Tools: February 2012 Archives
Samantha Michelle Wisdom asks: I'm trying to make a jacket for a friend of mine. I took all his measurements (chest, waist, shoulders, sleeve length.. any I'm forgetting?) But now I'm not sure how much bigger than the measurements I should actually cut the fabric. (It'll be a denim jacket).
Tara Says: If you are using a pattern, it will instruct you in which measurements to take and how to incorporate them into the pattern to determine the correct size. If you are working without a pattern, a trusty tailoring or pattern making book is a helpful resource that can help you translate your measurements into the correct cutting size. I love my Reader's Digest Complete New Complete Guide to Sewing. It has everything from how to properly position body parts to obtain the most precise measurements and then how to create a size from those measurements. I also found a great basic website that walks you through the gist of sewing a men's jacket and what you need in terms of measuring to cutting.
Wendy Pollack Rieder I am having an awful time trying to install a zipper into a stretch velvet leotard (it has a mock turtle neck, so it needs the zipper). I tried interfacing the seam allowances with knit interfacing, but the top stitching distorted the fabric very badly, giving it a "unique" twisted appearance. I am thinking about trying again with an invisible zipper, but prefer the look of a regular centered one.
Tara says: I would recommend a top stabilizer. You can try tissue paper or some embroidery stabilizer either water soluble or cut away. It should really help keep your thread tension. Also be sure you are using the correct ballpoint needle but you might want increase the size to accommodate the thickness of the fabric plus zipper.
Laura J. Liles I make purses and love to use micro suede. I don't always find good coordinates though, which fabric types can be paired together and still look good? I also use flannel occasionally too. Thanks
Tara Says: You can't go wrong with Home Dec fabrics for purses and they make a great pairing with Micro suede. If you check in the designer section of our Home Dec page you can find many coordinating collections. If you still need some help finding great coordination fabrics, our customer service is here to help or you can post a picture or a link on out Facebook wall and any of our helpful staff or customers will give you loads of options in no time.
One often over-looked but very useful tool every seamstress (or seamster-for the gentlemen) is a set of Dritz Doll Needles. These are extra long but not overly thick needles that can be used outside the realm of doll making. I have had the occasion to use mine often as: a turning tool for very small projects to get those pesky corners just right, jeans repair and decorative stitching on very thick items (like my Bike Bucket). Several of Heather Bailey's pincushions from her Fresh Picked Pattern call for a doll needle to thread embroidery floss for shaping the tomato or making the right tucks for the apple. While I did not use a doll needle in the same way in my enlarged Apple Pillow based on the Fresh Picked Pattern, I did use it to attach my stem. And we can't forget Shannon's amazing Organza Ornament showcased last October. She used her doll needles to attach the flowers to a foam ball. Lastly, I used doll needles to create my wonderful Molly Monkey Doll (shown above).
Dritz Doll Needles are perfectly designed for their name sake, allowing the user to attach or repair various parts of dolls. The extra length allows you to get through all the stuffing so you can perfectly place stuffed items, like arms and legs. It is easier to place doll parts after stuffing because placement is difficult to determine without plumping up the doll's body. You can attain a more perfect symmetry after stuffing. Dolls need to be as close to symmetric and perfectly aligned so any clothes or costumes will fit. The large eyes make it easy to thread anything from all-purpose thread to embroidery floss or even ribbon and yarn. Doll needles are not just used for body parts placement but also for faces and the all important hair. This is a valuable tool that should not be overestimated and will earn its place in your sewing box.
I love this pattern! Let's just get that out of the way. This playsuit was fun and quick with lots of room for modifications to make it custom to you or to change it up each time you make it. I am always hesitant when making nightgowns or Pjs of any kind because when I sleep in them I want to be sure ahead of time that they will be comfy as well as attractive. The Hot Patterns Retro Playsuit definitely fits the attractive bill but does it also meet the comfy qualifications? Only making one will answer the question.
I opted for a navy charmeuse satin because we all know dark colors make us look slimmer but I don't look good in black. I am a naturally pale Irish girl so I wanted something with a bit of color. The fabric arrived and it was dreamy (quite apt that it was destined for sleepwear). I then decided to trade the lace trim in for some cotton, ruffle accent. I loved the romantic look of the lace but I love the feel of cotton so much more. Using approx. ½ yd of 45 in. cotton, I cut 3 in. straight strips of quilting cotton (about 5 yds) and pressed it in half widthwise, wrong sides facing. I then ran it through my ruffler using the 12 st setting. This created about 4 yds of ruffle trim, just right to finish off my playsuit.
Overall this was a dream pattern. It went together exactly as instructed. The satin was not the hassle I was expecting. Just be prepared with a sharp needle and quality thread and it should be as manageable as cotton. The ruffle really worked well with the style of the playsuit. I attached it to the right side of the top and leg openings and then folded the raw edges toward the inside and topstitched the seams down on the right side. Be sure and finish off the seams with a zig zag or a serger otherwise your satin will fringe. The ribbon details are also a nice touch though you can create some spaghetti straps out of your satin. I picked one of the complimentary colors from my ruffle for my 1/4 in. ribbon. The lavender really works well with the navy and my skin tone. This is a great addition to my PJ drawer and I like it even more then my satin gowns because the shorts keep the playsuit from riding up in the night. A + in comfort!
Cording is an essential Home
Dec finishing notion that is as versatile as it is easy to use. Cotton Cording
can be used for the typical piping and welting used in home dec applications to
add finishing details and accents but it can also be used for non typical functions,
such as bunting, purse handles and couched monograms. Today I am going to walk
you through using cotton cording in its most applied purpose: bias covered
piping for home dec projects.
Since I will be using my piping for my upcoming upholstery project, I am cutting my bias from scrap pieces cut into for specific chair parts. As long as the scraps are good size (I prefer at least 12 by 12 in. sections) then it is worth your time. You don't want to spend all your time sewing up tiny bias strips together. To determine the width of the bias strip you need, multiply the size of your cording by 8. Example: I used ¼ in. cording so I cut my bias strips 2 in. wide. Make sure you cut your fabric on the 45 deg. angle to the grain for the best stretch.
To begin stitching your bias strips together, overlap by the seam allowance you will use. I like to use 3/8 or 1/4 in. Align them up right sides together and only stitch as much as you need. You don't want to end up with more covered cording than you will need. It is hard to find another project that will match. I like to leave my last 6 in. or so of the bias strip un-sewn uncase I need to add more. This extra bit will be enough to sew on another bias strip.
Fold the bias strip over your cotton cording with raw edges matching. Use a zipper foot to sew very close to the cording without sewing on it. You want the cording to be tightly stitched in the center. If it is too loose you will see bunching and shifting. Use a medium length stitch and back stitch at beginning and end to keep you piping from undoing before you can use it in your project.