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National Sewing Month

Okay, I admit that I get pretty excited every year during National Sewing Month. It is a fantastic time to get back to sewing, quilting, embroidery and all things related. Naturally, the sewing machine manufacturers are fully aware of this and just to tempt us, they put out their new products in time for NSM events and strong forth quarter sales. Brother has released a machine that has me REALLY hyped – the all new 5 thread CV3550.


Fans of Sewing Pattern review can find comments here:

Brother Cover Hem CV3550

My personal take on this machine is that is the perfect addition to any sewing or quilting studio. The Brother CV3550 Video does a great job showing off the hemming features but just touches on how amazing it is for piecing and quilting. Since it does a chain stitch and has a generous 6.1″ to the right of the needle I can definitely see myself using it to piece and sew because it will NEVER need bobbin thread. No more running out at just the wrong moment. No more fiddling for matching colors. YAY!

There are two great attachments for the machine:

The Dual Function Fold Binder is used to fold 1.25 inch (32mm) wide bias fabric tape into 0.31 inch (8mm) wide double fold bias tape, and then apply the bias tape binding to the edge of fabric. Attach the binder to the cover stitch machine simply with the two included screws. This accessory may also be used as a binder for single fold bias tape.

sa231cv-d  sa230cv-d

The second attachment is perfect for finishing collars and armholes on sleeveless apparel.

The product specifications can be found at the official website : Brother CV3550 Details

We will have this model on display at the shop soon. Look for event details!




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The Ten Commandments of Great Sewing

There is a lot of room for creativity in the world of sewing but to get good results there are some hard and fast rules that have stood the test of time, and indeed are applied to many hobbies, not just sewing. Here are the Dawn Abbey Ten Commandments of Sewing.

1) Thou Shalt Love Thine Self and the Body You’re In
I make no bones about being a Christian and believing that every human is created in the image of God. You are beautiful just the way you are. Before you can create something that will look pleasing to you, there needs to be love for the person in the mirror. We all have fitting adjustments that need to be made, and after more than thirty years of sewing for myself and others I have yet to encounter “the perfect body”. Perfect in whose eyes? In His eyes you are stunning. Give the body you’ve got a big ‘ol hug and know that with a little time and effort, you’re gonna look fantastic in the things you create.

2) Measure twice cut once.
It may seem obvious but I cannot overstate the importance of taking accurate measurements to ensure properly fitting garments. Measure yourself once per year (birthday perhaps to remember?) and then again right before you cut your pattern and fabric. The human body goes through many changes in life, and during the course of a single day your body weight can fluctuate by two-three pounds. Take your measurements at night, after dinner when your body is at its maximum size for that day and do your fittings at the same time if possible.

3) If it doesn’t feel right, it’s wrong
This rule applies in several ways. Firstly, when you are shopping for fabric, take the time to drape the fabric across the inside of your wrist which is much more sensitive than your hands. If the fabric feels rough, uncomfortable or just “not right”, keep shopping. Secondly, when pin fitting a pattern, if the fit feels wrong, it is wrong. Either make some adjustments or try a different pattern.

Lol! Okay, I just did the online equivalent of shouting but honestly that question has come up one time too many times for this instructor. Your time, money, effort and creativity deserve the small effort of making a muslin. Once the task is done, only minor change are needed unless there is a major change in size (see the Second Commandment)

5) Look Before You Leap
Pattern has assembled the largest online database of pattern reviews in the world. I know how deliciously tempting those $.99 patterns can be, (I have drawers full of them) but the best approach is to make a list of patterns that you like, check the reviews and once you are satisfied that the pattern will work for you, shop on! :))

6) Keep Natural Laws on Your Side
Gravity. Momentum. Inertia. When sewing, sew on a flat surface. Whether you have treated yourself to a top of the line custom cabinet or you’re using a piece of foam from the hardware store, or something in between, let the table hold the weight of the fabric for you. The best way to keep large projects for slipping away, weighing you down or downright hurting your shoulders, wrists and back, is to make sure that the project is properly supported. Using a comfortable chair will reduce fatigue and strain and make your sewing time more rewarding.

7) Take Joy In the Journey
Yup. It’s true. Taking the time to baste, make a muslin, pin fit, search for the right fabric, buttons, linings etc., will bring better results than rushing through. When time is short, remind yourself, “I am worth it” and put the project aside and come back to it when you have time to focus. You will reap the rewards of your patience in the end

8) The Strength of a Team far Outweighs the Sum of the Individual Parts
The Internet is flooded with all kinds of tutorials, online classes (shameless plug here: naturally I’d love it if you take some of mine!). Plus, there are how-to videos, books and DVDs galore. The point is, if you need help, there is plenty to be had, just ask. A frustrating project can turn into a conversation point in a forum, and not only get the help you need; but you might be able to help someone else along. Also, remember that The Sewist Club has a contact page, and I am always happy to help if I can. 🙂

9) Protect Your Creativity like Your Child
Your time and talents are gifts from above and in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to push aside the Human Being and become a Human Doing. Sewing, like any other hobby or creative outlet, is meant to be enjoyable. Book some “me time” with your hobby and protect it like a precious child. We are only given 24 hours in each day, make sure to use some of them to express yourself, whether it is at the machine, shopping online, looking for new ideas or just day dreaming about your next project. The workplace, dust bunnies and dishes will still be there when you get to them:)

10) Good Ingredients Yield Good Results
I left this until last because it is actually the least important. Buying a good quality sewing machine, nice fabrics and notions is simply common sense. But the best ingredients can come to nought if the hands are rushed, the mind is stressed or the body is out of harmony. Yes, good fabrics count for a lot, but loving the skin you’re in counts for so much more.

Happy Sewing!

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Beautiful Sewing Room Storage Solution – Spring in a Jar


Creating a great space for sewing, quilting and crafting is about more than just getting organized. Aesthetics count for quite a bit; great spaces are a careful blend of form and function. This apothecary jar is more than just a pretty decorative item. It has two important functions. Firstly, despite all appearances to the contrary, this jar is an essential storage solution. Secondly, although scent cannot be seen, it adds fragrance and ambiance to my sewing space.

You see, this jar is holding a secret. In the middle of the silk flowers is a roll of stabilizer sheets – re-purposed from used dryer sheets. I use these all the time – on buttonholes, decorative stitching (which should always be supported), stitch practice, sewing machine maintenance and tension checks, and as cleaning clothes for dusting around the studio and so on. I needed a handy place to store the sheets and I needed to add some beauty to, what was, a fairly dull space.


Using old dryer sheets just makes sense. It is good for the planet, easy on the budget and most importantly, the idea, which has been around for quite some time, works perfectly. I happened to have a series of candy jars and vases left over from my wedding but any pretty jar or vase can be used for this quick and easy project.

Here is what you will need:

– A jar or vase with at least 6 1/2″ of space at the center,

– old dryer sheets,

– silk flowers,

– Mary Ellen’s Best Pressed Spray,

– a piece of cotton fabric

– a steam iron, and a pressing surface.

Step 1:

springjar3    springjar4

Turn your iron on the the wool setting and while it is warming up, take the old dryer sheets and place them on the pressing surface with the cotton fabric underneath. Then, use your hands to smooth the dryer sheets a little.

Step 2:


Gently mist the dryer sheets with Mary Ellen’s Best Pressed Spray. Since the dryer sheets are very thin, the cotton cloth will absorb the excess spray and prevent build up on your pressing surface.

Step 3:



Press the sheets flat and stack them in a pile.

Step 4:


Use cellophane or plastic wrap to roll the dryer sheets into a neat tube. You can pluck sheets from the center, like pop-up baby wipes.

Step 5:


Trim off the heads of the flowers. Arrange them in the jar, leaving a space in the center for your roll of stabilizer sheets.

Step 6:


Place the jar in a highly visible location. During the cold winter months, leave the lid off and the residual fragrance from the stabilizer sheets will waft gently into your sewing, quilting or crafting space, adding hint of spring to your room.


Happy Sewing!


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DIY Sewing Table under $70

The weather has turned nasty here in Indiana. No surprise at this time of year, but it has caused a delay in the creation of the new notions storage, since I need to work outside. Instead, I am working inside on a new sewing table.



Bernina 932 Record


The machine is a Bernina 932 record and it weighs a ton. Online, cabinets strong enough to support my Nina Rose are pretty pricey. To get this project done within my limited budget I am using an old computer desk. This desk has a long history in our family, it was originally purchased for my son when he was in elementary school (he’s now in his mid twenties). He used it all through high school and even for his first year of college. So it’s a keeper for this sentimental Mom. I remember how happy I was to get it for such a good price! It was on clearance for around $20 and then as now, I was really keen to stretch the family budget. A few weeks ago it looked like this:

This machine needs a new table!


My goal was to keep the cost of supplies for this DIY Sewing Table under $75 but managed to get everything for just $70. Here’s how it all added up:

Old wooden computer desk.  (These can still be bought on Craigslist for very little if you are patient, sometimes even free if you pick it up) $20 back in the 90’s :))

120 spool thread Rack $25, available from Amazon

Paint: $13 One can of Rustoleum 2X Paint plus primer and 1 can of Rustoleum Automotive Paint & Primer for plastic.

Fabric for Skirt: $7

Wood scraps from the local home improvement store for shims and shelf: $4

Total :$69

Common items from around the house: I also used rolled on one coat of Valspar primer first that was leftover from a previous job. It wasn’t necessary, it just reduced the number of coats needed from the Rustoleum and I used a piece of sandpaper to smooth out the surface as well. I used a bit of glue to shim the shelf that the machine is sitting on.

Tools: The hole was actually cut using a drill and a circular saw. This isn’t the ideal way but I can’t afford to buy a scroll saw right now. If you are lucky enough to own a scroll saw or can borrow one from a friend then you will likely get a much smoother cut than I did! Those are all the tools I used.

To get started, I carefully cleaned the whole desk with plain soap and water to remove any grease or grime. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the soap residue and left it to dry overnight. Once it was all dry I used Valspar primer for glossy surfaces left over from a previous project. This meant that I did not need to sand although I did smooth out some of the rough spots from the circular saw hack job. It proved to be an unnecessary step as the Rustoleum 2X was more than sufficient. To keep the spray paint from making a mess, three drop cloths were hung to create a little painting ‘tent’. Suffice to say, I won’t make that mistake again!  It’s better to wait for good weather and work outside IMHO. 


DIY Sewing Table Under $50

It took two coats of the Rustoleum 2X to get the whole thing ready to go.


Glossy paint makes a slick surface for the fabric to float on.
Glossy paint makes a slick surface for the fabric to float on.

DIY Sewing Table Under $50

Here I have shown a thread rack attached to the side of the table.


And this is how it looks now.

Happy Sewing!


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Quilting & Sewing Room Makeover – Ironing Board and Station

easy board

While  I was searching for a new ironing board for the sewing room makeover, I found this incredibly high tech concept ironing at WOW! The idea of the board flipping over with the sleeves in place is absolutely amazing. But, until this goes from concept to reality, I am looking at, and drooling, over the British IronEase Ironing Board, marketed in the USA by deMachinor. The shoulder wings and the extra large size make it ideal for pressing shirts, quilts and other garments. Very tempting. The $149.00 price tag is making me hesitate. I remind myself that it is much less than a Rowenta, and has the added advantage of being lighter. This counts for a lot since I want to be able to hang it out of the way. I have some homework to do!

ironing board

Since my goal this weekend is to finish up the Ironing Station, it’s decision time. So far, space looks like this:

Paris Rose Cart Station

Designing the ironing station area took time and some careful planning because there isn’t a lot of wall space to use. There are french doors on one side of the room and six feet of window on the other with the opening to the front section in between. With limited up-space, I am trying to maximize every inch to avoid making the room look cluttered. If you love sewing, quilting or crafting then you know how fast a space can go from looking sparkling clean to bombed out :)) And, as usual, I want to use things I already own to save up for the new storage units.

So, to create the iron storage, I wound up using a small, white wall-shelf unit from my old sewing space. The two drawers conveniently store pressing tools, while the two surfaces are just the right size for the irons and heat proof pads. Above that, I have mounted a large pink and black hook. This has been attached using a strong screw and anchor as it has to hold the weight of the water storage tank. I placed it as high as I can reach without using a step stool to save space.  Second only to a well-lit, organized sewing space, the ironing station is a top priority. I have drafted patterns and cut garments on the floor many times but there is no substitute for a good ironing surface when using a commercial iron! So, time to get a nice cup of tea and weigh my options!

Happy Sewing! Natalie

Next Post: Thread and Notion Storage

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Sewing Room Makeover Continued – Project and DIY Ironing Board Cart

Yes, it’s true. My PCP (Pfaff Creative Performance) has a name, Prince Pfyodor. The pretentious, over-the-top name suits him to a tee. Compared to the other machines in the studio he’s pretty spoiled and, since he is much to heavy to move around, I decided to put together a press and project cart for him so I can keep his table clear and the iron close by. I adapted the cart from an Ikea Bygel cart which you can check out here:


The ironing surface is made of a piece of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) that is covered in one layer of reflective heat proof lining and 1 layer of muslin, attached with a staple gun. I tried, as mentioned in a previous post, to spruce it up a bit with pink buckets for project notions etc and a floral gift bag. But to my eyes, it was still lacking so off I went to JoAnn for some sticky hook and loop tape so I could make a skirt to cover up some of the clutter. Here’s how it looks now.

Paris Rose Cart Ironing Setup Paris Rose Project Cart

TADA! Lol! That looks so much better! And the cute fabric goes with the Paris Couture theme. I added a rose pattern button to cover the space between the two edges of the skirt.The messy stuff is still inside but at least I don’t have to look at it now. Equally important is that I already had the cart so I stayed within my budget. Yay!

When I looked at this cart, it made me reflect on the tiny apartments I have lived in. I keep thinking that it would be the perfect sewing cart. Just add your machine to the second shelf, reorganize it and presto! Instant sewing space. It slips away into a closet or, if covered in a home decor fabric, it could blend in nicely just tucked into a corner. I set the cart up with sewing needs just to try it out.


Just an idea for anyone who is living in a small space, or has limited sewing space. I empathize.

Next post…the pressing station for the commercial iron and the cart.

Happy Sewing!


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To the wall or not





I am, truthfully in a bit of a quandary. The front section of the room is coming along nicely. I figure I am about 70% done. All that remains is the design wall/embroidery station with shelving. It is the most difficult project to assemble but once it’s done the front section will be too. But it has to wait for sales, time and a pair of helping hands. So for today, now that the walls are looking a little nicer, I am trying to figure out whether to put two sewing machines front to back so Mom and I can see each other or push the Pfaff against the wall, move the serger table over and create a second, independent quilting station for MDM.

The pictures above are just a mock up. I will not be using these tables for the Pfaff at all. The sergers actually go on one of the desks and the second one is for another machine. I am planning to build a special table for the Pfaff that will allow me to sew on a flat surface, needle to the nose as I was taught. I took the pictures with the drawers open so I could be sure that they can open with me sitting in front of the machine. What do you think? One quilting station or two?