Thursday, February 18, 2016

Purse Sewing Projects for Beginners

The idea of sewing purses can be so intimidating, just like anything you are trying for the first time can be, but with some easy purse sewing projects for beginners, it's so simple to jump in and make yourself a cute one-of-a-kind purse.

Purse Sewing Projects for Beginners

To find a beginner level purse to sew, you can buy a kit, a pattern, or if you feel adventurous you can draft your own basic purse pattern.

Keep in mind, that the simpler the design is, the easier it will be to make the purse - for example, unlined is easier than lined, a divided bag is harder to make than a bag with one large compartment, each pocket the purse has is extra work, and the type of closure the bag features also adds work.

Purse Making Kits

Buying a purse making kit is a handy way to get started because everything you need will, or should, be in the kit - including the directions.

In some kits, the pieces will be cut out ahead of time for you, and in other kits you will get the raw materials and a pattern.

Purse Patterns

Buying a sewing pattern is a way to get started making purses, and it gives you more options than buying a purse making kit.

With a pattern, you often get a basic style purse and pattern pieces to add some extras and embellishment, plus you can mix up the fabric choices and make numerous bag looks from one pattern.

Self-Drafted Purses

Even a beginning sewist can take a plain, worn out purse, tear it apart, and use the pieces as a pattern to cut out and sew a new bag - just make sure the style is basic, without lining or a lot of embellishment if you are just learning to sew or if you are unsure of your sewing skills.

Sewing bags and purses is a fun way to explore sewing and to express your personality and creativity.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tips for Choosing a Flattering Dress Pattern

It is so frustrating to make something and put it on only to find it doesn't suit you, but finding a flattering dress pattern reduces the chance of ending up with a garment that doesn't look right.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Tips for Choosing a Flattering Dress Pattern

Hit the Stores and Try on Some Dresses: One of the easiest ways to get an idea how a dress will look is to try on a similar dress in the store.

  • If it looks great in the store, find a similar pattern and make it up in your size, but be aware ahead of time that store sizes are different than pattern sizes, and take your measurements before stitching up the dress. 
  • If you like the style in the store, but it doesn't quite fit right, you can buy a similar pattern and follow the pattern's directions to make alterations according to your measurements.

Understand Your Body Type: If you don't want to go to stores to try on dresses, you can make an honest assessment of your body type, or have a friend help you, and consider which parts of your body you want to accentuate and which you want to downplay.

  • For example, if your hips are wide and you want to downplay that, you would want to avoid a dress pattern that features a tight waistband with a full, flared skirt or pleats. 
  • Or, if you have a very large upper body but you need a modest dress, you wouldn't want to choose a dress pattern with a deep v-neck or an off-the-shoulder style.

Tips for Sewing a Dress

Sewing a dress lets you get a custom-fitted garment that fits your body just right, but if you are new to sewing, you need to be sure you take the time to follow the steps described in the pattern. Also:

  • Don't skip cutting out interfacing. 
  • Don't skip stay-stitching on curves. 
  • Make sure you press the seams as you work (this is a big one that causes people who skip ironing to end up with shoddy-looking garments.) 
  • Ask for help if you run across a term you don't understand or if you don't know what something means. (You can always ask here if you want.) 
  • Make sure your sewing machine is making nice, clean stitches by sewing a scrap of fabric before you begin sewing your dress.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Romantic and Easy Sewing Projects

If you're pressed for time, and maybe a bit tight on cash, and you need a romantic gift idea, you can always look at some easy sewing projects for a great solution.

Romantic and Easy Sewing Projects

Undergarments: If you have some silky or sheer fabric in your fabric stash, you can trace a pattern from a pair of boxers or panties and stitch them up. Sewing undergarments is pretty simple because there are usually very few pieces, and the way they go to together is fairly intuitive by looking at the originals. Sewing elastic to the fabric is often the hardest part, and even that is easy if you take your time.

Tote bags: Sewing tote bags is not in and of itself a romantic sewing project, but use some heart fabric or silky fabric and toss a few romantic items in the bag (like wine, cheese, and crackers - whatever you might normally have as a special treat) and you'll be all set with a simple gift that looks like you put a lot of time and effort into it.

Blindfold and Soft Cuffs: (I apologize in advance for going all Fifty Shades of Grey there - but they are easy to make.) Make a blindfold from a layer of silky fabric and a layer of soft, fleecy fabric scraps and a pair (or two pairs if you want to cuff both wrists and ankles) of soft cuffs that close up with hook and loop tape. These are basically just rectangular strips of fabric and Velcro - and again - they are so easy to make with just a few scraps of fabric.

Silk flowers: Take a long strip of pretty fabric and run a basting stitch along one edge. Then pucker the fabric along the line of basting stitches and wrap the puckered fabric around a chenille stem with a  small loop twisted into the top end - and either stitch it the flower in place to the loop or glue the rosette to the stem. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Facts About Popular Stretch Fabrics

Stretch fabric is used for making many types of garments, and there are different types of stretch fabric that are best suited to certain types of garments.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Facts About Popular Stretch Fabrics

Stretchy fabric can be 2-way stretch fabric, such as cotton knit fabric or 4-way stretch fabric such as cotton-spandex.


Elastane is a copolymer created from a blend of polyester and polyurethane. This copolymer blend is stronger than natural rubber and it also lasts longer, making it popular for sportswear. It is commonly sold under the names Spandex and Lycra. 

  • Spandex
    • What is Spandex? Spandex is usually blended with other fibers to make stretchy fabric that is comfortable. Blending Spandex fiber with cotton or polyester fiber creates a fabric that stretches like elastane but feels like the other fiber being used.
  • Lycra
    • What is Lycra? Lycra is an elastane fiber created by the DuPont Company. Lycra is always used in alliance with another fabric fiber. Lycra stretches from four to seven times its original length yet always returns to original shape once the tension is removed from the fibers.
  • Lycra-Spandex Blend
    • The term Lycra-Spandex is a really popular term, but in fact, it is saying the same thing twice because Lycra is a brand of Spandex, which is made from the fiber called elastane.

Knit Fabric

Regular knit fabric is a two-way stretch fabric, such as cotton knit fabric, and it is the type of fabric used to make t-shirts or stretchy dress slacks that do not cling, or do not cling too much.

Tips for Sewing Stretch Fabric

Ballpoint Needles: To sew stretch fabric, use a ball point needle for the best result. You can get away with some universal needles, but to avoid the risk of making runs in your fabric, a ballpoint is your safest option.

Ballpoint Pins: Use ballpoint straight pins to pin the pattern to the fabric, or better yet, use sewing weights and avoid making any holes in your stretch fabric.

Stretch Stitch: Set your sewing machine to make a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch. If you use a straight stitch on a stretchy garment, the stitches can pull out and the thread can break the first time you wear the garment. 

Don't Stretch Fabric When Sewing: Let the sewing machine's feed dogs pull the fabric gently through the sewing machine. Don't pull the fabric while sewing - unless you are trying to create a lettuce-edge effect.

One final set of tips - these are about caring for your elastane garments, which include spandex and Lycra: Never wash elastane in hot water. Warm or cold is best. Do not use bleach. And, finally, if you put the garment in the dryer, use the lowest heat setting possible, but it's really best to just line dry garments made from these unique stretch fabrics.

Monday, February 1, 2016

How to Read a Sewing Machine Needle Chart

A sewing machine needle chart provides a guideline for using the best needle for the type of fabric you are sewing. Read on for some tips for reading one of these useful charts.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Reading a Sewing Machine Needle Chart

Before you choose which needle you need by looking at a sewing machine needle chart, you need two pieces of information:

  1. Thread thickness: The thickness of the thread you will be using indicates the needle size you will need. 
    1. You won't be able to slip coarse upholstery thread through the eye of a fine gauge needle designed to sew sheer fabric, for example.
  2. Fabric type: A general guideline regarding fabric type is that woven fabric needs a sharp-point needle while knit fabric needs a ball-point needle. 
    1. A universal needle can be used on any type of fabric. 
    2. In addition to sharp, ball-point, and universal, there are other needle types designed for specific uses. 

Sewing Machine Needle Chart Terminology

A sewing machine needle chart tells you the meaning of the terms used in the chart, and shows you images that let you see the different types of needles used for different types of applications, such as embroidery, hemming, and making jeans.

In addition to the basic ways to use each type of sewing machine needle, the charts also give extra information on the types of fabric that work best with each type of needle. 

The Schmetz Needles company puts out a very nice sewing machine needle chart in PDF form that you can download or print out and save for future reference. You can also find a good chart on the Sewing & Craft Alliance website, or at your local fabric store.

Total Pageviews