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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.

features-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.

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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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DIY Circular Sewing Attachment

A repost from my old blog. As we are stash blasting, this is a quick and easy way to add style to home decor and garment projects. The full PDF file for making a DIY Circular Sewing Attachment is available on the website at Sutura Style. Enjoy and Happy Sewing!

The Sewist Club

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Happy New Year! Over the Holidays I got busy and reviewed a whopping 8 (!) sewing machines. I will post the results on our new main website at http://www.seeitandsewit.com once it is up and running (hopefully over the next two weeks). In the meanwhile, as I was messing about, I decided to push the limits of the Brother Laura Ashley CX-155, to see how many of the great features, found on it’s bigger (read: much more expensive) cousins; NX2000, NX5000 Isadore and the NX800, I could emulate. One of the features that I really love about the Laura Ashley line is the ability to create perfect circular sewing. So, I made myself a little circular sewing attachment and gave it a whirl. Here is how I made it, and the results. Happy Sewing!

For this project you will need: a thin flat ruler, sticky Velcro, a fine tip marker, a utility…

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Juki MO-50E Review vs MO-51E

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This year I decided to add 4 new sergers to the exisiting pair of Singer sergers that have been doing yeoman’s service in the classroom. Prior to purchasing the MO-50E, I did some research online and found out that it is basically the same machine as the MO-51E but without the cute flower decal (I don’t need it). I decided to compare the two carefully myself so that I could be sure that I was getting the best value for my dollars.

My conclusion is that the two machines are indeed identical.

The good stuff about these machines:

They both feature lay-in threading with the easiest looper threading I have ever encountered. There is a lever for the lower looper, just lay the thread on it and flip the lever. The machine automatically threads the end portion (the hard part on most sergers) for you. But, just in case there is a problem or you have decided to use fancy thread, the sewing bed opens up to give you access. Top to bottom this is the fastest serger to manually thread that I know of (jet-air is faster and costs about $1000 more:) ). It is also heavy and very strong. I have tested all four of my units and they do not bop around like my Singer Pro 5 and Finishing Touch 14SH654.  The presser feet for my Singer Pro 5 fit on the Juki, just like sewing snap-on feet fit most brands of sewing machines. Anyhoo, the fact that such an inexpensive machine is capable of expansion allowing it to perform tasks using the additional attachments is very cool.

The metal feet shown below are the ones that came with my Singer serger and also fit on the Juki MO-50E. (Clear plastic are cover stitch feet)

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These include: 1. Blind Hem / Lace foot   2. Cording / Piping foot   3. Shirring foot    4.  Taping foot 5. Pearl (Bead) and Sequins Foot  6.  Elastic / Elasticator foot .

The two feet that I find the most useful are #6 for attaching elastic to swimsuits and athletic apparel and # 3, the Shirring Foot which is a fantastic way to rapidly attach ruffles to clothing. It is also the fastest way to make a Dirndl skirt that I know of. These sets go for between $65 and $75 online. The nice thing is that the purchase can be made later, when needed. I tried the blind hem foot but it leaves a really obvious ladder on the front side of the garment. It might be nice if done as a contrast but I haven’t figured out how to make the ladder small and discreet yet. All in all, I am happy that I can use the same feet on both Singer and Juki.

The differential feed is sweet. And this is where the Juki leaves Singer behind. It has settings from -5 to +8. The Stretching effect (1-5 under the N on the dial ) prevents certain fabrics such as fine jerseys or tightly woven light fabrics from puckering or make gathers. Cool. To prevent waving on knits I can use the numbers over the dial. For the fun of it, I cranked the dial all the way up to 8 on a single layer of interlock and it created gathers beautifully, but I still prefer the Shirring foot since it allows me to gather, serge and trim all in one shot.

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It does a nice rolled hem with a flip of the switch – which is the same as my other sergers so no big deal here.

The really cool this is that this is the only serger I have ever owned that has a built-in drawer (look under the differential feed dial) to store the accessories, shown below.

 

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The bad news:

These machines are limited in their scope of work by the dismally small amount of space under the presser foot. Barely 1/4″. Ugh. While this is fine for the classroom where we are working on garments, I wouldn’t want to try to wedge thick fleece or heavy fabric in there.

All in all, this is a great machine for the dollars. I have used my MO-50 for a number of projects but mostly sewing light interlock and stretch wovens. Each project has come out perfectly with nicely balanced tension. On that note, since the MO-50 and 51 are the same machine, why not pay less and get the 50? It’s a savings of up to $100 and that’s a big difference for something that is identical.

If you are in the market for a serger and are thinking about Juki, I hope this review helps! Happy Serging!

Natalie

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Sewing an Organza Wedding Dress

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There was a question on PR regarding this dress and my reply is below but I would love to get a second, third and so on…opinions. The train is stunning ideas?

I took the time to make a miniature/quarter scale version of this. Of course, you have been sewing for thirty years so I am sure you will figure it out.It was a fun way to pass an otherwise dreary day. In case anyone else is interested here is what I did.

My model required the skirt to be made of:
The organza layer
an very thin satin underlining.
A second underlining
A lining

The organza sections begin with a long strip of cross grain fabric. There are four sections shown in the photo so I made four rows. The bottom layer (based on my count) has at least eight strips of organza. Layer one, for all rows, is a strip of cross grain at least 3 times the length of the section circumference of the skirt. Using a template for the crescent, I made festoons of various lengths. This is done by cutting wide strips of cross grain fabric into swag shapes. Create the strips by cutting (I am converting this to full size) 20″ WOF. Using a French seam, connect the strips until there is a length 9 times the length of the skirt section. Use a piece of Bristol board to make a template for the swags. Each swag needs to be 12″ at least to allow for overlapping (I don’t know how tall the bride is). The deep swags put the fabric on bias without using circles. Take the strip and fold it so that you get a manageable length but do not over fold or you will lose the “organic” look and wind up with more of a crinoline look (I did this and had to tear it all out). Stack all eight layers together, basting the layers to prevent shifting. Now place your template and begin cutting swags. BE IRREGULAR in the intervals. Next, I used my ruffler attachment to gather the swag layers onto the first strip of cross grain. The ratios of three times the length being attached to nine times the length (it has to be divisible) worked out perfectly for me but I was working on a small scale so maybe do a test run. That completes the first row of organza. The second row seemed to have six layers, as do the subsequent rows. Repeat the process until all four rows are done.

I am assuming that to even attempt something like this you have a dressform. I also assume that other than the boning showing through (seen on another thread) the bodice has gone well, which is great because corsets can be difficult and a downright beast to sew long form IMHO. To create the first underlining I used a half circle skirt for the front portion and a full circle for the back as the back clearly has much more flare and fullness. Place the underlining on the dressform and then put the bodice on so that the skirt is under the bodice. I then marked the end of the lace, (it is uneven) so I would know where to place the first row.

I laid out the underlining on a lap desk so that I could mark the location of the remaining layers. The distance between one layer and the next seems to work out as about 9″ but of course this is variable based on the height of the client.

The organza layers should be manageable now that they are gathered. I pinned the layers, draping each one using my lines as a guide but not sticking to the lines perfectly. This ebb and flow of the rows leaves a very pretty effect. Stitch the rows to the underlining.

The second underlining I made was just a single full circle. I put it on Mary (my scale doll) and then hand stitched the first underling to the second underling, folding and draping as pleased my eyes. The rest is easy, just sew the bodice to the skirt and do the final lining. Done.

There is always more than one way to get the job done but I am pretty happy with how my mini version worked out. I didn’t bother, too tired etc, to make so many layers nor finish the dress but it was fun to figure it out. Good luck and I look forward to the photos!

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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.

4) THOU SHALT TEST EVERY PATTERN WITHOUT FAIL!!
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 Review.com 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!
Natalie

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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 wordlesstech.com. 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

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Adding a touch of spring to a wintery view

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I have moved some pictures around and added little pink buckets to my press/project cart to keep project notions sorted. I am adding little dashes of pink here and there to help my wintery cool space feel a little more like spring. At the bottom of the cart, I reused a gift bag to hold my next sewing project which is all cut out and ready to sew. The binder, beside the bag, is a sample workbook so I can remember how to do the multitude of stitches one learns over time and which attachments to use (there are so many!) I loved the fabric on the binder and actually tracked it down at Hancock’s. Now if it would just go on sale!!!! My task today was moving the desks and setting up the front (north) facing wall and getting some of the wall decor done. Nearly there.

It’s nice to be inside on a snowy, cold day. Just thinking about spring is making it better and the forecast next week is for weather in the fifties. Yay!

Happy Sewing! Natalie