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.
I was looking for some natural ways to relieve stress for a friend and remembered these awesome fabric tubes of warmth and relaxation. A friend of mine gave me a rice bag in college...and I'm not sure where it went. They're so easy to make and smell so lovely! Lindsay Wilkes with The Cottage Mama has a tutorial for a beautiful embroidered therapeutic bag and cover (for washing)! I wanted to make mine longer so it could be wrapped around the sides of my neck. A cover or sleeve is a great idea for washing but I was in a major time crunch to make one for a gift for a friend who was leaving for college the next day! You can literally whip up one of these rice bags in 30 minutes or less! This pouch can be warmed in the microwave for 1 or 2 minutes (or even kept in the freezer) and placed on your neck and shoulders (or any achy muscles really). It's quite soothing! Here's what you need: Cut piece of fabric 10 x 24 8 TBSP Dried Lavender Herb (not the easiest thing to find when you're in a time crunch; I found mine at our local Old Town Spice Shoppe after much searching the area but you can google and buy too if you have more time). Thread 2.5 lb bag of rice bowl & funnel Optional: ribbon to tie near the ends maybe like 14 or so Fold the fabric pretty sides together lengthwise. Then sew the 2 short sides and the one long side (not the folded side obviously). NOTE: leave about a 1.5 opening so as to be able to turn right side out. This part is optional but I wanted the ends of the bag to be flat. So you open the sewn corners and pinch them in opposite of how they were sewn and stitch a line up 1 from the point of the corner for all 4 corners. As we only left a 1.5 opening push fabric through the opening with a pen or thin blunt object (as shown below). Pull completely right side out. I mixed about 2.5 lbs of rice (I had a 5 lb. bag because I wanted to make more) and 8 TBSPs of dried lavender. Pinch the opening and stitch it closed twice near the edge.  
In honor of National Quilting Month  I give you: a Quilted Heart Pad pot holder tutorial! This little hot pad is so easy and fun to make! Let's sew! You'll need one 2.5 x 44 strip of fabric for binding two 9 fabric scraps a 9 square of insulated batting a fabric scrap for the heart and fusible applique cut-away stabilizer. You may add an extra layer of regular batting for added plushness if you desire. I only used one layer of the insulated batting and the pot holder still worked great guarding against heat. You'll also need your sewing machine and these 2 sewing machine feet compatible with your machine are very helpful for this project: the Walking Foot and the Open Toe Foot (for applique). Print and cut out the heart pattern cut your fabric and fusible applique cut-away stabilizer with the heart pattern. Fuse the heart to the top fabric piece. If you'd like to stitch your applique stitch on now skip to step 5. I appliqued through all of the layers after channel quilting it looked really cool too but it's a little thicker to sew through. Layer your fabrics: fabric insulated batting extra layer of regular thin batting if desired and the top layer. Draw a line from corner to corner place your walking foot on your machine and move your needle to the center and stitch along that line first. I used a 3.0 stitch length. Then use the edge of the foot to continue what is called channel quilting (stitching straight parallel lines through quilt layers). Complete channel quilting as desired. Then use your open toe foot and a blanket stitch setting (on my Baby Lock sewing machine my stitch width was at 4 and stitch length at 3.5) to stitch around the edge of your heart. The back looks really cool too! I love how it turned out! Square up the quilted fabric. Now you'll apply the binding. Take your 44 strip and press it in half lengthwise. You'll follow this tutorial for binding however you'll start and finish the binding as shown below. To start pin evenly at the top left corner (as shown below). Continue with the tutorial for binding at step 10 (skip step 14 of the binding tutorial) and only complete 2 corners and 3 edges (top right and lower see the next 2 pictures). After you've stitched the lower edge we need to do one thing quickly before stitching the fourth edge. At the top left corner (just at the corner) you need to flip the binding up and around the edge of the pot holder and...   ...stitch it in place along the left edge seam allowance. Then finish the third corner and fourth edge as shown below stitching all the way up the tail of the binding (no need to stop short as you did on your previous 3 corners). Press your binding out (as shown in the binding tutorial as well). Then wrap the binding around the edges and press again. Pin and top stitch your binding according to the binding tutorial. Start your top stitching at the top left corner and stitch clockwise all the way around and up the little tail that will become the loop. Stitch close to the edge on the tail.   Front side shown below... Back side shown below... Fold the loop down even with the top edge of the pot holder. Zig-zag over the raw edge of the tail with a stitch width of 3.5 and a .5 stitch length creating a bar tack/satin stitch stitching the loop down completely covering the raw edge of the end. And you're done! :)
Did you know that September is National Sewing Month? We are celebrating in a BIG way! Baby Lock has partnered with the ladies from Simple Simon & Co. to bring you Teach the One 2 Sew a program designed to encourage you as sewers to teach just one person to sew. Imagine how many people would be sewing if we all shared that love? It would be amazing! Keep reading as Elizabeth from Simple Simon shares her thoughts on Teach the One 2 Sew. Over the years I am often asked why do you sew? And while I sometimes can't answer that question without a big laundry list of why I sew….one of those reasons is to see the look on others' faces when I give away something I have made.  It's the smiles it's the tears and it's the moments when I see happiness---that's one of the reasons I love to sew. And I truly love to teach others to sew. It brings that same smile to my heart when I see something that they have created for someone else. It’s a rewarding thing. I haven't found my person yet for this month (but I promise I will!) but a few years ago my daughter wanted to make a quilt for her room. So she and I went to the fabric store she picked out fat quarters and we made a pinwheel quilt together. It was one of the experiences that I think both she and I will always remember when we each see that quilt.  And not just the beautiful colors that are in that quilt...but the many hours we spent together stitching cutting laughing and making memories. That is what I will remember when I see that quilt. It is my wish that throughout this month you will take on this challenge--because it doesn't matter what the sewing project is it can be something so simple---but it's the sewing that you can plant in another's life.  That just may grow into a sewing tree of their own. Come back each week for a new guest post from some of your favorite women in the sewing industry. Until then consider teaching someone to sew!
This week's guest post for Teach the One 2 Sew comes from Jina Barney of Riley Blake Designs! Keep reading to see how sewing has touched her life and how she was able to share that love of sewing with others. Many years ago I had a friend share with me that she was diagnosed with cancer. Her last wish was for me to make each of her 5 children a quilt from her clothes. This would be her last earthly gift to them. A week later I got the phone call. Jill had passed away. At first I was shocked that it happened so quickly. Upon hearing the news of her death I knew I had to make those quilts. I was working full time so I started calling friends and making assignments. I had someone collecting sayings and memories about each child. I had women cutting pieces for the star blocks and more women cutting pieces for the heart blocks. I had women who had never sewn before show up at my house and ask what they could do to help. I had women pouring in from all over our town and the neighboring towns offering their services to sew and help make these quilts. News was spreading and women were filling my home learning how to embroider the words and sayings on the borders that would surround the blocks. We sewed through the night for 4 days. One by one each quilt was finished with every stitch being thoughtfully and lovingly stitched. One of the small miracles was there were no mistakes. Every block fit perfectly. Each border was just right. My home was filled with a common bond shared through the art of sewing. Here are some thoughts that were shared with the children at their mother's funeral. The quilts surrounded her casket and the room seemed cozy and warm. Everyone was so grateful for the opportunity to work on these quilts. It was healing for us all. There were lots of tears and memories shared as everyone worked together. These quilts were sewn out of their love for your mother and their commitment to each of you to love and support you in the years ahead. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story with us Jina! How has sewing changed or touched your life? It's unbelievable how a common interest such as sewing can unite complete strangers. It's quite remarkable!

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