Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Sewer's Sewing Kit

     There are so many things you can put into your sewing kits but there are so many things that I was told to put in and never used!  so I thought I would share the things that I use all the time - I'm not much on "fancy-dancey" things so you may need more that is listed here- but this will give you a great start!

  • Old Prescription Bottle- this is a perfect little container to hold all your sewing needles

  • Needles- I love having a variety of sizes- from the fat blunt larger needles to help my children thread noodles on to yarn for a beautiful necklace - to short skinny needles for those days when your husband tosses you a dress shirts and says his button popped off.

  • Straight Pins- I like the kind that have the yellow round heads- they are easy to see and they are all the same- so I don't loose them very easily.  I hate the little silver straight pins that come on dress shirts from the department stores- they are dull, and hurt your fingers when you try to use them- I never save them... my grandmother would be disappointed in me... "They are just fine- you shouldn't throw anything away"... I can hear her now, sorry Grandma :)

  • Thread- For general mending, and sewing with my machine, I use coats and coats- it is a nice strong thread and it has always been good to me.  My mother uses Duel -for hand mending, and many other specialty threads for her many different projects she does.  Ask around to others who sew- they all might have a favorite- you will find your too.

  • Pin Cushion of sort- some like the standard pin cushion- the little "tomatoes" that have the little strawberry thingy attached to it to "sharpen your needles".  Great for the cutesy look but I need FUNCTION!   I like the magnetic pin holder- I toss the pin towards it and it snatches it up easily!  no time is taken.  And when my little ones "help" me- clean up is easy- run the magnetic holder over all the pins and *SLURP* ... done!

  • Scissors- I recommend that you spend a little extra money on a good pair of shears, and if you take good care of them, they will last a very long time.  I learned from a very early age, which scissors I could use for all my wonderful paper crafts... and the one that were "Mom's Sewing Scissors"-  My mom taught me a trick that works great... tie a orange ribbon around your "GOOD" scissors and threaten life grounding if anyone touches them.  Believe me it works really well- and I have passed this priceless information down to my children too.  Still works!

  • Clippers- small pair of scissors, this is used for small projects and thread clipping- I choose two styles- a small rounded nose (blunt) pair and a long nose sharp pair too.  You'll find that there is a difference and you will like the versatility of having two. But at least one pair.

  • Seam Rippers- you hate to think of having to unpick- but a project isn't complete if you haven't unpicked at least one time.

  • Fabric Tape Measure

  • Sewing Gage... I have this in my Sewing Kit because although I rarely use it- Nothing works the same or better.  

Getting Started with your Sewing Machine

            The first step in learning to sew with your sewing machine and using it properly is understanding how it works.  When your sewing machine is brand new, it will always come with a "User's Manual".  It is important that you look through it, read it, and refer back to it often.  But like myself, I received a "hand-me-down" sewing machine.  I love it- it works well, however, it didn't come with a manual.  Some times you can find it on the internet- or take it down to a local sewing repair place an get a copy of a manual.  So be sure to find one and read it, you will be glad you did.
            Sewing machines form interlocking stitches, with a main (top) thread forming the top of the stitches, and a bobbin forming the bottom of the stitches.  The sewing machine needle, which has an eye on the sharp end, instead of the blunt end like a hand-sewing needle, pushes the main thread through the fabric, where it is caught by the bobbin thread.  Sewing machine needles are VERY different then hand sewing needles.  
            The next is understanding the parts of your sewing machine.  Although sewing machines are all a little different, they will have the a sort of the following features:

v      Manuals.  Manuals are important to read through, since all machines are a little different, it is important to know your own machine.  If you have lost or simply never received a manual, they can be online.  If you have a Bernina® one site you could refer to is: http://www.berninausa.com/news-n486-sUS.html  
      or if yours is a Singer® you may try:  http://www.singerco.com/accessories/manuals.html
      you can try other sites they may have your brand and a downloadable free copy of your manual.
v      Spool pins/ Spool Holder. These are short posts on the top of your sewing machine, usually near the right edge. They hold the main spool of thread. There will be at least one, but possibly two.
v      Top Thread guide. This is a small hook/disc/slot/guide near the top of the machine on the left side, some times they are located right on top, and others are located on the top/back of the machine.
v      Take-up lever. When the machine is facing you, you'll see a long, vertical slot running down the front of the machine with a lever sticking out. This is the take up lever, through which the top thread passes on its way to the needle.
v      Presser foot. The attachment near the needle is the presser foot. You can lower the presser foot to hold your fabric in place as it goes through the machine.
v      Bobbin winder. Next to the spool holder/pins, you'll see another short post. This is where you will place your bobbin when winding thread onto it.
v      Throat plate. This is a silver plate which covers the area under the presser foot. It has an open area in the center, through which the needle passes to grab the bobbin thread. There are several different types of throat plates, depending upon what kind of stitches you use most.
v      Bobbins are a small spool which is only about 3/4" high. These hold thread that will be placed at the bottom of the sewing machine in the bobbin casing.
v      Bobbin case and casing.  Under the throat plate there is a opening, inside here the bobbin casing, and the bobbin case is removable.  Place the bobbin in the case on some machines- on other machines you simply place the bobbin into the casing- you will have to refer to your sewing machine manual.
v      Hand wheel. This is a wheel found on the right side/end of the machine. turn it counter clockwise (pull it towards you)  It allows you to raise and lower the needle by hand, so that you can position it properly when you begin a stitch.
v      Tension regulator.  The tension regulator is the devise used to form even, flat stitches, the tension between the main thread and the bobbin thread needs to be equal. If your tension is too tight, your stitches will pucker. If it's too loose, the stitches can knot up underneath and ball-up under your fabric.  It is important to refer to your Sewing machine's user guide for the correct settings.
v      Foot pedal. The foot pedal is placed on the floor, this is what you will use to start and stop the machine.  It is also used to help you control the speed in which you sew.
v      Other features. Your machine will also have ways to select stitch length, stitch width and stitch type. Depending upon your machine, these may be manual levers, dials, or they may be accessed through buttons or a computerized screen.
v      Needles. Your machine will take a special type of needle. Be sure to read your manual and know the type it needs.  Knowing what type to get and use will take away a lot of frustration later when you sew different projects.  Sturdy cotton, silk, knit, and denim all take a different type of needle- Using the correct types will help create a better finished product and lesson the breakage of needles and other problems of sewing while you create your projects.

Be sure to take time to look at your sewing machine's owner manual.  It is important that you are familiar with your machine, so that your projects are fun and not frustrating.  So get familiar with your sewing machine!

Happy Sewing!

Monday, August 30, 2010

No Sew fleece Pillow and Blanket

No Sew fleece Pillow and Blanket
This is shown as a baby doll size but can be adapted for other sizes of course.

Items that you will need are:  Two complimentary colors of Fleece fabric
For dolly sizes you will need: 12x12 fo a pillow and a 24x24 for the blanket
Baby size blanket - 40x40
Crib- 45x60
throw- 60x72 
Lay out your front and back fabric right sides out.  Straighten fabrics and square up corners. for doll blanket- cut out a 2 inch corner (remove) and then cut strips (2 inches long and 1 inch wide)
If you are doing a baby blanket- remove a 4 inch square and cut your strips 4 inches long x 1 inch wide
this give a 4 inch fringe on edge.
If you are doing a Crib or a Throw or Larger- you could go as far as cutting up to a 6 inch fringe.  Simply cut away your corners and again fringe your blanket.
This is what your pillow and blanket should  look like. Your pillow should have both front and back placed together and cut at the same time to ensure a straight finish.  the quilt only needs one layer of fabric.
begin tieing a double knot with front and back fleece fabrics, leaving one side open for inserting the batting or pillow form.  Be sure to tie it tight.  (hint: if you tie the knot just about a half inch from the body of the pillow, the pillow will lay flatter.-don't tie it so close to the body that the knots make the fabric pucker)
Insert Pillow form. I like to use batting left over from quilts I make.  It is always good to use up your scraps! 
Finish by tieing the rest of the fringe.  
For the doll Blanket, I only tied the top and bottom, you may want to do all 4 edges.  for a Top and Bottom fringe, do NOT cut and remove your corner pieces, simply fringe from edge to edge.  tie a knot for a fun and flirty look.
Add WAH- LA, now you know what to get your little girls for Christmas, a new little crib set for their favorite dolly.  Home made with love by YOU!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Ice Pop Cozy" - a COZY way to eat your ICY treat!

"Ice Pop Cozy"
Great for cold tiny fingers on those hot summer days!!
My children love to play all day out in the sun, and enjoy the hot season.  I love to be outside with them and listen to the giggling and squills that summer games will bring.
Ice pops are always a part of our summer day, and my kids love them all...grape, orange and lime, they are always a hit.
These fun easy "ICE POP COZIES" are a fun way to stay cool.
This is a easy project that anyone of all ages and abilities can do.  Simple for even your little ones.  Hand stitch it or whip it through the sewing machine- Simple and fast!  Here is what to do:

Items that you will need:
needle and thread or your sewing machine
Tape measurer
Cut your fleece to measure:
4 inches wide 
by 5 inches long
Fold in half, (hotdog style)
Sew raw edges with 1/2 inch seem
If you are hand sewing over lap seems
by doing a backstitch
and if you choose  to use your sewing machine
a simple straight stitch will do.  I, however, like to do a small zig zag
stitch with the sewing machine.  It allows for a little more stretch
and won't pop stitches- fleece is a stretchy fabric
and the zig zag stitch allows for pulling.
Turn cozy right side out.  Use fingers to flatten out seems.
Slide in your favorite ice pop treat and enjoy the great summer days!