Showing posts with label Tools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tools. Show all posts

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Foot Failure


So I bought myself a walking foot with a 1/4" guide for Hepburn. I didn't even know these things existed, but at our LAMQG Retreat this Fall, Latifah introduced me to this little magical wonder. She pieces with her walking foot and mentioned that it helps especially sewing over some of those bulky seams, which makes sense. Then she showed me this little beauty. I knew I must have it. 


I tried to find it online (not terribly hard, but hard enough) and had some trouble finding one. Then, one day while I was working in Tennessee I noticed a little sewing machine shop down the road, that happened to be a certified Janome dealer. I stopped in on my lunch break to ask if they carried the foot. They said they did, and I got excited, but then had a heap of trouble finding it. Sadly, I thanked them for trying and told them where I was working for the day just in case they were able to find one. Half an hour later they came looking for me. They had the foot! They were so friendly and helpful. If you're ever in Murfreesboro, TN be sure to stop by Absolutely Fun Sewing and Embroidery.


I decided to take it for a test run on some of my (past-due) bee blocks. Caitlin had asked us to make Scrap Buster Blocks from Little Miss Shabby's tutorials. Her request was that we use black, white and gray scraps for the 1.5" squares and a bright solid like an orange or pink for the strips. 


Piecing was going really well. I seemed to be moving right along making the 1.5" square rows and then I started to put the block together. My scrappy rows were consistently too short. I measured them up against the foot guide and it seemed fine. I didn't have the stamina to start all over again so I decided to try and solve the problem rather than "scrap" it. I cut the solid strips wider than in the tutorial and that seemed to help. Then I realized the problem. My needle isn't matching up with the guideline on my new walking foot!


Ugh. I just assumed that it would automatically be aligned. Well, you know what happens when you assume? You screw up your scrap buster blocks! Ugh! I think I was able to salvage the blocks without starting completely from scratch. I had a few extra 1.5" squares left over from cutting, so I ended up adding extra squares to each scrappy row. That, paired with the wider solid strips helped me to save the blocks. They're now just a scant bi shy of 12.5" square, so I think Caitlin will still be able to work with them. But sigh. These are definitely not my best work.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spray Basting Tutorial


Recently I basted my Broken Triangles quilt and it's not secret that I favor spray basting over pin basting. And I've had a couple friends ask me in the past what method I use when I spray baste. I don't know if my method is pretty standard or not, but this is how I do it. Ideally I would prefer to spray baste outside, unfortunately, if I'm basting at home I don't have an outdoor slab of concrete flat, large or clean enough to baste a quilt so I have to do it indoors. I usually clear out my dining room since it's pretty open, which means better ventilation. I also open all the windows to keep the air circulating. Spray basting isn't horribly messy, but you're dealing with aerosol glue in a can, so you need to protect your workspace. I wouldn't recommend basting too close to furniture you want to keep. 


First, I lay my quilt back (right side down, of course) flat and use masking tape to adhere it to the floor so it stays as flat and taught as possible. I use 1.5" or 2" wide masking tape (the wider the better) and I tape the quilt back down with newspaper to protect my hardwood floors. I leave a small gap between the quilt top and the newspaper so the tape can also adhere to the floor, securing the quilt top. The first time I spray basted in the house I didn't use newspaper and it took me about an hour and a lot of elbow grease to get the dried glue off my floors. I learned that lesson quickly.


Then, I lay out the batting over the quilt top, smoothing out any creases. Once I am happy with the positioning I fold up one short side about 12" or so and I spray the basting glue onto the quilt top all he way across and then I fold the batting back down, smoothing out all the creases and bumps. 


After I've secured that end of the batting to the quilt back I move to the opposite side of the batting and I roll the batting all the way back to the other end, stopping where I can feel the adhesive on the other end doing it's job. I will be on my hands and knees (no shoes but with clean feet!) In the center of the batting that's been secured down and continue my way down through the middle of the quilt as I tack the rest.


From here I start spraying the adhesive about 12" wide from one side of the quilt to the other. Depending on the brand of spray baste you're using will dictate how densely you apply the glue. I usually spray from one side to the other in a zig-zag motion, and then sometimes add one more spray, directly across in the opposite direction for good measure. (I hope that makes sense!) Then roll out the batting, to around the point where you think the glue ends and smooth out any bubbles and creases. Repeat this until the entire batting is tacked down to the quilt back. 


After the batting and the quilt back are adhered together I repeat the entire process to secure my quilt top to the batting. Once it's all sandwiched, I remove the tape and it's ready to quilt. I am sure there are lots of other ways to spray baste out there, this is just the method I've developed that works for me. Do you do it differently? What works for you? 

Friday, December 7, 2012


Guess what? I finally got some proper labels. And they're perfect. Small and simple, just the way I like it. I do need to get into the habit of putting "proper" labels on my quilts as well. But it's all about baby steps.


At first I went the Spoonflower route and had some fabric labels printed. Then I used double sided fusible web to stick them on, but they just weren't right. 


And I saw these labels on someone else's blog (I can't remember which) and I decided to check them out on Etsy. They're not super expensive and the come rather quickly. Although, mine did get lost in the mail and returned to sender initially. But as soon as we figured that out, I got them back really quickly.


I opted for a light gray background and darker gray lettering. Gray is, after all, my neutral of choice and I thought they would be more unassuming and go with everything. And since I make a lot of garments as well as quilts I thought these would be the perfect size for any project.


I've been having fun sewing them into my latest creations. And I have a ton of them, so I am sure they'll be popping up all over my projects from now until eternity!


If you're looking for labels like these you can find them here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Triple 'T' Tuesdays: Grommets

Welcome to Triple "T" Tuesdays! Whoever said that putting in grommets was difficult is lying. They're way darn easy. I just added just added a new tool to my sewing kit, that I might not use often, but I promise I will find reasons to use.


Honestly, when Caroline and Mayah approached me about the vests I knew I needed this tool. The other alternative would be to make buttonholes where the grommets should be but that's no fun or "authentic" now is it? And secretly, I've always wanted some grommet pliers. I will admit that I am a sucker for tools. Tools are just so darn fun! My obsession with tools actually goes well beyond sewing. I love all kinds of gadgets. I got really excited once over a sander. Yep, I'm a dork. But you should see our fence!


Grommet Pliers really need little explanation. To use them, basically you make a small hole through the fabric in the desired spot. Then you work the front piece of the grommet through the hole. Once through you place the back piece on and then pinch with the pliers. It couldn't be any easier.



I do have a couple pointers. First, I would recommend using an awl to help make the initial hole in the fabric. When putting grommets into fabrics that are delicate or have a tendency to snag I recommend using a sharp pair of small scissors to snip your hole, rather than using an awl. This will help maintain the integrity of the fabric. Additionally, take care when using the pliers to pinch the grommet together to fasten. Sometimes you can get a dud, or your pressure can be slightly off and the grommet won't come together correctly so always double check.


I know that grommet pliers won't be a tool I use daily. And probably won't be used very often at all but I'm glad I finally had an excuse to add it to my kit because tools are fun! Hope this helps! Do you have a great Tip, Tool or Technique that you'd like to share? Email me and I'll set you up to do a guest post on an upcoming edition of Triple "T" Tuesdays.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Triple 'T' Tuesdays: Overlock Foot

It's time for another Triple "T" Tuesday. I know, it's been a while. How many of you out there wish you had a Serger in your arsenal to help give your garment seams a finished look? Did you know you can achieve something very similar with your own machine? If not, then I'd like to introduce you to the Overlock Foot.


Many of you might already have this little beauty in your tool kit and not know it. If you don't, it's a heck of a lot cheaper and easier to just buy one of these little babies than to go out and buy a whole new machine. Granted, in quilting there's not much need to finish your seams, although I do know some people who like finishing their binding to reinforce it. I haven't tried that yet, but I just might on my next quilt. But if you're even thinking about garment construction this little beauty will definitely come in handy.

(The Top Side of the Overlock Stitch)

Recently I was making some dresses for my nieces and I wanted to reinforce the seam allowances for two reasons: I was too lazy to line the dresses and regardless of lining and I didn't want my seam allowances to start fraying after just a few wash and wears. So, rather than buy a Serger, I just pull out my trusty Overlock Foot. It's easier than pulling out another machine.


Every machine is different so be sure to read your manual for stitch settings but here's how I use mine. Swap out your foot as normal. Although this foot looks a little funky, you should be able to use it with the same arm you use for your 1/4" foot. You're not going to stitch with the same settings though, so make sure you know what works for your machine. Here are my normal settings:


And the settings I use for the Overlocking Stitch:


On my machine all I have to do is change the mode and the settings automatically change. Line up the raw edge of your seam allowance with the little knob on the right edge of the foot. Then just stitch as you would a straight stitch. The machine is going to work a little slower and be a little more jerky than when you're doing a normal straight stitch but the machine does all the work. It's amazing! And when you get to the end you've got a professional looking, locked seam allowance. And no more fraying! Easy peasy, right? Seriously, I'll never finish another garment without it.

(The Under Side of the Overlock Stitch)

Hope this helps! Do you have a great Tip, Tool or Technique that you'd like to share? Email me and I'll set you up to do a guest post on an upcoming edition of Triple "T" Tuesdays.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One More Go 'Round

If you're looking for the Kona Solids Giveaway you can find it here. Otherwise, back to our regularly scheduled programming...


I can't believe we're almost finished with the Round Robin in A Dozen Quilters bee. It's the last round this month. Although I did screw this round up royally. In all of my confusion, returning from South America and being behind on many bee commitments, I accidentally worked on the wrong quilt center first. I was supposed to work on Christy's Red & Aqua center first and send that off to Jenny. Instead, last month I worked on Patty's picnic quilt and sent that one off to Jenny, reserving Christy's for April. Ugh. So now I've gone and screwed up the whole schedule. I'm sorry ladies!


Christy sent out a cute red & aqua center and in keeping with the diamonds and angles in her center I decided to keep my additions simple and added 4.5" HSTs in red and aqua, framing her original design. I love working with red and aqua. It's a favorite color combo of mine. So now, it's finally off to Jenny but then it has to go to Patty before it reaches home. I'm such an idiot!


But this is the last month of, what's looking like, a successful Round Robin on all fronts, despite my blunder. I received Jenny's center from Christy. And I think I have plans for this one. I'm thinking maybe some blue curved piecing at the top, but I'm still contemplating what to add to the other three sides. What do you think? I'm definitely open to suggestions.


There was another quilt top in the envelope as well. My own! It's made it through the rounds and finally made it home. This little quilt top has had quite the journey. And it turned out vastly different than I ever imagined it would but that's part of the fun, isn't it? Just check out the cute little appliqu├ęd half circles on there.



I sent along a journal with the quilt and had each of the ladies sign it. I wish I had a chance for Julie to sign it too since she was such a big part of this quilt top. I don't remember who suggested sending along a journal with the quilts. I think I was the only one who did but I love the idea and I think I'm going to continue sending this journal around any time I participate in a project like this. And somehow some extra scraps found their way into the package as well. Perhaps I can incorporate them into Jenny's quilt.


Oh, and one last thing. Tell me, have any of you ever seen something like this happen before?


I'm baffled! Didn't know this was possible. And it was a new blade too! Thankfully no injuries. Just a cautionary tale. Rotary blades can shatter under the right circumstances. I was cutting some brocade for a vest that I'm making for a friend and the blade was having a little trouble making clean cuts of the two layers so I gave it a little extra pressure and Bam! It shattered. Crazy, huh? Be careful out there.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Triple 'T' Tuesdays: Fabric Organization

Welcome back to another Triple "T" Tuesday. If you stash looks anything like mine (I'll be starting a support group for that later!) then organization is key. Now, I can't take credit for the way I organize my fabrics. I've seen this technique used in more than one place, unfortunately I can't remember the first place I saw it.I wish I could so I could give credit where it was due, but it was probably two years ago the first time I saw this. Then I tried it myself, fell in love and I've been organizing my stash like this ever since. Have you heard about magazine boards?


Yeah, those little puppies are the key to my organization. You can find these several places online or at your local comic book store. Yep, that's where I get mine. They're called different things by different people and come in different sizes. If you go directly into your local comic book store ask for "Comic Book Boards". Then make sure you buy the "Magazine" size. Magazine size is 8.5" x 11" which is the perfect size for organizing all of your 44" wide fabrics - because what's 44 divided by 4? Yep. 11! I might not be great with math but even I could figure that out!


So how do I do it? It's simple...
Step 1: Fold your fabric in half, selvedge to selvedge.


Step 2: Fold it in half once more. I like to make sure the selvedge edge with the fabric name is facing out so I can see it even after I fold everything up.


Step 3: Since I like having easy access to my printed selvedge edge, I flip my fabric so the printed selvedge edge is facing down, against my table (or whatever flat surface I'm using). Then place one of your magazine boards centered between the two folded edges and close to one of the raw edges of your fabric.


Step 4: Make sure the board is close enough to the raw edge so you can fold the fabric over without covering the entire board, but far enough away that you have a fold of fabric substantial enough at the other end so you can secure it down well. (See Step 6)


Step 5: Fold the board over several times until you reach the opposite raw edge.


Step 6: Make sure there is enough fabric when you reach the other raw edge to fold back over securely.



Step 7: Secure with a pin. Some people fold a triangle of fabric under first. I used to but, frankly, now I'm too lazy.


By The Way: This works even if you're not working with 44" wide fabric. Simply play with folding your fabric to approximately the right width and you're golden!


Easy Peasy! Hope this helps! Do you have a great Tip, Tool or Technique that you'd like to share? Email me and I'll set you up to do a guest post on an upcoming edition of Triple "T" Tuesdays.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Triple 'T' Tuesdays: New Way to Mark Fabric

Two things... You want to see the product of all the blood, sweat and tears I've expressed over the past eight months? Well then set your DVRs to record because the brand new season of Tabatha Takes Over premieres tonight at 10 PM EST on Bravo! This season Tabatha doesn't only take over salons, she also takes over a variety of other businesses. I've been working on this show since the very first season and it's a labor of love. And if you look really close you can see my name in lights!

Enough about that. Are you ready to welcome back one of my regular features, because it's Triple "T" Tuesdays. I know it's been a while since I posted a Tip, Tool or Technique around here. I've been busy. I'm so sorry. And I think I'm just going to make this a monthly feature for now, because the pressure of trying to keep up while working an insane schedule was getting to me. So today I want to share a technique I use for fabric marking. My sewing box is loaded with a variety of fabric markers, from disappearing ink pens to chalk. My general go-to tool used to be the disappearing in pen. And I do still use it, but I have found myself, more often than not, resorting to a new way of marking my fabrics as of late.

The problem with disappearing ink (or water soluble) fabric pens is that the ink will set if exposed to intense heat, like an iron. I've been getting back to my roots and doing a lot more garment sewing and I was finding that I would be working at a speed where I would need / want to do some pressing on my projects before the ink would completely vanish. I tried using water to speed up the removal process, but even that wasn't working for me, so I started using straight pins as markers.


Straight pins are a great, cheap and easy way to mark your pattern pieces without leaving a trace behind on your fabric. Now, when I'm cutting out a pattern piece I use straight pins to "transfer" pattern markings rather than cutting into the seam allowance. It doesn't disrupt the integrity of the fabric and they don't disappear if I have to step away from a project longer than a ink marking might remain - although I do have to take care to make sure the pins are anchored deep enough so they don't fall out.

Also, when making pleats or darts it's so much easier to match up your lines using straight pins than ink marks on fabric. Recently when I was making a pleat I simply measured the required 2" from the seam and placed my straight pin in the fabric, flush with the edge of my measuring tape.


After I made my marks I used the head of the pins as my guide and matched them up, removing one of the pins and then sliding it through both layers of fabric to secure my pleat mark. Then walla! I was ready to stitch my pleat seam parallel to my straight pin marker.



When making a dart I use a similar method. I mark the top edges of my dart with straight pins and bring them together, joining the marks. Then I measure down, as far as I want the dart to go down the edge of the fabric and use another bin to mark the point of the dart.


Start sewing in a diagonal between the two pins and there you go - a perfect dart without inking or chalking the fabric. Seriously, straight pins are my new favorite way to mark fabric. I think they're one of the most underrated, yet important tools in any sewing kit. How do you mark your fabric? What's your favorite method?


Hope this helps! Do you have a Tip, Tool or Technique that you'd like to share? Email me and I'll set you up to do a guest post on an upcoming Triple "T" Tuesday. See you next month!