Archive for August, 2009

tension experiment

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

tension experiment, originally uploaded by queen puff puff.

Sarah had some good feedback about the tension on the elastic thread. Other tutorials say to wind the bobbin with NO tension while the thread instructions say to use loose to firm tension. So I decided to do a comparison. The sample of the left has absolutely no tension while the one on the right is pretty tight. Both of them were sewn wth a stitch length of 3mm, jtop tension set at 4 and on the same light muslin.

And….. the results look pretty similar; although I do think the gathers are tighter on the sample with the tighter tension. But I actually like the softness of the one on the left.

What do you think?

One Hour Dress Tutorial

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

One Hour Dress Tutorial, originally uploaded by queen puff puff.

You can make this dress in about an hour using elastic thread to create shirring (soft gathers) which will add shaping. Elastic thread is super easy to work with but does take a little practice to get right. Definitely practice on some scrap fabric to get the hang of it.

First, figure out how long you want the dress to be and cut 2 lengths of fabric that length. Stitch them together along one side to make one big wide piece of fabric that is your length and 88″ wide (for 45″ wide quilting cotton). Go ahead and finish this seam by either serging, pinking or zig zagging. Now hem the top and bottom edges. You can do a rolled hem on a regular sewing machine, a rolled hem on a serger or any sort of small hem you want. (You just don’t want lose very much length.)

Now on to the elastic thread! Elastic thread only comes in white or black but that’s OK because you only use it in the bobbin so you’ll never see it anyway. You have to hand wind the elastic thread onto your bobbin and you want to wind it with a bit of tension. How tight you wind it will determine how much it gathers your fabric. So if you wind it really tight you’ll have really gathered or shirred fabric.

Lengthen your stitch length to about 3mm and adjust your tension to 5 (but play around this a bit on your scrap). Load your bobbin and stitch some practice rows. The fabric should start gathering up as you stitch. If it’s not then the thread either got wound too loose, your top tension is too loose or your bobbin tension is too loose. If it gathers too much, then tension is too tight.



When everything looks good, you are ready to move on to your dress. You want to stitch 2 to 3 parallel rows of shirring stitches across the top edge of your dress. Make the rows about 1/2″ apart and start them a 1/2″ from the top edge. It’s helpful to mark your rows on the fabric with tailor’s chalk or an air soluble fabric marker.

Now hold the dress up to and figure out where your natural waist is. Now do 4-6 rows of gathered stitches at the waist that are each 1/2″ apart. Your dress should be fitted above and below the bust creating an hourglass shape.

Finally, you are going to stitch the other side seam and finish the seam the same way you finished the first side seam. Voila! You’re done!

TUTORIAL - How to do a rolled hem on a serger

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Your serger is great for sewing seams on knits and stretch fabrics and also for finishing seam allowances neatly. But it can do other things too! One of my favorite uses for my serger is to do rolled hems. A rolled hem is were the machine folds the fabric under a tiny bit and then stitches it. You will frequently see this around the edges of napkins and tablecloths but also on a lot of knit clothing, You may have seen rolled hems done on a standard machine but this is MUCH faster and easier!

All sergers are different but the basics are the same. I’ll walk you through the steps.

Here’s a serger set up for standard serging. Do you see that stitch finger just above and right of the foot? You want to disengage that. On most sergers, you simply pull a switch forward to slide the finger forward and out of the way. For other sergers the stitch finger is attached to the needle plate and you switch to a rolled hem plate. Be sure to check your manual.

First thing, disengage or remove the upper knife. Usually this is as easy as turning a knob. Next, I pull the red switch forward to switch from S for standard to R for rolled.

Next, shorten your stitch length to R (again, for Rolled. Clever, huh?) which is basically 1 1/2.

With your fabric face up, slide it under the presser foot ad start stitching. You see how the fabric folds under the threads stitch over the edge. (FYI, I just use 3 threads for this, no need for the 2nd needle thread).

Here’s a view from the wrong side. The right side view is up top. That’s it! Very simple. You can try other variations likes shortening the stitch even more to create a marrow edge or stretch the fabric to create a lettuce edge.

New Class for August - The Village Blouse

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

The Titus Village Blouse, originally uploaded by queen puff puff.

We have another new class coming up in August. It’s the Village Blouse by the popular Titus Patterns from Berkeley. It’s a super cute peasant style blouse with raglan sleeves, a keyhole neckline and and elastic shirring on the sleeve hems. You’ll learn lots of new skills like:
1. how to make your own bias tape
2. working with elastic thread for gathering
3. how to set a sleeve
4. how to bind a neckline

Come join us on Wednesday nights, August 19th and 26th from 6:00 pm to 8:30pm.