Sewing Through a Crisis

Sewing Through a Crisis

Like me, I’m sure many of you find sewing to be a relaxing, calming activity. Something about the personal space it affords along with focusing on the details of your project instead of whatever else may be going on is a great relief. When life gets to be too much, I often retreat to my sewing space. It makes sense, then, that when a personal or professional crisis occurs, I’d sew my way through it.

Freelance work

Being a freelancer is a walk on the line between comfort and professional crisis. Not all clients communicate well and sometimes they make changes which impact my income. In some cases, they give me no warning and leave me in panic mode trying to replace the money I made writing for them. As you can imagine, this is stressful. It feels like a crisis.

Crisis mode!

Crisis mode!

Yes, I work hard to replace the income. I spend time seeking new clients, asking existing ones for referrals and going to networking events. But in between these efforts, to keep my sanity in check and my professional demeanor in place, I sew.

I sew anything. It doesn’t have to be a project I’m excited about. In fact, in these moments, it’s often better if it’s something I’m not planning to wear for a special event. That way, I won’t feel any internal pressure to make it come out perfectly.

Scrappy solutions

I sew fabric scraps in my stash pile together to make funky shapes and patterns. Sometimes they get made into a pillow or another decorative piece. Sometimes they don’t. The point isn’t to create a masterpiece. The point is to calm my mind and emotions. It’s to keep me focused and reasonably calm, despite the professional crisis of losing a client and the need to quickly replace the income.

An hour of sewing at lunch gives me the inner peace I need to spend the rest of the day working hard looking for new clients without the grip of anxiety grabbing me at every step.

When you’re facing a crisis, personal or professional, try sewing your way through it. You might just find you’re better able to cope and be the person you, and your loved ones, need you to be.

Janome DC5100 Sewing Machine Review

Janome DC5100 Sewing Machine Review

The Janome DC5100 is Super Sweet

The Janome DC5100 is super sweet!

The Janome DC5100 is super sweet!

When I decided to upgrade my basic machine several years ago, I took a lot of time investigating all the different options. At first I felt overwhelmed by the huge selection of makes and models available.

But then I discovered the Janome DC5100 with its impressive features. This was the clear choice as the right sewing machine for me.

I love this machine; it’s the sweetest sewing machine I have ever used. I have been sewing on mine for several years now and I have only grown fonder of this dear friend.

What’s so great about it?

Like all Janome machines, the DC5100 is well designed with user friendly features. Like other Janomes, it has a horizontally loaded bobbin with see-through cover, built-in needle threader, snap-on presser feet, one-step buttonholer attachment and more.

But the DC5100 is even more special than all the other lovely Janome sewing machines I have used, for quite a few reasons:

Variable Speed Controls and Quiet DC Motor

I love it because it is fast. It will sew 820 stitches per minute. But it also has a helpful speed adjustment switch which I can use to set the machine to sew more slowly. This helps me in sewing curves or other delicate tasks, since I have a tendency to have a lead foot on the sewing pedal. I can slide this easy control all the way to the left and force myself and the machine to go very slowly, toggle towards the middle for a moderate speed, or I can do what I usually do and slide it all the way to the right and run through projects with super fast speed. The Janome DC5100 sews well at all these different speeds because it has a powerful DC motor.

It sews quietly, too. The Janome DC5100 is the quietest machine I have ever used. Because I have little kids who keep me busy during the day, I often stay up quite late at night to do my sewing, and my husband used to complain about the noise. Now that I have this machine, when I come to bed, he asks “What have you been doing?” That’s because the Janome DC5100 is so quiet that no one outside of my sewing room can even hear it.

A Wide Variety of Stitches and Programmable Memory

Janome DC5100 has 167 different built-in stitches and 215 stitch functions.

Janome DC5100 has 167 different built-in stitches and 215 stitch functions.

What has made this my all time favorite sewing machine, besides its smoothness and speed, is its wide variety of functional and decorative stitches. This machine has 167 different built-in stitches and 215 stitch functions. It includes many quilting, blanket, heirloom, embroidery, home deco, and garment sewing stitches, as well as both upper and lower case alphabets, numerals, and punctuation. It can even cross-stitch.  And it can make five different types of easy one-step buttonholes.

The Janome DC5100 also has a programmable memory which holds up to fifty different patterns. I use this both for programming stitch patterns combining multiple decorative stitches, and also for remembering my favorite zig-zag stitch length and widths. The programmable needle up/down function allows you set the machine to stop sewing with the needle in either position.

Includes a Huge Selection of Feet

It also came with a great selection of feet. Besides the impressive variety of stitches, this detail was the selling point for me. No other machine I looked at included so many feet. The Janome DC5100 comes factory packaged with ten different feet. These include a ¼ inch seam foot, straight stitch foot, a zigzag foot, a satin stitch foot, a zipper foot, the one-step automatic buttonholer foot, overedge foot, adjustable blind hem foot, darning foot, and even a walking foot.

That darning foot is darn helpful, too. I use it with the feed dogs dropped for both free motion quilting and embroidery. The foot package also includes a handy quilting bar. And if you buy this machine from Sewing Machines Plus, they even include three additional feet in their bonus package: a ditch quilting foot, a concealed zipper foot, and my favorite, a see-through appliqué foot.

And More

Other user-friendly features include a built-in needle threader, thread cutter, jam-proof magnetic drop-in horizontal loading bobbin, super fast automatic declutch bobbin winding, auto-lock button for securing seams, easy reverse button, superior feed system, seven piece feed dogs, easy drop feed switch for free motion sewing, stitch length up to 5mm and width up to 7mm, backlit LCD screen and touchpad, hardcover, automatic presser foot tension which you never need adjust, roomy accessory storage compartment, and more.

The push button controls are easy to use and intuitive; the display even shows what foot to use after you select your stitch. This machine also comes with an excellent manual that covers everything in depth. Another special feature that I especially appreciate is the extra high presser foot lift.

Excellent Value

After sewing on mine for several years, I have zero complaints and nothing but raves.

I heartily recommend the Janome DC5100 as an amazing value. It’s a sweet, reliable, powerful machine that can increase your creativity with its wide variety of stitch functions and accessories. And the price is pretty sweet, too. After sewing on mine for several years, I have zero complaints and nothing but raves; I fell in love with it the first time I used it and I can’t imagine loving any machine more.

You will love it, too. Now is a great time to upgrade from a basic machine to expand your capabilities with a computerized Janome DC5100. You will be amazed by the difference this machine will make for your stitching and your creativity. Act now to take advantage of Sewing Machines Plus’ great price on this Janome and get the free bonus package with three additional feet and two kinds of needles while this hot deal is still available.

Five Household Items to Help with Sewing

Five Household Items to Help with Sewing

While it is true you often need to acquire specific tools to take your sewing to the next level, there are also items you will find around your house that easily make sewing and quilting a breeze. Each of the following items were truly an “ah-ha!” moment when I discovered them. I hope they help you too.

Shelf Lining

I used to have the infuriating problem of my machine slipping as I tried to quilt. Short of cutting a hole in my desktop to fit the machine level with the table, I wasn’t sure what to do to remedy the problem, until I saw shelf lining used under a sewing machine. Genius!!! Now I put a piece underneath where I work and my machine stays put every time.

Now I put a piece underneath where I work and my machine stays put every time.

Now I put a piece underneath where I work and my machine stays put every time.

Hairspray

I’m far-sighted, which means threading a needle can be difficult. It gets worse the longer I’ve been sewing, if I’m really tired, or the lighting is poor. Hairspray fixes that. Spray a little bit onto the end of the thread and it will glide through the smallest needle hole like magic.

Spray a little hairspray onto the end of the thread and it will glide through the smallest needle hole like magic.

Spray a little hairspray onto the end of the thread and it will glide through the smallest needle hole like magic.

A Laser Marker

This little tool is currently all the rage in quilting circles. I bought mine at Harbor Freight. It has multiple ways it can attach to your machine, including magnets, sticky back, and screws.

The laser marker is currently all the rage in quilting circles.

The laser marker is currently all the rage in quilting circles.

Just look how far it extends the straight line you need to sew. Plus it makes you feel like a high-tech ninja when you use it.

Just look how far it extends the straight line you need to sew.

Just look how far it extends the straight line you need to sew.

Don’t want to get a laser to extend that line? You can also use washi tape or painter’s tape to do the same.

You can also use washi tape or painter’s tape to do the same.

You can also use washi tape or painter’s tape to do the same.

Elmer’s Glue (the washable kind)

It’s time to raid your stash of school supplies and bring the Elmer’s Glue over to the big kids’ table. Like the Laser Marker, quilters are currently gaga for glue. The genius of washable Elmer’s is that you can apply a tiny amount, heat set it with an iron, and it holds beautifully. You can sew through the heat set glue without a problem and when your project is complete, it washes out without leaving any marks or stains. If you ever wonder how people achieve perfect corners, they are probably using Elmer’s Washable Glue.

If you ever wonder how people achieve perfect corners, they are probably using Elmer’s Washable Glue.

If you ever wonder how people achieve perfect corners, they are probably using Elmer’s Washable Glue.

A Square

My whole life I’ve called the carpenter’s tool called a Square, an L, because that is what it looks like. These giant L-shaped tools make squaring your quilts or larger projects very easy. Pictured is a smaller, triangle version, which I use for corners that need to be evenly squared.

A smaller, triangle version, which I use for corners that need to be evenly squared.

A smaller, triangle version, which I use for corners that need to be evenly squared.

What other common household items do you use as part of your sewing and quilting took kit? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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

A Christmas Carol

LET ME SEW!! LET ME SEW! LET ME SEW!!

LET ME SEW!! LET ME SEW! LET ME SEW!!

The Holiday Season is here. Traffic is fearful! The malls are busy. The wine I just drank is making me dizzy. I’m stressing about the time, it is getting too near. What on earth can I give to my “people” this year?

The house is a mess with all the sewing I’ve done, scraps and pins on the floor, dozens of threads on the chairs. It is too overwhelming, sometimes I want to run!

The tree is not up, the cookies not done. I’m afraid this Christmas will not be any FUN!

The “walking” foot broke, and I cried, “OH GREAT”! Now, I have to be careful to sew these dang top-stitches super, super straight. It HAD to break now, it was truly my fate!

A little more Vin Brulee, and I start reviewing my stash. I got to find some things I can take to this family Christmas bash!

Gina wants napkins, roosters and hens, I have to make 4 more, and I’ll be finished with them.

Gina wants napkins, Roosters and hens, I have to make 4 more, And I’ll be finished with them.

UNPAPER TOWELS SEEM TO BE A BIG HIT!

These Cotton Organic Tiny Towels would be a great fit, for the all the girls in the family, for make up and noses, especially for Robyn, when her man proposes!

These Cotton Organic Tiny Towels would be a great fit, for the all the girls in the family, for make up and noses, especially for Robyn, when her man proposes!

Now, I hear a baby crying. I think its next door. This young girl had twins, I hope there won’t be more.

Great! I found some wipes for the GUYS. Soft Organic cotton jersey as well, so very well made, for noses, and devices, I’ll give them a pair, to carry in their pocket for even their sunwear!

Great! I found some wipes for the GUYS. Soft Organic cotton jersey as well, so very well made, for noses, and devices, I’ll give them a pair, to carry in their pocket for even their sunwear!

I am sure by now, she is needing a break. So what do I have here that she would gladly take? Not just a blanket, or a quilt that she would put away. Something useful, and helpful and durable too.

Cute little gingerbread wipes for  tiny, tiny fingers, and nice thirsty burp cloths to pat out the bubbles, if the milk still lingers!

I still have more presents to make, so, let me bid you adieu.

My very best wishes and the Merriest of Holidays from my house to you!

How to Quilt a Quilt

How to Quilt a Quilt

In English, the word quilt is both a noun and a verb. You can make a quilt, and you can quilt one. When I was first learning about quilting, several times I tried the search phrase ‘how to quilt a quilt’ but I rarely got the information I was looking for. I’m hoping this post will find its way to others who were looking for the information I couldn’t find as a new quilter.

It took me awhile to discover all the methods of quilting and I’m still learning more to this day. If there is another technique you are aware of that isn’t in this article, please share in the comments!

Quilting by hand

The two methods of finishing a quilt sandwich (the term for the classic three layers of a quilt: top, batting, bottom) by hand are hand tying and hand stitching. Quilts have been around since the dawn of time but for a large portion of our recorded history they were highly functional, as opposed to decorative, or a form of art or hobby. Hand tying and hand stitching were quick and effective ways of completing a quilt sandwich.

Hand tying

 

Images via Quilting in the Rain, WikiHow, Selvage Blog, Craftsy.

Images via Quilting in the Rain, WikiHow, Selvage Blog, Craftsy.

Hand tying or tufting a quilt is a method of spacing out knots every 4” to 8”across a quilt’s surface. While a square knot is the most common method of tying, quilters can get as creative as they like, using a Sheath stitch, for example, or other forms of embroidery knots.

Hand stitching

 

Images via Jennifer Causey, Shiny Happy World, Tied With a Ribbon, and The Sewing Directory.

Images via Jennifer Causey, Shiny Happy World, Tied With a Ribbon, and The Sewing Directory.

Even after sewing machines began to be used for creating quilts, hand stitching remained the preferred method for finishing a quilt for a long time. Today even modern quilters love this method and value the hand crafted look it gives finished quilts.

Machine quilting

 

Machine quilting with a walking foot. Image via charlottekaufman.com.

Machine quilting with a walking foot. Image via charlottekaufman.com.

Machine quilting generally comes in three forms, quilting done with a walking foot, free motion quilting (FMQ), and long arm quilting (a variation of FMQ).

Walking foot

 

Images via charlottekaufman.com.

Images via charlottekaufman.com.

While a regular foot can be used to finish a quilt, walking feet are preferred because of their method of allowing all three layers of the quilt sandwich to travel evenly under the needle at the same time. The only limitation to quilting with a walking foot is that the needle always moves forward so you must move the quilt on your own and unless you have a machine with a long neck, and this can be cumbersome. I’ve been eyeing this Janome at Sewing Machines Plus because of how much neck room it gives. Oh to quilt with such a lovely machine!

Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

 

Images via Charlotte Kaufman of SewSewSewYourBoat.com.

Images via Charlotte Kaufman of SewSewSewYourBoat.com.

Free motion quilting (FMQ) is a ton of fun. In this style of quilting you can move the fabric in any direction you’d like as you sew. This allows for beautiful curves and detailed designs that a walking foot just can’t give you. A special foot is connected to the presser foot and you must lower the feed dogs of your machine in order for FMQ to work. Here are some examples of my own FMQ. You would be very hard pressed to do this kind of work with a walking foot.

Long Arm Quilting

 

Images via Free Range Quilter and Schnigschnag Quilts and More.

Images via Free Range Quilter and Schnigschnag Quilts and More.

Long arm quilting is when a sewing machine can do FMQ on a large scale. In long arm quilting quilts are put on a frame and the quilter than moves the neck of the machine over sections of fabric at a time to create gorgeous and intricate designs. These machines can be prohibitively expensive for some but many long arm quilters find that by offering their services to other quilters they quickly pay off the cost of the machine. Sewing Machines Plus offers monthly payment plans and financing if you are thinking of getting one of these gorgeous machines. I’ve looked longingly at this King Quilter and this Juki Long Arm.

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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.
Doggie Leggings Pillowcase

Doggie Leggings Pillowcase

Awesome doggie leggings!

Awesome doggie leggings!

“Mom, my doggie leggings don’t fit anymore!! I love them, Mom, don’t throw them away!” To save these precious doggies for eternity, my daughter’s distress signal turned into the Doggie Leggings Pillowcase.

Leggings are a very popular fashion trend today. I’ve seen hundreds of unique, bright designs on websites, in stores, and worn by passers-by. I’ve admired many of the designs and agreed with my daughter that creating something with them would preserve their awesomeness 🙂

Fair warning, everything except the zipper was measured, cut, and sewn by my 7 yr old daughter. The pieces aren’t straight, the stitching is all off, the corners look funny. But that’s ok, it’s awesome the way it is because she made it. It turned out to be a great learning project for her. She’s super proud of it, and so am I.

Level: Beginner

Time to Complete: In An Evening

Sewn By Machine: 1/4 in. straight stitch

**Tip: Wash all new materials prior to use to avoid shrinkage when you wash it.

**ProTip: Iron cut pieces before sewing and in between each step. This helps in the sewing process as well as setting the stitches to lessen unraveling with age. Often, the end results tend to look more professional.

**All measurements based on a craft pillow I already had. Measurements should be adjusted to fit the size of the pillow you are working with. I typically add an extra 1/2″ to measurements when I do a zippered pillowcase to allow for the extra bulk of the pillow.

Materials:

1 – 13″ L x 13″ W  Leggings (side 2)

1 – 5″ L x 8″ W Leggings (side 1)

2 – 4″ L x 13″ W Pink/Purple Material (side 1)

2 – 6″ L x 3″ W Pink/Purple Material (side 1)

1 Zipper, Cut to Fit After Pillowcase is Finished – measuring for zipper after pillowcase is assembled helps ensure the zipper isn’t too short

1 Zipper Foot – to use when sewing on zipper

  1. Sew top strip to top of side 2 Leggings, right sides together. Repeat for bottom strip.

    Step 1

    Step 1

  2. Sew right side strip to right side 2 Leggings, right sides together.
  3. Sew top of side strip to bottom of top strip. Make sure corner with Legging is sewed shut.

    Attaching sides.

    Attaching sides.

  4. Sew bottom of side strip to top of bottom strip. Make sure corner with Legging is sewed shut.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for left side strip.

    Zipper foot.

    Zipper foot.

  6. Sew side 1 and side 2 right sides together on three sides only. Leave one side open for zipper.
  7. Trim corners. Turn right side out.
  8. Place open side of zipper on one open end of pillowcase and extend zipper to other end. Cut zipper about 3/8″ – 1/2″ past end of pillowcase. In this case, my zipper measured 12″. I usually buy longer zippers and keep several on hand so I can cut to fit for any project.
    Finished zipper.

    Finished zipper.

    Attaching the zipper.

    Attaching the zipper.

  9. Sew across zipper end several times to make sure the bottom of the zipper never unzips all the way.
  10. Switch to zipper foot on sewing machine.
  11. Unzip zipper.
  12. Place under side of zipper to right side of pillowcase, teeth side outside. Non-tooth side should be end to end with right side of pillowcase. Zipper will be upside down. Pin and sew.

    Naptime!

    Naptime!

  13. Do the same for the other side of the zipper. The placement will be the same, with the underside of zipper to right side of pillowcase, non-tooth side matching end of pillowcase.
  14. Stuff pillow inside the pillowcase, zip up, pop on the bed and take a nap!
Hi all! I’m Stacey Martinez 🙂
I love to design imaginative custom items for my active, crazy family. Bright colors and beautiful fabrics sing “Stacey, Stitch Me!” Let your imagination inspires you to breathe personality into every stitch!

Please leave comments, questions, helpful tips, or pictures of your pillowcase creations. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

What I Do At Work All Day (Part 2)

What I Do At Work All Day (Part 1)

Just a view of my shop.

Just a view of my shop.

I’m currently the Key Tailor on a New York City based major network crime-procedural drama television show (Blindspot on NBC). I work mainly out of one of the Brooklyn studios with occasional on-set last minute fittings. Most of the work I do each day is for things that need to be ready for the actors to wear the next day on camera. What this means is that, over the years, I’ve become pretty fast at doing a variety of alterations (as well as patterning and constructing from thin air). In my industry, there are certainly a lot of excellent tailors but there aren’t all that many excellent and fast tailors. Here are a few of the tricks I’ve discovered along tQuhe way that help speed up some common alterations.

Shortening the Sleeves of a Men’s Suit Jacket (without fancy functioning buttonholes)

Topstitching on sleeve lining.

Topstitching on sleeve lining.

First, just go ahead and remove all the buttons. They’ll just be in your way. Turn the sleeve inside out and find the topstitching along the sleeve-lining seam. This is how the sleeve was originally put together. Open up that seam and turn your sleeve inside out. Take apart the mitered and straight corners but do not undo the lining from the rest of the hem. (Go ahead and release any stitching holding the actual hem up though.) Undo any fake buttonhole stitching that you need to. These should be on a chain stitch and easy to undo.

Press miter corner with point turner inside out.

Press miter corner with point turner inside out.

Measure up or down the distance you want to shorten or lengthen at your corners and redraw your miter line if you need it.

Re-stitch all corners at new hem marks. I flip everything back right side out at this time and press my corners and the new hemline. Use a handy point turner

Don’t undo original stitching at hem.

Don’t undo original stitching at hem.

and please don’t trim anything away from the mitered corner. If you press inside out first with the point turner inserted the fabric will go where it needs to. No need for trimming. One of the most annoying things is to go and alter a jacket sleeve only to find that someone has trimmed the miter corner, meaning I can’t lengthen the sleeve properly.

(Still don’t unattach the lining)

Redraw miter line.

Redraw miter line.

After pressing, turn inside out again. Then simply measure up or down (I use an old fashioned metal seam gauge) from the current stitching line the desired amount and sew along that line. If you are shortening, there is no need to undo the original stitching line. If you are lengthening, you will need to. Machine tack the seam allowances together at the seam to keep the hem up.

Sew new stitching line shortening hem.

Sew new stitching line shortening hem.

Turn everything back right side out and topstitch the seam of the sleeve lining closed, put your buttons back on and you’re done!

There are of course a few situations that will make this alteration a bit more challenging – such as functioning buttonholes or having to add fabric to the hem seam allowance because of lengthening. If I’m having a good day and nothing strange is going on inside the sleeve, I can usually do this alteration in 30 minutes.

Center Back or Side Back Alterations on a Suit Jacket

The time saving trick on this one is pretty simple. Open up the under vent seam and turn everything inside out through there. When done, just topstitch the vent closed again, no opening up the lining and sewing it back by hand.

Men’s Vest Alterations – Center Back or Side Seams

I’m a huge fan of bagging things out. Men’s vests are one of my favorite things because you can bag everything out through a mere 2 inches on one of the side seam linings. First, find the opening where the vest was bagged out originally, probably a small hand stitched couple inches on one of the inside side seams. If its not there (if the vest was bagged through the neck, make your own. Then pull the entire vest inside out through those two inches. It will fit.

Vest side seams are most usually put together with one stitching line through all 4 layers (fronts and backs with linings). On the side without the opening just stitch a new line taking in (or out, though most commercial vests don’t have a lot of seam allowance to let out) the desired amount. If the amount is significant, you may need to re-stitch the arms eye curve so that everything lines up properly under the arm.

If you need to take in the center back seams, undo at the neck and bottom hem, alter as desired, the re-sew what you released.

On the side with the opening, stitch in two sections, above and below the opening. In the 2 inch gap, sew through all layers except the back inside lining.

Pull everything back through your opening, press and voila!

I just topstitch my opening from the right side of the vest, hiding the stitches in the seam line.

Check out Part 2 here!

My next post will tell you about the one of the sneakier men’s suit alteration tricks – the old dart and drop! So keep a look out for the follow up and as always – keep sewing!

How to Exercise Self-Control in the Fabric Shop

How to Exercise Self-Control in the Fabric Shop

How to Exercise Self-Control in the Fabric ShopWith so many beautiful colors and textures, it can be really hard to resist buying up ALL the fabric in the store. Things like budget, project specifics, and potential use fly away in the midst of gorgeous bolts. If you’re like most people, though, buying every bolt of fabric isn’t actually feasible. Following these tips will help you stay in control of your bolt buying and your bank account.

Bring Your Pattern

Bring your pattern with you, even if you know how much fabric you need. Having it physically in your hands – in the way of grabbing endless bolts – helps you remember why you’re in the fabric shop and actually prevents you from grabbing every bolt you see. It’s a way to ground yourself in the heaven of the fabric store.

Don’t Drop In

It may be tempting when out running other errands to simply drop in to the fabric shop for a break. Don’t do this. Without a specific project in mind, it’s far too easy to buy reams and reams of fabric that will only wind up in your stash supply and may falter there for years without being used. Instead, schedule your fabric shop trips to coincide with specific projects.

Make Fabric Shopping an Event

Instead of making fabric shopping a stop on the tour de errands, make it a special event. Allow yourself lots of time to luxuriate in the bolts of fabric before you have to make a purchase. The more time you spend, the fewer “must have” fabrics will leap off the shelves and tables at you. When you’ve narrowed the selection down, it’ll be much easier to choose just the right one for your project without bringing home a bunch of other options too.

Bring Your Budget

Although it’s not possible to bring your bank or an ATM, you can bring other physical reminders of your budget. Even a piece of paper with a number on it would be sufficient. The goal is the same as with bringing your pattern – having something to hold on to helps you remember you can’t buy every bolt in the store and also keeps your hands busy so they can’t grab every bit of fabric in sight.

What else do you do to control yourself in the fabric shop?

I Didn’t Think It Would Look Like This

I Didn’t Think It Would Look Like This

Oops!We’ve all been there. You spend hours, days even, working on a sewing project. In your mind, you’ve got this image in your head of the gorgeous completed project, but when it’s finally done it doesn’t look anything like you thought it would. You thought it would be a simple one, so you didn’t bother with a muslin mock up, but it’s not at all what you expected or wanted. So now what?

Grumble

If you’re like me, you spend a fair amount of time grumbling and cursing about the “messed up” project or worrying about what you’re going to wear to the event instead. This is helpful short-term. It lets off the stress and and can be cathartic, but it doesn’t really solve anything.

Alter

Once you’ve finished grumbling and worrying, try the piece on again. Take a careful look at the seams. Can you alter them to change the fit so it’ll more closely match your vision? Maybe adding some darts or a tuck at the waist would help?

Accessorize

Often the picture on the front of the pattern package shows people wearing shoes or jewelry. Can you add your own accessories or shoes to make the item more closely match your imagined outcome? Maybe a shawl or scarf would help?

Change it Up

Sometimes, when choosing a fabric, you might choose one that turns out not to flow the expected when it’s all sewn up. In these cases, rather than remaking the entire project, add sections of another fabric in areas that will help the flow. It’s nerve wracking to cut apart a completed project, but since you’re not going to wear it the way it is anyway you don’t have much to lose.

Embellish It

Try adding a little pizazz to change the look of your sewing project. Patches, lace work, embroidery, beading, or other fancy details can completely alter the look of your project and provide it with a touch of class or color that may help it more closely match the vision in your head.

Combine It

Depending on how different your vision is from the completed project, combining two or more of these techniques may be necessary. In most cases, though, it’s possible to save the project and make it work for you – sometimes in ways you didn’t expect.

What other techniques have you tried to make your project work?

Teaching Kids to Sew

Teaching Kids to Sew

How Young is Too Young

Does your daughter (or son) hang around while you’re sewing? Do they seem really interested? Maybe they even beg you to show them or let them help? If you’re like most parents, this makes you happy that they’re interested, but unsure when is the right time to get them involved in your hobby.

Like many things in the course of childhood, the decision of when to teach your child to sew isn’t as much about chronological age as it as about maturity level. Before you teach your child to sew, they need to exhibit patience and ability to sit still and pay attention for an hour or so at a stretch. Manual dexterity helps, but isn’t absolutely necessary since you’ll be there to help with items like pinning and cutting.

Step 1: KISS

Even if your child doesn’t love momma kisses and hugs, keeping their first sewing project simple and fun will help keep their interest. Bean bags, doll pillows, and similar items are a great way to engage your child’s interest and help them learn basic sewing skills. They’re small enough to be completed quickly and not overwhelm your child with several steps.

Bean bags can be cut freehand without the benefit of a pattern. Depending your comfort level and your child’s interest and abilities, you can guide them through the setup and use of the sewing machine. At the end, you can both have a great time stuffing the bean bags and playing a game of bean bag tag.

Step 2: A Tougher ProjectHelp your child learn to read the pattern and understand how to lay out the pattern pieces.

 

Assuming the first project went well and they’re still interested, you can help your child pick a simple pattern to work on. Projects like simple doll clothes for American Girl sized dolls or a basic stuff animal can be great options. Give them some guidelines and set them free to pick out fabric.

 

Help your child learn to read the pattern and understand how to lay out the pattern pieces. If they’re up to it, explain about the different ways to fold the fabric based on how the pattern needs to be laid out. If you think they’ve got the dexterity, it might be appropriate to let them help you pin and/or cut the pieces. As with the simple first project, let them help you with the sewing machine if it seems appropriate to do so.

Things to Remember When Teaching Your Child to Sew

  • Every sewing project is unique – so is your child
    • Go at their pace
    • Keep their physical needs/abilities in mind
  • Start small
    • Keep it simple with an easy, fun project
    • Judge their interest and only move on to a tougher project if they want
  • Be patient
    • Just as many parents can’t teach their kids to drive, teaching your kid to sew may not work out
    • If teaching your child to sew is too stressful for both of you, check around for classes. Often places like the local YMCA will offer sewing classes for kids.