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

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Constellation - and a Tip or Two

Pattern:  Love Notions Constellation
Skill Level:  Confident Beginner
Fabric: Brushed French terry and cotton/spandex from l'oiseau fabrics
Skills:  Installing a zipper and reducing bulk in a hem.

The newest star of Love Notions is the Constellation.  This is the grownup version of the children's Navigator and one that will find a place in everyone's closet.  As usual with Love Notions patterns - options!  Do you want a hoodie or would you prefer a collar?  How about the hem - a fold-over on a curved hem or would you rather have a band?  It also lends itself beautifully to colour blocking!  While it does need to be made from fabric with at least 25% stretch, you can make it as light (cotton/spandex) or as heavy (sweatshirt fleece) as you want!  There's something here for everyone!
One of the things that really sets this pattern apart from other pullovers is the finish - no raw seams in evidence here!  Instead, a bias binding finish on the neck raises this to a professional look.  In fact, you'll want to show it off!

The Zipper

The zipper is such an easy install and as with so many Love Notions patterns, there are videos to help you - one for the zipper and another for the bias binding - that take all the mystery out of these steps.  I'm going to show you a trick I learned from a school chum of mine who is now a top-notch sewing instructor.  The way to make zippers behave is to use double-sided washable basting tape!
Once the outside piece of the collar has been attached to the body, you're ready to do the zipper.  Instead of using pins, I attach the first side of the zipper with double-sided washable basting tape.  I run the tape right down the edge of one side, trim at the bottom and then remove the paper topping.
Now I place one side of the zipper - just as the video shows - but instead of using pins, the tape holds everything securely in place.
Then I simply take it to my sewing machine, and with the zipper foot in place, I stitch right down this side of the zipper.
The other side of the zipper needs a little more care.  Again - watch the video to see how Kelly shows you how to make sure that your neck seam will match.  I pin that little bit and check to make sure my seams match.  When I'm sure that I have it in the right spot, I machine baste that small section and then put basting tape in all the rest and stitch on my sewing machine.  And just like that, you're done with the trickiest part of the sew!

The Bias Binding

Just a small hint for you here.  I love this finish so much that I make my own bias binding!  After I've stitched it to the inside collar piece, I trim just a hair off the edge of the seam so that it will fold over easily.

The Curved Hem

A curved hem is really not that difficult.  I use lots of pins to secure it in place.  You can see that the curve creates lots of bulges in the hem.  So now I bring on the iron.  I steam press the hem on the inside of the garment.  I just press down with the iron and that seems to shrink the fabric just a little.  With all the pinning, if there are any tucks created, they will be tiny.
And as you can see, I now have a nice flat surface for stitching.
The front of the Constellation poses another possible challenge.  The kangaroo pocket means you have a double layer of fabric which could result in a bulky hem that sticks out.  And there's a way to get around that.  After I've pressed the front portion of the pullover hem, I then take out the pins, and using the pressed fold of the pocket lining as my guide, I trim off 1" of fabric.  Then I fold the hem back in place and press it again.
Now I have a much less bulky hem to take to my coverstitch machine that will hang properly when I wear it.

I can see that I'll be making more of the Constellation Pullover.  Its options and the fabric I use will let me make each one a unique garment that I know I'll be getting lots of wear from.  If you don't already have this terrific pattern, you can get it through my affiliate link below

Monday, 27 August 2018

A Duet of Tips for the Duet Trousers

Pattern:  Love Notions Duet Trousers
Skill Level: Confident Beginner (knit) Intermediate (woven)
Fabric: woven polyester with spandex from Fabricland
Skills:  Stitching in the Ditch and Blind Hemming

Love Notions' Duet Trousers is a pattern made for either woven or knit.  As trousers, dressier than pants, they are meant to be a looser fitting garment - not tight fitting - and should hang straight down from the buttocks, not cup them.  I chose to make mine in a polyester/spandex woven which has plenty of drape - stiffer fabrics are not the best choice for this pattern.  If using a knit, you might need to size down.  The knit pattern has a yoga waistband while the woven version uses a contoured waistband with an invisible zipper and the option is there to put in a control panel.  You can choose from straight legs or tapered.  And pockets!

While the pattern is fairly simple, there are several procedures which might be new.  As always, Love Notions has videos to help you, such as installing an invisible zipper but I thought I'd walk through a couple of them.

Stitching in the Ditch

After the waistband is sewn in and faced, it needs to be stitched down.  This can be done by hand, but it can also be done by machine.  First, I finished off the raw edge of my waistband lining with the serger.  This can also be done with a sewing machine using an overlock stitch to secure the edge.  Then I pinned the waistband in place and took it to my sewing machine right side out.
Stitching in the ditch is just that - you carefully stitch in the seam between the waistband and the trousers.  Fortunately, my machine can go really slow - which is needed to stitch in that seamline accurately!
This fixes the waistband securely in place.  You do have the option to fold under and attach the lining by hand, but I'm always looking for the easy way.  I'm quite prepared to run my machine at a snail's pace to avoid some hand sewing!  You can also fold under the waistband lining so it's just past the seamline and catch it with your sewing machine, but I've seen ready-to-wear pants finished as above, so I elected to do it this way as it creates less bulk.
And when you're done, that stitching will be barely visible.

Blind Hemming

Next to sewing on buttons by hand is my dislike of hemming by hand!  Of course I'm going to try out blind hemming!
This was the first time I'd used the blind hemming foot that came with my machine.  The blind hemming stitch has several straight stitches to the right and then jogs in to the left to catch a fold.  And of course, I practiced first.
First, serge the raw edge (or overlock stitch on the sewing machine) pin up the hem and iron it.
Next, fold back the hem so that the overlocked edge is to the right and the fold to the left - about 1/4" showing.  I folded just to the edge of the serging with the red guide keeping the fold in place.  Using a thread that was a good match, I stitched my practice swatch, unfolded and ironed it.  I was amazing at how good it looked!
On to the real thing!  I followed the same procedure and in no time at all, the pants were hemmed.
A good pressing and you can barely see the stitching.

The Duet Trousers from Love Notions are dressy trousers that definitely have a place in your cupboard.  Paired with low-heeled boots or with heels, you're set for the office or a night on the town.  You can get the Duet Trousers through my affiliate link below.

Love Notions Duet Trousers.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Lace for a Girly Girl

Skill Level:  Confident Beginner
Skills: sewing with lace

My granddaughter loves the Cartwheel Collection circle skirt with its double layers of twirly goodness so making Miss A. an outfit from the pattern with lace overlay was a no-brainer!
And of course, I have to throw a panel from l’oiseau fabrics into the mix as well! My plan was to have the bottom layer of the circle skirt in  pale pink cotton/spandex.
The shorter over-skirt would be stretch lace.  I would also use the lace in the top to tie it all together.
The skirt was a snap.  I quartered the skirts and also the waistband and stitched them all together.  I lettuce hemmed the underskirt and scallop-cut the raw edge of the lace skirt.
I had a wonderful flamingo panel from l’oiseau for the shirt.  The lace was to be echoed in the upper portion of the peek-a-boo back and the sleeves as an overlay to the pattern pieces.  I basted them in place and just treated them as one piece. 
The shirt went together very well in spite of my worries about the lace slipping.

Heaven knows how my athletic, down-to-earth family wound up with a girly girl, but we’ve got one and it makes my Grandma heart so happy.  And you can see that she's pretty pleased with it herself!
Yes, this outfit is definitely over the top but it fulfills my granddaughter’s twirly girly dreams!

If you haven't already visited all of the amazing lace blogs, be sure to check them out!

lace tour