Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Week 1 of Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing Complete!

We've finished week 1!  The first of 4 weeks in the series I'm teaching of Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing classes at our local Babylock dealer is now complete.  I have 3 students who want to learn basic sewing techniques so they may sew & repair garments and shorten hems.  Oh, there's so much to learn in a beginning class and the students are hanging in there with me. 

The project is a chef's/artist's apron in which they will learn about reading a pattern, preparing the pattern tissue, cutting out fabric, marking, stay-stitching curves, sewing on facings, clean finishing edges, sewing machine stitched hems, top-stitching, sewing on patch pockets and many sewing tips that I've learned over the years. 

The curriculum includes Level 2 and Level 3, both of which the students may take later.  They'll make a wrap robe in Level 2 and a 2-pc PJ project in Level 3.  By the time they finish the 3-level series, they'll be very well-equipped to sew just about anything they want.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how far the students will go with their new sewing skills!  The photo shows one of the aprons that I'm using as my class sample.  I love the teapot fabric, since I am a teapot collector!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing Series, Level 1

The long-awaited Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing Series, Level 1 is starting tomorrow, June 6, at Austin's Sewing Center in Fern Creek.  This series has been planned for months, but with bad weather, health situations and other things, we finally have a "go" for the classes!  I am so excited about teaching this series!  In it, students will learn basics about their sewing machine, as well as basic sewing skills that they can use over and over throughout their sewing adventures.


As we get into the series, I will share with you here some tips and suggestions I also share with my students.  This will not be as valuable as actually being in the classroom with us, but it can be helpful to anyone who is thinking about learning to sew, or who wants to return to sewing after a long absence.  So many things have been improved over the years, and techniques have been made easier with new tools that are on the market today.  So, stay tuned for an exciting 4 weeks of basic sewing adventures with me!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sandy's Sanity-Saving Sewing Snippets: #3 Creating an Efficient Sewing Work Space

Well, I apologize for the long absence.  I have been somewhat "off the grid" since my husband had three surgeries in January.  Two were done on the 16th and two weeks later, he had a third one!  He's doing much better, now, and is back to most normal activities, which is a wonderful praise to God!  From all the prayer by our praying friends/partners and great doctor/nursing care, he's on the mend.

Today, I worked with a private beginning student and we got into a discussion about being organized and efficient in our sewing space.  One of the things I suggested to my student is to make sure her work table is at the proper height so she isn't bending over to lay out her fabric and pattern pieces.  A comfortable table height is one that should be at about the upper hip level when standing next to it.  I suggested she get some bed risers to place under the table legs to raise it up to a higher level, if necessary.  The higher table height will cut down on back strain from bending over, as well as fatigue that can occur from bending and reaching so much.

As you can see in the photo below of my studio, I have two chest of drawers of equal size and height backed up to each other.  They are sitting on bricks, which make them the perfect work height for me.  Sometimes we can make "do" with what we have available at the time, and since the bricks have worked so well, I just left them there!  They're sitting on felt mats that I cut from some leftover scrap felt so as not to scratch the floor.

The organizer hanging on the end is something I made from a length of denim fabric.  I sewed pockets from old jeans to hold scissors, rulers, and various other items, and the straps that are holding my rotary rulers and cutters are made from belt loops and strips of denim sewn into lengths that fit the size needed.  The length of fabric was long enough to place one end underneath my cutting mat and pressing board, which is covered in canvas cloth.  I had intended to paint the chests white when I acquired them from my Mother, but still haven't gotten that done.  I'm too busy with other things to take time for painting furniture!



Another thing I suggested to my student is to make her sewing work space in a "L" work space configuration.  By using a rolling office chair, she'll be able to roll in a smaller area to reach her machine and table surface easier.  I have found this to be a very workable solution to an efficient workspace.  I used this set-up when I was a high school principal's secretary in my school system career of 23 years.


I like to use what I call "arm's-reach space" where most of what I need is within arm's reach.  The less wasted movement I have to make, the more efficient I can be.

Please share your ideas on efficient sewing work space in the comment section, below.  I'd love to hear and/or see how yours is set up!  Thank you in advance.

"Be creative and learn to sew!"
SewNSan


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sew What Community Sewing Group September Project: Bias-Wrapped Jacket

Two days ago, our sewing group met for the September class to start a jacket project, "Bias-Wrapped Jacket," which is also called a "Fat Quarter Jacket."   With seven in attendance, and eventually three husbands stopping in to see what we do, we had a very good class!

This Bias-Wrapped Jacket is made in 100% cotton fabrics, with horse and horseshoe motifs and a plaid that color-coordinates with the prints.  I usually wear this jacket around Kentucky Derby time.  (I guess you know that since I live in Kentucky, we have a lot of Derby activities going on from Mid-April up to race day on the 1st Saturday of May!)

These jackets are so comfortable and easy to make, without much fitting necessary.  I have made several out of different types of fabrics, so they are truly versatile!

On this Derby jacket, bias binding was used for all of the edge finishes.  The plaid was used for the front/neck bindings and a wider bias band was used for the lower edge and cuffs.  I just realized the cuffs don't show up very well in this photo, but they are cut wide enough so they can be turned up on themselves.  Because they are cut on the bias, they turn nicely.


This Bias-Wrapped Jacket is made from rayon fabrics, which drapes so pretty.  I put a serger edge all around, using my Babylock self-threading serger.  It is a dream, by the way!

The stitch is called the Wave Stitch.  Two colors, black & white, were used on the front/neck edges and red/white were used on the lower and sleeve edges.  That makes the edges look like they have a separate trim sewn on.  The thread is a 40-weight rayon and seems to be holding up very well, even with all the wear I'm giving it.

This one is also very comfortable to wear and is easy-care.  I just wash it on gentle in cold water and hang to dry, which is how I wash most of our clothes.  I rarely use our dryer!  Maybe only two - three times a year.






This jacket is made from a suede-finished, hand-dyed, 100% cotton.  From a distance it looks like real suede cloth.  I put serger crochet on all the edges to finish it, using 12-weight cotton variegated thread.  The ruffle effect is quite nice, I think.  I do have to be a little cautious when wearing this jacket because of the loopy crochet edging, as it sometimes gets snagged.  But, when I take it off, the snags are easily pulled through with a tool called a "knit fixer," so I don't let that stop me from wearing it.

With all the muted colors, this jacket can be worn with many different outfits, so it's also very versatile.







This Bias-Wrapped Jacket is my favorite, but is the most delicate!  It's made of a lacy knit fabric that I just had to have when I first saw it, but had no idea what I'd do with it.  (Maybe you can relate to that?!)

Again, I put serger crochet on all the edges, but with this one the crochet edging is wider.  I believe it's eleven rows wide.  If you look closely at the bottom of the jacket, you'll see threads hanging down.  Well, that's where the ruffle snagged while wearing.  I really, really have to be careful when I wear this one!  But, it's good for dressy occasions and goes with almost everything in my color palette.

The flower is from Hope Yoder's Layered Flower In-The-Hoop design made from 100% cotton fabrics.  The center is an embroidered, covered button (flatback) from Hope's Borders and Frames design for her Button-Ups system.  I just glued it onto the fabric and then sewed a pinback onto the back side so I can switch it around to other garments.

I have also made two of these jackets for my mother out of upholstery fabric.  I don't have photos of them, but will take some and add them to a later post.  She loves wearing both of them and gets lots of compliments on both.  She says they really are warm.  We haven't tried to wash either of them, yet; but I'm going to try washing one of them, after washing some scraps and having success.  The other one has drapery trim on all the edges, so it will definitely have to be dry-cleaned.

All of these jackets were made on my serger, with some of the trims/bias bindings sewn on with a sewing machine.  There really is no reason this jacket cannot be made on a conventional sewing machine, so that's the way I taught it at our Sew What group this month.  When we have some more finished jackets, hopefully next month, I'll post photos of them.  This project is one of the more challenging projects we've worked on in our monthly group, so I'm hoping those who are making it are having success!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sandy's Sanity-Saving Sewing Snippets - #2 Tips for Purchasing a Sewing Machine

 Do you have your sewing machine yet?  Here are some tips on how to go about purchasing your first sewing machine:
  1. Shop for the best machine you can afford. 
  2. Shop various sewing machine dealers in your area who carry brands different from each other so you can compare features.  Employees are trained on how to demonstrate the machine in their store.  
  3. Don't be shy about asking if you may test-drive the machine that interests you.  Think of it as buying a vehicle.  You wouldn't buy a vehicle without a test-drive, now would you?
  4. Think about your needs, what your sewing goals are.  Do you just need to do some mending once in a while, do you want to try sewing to find out if it's something you really want to spend time and money doing, or do you know for sure that you want to learn sewing to make well-fitting garments & to get the fabrics, colors & styles you want?  
  5. I truly DO NOT recommend purchasing a sewing machine from the "big box" stores!  Think about who is going to teach you how to use it, who will fix it if it breaks down, where will you get accessories that will fit your machine when the time comes?  And, on & on!
There are many valid reasons for learning to sew, and there are many kinds of sewing machines on today's market.  Be aware that sewing machine dealers not only have great brands of machines, from very basic to very high-end, they will give you great customer service with their service department, new-owner training, private lessons, group classes and the latest in sewing techniques & technology - and especially their fully-trained employees and up-to-the-minute sewing knowledge!

Check out the dealer's class offerings for a good look at what's being taught in that store by checking their website and getting on their mailing list.  Some classes are offered only one time over the course of a few years, others are offered more regularly.  Some dealers have nationally-known teachers who teach regularly in their store, and some teachers hold series of classes/clubs that might interest you.  Take advantage of the class offerings - you'll find new friends who share a passion of sewing and a whole new network of friendships can develop!

In a future post in this series, I'll talk about what should go into a beginner's sewing kit.  Thank you for reading this and I hope you're enjoying this series!

"Be creative and learn to sew!"
SewNSan

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sandy's Sanity-Saving Sewing Snippets - #1 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 bi-weekly (approximately) 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 http://sewnsan.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-to-keep-our-sewing-machines-clean.html 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,
SewNSan

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 www.londas-sewing.com).   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!