Saturday, January 24, 2015

My first ever Loom Bag

I am not even sure anything such as a loom bag exists but I thought I needed one. The loom has parts and I travel a lot to visit our grandaughters. They are into beading and I bought , or rather, Santa brought, each of them a small bead loom and lots of beads. So bringing my loom when we visit will be lots of fun. And a travelling loom certainly needs a special bag! 

The fabric above all but kidnapped me and dragged me out of the store. I was thinking a bag for myself at first. And then Van Gogh's Starry Night fabric knockoff hung on the closet door in the studio for quite a while, other things just getting in the way. But "Starry Night" is one of my favorite paintings so I let it hang and I enjoy looking at it. Then my loom arrived at Christmas and it was kismet. 

I've worked up measurements and details in my trusty notebook.  I really couldn't find anything in retail patterns that came close to what this loom bag required. There are lots of small parts that could get lost and they will have their pockets. Then there are beads, scissors, special threads, etc. that need storage as well. So I took some graph paper and taped it together so I had the two insides of the bag, the front and back. I laid my loom on it in "shut down" mode and took advantage of the negative space to place the pockets on the lining. Here are my two patterns, sort of:

So I worked out the layout of the "goodies" and these will be in pockets placed on the lining, some with zips, some not. My lining fabric, like the bag fabric, is 100% quilting cotton and I found it a week ago. It's perfect! It is a stylized version of Monet's Iris Garden. My two favorite artists honored in one bag! The lining colors are lighter than the outer bag which is what I like inside a bag, makes things easier to find. The outside of the bag will have a faux black leather gusset on the bottom and maybe black leather facings on the zippered pockets. Not sure yet and I am still working out those details. I will probably do the "Koos Zipper" which you can find in the tutorials as it is so strong. Zippers will go up the sides and meet at the top in the middle so the bag opens up wide for access. It's odd, now that I see my schematic in print in front of me as I write, I am getting all sorts of other ideas as well for storage. So this design will probably grow into something else by the time the lining is complete. Here is the lining fabric:

Pardon the pre-pressed condition.  The Starry Night fabric has been cut out and fused to fusible fleece. In between the fashion fabrics/fleece and the lining will be "boards" of either Peltex or foam core. The lining fabric will probably be fused with some inexpensive weft insertion. I hate baggy saggy linings. The Peltex boards will be separate and added in at the very end. The fantasy of being able to sew Peltex is one I have given up on. What I do now is insert it in between, almost free floating. The gussets will just be soft with fusible fleece. I am excited about this project and it has brought my mojo back.  It's been fun working up the design. Today is the first day I feel normal. Bye bye Bug! Things are working out with hubby slowly but surely and all seems positive.

This pale pink cabled sweater? If you have seen the darling hat Rhonda of  Rhonda's Creative Life   made you will know what I am making. It is just the cutest, warmest hat, perfect for our climate. See it here. If you are not familiar with Rhonda's amazing creativity, pattern designing skills and generosity, you are missing out on one of the best bloggers out there. Check it out!

I haven't forgotten the felted jacket. I just haven't looked human enough for pics and I know you want to see it on. They will come. I did wear it all day the other day and received quite a few compliments. I discovered the button I considered really is a necessity so will put one on before I get the pics done. Your patience is appreciated ....Bunny

Monday, January 19, 2015

Fur, Hems, and Bags!

Today I am begging off my Next Level Sewing. It's been a rough week around here. My hubby spent the week in the hospital with a serious infection and will need surgery soon. I no sooner got him home than I woke up Saturday morning with a dreadful cold. Right now I am just looking forward to a hot steamy shower to loosen some of this yuk out of my head and chest. I figured yesterday would  be a great time to face some little mending and some other projects that needed small spans of attention. No real mojo happening this weekend! But I do think there is a little to be learned in what I managed to do so I am passing it along.

First project was the bag. I purchased this bag before Thanksgiving, of course threw away the receipt, and not it is coming apart at the junction of the gusset, zipper and side. I LOVE THIS BAG. You will see it has a bit of bling  and is really pretty. Could I fix it? Upon inspection I think the junction was not sewn properly to begin with, Fast Fashion and all. But some how I was blinded by the bling when I bought the bag.

I used a combination of glue and stitching with white bead "wire" to give a secure fix.  I stitched one side of the zipper leather first. I used a heavy tapestry needle and went through the existing holes with a backstitch. Once that was done I put a big blop of glue where the zipper, the leather part , crossed over the side of the bag and clamped it. Then I stitched the other side of the zipper leather to the side of the bag.  Then I clamped the whole thing to dry. 

After a few hours I removed the clamps and used a brown fabric marker to color the white thread. I then rubbed the too dark thread with alcohol and that weakend the color and all is fine. It looks really good now and we will see how it holds up. 

Next chore, two pair of pants that needed hems lowered. This has become standard procedure lately around here. I am five feet tall and every pair of pants I buy needs shortening. I take up the hem. I double fold and try to make it look like the original hemline. Then a couple of months later the pants invevitably shrink despite all efforts at washing care and the hems need to be let down. To get max length back I need to lower them and what can happen is this is what you get:

A fringey, stringy mess that looks crappy. Here's how I handled it. 

I cut a strip of  fusible tricot that is wider than the edge of the hem to past the original stitching of the previous hemline. I place it right on the edge of the pant leg and fuse.
Now it is off to the machine with my edge stitching foot and I edge stitch to secure further the tricot to the pant leg. 

Sometimes I will stitch again further up to imitate the original as I did on these knit pants. 

The knit is  not too bad but you can see a nasty white line on the corduroy pants from the previous hem. Here's how I've dealt with that.  BTW, all these pics have been major lightened so you can see the detail. They look better IRL. 

On these cords I took a black sharpie and LIGHTLY rubbed it on the old hemline. Then I dipped a Qtip into good old rubbing alcohol and lightly rubbed the sharpie line to  blend it into the pants. I think you can see the difference between left and right here. I really like  both these pants and can now wear them beyond the two months it took to shrink them into near oblivion. Hope this hint helps some of you. Two pair of pants back in the rotation!

And now for the piece de resistance! My DD's mother in law had a fur coat made about ten years ago. She became tired of it, full length, and took it to be restyled. Evidently it is proper to return the not needed fur to the client. She had a muff made for my grandaughter and sent me the remaining leftovers. I thought it was very generous of her and I now have this windfall to play with. 

You can see the two sleeves they cut off. What  I really found interesting was the inside of the fur.  Here's a few pics:

Pretty fascinating, isn't it? This could maybe be a fur collar for my cashmere coat, a great hat, or just a cowl to be thrown over whatever. Any ideas? 

That's this week's output from the cave. My felt jacket is now totally done with it's covered shoulder pads but today is not a good one for modeling pics. They will come with a review of the pattern soon. Next Level Sewing will return as life settles down as well. Hope this nasty bug misses you all out there. I can't wait to get back in the cave! ....Bunny

Monday, January 12, 2015

NLS #12, Tape Talk

What do you really need in the way of notions when you first start sewing? Not too much really, some good scissors, pins, a marker or two.  But as your garments get a little more involved you  may find your pattern specifies a notion or two that you are not familiar with. What is that stuff? What is grosgrain, twill tape, washaway tape, and more? Do I really need these things? These items can seem a bit mysterious to a new sewist.  Can I wing it my way, which is a way I haven't discovered yet?  What are substitutes?  So many tapes, so little time! Here's a rundown of some tape type notions you may need one day or even every time you make a garment. You won't find any info on elastic "tapes" or quilting related info. We are talking garments here and elastics later.

Why Tape Talk? This weekend I did a bit of oganizing in the studio. My various tapes seemed to jump out at me and the light went on. We'll do Tape Talk.

There are so many different types of tapes used in sewing. First there is bias tape. It can come pre-packaged or you can make your own like you see in the dish above.  Wrights makes the tapes that most of us are familiar with. Most are made with poly cotton blends today.  But if you can find some vintage bias tapes they are 100% cotton.  Gotta love those prices! These were a gift from a dear friend along with the DMC case to hold them.

Retail bias tapes come in various styles, There are w i d e  blanket bindings out of satin or cotton poly. There are single fold bias tapes which are what we traditionally think of when we bind a collar or armhole. Double fold bias tapes are just that, folded into the center so double the amount of fabric. Both double and single fold bias tapes come in a huge variety of solid colors and in 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch and wider varieties. The 1/4 inch tape is great for making swirly designs, scallops, etc on the skirt of a child's garment. You would secure the tape down and then just topstitch on either side. When using your pattern to get all you need for your project, check the notions list on the back. It will tell you exactly what kind and how much you need to purchase. Follow the pattern till you get more experience or venture out and make your own bias binding. I make 95% of all the binding I use, therefore the well stocked drawers. But once you learn how to make your own bias bindings you won't go back. You can use nearly any fabric and get exactly what you want, not just solid colors picked by Wrights. I have tried many ways to make bias binding over the years and have finally settled on the method that gives the most accuracy in cutting and is the easiest to achieve. Here's my preferred method for when you need lots of bias binding. When you need just a little bit, ie, a child's tiny neckline or sleeve cuff, simply cut your strips with a rotary cutter on the diagonal of your fabric, quick and done.

Other retail tapes are lace hem tapes, a nice touch on a lining hem. Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic uses this method and it is a lovely accent.

This Soft and Easy hem tape is a poly and feels stiff to  me. I am not a fan. But in the right situation it may be the right answer. I would preshrink/wash any of these tapes before using. I find Wrights tapes to have a tremendous amount of sizing in them. I don't like that so wash it out. Just lay the tape, cardboard and all, in a sink of warm water with a drop of dish liquid, swish and let soak till room temperature. You can then slip out the cardboard and let the tape dry flat in the sun the way it is wound on the cardboard.

Hug Snug is a tape I really really like. Why? Its made of rayon. It is washable, It is comfortable against the skin and it gives a lovely finish to a hem. Disadvantage? depends. It comes on 100 yard spools for a ten spot but can be found on Etsy by some genius entrepreneur who has cut it shorter and therefore sells it for less in smaller quantities but actually more in comparison. Highly recommend. A hem sewn with this on the edge is close to invisible.

Let's move away from hems and bindings to some tapes that do other things for us sewists.

This is twill tape. It comes a half inch or 1/4 inch wide. IT HAS NO GIVE. It is used to stay necklines, waistbands, armhole seams and more. The 1/4 inch wide is used to make the roll on a tailored lapel collar. I like using twill tape to stay edges that are doomed to stretch bigtime, particularly in tailored garments. Cut a piece of twill tape the exact length of the area to be taped minus the seam allowances, in other words, around the neckline but no SA at CF. Use your pattern to get the exact measurement. The wise sewist, which I am often NOT, will tape the seam ON THE SEAM LINE, pinning the ends of the cut tape to the neckline or such right where the SA ends and do this before getting deep into the project and stretching it out. But more often than not I think of this technique later when I realize I need it. I cut the tape, measuring against the pattern as mentioned,  then pin each end to each end of the seam I am staying. I then pin again in the middle of the tape, then divide those halves into halves again and keep pinning. I keep dividing the areas into halves and pinning until the  neckline is under control and all eased in to the stay tape. Then I will fell stitch the tape down to control it and bring back in line the stretched out area. It won't stretch any more!  This technique is great for slanted pockets on pants, center fronts on stretch fabrics, collars, armholes, any place prone to stretch out.

Wash Away Wonder Tape, above, is one of my most favorite notions ever and I would be lost without it. It is double sided sticky, a 1/4 inch wide and washes out. It is FABULOUS for inserting zippers, applying trims, acts like a third hand to keep buttons stable while sewing on and so much more. I find I use it a lot for all sorts of things and stock up when I have a fifty percent coupon. I highly recommend this for beginners, particularly when installing zippers. Use Wonder Tape, not pins!

Above are 5/8 inch nylon tricot tapes, not fusible, not sticky, just tape and called Seams Great. These are used for binding edges where no bulk is wanted. They are great for putting in the clothes of little ones who don't like itchy seams. To use, you pull the tape while on the spool and it will curl in a certain direction. The is the way you will wrap it around the seam allowance raw edge. Sew for about a 1/4 inch then slightly pull the tape to curve around and hug your seam edge while you stitch it in a 1/4 inch seam. A little work but a very nice finish to an otherwise itchy edge.

Another big favorite of mine is above, "Batting Fusing Tape". It can be found in the quilting notions area of your big chain stores. It is GREAT for hemlines on knits. It stretches very little and has some oomph to it with it's brushed finish. It is fusible. I fuse it to my hem edge, matching raw edges on the wrong side. Fuse, Turn up and topstitch on the front for a great hem on your latest tee. You can also get it 1 1/2 inches wide as well if you like deeper hems and cuffs. I really like the finish this gives a hem and much prefer it to  Steam A Seam in knit hems. I find the SAS can be stiff and can flare. This tape just hangs beautifully with no stiffness. Highly recommend.

 Tapes starting to all look alike? Bear with me, ;) . This little nugget above is 1/4 inch masking tape. I like to use it to mark faux leathers, and for marking topstitching. It is inexpensive, seems to never run out and makes a perfect 1/4 inch seam in places that are difficult to mark. It is easy to damage faux leathers but this tape doesn't.

Above we have  a roll of tape, coming apart, of Stitch Witchery. One side sticks to the fabric and the other side is fusible to iron the two areas together. I use to buy a lot of this but now I simply cut Steam A Seam sheets into strips in the widths I need. I find the SAS is much sturdier that SWery and can take washing and drying much better. I cut a bunch of strips every now and the and just stick my tapes in a jar to pull out when needed, which seems to be pretty often. Again, great for positioning trims and zippers and those quickie hem fixes. Many use if for knit hems but I prefer the softer thicker batting tape for that.

 If you can find it, Tiger Tape is great to have on hand, particularly for those who like hand picked zippers or topstitching. Heirloom sewists love this as well. Tiger Tape is a 1/4 inch tape marked every quarter inch with black lines. It is great for handwork that requires precision spacing, like  those hand picked zips. It is hard to find. Martha Pullen had it for a while. You can order some here.

There are so many types of tapes to help your get professional results with your sewing. Learn to make your own bias binding. Use twill tape to control stretching in more tailored garments or jeans waistbands. Wash Away Wonder Tape will get you to love zipper installations without using a single pin. And Fusible Batting Tape will make for a lovely hem on your knit tops.

There are many more tapes out there and those will be for another day. These are the ones I depend on. Buy them as you need them and give them a try.

All of this information is my personal experienced opinion and nothing more. I have no affiliation with any of these products or their manufacturers other than I want you to know about them. I like it that way. Till the next time.............Bunny