Recently in Serger Category
January 9, 2014
I love casseroles. I really really love them. While I do love to cook I am not about 30 ingredients and several hours of tastings and seasonings. I love chopping a few things, throwing them in a dish and tossing that into the oven. 20-40 minutes later I expect my nose to be in ecstasy and shortly there after my belly to be full and happy. Soooo, since I am such a casserolian I realized one day that I need a mode of transportation for my beloved one dish wonders. The glass lids on my corningware are not suitable for car trips so I improvised something that ended up doing the job but was a one-way venture only. I was lucky enough to be dropping off a casserole to a friend who happened to have a casserole carrier she inherited from her grandmother. I stole it quickly and used it until it disintergrated. In this post I will remake this carrier and show you how to make your own to fit your casserole dishes. I made mine out of only lightweight cotton but feel free to add insultating batting.
1) Grab your biggest casserole dish and place it on a large sheet of paper (I used the butt end of a roll of newspaper print) and trace your dish, rounding any sharp edges. Next, measure the height of your dish, divide it in half and add that all around your traced shape. Add your seam allowance (I prefer 1/2'') all around. Cut out your pattern piece.
2) On a fold piece of quilting cotton (I used Clothworks), trace your pattern piece and cut it out. You should have 2 pieces, a top and a bottom. Set your bottom piece aside. On your top piece, measure and mark 3.5'' in all around your piece. With a fabric marker connect all these marking until you have a shape similar to your top piece. Cut it out so you have a hole in the middle of your top piece and the remaining top piece is 3.5'' wide.
3) Cut 2 straps 15'' long by 4'' wide. Fold strap in half lengthwise and press. Open and fold each long side toward the center and press. Fold the strap in half again with raw long edges tucking toward the center fold and press again. Top stitch down the strap on both sides. Repeat for second strap. Fold your top piece in half along the length and mark the center. Pin each strap short end 2-3'' from the center mark on either side of the center mark, matching the raw short ends with the outside edge of the top piece. Baste straps in place. With wrong sides together, pin and stitch the top piece to the bottom piece.
4) Cut 4 yds of 2'' wide bias trim from a coordinating solid quilting cotton and 1 yd of 4'' wide bias trim. Press both trim pieces into a double fold. Using the 2'' trim apply it to the outside raw edge of the casserole carrier. Apply the 4'' bias trim to the inside hole of the casserole carrier leaving a 2'' gap for the drawstring. Serge or zig zag stitch the remaining 2'' bias trim to use as the drawstring. Thread it through the casing your created with the 4'' bias trim with a bodkin or a safety pin. Knot each end several times until the knot is bigger than the opening. Place your casserole in your carrier and pull the drawstring. It will tighten the whole carrier around your dish to secure it and the lid in place. This carrier can adjust to any shape dish. I've used mine for oblong and round. It is great and very handy.
August 14, 2013
(Updated with snack sizes) I try to be as eco-friendly as I can be and that means I really strive to use less plastic. I grew up with those tri-fold, very thin sandwich baggies for my daily peanut butter and jelly and they are very nostalgic for me. I found myself picking up a box a few weeks ago at my local grocery store just because: I was getting ready for school, that's what I grew up with and it's just a little bit of plastic right. Well, I'll save the lecture but the gist is I took a second look and realized that each box was alot of plastic and I doubted it would be recycled by my 4 yr old. I decided right there that I would find a more practical, washable, cute reusable bag that would last the year and would check that eco-friendly box.
The design is so simple that you will easily be able to whip up a dozen or more for your family from just 1 yd of PUL fabric. I designed this bag to fit the extra large, healthy loaves that I tend to gravitate towards (you know whole, 12 grain kinds) so the bag is a generous 7''x 6'' with a flip top. I embroidered a hand drawn slice of bread on my linen exterior but you could opt for prints. Try using a different print for each kid or choosing special colors. You can easily scale down the bags for snack sizes (7''x4'') or increase it for larger sub sandwiches or hoagies.
To make your own you will need (to make at least 6 or more):
1 yd PUL fabric
1 yd exterior fabric(cotton prints or linen)
Cut 1 each from exterior and PUL 7" wide by 16" long for snadwich size or 7'' by 12'' for snack size.
Embroider your exterior or add any decoration (the front is 2" down from the top and 7" long for sandwich or 2'' down and 4'' long for snack size). Next, with wrongsides together serge the 2 short ends of your bag (with regular machine use a straight stitch 1/4'' seam) then with the lining face up, fold down the top 2" and finger press the fold. Fold up the bottom to meet the fold at the top, finger press the fold (if you need to hold the folds in place use a document clip) and serge or stitch the sides. Flip right side out and you are done. SO easy!! Don't you just want to keep making more. I thought of making some about 20" square and filling them with homemade scones for stocking stuffers, hostess gifts or just because. You can also use them as gift wrap or as wet bags. I love PUL!
May 14, 2013
Create Kids Couture has blessed us with another delightfully feminine sewing pattern: Allison's Ruffled Pillowcase Dress. They have put a very ruffley spin on the classic pillowcase dress. I love the details that have been added to this favorite dress pattern. A hidden elastic neckline disguised with a fabulous bow that looks like a tied neck. There is also a banded hem and oversized neck ruffle that will delight any aspiring princess.
April 26, 2013
April 3, 2013
Green is key this month. Earth day is coming and spring in the air. I want to make my house clean, pretty and environmentally friendly. The well quoted adage is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" and i is meant to be followed in that order. Which means first order of business is to reduce your usage and #1 on my reduce list are paper towels. I use them all day for dozens of tasks: wiping precious faces, reheating meals, wiping counters, dusting surfaces, and general cleaning. I dislike using them but haven't found a suitable alternative until recently on Pinterest. I found reusable paper towels and nearly smacked my forehead. It was so obvious. I decided to make my own.
I opted for a cheery Denyse Schmidt Flea Market Fancy cotton print on one side and a thick double nap flannel on the other. This flannel would be great for dusting as well as being very absorbent (you can also go with fleece for superior dusting but its less absorbent). These towels are 10'' by 10'' and fit any paper towel holder. I recommend keeping an old paper towel roll to wrap your Reusable Paper Towels around. It just makes it easier to wind, unwind and keep in order. These towels are super easy to make. I do recommend you wash your fabric beforehand in the manor that you will be washing your towels. Choose durable fabric that can withstand all the abuse you are planning. Please choose plastic snaps if you will be using your towels to cover microwaveable dished.
1) Create a 10.5'' by 10.5'' template from paper or cardboard. Cut 8 from both your cotton print and flannel.
2) With Wrong side facing lay your cotton print on top of your flannel and either serge (cutting 1/4'' off) or zig zag stitch ¼'' from the edge then pink close to your stitching on all 4 sides.
3) Add 3 snaps to each edge of your towels to secure together. Overlap each towel by ¾'' and punch through both towels at once to ensure great placement.
If you do not like the look of pinked edges, I recommend you make your template 11'' by 11'' and then place your pieces right sides together and stitch around all sides, leaving a 3-4'' turning gap. Clip your corners and press your seams open. Turn your towel right side out and press again. Pin your gap closed and topstitch the entire towel. Add your snaps.
Enjoy your Reusable Paper Towels. They are great for washing windows, scrubbing spills, dusting lamps, cleaning kids and even for drying hands and dishes. I love mine and feel that they accomplish much more than the store bought.
March 27, 2013
I am in love with the new peplum style this year and with spring rapidly approaching (and receding here in the South) I am on it in my sewing room. I was a bit anxious to get started so I decided to upcycle one of my tank tops with a nice lacy peplum skirt. This top work with chino shorts, colored skinny jeans, a pencil skirt or a cigarette pant.
1) Wearing your tank top, decide where you want your peplum skirt to sit on you. Place a pin to mark the spot and take off your tank top. Lay it down on your cutting table nice and smooth. Using a yard stick and a water soluble marker draw a line across the tank at the pin mark. Make another line 1/2 '' down. This will be your cutting line with a ½'' seam allowance.
2) Measure around your waist where your skirt will sit. Using this site, inserting your waist measurement for the circumference. Using this tutorial by DanaMadeIt draw a skirt that is 8-10'' long (you choose the length/coverage that you prefer) on pattern paper. Mine is 8'' long. Cut 1 skirt from lace and underskirt fabric.
a. Serger instructions: Lay your lace over your underskirt and pin together. Serger the bottom trimming about ½'' and using a thread that matches your lace. Pin the top of your skirt and turn your skirt inside-out and slide your tank top inside the skirt, matching up the cut edge of the tank with the top of the skirt. Pin together. Serge the tank and skirt together, stretching the tank slightly to fit the skirt as needed. Done!
b. Sewing machine instructions: With right sides facing place lace skirt on top of underskirt and pin together around the bottom. Stitch with a 1/2'' seam allowance and press the seam open. Turn right sides out and press again. Topstitch around the bottom of the skirt. Pin the lace and underskirt together around the top of the skirt and turn inside-out. Slide your tank inside the skirt, matching up the cut edge of the tank with the top of the skirt. Pin together. Stitch the tank and skirt together using a ½'' seam stretching the tank slightly to fit the skirt as needed. Then zig zag over the edge to finish and prevent fraying. Done!
Enjoy your new tank peplum; you are ready for spring. You can modify this look by using a t-shirt or adding a second smaller peplum skirt layer in a contrasting lace or print for a tiered look. This top looks amazing with a waist cinching belt or sash.
February 27, 2013
We are lucky enough to have another great free kids' pattern in our Free Pattern Download section: Create Kids Couture Taylor's Pj Pants. It is a great pattern and fun to make. This is an excellent beginner's pants pattern too. Everything from the cutting to the assembly is a great introduction for a first pants project. I decided to add a ruffle detail to the bottom of my pants to feminize it a little bit more for my little girls (more on the ruffle below). The pattern is very comfy, according to my 4 yr old, and quite roomy too. I made the size 4 and size 6-12 mo for my 5 mo old. Both fit well with room to grow. I do recommend if you cloth diaper, like me, to make a size bigger to fit the diaper. Both pants run long, as evidenced by the picture, so make sure your intended child tries them on before you hem the bottom. I measured mine against a pair of pants from my daughter's wardrobe. I love that the pattern is the same front or back; this makes it super easy when dressing either of my children who are only still when sleeping. The Riley Blake Flannel that I used is really soft and washes very well with little shrinkage. The elastic measurements for each size were spot on which makes it easy for moms who will make this during nap time or school time when children are unavailable for measuring. The designer's cutting suggestion was a great little time saving tip and helps line up those stripes, chevrons or patterns just right. I suggest cutting several pants at one time because these will be a big hit. They also make wonderful shower presents for new moms. I like to gift larger baby sizes (6 mo and up) that are often overlooked when gifting a new baby and PJ pants are perfect for that age range.
To add a ruffle to your completed Pj pants you need approx 1 ½ to 2 yds of 3'' wide flannel per pant. Take your strip and fold them in along the length and press. Run a basting stitch down the open end of the strip ¼'' away from the edge with your bobbin tension very loose. You will see the fabric start to gather as you sew. Repeat ½'' away from the edge. Pull your bobbin thread to gather your fabric to your desired fullness. Press your gathers to help keep them in place. Line up the raw edge of your ruffle with your hem stitchline with your ruffle upside down (see picture below) and stitch in place with a ¼'' seam.
Press you ruffle towards the bottom of your pants and topstitch ¼'' away from the top. Depending on how deep your hem is your ruffle may cover your cuff or it may sit above it like a little skirt. You can stack ruffles for a very feminine look or add bigger ruffles to suit your style. Either way this is a simple ruffle to spice up a simply great PJ pant pattern. The addition of the ruffle will not significantly increase your time making this a great one day project!
A great tip: I recommend stitching your seams then serging them (or zig zag if no serger) this will reinforce the seams (because you know kids don't just wear PJ pants to bed) and will keep away any stray threads that might irritate during sleep.
February 22, 2013
So because I was already set to blog on my serger (See previous post- Product of the Month: Sergers) I decided that you readers should have a project too. This is especially true for the newbies who are considering a serger but think they will only use it to seam up some t-shirts. These super easy napkins are a great stash buster (if you like to mix n' match) or the perfect way to add a splash of color to your table. If you have a dinner party coming up or are hosting your first family meal at your house and you need some gorgeous napkins fast then this project is for you. Bonus: You can learn yet another feature on your serger.
Most sergers are equipped to create a rolled edge so check your manual to determine how your machine needs to be configured. My Brother 1034D needs to have the stitch finger removed. Once you have your machine set up it is time to test the tensions on your 3 threads: Needle, Upper Looper and Lower Looper. Take a piece of waste fabric that is approximately the same as your project fabric to test your tensions. Turn your knife on and then trim away any messy edges as you stitch until you get your tension correct. I had to make my upper looper tension heavier than the recommended range so experiment inside the range first and then outside the range if the tension is still not right. Change each dial one at a time, stitch a few inches, check it and then make another change. If you make several changes at once and something is not right you won't easily be able to determine the problem.
The red is the messy tension and the green is the corrected
To make clean corners, don't pivot at the corner like with a traditional sewing machine. Stitch to the end of the fabric plus some extra to make a thread chain and then lift the foot and turn the fabric. Begin each corner beyond the edge of the fabric. Finish each corner with a small drop of Fray Check then clip off the thread chain. This will keep the corner threads from coming undone and will give it a nice finished end.
To make 8 napkins you will need 2 yds of cotton print fabric (44'' wide). Make an 18'' square template from poster board or freezer paper. Take your pre-washed fabric and fold it in half 4 times (you will have 8 layers) and then lay your template on top and cut out all 8 napkins at once. With your knife on run each napkin through your serger cutting off ¼'' to eliminate any frayed or wonky edges.
You can recreate any of folding designs by following my Kitchen board on Pinterest. The bow is my personal favorite but I also have a soft spot for the rose for having girlfriends over for tea. My napkins were created from Riley Blake Flutter in Doily Blue and Dream Blue (Due to be back in stock mid April)
February 20, 2013
I am new to sergers (I've had mine less than 1 year) but I can't believe I have lived without it so long. I admit that my serger sat in its box for a solid week before I could muster the guts to open it and learn its secrets. It was intimidating. But since then I have realized it was intimidated because I was so ignorant. I really had no idea what it really did and how it worked. One day I took a deep breath and decided that I was making a mountain out of a mole hill and I just needed to start already. I am so glad I did. Yes, it is a whole new machine. Yes, it is different than my sewing machine. Yes, it does move fast; much, much faster. So what. Learning my serger is still an ongoing process but I knew it had to be our product of the month because even though I may only know a smaller percentage of what my Brother 1034D can do, it is an amazing product.
For those of you who are like me pre-serger, a serger is another name for an overlock machine. An overlock machine is a machine whose main purpose is to perform than overlock stitch which is a stitch that sews over the edge of one or two layers of fabric securing the edge and stitching or locking the layers in place while encasing the edges. Sergers run at high speeds and also feature a knife which trims the edge and makes for a smooth finished edge. Trimming your fabric while finishing the edges helps hid any chopping cut edges and frayed edges.
You can use your serger for just finishing loose fabric edges or for garment construction, hemming and for decorative stitching. I am most familiar with finishing edges and construction. I am slowing dabbling in hemming and decorative stitching. I am having much too much fun right now whipping up t-shirts in no time and saving time serging edges instead of double hemming with all the ironing that comes with it. I love the professional finish I can give to the inside of my garments now. It is very fulfilling to gift a give that looks as nice on the inside as it does on the outside.
Here are some of my tips for beginners looking to get into the serger game:
1. Consider the Brother 1034D at $235 it is equivalent to a midlevel sewing machine while offering features found on more expensive models. I choose this machine for several reasons. First it uses regular sewing machine needles so less equipment to buy starting out. It offers both 3 threads (good for knits and rolled edge) and 4 threads (good for finishing woven edges and high stress areas (under arm and crotch) while also offering a blind hem foot. And it is easy to thread.
2. There are many videos online that show you how to use your serger. Seriously there is a video out there for so many machines that yours is certainly included.
3. Learn to maintain your machine. When the needle moves fast enough to pump out over 100 stitches a minute than you are going to want to keep it that way. Purchase machine oil and learn where to put it and how often. If the area is tricky to get to than add oil to a paintbrush and brush it on.
4. Change your needle often. I didn't and soon found the most annoying screeching sound coming out of my machine at odd times. It made me jump out of my skin every time. I started to believe I was haunted by a banshee. I changed my needle and it stopped. Change your needle weekly or with every other project, whichever comes first.
Clean your machine after every project. My serger is full of lint even after one 16'' square and lint can gunk-up your machine, absorb oil and block the smooth motion of your high speed machine.
6. Learn which basic stitches to use on which fabric from the beginning. It will save you a lot of hassle and thread.
7. Learn your tools. Your serger comes with many tools: needle changing tools, tweezers, thread cone holders. Learn them because you never know when you will need one. The Brother 1034D uses an Allen wrench to change needles and tweezers for threading.
February 15, 2013
If you sew then eventually you will need to clean your machine. A dirty machine can lead to broken needles, annoying noises, snagged fabric and skipped stitches. Your machine should be cleaned out often but the frequency depends on how much you sew and what fabrics you sew with. If you sew often then you should clean your machine more often, about once a week if sewing with none fuzzy fabrics like cotton. If you are using felt, fur, fleece or any other fuzzy fabric, clean your machine once you finish that project.
Cleaning your machine is simple but I recommend dedicating some time to make sure you get all the dirt and lint out. To get started you will need your machine's manual to see if there are any special instructions or no-nos. If you can't find it most manufacturers have them available online for download. If your machine is older, call the manufacturer and ask them for any tips or FYIs on cleaning your machine. Next, grab a basic craft paint brush (No need to bust out your fine tipped natural bristle brushes, nylon is fine). The brush grabs the lint and dirt stuck deep inside. Take the cover off the bobbin case and the needle plate cover and brush it down. Then, take out your bobbin and your bobbin case and brush both of them down well. Remove your bobbin case (or shuttle) and brush it all over. Then take your brush and go to town on the inside of your machine, in and around where the shuttle sits and any area that you can fit your brush. If the brush can fit there then I will bet there is lint in there. Gently twist and swish your brush around and clean off the lint each time. Look for unexpected places for lint to hide: I have an auto thread cutter and the lint just builds up on it(last picture above with red circle) but you wouldn't know it because fabric is always covering the knife when I use it. So I lower my presser foot and push the button for the knife to slide out and brush it quick and continue to do so until no more lint appears on my brush. Be careful with oil, some machines need it and some don't; your manual will instruct you on this. My machine came pre-oiled and doesn't recommend that I add any. Carefully reassemble your bobbin area. If the body of your machine is dirty you can gently wash it with a natural spray cleaner like vinegar and water.
To clean your serger you will also need your manual and a small paint brush but also some machine oil. Most sergers need to be oiled on a regular basis because they move so fast and with such precision. If your machine doesn't need to be oiled you can find that info in your manual. Before you oil anything in your serger it is important to clean all the lint out otherwise lint can get stuck in the oil and gunk it up. Starting on the outside, I love to use a scrap of knit fabric and rub down the outside to clean off all the lint. The knit really attracts the dust and dirt without harming your machine. It would take forever with a brush. Next open your machine and, again, go to town with your paint brush and clean out all the lint from every nook and cranny you can find. Then, carefully add just little oil to any parts outlined in your manual. If it is hard to get the bottle to the parts, I recommend using another cheap paint brush and using it to dab on the oil.