Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sandy's Sanity-Saving Sewing Snippets - Sew Flat

This is the first of a new feature I'd like to start of posting some tips for beginner sewists, as well as experienced sewists, where I'll share ideas gleaned from my years of sewing experience and teaching on how to sew faster, easier, and better.  I'm naming this series of posts, "Sandy's Sanity-Saving Sewing Snippets."  I hope you enjoy the posts and learn some new information from them.  Please feel free to leave a comment on something you'd like to see here pertaining to sewing faster, easier and better.

Today, I worked with a beginning sewing student on a project.  The subject of sewing-in-the-flat came up.  What I mean by this is, sew together hard-to-access parts of your sewing project while it's still flat.  For example, it's easier to sew in sleeves before the underarm seams and side seams are stitched, or it's easier to install a zipper before sewing any seams.  Once the project has taken shape, some areas are more difficult to access.  Make your sewing easier to do, not harder.  You'll have more fun while completing your projects in less time.

As an additional tip, please go to this post to see a tutorial on how to clean and maintain your sewing machine.  This tutorial is especially important for all of you beginning and returning sewists out there!

Please let me know how I can answer your basic sewing questions!

Be creative - learn to sew,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kentucky State Fair Winners for 2014

After an extremely busy spring and summer, I have finally gotten back to a slower pace!  In early April I taught a "Linen and Lace" camisole class at the "It's Sew Fine" Sewing Expo, then in late April I went to a four-day sewing retreat with Londa Rohlfing where I learned how to take a high quality sweatshirt, cut it totally apart, embellish it with lots of silk & wool fabrics and scrumptous yarns, along with some quilting stitches for the fabric panels, then sewing all the pieces back together.  To finish the sweatshirt makeover, I used bias binding made from the wool fabric to bind the bottom edge and the sleeve edges.  The mandarin collar is made from the ribbing that was cut off the bottom of the shirt.  Bias binding was used at the top of the collar and is trimmed with some of the red yarn.  The colors in the beautiful handmade clay buttons were the inspiration for the jacket embellishment fabrics & yarns.

The jacket was only partially finished when I returned home from the retreat, and with several private sewing students lined up to teach during the next 10 days, I wasn't able to get back to it.  On top of that, I came down with Influenza B, pneumonia & bronchitis!  That kept me out of commission for about five weeks!  At almost the last minute, I was asked to teach a week-long summer camp for youth sewing students the first week of July and along with many more private sewing students, I found myself staying up very late at night to get the jacket finished.  I had submitted it as one of my entries in our State Fair and the deadline to turn it in was August 11.  By the grace of God, I got it finished and turned it in about an hour before the deadline!  When Lee & I went to the State Fair a few days later to check on awards, I was pleasantly surprised to find it had won a blue ribbon.  Yay!!!

I also entered a T-shirt makeover that is made from two cotton knit T-shirts.  I purchased two identical shirts and cut one up to make flounces for the second one.  This is another one of Londa's ideas from her Neckline Treatments Talking Patterns (see   I thought it turned out really well.  It won a third place ribbon (white).  I'm pleased that it even placed, since it's an unusual design and has raw-edges on the flounces!


My third entry, a ribbon purse made from grosgrain ribbon, came in with an honorable mention.  For some reason, no one seems to realize the amount of time and workmanship that goes into making these ribbon purses.  I've had three of them in a gallery at the Galt House Hotel for sale, and none of them sold!  Oh, well, I think they're very unusual and pretty, so possibly I'll find buyers for the six remaining purses if I set up my online shop on Zibbet!

Please leave me a comment on what you think about the ribbon purse.  Maybe it'll help me decide what to do with the ones I have left - thank you!

This is the three-piece American Girl doll outfit one of my 11-year old students made for this year's State Fair entry.  I was so thrilled to see that first place blue ribbon attached to it.  When choosing her fabrics from Austin's Sewing Center, she said she wanted something with bright colors.  Well, I think she accomplished that goal!  She did an outstanding job on her creation, not only with her sewing skills but also following the pattern directions.  This was the first time she actually sewed on knit fabric, but she didn't let that stop her!  Congratulations on a job well-done, young lady!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sew What Community Sewing Group 2014 Community Service Project

Sew What Group has been extremely busy since the start of 2014 making cough pillows for the cancer treatment center at Norton Suburban Hospital in Louisville!  Recently, Lee and I delivered over 250 cough pillows to Norton Suburban.  The nurses and coordinator of the unit were absolutely blown away by the group's generosity.  And, for good reason!  Two of our ladies made close to 225, themselves!  There are six of us who have been making pillows. Yesterday, at our March meeting, more than 160 more pillows were brought to me to get delivered.  I am really looking forward to delivering this next batch of cough pillows.

The pillows are used by breast cancer surgery, heart surgery and prostate cancer surgery patients to hold against their mid-section when needing to cough or sneeze.  I'm told that the patients LOVE their cough pillows.  They take the pillows with them everywhere.  Some patients even give their pillow a name!  How sweet!

 Here are photos of the last group of cough pillows that were delivered.  Photos of the most recent group will follow in another post.

Some of the fabric was donated by the husband of a woman who died from breast cancer about 3 1/2 years ago.  I know she would be happy about how we're using her fabrics!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lined Drawstring Christmas Gift Bags

Now, on to making Christmas items!  Our Sew What?! November class project was this lined, drawstring Christmas gift bag.  These little bags make great re-useable gift bags, which can be given as part of the gift.  They don't necessarily have to be made in Christmas fabric.  They'd be cute in other holiday-themed prints, children's prints or winter, spring, summer, fall prints - whatever you'd like.

The lining allows the bag to have a little more stability and style with the lining peeking above the top edge as a faux piping effect.  I have lots of satin ribbon in 3/8" width for other projects, so the choice of ribbon was easy to make since that's the width needed for this casing.

The red bags have a red satin lining and red satin ribbon threaded double through the casing to make two drawstrings (one for each side).  The green/red/white bag has a red cotton lining with green sating ribbons for the drawstrings.

The finished measurement on these is 6" X 9 1/2", but the drawstring bags could be made in any size you want.  I'm thinking of making some infinity scarves for Christmas gifts this year and I'm not sure they'll fit into these smaller bags, especially if the scarves are very long, so I'll probably make some larger gift bags to accommodate a larger gift.

I hope you like the way these cute little drawstring gift bags look.  They go together fairly quickly, especially when making several.  As you may know, the more you make of one item, the quicker they go together!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Turkey Tea Towel

My Thanksgiving Turkey Tea Towel got finished just in time to drape it over my oven handle, or better yet - hang it from the drawer of my antique pie safe where it won't accidentally get used!  I decided to use my serger for a rolled edge all around the flounce edges with a gold metallic thread.  Then, I stitched it onto the tea towel with a zig-zag stitch using the gold metallic thread in the needle and clear thread in the bobbin.  The metallic thread sparkles nicely.  (I like sparkly things!)

At our October Sew What? class, we had a lesson on how to calculate the size needed for the circle pattern that would be used to make the flounce on the tea towel.  Then, we determined the width we wanted for how wide the flounce would be.  It was much more easy than it sounds!

I had a lot of fun working on this tea towel project.  It was begun last year for our November Sew What? class project; but, I had to put it on hold due to some health events.  Everything is back on track, now.  All the praise goes to God!

My birthday was on the 25th and my Mother gave me three stamped, ready-to-embroider tea towels as a gift, so I guess I'll be doing some more hand embroidery - which I am rather enjoying.  They are really cute, with days-of-the-week printed on them.  When I get them stitched, I'll post them on my blog, but don't hold your breath - it could be a while!

This is my favorite holiday of the year - no presents necessary, no decorating necessary, unless we just "want to".  Let's all remember to give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the abundant blessings He has given to us and to our wonderful U.S.A.!  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mr. Gobbles Stuffed Felt Turkey Door Decoration

After years of looking at this project in an old Hancock Fabrics project booklet, I finally made myself get the necessary felt colors, trace the pattern and get the turkey project finished!  Wow!  I guess I'm a procrastinator, huh?

I don't do much hand embroidery, but lately I've made two projects for Thanksgiving: this stuffed felt turkey project and a tea towel.  I find that hand embroidery is very calming and soothing.  I know my blood pressure went down a lot!  I'll post the tea towel project in a few days, after I get it finished.  The tea towel project was what I taught at our October Sew What? Community Sewing group meeting.  Everyone did a great job on their embroidery!

I really didn't follow the exact color combination that the directions give.  Honestly, I forgot to look at the suggested colors for the turkey project before I went to the fabric store to cash in on the sale price for the felt - and to be able to use my discount.  The orange is supposed to be "cardinal red" and the light tan is supposed to be gold, but I used gold embroidery thread for the blanket stitching around all of the feather pieces.  I thought that would make the stuffed felt turkey show up a little better on the front door.

He's really a table-top project, but one of my students said she wanted to make her turkey project into a door hanging.  I thought that was a great idea!  Since I'm partial to Thanksgiving (we tend to overlook that holiday), I wanted to show my "Thanksgiving Spirit" by placing my stuffed felt turkey on my front door.

Here he is on my front door.  I hung him on a door hook - I think it's called a wreath hook.  It's a little high, but I think it shows up really well.

This is how the turkey looks flat on the floor.  If I make a second one, I'll make it for the table, to sit upright in a basket of fake straw.

Isn't he cute?  I just love him!

Let's remember to give thanks for this great country (USA) and all the bountiful blessings God has showered down upon us.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sewing Student Wins Second Place Red Ribbon at the Kentucky State Fair!

In June, I started teaching private sewing lessons at Austin's Sewing Center in Fern Creek, KY.  I have such a love of sewing and now I can share that with many more sewing students.  I am loving it!

Two weeks ago, I had an interesting experience with a lovely 10 year old girl.  She had committed to enter into the Kentucky State Fair an outfit for her American Girl doll, but had only cut out the pattern for the tunic, leggings and shoes.  Time was running out to get it made before the deadline to submit the entries.  I got the call on Monday that her lesson needed to take place right away so she'd be ready for the deadline on Saturday.

We got the two-hour lesson scheduled and got to work at the designated time.  The young lady was already familiar with her sewing machine.  She had taken lessons at another sewing dealership, having made two projects there, so that was a huge plus.

At the end of two hours, there was still more to do.  I was asked if I could work with her for another hour.  I said, yes, so we continued to work.  After another hour and 45 minutes, my young student had all of the machine work finished.  All she had left to do was to hand-stitch the trim on the hem of the tunic, sew on buttons for trim and glue some hook and loop tape on the opening in the back of the tunic.  We decided the leggings could be finished with a drawstring instead of elastic in the waistline casing, which made the finish work on them quicker and easier for her.  She had already planned to sew the shoes by hand.

At the State Fair last night, Lee and I made a special effort to find out where the junior sewing department was located.  Well, as we were walking toward it, I spotted the lime green tunic top on a doll in the top row of the display case from far away.

As we got closer, we could see that the American Girl doll had a red ribbon pinned on it.  My student had been awarded second place on her creation (pictured here)! 

Instead of hemming the bottom of the tunic and putting in a neckline facing, we decided to use pinking shears to finish the edges.  The doll's tunic was made from polar fleece, so a hem and a facing would have created way too much bulk in those areas.  I think it was a good decision!  It not only made the finish work easier, but quicker!
Here is a back view:

I'm really proud of my budding, designer 10 year old sewing student and can't wait to call her and let her know what great work she did!  Her doll looked fabulous, dressed in her lime green tunic and printed leggings outfit!  I can see that she has a love of sewing even at her young age.