Thursday, May 31, 2012

How Your Sewing Machine Works

I found this video on youtube to be really informative. Let me be clear: this video is on how the machine works not how to sew.  I've only posted part 1 below.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Summer Sewing Goals (with patterns)

I love this long dress. I like it in polka-dots but I'm trying to use up my fabric stash so it will probably be in green.
This pattern I've already started making. See post here.
I want to make jeans.

I have the pattern and some lovely silk for this one already. I plan on making version A.

I plan to make a few of these.
This will be a late-summer project but I do plan to get to it.
And this is my final pick. I love this dress!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Made Multiple Blouses for Spring - Assembly Line Style

I decided to make several tops at once. Thinking that I could use up a lot of fabric and make the sewing process really efficient by finishing three blouses at once. Here are some of the fabrics I decided to use. You'll see which fabrics will be put together for which blouses soon...

It's a simple pattern really. Just four pieces to assemble the outside and three facing pieces. Bu the third cutting, I figured out that if I repeated the bra part of the empire shirt twice I could get rid of the facing pieces altogether.

I spent almost an evening cutting.
Started the first three blouses... assembly line style.

McCalls 6123 is the pattern. I love the mix and match of the cottons on the cover model's shirt.

This blue blouse is the one that I decided to essentially line with the same outside pieces to avoid the facing pieces. I added in this strip of colour (I love the pattern) because I decided to put a tie feature in the back and I had used all my fabric. So the contrast band was a happy accident - the fabric is from a shower curtain I made and will be posting soon.


The zipper for this blouse is 22 inches. I think the pattern specifies it because it can also be made into a dress. I will use a shorter zipper if I decide to make more than these four shirts.

It is starting to take shape...

I just have to finish the neckline and it will be finished......But I had to take my dog to the Basset Hound Bustle. He is reporting on it for Penny Paws at Dawgblawgger (blog is here ;report will be up soon.). Doesn't it drive you crazy to be 90% finished and to have to leave it down for awhile?



 Finished! Just have to repeat the bodice portion over the next few nights and by the end of the work week, I should have three more blouses.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Finished a Quick T-Shirt

I used the t-shirt pattern from this Halloween Costume! (McCalls 6234)

I shaped the t-shirt a little bit. This was a very quick pattern - there are no facing pieces, simply turn the edges and top-stitch in place.
My dog E had to see what all the fuss was about.
And then he stuck around for another photo.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Is There a Better Way to Trace Burda Patterns?

Here is the May edition of Burda Magazine.

Even though its summer (or it feels like summer), I am really into making pants. I have a new-found confidence with sewing thanks to all the support from friends on this blog.

I read through the pattern. Okay, sounds straight-forward. No more difficult than any pair of pants.

Then I pulled apart the pattern pages. Man! Burda prints all its patterns on two super-large sheets of newsprint. The patterns are marked with a colour-code and a sheet number (actually letter) as well as pattern piece numbers. So I needed Sheet A, Green pattern, pieces 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25.

I didn't know where to start. So I started with cutting the super-large newsprint page in half as per the instructions.
Then I was lost. What could I do? This was confusing to even look at. I decided to trace over the pieces I wanted with pink hi-lighter as a way of making them standout so I could trace the pieces. Even with this method, and a friend's help, I traced out two incorrect pieces.

We persevered only because there was no other way (or so it seemed to us). Also, it was a beautiful, sunny Saturday on the long weekend, and we were sitting outside.

This is the plastic I used to trace my pattern pieces. It is 3.5mm thick contractor's quality drop sheets (made for covering off whole sections of the house when major renovations are completed. I paid $10 for it and I have enough for a good long time.

Again here is the unreal pattern sheet... with the hi-lighted pattern pieces

Here is where I traced over them (with a Sharpie). I did the piece first and then added the grain-line and other markings, using a ruler.

On each piece, I wrote Burda and the date of the magazine (05/120 and the number of the pattern and the name of the pattern piece. Just in case the pieces go astray. Cutting them out was very fast. 

I'm not sure if I'm missing something that is obvious to others. If you have a different way to do it, please let me know...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pot Holders with Pizazz

I used up some of my huge supply of scraps to make a few potholders.

I simply sewed a square - one smaller and one bigger.

If you think the fabric is a good match, well it came in my fat quarters mailing together, around last October.

I even put on the pull so I can hang them up when not in use. Although right now, they make better coasters than potholders.



Finished.



Don't forget to check out my Big List of Scrap Fabric Project List 1(here)  and 2 (here).

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What to Do if Your Sewing Machine Needles Keep Breaking.


When I made my last garment, I fiddled around with tension because my sewing machine needles kept breaking. Then I went and bought a different brand, thinking the brand I was using was cheap. But as I sewed, my needle would break. I tried a sharper needle. That didn't work either. Then it stopped. I think I was causing the breakage because I was pulling, not guiding the fabric.


Common causes for breaking needles:

1) needle too small for the fabric being sewn - try a sharper more durable needle (see my Needles for your Sewing Project post here. It includes a guide for needle size and recommended fabrics.)


2) thread jams caused by improper threading or poor seam starting

2 a) sometimes having the upper tension too tight will cause the needle to break or bend.
2 b) if the upper thread is caught on something this can cause the needle to break or bend too.

3) pushing or pulling the fabric under the presser foot (let the feed dogs do their work! You guide, it moves the fabric!)


4) needle not properly installed, usually not all the way up in the needle clamp or you don't have the flat edge at the back. 


5) needle too big for the machine (needle length increases with needle size: -- if the needle is too large for the machine, it may hit something and break. Check your manual for the proper range of sizes your machine can use.


6) timing is off, so the needle hits something, usually the bobbin case.


Notes: In my experience, #2, 3 and 4 are the most common causes, with #3 being the most common I've seen from beginners.



Quick tips to look for when trying to fix this sewing machine error:


  • Make sure the needle is going into the shaft/holder in the correct direction - usually with the flat side to the back of the machine.
  • Check the machine to see if there is a needle placement selector (left, center, right). Set the position to center.

  • Manually, turn the hand-wheel and watch to see if the needle is hitting the presser foot, needle plate, bobbin or bobbin case.

    • If it is hitting the presser foot or needle plate, take the needle out an switch the position of the flat side and try again.

    • If it is hitting the bobbin or case, reinstall them so they are properly in place.

  • If the needle is clearing all and catching the bobbin thread and is still breaking, you do not have a large/strong enough needle for what you are sewing - choose a larger needle.

  • When going over thick seams like jeans, the presser foot tips up in the front and this sometimes will cause a needle to break. Stop the machine when the foot tips. Lower the needle into the fabric. Lift the foot and place a rolled up scrap under the back of the foot. Lower the foot. The scrap will keep the foot even as you finish sewing across the seam.

I have a post for Needles for your Sewing Project here.

    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    A Trial Pair of Pants

    The instruments of pattern fitting. I always measure and cut out one size larger than I need for fit purposes. I also added an inch of seam allowance (tip from Pants that Fit) and I found I had a lot of taking in to do at the end......

    The fabric is a cotton twill I picked up for $2/metre.

    I found the pattern was easy to sew.

    And while I had some problems with fitting the pants, these were caused by me rather than the pattern.

    Scraps that I keep nearby in order to test the tension on my machine, etc.,

    Finished!

    I'm going to wear them to work on Monday.

    This is the pattern. Simplicity 3850. It may be out of print, I bought it a few years ago. Oh, I did go back and make notes for the next time I use this pattern.

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    How to Adjust the Tension On Your Sewing Machine


    Most domestic sewing machines are of the "lockstitch" variety. That means an upper thread and a lower thread "lock" together. If they don't lock together in the correct place, the tension is "off" and the seam lacks proper strength.

    Improper tension can cause:

    • there might be a bird's nest of thread underneath the seam you are sewing (upper tension is too loose)
    • the stitches may be puckered (tension is too tight)
    • the understitches may be more prominent than the upper tension and it looks like they are standing to attention
    •  different fabrics require different tensions
    • tension problems can also arise when one thread is used in the bobbin and another is used on top. This is common in quilting and in top-stitching garments. 

    I had lots of problems with the tension on my machine tonight. It's a new vintage machine and I love it, but I haven't worked all the kinks out just yet.


    Quick Solutions:

    Check your needle. This is a quick fix but can be overlooked. A blunted needle, a bent needle or the wrong strength needle can affect the way the seam looks. (for more on needles, check out my post on needle here.)

    There may be thread or dust in the bobbin case. Clean this with a dry Q-tip.

    Remember to have the presser foot up while threading. That way your thread will lay in the tension guides.

    Your needle thread may have jumped the take-up lever. This really messes up the tension.

    Try removing both your bobbin and the top thread and re-inserting them both. This can sometimes resolve the problem.

    Your bobbin thread may be out of its tension spring in the bobbin case.

    Check that the thread is flowing off the spool and isn't catching anywhere.


    Are you threading your machine properly? I recently acquired a new vintage sewing machine by the same make I have used since I began sewing. I thought I knew how to thread it - the same way the other similar machine was threaded -but I was wrong. Check your manual for a quick re-cap. Improper threading causes tension errors.





    The Tension Dial 

    Turn your thread tension dial as needed. If you increase the number on your tension thread dial, you will be increasing the tension on your sewing machine. If you are lowering the number on your tension thread dial, you will be decreasing the tension on your machine.

     Adjust the tension by turning the knob 1/4 turn at a time. Check how that affects the tension by sewing a seam and observing it. If it has not improved the situation, continue moving the dial 1/4 of the way to the next number on the dial. 


    I keep note of the tension dial that works for me with each fabric. It makes life easier.


    While it is possible that your bobbin tension is the culprit, most problems -99% of problems - adjustments to the upper tension will fix the problem. Adjustments to your bobbin should be your last resort. It is difficult to re-align the bobbin tension once it is tampered with - so try everything else ( twice!) before fiddling with it. If you must, use a screw driver and turn the case in minimal increments until the problem is fixed.


    Three Ways to Keep Dust Out of the Sewing Machine:



    1) Keep your sewing machine covered when not in use.


    2) Get a narrow paintbrush from a hardware store. Use it to clean the bobbin area and the feed dog area before you start to sew. (the feed dog area often catches a lot of fluff!) Or use a dry Q-tip.


    3) Purchase un-waxed dental floss and keep it with your sewing supplies. Periodically, you should “floss” the upper tension. Just thread a long piece of the dental floss through the upper tension the same way you would thread your machine. Draw it all the way through, and it will collect any bits of fluff or thread that may cause uneven upper thread tension
    .

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