Monday, December 17, 2007

Sewing in the 21 Century

Check out this new and very cool technology by Bernina. Sewing has come a long way baby!!

Monday, December 03, 2007


Murphy's Law of Sewing

It never fails that anything that can go wrong will inevitably happen when you are sewing late at night, on a project that is not yours! This reminds me of Murphy's Law of Sewing. At one time or another I have experienced all of these and you probably have too! Talk back to us! Leave a comment or email us about your Murphy's Law of Sewing moment(s).

Murphy's Laws of Sewing

  • Fusible interfacings always fuse to the iron.
  • The serger only eats the customer's garment.
  • If you need 6 buttons, you will find 5 in your button box.
  • The seam you meant to rip out is invariably the other one.
  • When you are in a hurry, the needle eye is always too small.
  • The fabric you forgot to pre-shrink will always shrink the most.
  • The pattern you wanted to make again will have one key piece missing.
  • If you drop something out of your sewing basket, it will be your box of pins--with the cover off.
  • When the construction process is going well, the bobbin thread runs out.
  • The magnitude of the goof is in direct proportion to the cost of the fabric.
  • Your lost needle will be found by your son, husband or brother-in-law while walking around barefoot.
  • Facings tend to be sewn to the wrong side. (Opposite sides attract.)
  • Collar points don't match and you've trimmed all the seams.
  • The iron never scorches the garment until its final pressing
  • Pants seams always rip where they are the most noticeable.
  • The steam iron only burps rusty water on light silk fabric.
  • The sewing machine light usually burns out on Sunday.
  • Pinking shears get dull just by looking at them.
  • Gathering threads always break in the middle.
  • The scissors cut easiest past the buttonhole.

I also have a great tip to share with you. I have several bobbins, well actually all of my bobbins are partially filled with thread that is never the color I need to match the project that I am working on. While working on a muslin I decided to use my partially filled bobbins and found that was a great way to empty them and make good use of the thread. Since it is just a muslin the threads do not have to match the fabric.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Winter Fabrics

100% Italian Wool
Designer Sarah CampbellI could have sworn this was silk until I was told it was wool. This Italian tweed wool has beautiful shades of camel and winter white with Valentino Red 2x2 windowpane squares. Very malleable hand perfect for that Chanel inspired suit.

Sewl Mates Red Knit-51" 100% Cotton 18.00
Khaki Cotton Sateen-50" 97% Cotton 3% Lycra 12.00

100% 3ply sueded silk

Construction in ProgressInvisible Zipper (S597), Gutermann Thread (520), Fusi Knit Interfacing, Rayon Hem Tape (apple spice), Rayon Lining, Metal Buttons--S9748 1" and S9748 3/4"

Sweet Inspiration

Pattern Suggestions: Vogue 8259, 8123, 1021, McCalls 3830, 5482, Butterick 5087, 5147, Simplicity 3566, 4044, New Look 6736

Sewing Tip: Cut your pattern pieces using the single fold method. It will give you the most accurate results and save on fabric!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

McCalls 5142 View B

Fabric:100% Cotton denim from Ralph Lauren (sold out).

Prewash: I prewashed the denim 2x in warm water and dried on the cotton setting. Doing this got rid of any progressive shrinkage and excess blue dye.

Notions: Gutermann thread, Isacord thread for embroidery Jean needle, Upholstery needle, 9" jean zipper, Fusi Knit for the waistband, brass button,
muslin for the pocket, topstitching edge foot and 1/4" topstitching foot.

Alterations: This is a mid-rise jean--it sits at the belly button. I used a size 12 and lengthed the back crotch 3/8" and took in the waist 1".

Construction Details: The pattern description for view B says it's a boot cut jean. It's really a wide leg trouser jean which I was happy with, but if you're looking for a boot cut--this isn't it. The instructions are written to give you RTW results. This includes lots of topstitching.
I used an upholstery weight needle for sewing on the belt loops and any other areas that had 3 or more layers of denim.

The back pockets were embroidered by Judy Brown.

Email me at for Judy's contact info. Thanks Judy! You did an awesome job!

Conclusion: Wide leg jeans are a fashion trend that's great for someone with thighs (that would be me). I like this pattern and will definitely make it again!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cynthia's Corner

"Pile It On"

My dad has always said, "The older you get, the faster the time flies." Well, time has flown by and once again I hear the much too fast approaching sound of Jingle Bells. This is also the season for luxurious fabrics including on of my favorites, velvet. This gorgeous fabric is not only popular in clothing, but also in home decor. Yes, I know what you are thinking, velvet is beautiful but it is a pain to work with. To help ease your painful thoughts I have some great tips and tools on working with velvet.

The way velvet is handled depends on its fiber content. Cotton velvet has a firm hand and sews beautifully for suits, jackets and children's clothing. It can be machine washed using a gentle cycle and a mild detergent and then tumble dry with low heat. The more lustrous velvets are made of rayon, acetate and the king of velvets, rayon/silk. They have a more pliable hand and a softer texture than cotton velvet. Handle these rich velvets carefully because the pile can crush easily. All lustrous velvets should be dry cleaned. Of course there is an exception to alot of sewing rules and here is mine. I have prewashed and tumbled dried rayon/silk velvet before. It does shrink some but, it washes and dries beautifully and the completed garment can be washed from now on. So don't be afraid to experiment but start with a scrap first. If you are going to prewash your velvet, be sure to serge all raw edges first.

Choose a pattern with simple lines because a garment with too many seams does not show off the luxurious nap of velvet. Be sure to use the with nap yardage when purchasing velvet to be certain you have enough fabric. Lay all pattern pieces in the same direction. Always cut velvet using a single layer and right side (nap) up because velvet slips when folded. I know that this is true because I have tried to baste or pin edges together and cut, but is always slips! When pinning the pattern to velvet, pin in the seam allowances only and work one pattern piece at a time.

Cut facings from light weight fabrics such as silk crepe de chine, lining or broadcloth to keep seams from being too bulky. Use chalk or marking pens (appropriate color of course) to transfer markings and notches from your pattern to the velvet.

The stitch length should be about 2.5 and use either size 10, 11 or 12 needle depending on the type of velvet. Always stitch in the direction of the pile. Finish seams by serging each seam singly before stitching garments together. You can also use Seams Great as a finish.

The best way to press velvet is to use a needle board and a steam iron. If you do not have a needle board you can use a left over piece of velvet.Place velvet press cloth over ironing board pile side up. Lay garment pile side down on top of the velvet press cloth or the needle boardI use my iron to shoot a burst of steam over the seams, then I use the edge of a Popsicle stick to smooth and flatten the well of the seam only.Never touch the velvet with the iron.

Once when making a velvet wrap for that rare "I get to dress up" occasion, I realized that I needed to press hard to reach areas without crushing the pile. I covered a wooded dowel with velvet and inserted it into the opening.It was much easier to press seams open without crushing the pile of the fabric.

To help prevent my wrap from being crushed while hanging, I covered the bottom part of a pant hanger with a left over piece of velvet. This has helped to keep my wrap safe!

Final Thoughts
  • When steaming a velvet garment from the right side, allow the velvet to completely dry before hanging or storing. If stored while the velvet is still wt from the steam, the pile will crush wherever it is folded.
  • The dowel has also worked with other sewing projects by covering it with whatever fabric you are working with be it wool crepe, denim, or even muslin.
Now get ready to create your velvet masterpiece!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Early Winter Fabric

100% Cotton Double Knit
18.00This knit is a beautiful shade of Valentino Red (thanks Patty)-not too orange or too blue. Red is also a great year around color that adds flavor to any neutral color. This knit has crosswise stretch and is heavy enough for a St. John-esque suit or a beautiful sheath dress.

Sewl Mates 60"
100% Wool Houndstooth

Construction in ProgressInvisible Zipper(519) Fusi Knit Interfacing, Gutermann thread(410)

Sweet Inspiration

Pattern Suggestions: Vogue1021, McCalls, 5529, Butterick 5131, 5146

Sewing Tip: Add sparkly trim for the holidays and remove it afterwards to make it daywear again.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fabric for dress: Copper/Black Brocade
53% Acetate 42% Polyester 3% Metallic
was 20.00 now 13.00
Copper iridescent taffeta
100% Acetate
Fabric for shrug: Black stretch velvet
100% Polyester

Notions: Thread, 18" invisible zipper, fusi knit interfacing, rayon lining, black velvet ribbon

Alterations: The basic dress is Style 1055 view A.
I did a FBA
and shortened the skirt pattern to above the knee.
I used the pleated flounce from Simplicity 4882 view A.
The width at the lower edge of the dress was 1/2" larger than the finish width of the pleated flounce so I tapered the dress by 1/2". There were no alterations to the shrug.

Construction Details: First the patterns--Style 1055 is out of print (OOP) but you can find other empire waist/spaghetti strap dress patterns. McCalls 5045 is also OOP, but it can be purchased on the McCall website and Simplicity 4882 is still available. I fused the entire bodice with fusi knit interfacing to give more structure for the bodice. The pleated flounce called for an 1 1/2" hem. YUCK!! I simply folded the flounce in half , sewed it to the dress and covered the seam with the lining.
The velvet ribbon was attached by hand. The shrug was very easy-2hrs from cut out to finish. The edges are hemmed by turning in 1/4" and topstitching. The front closure is the velvet ribbon.
The "sweet inspiration" for this dress was found at the Neiman Marcus website last year (sorry I didn't download the picture). The designer is Derek Lam and the cost about $800. I wore this dress to a wedding last December so I added the shrug for warmth and for a little more "coverage" at the church. This was an easy dress to make and I got a designer dress without the designer price!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mail Call

Look what came in the mail last week!
This is the current issue of Burda World of Fashion (BWOF). All of the patterns and sizes are included with the magazine.

Overview of all patterns in this issue

A few of the Fashion Patterns

Special Pattern for Petites

Special Pattern for Tall Women

Yoga Fashions

Fashions for the Full Figure


Home Dec


Pattern Pieces

We are still getting information on carrying this magazine. The price per magazine is $10 and it comes out monthly. We would like your input. Would you like us to carry this magazine? Please leave a comment or email us at with your vote!