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Monthly Archives: August 2012

  • Not-Sew Plain Hand Towels

    August 28, 2012

    I bought some hand towels recently, but when I looked at them today, I realized they were just so plain. I still had my fabric scrap container out. With a little digging, I found a couple of scraps large enough to add a bit of color to my towels.

    Measure the width of your towel. Mine measured 15 ½”. Add 1” to this measurement. For my towels, 15 ½” plus 1” = 16 ½”.

    The towel decoration will consist of a wide band of one fabric and two narrow bands of a different fabric. I am using fabric widths that seem suitable for the hand towels I have.  You may want to use different fabric widths according to the sizes of the towels you want to decorate.

    Look for scraps that are at least 'width of towel +1 inch' in one direction and suitable to make a wide band and two narrow bands for as many towels as you want to have matching trims.

    Cut fabric:

    Cut the center strip fabric 3 ½” x 16 ½” Cut 2 narrow edge strips from contrasting fabric 1 ½” x 16 ½”

    Prepare the fabric pieces: Center panel:

    Fold and press ½” to wrong-side on short edges. (When pressed, the fabric strip should be the same width as the towel. If necessary, adjust the amount folded.) Set aside.

    Edge pieces:

    Fold and press ½” to wrong-side on short edges of both narrow strips. On one long edge of each narrow strip, fold and press ½” to wrong-side. Set aside. Construction:

    1. Mark towel 2 ½” from bottom edge. 2. Place center strip on top of towel, right-side up, lining up the bottom edge of fabric strip with marked line. (If necessary adjust folded ends so they line up with the edges of towel.) 3. Lay narrow strip of fabric right-side down on top of center fabric strip. Line up the raw edges, and pin.

    4. Repeat with other narrow fabric strip on the other edge of the center strip. 5. Stitch through both layers of fabric and towel. I used the edge of my presser foot as a guide for my seam allowance.

    6. Fold narrow strips out so they cover the raw seam allowance. Press and pin.

    7. Edge stitch along the two unsewn long fabric edges and the two short runs along the towel edges. This can be done as a continuous stitch along four sides of the decorative fabric band.

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  • Autumn Splendor Leaves

    August 21, 2012

    With all the ads on television for back-to-school supplies, Fall must be close at hand. This month, Anita Goodesign released a new design pack called Autumn Splendor. So, we have it confirmed, Fall is close at hand. The design pack has 16 different leaves in 2 sizes. They are done in your embroidery hoop using a unique three-step technique. You can incorporate yarn, ribbon, thread, fabric scraps, and  anything you can trap under a layer of tulle, organza or lace.

    This design pack comes with a 14 page step-by-step tutorial. The following is a short introduction to the process of creating these sew outs – with a slight tweak...  I decided to sew out several leaves in a large hoop instead of one leaf per hooping.  This saves some hooping time, reduces the amount of trimmed away stabilizer scraps, and takes advantage of the multi-needle machine automatic thread change feature.

    I hooped 2 layers of water-soluble stabilizer in a hoop large enough to stitch out 3 leaves. If you are going to stitch out only one leaf at a time, 1 layer of stabilizer will be enough.

    Stitch out Step 1 which is a placement stitch. Because all three leaves are going to be the same color, I placed the base fabric right-side up on top of the stabilizer before stitching out the placement stitch.

    For the filling I used thread. If you read last week's blog, you read about the tub I put scrap fabric in – well, I also keep embroidery thread trimmings in a large plastic jar, for just this type of project. Do not ask about other similar containers.... or their contents.

    The top fabric is organza.

    Stitch out Step 2 -- the tack down stitch. This will secure all three layers to the stabilizer. Remove the hoop from the machine, but do not remove fabric from hoop. Trim the base fabric, filling and topping close to stitching line.

    Place the hoop back into the machine and finish stitching your design. These stitches are the details and they finish the raw edge of the appliquè fabric. Remove the hoop from the machine and the fabric from the hoop. Trim excess stabilizer away from leaves, but not too close to the stitching.  That is the advantage of using water-soluble stabilizer.

    Rinse excess stabilizer away with warm water. I wanted to shape my leaves, so I didn't rinse all of the stabilizer out. To create shape, I draped the wet leaves over some crumpled foil and let them dry. If you want them to be flat, rinse all of the stabilizer out and lay them on a flat surface to dry. If necessary, use an iron to press flat.

    (Image from design pack)

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  • Scrap Quilt Blocks - Version 1

    August 13, 2012

    FACT: You have generated fabric scraps if you have made a quilt. FACT: You have had mixed emotions regarding the disposition of those scraps. FACT: There is a high probability that you still have those scraps – either loose or incorporated in another quilt. I keep a basket - okay, a very large plastic tub - to hold my fabric scraps. When the tub gets full, it is time to make another scrap quilt.

    Supplies: light weight muslin for foundation black fabric cut into 1 1/2” wide strips miscellaneous fabric strips in various lengths and widths

    Directions: For this scrap quilt cut a 10" square of muslin. You may choose a different block size if you wish.

    1. Draw one diagonal line from corner to corner.  Add two parallel lines, each 3/4" away from the corner-to-corner line.

    2. Lay black fabric strip right-side up between the outer lines. 3. Select a fabric scrap long enough to extend past the edges of the muslin (width is not critical). Place the scrap right-side down over black fabric. Be sure the black fabric is lined up between the lines on the muslin and stitch with a 1/4” seam allowance. The geometric pattern of the black strips in the quilt depends on the position of the black fabric and the first stitch line on the muslin foundation. If you don't want a uniform geometric pattern of the black fabric strips you can be as scrappy as you wish. The widths of the added scraps can be random or uniform depending on your choice of appearance of the finished quilt. Look at the photo at the top of this article...... the black strips are aligned well and of uniform width, the scraps are random widths, but each scrap is a rectangle with parallel long edges. 4. Flip the top strip over and finger press. 5. Keep adding fabric strips right side down, sewing with 1/4" seam allowance, and finger pressing open until the muslin square is fully covered. 6. When the foundation block is covered with fabric strips, press with iron. 7. Trim excess fabric that extends beyond muslin foundation. 8. Square up block.

    The number of squares you need is determined by the finished size you want your quilt to be.

    Arrange the blocks to produce the black fabric geometric design you desire.  Your choices are parallel black lines or black squares on point.

  • Ruffler Foot

    August 7, 2012

    Many sewn items have, or could have, ruffles - - skirts, aprons, towels, quilts, pillows, and even purses. The ruffler foot makes creating ruffles so easy that you’ll wonder why you waited so long to get this wonderful attachment for your machine. . While the ruffler appears to be a complicated mechanical creature from some science fiction movie, what the ruffler foot is able to do makes it a valuable add-on for the sewing machine. It allows you to create ruffles faster and more precisely than any manual method.

    You can choose from a limited selection of how frequently a pleat will be made and how much material will be in each pleat. Pleat frequency is based on stitch count and stitch length. Ruffle fullness is determined by how much material is in each pleat. The combination of frequency, fullness, and fabric thickness creates a large variation in the final characteristics of a particular ruffle.

    An adjusting lever is used to select how many stitches are sewn between each pleat. The star or “0” slot produces a straight stitch. This selection allows you to do straight stitching without removing the ruffler.  The “1” slot creates a new pleat with every stitch. The “6” slot creates a new pleat every six stitches, and the “12” slot, a new pleat every twelve stitches. There is no substitute for experimenting with the specific fabric that you intend to ruffle to develop an understanding of what all this means.

    The knob or screw, (it might be silver, orange, grey or another color, depending on the brand) changes how deep the pleat or ruffle will be. For smaller pleats, turn the knob to the left. For larger pleats, turn the knob to the right.

    For deepest pleat, turn adjusting screw clockwise to its maximum. For shallower pleats, turn adjusting screw out (counter-clockwise).

    Refer to the ruffler instruction sheet for installation details.

    Ruffling the fabric:

    1. Cut some fabric test strips to use for experimenting and finding the right setting for your project. Different fabric weights will give you different results. 2. I started with 10 inch lengths of fabric and just changed the stitch length for the samples shown above. You may need to vary the stitch length and fullness for your project.  When a suitable sample  was created, I measured the ruffled length to determine a conversion length of flat material to finished ruffle (the top sample is 2.5 inches finished to 10 inches flat). With this conversion number, I was then able to determine the minimum length of fabric I needed. You can always cut off any excess ruffled fabric, so it just makes sense to add some extra flat fabric length to avoid coming up short for your project.

    3. Place the fabric strip to be ruffled between the two blades and through the first separator guide.

    4. Lower presser bar and stitch. Do not back tack at the beginning or the end. 5. The maximum seam allowance is 1 1/8” for my ruffler. This distance is determined by the curved metal guide on the right-hand side. To create a ruffle with a stitching line in the center I cut my fabric 2 1/4” wide. 6. When you finish the strip it will look more like a ruffle. If you press the fabric it will look like pleats.

    7. You can create a ruffle in place on another piece of fabric (the base fabric). Place the base fabric right-side up on the feed dogs. Place the ruffle fabric right-side down between the separator blades.  The stitch line can be anywhere on the base fabric according to the desired location of  ruffle. A guide mark (chalk or maybe masking tape) should be located at the right edge of the desired ruffle location as the stitch line is covered by the flat ruffle fabric strip while sewing.

  • Kay's Longarm Boot Camp

    August 2, 2012

    Have you ever wondered how someone learns how to use her/his longarm quilting machine? Many owners of Baby Lock Crown Jewel machines attended a hands-on event taught by Kay Capps Cross at the Huntington Beach Moore's Sewing Center on Wednesday, August 1, 2012. And most of those owners and people who have other machines, or wanted to learn more about long arm quilting, attended Kay's non-machine specific quilting concepts classes on Tuesday, July 31. Everything is ready --- time to welcome our guests.

    On the second day, Kay discussed, demonstrated live, and had the class try many things to coach the students rapidly past many of the 'fears' and 'hang-ups' that newcomers to a new interest tend to experience. The formality of the classroom evaporated quickly as she worked some psychological magic on the students.....  you had to be there to see the cause and effect of her charisma.

    The class is ready to try what they learned.

    The hands-on day ended with new owners and previous-purchase owners of the Crown Jewel ready to go home and start creating.

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