Wednesday, 13 March 2019

New Sewing Room - Part 2

When you live on an island, things always take a little longer as supplies have to come over by ferry, but bit by bit, things are moving along.
On Friday, our contractor appeared with 2 helpers.  The double garage door was removed and the framing went up in 2 1/2 hours.
As there will be 2 windows, one was framed in and the other cut on the blank garage wall and then sheeted in until the windows were available.  The exterior door and the door into the sewing room were hung and it was a joy to watch a skilled workman install doors the way they're meant to be done!
Then today it was window installation and the electrics.  Having 2 windows in the room gives it an amazing amount of light.  Already it's looking less like a garage and more like part of the house!
Then electrics.  There will be 2 LED light fixtures on the ceiling to make the room bright.  The north wall will have a large baseboard heater and there will be 5 outlets, all but one at mid-wall height which is perfect for a sewing room!  The one wall which won't have any outlets will be nearly all fabric shelving units.  For now they will be a mis-matched bunch but eventually I'll replace them with uniform units.  One thing at a time!

Next step - boarding, and the helpers will be back on the scene for that.  And then flooring and painting!  I'm finding it hard getting a good night's sleep as my brain is whirling with plans and plans and plans!

Friday, 8 March 2019

New Sewing Room - Part 1

My excitement is running pretty high because today it looks like we're getting started on my dedicated sewing room!

I've been working in a guest bedroom which is a real pain when we have family staying.  It means packing up what I can, moving my computer station out and throwing a mattress on the floor, and of course I can't sew while they're here.  Not the best by any stretch of the imagination!
And I'm really outgrowing this 11x11 room. 
There isn't enough room for fabric storage and I have to do my cutting elsewhere.

Then hubby suggested we make a workroom for me in our double garage.  I would get a 12x14 space and he would have the rest for his woodworking.  What a perfect solution!  Grabbing some graph paper I sketched out my plans and taped in scale models of the room contents to make sure everything would fit in and the room would be a workable space.
The room would have a couple of windows and there would be plenty of room for my sewing counter (made by hubby to my specifications), fabric shelves and cutting table.

Hubby could certainly build this - he's an excellent woodworker and has made lots of furniture and now makes beautiful wooden turned pens and pencils.  We decided, however, to have a professional do it.  This way it would get done quickly!   And it gets started today! 
The garage has been cleared for work and some of the supplies are already there!  Stay tuned for Part 2!

Monday, 28 January 2019

Resolution for a New Year

Pattern - Love Notions Resolution Bottoms
Skill Level - Confident Beginner
Fabric - Jegging from l'oiseau fabrics
Skills - Serging elastic

If you haven't yet made your New Year's resolution - well how about making this:  resolve to make more things for YOU!  And how about starting by making up one of the Love Notions Resolution Bottoms?
Joggers, leggings and yoga pants with options for a moto look on the leggings and straight leg or boot cut for the yoga pants.  There's even a choice of yoga or contour waistband!  And pockets! There's something here for everyone.  And talk about comfort!

I chose to make the straight leg yoga pants with a contour waistband.  They are pretty quick and simple to make up with the usual Love Notions tutorial that's easy to follow.  Tami makes her patterns so that if you just have a sewing machine, you can make any of her patterns.  If you happen to have a serger, though, I'll share a tip with you that makes putting in the elastic for the contour waistband a snap.

The pattern calls for 3/8" elastic but I could only find 1/4".  The width of your elastic doesn't really matter, though, as the tip works for all widths.
First, stitch the waistband ends and then serge them together at the top.  I butted the ends of elastic together and zig zagged across the join with my sewing machine.  Doing it without an overlap means that you have the least bulk possible and it's more comfortable.  The first thing to do is to quarter your elastic and quarter the top of the waistband.  Now pin the quarters together on the wrong side of the waistband and you're ready to take it to the serger.
Turn off the knife and put the waistband and elastic under the presser foot with the elastic on the top. Gently stretch the elastic so it's the same length as the quarter section of waistband and serge.
That's it!
Now turn the waistband right side out.  Quarter the waistband where it will join the pants and quarter the pants.  Don't assume that the seams are the quarter points of the pants - they aren't!  The back of the pants is a little wider for your caboose.
Pin the contoured waistband to the pants, matching the quarters, and serge them together.  Hey - you're done!  Now you just have to hem and you've got yourself a great pair of bottoms!
And if you don't already have the pattern, you can get it through my affiliate link.

Love Notions Resolution Bottoms

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Reusable Produce Bags

Continuing on my quest to tread more lightly on the earth, today I started making reusable produce bags to take shopping.  These can be made of any fabric, but you want something really light in weight.  It would be great if you can see through it, but the bags can always go through the checkout open so the cashier can see the contents.

At first I thought of net curtains from the local thrift store but all they had was an embroidered tablecloth for $5!  Instead, I bought batiste curtain fabric at Fabricland for $5/metre - and really wide in the bargain - so I bought 2 metres.

Next - do I serge the seams or do French seams?  They need to be properly finished because light woven fabric frays like crazy!  I decided that serged seams could trap odd bits of stuff from the veggies, so went for French seams.  This is a quick sew - it took me half an hour from start to finish, taking pictures along the way.
First, I cut a rectangle 24"x16".
Next stitch a seam down one side of 1/4" - this will be on the right side of your fabric.  Now flip the resulting tube inside out and stitch slightly wider than the 1/4" seam to enclose it.  That's the side seam done.
Turn the tube inside out again to the right side - the French seam you've just sewn will be on the inside.  Stitch a 1/4" seam along the bottom.
Flip the bag open and stitch across slightly outside the seam.  Now to finish the top.
With the bag turned so it's inside out, turn the edge 1/4".  This will be on the outside of the bag as your drawstring sleeve will be on the outside.
Now turn it over another 3/4" and pin this hem in place.  I put a clip at the seam and another at its opposite side.  This is where I'll leave openings for drawstrings.
I put pins on either side of the clips so I'll know where to start and stop stitching, making sure there's an opening big enough to take a safety pin holding the drawstring.
Stitch on top of your previous stitching line from one side to the other, making sure you aren't stitching over the planned opening.
You're almost done!  Cut 2 strings double the width of the bag top, with some extra for tying a knot - I cut my strings 31" long and used hemp twine because it's what I had on hand.  You will be inserting 2 drawstrings in the bag from opposite sides.
Tie a knot in the end of one string and put a safety pin through the knot.
Feed the safety pin through the channel right the way around, untie the knot in the end and tie the two ends together.
If you can find light-weight nylon twine, you can melt the ends with a match to prevent them from unravelling.  Now feed the second string length through, starting at the opposite side and tie off as you did the first.
The bag is done!  I weighed my bag to see how heavy it was and it turned out to be 20 grams.  Some bulk outlets will take that off the weight of your produce so you could even mark that on the outside in indelible marker.  One of these days plastic produce bags will be banned in my local grocery store - I'm ready!

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Beeswax Food Wraps

We are trying hard to reduce our use of plastic - it's becoming a huge problem world-wide!  To that end, I've been experimenting with making my own food wraps.  I've scoured the Internet for videos and blog posts and have come up with a method that works best for me.

First of all, here's what you need for each wrap -- I'm making mine 10" squares:
cotton fabric cut to your preference - I'm making mine 10" squares, but you can cut circles, rectangles, whatever you want.  You can use pinking shears on the edges to make them pretty or leave them straight.

An old cookie sheet with sides - mine has an 11" base

2 sheets of parchment paper - I cut mine about 13" long and the paper is 15" wide

For each sheet - 2 tsp of beeswax pellets or grated beeswax (pellets are so much simpler!), 1/2 tsp jojoba oil and 2 tsp powdered pine rosin.  You can make it with straight beeswax, but the jojoba oil makes the sheets more pliable.  Pine rosin makes it clingier for bowls.  I didn't have the pine rosin and just used the pellets and oil.

An iron with the steam turned off
So let's get started!  Lay one of the parchment paper sheets on the cookie sheet and place your fabric on that.  I mix up the ingredients in a bowl so that the pellets are coated with the jojoba oil - so much easier I found than distributing the pellets and then trying to get the oil evenly distributed as well!
Sprinkle the pellets on the cloth as evenly as you can.
Then place the second sheet of parchment paper on top.  Now press with your iron - steam turned off.
I found this so much simpler than baking it in the oven.  You can use the iron to push the melted wax around.
You will inevitably get spots that didn't get wax.  Simply place a pellet or two in those spots and iron again.  When the sheet is thoroughly coated, lift if off and air dry it.  When cool, it's ready to use.  The cookie sheet and parchment paper I put away to use again another time.
The heat from my hands warms the wax enough to make it usable for wrapping this block of cheese.
I fold the wrap over it as if I'm packaging up a present with all the folds on one side.
When fully wrapped, it's ready for the fridge.
And it works, too!  Here's an onion that was put in the fridge 2 days ago.  The cut side is still juicy!

To clean the wraps, just wash them in warm water and you can use a gentle soap.  If they're starting to show wear, you can refresh them by putting them in the oven for a minute or two, and even giving them a new coating of the ingredients.  We've decided to have foods with strong smells wrapped in their own patterned cloth - onions will always use the fabric with tiny roses on it!
And how to store them.  You store them flat in a drawer or on a shelf.  I think they're so lovely, that I roll them up and keep them in a glass vase!  Getting rid of plastic wrap just got a whole lot prettier!

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Serging Heavy Fabrics

I've been making a lot of pullovers lately!  Love Notions has pullover/hoodies for the whole family and I've been using the patterns to make Christmas presents.  There's the Navigator for children, the Constellation for women and just recently, the North Star for men - something for everyone!

Most of my pullovers have been from the wonderful soft sweatshirt fleece from l'oiseau fabrics - they bring in their fabrics from Europe and the quality is amazing.  Plus they have just the best selection of ribbing anywhere!  The sweatshirt fleece combined with ribbing results in thicker fabric than I usually sew and needs techniques I don't usually use.

I'm one of those sit-down-and-sew people who don't think a lot about the finer points of sewing - I just want to get on with it!  While serging thicker seams with the sweatshirt fleece, I actually broke a few needles.  In fact, I got down to only one of the special needles my serger takes.  So off to the store I went and moaned to the gal behind the counter that it was probably time to get my serger serviced.  She asked what stitch length I had my serger set at. Uh, I dunno!  And what size needles was I using?  Uh....

So - okay - I guess I need to pay more attention to the fabric I'm serging and the needles and settings I should be using!  And now I'm going to pass along what I learned to you - although you probably already knew it!
The gal said - take a look at the seams on jeans.  They have longer stitches to go through the heavier fabric.  You need a longer stitch for the sweatshirt fleece.  She said to take it up to 4 which is the highest my serger (Baby Lock Imagine) will go.  This is where the stitch length dial is on my machine.
She said that if the fabric is having difficulty going through the serger and I'm needing to help it along, I need to lower the pressure on my presser foot.  On my serger the presser foot adjusting screw is on the top directly above the presser foot.  The manual will show where it is on yours and tell you how to adjust it.
And finally, she said I needed heavier needles.  I'm using 11 for most things, but when serging heavy sweatshirt fleece to use 14's.  These are the needles my serger takes - yours might be a different number.  Always use the needles recommended for your machine.

Serging went so much more easily after I followed her advice!  I guess I still have an awful lot to learn!

There are other things you can do to make serging heavy fabrics easier.  You can reduce the seam bulk.  When attaching cuffs or bands, I make sure that the seams are folded opposite each other.
Another little tip I learned while researching this subject is that if your fabrics are thick, you can cut a starter for your seam that will allow the fabric to feed more easily into your serger.  Cut a notch at the beginning, the width of your seam allowance.  Then, with the presser foot down, lift the nose and slide the fabric in with the cut edge against your serger's knife.

I certainly know a lot more than I did when I started sewing these wonderful pullovers and now am ready to serge with more confidence.

If you don't already have the Love Notions Pullover/Hoodie family, you can get the patterns through my affiliate links below

Love Notions North Star Hoodie & Pullover for men
Love Notions Constellation Hoodie & Pullover for women
Love Notions Navigator Pullover 2T-16 for children

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Making Your Own Bias Tape

Pattern - Love Notions Pullover and Hoodie for Men
Skill Level - Confident Beginner
Fabric - Brushed sweatshirt fleece and ribbing from l'oiseau fabrics
Skills - Making your own bias tape

Love Notions' newest addition is the North Star Pullover and Hoodie for men.  Now you can make this great pullover for the whole family!  Collar style or hoodie - the guys are going to love it!  The details really make it and the bias binding for the neck is so easy and gives you a professional finish to be proud of.  In fact, you'll want to make it stand out and you can do that by making your own bias binding.  And once you find out how easy it is to make your own bias binding, you may never buy it again!

Did you realize you can make a huge amount of bias binding from a 12" square?
Since the North Star (and the Constellation for women and the Navigator for children) calls for 1/2" double fold bias binding I used my 25mm tape maker.  Click on any picture to see it more clearly.

So I started by cutting a 12" square of my fabric - in this case it was a beautiful rayon that worked with the heathered burgundy sweatshirt fleece and black accent materials from l'oiseau fabrics.
Next, slice diagonally through the square from one corner to the opposite one.
Mark the centre opposite of each triangle with a pin - as I have in the picture
Now match the pins and your fabric pieces will look like this.
Pin those sides together, take it to your sewing machine, stitch with a 1/4" seam and press it open.
Back to the cutting mat because I like the grid lines to make sure my top and bottom are parallel.  I draw - with a pen - lines every 2".  The pen doesn't matter, because eventually I'll be using that as my cutting guide.
Now the tricky part!  Bring the short sides together to match lines creating a tube, but offset the lines by one strip so that you have a 2" strip overhanging on each side.  Initially this was a little awkward for me, but I eventually mastered it.
Once you've pinned your lines together, stitch along the edge with a 1/4" seam and press it open.
Now you're ready to cut along the lines with your scissors to get the 2" strip.
Time to bring the bias tape maker into play!  Feed the pointed end of the strip into your 25mm tape maker with the right side to the back - you can use a pin to help it through.  It's quite magical how the tape is folded as you pull it out!  Press the folded tape with your iron while gently pulling back with the tape maker.  Be careful to hold the tape maker by the handle so you don't get steam burns!
Once you've run the strip through the tape maker, you can now fold this in half and press it to get your 1/2" double folded bias tape.  My 12" square of fabric gave me 66" of tape - more than enough for the neckline of the North Star and a nice little bit left for another project!
I store my tape on cardboard rolls and secure them with a pin.  I have a whole drawer full of beautiful bias tape.  You can use this same method for other size tape makers - cut:
  • 1.25" for a 12mm maker to get 1/4" double fold tape
  • 1.5" for an 18mm maker to get 3/8" double fold tape - and of course
  • 2" for a 25mm maker to get 1/2" double fold tape
Here are a few more examples of how I used bias tape in the necks of this pullover. This was cotton batik on a test muslin.

And this was the neck binding for a hooded version.

And tiny pink roses for this burgundy and black hoodie.
And don't forget plain quilting cotton - but you can still make a statement with it!
Now that you know how to make your own bias tape, you're ready to dress up those neck seams of your pullovers and make them pop!
And if you don't already have this amazing pattern - or the other members of its family - you can get them from my affiliate links below.

Love Notions North Star Pullover and Hoodie for men
Love Notions Constellation Pullover and Hoodie for women
Love Notions Navigator Pullover and Hoodie for children