fabric applique

Have you ever seen a fabric that has a great pattern, but is either too expensive to buy yardage of, or too bold to use in masses?  The same might go for a stellar lace?  Sometimes just hinting at these materials with an applique is enough to transform something from, ehh to aah. 

I’ve had this old shirt lying around that I was starting to get bored of, so I decided to spice it up, just a tad, with an applique.

MATERIALS NEEDED

fabric/lace piece
matching thread
item to embellish (purse, shirt, dish towel, etc.)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Cut around the pattern on the applique material, leaving about 1/4″ around the edges for stitching.

2. If you think it might fray, just add a little fray check around the edges.  Let dry.

3. Set the machine to a zigzag stitch, with the width at medium-wide, and the length set to medium-short.  The shorter you set the stitch length, the tighter the applique stitching will appear, which will help prevent fray.  Test the zig zag on a piece of scrap fabric to adjust it as needed.

4. Pin the applique in place.  If you’re sewing an applique onto a stretchy material, you may want to use quilting spray or fusible webbing to hold it in place before pinning it so the under fabric does not stretch and warp the applique.

3. Sew around the entire applique, and trace stitch over the first few stitches to reinforce the stitching.  Clip threads.

4.  Applique any additional pieces.

What?  This old thing?

10: adjust the stitch

Sewing becomes so much more fun when you know how to change the stitch.  Whether it’s a zig zag or a decorative stitch, the possibilities become truly endless.  There  are several ways to adjust the stitch you’d like to use.  Locate the stitch width and length adjusters on your machine (they could be buttons, dials, or levers, depending on your machine).

Use 2 sample rectangles to practice these stitches on.  It will help you visualize what changes you’re making.

ADJUSTING A STRAIGHT STITCH

Start by ironing each sample rectangle into thirds.  These fold lines will be your guide as you sew.

With you machine set to a straight stitch, sew 1/3 of the way down one sample rectangle on the standard setting, guiding along the left fold.

Lengthen the stitch and continue sewing another 1/3.

Then shorten the stitch and sew to the edge of the fabric.

Look at the stitch, can you see where it was lengthened and shortened?

Now set the machine back to the basic straight stitch and sew 1/3 of the way down, guiding on the right fold.

Increase the stitch width sew another 1/3 of the length.

For the last 1/3, lower the stitch width and sew to the edge of the sample.

Look at the stitch, can you see where the width was changed?   On most machines, when you change the width on a straight stitch, it simply moves the needle to the left (smaller width) or right (larger width).

ADJUSTING A ZIG ZAG STITCH

Using a second sample rectangle, set the machine to a basic zigzag stitch and adjust the stitch length along the left side using the same method that was used for the straight stitch (first third: standard, middle third: lengthened, last third: shortened).

Do you see the changes that were made?

Now test the stitch width with a zigzag on the right side of the sample (first third: standard, middle third: widened, last third: narrowed).

Some machines have additional stitches, go ahead and test those out on some scrap fabric as well!

Be sure to mark the stitch settings on the sample book page.

HOMEWORK

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sleeve roll

Sleeves can be tricky to iron, especially if you’re hoping to avoid having a crease down the length of the arm.  With a sleeve roll, you can iron one layer of the sleeve at a time.

PREPARING THE PATTERN FOR THE SLEEVE ROLL

1. Trace a bowl onto the tracing paper.

2. Trace the cup again 12-15″ from the first tracing and connect the two circles with straight lines on the sides.

3.  Cut out 2 sleeve roll pieces from the fabric of your choice, 1 side being basic quilter’s cotton, and one side being heavier like home decor or flannel.  Cut two pieces of cotton for the lining as well (that’s 4 pieces in total).

SLEEVE ROLL SEWING INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Line all 4 sleeve roll pieces together, with the right sides facing the middle (so the bottom 2 pieces will be right-side-up, and the top 2 pieces will be right-side-down).

2.  Stitch all the way around the edges, but leave a 2 or 3″ opening one one of the straight edges.

3.  Notch the curved seam allowance.

4. Turn right-side-out.

4. Stuff very tightly with fabric scraps.

5. Use a ladder stitch to close the opening, using doubled thread or embroidery floss.


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ironing ham

I’m pretty sure in Hell everyone is doomed to iron men’s dress shirts for eternity.  It is just that miserable, right?  But, ironing shapely items is practically painless with a ham and roll.  Not the dinner kind, the ironing kind.  Although, ironing with food in hand would probably lift some stress as well.

If you’ve never used a tailor’s ham or sleeve roll before, you’re going to shower me with virtual kisses, which I will gladly waft in the direction of the brilliant soul who invented them.

MATERIALS NEEDED

1/4 yard fabric for ham, 1 side cotton- 1 side flannel/wool/heavy home decor
Matching thread
Heaping mound of fabric scraps, ripped into strips

PREPARING THE PATTERN FOR THE HAM

1.  Take your tracing paper, and draw an egg-like shape.  (height: 12″, width: 10″).  This is your ham pattern piece, cut it out.  Fold the ham pattern in half and even the sides with a pair of paper scissors.

2.  If you choose to add a pocket to the ham, trace another piece the same size as the ham piece, with a curve from about the top third to the bottom third of the pattern.

3.  Cut out 2 ham pieces from the fabric of your choice, 1 side being basic quilter’s cotton, and one side being heavier like home decor or flannel.  Cut two pieces of cotton for the lining as well (that’s 4 pieces in total). Then cut out 2 pocket pieces from the fabric of your choice (optional).

HAM SEWING INSTRUCTIONS

All machine sewing for the ham and sleeve roll should be done using a 5/8″ seam allowance.

1. Match up the two pocket pieces with right-sides-together an sew along the top of the pocket (the curve that doesn’t match the other ham pieces).

2.  Clip into the seam every 1/2″ or so to help it lay flat.

3.  Turn the pocket right side out, press the seam flat, and top stitch along the pressed edge of the pocket.

4.  Line the pocket up with 2 ham pieces, all with the right sides up: (from bottom to top) liner, outer ham piece, pocket. Baste all the way around the outer edges using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

5.  Lay the pocketed ham piece right-side up, and layer the other ham pieces on top of it with the RIGHT-SIDES FACING DOWN.  Pin.

6.  Use a 5/8″ seam allowance to sew around the edges, leaving a 3 or 4″ opening.

7.  Notch the curved seam allowance.

8.  Turn right-side-out.

9. Stuff very tightly with fabric scraps.

10.  Use a ladder stitch to close the opening, using doubled thread or embroidery floss.

Now you might even enjoy that pesky pile of shirts that need ironed.  Maybe.

 

9: sewing a curve

When sewing on a curve, your hands should be steering your fabric left or right (not pushing it through, just steering).  It can be confusing where to line up the edge of your fabric on the needle plate to get the right seam allowance.  All that matters is the point right across from your needle.  As long as you keep that point lined up at the right marking, you’re golden!

Take your time, there’s no rush.  If you’re nervous, you can always try “sewing” your curve without thread for practice a few times.  Sewing a beautiful curve does you no good if you don’t clip and notch it properly. Just remember you want to clip to not through the stitching.

For the practice samples, take 3 sample squares and lay them on top of each other with right-sides-up.  Cut a curved line down the middle through all three layers.  Pair them up with right-sides-together: one concave set, one convex set, and one opposing set.

CONCAVE CURVE

Find the concave sample set.  These look like someone is sucking in their tummy (if you have a hard time remembering, imagine walking into a cave).

The edge approaching the needle will look like it is too far away from the needle, don’t worry about that.  All that matters is that the point directly next to the needle is lined up where you want it for the right seam allowance.  Remember to use your hands to steer the fabric in a curve motion, you don’t need to push it through.

When the seam is sewn it won’t lay flat when you turn your fabric because there is less fabric at the edge of the seam allowance than there is at the seam.  It will look scrunched.

It will pull the seam in and pucker.  To avoid this, clip into the seam allowance along the curve.  This helps it “stretch” to the length of the stitching so it can lay flat.

Turn and press.

CONVEX CURVE

Find the convex sample set.  These look like a pregnant belly.

The edge approaching the needle will look like it is aimed underneath the presser foot, don’t worry about that.  All that matters is that the edge directly next to the needle is lined up where you want it for the right seam allowance.  Remember to use your hands to steer the fabric in a curve motion, you don’t need to push it through.

When the seam is sewn it won’t lay flat when you turn your fabric because there is more fabric at the edge of the seam allowance than there is at the seam.  It will look bunchy.

To avoid this, clip notches into the seam allowance.  This removes some of the fabric so it can lay flat.

Turn and Press.

OPPOSING CURVES

Sometimes, like when setting in a sleeve, the edges curve in opposite directions when you line the pieces up with right sides together.

Find the opposing sample set.  There will be one convex and one concave curve.  Line them up with RIGHT-SIDES-TOGETHER and pin them at the center.

Pull the convex curve up to the concave curve and pin along both sides.

As you sew, straighten the edge slightly to help visualize the seam allowance (straightening the edge is NOT advised for the other two methods).

The fabric to the left and right of the needle will bunch because of the curves, just make sure it doesn’t pucker underneath the needle.  You can push the fabric out of the way as you sew if you need to.

For some projects, like sewing in a sleeve, you shouldn’t need to clip or notch because you want the shape it gives.  However, if you want the curve to lay flat, you will want to clip the concave seam allowance and notch the convex side of the seam allowance.

HOMEWORK