Simplicity #1196I was shopping around for some sewing patterns and wanted to buy them all… Here are just a few on my list to buy by Simplicity and Burda! Their website sells almost all the patterns they carry and it’s fun to browse around. Many are $12 or less!
Simplicity’s “Jiffy” line is great for simple, no-zipper or no-button, patterns! The wrap dress below looks easy and flattering. The “Learn to Sew” line seems failsafe, I own at least one of these patterns. Below is one for some cool pants! They also have a great line of patterns called “Amazing Fit” and many plus-sized patterns which I just discovered. They seem like more advanced patterns. I also love the designer label collaborations like Cynthia Rowley and Built by Wendy. A few of the latest Cynthia Rowley ones that I like are below. I don’t think they have the Built by Wendy ones anymore.
When choosing sewing patterns, make sure to read the back before purchasing! The back of each pattern will suggest the most suitable fabric types to use. It’s important to choose from among those! If it requires a fabric you don’t want to work with or one that doesn’t seem flattering to your figure then perhaps try a different one. The pattern will also state exactly how much fabric will be required for the size you choose! For my first sewing project, I once chose suit fabric to make a ruffle skirt. It came out weird! Hunting down just the right fabric type, pattern, color, price etc is a project in itself. Choosing the fabric is half the battle!
If you have a good fabric store (like Mood Fabrics here in NYC), you can simply bring the pattern and ask the store clerk to help you find the ones most suitable. They have most of their fabrics organized by type/fabric content. And a huge selection of really nice well-priced apparel fabrics! This is the store Tim Gunn (from Project Runway) featured on the show. It’s actually really good, not just hype! (more…)
Here is a baby banner sewn using handmade applique fabric letters! I wanted to start personalizing some of my sewing projects like blankets, so used this mini project as a way to tryout applique. I hand-cut all the triangles and made the applique letters out of fabric. All this sewing project requires is a few triangles, a few applique letters, and some store-bought fabric binding! The whole project was completed in a short afternoon.
Quilting Cotton or Lightweight Cotton Fabric – 2 to 3 Colors
2 Yards Fabric Binding – 1/2″ Wide
Heat-N-Bond Lite Fusible Web
Thread in Coordinating Color
Markers, Pen, Paper, Scissors
Optional: Rotary Cutter, Mat, Quilting Grid, Fabric Chalk
Finished Banner measures 51″ Long w/ 11″ tail on each side.
Finished Triangles measure 6″ x 7″ each.
Cut Triangles. Take 2 pieces of fabric, place Wrong Sides together, pin, and cut into a triangle. Cut as many as desired. Pin together so each set of triangles stays together and set aside. Each has an extra inch or so at the top, see diagram.
I cut 9 triangles – 6.5″ x 8″ each.
Make Letters. I hand drew the letters using paper and pen. Then traced a heavy outline with a Sharpie Marker. Rough trim around outline and set aside. Make sure to estimate how big the letters should be to fit into triangles. Leave about a 1-inch space around each letter. Mine are about 2″ x 3″.
Prepare Fusible Web. I cut a fusible strip enough to fit all the letters. Then, using fabric I chose for lettering, cut enough fabric to fit the fusible. Iron the fabric to the fusible as directed. Note: Many people trace first then fuse!
Trace Letters. Trace each letter by placing the letter face down, then placing the fused fabric face down directly on top of the letter so paper backing is facing up. The letter outline should show through the fabric. Trace directly onto the paper side. The letter should be traced in reverse. Cut each letter out following the outline.
Iron On Letters. Place each letter onto a triangle, peel off backing, iron as directed. Zigzag stitch around the edge of each letter.
Sew Triangles Together. Place Right Sides of triangles together, pin, then sew about a 1/4″ from edge leaving top (flat side) un-sewn. Turn inside out, poke out point, iron down seams.
Sew Triangles To Binding. Space out and pin triangles to binding. Sew across binding. Done! I left the binding tails undone.
I found this great video online on how to create applique fabric letters. She has a great way to trace letters using a window pane here. There are many ways to make letters including using a printer. Here is a video on making letters with a printer.
Fusible Web – This is the stuff used to glue fabric together! There are many out there. Choose a double stick fusible suitable for your fabric type. Steam A Seam 2, Wonder Under, or Heat N Bond are the most popular. I used Heat N Bond. Some of my letters didn’t stick right! I’m not sure if I ironed too much or had the wrong setting.
I bought all my supplies on Craftsy! Yes, they now have a wonderful store and prices are very decent. And they carry all the best products/brands. From fusible web to batting! I loved the shopping experience as well. I also used a Rotary Cutter, Quilting Ruler, Self-Healing Mat, and fabric chalk to cut all my triangles. Supplies found here. Craftsy also has a lovely tutorial on simple baby blanket with applique letters.
There are many styles of buntings that come in different shapes. Try square, rounded, or any other simple shape. Fabric scraps can be great for this project. Or about 2 fat quarters of fabric plus some for the letters is all that is needed. I used polyester thread, Allover Owls by Spring Creative, a solid broadcloth for the backing, and white scrap fabric for the letters.
One of my new year’s resolutions was to sew a simple blanket and here it is – my first baby blankets! It was so easy, I made two! One with owls and one with elephants, both are reversible. I used a combination of flannel and cotton fabrics for these blankets. It made a nice lightweight blanket perfect for baby or spring. Requires no batting!
Simply sew two squares of fabric together leaving a 6-inch wide opening un-sewn. Turn inside out by pulling fabric through opening, then topstitch! Voila! I used a fun decorative stitch for the border since my sewing machine had them.
Next time I would also like to personalize with applique using felt letters or fused fabric letters!
2 Squares of Fabric approx. 1 yard each
Sewing Thread like Gutermann or Aurafil (Polyester or Cotton)
Fabrics I Used
Fanfare by Cloud 9, Organic Cotton Flannel, 2 Yards
Bright Owl Allover by Springs Creative Products, Cotton Flannel, 1 Yard
Sweet Meadow Panel by Springs Creative Products, 100% Cotton, 1 Panel
Owl Blanket – 35.5″ wide x 40.5″ high
Elephant Blanket – 34″ wide x 41″ high
1. LAUNDER FABRIC by washing, drying, then ironing fabric. Be sure to wash and dry as appropriate for the fiber content and as you would in the future.
2. LINE UP FABRIC to ensure you are working with clean edges and fabric prints are properly aligned. Trim edges to square up corners and make straight. Adjust placement so both pieces are oriented as desired. Trim again to make equal. See Notes for more on how to properly “true up” fabric.
3. PIN FABRIC by placing right sides of fabric facing each other (so only wrong sides are showing). Make sure corners and edges are lined up correctly, smooth out fabrics. Iron if necessary. Repeat until well aligned. Pin along sides to make sure fabric stays in place.
4. MARK FABRIC using fabric chalk or pins. Mark a 6-inch wide opening on one side where you will not sew. This opening will be used to turn the blanket inside out. Optional: Create a rounded corner by placing a cup or bowl in the corner, trace, and trim.
5. SEW FABRIC using a 5/8″ seam allowance beginning at one mark and ending at the other. Be sure to leave the 6-inch opening un-sewn and backstitch at each mark.
6. PRESS OPEN SEAMS before turning inside out. For rounded corners, cut notches in corners to reduce bulk. Fold open flaps and iron flat along seam to flatten.
7. TURN INSIDE OUT by pulling corners through opening. Poke out corners with a butter knife or pen.
8. IRON OUT EDGES to ensure nice clean folds at the seams.
9. TOP STITCH along border to finish! Choose a traditional Straight Stitch or try a decorative stitch if your machine provides them. Stitch using 1/2″ seam allowance. Polish off by ironing along border to press topstitch flat.
“True up” your fabric to give all edges a straight clean line and re-orient the weave of a fabric to make it lay flat and square giving it 90-degree corners. It will help printed fabrics like stripes or checkers and nap fabrics like Corduroy lay perfectly on your piece. Here is a great tutorial on how to “true-up” or “square-up” your fabric on The Daily Sew. She uses a striped fabric which is a great example.
In a nutshell, you will remove selvedges by snipping and tearing along grain line, tug fabric on the bias across entire piece and back, remove the jagged edge by finding the weft thread and pull to find the crossgrain line, cut along that line. Don’t forget to steam and iron between each step.
I chose easy prints like Polka Dots because it’s an allover print. For first time sewers repetitive patterns that have no orientation are more forgiving. Prints like stripes, plaids, and checkers can be more difficult because they have a direction with straight lines and angles that must be aligned, cut, and sewn accordingly.
Buying Fabric – Choose cotton or cotton blends. They’re the easiest to work with for beginner projects. Make sure it’s machine washable and dryable. Usually sold by the yard or portions of a yard, fabrics can come in 42-59 inch wide bolts. Just read the bolt or ask someone to find out the fiber content or width.
1 yard = 36 inches. So 1 yard of 42″ fabric will give you a 36″x42″ piece. If a larger than the bolt size is needed, you may have to turn the fabric sideways and sew together more fabric to create one larger piece. If the fabric has a pattern, aligning the pattern exactly where the cuts meet and buying enough extra fabric to account for that is required. How best to sew and cut so seams look nice will depend on the size of the piece and the print pattern.
I just discovered CreativeBug.com. It’s basically a website dedicated to online videos for Knitting, Crochet, Sewing, and other crafts. From short how-to videos and projects to full craft classes and workshops. But it’s also kind of an online school for knitting and crochet. I love the idea!
What makes Creative Bug unique is that a project is taught entirely through video. Also, you will recognize many famous knitters and crocheters in these videos. Many of whom you may be a fan of already ! They are taught by expert instructors many of whom are well-known designers and crafters with decades of experience. And all in a very easy to follow and enjoyable way.
Each class, workshop, or project features a series of step-by-step videos. The first one I checked out was Norah Gaughan’s Knit Cabled Hat. Loved the way the project was broken up into different smaller videos for each step. The videos looked wonderful and I really enjoyed hearing about Norah’s love of cables too.
It sure beats you-tubing for random how-to videos!
How It Works
CreativeBug.com is not free. However, the monthly subscription is $4.95 and can be cancelled at any time. This subscription gives you unlimited access to videos each month. That’s not bad! Even if I signed up for a month just to take one class, it is well worth it! Also, a very affordable way to take classes for people who’d like to try out Knitting for the first time or people on a budget! There is a free section too that includes classes like How To Thread A Serger and other basic fun stuff.
Check it out! There is a 2-week trial available for new members too.
Hunting down just the right fabric, sewing machine, knitting needle, and even yarn is part of our wonderful hobby! There are so many places to search for these things from your local yarn shop, nation-wide craft stores, to online shops and websites. One unlikely place hobbyists may not think to look in is AMAZON.COM!
I have purchased many hard to find items that I was surprised Amazon carried, like this Pendant Yarn Cutter by Clover. They happen to carry many Clover items (heart them for sewing and knitting/crochet tools)! Along with OLFA rotary cutters, Gingher fabric sheers and much more! And for decent prices too.
They have an Arts, Crafts, and Sewing section! I especially like to find sewing supplies on here because they tend to have a large selection and for decent prices! But they carry anything from markers, colored pencils, drawing desks, and drawing pads to fabric markers, rotary cutters, and cutting mats! Stitch markers, crochet hooks, and even yarn and fabric. Ott-Lite crafting lamps, Dress Forms… And everything for your home crafting studio! Including Sewing Machines and Sergers!
Doing Your Shopping Online
I’m a big online shopper/browser for my fiber crafting needs. While looking for things like fabric and yarn are best done in person, shopping for machines, tools, notions, etc online can be a very efficient way of finding the perfect tool and for the best price. While there are so many wonderful sites out there, here are a few places to start:
Larger Knitting and Quilting Specialty Stores online like Fabric.com and Yarn.com.
Small Indie Yarn Shops Online like found on Etsy
Nation-Wide Craft Stores like Joann, Michaels, or Hobby Lobby
Big Box Stores like Target, Walmart, and Costco.
Are you a New Yorker? For more on where to buy Sewing, Knitting, or Crochet items in NYC, please check out my posts here in the Where To Buy section.
FABRIC OF THE DAY: Dog Fabrics! Dog-themed fabrics for the dog lover in all of us.
Timeless Treasures Dog Portraits Black
by Timeless Treasures $9.48 per yard
Sweetie Pie Snowmen Scottie Dog Toss Blue
by Wilmington Prints, Stella Jean $9.48 per yard
Dog Silhouettes Hunter Green
by Elizabeth’s Studio $9.48 per yard
Pugs Day Off Multi
by Michael Miller $9.48 per yard
Wild Wings Best in Breed Scenic Brown
by Springs Creative Products $7.98 per yard
Time with Friends Dogs & Cats Blue
by RJR Fashion Fabrics $9.48 per yard
Here’s a random list of handmade marketplaces online I’ve been compiling for awhile. Perhaps they will provide artisans some options and/or give shoppers more places to shop!
Bonanza (1000 Markets) http://www.bonanza.com/
Uncommon Goods http://www.uncommongoods.com/
Goodsmiths (Craft.ly) https://www.goodsmiths.com/
Lily Shop http://www.lilyshop.com/
Silk Fair http://www.silkfair.com/
Made It Myself http://www.madeitmyself.com/
Shop Handmade http://www.shophandmade.com/
Not Mass Produced http://www.notmassproduced.com/
Indie Public http://www.indiepublic.com/
Craft Juice http://www.craftjuice.com/
Ravelry (Patterns Only) https://www.ravelry.com/
Big Cartel http://directory.bigcartel.com/#handmade
Blue Caravan Australia http://www.bluecaravan.net/
Made It Australia http://www.madeit.com.au/
Indie Australia http://www.indie.com.au/
Artis & Grove Australia http://www.artisandgrove.com/
Felt New Zealand http://felt.co.nz/
Toggle New Zealand http://www.toggle.co.nz/
Paper N Stitch http://papernstitch.com/
Poppy Talk http://www.poppytalkhandmade.com/
Firefly Handmade http://fireflyhandmade.com/
Fabric of the Day: Hawaiian Print Fabrics
My mom and brother just got back from a fabulous Hawaii trip! They picked out the fabrics themselves and brought it all the way back to NY. The fabric was purchased at what they describe as a “huge fabric warehouse filled with giant spools of fabric” in Maui. I believe it’s this place:
Fabric Mart Maui
55 E Kaahumanu Ave Ste D
Kahului, HI 96732
❤ Thanks Mom and De!
What do you look for in a Sewing Machine?
Especially your very first adult sewing machine? Style? Cost? Features? I struggled with my first machine because I didn’t want to invest too much as a beginner. I just needed something to tinker with… Taking sewing classes to start is smart because you can learn and try out machines at the same time. But what about when you’re ready to buy?
I didn’t want to spend too much yet I still wanted the best machine I could find for my purpose. Basic yet versatile, so I could easily try whatever type of sewing struck my interest. Well-built so I could sew comfortably and for many projects to come. And lastly, something I wouldn’t outgrow too fast.
How much would that cost? What options were available? What’s a good value for the price? There’s lots of options, it’s hard to know where to begin. So here’s what I found during my research. Whatever your budget or purpose, hopefully this list will help you research and find just the right one. It’s a comprehensive list of home sewing machine manufacturers and the factors I used to narrow down options. You can get a decent well-built machine ranging from $70 – $160!
Sewing Machine Brands in Other Countries
Elna, Switzerland Website
Baby Lock, Juki, Japan Website
Consew, USA Website
Feiyue, China Website
John Lewis, UK Website
Kenmore, USA Website
Necchi, Italy Website
Usha, India Website
Yamata, China Website
Toyota, Japan Website
Merry Lock, Taiwan Website
Michley Tivax, USA Website
Sewing Machine Brands in North America
Singer, USA Website
Janome, Japan Website
Brother, Japan Website
Bernina, Switzerland Website
Husqvarna Viking, Sweden Website
Pfaff, Germany Website
Juki, Japan Website
Ikea, Sweden Website
$200 or below. Entry-level beginner machines usually range from $100- $499. To be honest, I wanted to see if I could get away with a kids’ hobby sewing machine for $100 or less but I found a vintage machine for $25 and went with that to start instead.
Under $100 can get your kid a great first sewing machine or budding home sewer their very own machine to experiment on. Affordable enough to take the plunge, plus it’s cute! It can even get the savvy crafter a very functional sewing machine that will serve them well.
Under $200 is generous enough to cover crafties like myself who need a solid basic they can rely on and grow with who doesn’t want to invest in the holy grail of sewing machines yet until they find what kind of sewing they’d like to focus on most!
$499 can buy a machine that can handle the seriously savvy or creatively crafty mom who not only sews for their pleasure but can double as a tailor, halloween costume maker, throw pillow/curtain/tablecloth maker and casual accessories designer/etsy shop owner on the side.
It’s a strict budget but it’s realistic. It can buy a trusty sewing machine that can both perform all the essentials and grow with you at the same time. Great for the dabbler, great for the serious kid learner, crafty mom, or for an adult learner like me who wants to gradually try it all.
❤ Features & Options
Straight Stitch, Back Stitch, and Zig Zag Stitch are all I needed. They are also the 3 most basic and most essential stitches needed for all beginning to intermediate sewers. Every modern sewing machine comes standard with these stitches.
Removable Sewing Bed. Hemming pant legs or sewing cuffs? Working with sleeves or skirts? Anything tubular where you will have to sew around the edge of a ring is difficult without this feature. The base of the sewing machine will pop out revealing an arm-type base. You should be able to slip a sleeve or pant leg on there and sew it around. Not all modern sewing machines come with this feature.
Foot Pedal Operated. Every modern sewing machine comes standard with foot pedal operation. Vintage machines do not though. They can come with anything from a knee pedal to a hand crank.
Sewing Feet and Bobbin Winders. Like detachable feet for Zipper or Button-hole makers, and Bobbin Winders. Bobbin Winders and Zipper Feet usually come standard with modern machines.
Reliable Stitch Length/Tension Control. Adjustable Tension Control is also standard among all sewing machines. Being able to control how tight your stitches are is handy for basting and working with different textiles. A machine that can do this reliably and accurately is important and not all machines can promise this.
Durability. How long the machine will last, if the feed dogs can reliably feed different textiles through, and how accurate the stitches are are what make a sewing machine reliable and durable to me. Perhaps if it can sustain long periods of accurate sewing at its maximum speed is also a factor.
Above is the winning picture for the National Geographic Traveler – 2012 Photo Contest by Cedric Houin. This captivating photo first drew me in by its strong sense of place. A snap in a moment of time, present day, yet so far away as to seem ancient. Then I noticed the remarkable textiles and cultural garb and then the antique sewing machine. And then best of all – she’s sewing!!! A fellow modern day sewer worlds away in a completely different context yet not so different. Novel!
This image was shot in the Kyrgyz lands of the Wakhan Corridor. The intimacy of this everyday life moment, shot inside of a family yurt, is in total contrast with the harsh environment these nomadic tribes live in. On the right we notice a television and a sound console. These tribes live weeks away from any village by foot. In spite of being located at an altitude of 4,300 meters in one of the most remote areas of Afghanistan they are equipped with solar panels, satellite dishes and cellphones. Ancestral ways of living, with touches of modernity. –Photo and Caption by Cedric Houin
National Geographic contributing photographer Alexandra Avakian, one of this year’s judges, shares her thoughts on the first place winner:
I’ve slept in the guest yurt of Kyrgyz nomads in remote mountains while on assignment for Elle magazine; the location is hard to reach and off the beaten path for most travelers, and therefore of educational as well as aesthetic value.
This year the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest had over 12,000 entries of daily life from 152 countries and the photos are always breathtakingly stunning. From a moment in time at the ends of the earth to extraordinary landscapes, the transportive images are unforgettable. Winners receive awards from trips to prize money and of course get to share a slice of their beautiful culture, land, or just a snapshot of their travels. National Geographic also provides these awesomely beautiful photos in high-resolution wallpapers for your desktop, iphone, or ipad!