Essential Tips when Deciding On a Sewing Machine

Published / by Lucy

Nowadays, we barely think of the part that holds the most important role in the success of the chic and glamour in the all-time universe of fashion, the sewing machine. It is an extremely everyday object yet without it the planet may be a whole separate dimension. With its presence, it has a particular spot in the lives of every individual disregarding their education, socio-economic class and gender is it indirectly or directly speaking.

Just what is so important with a sewing machine? Yes, we can make clothes with them with a more efficient and less time-consuming but they are one of the most used inventions because if not for them then it’d take so much time and effort in creating certain clothes, not only those that are being sold at the mall but also those long flowing custom gowns and certain costumes.

It is a machine that has been through a time-consuming way with its equipment and functions just like further inventions in the field of devices and gadgets. At this age, gone are the days of stitching devices that work manually and have now been replaced with automatic sewing machines. The presence of this machine has helped companies in mass-producing well designed and high quality clothes with little expense and a cost-efficient method.

Just like any machine, sewing machines come in several models which are being sold in the market for different purposes. They vary from high-end stylish machines which are compatible with computers to low-end, conservative machines. The prices differ depending on the models and the brands of the sewing machine taking into consideration their performance and specific features as well. Note that when you select such, you need to put into mind the many facets of the machine.

Capability of the User

First of all before determining what kind of sewing machine you have to buy, you should be able to assess the needs of the user. Whether the one who would use it is a beginner or an expert would greatly affect the choice of a sewing machine. For beginners, they can start out with the inexpensive machines which will cater to the basic and important features of a sewing machine. On the other hand, an experienced user may choose more stylish features to also embellish their work.

The objective of the Sewing Machine

The objective when buying the machine has great impact with what to choose amongst the many kinds of sewing machines. Beginner or expert, the machine should match the objective that prompted you to buy one. There is the sewing machine which professionals’ use that has a wide array of purposes while there is also the simple sewing machine that can satisfy the basic functions to meet the most basic purpose.

Regularity of the Use of the Sewing Machine

In general, the people who make use of this machine the most are professional dressmakers and the like. If you are one who would only make use of this machine for certain dressmaking or tailoring then a good choice is the basic machine which offers the features that will meet your standards and fulfill its objective.

How the Machine is Kept

The storage space of a sewing machine is also important since some of them take a whole lot of space while some are small. Some machines also offer certain compartments where the necessities in running and sewing can be kept within them.

The Various Kinds

There are different kinds of sewing machines made for different uses. Sewing machines can either be manual or electronic, depending on the buyer’s preferences. There are computer-operated sewing machines which are able to create various stitches. Sewing machines which can offer outstanding finishing touches to garments are the overlockers, which are also coined as sergers.The users can best appraise the stitching options and the features accessible with the diverse varieties of sewing machines. Choosing such is a difficult task if you don’t know what you want to do with it or what you require from its performance.

If you want to save time and money, then there are many sources that you can find a good sewing machine directly. One of them is that offering reviews of popular sewing machines so you will know whether it is right for you.

Easy Sewing Craft Ideas for Sewing Month

Published / by Lucy

If you’re a quilter, chances are you have some orphaned quilt blocks stashed away. Quilt blocks that were left over from a quilting project or sample quilt blocks that just didn’t turn out as you had planned. September is National Sewing Month, and in it’s honor I’d like to suggest a couple of sewing craft ideas that will utilize those orphaned quilt blocks.

Craft Ideas

Regardless of how many, or how few orphaned quilt blocks that may have, you can create a unique lap quilt or wall hanging for yourself or to be given as gift. Christmas is not far away and these two sewing craft ideas can give you a head start for making handmade Christmas gifts.

Start these sewing craft ideas by checking out your stash of orphaned quilt blocks and your stash of quilting fabric. You can work with different sizes of quilt blocks for these sewing craft ideas, you will be sashing the quilt blocks together for a lap quilt and sashing and/or binding a single quilt block for a wall hanging.

To sew a lap quilt, lay the quilt blocks out on a flat surface and play with the quilt blocks until you find an arrangement that pleases your eye. The overall size of a lap quilt is generally 30 something inches by 40 something inches, there’s no hard and fast size rule for lap quilts and you can always adjust the size of the lap quilt to suit your preference or to suit the person for whom you are sewing the lap quilt for.

So many ideas for this sewing craft come to mind: 3 orphaned quilt blocks can be placed diagonally and offset with complimentary solid colored fabric, 4 orphaned quilt blocks can be placed in the 4 corners of a lap quilt, with 5 orphaned quilt blocks, place one block in the middle and the remaining 4 in the corners. Again, the quilt block sizes can be different for this sewing craft idea, just cut your sashing or fill-in fabric accordingly to piece together the lap quilt top.

To determine the best color to use for the sashing and/or fill-in fabric of the lap quilt, look at the orphaned quilt blocks you are using to see if they all share one common fabric color. If so, use that color. If not, choose a light, solid colored fabric to showcase the quilt blocks, and when in doubt about the color, you can’t go wrong with a white cotton fabric.

Cut the sashing to the correct sizes, and before you start sewing, lay out all your cut pieces and quilt blocks on a flat surface again for a final inspection and tweaking. Sew all your lap quilt top pieces together, then layer with your favorite quilt batting and quilt backing fabric and quilt together.

Another sewing craft idea for National Sewing Month is creating a wall hanging from orphaned quilt block(s). The premise is the same as with the lap quilt, start by seeing what quilt block(s) you have and determine the size wall hanging you want. You can center a quilt block and sash it with a fabric that will compliment or contrast a room color, and make the sashing fabric as big as needed. You can sew quilt blocks together for wall hangings in any size or length you need, anything from a 4 x 4 inch square to a 2 foot wide and 6 foot long hanging to place behind your couch.

To make a quilt block(s) really pop when used as a wall hanging, hand quilt around the quilt pattern (after you’ve layered the quilt block, filling and backing) for a 3-dimensional look. Bind the quilt block(s) with a contrasting color to make it appear to be framed, add fabric loops to the top backside of the quilted wall hanging so you can run a dowel or curtain rod through it for easy, droop-free hanging.

Don’t let those orphaned quilt blocks remain stashed away, get them out this National Sewing Month and piece them together using these sewing craft ideas and proudly display your quilting handiwork.

Sew a Crochet Hook Holder Using a Place Mat

Published / by Lucy

I was finally ready to get organized to do some hooking….ummm, I mean crocheting. I picked up some new fancy yarns I had been coveting and decided I finally had time to experiment. With yarn in hand, I headed into my office to grab my hooks. I soon realized that was easier said than done. I was only able to immediately locate one hook and it wasn’t the one I needed. My organizational skills had become sorely lacking or non-existent in recent months. My office was a mess. It was very apparent my plan of action was about to take a different direction. The yarn had to wait.

I decided to start small by creating a crochet hook holder. I wanted a way to organize all my hook sizes and still be able to have a portable way to transport them when I am on the go. I love to sew, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on this project. I wanted it done so I could get on with my hooking.

Crafting with a place mat is a fun way to create a clever hook holder without spending a lot of time. A place mat already has finished edges, so it was just a matter of manipulating this item into something else. Discount and dollar stores have wonderful assortments to choose from and can even be picked up very inexpensively after a holiday or season has passed. This easy project was completed in less than an hour.

Supplies for Making a Place Mat Crochet Hook Holder:

  • Fabric place mat
  • Ruler
  • Iron
  • 1/4-inch wide ribbon, 24 inches
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Disappearing ink pen
  • Crochet hooks

Steps for Making a Place Mat Crochet Hook Holder:

  1. Lay your fabric place mat right side down on your ironing surface with the long edges running horizontally. Fold up one long edge 5 1/2 inches and press. This fold is facing right side up and is the inside major pocket for the crochet hook holder. The part of the place mat that is right side down on the table, is the outside of the holder.
  2. Cut a 24 inch piece of 1/4-inch wide ribbon. Fold the ribbon in half. Insert a 1/4 inch of the folded end between the layers of the holder on the left side, 5 inches above the fold of the place mat. Pin the 5 1/2 inch side edges of the pocket to the outside of the holder. Sew the pinned edges using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Back stitch at the top and bottom of the seam to assure the stitches will not come undone when using the holder. This will close the pocket ends and attach the ribbon.
  3. Measure across the top of the pocket, between the side seam stitches. Starting on the left side, make a mark with a disappearing ink pen, every inch. End with approximately 1 1/2 inches remaining. Repeat on the bottom fold of the pocket. Place the ruler from one top mark to it’s corresponding bottom mark and draw a line to attach. Repeat for all the marks. Place a straight pin through both layers of the place mat, between each drawn line.
  4. Topstitch on the lines from the bottom of the pocket to the top, back stitching at the beginning and the end. This will create the compartments for your crochet hooks. Place a crochet hook in one compartment and fold down the top long edge of the place mat to cover the hook. Mark the fold. Remove the hook and press the fold. Place a crochet hook in each compartment. Fold over the top and roll the holder from the right edge to the left. Separate the ribbon ends and tie around the roll to secure.

How to Make a Lap Quilt

Published / by Lucy

Many times I have gone to craft shows, or to tourist areas which featured handcrafts by the locals. This is especially true in Lancaster, PA., where the quilts made by Amish women are exhibited and sold. The prices are in the $900 to $1,000 range. But following my instructions you can make yourself a lap quilt with all the color and beauty of an Amish quilt for a fraction of the cost. All you have to do is just choose a best sewing machine for quilting and get some essential accessories and materials to complete the project.

Suggested size 40″ wide by 50″ long.

Simple steps:

  • Go Shopping to a fabric store!

You need cotton blends. This material is wash and wear. 100% cotton requires ironing which can ruin your quilt because it flattens the batting.

You only actually need two yards of material, but I prefer to buy three to allow for extra. The reason? Mistakes happen! Also, the extras can be used to decorate a matching pillow.

I like colorful quilts. You must decide on your own color scheme. You need a mix of light and dark fabric. Amish quilts are all solid colors but you can choose a mix of solids and patterns. You need at least 1/2 yard of each fabric you choose. That would give you six fabric colors and designs to use. You can choose a more monochrome color scheme such as shades of brown, or blues. Whatever is best for your home.

You need batting. The best is to buy the roll out kind in the size you need for your quilt. Crib size is about right for a lap quilt.

You need a backing. Now, you can buy fabric, turn under the edges and have a nice backing. I like to take the easy way. I buy a crib sheet. My edges are finished for me. Be sure to check the packages to see if the size corresponds to the size of the quilt you are making. Your quilt top will be slightly larger than the quilt bottom because you have to turn in the edges or add a trim to turn under the edges.

  • Now for the fun part.

Pick out a design. As a beginner I suggest you go with the simplest design. That is squares. Don’t give yourself a project such as piece work for your first quilt. The squares allow you to be creative with colors and patterns. That is enough to start.

Cut out a template. A template is another name for a pattern. I use heavy cardboard. Lay out your material. Place the template down on the wrong side and trace. Don’t use a magic marker. It will show through. There are special fabric markers you can buy at the fabric store or use a pencil.

Cut out your squares. For jewel-like colors use a small square of 4 1/2″ (the extra 1/2″ allows you 1/4″ all around for sewing.) Use a larger square for a big bold quilt.

I made my friend’s son a quilt with ships on it. I bought red, white and blue fabric and a design with ships on it.

I also made a butterfly quilt with solid colored blocks separated by blocks with a butterfly print. These comes out very pretty.

After cutting out all your blocks: Separate by color and pattern, and then make a paper design of your finished project. For instance you might want a combination of red-white-blue. The first row would follow that pattern, the next row would alternate, otherwise you’d get a vertical strip of all one color or pattern.

After you cut out your squares you are ready to sew by machine or by hand, allowing 1/4″ all around.

This is a perfect vacation project because you can sew the squares by hand while sitting at the beach or relaxing on the deck of your vacation home. For faster quilt making, use your machine.

Once the squares are all together you are ready to layer the three pieces.

You need a flat surface such as a dining room table, or wooden floor. I’ve also used a ping pong table. Lay out the crib sheet first wrong side up, then the batting. Yes, the batting will hang out longer. You can cut it later. Then top with the patchwork wrong side down.

Make big, and I mean big, basting stitches through all three fabrics but don’t finish the edges off yet. This is to hold your quilt together while you finish it. You’ll pull these stitches out later.

You need a big quilting hoop or frame. The quilting hoops are the most economical way to quilt and easy to use. Even if you are just making a tie quilt, it is good to have a hoop.

You put the hoop through all the fabric layers starting in the middle. You work from the middle out so the batting squeezes out the open sides.

You can do a small running stitch which is the same as a quilting stitch. You can do a simple X in each block from one end to the next.

Easier: Tie quilt. Use cotton embroidery thread or acrylic yarn (not wool as it shrinks). Make a tie in each corner of the block. Allow enough thread to tie a bow. This is a simple thread in, thread up, tie and make a bow.

When all this is done, cut off the extra batting. Using the sheet fabric turn it over the quilt top and stitch with a hem stitch keeping the stitches small. You can do straight corners or miter them but straight is easier, and miter is neater.

And then you are done. Your quilt is washable. It will keep you warm on cold evenings and be a beautiful decoration over the back of your couch.

Once you succeed with one, you’ll want to try something more difficult but that is for another article.

Sew Keepsake Soft Baby Block Toys to Upcycle Baby Clothes

Published / by Lucy

Fabric blocks are a great gift to sew for any young child. They are soft and can be used for safe throwing. A jingling bell inside makes throwing even more fun. They can also be stacked into towers that are fun when they fall down. You can make them in any size, from tremendous and useful for climbing or seating, down to miniature sets perfect for tiny hands.

I knew I wanted to make some of these for my baby last year, but I didn’t want the blocks to have boring or plainly patterned faces. My applique skills were not developed at all, and I didn’t want to try making my own applique at that time. I found my perfect solution when I was putting away baby clothes. This is a task that is always bittersweet for me; I am glad my baby is growing but I just love sweet baby clothes and hate putting them away! We had been gifted with loads of hand me downs, and I noticed that after my baby had worn them, some things were too worn or ragged to save or give away. But many had such adorable appliques and embroideries. So here was what to do for decorating baby’s blocks!

Baby Block

Just cut out and remove the appliques from the baby clothes, and hand stitch them to felt squares for making the blocks. You can also use squares from the baby clothes for the other block faces, to match and coordinate. I even used knit onsite fabric in making some of our blocks. I just stabilized the knit with nonwoven interfacing, or in one case, hand stitched the knit square on top of a felt square. If you have baby scraps too small for the size block that you want, you can do what I often have and make up a four or nine square patchwork to size.

To make these, determine what size block you want to make. A really nice set of these for stacking could be 8, 7, 6, and 5 inches. Or you can just choose a size, say 6″ and make only one. For each block, you cut 6 squares to the same size. Sew on the appliques for those squares that will have them. Sew the squares together. Refer to my photograph above of the duck block for assembly order.

After you have all six squares sewn together, you will sew the sides to make the cube. Leave one side partially open, for turning. I double sew the seams, to make certain they are sturdy. Carefully clip corners and turn. Then you will stuff them. I add a plastic capsule with a jingle bell in the middle. You can use the kind of capsule that encases toys in the vending machine, or even a plastic Easter egg taped shut. I like to encase the jingle bell like this, so that the sound does not get muffled by the stuffing. You can use whatever you prefer for stuffing. Poly-fil makes a light block, perfect for tossing about. I have also stuffed larger blocks with scraps to make them heavier and more sturdy for stacking and climbing upon. Once your block is well stuffed (but not overfull), hand sew the opening closed carefully. Then make a whole stack!

Besides being used as toys, these look sweet in the nursery as decorations, and even piled on a bed. They can be played with a long time and then be saved as sweet keepsakes of baby’s favorite outfits. And they make great gifts. No one should throw away ruined baby clothes- instead reuse them and make them cute and useful again!