the sides seams of the top, I only had to unpick a little bit of bias tape to get to the seams. This was a great plan until I thought about how I wanted to sew the bias tape on.

DSCN1298In deciding how I wanted to sew the bias tape on, did I want to sew the tape to the right side of the fabric and then fold it to the wrong side and stitch in the ditch on the front so that no seams were showing? Or, did I want to sew the tape to the wrong side and fold it to the right side and then stitch the tape with a decorated thread or stitch?

Since I was already mixing colors by using the pink bias tape on the purple top and visa versa, I choose the second option for sewing the bias tape on. So, my final sewing plan went as follows: I would sew the bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric and would then fold the tape to the right side after sewing the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams. I would then top stitch the tape with the opposite color thread, i.e. sew the purple bias tape on with pink thread and visa versa. Sounds like a solid plan, right?

Well, this did not work as planned.

DSCN1295Because of how I had sewed the bias tape on, when I folded it to the right side the bias tape was needed to be sewed together opposite of the shoulder and side seams. If I had sewn the bias tape the other way that I had thought about doing it and folded it to the wrong side, my seams would have worked. But, instead of my plan working, I got to unpick several inches of each piece of the bias tape so that I could sew the bias tape together, then I could sew the shoulder and side seams together and then sew the bias tape back in place on the wrong side. Finally, I could fold the bias tape to the front and do the top stitching. All these little seams were flustering and extremely time consuming to sew and lets face it, not a lot of fun to do! But, I finally got it done and I had completed the sewing of the first top.

DSCN1306I wanted to sew the second top with the bias tape folding the same way as the first so I returned to the pattern’s instructions. I started by sewing the shoulder and side seams together first and then I sewed the bias tape on the wrong side of the top. Next I folded the tape to the right side and then top stitched the tape on. This went much faster and easier than the sewing of the first top had with no little seams to deal with. An with that the second tops sewing was complete.

I had four opportunities to learn the best way to start and stop the bias tape. I tried several ways but the way that folded and stitched the best for me was to leave a small piece of bias tape unstitched where I started. When I reached the end of the seam for the bias tape, I folded the ending piece of bias tape back on itself. I then laid the starting unstitched piece on top of the folded ending piece and then sewed this in place. When I folded the bias tape over, the starting pieces folded into the folded ending piece to make a finished start and stop of the bias tape.

DSCN1313The idea of sewing the bias tape to the wrong side of the top and then folding the bias tape to the front and top stitching in a contrasting thread sounded great, but in reality, sewing the bias tape on the right side and folding it to the back and stitching in the ditch with a matching thread would have hid a lot of sewing sins.

The top stitching looks good for the most part, but anywhere were my seams were not exactly straight, the contrasting thread announces the wavy seam LOUDLY. Also the starting and stopping of the seams don’t look that good. This is especially true where I was learning how I wanted to start and stop the bias tape.

DSCN1299The sewing of the tops would have been a lot easier and cleaner if I had sewn the bias tape the other way, sewn to right side and then folded to the back. I also could have followed my fitting plan. But, I had sewn the bias tape the other way and many lessons were learned, so it made the whole experience a good thing. Plus, the tops were looking good with the contrasting colors and threads. So, with the tops sewn, it was time to add on the buttons and buttonholes.

Join me next time to see how they turned out once they were completed!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Being Biased – Part 1 -The Making of the Bias Tape

IMG_1621My coworker’s tween girls are using and enjoying their Dr Who bags and it does my heart good for someone to enjoy and use something that I have made.

So much so, that it was easy to find another pattern to sew for them next. This time I made them a summer crossed back top from some sugar skull fabric that they picked out. I found this crossed back top pattern on line for free. It looked like a fun summer shirt, easy enough to sew and the right size for the girls.

I gave the girls their choice of a couple of fabrics that I had in the stash and they both picked the sugar skull fabric. I did not have enough sugar skull fabric to made both shirts so I planned to piece the tops with some black fabric from the stash.

Then I thought about it being summer. DSCN1296These were summer tops made to be worn in the heat of the summer months, so how could I make them from black fabric? So I dug through the stash and I found some nice pink and purple that would match the sugar skull fabric.

I decided to make one top from the pink and one from the purple so the girls would not have to match. I know that teens are image concious that way. The pattern is only two pieces, a front and a back, cut twice. Based on the girls measurements, I cut the front and back 1/4 inch wider and 1 inch longer than the pattern called for. The pattern also called for 3 yards of 1/2 inch double folded bias tape. I

f I had been making the tops with the black fabric, I would have bought the needed bias tape, but since I was using the pink and purple fabric, I decided to make the bias tape. 61NeRAwqLEL._SY450_Then I had the idea of using the pink bias tape on the purple shirt and the purple bias tape on the pink shirt to give them some great contrast, so I would definitely be making the bias tape myself. Plus, it would give me the opportunity to make bias tape again, and as you know practice makes perfect and I don’t use bias tape all that often.

Now, I thought I had the process down for making bias tape from the last time I made it for another project, but I was incorrect. I had a lot to learn and relearn while making this bias tape. I started out by cutting 1 inch strips on the bias. When it came time to sew the bias strips together, I knew that they needed to be sewn at a 90 degree angle, but I kept sewing the strips together backwards, one seam up and then one seam down. After much trial and error, I figured out that I needed to sew one strip on top, then the next strip on bottom to keep all the seams all on one side. 71f-MxnZmTL._SY450_

After getting all the bias strips sewn together correctly, I started to iron and shape them. I used my 1/2 bias tape maker and was making some beautiful bias tape, when I realized that my bias tape was only single fold.

What? Darn! I needed double folded bias tape!

So I folded my beautiful 1/2 single fold bias tape in half and got 1/4 inch double folded bias tape, half the size of what I needed. Crap! I seriously thought about just using the 1/4 inch double fold bias tape that I had made but I decided against it and started all over again.

This time, I cut 2 inch strips on the bias, sewing them together correctly as I had learned to do earlier, and I prepared to iron again, but not until I purchased a one inch bias tape maker.

Looking on Amazon for bias tape makers, I found two types, Singer brand made completely from metal, and several third party brands made of metal with a plastic insert.

Which was better? DSCN1310

After reading many reviews and pondering the question, the husband rolled his eyes and ordered me both the Singer and another brand with the plastic inserts. After trying both styles of bias tape maker, I decided to use the Singer metal ones. Even though both worked fine, I just liked the Singer ones better. They seem to fold the fabric more evenly and were easier to push the fabric into the maker when starting out.

After a fair amount of ironing, I had 4 yards of 1/2 inch double folded bias tape in both pink and purple, ready to sew on. I made 4 yards of each color rather than 3 yards like the pattern called for because I had increased the size of the tops slightly from what the pattern called for.

Now it was time to sew the bias tape on to the tops.

Stay tuned for the construction of the crossed back summer tops in my next post!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

“Blocking” Out Those Big Feet

P1020735When I decided to make Sebastian the bear a blanket, my reason for doing so was not really to hide his big feet but to try out another pattern I had found. This new pattern that I had found was a giant crocheted granny square that could be used to make a baby blanket. I decided that I wanted to make Sebastian a blanket from this pattern because I could add stripes in the blanket from the same yarn that I used to give him his sweater looking torso.

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The pattern was very easy to follow and soon I had quite a few rows of the granny square crocheted. The pattern only gave the basic instructions for making the granny square and the creativity of colors and sizes was all up to the crocheter. So, I decided to do 2 rows of the variegated yarn after every 5 rows of purple yarn. This design seem to be working up great and I really liked the look of it.

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P1020707The only problem I was having while crocheting the blanket was that it would not lay flat. I did not feel that my tensions had varied much while I crocheted it and I did not believe that the problem was in the different yarns I used. Because of this I decided that the blanket was going to have to be blocked when it was completed. Since I have really only crocheted amigurumi’s previously, I have never blocked a piece of crocheting but I had seen my mother and grandmother do it many times during my childhood, so I had an idea of what to do and I knew that this should fix my problem.

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Luckily, I was smart enough not to just rely on my childhood memories and I did a quick internet search on how to properly block a crocheted item. After reading several how-to sites, I decided to use steam to block this blanket. I started with a towel and pinned the blanket to the towel, trying to get it to lay as flat as possible. Next, with the iron on high, I steamed the blanket being very careful not to touch the blanket or the pins with the iron. The last step was to let the blanket dry and see what I got.

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P1020731After removing the blanket from the towel I was happy with the results. The blanket seemed to lay flat. After a day of being handled, I noticed that the blanket was not laying as flat as it had when it was first blocked. I debated about steaming it again or trying a different method of blocking, but then I decided that it is just a blanket for a teddy bear and it did not have to lie perfectly flat. This was probably not the correct answer. I should have tried to block the blanket again just for the learning experience, but I wanted to be done with this project and I wanted to move on to something else. I justified this decision by telling myself that this blanket was not the only thing that I would ever crochet that needed to be blocked, and that I would have other opportunities to block more crocheting projects in the future. I will try the wet method of blocking the next time I have to block a crochet item.

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With that, I called the blanket finished and wrapped Sebastian up in it. He looks so cute in his blanket. I just know he will soon have a great new home and someone to hold him and love him in his new blanket.

The Interfacing Battle Continues

Interfacing… why did it have to be interfacing? I hate interfacing! (a quote from Indiana Jones wife, if she were a seamstress)

Having recently abandoned fusible interfacing for sew in interfacing, I stared at the yards of fusible interfacing in the stash and wondered what to do with it. Should I send in to the thrift store and curse someone else who purchased and used it? Should I attach a note with it when I send it off? A note about all the ways that I have tried to make it work and that have failed, so the next owner will not have to repeat my disasters with it? Possibly the new owner of this interfacing would be wiser than me, and know the secrets of applying fusible interfacing properly, making this a great find for their trip to the thrift store. Or, should I just throw it away for fear of cursing anyone else with this stuff?

While talking to my mom recently, I mentioned my latest interfacing dilemma and she suggested washing and drying the fusible interfacing before use, and thus making it sew in interfacing. I was ok with washing the interfacing before use since I had always preshrank this type of interfacing before I used it each time anyway. But putting it in the dryer after washing it seemed like a recipe for disaster, that I could not quite wrap my head around. My first thought was if I put the fusible interfacing in a hot dryer, it is going to fuse to something. Horrible pictures popped into my mind of interfacing being melted to the drum of the dryer and spending hours, if not days, trying to clean the interfacing out of the dryer. I mentioned my mom’s comments to the husband and he said to go ahead and try it, since he was the one that would be repairing the dryer if anything went wrong. And so now with two people encouraging me to do it, I went ahead and washed the fusible interfacing and then tossed it into the dryer.

Horror of horrors! Now I am currently at the local appliance store looking for a new dryer! Nah, not really!

Luckily, the horrible story I had seen in my mind did not come true thank goodness. The interfacing did not stick to the dryer at all. It did leave little dots of unglued glue all over the interior, but a quick vacuuming of the dryer and the vent took care of that. It did fuse to itself a little bit though. I had to pull it apart in spots to get it flat enough to fold. The white, a longer piece, did not stick to itself as bad as the two shorter pieces of black did. I don’t know if the length really made a difference or if one just had more glue over the other, or if it just did not lose its glue in the process.

Not being able to iron the interfacing at this point, it looks a little bit wrinkled and worn. And boy did it shrink! The pieces are now considerably smaller than they were originally. But, there is still a lot of glue on each piece. Enough glue, that on my latest project I decided to try using it again as a fusible interfacing. I cut it out and ironed it on the pieces of my project and it looks great with no bubbles! Plus, there was still plenty of glue to hold the interfacing on to the fabric while I sewed it together.

So, now what should I do? Do I abandon the yards of sew in interfacing I have just bought and return to the now usable fusible interfacing? So far I have decided to play it project by project to see which one I use with which project. So with this new process, I will see if this answers the fusible interfacing conundrum that I previously had.

But They Said To

I have fought with interfacing my entire sewing career. It has been a thorn in my side since the first time I used it and it continues to be today. I would love to just leave it out of my projects but I understand its importance in the wear and life of a garment. I have tried many different brands and types of interfacing over the years with a wide range of results. Sometimes it irons on perfectly and sometimes it destroys the project leaving curls and bubbles in the collars and facings.

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Most recently I have been using Pellon SF101.  As with other interfacing, I get mixed results. I have read and re-read the instructions until I have them memorized. The question of whether to pre-shrink interfacing or not is one that I have debated about many times, but in the instructions for the SF101, in bold letters, it says yes you must pre-shink this interfacing by “putting it in warm water for a few minutes and then line dry it”. I can do that.  Next it said to “follow instructions for EK130”. Ok, I can do that. The EK130 instructions say, “Press firmly for 10 seconds. Repeat, lifting and slightly overlapping each time.” Fine, I can do that. So, I did and my end results were terrible.

Knowing the challenges I have had previously with interfacing, I tried to figure out where I went wrong over the next several months and projects. First, I thought that maybe I did not soak the interfacing long enough so that it shrank properly. So, I soaked it longer and tried hotter water, even boiling water. At first, this seemed to be the answer. A couple of projects came out without curls or bubbles, but on the next project the bubbles and curls were back. Next I tried a heavy press cloth, first dry, then wet, then soaked with mixed results. Next a thinner press cloth, dry, then wet, then soaked. Once again with mixed results. Now what do I try? I did samples before each project. Most times the samples would be fine, but when the full pieces were ironed on, the results varied.

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Today, I stood in front of the ironing board with my pre-shrank interfacing and freshly cut out pieces for my new shirt form my new pattern, Buttrick B5503. I so want the interfacing to just work. I re-read the general instructions for the interfacing and I make note of the pictures that show you should slide the iron on the interfacing. But, the instructions say to lift and overlap. But, what do I have to lose? I can follow the same instructions as I always have and it may or may not work, or I can try something different. So, I place the fabric and interfacing on the ironing board, cover it with a damp thin  press cloth, and iron with a sliding motion this time. The results are perfect. Is this the answer?

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I don’t know if this is the answer to the interfacing conundrum, but it worked this time. I need to try it again this way a few more times and see what results I get before I can say that this is the answer to life, the universe and everything. I sure hope that it is.

BURDA STYLE