Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 2014 Newsletter and Christmas in July Sale is posted!

Just a Quick Note!
July 2014 Newsletter is Posted!

You can find it at 

Just click on the Newsletter link at the top of the page to see ALL of my Newsletters, or follow the link below.

I am having a Christmas in July Sale through the end of the month!

All fabric is 20% off, all DOVO scissors are 15% off, and all Newsletter items are 20%off as well.  This includes the Stella lamps, including the new PINK Stella Table Top model!


Happy Stitching, 

P.S.  Will post more on my sewing tools soon!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

On Your Mark...........

   Marking your fabric...Why, What, How

   When sewing or stitching, you are at some point going to have to mark your fabric.  Different fabrics and end results determine what you use and how you make your marks.  Fortunately, there is a wide variety of notions available to accommodate all types if fabric!

     To start with is my tracing tool.  If I want to transfer marks from a pattern to my fabric, I can place some type (see below) of tracing material on top of of the fabric and run the tracing wheel over the marks.  This makes very clean, exact lines on the fabric.  The tracing wheel above has a 'comfortable' handle, but they come in several different versions.

     This model I got in the LA garment district - and it means business!  The spikes are longer and sharper and can be used on heaver fabric, as well as tag paper.  I DON'T use this on fine fabric!

     If you are in the beginning stages of creating a garment and need to make a muslin (a practice garment to adjust for size), waxed tracing paper works very well. 
**Please note: Waxed tracing paper is hard to remove! **

 This is a good example of knowing what you need and using the right tool.  When making a muslin, you will be working with the fabric pattern pieces and making marks on them for fit.  You will probably even use the marked fabric as pattern pieces.  Because of this, you need to be able to mark it so that the marks do not brush away or disappear with heat or water.  This is a staple in a dressmaker's tool box!  You can usually find it in 4 different colors.  Keep it rolled up and in a plastic bag so that it doesn't get all over anything.

     Here are 2 colors of marking wax - and yes, they are wax so they are not going to come off!  They come with one side honed to a fine edge (the left side here) and the 2nd side (the right side) is a bit thicker.

     If you want to do a lot of marking and need it to be able to be removed, then you want to use unwaxed tracing paper.

      This comes in 4 colors as well.  It is a chalk-based substance (instead of wax-based, as above), so that it can be wiped off with a damp cloth or brushed off.  Because it can be brushed off, think about how it will be handled.  If you are marking cut lines to simply cut it out, this will work well.  If you have to handle and manipulate the fabric over and over again, then chances are that the markings may fade or get brushed away while you still need to see them, so take this into consideration.

     There are several chalk type pencil marking tools that can be used as well as the tracing paper.


      These chalk wheels have a screw bottom that you can take off to refill the pen.  At the opposite end, there is a tiny slot with a slim metal wheel.  When you run the wheel over the fabric, a fine line shows up.  You can get different colors of chalk - white, red, yellow, blue.  This chalk brushes off fairly easily, so keep that in mind.

     This is a chalk pencil from Bohin - it has a fairly fine lead (.9mm).  The lead also comes in several colors, which is helpful.

     This white chalk pencil also has a lead that is on the fine side.  I picked this up when I was in the garment district in NYC.  I will note that I have several different white marking tools.  I don't use white that often, as most of the sewing that I do is not on dark fabrics.   However, when I DO need a to mark in white, I like to have choices.  Sometimes one works better than the other, and I want to make sure that I have something that will work.

      A washable Dixon marking pencil can also be used, and can be washed out.  The lead is a bit thicker, so not the best choice for fine line tracing.

     As you can see, there are many, many choices for all different situations.  Sometimes one works better than the other - it is always good to have options to make sure you can make an accurate marking.

That is all for today - we will continue in the next post, as there is still more to go!

Happy Stitching,


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pins and Needles!

Not that I expect you to be on pins and needles...........

     Pins and (sewing machine) needles are the topic for the day!  As basic as you can get as far as sewing supplies, they come in a WIDE variety of styles and sizes.  Knowing what you need them for is paramount!
      I am going to start with pins first.  Over the years, I have used many different types of pins.  Some choices were out of stupidity ( I didn't know any better), some out of necessity (couldn't find anything else) and thankfully, some out of knowledgeable experience!  

     When I was little, my dad worked at a chain store called W.T. Grants.  It was like a cross between a Target and a Micheal's.  They had labeling guns that shot straight pins into the garments, attaching a price tag.  It used a roll of short, thick straight pins that came on a roll of paper.  Guess what kind of straight pins we used at home?! You've got it!  They were short and think, hard to put in and hard to get out, but it was what we had!

     As I grew, both in years and in sewing experience, I learned about different kinds of pins!  Still, mostly what I used was what I had on hand.  I remember a HUGE box of pins with yellow heads (what I now know as quilting pins - long, thick and with plastic heads).  Not the best for heirloom sewing, but better than the label pins!

     As I started smocking and doing heirloom sewing, I expanded my (pin) horizons a bit more, and learned about glass head pins.  That is what I typically use now, and what you will find in my magnetic pin caddy (and yes, it has a lid, so my pins do not spill when I travel).  These glass head pins are long - 1 3/8 inches and .5mm thick.  The glass heads allow you to iron over them without melting.  This comes in handy for lace shaping as well as pressing a hem, etc.

     I have pins with both the white heads and the red heads.  I sue these for marking as well - I can tell the right and the wrong side of the fabric by looking at the pins:

                    White is Right and Red is Wrong

When I am using a fabric that does not have an obvious right and wrong side, I use the white pins on the right side and the red pins on the wrong side.

A note:  Try not to sew over pins - your machine is not made to do that, and it can damage your needle as well as the pins.  If you have a bent pin, throw it away!!!

Machine Needles

     The first thing to remember about machine needles is that the numbering scheme is the opposite of hand needles.  The LARGER the number, the LARGER the needle (a 60 is smaller than an 80).

     The next thing to know is that machine needles wear out!  When I learned how to sew, you changed your needle.................... when it broke!  This made for some very dull needles, and dell needles = poor stitch quality.  Fabric wears the needle every time it is pierced.  Needles can become dull or develop burrs.  General rule of thumb is that you should change your needle about every garment.  If you are making something small, a bonnet, for instance, then you can wait.  I would say every 6 hours or so of sewing.

     The third thing to keep in mind that the needle you use should match the fabric you are sewing.  That means CHOICES!  When I started sewing, everyone used Universal needles.  This is a generic type needle that does exactly what it says:  it is made to use universally on most types of fabric.  However, we are better educated about fabric and needles and we have more readily available choices today. 

      If you are sewing on woven fabrics (and this is what most heirloom/smocking fabrics are), then I recommend a Microtex/Sharp needle.  This type of needle is made specifically to stitch on woven fabrics.  It has a finer point than a Universal needle and makes a clean piece of the fabric, resulting in a nice, even stitch. I typically use a size 60 on Swiss voile, Swiss flannel, Swiss lawn, and Swiss and Satin batistes.  I use a size 70 on fabric that is a bit heavier - sheetings and shirtings (think quiting cotton weight).

   *** If you are sewing on a knit fabric, then use a Ball Point needle.  This needle has a rounded point and moves the threads of the fabric rather than piercing them, which is better for knits. I don't usually have these in my caddy, as I don't sew that often with knits, but I do have them in my sewing room.***

     The third type of needles that I have in my caddy are Twin Needles.  They usually Universal needles, and they have 2 numbers on package.  The first number is the distance between the 2 needles, and the 2nd number is the size of the needles.  Typically, the wider the distance, the bigger the needle.  I  usually have the 1.6 and the 2.0 sizes with me, as most of the pintucks that I make are small, but you can get twin needles as wide as an 8.0.

     Schmetz makes a great needle guide that gives info on needles, as well as the different types of needles that they manufacture and what each is one is designed for.

I have started using Klaus needles as well the quality is excellent and they have a great price!

Hope you are learning or 'remembering' some of this info!   More next time!

Happy Stitching,

Friday, July 4, 2014

What's In My Bag?

Here is hoping you all have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!  I am proud to live in the best country in the world!

Tools of the Trade

     Now that I have sewing machine, I am starting a blog series on the tools that I use.  These are the things that I keep in my bag and that I use all of the time when I am sewing and stitching!

     You can see one side of my bag here - the most obvious things are the needles and the point turner.

     On the other side, you can see paper scissors, my heirloom (small) button hole cutter and my Dust It. 

     A view from the top - my scissors case and my box of Wonder Clips to name a few things!  I am going to pull each item out of my caddy and tell you what it is and where and why I use it.  Hopefully, you will be introduced to a few new things and get a couple of new ideas on tools that can make your sewing life easier!
     I am going to start with one of the most basic things - needles!

     My first pack of needles is an 8 Crewel (also called embroidery).  This is a needle with a graduated barrel and is usually considered the basic smocking needle.  It has an oval eye and holds 3 strands of stranded floss easily.

          The next pack is a Crewel needle as well, but a smaller needle (remember in hand needles, the smaller the number, the larger the needle).  I use this as an option when I am doing basic embroidery stitches with only 1 strand of floss.

     The 28 Tapestry has a blunt point and is my favorite needle when I am doing the pin stitch or point de Paris on loose weave fabrics, such as linen.  They are very fine, and can bend easily, but these needles make it so easy to push through threads.

     An 8 Milliner is a straight barrel needle with a round eye.  This is my go to needle for bullions - I am never without it!

 Next is a 7 Sharp, which is a good needle to use with floche, as it has a round eye, which is less stress on the floche fibers.  I use it for granitos and cutwork.

          Last but not least is a 10 Sharp.  This needle is smaller than the 7 Sharp and is perfect for hemming!  It can pick up 1 or 2 threads of the fabric very easily, making an almost invisible hem.  Try it, you'll like it!

Keep in touch, and I hope you enjoy this!

Happy Stitching!