Tag Archive | needle

Oh Brother!

I don’t know how old Mom’s serger is but I do know that it is really old, old enough to have knob tensions and be extremely difficult to thread. I also know that it has been giving her fits for years. It has a hard time holding its tensions and the lower looper thread keeps breaking. She has had it in for repairs and service many times, but it just never seem to be fixed or to work correctly especially in the last several years. It was another phone call from Mom one week before Christmas, bemoaning that fact that Christmas was just one week away and that her serger would just not behave so she could get her Christmas sewing finished, that finally prompted me to push Mom again to get a new serger.

Years ago when mom’s serger started to act up, I tried to help her replace her serger. When I looked into the available sergers at that time, I found there were two types, the expensive ones, $2000 to $3000, with all the bells and whistles, and the cheap sergers, $200 to $300, with no features and that barely serged. What happened to a nice $500 to $1000 machine that had just a few features but still serged nicely? At the time, Mom was not sewing as much as she use to, so she did not want to spend a large amount of money on a new serger, so a Singer serger from Walmart was purchased.

Big mistake! The machine was horrible!

It rattled and vibrated and did not serge well at all! It was not long before mom had pushed that serger into the corner and went back to fighting with her old, original serger.

Over the years, I have kept an eye on the big expensive sergers, hoping that one might have that special feature that would make it worth the dollar amount it was demanding. But, I never found one that was worth the price. So, as mom complained about her serger, I did not know what to say. Now, I love my serger so I decided to try and help mom by finding a used serger like mine. After some time looking, I did not find a good used serger similar to mine, but I did find a lot of useful information about sergers.

It seemed that most of the newer more expensive sergers that were purchased were hated, with many owners regretting their purchase and they were trying to rid themselves of their new serger’s on eBay. Most said that because there were so many special features that the machine did not serge well or even perform the special features well. It was a bad case of featuritus. On the other hand, almost all the reviews for the cheap sergers could be summed up to one phrase – piece of crap. So once again, where were that middle of the line sergers?

This time though I found one of those great middle of the line serger’s, the Brother 3234DT. This serger had several great special features, but none that took away from it’s main function, serging.

I told Mom what I had learned and she decided to take a chance and to get one of these new Brother 4 thread with differential feed sergers. When it was unpacked and the owner manual read, I helped Mom thread the serger. It threaded very easily with color coded lay in threading, dial tensions, and even auto needle threaders. I then showed Mom the adjustable stitch length and width, and differential feed like my serger has. Mom was very excited about these features. But, Mom’s new serger had some special features that mine did not. One of these features is the auto needle threader. Another feature that this serger has is a free arm. The table portion of the serger can be removed and there is a free arm for serging cuffs and collars. Man, wouldn’t that be handy while sewing baby sleepers? An extended table also came with this serger. Once again the side is removed and replaced with an extended table that would come in very handy when serging heavy or large items. I was so excited about the extra features of this serger that I thought for a moment about replacing my serger with one of these, but then I decided that there was nothing wrong with my serger and it did not need replacing. (But, if and when my serger does need replacing, I know which serger I will look at first.)

Mom seemed very happy with her purchase. She has sewn a couple of things with her new serger so far and says it serged like a dream. No more nightmares from using that old serger. I am happy that she has a good working serger now and that she can enjoy sewing and serging once again. Plus, along the way I learned a lot about sergers that I did not know before.

So until next time, sew forth and serge on!

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Oh! That’s Gonna Leave a Welt… – Part 2

DSCN0977Continuing on from my first part of the welt pocketed jacket project, the rest of the jacket sewing went smoothly.

I used pleather for the collar as well as the pockets and it all sewed up great! Because the zipper was not inserted into the collar, there was no hand stitching and I was able to finish off the collar with some twill tape. I also remembered to press the pleather with a press cloth on both the pockets and the collar so that the iron did not damage the pleather. Before long the sewing was done and the jacket was complete.

With the jacket completed, I studied it closely and something was not right.

DSCN0981I stared at and studied the jacket until I finally figured out what that something was. The neckline on this jacket is HUGE! It is way too big around. I returned to the pattern, but as far as I could tell, I had traced and cut the pattern pieces correctly. Had I sewed something wrong or was it the pattern? I had a few options to try and fix it. I could try to fix the neckline, but for a trial jacket, I was not willing to spend the time and energy on a fix, especially to find out that the fix didn’t work or made things worse. Disappointed, I thought about not embroidering on the jacket, but then decided that some kid somewhere would be willing to wear this jacket, and he or she would need something fun embroidered on it to distract from the huge neck line.

DSCN0922Picking an embroidery design for this jacket was not an easy task. Since I did not know who the final owner of this jacket would be, I tried to make it as unisex as possible, but each embroidery design I picked swayed the jacket to the feminine or masculine side. I looked and debated over many designs until I finally realized that I was wasting all my sewing and embroidery time picking out the design. I finally went back to one of my first choices and embroidered The Lady and The Tramp design on the jacket. The jacket is definitely for a girl now but I love the design on it.

DSCN0982I am still not happy with the collar on this jacket, but I am very pleased with the welt pockets, the pleather accents and the embroidery design.

Ultimately, I am happy with the end results of this jacket and hope that there is a young girl out there willing to wear this jacket even with the oversized collar. I am super excited about learning to make welt pockets and I cannot wait to start another project with welt pockets!

Until then, sew forth and welt on!

Oh! That’s Gonna Leave a Welt… – Part 1

DSCN0977I decided that is was time to try making welt pockets.

Welt pockets always look so nice and professional, plus I had something special I wanted to try for the welts. One day while shopping at Walmart, I saw a couple of bolts of patterned pleather and I knew right away that it would be perfect to make the welts for the welt pockets from. I quickly purchased some, and headed for my sewing room.

First, I needed a pattern. After looking through my pattern stash, I turned to my Kwik Sew books on the shelf.

Yes, there were jacket patterns with welt pockets and instructions in these books. I was super excited and ready to get started!

Next, I had to choose a fabric for the jacket. I had a bright yellow sweatshirt fleece hiding in the stash and debated if pleather and sweatshirt fleece would look good together. I finally decided that they would, especially for a first try of welt pockets. It was easy to pick out some left over scraps from one of my shirts for the body of the pockets.

DSCN0827DSCN0830And I decided to make a size 8 jacket because of the length of the zipper I had. I would need to lengthen the jacket a little to accommodate the zipper, but I didn’t think that would affect the wearing of the jacket.

The first step in making this jacket was to see if pleather would survive the washer and dryer.

It did! And beautifully I might add!

The next step was to see if my sewing machine would sew the pleather or if I was going to require a special foot, needle and thread for sewing the pleather. I did not. The pleather sewed beautifully with just my normal pressure foot, regulars thread and a new Schmit universal needle.

DSCN0833DSCN0836Wow! I had read horror stories on the internet about sewing with leather but I guess pleather is different, or maybe just these particular pieces. Regardless, I was excited!

With the pattern traced and the fabric cut, it was time to get sewing.

To sew the welt pockets, I started with some scraps to get an idea of what I was doing, then I moved on to the jacket.

DSCN0838DSCN0842I started by applying a pieces of interfacing with the sewing lines to the front of the jacket. Next, I taped the pleather in place and then O sewed around the lines.. I taped it because I did not want to scar the pleather with pins. Cutting was next and then pulling the pleather to the wrong side to form the hole for the pocket. Then I folded up the welt and sewed it in place, and then I attached the body of the pocket to the pleather and finally I sewed around the body of the pockets.

DSCN0848DSCN0844Soon enough, I had completed the two welt pockets. They are not perfect but they were fun to make and I really like the results especially with the pleather.

I debated about interfacing the pleather of the welt but I thought that the pleather was stiff enough to not need interfacing. As I inserted my hand into the pocket, past the welt, I wished that I had interfaced the welt and made it stiffer to withstand use over time.

I had pictured the welts as being bigger than they finished up being. Knowing now how to make welt pockets, I feel that I can make the welts in different sizes and styles the next time I make something with welt pockets.

Coming up next, the completing of the jacket.

Until then, sew forth and welt on!

Yay Sports! Go Team!

DSCN3421 (1)IMG (1)I am certainly not a big sports fan, and I am especially not a big football fan, but I am a BIG fan of fabric. So, you know, when I saw this football fleece on clearance at Joann’s and I also had a coupon for even more off the already low reduced price, you just knew I was going to buy some of it. And even though I may not be a big football fan, I am sure there is some one out there that is, and would want me to make something for them from this fleece.

In trying to fall in love with fleece again, I did some reading on the internet and I found some suggestions for sewing with fleece. I wanted to try out a couple of the suggestions, so I pulled out this football fleece and a simple pattern, Kwik Sew 3235, for a pullover fleece jacket. In making a pullover jacket, I won’t have to worry about buttons or a zipper, and I could focus on the seams and the suggestions I had read about.

DSCN2561DSCN2797I could not decide which size between a medium or large that I wanted to make, but as I mentioned in a previous post, the fabric decided for me. I would be making a medium pullover jacket. Also as previously mentioned, this pattern was not very easy to cut out due to the fabric. I had to really work to keep the footballs and helmets straight. When I cut out the pocket, I purposely did not match the design because I wanted the pocket to stand out from the rest of the jacket’s design.

With my pattern pieces cut out, I started the sewing process. The first suggestion I followed was to put a new needle in the machine. The suggestion said to make sure it was a ballpoint needle. I only use Schmetz universal needles so that is what I sewed it with and it did great. The next suggestion was to lengthen my stitch length because of the bulk, which I did. When it can time to iron it, I followed another suggestion of using a press cloth so I could iron the fleece a little more aggressively without hurting the fleece.

DSCN3426 (1)DSCN3429 (1)One article I read suggested three different types of seams that worked well for sewing fleece, a fake flat fell seam (sometimes called a faux flat felled seam), a lapped seam or a double topstitched seam. I was not impressed with the lapped seams but wanted to try the other two seams. As I started to sew, I found that I wanted to just sew double top stitch seams so that the seams matched. The double top stitch seam is sewn by first sewing your seam as you normally would, then sewing the seam allowances down close to the edge of the seam allowance, then trimming close to the seam allowance stitching. Since fleece does not fray, cutting close to the stitches finishes off the seam. On the top side, there is a cool double row of stitching encasing the seam. This is a fun look that looks like it took a lot of effort to sew but was really easy and it looks great! Especially if you sew straight, which I seem to have a hard time doing most of the time. 🙂

DSCN3424 (1)DSCN3423 (1)I was able to do the double top stitch seams on the shoulder seams, the sleeve seams and even the hood’s seams, but when it came time to double topstitch the underarm/side seams, I realized that would be impossible. Because the arm is a tube, there was no way I was going to fit the fabric under the presser foot and sew it. I tried to figure out a way to do the topstitching but could not. I turned to the internet for help, but pretty much everyone said the same thing that it could not be done with a normal home sewing machine.

There were a few suggestions on the internet for how to finish the seam but I was not thrilled with the answers. Pondering the possible ways to finish this seam, I stared at my serger and I shook my head. I have the tools, i.e. a serger, why not use it. So I serged the underarm/side seams to finish them. Because this is not a super heavy fleece, no issues occurred while serging it. I also used the serger to finish the edges on the facing. I could have just left the edge unfinished on the facings but that would have really bugged me.

DSCN3422 (1)For the hems, I folded and sewed the hems as usual but with out finishing the edge with the serger or folding the edges over. After completing the hems, I trimmed the edges close to the stitches as I did for the seam allowances so that all the inside seams matched. I did the same with the pockets opening edge.

Looking at the completed jacket, I liked what I saw from the outside. The top stitching looked great! From the inside though, the serged seams looked so much cleaner and finished than just the trimmed seams. But, I was not disappointed that I had done the double topstitched seams for the others. It was fun to try something different, plus I will have a new technique for sewing a heavier fleece that would not serge well in a later project.

This jacket was fun to make and turned out great!

So, am I in love with fleece again? The answer is maybe.

The cutting out of this pullover jacket was a real task, but the sewing was fun especially with applying the suggestions I had read about. I do see more fleece projects in my future so stay tuned.

Until then, fleece forth, and sports on!

We Interrupt This Sewing Plan….

DSCN1278I needed to do some basic sewing. With summertime on the way, I needed some new work shirts to wear. So, I set my next project aside to make me some simple basic t-shirt style shirts to wear to work. But as with all sewing, there are always lessons and patience to be learned. Let me tell you the story.

I started by picking out some knit fabric from the stash. The first piece I picked out was a purple single knit with white sea shell designs that I had picked up from a thrift store many years ago. The piece was not quite big enough for the shirt I was making but I figured I could make it work. I tend to make my shirts long, so if I made this shirt just an inch shorter than I normally did, I would have just enough fabric. So I cut out the shirt and started to sew it up. The sewing went fine until it was time to hem it.

DSCN1280Some how I had cut the front of the shirt very crookedly. I laid the shirt on the cutting table and evened out the front but in doing so I cut off even more of the front length of the shirt.

This minus the inch to fit the fabric now left me with a very short front.

I went to cut off the back of the shirt to match the front, but hated to lose the length so I decided to leave the back longer than the front. Because of the slit in the side of my shirts, there would be no problem to hem the back of the shirt slightly longer than the front. After hemming the shirt, I liked the uneven hem. After wearing the shirt, I REALLY like the uneven hem. When wearing the shirt, I can really tell that the front is shorter than I like but since the back is longer, I am willing to wear the shirt.

DSCN1284The next fabric was white interlock knit with a black and red scattered design that I had also purchased at a thrift store many years ago. This time though there was plenty of fabric so I cut out generous hems for this shirt. The shirt sewed up fine and I liked the fit. The double needling of the hem gave me some hassle though. The fabric wanted to bunch under the needles, so I had to sew it VERY slowly, but it all worked out in the end. After wearing the shirt, I could have made the shirt a little shorter and the hems a little smaller. But the shirt is still comfortable to me, so I’m not going to mess with a good thing and modify the shirt.

DSCN1288The third shirt was made from a very stretchy knit I purchased on the internet. I love the fabric. It is soft and has a nice feel, but it was a challenge to sew. I carefully cut out the shirt, trying to not stretch the fabric as I cut it. I even put the walking foot on my machine to help keep the fabric from stretching as I sewed it up.

I sewed this shirt very slowly, trying not to pull the fabric but the fabric was so stretchy that it did not matter how careful I was. The first seams, the shoulder seams, finished long and distorted. Previously in my sewing career, I would have continued to sew as carefully as possible and hoped for the best in fit when the shirt was completed. Now that I have been sewing for awhile and am more experienced, I knew that if I wanted a wearable shirt, I had to solve the stretchy seam problem so I turned to ribbon.

DSCN0384I pulled a roll of 1/4 inch white ribbon from the closet, and cut pieces to fit my shoulder seams. After unpicking the previously sewn shoulder seams, I placed the ribbon on the shoulder seams and sewed down the center of the ribbon. With the ribbon, using the walking foot and sewing very slowly and carefully, I was able to sew nice, non-stretched shoulder seams. I then used the ribbon in the sleeve seams and it worked great as well. I did not use the ribbon on the side seams because the stretch of the fabric was not as much DSCN0421on those seams.

For the hem, I sewed the ribbon to the bottom of the fabric first then turned up the hem and completed it with the double needle. It would have been easier to have sewn on the ribbon as I double needled the hem but sewing it first meant I did not have to worry about catching the ribbon with the double needle and I could control the stretch better.

DSCN1289I tried to us the ribbon on the facings at the neck, but it did not work out. I could not keep the neckline from stretching and distorting as I sewed the facings on. It finally dawned on me to cut the facings from a woven non-stretch fabric instead of from the stretchy fabric of the shirt to solve the problem. This worked great and I was able to sew a nice looking neckline. I have worn the stretchy shirt and it is vey comfortable although it is odd sometimes when I expect it to stretch at a seam and it does not because of the ribbon in the seam.

With three new shirts added to my working wardrobe, I am ready to get back to my previous sewing plans and start my next project.

Until then, sew forth and summer on!

Either Side

DSCN0636I always find a lot of fun free amigurumi patterns when I look around on the internet. This time though I found a free sewing pattern for a little girl’s reversible wrap top. This top looked like a fun sewing project, plus I knew just the fabric that I wanted to use for it. And with that, this top became my next sewing project. I would also be expanding my sewing skills while making it which was a plus too. This would be the first reversible garment I had ever sewn.

I had purchased this fabric at a thrift store many years ago, and it was promptly tucked into the stash for just the right future project. Now, many years later, the right project had finally emerged, but is the pattern on the fabric too dated to use? Are these funky cats too far out of style to make this into a top? I decided that I really like the funky cats and that I still want to make this top from this fabric. I had planned to make the ties for the top from the funky cat fabric too, but I found some small white bias tape in the closest and decided to use it instead.

DSCN0632With the fabric washed, dried and ironed, it was time to get the pattern ready. After reading the instructions for the pattern, printing out the pattern pieces, taping it together, and cutting it out, I decided that since I had plenty of fabric to work with that I would make the largest size of the pattern in a size 4/5. The pattern was easy to cut out and I was soon ready to sew.

The sewing process for this top was fun and easy. The most difficult part was sewing the bias tape together. It was difficult to sew a straight seam so close to the edge of such a small piece of fabric and not have it bunch up under the needle or sew off the edge. After struggling through the stitching of the 4 ties, I thought about using seam to seam adhesive instead. So the next time I will not stitch the bias tape together, but instead I will fuse it closed with some seam to seam adhesive and save me a lot of time and trouble.

I did not use the floss method to gather the flutter sleeve because they were so small. I just stitched a row of long stitches and pulled the threads to make the gathers. I was careful to pull the gathers the same amount on each sleeve, making sure to keep the sleeves the same length.

DSCN0641Sewing the ties on to the top took some thought. The ties on the front pieces were easy, one tie on each front piece. On the side seams though, I had to make sure that I had one tie on the pink side and one tie on the white side.

The hem also required some thought to finish. At first, I thought I would hem this top as a big circle. Then I realized that this would leave exposed seams inside the top. Since this was a reversible top, I had not finished any of the seams, knowing that they would just be tucked inside the top. With this in mind, I stitched the white and pink fabric together at the hem to seal the unfinished seams inside. Sewing the hem this way was not hard. I just had to be careful to keep the pieces of fabric folded evenly as I hemmed. I finished off with some topstitching around the edges to match the hem and reinforce the ties.

DSCN0639The top turned out just too cute. The funky cats are fun, and it is great that the little girl wearing this can pick if she wants to wear pink or white that day. I do have some questions about the wearing of this top. Does the little girl wearing this top find the inside ties uncomfortable? Are two ties enough to keep this top on while playing? Do the ties stay tied through out the day or is the little girl constantly needing her top tied back on? Do two fronts make the top hot and bulky to wear? Man, do I miss the little neighbor girl. I could have given her this top and got some feedback from her mom on these wear issues. I like this pattern and it is well written. The top was a fun project and I would like to make more of these reversible tops in the future, but I hesitate to do so until I know more about how well it wears.

Until next time, sew forth and reverse on!

Button Joints, Gin Joints, and Pin Points – Part 2 – The Sewing

P1030554With all of the pieces crocheted for my button jointed bear, I next started the sewing together process. First came attaching the ears and nose to the head and adding a smile. That went easy enough. Then the pattern called to indent the eyes. I had never done this on an amigurumi before, but I was game to give it a try. I inserted the yarn at the bottom of the head, pulled it up next to the eye, then I took a small stitch and pulled it back down to the bottom of the head. Then I pulled the two yarns at the bottom of the head, causing the eyes to sink into the head slightly, giving the head an even better more bear like shape. At this point I was falling in love with this bear design.

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P1030505Next, was to sew the body on to the head. This is the only place that I deviated from the pattern. I did not like how big the opening was on the body when I started. When I finished stitching the body, I left the sewing yarn extra long. And before sewing the body to the head, I weaved the sewing yarn around the opening to close it up some. I did not pull it closed but instead just brought it in so it was a smaller opening. I had thought about crocheting a few more rows with decreasing stitches to decrease the opening size but I didn’t want to make the body taller and take away from the round body.

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P1030741With the head and body attached, it was finally time for the button joints. These joints are made by inserting pieces of yarn into the body, pulling it out where the limb is to be attached. Then you insert the yarn through the limb, through a button, back through the limb and then back into the body headed to the other side of the body to repeat the process for the next limb. Then you give it a good pull to bring it all together. I was concerned that the entire limb was attached with just one piece of yarn, so I repeated the process one more time for safety reasons. I’m pretty sure this teddy bear is going to be played with so I wanted the limbs to be stitched securely. I did dig through my sewing supplies and found a super long needle to make the joint sewing easier, and it did. The button joints were fun to make and the buttons on the sides of the bear look so cute. It makes it look a little old fashioned and nostalgic.

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P1030790P1030792Now it was test time. How did the joints work and move? And the answer is just great! The arms and legs twist around just fine. And this bear is able to sit, stand and hold his arms out for a hug without any problems. I love the button joints. They were fun and easy to do. The buttons add some cuteness to the amigurumi, and the amigurumi is more fun to play with because of them. I also love this pattern. This bear turned out so cute that I want to make another one.

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And so I did. I went ahead and made another bear from this pattern right away, but he is white and I used my 4.5 mm hook so he is bigger, but still just as stinking cute as the first one was!