Sunday, August 28, 2011

Anita Goodesign

I attended the two-day Anita Goodesign (I need a good design) event put on by Sew Contempo in Houston yesterday and today.  It took all my will power not to buy any of the designs or an upgrade for my Brother Quattro machine.  I realized that I had received a lot of free Anita Goodesign embroidery designs when I bought my Quattro and I had never sewn them out.    I think that if I sewed out every design I already have, I would never reach the end of them and I get more free designs everyday on the internet.  I had fun with the women at my table, and we sewed out five designs:  a bookmark made in the hoop, a zippered pouch made in the hoop, a standalone flower, a cut-work flower and a little in-the-hoop Christmas stocking.  It was informative to learn about how the In The Hoop designs work.  I have never used my Jumbo hoop and most of the designs were sewn on organza or fabric mesh stabilizer hooped in the large hoop for placement.  My favorite was the zippered pouch in the hoop but I would use a low loft batt instead of the high-loft batt they gave us.  The designs that I was tempted to buy were the very large designs they sew out in sections they call tiles and sew together like a patchwork quilt.  Someone told me that it does take forever to sew out these large designs.  Many of the projects were appliques with embroidery on top.  The designs looked beautiful sewed out on silk dupioni fabric and maybe I will try sewing on silk.  I think they will make beautiful pillows.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hand Sewing

It is so hot here in Houston that I really don't feel like going out much.  We have broken the record for the most days over 100 degrees in a row.  I've lived here over 30 years and this is the hottest summer I can remember.  Yesterday, while watching the Gaddafi regime fall in Libya and the East Coast Earthquake on TV, I made some more YoYos with some additional fabric squares I found in my stash.  There are now about 100 YoYos in my glass cookie jar on my side table.  A lot less fattening than cookies!  Yesterday, I altered my front block and my knit top to take out about 1 1/2" from the width at the hemline.  This morning I re-hemmed the sleeves and the bottom sides where I deleted some of the fabric.  I wore my T-shirt to the Wednesday lunch bunch today and I liked the way it fit.  I did the hemming by hand with silk thread while watching TV. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

PE Design v.8

Last weekend and this weekend I attend Penny Muncaster-Jewel's classes on PE Design v.8 at Sew Contempo in Clear Lake City.  I also attended the PE Design Club yesterday morning.  Penny is a really good teacher and she crams a whole lot of material into her classes.  I didn't expect to learn so much since I have been using the program for many years, but lately I had been concentrating on the manual digitizing classes given by Sue Lough from the website.  I hadn't gone back to look at the rest of the program in years, and so it was a good update on what was new in Design Center.  It is a good way to work with outlines, and then, as Penny suggests, bring the outlines into Layout and Editing to add texture and detail.  Penny also showed Photo Stitch but I'm still not impressed with this part of the program.  It just takes too long to stitch out the photos, and they are so stiff.  The PE Club went over Font Creator and I hadn't looked at that part of the program at all.  Now there is a version 9 but I just cannot see investing the money to upgrade again.  I'll have to wait another version or two before I upgrade as there are no real discounts for just upgrading the program.  There are also two updates to my Quattro machine, but as I sew as a hobby and not a business, the upgrades are too expensive for me and I'm not sure I'd use the new functionality.  I haven't done everything I can do with my machine and program that I have yet.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bound Buttonholes

At the Adventures in Wearables Group last week, Lorianne did a demo of Bound Buttonholes.  She recommended the article 5 Foolproof Bound Buttonholes by Judy Neukam which appeared in the June/July 2001 issue of Threads Magazine. 

I found a tutorial at
Here is another tutorial that looks like the one Lorianne did: . 
There are also tutorials on UTube.  Here is one by Erika at SewEtcetera. 

Isn't it nice that if you want to do something you can get step by step tutorials at classes, on blogs, in videos, in magazines and books. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Teaching little ones to sew

Yesterday my great niece Danielle who proudly tells  you she is six came for her first sewing day.  She is so little my first challenge was finding a way to set up a sewing machine so she could reach the pedal.  I finally put my little Janome Jem on an end table and then found a box to put the pedal on so she could sit on a chair, see the machine and use the pedal.  First I had her just sew lines on paper.  She had to learn her rules.  Rule one, of course, was don't let your fingers get near the needle.  She did well making the machine go, so then we  drew straight and curved lines on the paper and she learned about the machine's ankle, feet, and toes and to keep the lines between the toes.  She really did pretty well at that.  Then I cut a piece of muslin and found some little squares of fabric I had received as samples and had her glue the squares to the muslin.  After a break, she sewed the squares down on the muslin trying out different stitches on the machine.  She had a fun day and went home with a doll quilt for the Barbie she had brought along.  The best part was that she said she wanted to come back and sew some more. 
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

ASG Inside the Loop Group, Paint Stiks, and a Cookie

Yesterday was a crazy busy sewing day.  In the morning our Inside the Loop group met.  I walked into the room and it was empty and no one came for five-minutes.  After two more people came, the Bayland worker finally told us that he had moved our group to another room.  I wasn't happy since Mary and I had had a conversation with the Manager asking her not to move our group to another room.  The other rooms are not conducive for twenty people setting up sewing machines.  We finally got the meeting underway and the Manager walked in and gave us a five-minute speech on how they can change the rooms whenever they want and they don't have to give us notice.  Also how they only had 3 people working there.  ( I had heard this speech with Mary and I was annoyed she was taking up our meeting time with her work problems).  Then she walked in again and brought cookies left over from another meeting.  The cookies were nice but the interruption was not.  We only meet for two hours once a month and the meeting room should not be the focus of our meeting.  The whole situation through Joyce "off her stride" which was too bad because she presented a wonderful program on embellishing fabric with Paint Stiks.
     Shiva Paint Stiks are tubes of oil based paint that can be put on anything that can be painted and not just fabric.  Joyce said it can go on any fabric that is not going to be dry cleaned.  The Stiks have either an iridescent or matte finish.  Joyce had Paint Stiks that were 20 years old so although they are expensive, they last forever.  Joyce recommended the Cedar Canyon website and Laura Murray Designs.  She brought two books: "Paintstiks on Fabric, Simple Techniques, Fantastic Results"  and "Design Magic for Paint Stiks on Fabric".  Both books by Shelly Stokes.  There is also a video.
     Joyce demonstrated three ways to use Paint Stiks.  First you need to peel the skin off the top of the tube.  Joyce said she bought a cheap vegetable peeler she uses and peels it over a tin baking pan because you do not want to get any small shavings anywhere.  She had a mat called Grip n Grips that grips the rubbing plates or stencils you put on it so things do not slip.  She showed us rubbings over texture plates, stamping, and her favorite, stenciling.  She recommends Lois & Diane Ericson's stencils.  She buys a different stencil brushes for each color.  She said the designs pop more on dark fabrics and she recommended shading and adding pink to pop out the color.  If you get a glob, pick it up with cellophane tape.  Clean up with baby wipes and a product called Brush Soap.  When you are finished, let the paint dry for4-5 days and then heat set by covering your fabric with parchment paper and press with an iron.  After the demonstrations we all got to try out the Paint Stiks.  It was a lot of fun and easy to get beautiful results.  I may look further into this at the Quilt Festival this year.  For more information check these  websites: or
   After the meeting I needed to leave immediately to drive to Clear Lake.  I ran into a traffic jam and didn't get to eat lunch so I was very happy I had been able to eat a cookie to tide me over. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Digitizing Hattie and a busy week ahead

Yesterday, I completed my digitization of a picture of my granddaughter Hattie and sewed it out for the first time.  I immediately saw that I need to change the order of the stitching and to simplify the design.  The details I put in just don't show up in the embroidery.  I either need to reduce the details or make the whole embroidery larger.   I'm still not happy with the hair.  When I showed the sew-out to Dave, he didn't immediately recognize it as Hattie, so I will work on it more and sew it out again.  Tomorrow, my Sewing Inside the Loop Group is meeting in the morning, and my PE Design v.8 class is down in Clear Lake in the afternoon.  I'll need to get organized today for all this activity tomorrow.

On Monday, the fabric manipulation challenge is due for the Wonderful Wearables group and of course, I haven't started it.  That will keep my very busy on Sunday.  I still need to alter the block on my knit garment too.

On Tuesday, my six-year old Great Niece is coming to spend a sewing day with me.  This will be her first time sewing so I'll have to make it fun for her. I think a trip to JoAnn's for some cute fabric and a pillowcase might be in order.  Also, sewing on paper and making a patchwork doll quilt with fabric scraps and glue might be a good activity..  Do you have any ideas?

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia and "Project Runway" Ambiance

Last Wednesday evening after lunch with my friends, I flew to Philadelphia.  Dave picked me up and we spent the night at the Courtyard in Marlton NJ.  The staff knows his so well, they actually gave me a free Starbucks latte for Breakfast.  On Thursday morning we drove to Glenn's house.  We spent part of the day playing with Zaiden and then took Glenn and Z to lunch.  Zaiden looked much older with his new haircut, but I miss his curls.  After lunch we went to see Hattie and Shayna in their theater day camp presentation of Honk.  It's an updated musical retelling of the ugly duckling.  Hattie played one of ducklings and Shayna was the Head Frogette.  It was really very cute.  Sherry, Mel, and Christine came to see the performance also.  After taking Glenn and Christine and the family out to dinner, we drove up to another Courtyard in Edison NJ to spend the night.  The next day we drove into NYC and checked in at my old stomping grounds, the Hilton Garden Inn on 8th Avenue and 47th St.  This trip would not have been possible without all the frequent flyer/stayer miles. 

It was about 10 a.m. and we walked to shop.  I went to Mood Designer Fabrics on 37th St. and Dave went to B&H Photo.  Mood was in an office tower on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor.  They have all their fabrics on long rolls instead of bolts.  It wasn't very busy so I spent an hour looking around. I wound up buying a light- weight wool print with lurex strands running through it, and a rayon jersey fabric with a modern art design.  Now I have to figure out what to make with my special fabrics.  They will both go nice with the black pants I tend to wear, and they will be for the winter.  They were more expensive than I'm used to paying so I hope all my fitting classes will help me make clothes that fit me.  I didn't have the chutzpah to think about the designer silks that went for $40 a  yard and up. 

After the shopping we ate at Ben's Deli which was across the street.  We walked back to the hotel and dropped off the purchases and then started walking through the city.  We walked by the theater district, Times Square, and Radio City Music Hall, through Rockefeller Plaza and eventually wound up at the 42nd Street Library.  We paid our regards to the Lions and went in to look at the special exhibit they were having for their 100th anniversary.  This way we got to cool off while looking at cool objects like a Gutenberg Bible, Cuniform writing, original manuscripts, famous photos, etc.  After that we walked through Bryant Park and watched some Bocci Ball and Table Tennis.  Then Dave decided we had to go on the Staten Island Ferry so we took the subway downtown and took a ride.  It was nice to see the Statute of Liberty again, and you can see where the Freedom Tower is going up to replace the World Trade Center.  Dave and I had many dates on the Staten Island Ferry when we were kids.

On Saturday we went to Dave's Aunt Blanche's Ninetieth Birthday Party.  Shelly and Mike Rifkin drove us out to Queens for the Party.  My daughter, my nieces and great Nieces were there along with some of Dave's cousins and their children and grandchildren.  We even got to see the newest babies in the family.  It was a really nice reunion.

After Brunch with Jenny the next day we drove down to Philadelphia.  We really made very good time and then had to find some things to do before Dave took me to the airport.  We had lunch in Cherry Hill NJ and then drove across the river.  It was very hot and humid and then it started raining so we just drove around the historical district for awhile without getting out of the car.  We went past Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, past the Statue of George Washington, and by all the historical museums, and along the waterfront.  Then Dave drove me to the Airport and it turned out my flight was very delayed so I had a reunion with PHL.  Since my flight was delayed and I was so early I breezed through security!  They have made changes to security since the last time I flew out of Philadelphia.

So I missed Project Runway this week, but I did buy fabric at Mood's and I did get to Bryant Park and I walked past Parsons School of Design.  Now I'll have to "make it work".

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Seams and Seam Finishes

Penny Muncaster-Jewell gave a demonstration of  the various types of seams and seam finishes to the Wonderful Wearables ASG group. She made samples of all the seams and brought in some of her beautiful art garments to demonstrate them.
The seams were:
1) Regular 5/8" seam:  If the seam is curved, clip it so it will lie flat.  Louise Cutting recommends cutting each seam at opposing 45 degree angles.
2) Top stitched seam:  Sew a regular seam, press flat and then press  open.  Topstitch down each side to hold the seam flat.  Use for fabrics that don't press flat well or fray.  Use an edge stitching foot and needle reposition to get the same distance on both sides.
3) Overlapped or Butted seams:  Use when pieces are already finished or the fabric doesn't fray like felt or ultrasuede.  Use only a 1/4" seam allowance to reduce size of overlap.  Use straight stitch or decorative stitch.  Use edge stitching foot.
4) Edge to edge seam:  Use when the edges or finished or do not fray.  Butt the edges together using the edge stitch foot.  Use a zig-zag or fagotting-type stitch to join.  Penny showed us a combination of five straight stitches and then 3 bar tack stitches (that she put into her machine memory) and the seam looked like beading. She did this on a Diane Ericson pattern.
5) French seam: Useful see-through fabrics such as organza or fraying fabrics.   First sew the seam  WRONG sides together with a 3/8" seam.   Press flat. Very accurately cut then seam down to 1/8".  Fold over wrong sides together and press or finger press with a fold tool or sharp point to make the seam sharp.  The raw edges are now inside.  Sew a 1/4" seam.  Some people prefer to press the seam to one side and then topstitch in place.  This seam is difficult to do on curves such as armholes.  If you use it, press to the larger section and ease in.
6) Flat Fell seam:  A french seam used for Jeans.  Sew the pieces WRONG side together.  Use a 5/8" seam for regular fabrics or a 3/4" seam for thick fabrics.  Trim one of the seam allowances to 1/4 inch. Press flat and then to one side.  Fold the larger seam over the shorter one  to the seam line and press.  Stitch in place.  The seam is on the right side of the fabric.  Use edge stitching foot to keep stitches even.  The mock french seam is when you sew the first seam Right sides together.
7) Pojagi seam:  These were the tiny french seams sewn by hand in the 14th century used on Korean wrapping clothes call Pojagi.  If the french seam was sewn down it was called a Tagi.  Penny learned this technique from Jack Brockette.  The key is to use Faultless Lemon Scented Profession Startch - the lemon makes a difference!  Place the fabrics wrong sides together or a towel on your ironing board.  Spray liberally with the starch and let it dry.  Sew the 3/8" seam allowance and trim with a rotary cutter to about 1/8".  Fold over and sew just slightly larger than the cut section.  Press seam to one side.  If necessary stitch a row of topstitching to hold the seam  in place.  Use edge stitching foot.

The seam finishes were:

1) Pinking: Remove only the smallest amount of fabric and cut very straight.  Rarely used anymore.
2) Zigzag or straight stitch:  Be careful not to pucker.
3) Overcast stitch on sewing machine 
4) Serged: Use a 3 or 4-thread overlock stitch.  If you are not positive about fit, sew the seams and then serge the edges.  If fit is not an issues, serge seam and finish in one step.
5) Hong Kong finish:  Use to add a pop of color to garment insides.  Use organza or silk for trim if you like.  Sew 5/8" seam right sides together.  Cut bias strips approximately 1" wide.  Stitch the bias trim RST to the seam allowance with 1/4" seam from fabric edge.  Press the bias tape over the seam allowance and trim the seam allowance to 1/8".  Fold the bias strip over the seam allowance and press.  Sew in the ditch from the right side capturing the the bias layer underneath the seam allowance.  You can trim the extra bit of seam allowance if you wish.  Some people use old silk ties for this.
6) Hong Kong lining finish:  For lined garments.  Cut the lining piece 5/8" wider than the fashion fabric. Sew the seams WRONG sides together with a 1/4" seam.   Turn and press sew that the lining fabric shows at the edge of the fashion fabric.    This will look like a Hong Kong finish.  Now sew the fashion fabrics right side together with a regular seam allowance.  The key is accuracy in cutting and sewing the 1/4" seam allowance. 
7) Bias Binding finish:  Cover the seam allowance with seam binding, Seams Great, Seam Ease or other product  and sew with a regular stitch to bind the edges of the seams, similar to Hong Kong finish. 
8) Inside out seam finishes:  For fraying fabrics sew the seams to the right side of the garment and allow to fray or do a Hong Kong seam on the outside of the fabric and stitch down when stiiching in the ditch.
9) Piping on the edge: Use corded or flat piping instead of a facing on a neckline or armhole.  Attach with a serger or regular machine.  Penny uses her serger to finish the edge of the piping.