Learn & Create

If you thought organic was just a grocery craze then think again. Lately all the shows are featuring organic fabrics fibers and fillers. NearSea Naturals sells notions and fabrics using certified organic cotton -- and they're all mostly made in the US! They have a selection of textured solids and fun prints buttons made from shells bamboo coconut and naturally-dropped antlers and notions such as elastic and thread. All sew green! What have you sewn green?
Nancy Zieman is a guru when it comes to sewing especially pattern fitting. She's been hosting a PBS show Sewing with Nancy for over 25 years. And in that time she's made hundreds of projects -- garments quilts and embroidery. In this video Nancy demonstrates how easy it is to fit a pattern to your body using the pivot and slide technique.
So you have all these great marking tools but you're not sure when to use each one. Or you're not sure what projects will work best for each one. OR maybe you're like me and are a little afraid of a few of them how do you use it and what kind of mark is it going to leave? Here is some helpful advice on marking tools. Note you should always try your marking tool on scraps of your fabric before lining out all your cut/sew lines. You'd hate to get it all complete to then find out your marking tool left a permanent mark. You can use a household mechanic pencil with 0.5mm lead on most light colored fabrics. Remember to mark lightly so your stitching will cover it. An artist's pencil (it's a silver pencil) is another good tool and works well on light or dark fabric. A soapstone marker also shows on light and dark fabrics. The trick with these it to always keep them very sharp. When they start to dull they don't work as well. A sliver of soap that's right the good ol' bar soap we all grew up with works well as a marker and washes right out too! Just have to make sure your sliver is small enough to make a good mark. Chalk pencils tend to brush away. With these it's best to mark as you go rather than marking out the entire project in one setting. Wash-out pen pencil or graphite markers are great tools but it is especially important to test them on a scrap fabric before you begin. Also be careful applying heat could make the marks permanent and humidity could make the lines disappear quickly. But their fine point makes them ideal for intricate jobs. The triangle tailor's chalk makes free-hand drawing or marking rather a breeze. Lastly the chalk roller or chalk wheel makes a fine line (although I have difficulty being precise with these markers). Whichever marker you choose have fun with it; let your spirit free and create something truly unique.
Decorate your home this Halloween with a whimsical and easy to make skeleton doll! Download Project here
Topstitching is one of my favorite ways to highlight a particular area of my project -- its functional and decorative. One way to achieve great topstitching is to use interfacing with your fabric. Interfacing provides a stable background for the stitches and helps keep the fabric from stretching. You should also use the correct presser foot to help make accurate stitching easy. And always watch the foot not the needle when sewing. We recommend four different foot options: 1/4 foot -- most have red lines on the foot these lines can aid when making corners Notched foot -- has multiple alignment points to use as a guide Clear plastic foot -- typically this foot has a red line in front of the needle position which is great to use as a guide Open toe foot -- when following a marker or chalk line the length of the foot can help greatly in guiding your project Select your thread for topstitching based on how much you want it to standout and on your fabric. For example a heavy weight thread on silk or other fine fabric will cause it to pucker; silk rayon polyester or embroidery thread works best for these materials. Your stitch length will vary based on your fabric as well. For example heavyweight fabrics require a longer stitch length so the stitches don't sink into the nap. To add a special touch try using a twin needle while topstitching. This will produce two evenly spaced rows at the same time. Here are a few more tips when it comes to topstitching: It's best to have a few layers to stitch through Start your topstitching from the upper edge When topstitching along a seamline press your seam allowance in the same direction so you topstitch through more layers Always end topstitching with your needle down What are you going to topstitch -- garments handbags home decor items?
Still need some gift ideas but don't have time to make something completely from scratch? Well check out Buy & DIY with See Kate Sew! From a Mascara Sampler Pouch to a Penguin Plush & Children's Book set Kate is sharing tons of great ideas for gifts to give this holiday season.   And some of my personal favorites from the series... (PS: Click the picture for Kate's tutorial!)    
Create a stylish tablet cover using this fun and easy tutorial from Kris Thurgood of My Girlfriend's Quilt Shoppe! Whether you have one already or Santa puts a tablet under your tree this case is just too cute not to accompany it. Plus this would make a great gift to give to a tablet owner too! Before you get started take a peak at how Kris used the Baby Lock Symphony and the TruStitch stitch regulator to quilt the fabric for this project!  
Measurement A (shown below): About armpit level to the bottom of the sternum (this is how long you want the bodice to be) Measurement B (shown below): From bottom of the sternum to the length that you would like the dress (this will be the length of the skirt) Measurement C: Around-the-chest measurement Measurement D: Around-the-waist (or belly) measurement Illustration of the girl is from Twistynoodle.com SUPPLIES: To figure out how much fabric you'll need to buy DOUBLE Measurement B plus DOUBLE the RADIUS OF WAIST MEASUREMENT (see step 2 or just add 15 to be safe) because it's a circle skirt (no side seams) a larger quantity of fabric is needed for the skirt plus 6 for the straps plus DOUBLE Measurement A (for the bodice) plus 2 for seam allowances. That should be exactly how much fabric you need...you might get a couple inches extra just to be safe :) (I needed about 1 3/4 yd for my 3-year-old). You'll also need a package of 1/4 elastic and thread sewing machine and a serger can be helpful (but if you don't have one I will give alternate methods)! REMEMBER I did this for a 3-year-old and used 45 fabric if you are doing this for an older child like 6-8 years old you may need to take fabric width into consideration and may need to use a 60 fabric (or if you can't get a full circle skirt with the length that you want (with a 45 fabric) you will need to cut 2 halves to the circle and sew side seams but you'll also need more fabric...sorry this tutorial doesn't go over making the circle skirt with side seams). Make sure to get a soft fabric...mine was kind of stiff and it worked but soft is better (especially for 3-year-olds)! :) Here we go! Since the tutorial is on the longer side (with lots of pictures!) I made it into a PDF. Click here to download the Simple Summer Dress Tutorial!!
Looking for a dress tutorial that is sweet and simple? Look no further! I made this for my 3-year-old and with a few measurements you can make this for babies all the way to maybe 7 or 8 (just have to make sure you get the appropriate amount of fabric). Get your sewing machine ready and a serger is helpful too! Ok to find how much fabric you need let's take some measurements (see pic below)! Measurement A (from armpit level to bottom of the sternum...this is how long the bodice will be) ___ Measurement B (from bottom of the sternum to preferred length skirt length) _____ Measurement C (Chest front...best way to get this measurement is to put your child in a somewhat fitted tank/shirt and measure from sides seam to side seam in the front only) __ Measurement D (around the whole chest or belly...this will help us know how much fabric we'll need for the skirt)____ Let's find out how much fabric you need! A little disclaimer: Here is the tricky part when we get into sizing...at some point bigger kids are going to need double the amount for the skirt fabric to get enough width to gather up for the front and the back panels. So I am going to have to let you be the judge on that but for the skirt you will need double the width of your Measurement D (so for example my daughter's chest is 19 around and I doubled that measurement to 38 so because my fabric is 45 wide I could get that out of one cut). If your daughter's doubled measurement is wider than 45 you'll need to get double the amount of Measurement B for the skirt so you can cut a front and back panel and sew them together at the side seams. This would also apply if you want a fuller gather...I doubled mine but if you think you want a fuller gather multiply by 2.5 or so and see if it is wider than 45. If you get a 60 wide fabric you'll need to figure accordingly. Ok so let's really figure out how much fabric to get: Double Measurement A plus 1 ____ PLUS Measurement B (double if you fall into the disclaimer above) plus 1 __ PLUS 10 for straps PLUS 2 for the neck strap equals amount you need to purchase. You also need like 20 of 1/4 elastic for the neck strap and about 30 of 3/8 elastic for the side seams of the bodice and the upper edge of the back of the skirt. Alright! Let's get started! Cutting: Cut your 2 straps at 5 x 40 (we're cutting them long and can shorten them later) cut the neck strap at 2 x 40 (again cutting long...it gathers up too) to find you bodice measurements Double Measurement A PLUS 1 for seam allowance (SA) __ by Measurement C PLUS 1 for SA__ and cut this rectangle then for the skirt double (or x2.5 if you want and have the fabric amount) Measurement D by Measurement B plus 1 and cut this rectangle. Close up...sorry the fabric pattern blends a lot! Pin these straps in place and baste to hold. Before turning the bodice take some 3/8 elastic and place right next to the seam stitch line. Zig-zag and anchor the top of the elastic and then pull the elastic hard and zig-zag the elastic in place to scrunch up the side seams (end and cut the elastic a 1/2 short of the bottom edge). Scroll down to see what it should look like. Should look somewhat like this...I used a 5.5 stitch width and a 4.0 stitch length zig-zag. Close up... Serged center back SA looking all professional! :) Divide your skirt into fourths center front center back (if you only have one seam make it this) and sides (if you have 2 side seams make these seams the sides) and mark with pins or a marking utensil. Then on the back of the skirt only from side marker to side marker if you only have one center back seam (or if you have 2 side seams for bigger kiddos) take your 3/8 elastic and line it up about 3/8 down from the finished upper edge and we're going to sew it on like we did the previous elastic. Zig-zag at the beginning to anchor and then pull it a lot as you zig-zag over it. Keep scrolling down to see what it should look like! Ok the picture below is not the clearest but you are going to pin the gathered up skirt front to the bodice front. Line up the gathered stitch line with the lower edge bodice basting line (we stitched in step 6) and pin on the outside (remember that upper ruffled edge is exposed)! With your needle in the center stitch down that gathered skirt front to the bodice front (stitch along your gather stitchline). Turn right side out with a skinny loop turner. Now I just took an estimate measurement of my kiddo of how long to cut the elastic (length from top of dress loop behind neck to other side top of dress)...you don't want it to be tight just comfortable...cut a little extra. Pull the elastic through with either a safety pin or thread the skinny loop turner through the tube hook the elastic onto it and drag it through. You can pull that elastic through to desired gather. This will gather up that cute neck strap. Stitch your ends down to hold the elastic in place. You can cut it down now or pin strap in place and cut down after sewing to the dress...if you cut it now make sure and put a new stitch where you are going to cut so that you don't lose the elastic in the strap casing. Then stitch straps in place...stitch about 1/4 down from the top edge. I actually also topstitched across the entire top edge of the bodice front too about a 1/4 down from that upper edge to conceal where I stitched the straps in place.
Carry your sunglasses in style with this super easy DIY glasses case sewing project! All you need is a couple pieces of fabric thread and your sewing machine.
Whip up an easy travel tissue keeper on your serger with this fun tutorial! All you need is a couple pieces of fabric thread and a serger.
Another week during National Sewing Month means another guest post for Teach the One 2 Sew! Today we have Susan from Springs Creative sharing a little about her sewing experience. Take it away Susan! I came from a family where the women all knew how to sew crochet knit and quilt. I had a needle and thread in my hand as far back as I can remember but when it came time to teach me to sew properly my mother said she wanted me to learn the right way and sent me to the local sewing shop. She signed me up for a 2 week adventure to learn a multitude of techniques and the bonus was to make the ugliest dress known to mankind. This dress had a ruffle long sleeves with cuffs darts zipper up the back and a peter pan collar. I remember thinking this was way too much information for a 9 year old who just wanted design and to make doll clothes and shorts. My sewing skills grew took me to college and into my career. I have used sewing over the years to make people gifts pay my bills and just to soothe my soul but the best part about knowing how to sew is sharing my passion with others. I created a quick and easy 1-2-3(needle down/ ski's down/ and then your foot down) learn to sew curriculum for children so they would have sewing as a skill to keep with them throughout their life. I taught hundreds of children to sew using this method. I kept the groups small 6-8 kids at a time and each one made a lap size split rail quilt. I taught them to strive for their perfect not mine since everyone has a different level of what they want from sewing. I let them decide if they were ok with 1/2 seam or 1/4 seam as long as they knew how that would affect the final project. I have always preferred to have the beginner love to sew and then strive for perfect seam than to start with making the perfect seam be the threshold for going forward. Learning to sew is not hard but there is much to remember and if you get so caught up in perfection you will never enjoy the process. My mother always said perfect is the enemy of done and that has stuck with me. So I teach to love the seam ripper and refer to it as your best friend the kind of friend that gets you out of a jam and helps fix everything wrong with your day. At least once per session someone would either rip too far or snip with scissors in a place that could not be repaired in the traditional way. I invented the Love Patch for just these times. We would take a scrap of their fabric and cut it into the shape of a heart and stitch it over the unfixable spot. Everyone in the group would take a stitch or two and share their love with the patch. I had one little girl cut her quilt on purpose so she could have a Love Patch to remember everyone in her group. I have been blessed with this gift of sewing but my life's goal has always been to share it either through gifts costumes wedding dresses I have made but mostly through sharing the love of sewing and helping others learn and share it too. I love the way Susan reaches sewing! I need to adopt some of her sewing philosophies...my mistakes wouldn't seem so daunting if I thought about it in the way Susan does.
Our last guest post for Teach the One 2 Sew comes from Evy Hawkins of A Bit of Stitch. Today she's sharing her learning-to-sew journey and how a special woman encouraged her along the way. I realized while thinking about this story telling invitation that I couldn't remember ever not sewing. My earliest sewing memory is the awful trouble I got in when I lost a needle in my mother's bed. (That wasn't a good day for either of us.) Yet when I was small mom didn't sew – as in make things from scratch. She did mend patch and fix so there were always needles and thread in our house and I was resourceful. My first stash was comprised of worn-out socks paper towels the bottom two inches of the curtains in the spare bedroom and more often than not my own wardrobe. I think mom thought if she just let me at it long enough I'd figure it out. Then my great aunt Agnes came to stay with us one summer. Aunt Agnes knew her way around a needle and thread like I had never seen. AND she was willing to spend her time showing me – a grubby eternally questioning impatient insatiably curious and probably whiny child – how to make pretties with that needle and thread! That was the summer the love of sewing truly spread its roots and took hold of my heart. And that sweet lady is the reason my love of sewing continues to bloom strong today.

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