And the Winner of the Big Embroidery Giveaway Is…

Bev!

Congratulations, Bev! We’ll be in touch soon so we can get your prize in the mail to you.

(For everyone who entered the contest, I’m so sorry for the delay. I somehow managed to completely forget I hadn’t picked a winner yet!)

Big Embroidery 965x1024 And the Winner of the Big Embroidery Giveaway Is…

 

If you didn’t win this time but are still interested in the book, you can find Big Embroidery at Interweave.com.

Look for our next book giveaway on May 1, 2019!

 And the Winner of the Big Embroidery Giveaway Is…
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Giveaway: Big Embroidery by Nancy Nicholson

It’s giveaway time!

Big Embroidery 282x300 Giveaway: Big Embroidery by Nancy NicholsonWe’re giving away a copy of Big Embroidery by Nancy Nicholson, as seen in the February/March 2019 issue of Sew News:

Get beautiful results using different types of yarn and fabric, including upholstery fabrics, woolens and tweeds to create a collection of stunning quick-to-stitch projects.

Choose from home decor items such as cushions, bags, wall hangings and table runners, as well as ideas for embellishing clothing. Learn how to create all the key embroidery stitches with a stitch library featuring easy-to-follow diagrams of all the basic crewel embroidery stitches in detail.

For your chance to win a copy of Big Embroidery, leave a comment on this post between now and Monday, March 11, at noon Mountain Daylight Time. We’ll randomly pick a winner from among the commenters Friday afternoon using Random.org.

Good luck!

 Giveaway: Big Embroidery by Nancy Nicholson
Posted in Book Giveaways | Tagged | 41 Comments

Serger Maintenance and Tension Tips

Learning basic serger maintenance and tension tips may increase the life of your serger, and keep your projects looking their best. Read today’s post for important tips and tricks for keeping your machine running in tip-top shape.

As with any piece of mechanical equipment, the life of a serger and the quality of its performance are greatly enhanced by regular care, maintenance and some basic troubleshooting knowledge.

Screen Shot 2019 02 04 at 10.38.31 AM Serger Maintenance and Tension Tips

Basic Serger Maintenance

The good news is that sergers are relatively simple to care for. It only takes a few minutes to keep them running well. Follow these steps for cleaning and oiling your serger to make sure it’s ready for the next sewing project.

Clean the serger on a regular basis. Some fabrics create a great deal of lint and fuzz; these require more frequent serger cleanings. Others are relatively lint-free, meaning the serger can go longer between cleanings. It’s also a good idea to have it professionally cleaned and checked by a trained technician every one to two years.

Gather a few tools to help the process go quickly and smoothly. Some of these tools may be included with the serger while others are common household items: lint brush, oil, tweezers, pipe cleaners, soft cloth, owner’s manual, needle holder if
applicable, small screwdriver and vacuum (optional).

For deep cleaning, unthread the machine and remove the presser foot and needles. Some models may also allow the removal of the throat plate. Open both doors of the serger for full access to the loopers.

Using a soft brush, such as a paintbrush, lint brush or make-up brush, clean the lower area of the serger. Remove all lint from the loopers and the feed dog area. A brush that has stiff bristles is also useful in certain areas to push lint out of the machine. Pull long threads from the machine using tweezers if needed.

Use a pipe cleaner for hard-to-reach areas. The stiffness of the cleaner paired with its flexibility allows it to snake into areas too small for hands. The texture of the pipe cleaner acts as a dust catcher to remove lint.

Use a small vacuum or vacuum attachment to remove lint quickly. Canned compressed air isn’t usually recommended, as it blows lint into the machine rather than out of it. This can potentially build up inside the serger, causing difficulty for the moving parts.

After cleaning the looper area, oil the needed areas using the type of oil recommended by the serger manufacturer. Generally, oil is applied where metal moves against metal. Only small amounts are needed, usually one or two drops at each point.

Floss the tension dials using a length of embroidery floss or Perle cotton. This clears the area of lint and cleans out any bits of thread caught in the tension dials. Build-up here is especially troublesome because it can affect the accuracy of the tension setting and interfere with stitch formation.

Replace the knife if needed. It’s easy to tell when the knife needs replacing because the fabric has a chewed look rather than a clean edge after passing under the knife. Some sergers have one knife and others have two, featuring an upper and a lower blade. The knife can be changed with a simple process; however, a trained serger technician should replace the knife because of the precise positioning it needs to operate correctly.

Replace the presser foot and the stitch plate, if it was removed. Always insert a new needle after each cleaning session. Lastly, wipe off the outside of the serger to remove any smudges or fingerprints.

Tension Troubleshooting 101

It’s possible that cleaning your serger well and regularly will help you resolve and avoid common issues. However, if you’re still experiencing skipped stitches, tension troubles and loose, loopy stitches, try the steps outlined below.

If your serger is skipping stitches, try a variety of solutions to correct the issue.

Make sure the needles are securely inserted and properly positioned. The needles should be inserted as far into their sockets as possible and their positions should be slightly offset.

Change the needles every time you begin a new project. An old needle may have burrs or other imperfections that aren’t visible to the naked eye.

Check the looper tensions to determine if they’re correctly set for the selected stitch.

Reposition the thread. Switch the thread from the loopers to the needles and vice versa.

Make small repairs to a seam that has skipped stitches using a hand sewing needle and clear monofilament thread.

Screen Shot 2019 02 04 at 10.40.03 AM Serger Maintenance and Tension Tips

The stitch samples were created using yellow thread in the left needle, blue thread in the right needle, red thread in the upper looper and green thread in the lower looper.

Tension is another potential trouble spot when serging. When the stitch is balanced, the fabric edge lays completely flat (2). If the serged stitch is causing the edge to curl or fold, adjust the lopper tension settings.

If the fabric curls toward the right side, the upper looper tension may be too tight (3). Loosen the upper looper tension slightly and then test-serge on a fabric scrap. The lower looper tension may need to be tightened to compensate and produce a balanced stitch.

If the fabric curls toward the wrong side, the lower looper tension may be too tight (4). Loosen the lower looper tension slightly and then test-serge on a fabric scrap. the upper looper tension may need to be tightened to compensate and produce a balanced stitch.

If the serger produces a loose stitch with pronounced thread loops, the thread may not be securely placed through the tension disks. When this happens, the needle causes small thread loops to appear on the fabric wrong side (5). This also makes the serged seam weak and prone to stretching. To alleviate this problem, make sure that the needle threads are snuggly seated within the tension disks. Also check the threading diagram in your serger manual to ensure that you’ve followed the thread paths as directed.

janome serger 300x150 Serger Maintenance and Tension Tips

Janome of America provided the AT2000D serger.

 Serger Maintenance and Tension Tips
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And the Winner of the Sew Luxe Leather Giveaway Is…

Leslie!

Congratulations, Leslie! We’ll be in touch soon so we can get your prize in the mail to you.

Sew Luxe Leather 5inch 300dpi 965x1024 And the Winner of the Sew Luxe Leather Giveaway Is...

If you didn’t win this time but are still interested in the book, you can find Sew Luxe Leather at interweave.com.

Look for our next book giveaway on March 7, 2019!

 And the Winner of the Sew Luxe Leather Giveaway Is...
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Giveaway: Sew Luxe Leather by Rosanna Clare Gethin

It’s giveaway time!

Sew Luxe Leather 5inch 300dpi 283x300 Giveaway: Sew Luxe Leather by Rosanna Clare GethinWe’re giving away a copy of Sew Luxe Leather by Rosanna Clare Gethin, as seen in the December 2018/January 2019 issue of Sew News:

With just a few basic tools, you can create chic fashion-forward leather items in no time. Choose from a wide range of 20 exciting accessories including hand-stitched, machine sewn and no-sew projects. This book features all the essential leather craft techniques, from scoring and hole punching to embossing and burnishing.

For your chance to win a copy of Sew Luxe Leather, leave a comment on this post between now and Monday, January 6, at noon Mountain Standard Time. We’ll randomly pick a winner from among the commenters Monday afternoon using Random.org.

Good luck!

 Giveaway: Sew Luxe Leather by Rosanna Clare Gethin
Posted in Book Giveaways | Tagged | 18 Comments

Common Serger Feet & How to Use Them

A serger isn’t just for finishing raw edges. Learn about useful serger presser feet that take your sewing to the next level and help you take full advantage of everything your serger can do. Note: The featured serger feet imagery are for Janome sergers.

Blind Hem Foo

Blind Hem Serger Foot Common Serger Feet & How to Use Them

Use a blind hem foot to create an invisible hem on a garment or home-décor project.

Fold the fabric toward the wrong side to the desired hem width. Fold the fabric with right sides together, exposing a scant 1⁄2” of the raw edge. Position the fabric wrong side up beneath the foot.

Select a 2- or 3-thread narrow hem stitch on the machine. Slowly lower the needle into the fabric to check the needle placement. The left needle should barely graze the hem, catching one or two fibers. The foot-edge guide should be flush with the fabric fold. With the knife blade up, serge the hem, making sure to only cut off the fabric raw edge, catching the fold within the stitching. Press open the seam. Continue reading

 Common Serger Feet & How to Use Them
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Holiday Parties, Sequins & Sheers: New Issue of Sew News is here (and full of hacks!)

newissue1901 300x300 Holiday Parties, Sequins & Sheers: New Issue of Sew News is here (and full of hacks!)The December 18/January 19 issue of Sew News is fondly referred to (around here!) as the holiday hack issue! Seriously, this issue is big and beefy and inspiring, especially if you’re in the mood for a little #sewfrosting. But don’t worry, plenty of cake, too, that will get you through the holidays and beyond.

One of my favorite elements is a selection of three articles, each featuring three pattern hacks for wardrobe basics: a raglan sweatshirt (looking at you, Linden Sweatshirt), a drop shoulder blouse and a jacket. The hacks are designed to help you get maximum potential out of patterns you already have in your pattern library and turn an everyday pattern into something special for the holidays. Continue reading

 Holiday Parties, Sequins & Sheers: New Issue of Sew News is here (and full of hacks!)
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And the Winner of the My Doll, My Style Giveaway Is…

Peggy K!

Congratulations, Peggy! We’ll be in touch soon so we can get your prize in the mail to you.

My Doll My Style 800x1024 And the Winner of the My Doll, My Style Giveaway Is...

If you didn’t win this time but are still interested in the book, you can find My Doll, My Style at interweave.com.

Look for our next book giveaway on January 3, 2019!

 And the Winner of the My Doll, My Style Giveaway Is...
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Giveaway: My Doll, My Style by Anna Allen

It’s giveaway time!

We’re giving away a copy of My Doll, My Style by Anna Allen, as seen in the October/November 2018 issue of Sew News:

My Doll My Style 234x300 Giveaway: My Doll, My Style by Anna AllenDiscover how fun and easy it is to make custom, on-trend doll fashions the child in your life will love. Designer and Doll It Up blogger Anna Allen shows you how to create runway-worthy looks for 18” dolls. From jeggings and dresses to shorts and tees, each pattern is designed for today’s fashion fabrics with a modern aesthetic and fit.

For your chance to win a copy of My Doll, My Style, leave a comment on this post between now and Friday, November 8, at noon Mountain Standard Time. We’ll randomly pick a winner from among the commenters Friday afternoon using Random.org.

Good luck!

 Giveaway: My Doll, My Style by Anna Allen
Posted in Book Giveaways | 26 Comments

Tips for Fitting a Raglan Sleeve

Screen Shot 2018 11 01 at 3.25.11 PM 226x300 Tips for Fitting a Raglan Sleeve

By fit expert Rae Cumbie

There are many fitting points to evaluate when fitting a raglan sleeve. Because the sleeve forms a section of the front and back, neckline and shoulders, it’s necessary to consider all these elements in addition to the actual fit of the sleeve itself. That means there are lots of possible adjustments, but the good thing is there are also a lot of seams where you can nuance the fit.

If you’re having trouble fitting the sleeve and it doesn’t have a seam from the shoulder to the hem, consider adding one so you’re better able to adjust the sleeve and shoulder.

Make a mock up or work on the ill-fitting garment. Follow these guidelines to begin the assessment:

  • Does the shoulder seam or dart sit at the center of the neck and point smoothly to the shoulder point? Decide if this is a simple shoulder realignment, or if the top is being pulled to the front or back because it’s too tight in the body. Continue reading
 Tips for Fitting a Raglan Sleeve
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Backpack Sewing Pattern Roundup: Our Top Picks

Whether you’ve fully embraced the backpack trend or you’re still on the fence, you’ll love reading about our favorite backpack sewing patterns. Backpacks are a definite favorite around here: strap one on for a quick hike in the mountains, use one as a cool next step or alternative to the traditional diaper bag or make one that’s perfect for the office so you’re hands-free for your commute. Here are a few of our favorites.

Screen Shot 2018 09 27 at 12.06.34 PM 300x280 Backpack Sewing Pattern Roundup: Our Top Picks

Desmond Roll Top by Taylor Tailor
No matter what you sew the Desmond Roll Top Backpack up in, the results seem to be stunning! Take it from me, I’ve now made four. The styling has a slightly rugged vibe and the inside is roomy, perfect for toting around town on errands or as a work bag. Size the pattern up or down and you’ve got a trendy everyday backpack or luggage built to travel.

Screen Shot 2018 09 27 at 12.07.06 PM 265x300 Backpack Sewing Pattern Roundup: Our Top Picks

Range Backpack by Noodlehead Sews
The Range Backpack has a similar roll-top style, though is a bit more structured. This one is a definite possibility for school – it’s big enough to wrangle books and folders. Bring in some high-end fabrics to vary the look easily: faux leather or cork give this bag instant high-end appeal.

Screen Shot 2018 09 27 at 12.07.52 PM 283x300 Backpack Sewing Pattern Roundup: Our Top Picks

London Backpack by LBG Studio
Maximize a fun or interesting fabric with a basic backpack pattern! The London Backpack is a perfect canvas for fabric fun. And the perfect size too! It’s the perfect little-person backpack, but in the right fabric, totally sophisticated.

Screen Shot 2018 09 27 at 12.08.24 PM 300x298 Backpack Sewing Pattern Roundup: Our Top Picks

Retro Rucksack by Radiant Home Studio
The Retro Rucksack might be our top pick for combining a very usable size and design with rugged details that make it feel special. It looks like it came right from a high-end store!

Screen Shot 2018 09 27 at 12.06.01 PM 285x300 Backpack Sewing Pattern Roundup: Our Top Picks

Juki Backpack by Elbe Textiles
The Juki Backpack makes my old-school heart happy! This design is so classic and timeless, just right for errands, a quick overnight or a walk in the woods. Perfect for a dude or a kiddo, too!

 Backpack Sewing Pattern Roundup: Our Top Picks
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A-Frame Sew Along Week 3: Elasticized Waistband

Today we’re finishing up our A-Frame sew along with a great hack for creating an elasticized back waist for your skirt, for added comfort and a higher waist look, proving once again that this dynamic garment pattern belongs in your pattern library. Read more about constructing this skirt here. And thanks so much for joining us, Taylor. Take it away!

aframeelastic1 918x1024 A Frame Sew Along Week 3: Elasticized WaistbandI love a high-waisted skirt. There was a time in my life where the more fitted at the waist something was, the more I liked it. I liked being squeezed a bit around the natural waist. (This was, not coincidentally, the time in my life where I wore the most vintage clothing, which is notorious for waist-squeezing)

Something I often do with my high-waisted, waistband having skirts is to add a bit of elastic. Not enough to created a pronounced gather at the waistline, but just enough to give you that extra inch you might need while sitting for long periods of time or after an awesome meal.

Continue reading

 A Frame Sew Along Week 3: Elasticized Waistband
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A-Frame Sew Along, Week 2: Sewing A Lapped Zipper

aframe Folder cover 5 20 15 03 1 204x300 A Frame Sew Along, Week 2: Sewing A Lapped ZipperLast week we discussed colorblocking and layout options for the A-Frame Skirt – with so may options, it’s the gift that keeps on giving! During week 2 of this sew along, we’re taking a deep dive into creating the lapped zipper closure for the skirt. Blueprints for Sewing designer Taylor McVay is here to share her tips!

To start, press the seam where your zipper will go open. Press the open end of the seam as well, folding back the seam allowance.

 

 

 A Frame Sew Along, Week 2: Sewing A Lapped Zipper

With the zipper partially unzipped, align the left side of your zipper teeth with the folded edge of the fabric. There should be a small gap between the zipper teeth and the fabric edge. This will help keep the zipper from getting caught on the fabric. Pin or baste the zipper to the fabric along this edge.

Ever wonder why your zip has extra, toothless tape at the top? This is to give you a bit of room for seam allowance, if your zippers end is being sewn into something else. That way, you don’t have to sew over teeth. Align the edge of this tape with the edge of your fabric, or align it so that the zipper head is 1/2″ or 5/8″ (or whatever your seam allowance is) from the edge of the fabric.

aframe2 300x300 A Frame Sew Along, Week 2: Sewing A Lapped Zipper

The other side of the opening will become the ‘lap’. It often helps to mark this stitching line with chalk. For most zippers, you’ll want the stitching to be 3/8″-1/2″ away from the opening. You want to be sure that wherever your stitching line is, it must catch both the seam allowance and the zipper tape. Since those two factors are variable, try pinning or basting along this guideline, then checking the back to be sure you’ve gone through all layers.

 A Frame Sew Along, Week 2: Sewing A Lapped Zipper

Basting is a fantastic technique to have in your arsenal. If you have the patience for it, baste your zipper onto the fabric by hand, instead of using pins. This will help keep things aligned and predictable during each step of the process.

Set up your zipper foot with the needle coming down on the right side of the foot. Starting at the top of your zipper, sew along the folded fabric edge. Try to keep your fabric aligned with the side of the foot, making sure your stitching catches this fold. It’s better to be a little further from the fabric edge than miss it entirely while sewing (which results in a zipper that is not attached).

Click on over to the Blueprints for Sewing blog for next steps on this helpful visual tutorial. So many great, close-up pics!

Join us next week!  There’s been a slight change. We’re veering from the schedule for an an exciting tutorial about how to add an easy-fit elastic waistband to the skirt back. 

 A Frame Sew Along, Week 2: Sewing A Lapped Zipper
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A-Frame Sew Along, Week 1: Colorblocking & Layout Options

Screen Shot 2018 10 09 at 12.25.49 PM 196x300 A Frame Sew Along, Week 1: Colorblocking & Layout Options

We are so excited to get our October sew along rolling! The A-frame skirt is the perfect fall garment you didn’t know you needed. You can sew it up in anything, including heavier weight fabrics for cooler weather, and the unique angled panels (and pockets) create the perfect opportunity for colorblocking. Today, Blueprints for Sewing designer Taylor McVay walks us through the colorbocking process plus additional layout options. And do join us next week for a lapped zipper tutorial.

And in case you missed it, read Taylor’s interview here.

Continue reading

 A Frame Sew Along, Week 1: Colorblocking & Layout Options
Posted in Sew Along - Aframe skirt | 1 Comment

Inspired by Architecture: An Interview with Taylor McVay, Blueprints for Sewing

aframe Folder cover 5 20 15 03 1 204x300 Inspired by Architecture: An Interview with Taylor McVay, Blueprints for SewingThe October Sew Along with Sew News  features the A-Frame Skirt by Blueprints for Sewing. Inspired by the iconic A-frame house, this pattern features two versions: a pencil silhouette and an A-line silhouette. We’ve fallen pretty hard for the triangular seaming (so flattering) and the ingenious pockets – we’re quite certain this is the perfect cool-weather skirt.

We’re kicking off the sew along officially on October 9th, but today we’re sharing our full interview with the skirt’s designer, Taylor McVay of Blueprints for Sewing. Taylor’s approach to pattern design is so unique: her designs are inspired by architecture, hence the name of her company. Her designs are the perfect blend of classic and comfortable, yet plenty unique and artfully edgy.

Screen Shot 2018 09 28 at 10.47.19 AM Inspired by Architecture: An Interview with Taylor McVay, Blueprints for SewingSN: How did you get started sewing?

My sewing career began at a very young age. I’d always been keen on making and as I began to care about clothes and accessories in my early teens, the natural inclination was to make my own. I never quite liked the things I found in stores and they never fit. I found making my own clothes to be an act of self expression, at a time when many of us are first forming our identity and questioning who we are.

I continued to make my own clothing through high school and began to create my own patterns and conceptualize fashion lines while I studied art and art history in college. After college, since my art degree presented my few viable career options, I decided to fall back on my sewing and retail experience and got a job managing a high end vintage boutique.

Continue reading

 Inspired by Architecture: An Interview with Taylor McVay, Blueprints for Sewing
Posted in Garment Sewing | 1 Comment

Basic Serger Anatomy & Serger Threading Tips

How well do you know your serger? Familiarize yourself with the basic parts of a serger so you can start serging full speed ahead.

26 28 SN1811 Serger School 755x1024 Basic Serger Anatomy & Serger Threading TipsSpool pins (1): These vertical pins holds the thread cones. A serger has three to five spool pins, depending on how many thread strands it allows. Different serger seam types require different numbers of thread strands.

Continue reading

 Basic Serger Anatomy & Serger Threading Tips
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Big Time: 25 Tips for Making Time for Sewing

Of all the resources needed for sewing, time is probably in the shortest supply. When I tell people I sew, this is always their first question: how do you make time? And it’s true, in today’s busy world, it’s hard to make space and time for a hobby. But happiness can be hard to come by. If sewing truly makes you happy, it’s worth making time for.making time5 1024x1024 Big Time: 25 Tips for Making Time for Sewing

Over the years, I’ve changed the way I think about sewing: instead of feeling silly or selfish, I’ve started referring to my hobby as my “sewing practice.” This subtle change has helped elevate my hobby in my mind and it’s changed the way I prioritize sewing. One thing I’ve learned is to treat your sewing time with respect. Here are some tips to help you carve out time for yourself, stick to it and make the most of it.

Decide a few things up front and get started the right way.
Decide what you plan to sew before you get in your sewing room. Too many fabric options can be distracting.

Have a set amount of time each week that you plan to sew.

Decide whether you work better in small batches or longer expanses of time. Know yourself – I time out at about the two hour mark! And most things sewn after 11pm are a touch wonky!

Spend time in your sewing space everyday. Even if it’s to straighten up or sew on buttons.

Don’t wait until all the laundry is put away and all the chores are done – if your house is like mine, that may never happen. Continue reading

 Big Time: 25 Tips for Making Time for Sewing
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