Having a Friend who Sews

Having a Friend who Sews

Some things just work better in pairs.

Some things just work better in pairs.

Some things just work better in pairs—like shoes, socks, friendship bracelets, and the Everly Brothers. Often though, even our pastimes can be enhanced by the addition of another human being. Going to the movies, as an example, is more fun with a friend to offer ridiculous comments to or to discuss the movie with after the credits roll. Another example would be hiking. It could be great for you to wander through nature while getting a workout, but if you have someone to share the experience with, that company provides another level of goodness.

Sewing, too, can benefit from the presence of another person, even if people often think of it like a solo task. Things like classes based on sewing show evidence of this since you’ll be learning—should you take one—in the midst of other people who are interested in the same craft, but the reasons behind sewing non-solo are applicable beyond the notion of gathering in dozens in a classroom. Truthfully, there are common, day-to-day rationales for having a sewing friend or two in your life that you could find useful even if you don’t want to leave your house for your projects. You can pick up your phone, call them, and invite them over for sewing assistance.

And that sewing assistance can come in three specific forms that we’ll cover in this post. Ready to dive in? Then let’s go!

Taking Measurements

You might find that getting your measurements on your own can be complicated.

You might find that getting your measurements on your own can be complicated.

If you’re the type of person who sews your own clothes, you might find that getting your measurements on your own can be complicated. If you try to measure from shoulder to shoulder, for instance, you pretty much have to lift at least one shoulder, and that can throw off your measurement. It helps then to have a second person around who can step in and help you. Now, sure, you can recruit whoever is around to help you get that shoulder measurement, but it’s still best to have that someone be a person who’s familiar with sewing.

The reason for that detail is because people who are accustomed to taking measurements won’t need an explanation about how to take the measurement. They’ll understand, if you want help with your waist measurement, that the sewing tape should be at the smallest part of your waist. The process is familiar, and they’re accustomed enough to know how tight the tape should be held as well as where the cut off is in regard to any kind of tape-overlap. That familiarity can make for not only an easier sewing experience, but also a more accurate one. A non-sewing friend might allow too much slack and cause your clothes to be too big. To go Goldilocks, the sewing friend might measure just right.

Sharing sewing supplies

Sharing is caring.

Sharing is caring.

Sure, you shouldn’t be the person who constantly asks to borrow things—particularly if you don’t return them. But if you’re in a situation where you’re friends with someone you share an interest with and both of you trust the other enough to loan supplies, this can be a very real benefit for you and the person your friends with. If you don’t have the right shade of blue in thread, maybe your friend has it! If your friend doesn’t have a specific sewing needle for a task, perhaps you have one! It’s a great back-and-forth situation where you’re being afforded the opportunity to have a go-to for supplies you need who’s just a phone call away.

This dips into shopping as well since shopping with your friend could help each of you be aware of what the other has in their supply for these sharing moments. Of course, this wouldn’t be the only reason to go shopping for sewing supplies together, but it’s a definite plus! Either way though, in addition to sharing the supplies, you can share the experience of finding the right supplies with a good friend—and what shopping trip isn’t more fun with a friend?!

Socializing

Brainstorm ideas to come up with the best projects you can make.

Brainstorm ideas to come up with the best projects you can make.

Any time you have an interest, it can be nice to have someone to talk to about that aspect of your life. Otherwise, you might find that you have nowhere to turn to discuss interesting or pressing matters in regard to the field. It’s like being an avid reader who finishes a really great book, but then has no one to talk to about that book. You have all of these thoughts, opinions, and reactions, and where exactly are you supposed to send them?

Sewing can be so similar because you pour so much of yourself and your time into your projects. It helps to have someone there to talk to about your progress, your confusions, or your plans. The process can help you brainstorm ideas to come up with the best projects you can make, and it can give you a place to offer your complications in a way where you can ease your tension. You might even get some insight about what to do to fix those complications rather than bottling them up until they potentially run you down so much that you throw in your sewing thread. This social quality can then better your sewing experiences, and it can also increase your odds of continuing your sewing endeavors. That makes it a definite advantage of having a friend who sews!

Bottom line? Don’t think of sewing as an exclusively solo gig! Having that sewing friend can make for a brighter, easier sewing experience—from shopping for supplies to putting together your projects. You might have to sign up for a class to find that friend, but trust me! They could be worth their weight in sewing thread!

Five Sewing Tools that will take your Sewing to the Next Level

Five Sewing Tools that will take your Sewing to the Next Level

I love the feeling of getting sewing packages in the mail, don’t you? This particular box included a new tool that I’ve been excited to try. It is part of my top five sewing tools that will take your sewing to the next level, or at the very least, make your sewing more efficient and enjoyable.

I love the feeling of getting sewing packages in the mail, don’t you?

I love the feeling of getting sewing packages in the mail, don’t you?

1. A sewing mini iron

This is the Clover Mini-Iron. Isn’t it precious? I ordered it from SewingMachinesPlus.com and it is more than just an adorable accessory to your ironing board. A mini iron lets you iron hard-to-get-to seams or helps iron tiny seams on things like mini quilts.

It even comes with a little stand. Awwww.

It even comes with a little stand. Awwww.

It even comes with a little stand. Awwww.

While I know I’ll have many opportunities to use this, I specifically bought it for this current project. My girls and I are working on BFF (best friends forever) quilts and the squares alternate with minky fabric.

My girls & I are working on BFF quilts with alternating minky blocks.

My girls & I are working on BFF quilts with alternating minky blocks.

Using a regular iron to iron over the seams would be a challenge. Hot irons can melt or destroy minky fabric. (For more on how to sew with minky, check out my post here).

Here I folded the cotton fabric seam over the minky fabric and then placed a scrap of fabric over both. Then I ironed the seam down.

That’s what I’m talking about! This mini-iron is worth its weight in gold.

This mini-iron is worth its weight in gold.

This mini-iron is worth its weight in gold.

For fans of mini-quilts, or anyone who wants to iron their seams open, the mini-iron makes short work of it.

For fans of mini-quilts, or anyone who wants to iron their seams open, the mini-iron makes short work of it.

For fans of mini-quilts, or anyone who wants to iron their seams open, the mini-iron makes short work of it.

2. A rotating (rotary) cutting mat

Yep, you heard me correctly. This is a cutting board that rotates on its base. If you’ve ever had a pile of HSTs (half-square triangles) or any other type of project that involved a lot of trimming, you will never look back from making this purchase. SewingMachinesPlus.com sells several different sizes.

This is a cutting board that rotates on its base.

This is a cutting board that rotates on its base.

Here you can see I’ve cut one side of the fabric square. Prior to owning a rotary mat I would have had to move my body or the fabric and the ruler to make the subsequent cuts.

Here you can see I’ve cut one side of the fabric square.

Here you can see I’ve cut one side of the fabric square.

Not anymore. Look how it spins!! The base stays put while the cutting board goes for a walk.

The base stays put while the cutting board goes for a walk.

The base stays put while the cutting board goes for a walk.

Here is my square fully cut. It’s a thing of beauty, no?

Here is my square fully cut.

Here is my square fully cut.

3. Rulers and grids

This is my assortment of rulers and grids. There is nothing like having the right tools for the job. The two square grids were purchases for projects whose final size HSTs needed to be trimmed exactly to the size of the grid.

The large grid on the bottom is 24” long and my primary ruler for measuring and cutting out my fabric. The 2” ruler is my workhorse, everyday ruler.

Lastly, I had to include a classic measuring tape. I have about seven floating around the house and in my backpack and car. You never know when you might need to measure something!

The small, black and silver ruler below the measuring tape is a seam gauge. It helps you mark precise seams at a variety of lengths.

SewingMachinesPlus.com has a wide assortment of rulers and grids: http://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/searchresults.php?search_field=omnigrid

SewingMachinesPlus.com has a wide assortment of rulers & grids.

SewingMachinesPlus.com has a wide assortment of rulers & grids.

I also have this heavy, metal, 48” ruler that I use for canvas and large home interior projects, or when cutting very large lengths of fabric.

I also have this heavy, metal, 48” ruler.

I also have this heavy, metal, 48” ruler.

4. A walking foot

I mention my walking foot a lot in my posts here and that’s because I use it a lot. In fact as a rule, I have it installed as my go-to sewing foot and only switch out to other feet as needed. Your machine probably came with one and you tucked it away not knowing what the strange, Star Wars-like contraption was.

Get it out of the box and learn to use it! If you quilt or work with thicker fabric, your walking foot will be your best friend.

Get it out of the box & learn to use it!

Get it out of the box & learn to use it!

If your machine didn’t come with one, I guarantee the maker of your machine sells one as an accessory. Check out all the options available on SewingMachinesPlus.com here.

Image via The Seasoned Homemaker.

Image via The Seasoned Homemaker.

5. A bias tape maker

There will come a point in your sewing career when the pre-made bias tape available in stores and online just doesn’t meet your needs. When you get to that point, grab a bias tape maker, in fact, grab a few (they make different sizes of tape). With one of these humble tools you can make both single and double-fold bias tape and the sky is pretty much the limit as far as your creativity goes.

When you get to that point, grab a bias tape maker, in fact, grab a few (they make different sizes of tape).

When you get to that point, grab a bias tape maker, in fact, grab a few (they make different sizes of tape).

You can make coordinating, contrasting, or complimenting colors of bias tape to match your projects and the process is extremely quick. It won’t be as fast as using premade, but I promise it will be worth it.

Image via Made Everyday with Dana.

Image via Made Everyday with Dana.

Do you use any of these tools already in your sewing projects? What other tools would you add to a list like this? Let us know in comments!

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
The Traveling Tailor

The Traveling Tailor

Sewing machines and supplies aren’t exactly the most portable things. Sometimes, when I’m not working fulltime on a show, I’ll get a one or two day job that requires me to schlep a machine and supplies to a work space. These are my least favorite kind of jobs – for no other reason than I have to transport my machine and a small kit of sewing supplies somewhere.

I live in New York City. I haven’t owned a car in over ten years.

What’s the big deal, you may ask, just throw it all in your car and go. Well, that’s the thing: I live in New York City. I haven’t owned a car in over ten years. The last time I drove was about two years ago. And I’m not a huge fan of Uber or even good old-fashioned yellow cabs. Cars are just not the most efficient way to get around the city. So, I’m usually dragging a sewing machine up and down the subway stairs to get to where I need to go.

On the go

I know I’ve recommended these machines before, but Brother makes some incredibly good and lightweight machines. I have two SC9500s. They are so lightweight that I carry them in a tote bag on my shoulder. I then use a backpack to carry my supplies: scissors, threads, rulers, chalk, a small collection of notions.

Other Brother machines that are very light weight are the CS5055 and the ES2000.

I also bike a lot, which is always the most efficient way to get around the city, and have been known to strap a machine (in a box) to the rear rack on my bicycle.

When going to a job that is only one or two days, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to bring, especially if you’re trying to not lug your entire shop down the length of Manhattan and across the bridge to Brooklyn.

Here’s a list of what I usually bring to a short one-day job:

  • 1 pair of tailor’s points or small scissors
  • 1 pair of medium sized shears
  • 1 pair of pinking shears (because I’m certainly not bringing a serger along to finish seams.)
  • 1 gallon sized Ziploc of thread. Must have colors include black, grey, white, tan, a greeny-brown, nude, and a yellow-orange for topstitching on jeans.
  • 12” see through 2” wide ruler
  • 1 soft tape measure
  • Tailor’s chalk, red marking pencil, pencil, black disappearing ink pen
  • Seam ripper
  • Metal hem gauge ruler
  • Small container of straight pins
  • Extra bobbins for machine
  • Small collection of hand and machine needles (I always bring some leather needles and double needles, just in case.)
  • 1 gallon sized Ziploc of bias tape (black and white), elastics, twill tape, and hem tape.
  • Small containers of snaps and hook & eyes.
  • Muslin pressing cloth
  • Small collection of nude spandex and netting scraps and interfacings

Lighting is key

Sometimes it’s nice to bring along a small light of some kind. I often find myself sewing in inadequately lighted spaces. I tend not to bring a lamp because, well, the subway. I always make sure the light in the machine is working. And the flashlight on an iphone can be extremely helpful in especially dark circumstances.

Gear up

I’m not very high tech with my carrying cases but there are lots of really lovely ones out there if you’re not into backpacks and tote bags.

http://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/sewing-accessories-cases.php

The key is to keep everything super organized. And don’t worry about not having all the thread. Unless you’re topstitching, most things can be sewn with black, white, or tan. I know some tailors that only use those colors of thread. It really is ok if your thread doesn’t match exactly. And sometimes you just have to use what you have, especially if you are a traveling tailor.

Must Have Sewing Notions and Supplies

Must Have Sewing Notions and Supplies

Last week, I told you about my dream sewing room furniture. This week, I want to share with you my must have sewing supplies. And no, I don’t actually own all of them since I don’t yet have that dream sewing room. Call this my dream sewing supplies list, I guess.

Must Have Sewing Notions and Supplies

Dress Form

I adore making cute summer sundresses. Right now, I measure myself, cut along what I hope are the right lines in the pattern and hem it by hanging the dress on closet hanger. Not ideal, but so far at least, they’ve all come out fine. I’d love a dress form though so I could check the fit and make minor tweaks and modifications as I go. I’m kind of between dress form sizes right now, so I’d have to make a call on which size to get – or if money was really no object, just get both!

Amazing Sewing Scissors

Alright, so I do have a pair of fabric scissors. I couldn’t consider myself a sewer if I didn’t. But I don’t love them. The handles are hard plastic and someone (not naming any names) used them to cut paper at some point, which kind of screwed up the cutting surface. I’d really love a pair of fabric scissors with a softer handle, especially since breaking my right hand last year. Even better, the ones I linked to have a purple handle! That’s my favorite color. Definitely on my sewing supplies wish list.

How about you?

Long Ruler

I don’t necessarily need to cut long, straight lines making sundresses, but I do need to measure long stretches of fabric to line up pattern pieces. Right now, I use a soft measuring tape. I pin it down on one side and pull it taut to measure. It’s not ideal, but it gets the job done. A yard stick or long ruler would go a long way towards making measuring easier.

What’s on your sewing supplies wish list? Sewing Machines Plus probably has it! Check out the website and let yourself dream.

How to Store Your Fabric Stash

How to Store Your Fabric Stash

This is post one of a three part series on storing your fabric. Post two (how to store your works in progress) and post three (how to store your fabric scraps) are coming soon.

This is post one of a three part series on storing your fabric. Post two (how to store your works in progress) and post three (how to store your fabric scraps) are coming soon.

I keep my deep-storage and heirloom fabrics stored in a bin. Fabrics I'll use soon are simply folded neatly awaiting their use.

I keep my deep-storage and heirloom fabrics stored in a bin. Fabrics I’ll use soon are simply folded neatly awaiting their use.

How do you store your fabric stash? I have seen some of the most creative ways while perusing through Pinterest, everything from tucked in the drawers of a dresser, folded neatly on the top of a bunk bed, or deftly displayed in KITCHEN, yes kitchen, cabinets. Who needs to eat when you have beautiful fabric to sustain your soul anyway?

No matter which way you decide to organize your fabric, you will need to keep several things in mind.

My works in progress are kept in a tall bin and labeled so I know where to easily find them.

My works in progress are kept in a tall bin and labeled so I know where to easily find them.

Store Covered

  1. If you decide to store your fabric in bins, consider using plastic instead of paper, or file boxes, or baskets. Keeping your fabric covered will better protect it but consider using a plastic container with tiny holes (or creating tiny holes) to allow the fabric to breathe and to prevent synthetics from yellowing.
  2. Tape a cedar block inside the container to help prevent moths and other insects from taking up residence.
  3. Store away from sunlight to prevent fabric from fading.

    My lovely stash. I do take the time to dust off the fabric about twice a month.

    My lovely stash. I do take the time to dust off the fabric about twice a month.

Display It

  1. I love the quick access that openly displayed fabric offers. However make sure to keep fabric away from direct sunlight.
  2. Dust! Your fabric will accumulate dust if displayed or left in the open. Keep it tidy with a frequent dusting or airing out.
  3. Keep it clean – little children love to touch and play with fabric and even some adults can’t help but reach up and touch gorgeous fabric. Be aware of where you display your fabric and how frequently it may be handled by people whose fingers could leave it soiled.
Fabric on display via MuyMolon.com.

Fabric on display via MuyMolon.com.

Additional Methods

  1. Color coded – perhaps the most method of organizing is a stash is by color. This is how I do it!
  2. By Designer or Project – some people also keep their stashes stored by Designer or even projects in progress.
  3. By Size – big, medium, little, tiny. Sometimes storing or displaying by size is also helpful.

    Fabric organized and wrapped around Polar Notion's organizers.

    Fabric organized and wrapped around Polar Notion’s organizers.

Standout Idea: Acid-Free Fabric Organizers

I just discovered these puppies and as soon as we move to our new home and I start working on my sewing room, I plan on ordering some to start wrapping and displaying my stash. Unlike fabric-store pieces of cardboard, these organizers are sturdy and acid-free. Storing fabric wrapped around cardboard will eventually discolor your fabric since cardboard is not acid-free.

The sad result of what happens when you use regular cardboard to organize your fabric.

The sad result of what happens when you use regular cardboard to organize your fabric.

I’ve found two brands that offer this acid-free option. Polar Notion’s boards are made from plastic and The Fabric Organizer’s boards are made from an acid-free corrugated cardboard. Both look fantastic.

Think about which product would suit your needs and your stash better.

Think about which product would suit your needs and your stash better.

The larger Polar Notion holds up to 15 yards of wrapped fabric and the smaller one is perfect for fat quarters and smaller pieces of fabric.  The Fabric Organizer’s large size holds up to 10 yards. It is also cheaper than Polar Notions. Think about which product would suit your needs and your stash better.

Do you have a favorite method of storing your fabric? Let us know how you do it in the comments below.

Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in San Diego, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.