This post is dedicated to my niece Aliya, a beginner seamstress. She suggested I write about how to avoid bulky, bunchy corners, because she ran into the problem when sewing a duvet cover.

Does your pillow cover, duvet cover, collar point or any square corner look like crap once it’s turned inside out?  The reason some sewn corners seem bulky is that there is too much fabric for the amount of space available, once you turn it to the right side. The goal is to remove excess fabric and place the remaining neatly inside.

Bulky corner

To create un-bunchy corners, do one of the following:

  1. Make a diagonal cut, making sure that the corner seam is not cut through, but very close. To make it double secure, put a dab of seam sealant on the corner. Let dry completely. Fold both seams to one side before turning to the right side.  Diagonal method
  2. The Fold-y Method: Feel insecure about cutting diagonally? Try this. Fold one edge over to one side, and then fold the other edge back to the other side. Turn the piece inside out; you’ll need to ply your thumb and forefinger here a bit. Use the point turner to push it out further. Be careful not to push through the seam. Even though there is more fabric in the corner with this method, it is neatly in place, and not getting bunched up every which way.  Folded method
  3. The anti-corner:  Or you can call it the oxymoron method. In this method, you take two machine stitches which actually round off the corner. And, therein lies the sharpness. As you come close to the marked turning spot, reduce the stitch length, take two stitches on the diagonal, bring stitch length back to the original size, pivot to bring the needle back on track to sew off the rest of the seam. Trim close to the seam as shown; doesn’t seem possible but it does create non-bulky corners. Check out the collar points of a man’s shirt, and you’ll see it is slightly rounded!  Rounded corner method
  4. A final tip for corner-sewing success: there is a tool for helping you turn a good corner. It’s called a “point turner” which pushes out the fabric in a good way. Please do not use a scissor or extremely sharp implement for turning corners. It will cut through to the right side.  Tools

Any other ideas for keeping the corners nice and sharp? Please let us know. I’m always open to new sewing techniques.

Samina

In other words, this is what’s on my sewing table at this moment. A LOT. These are prime conditions for UFO formation (Unfinished Objects). I hope to persist and finish these commitments in August – or September. October??

Take a look….

Rayon Batik in oxblood and Vogue 8979. Something attracted me to this pattern in spite of “over-worked” design detail. To explain the dichotomy, I like this pattern and I don’t know why. The only place I saw it made up is in Vogue Pattern magazine’s June/July issue. I cannot find anyone else who has made and reviewed it. If you have, come forth and show your stuff!

V8979

Vogue Pattern mag

Vogue Pattern Magazine’s version in hammered silk, page 70

 Most needed item in the wardrobe: denim pants in olive/khaki in my new favorite pattern, Donna Karan Vogue 1039.  I really, really like this pattern. Unfortunately, it seems to be out of print.  You can check out a previous version of these pants in this post.

Denim and pants

 

A lovely sweater knit, which is double sided! It will be made into a cardigan – maybe with a drapey front to show off the wrong side? Or a regular button down cardi? Tell me!

Sweater knit

 

Blue/Gray undulating striped knit and McCalls 6996. The fabric edge has been under the serger for a week for pre-wash preparation. Yes, I said a week. I like this pattern because of the slightly peplum back (maybe it’ll hide my natural peplum) and non-peplum front.

 M6996

Pile of knits to make sundry tops and a knit yoga pant. This may be subject to change at the last minute if a new pattern comes along. Check out the digital print at the bottom which looks like a cable knit. Purchased from Nancy Erickson.

 knit fabric

Sewing room curtains!! Long overdue window covering for the sewing room. It’s quite a kitschy print, and that’s the look I’m going for.

Sewingroom curtains

Silk/cotton fabric for a guest post project which will be revealed later, but it has to be finished quickly. As in next week.

 Silk fabric

The inevitable mending and alteration projects:

Daughter #2’s dresses to reduce the armhole gaposis.  Daughter #1’s pants which split in the back and need to be sewn up. Tsk, the pitfalls of buying ready-to-wear….

 Armhole adjust Pant mend

Which one of these do you predict will go in the UFO pile? One, two, all? I hope to prove you wrong and finish them all very soon. You, my friends, need to keep me on my sewing toes. Thanks!

Samina

Finished tea napkins

…… and it’s time to finish them after a decade of storing. The tasks at hand are hemming the edges of all seven embroidered napkins, and adding embroidery and hemming to the last eighth blank square to complete the set.

napkins2

The napkins are smaller than dinner size and will probably be considered cocktail napkins. Except, I don’t do cocktails. I do high tea, so I’m calling them tea napkins.

In case you haven’t noticed, there are four ecru and four white napkins. They are made with fine linen, with scraps left over from a couple of much loved and much worn blouses — in the 90s.  The napkins have a vintage look but are made with 21st century technology – except for the hand hemming.  They’re embellished with machine embroidery using a Brother embroidery machine and card #67.

Machine

Since my old embroidery machine did all the embellishment, I’m going to focus on a hemming technique my fellow students and I learned way back in our clothing lab at college.

Invisible Hem: That is what the professors of Clothing and Textiles called it in back in the day.  Halfway across the world and decades later, it’s called a “slip stitch”. Whatever the name, this is the technique I use for hand hemming anything. On the inside it is truly invisible, and on the right side you can barely see the stitches. On certain fabrics, if you ply your needle correctly, it’s also invisible on the right side.

Here’s how I invisibly hemmed the linen napkins:

  • Press all edges of the napkins in a double fold hem by pressing up ¼” then ¼” again.  Double hem
  • Thread a fine hand sewing needle suitable for lightweight linen. You can wax the thread with beeswax at this point but I did not.  Make a small knot at the far end; my professors hated knots but I did not get into the habit of no-knot hand sewing.  Working from the wrong side take a small stitch in the body of the napkin by picking up a couple of threads with your needle.

1st stitch

  • Pierce needle into the upper fold of hem right above the previous stitch and bring it out approximately 3/8 to ½” away.

2nd stitch 2

  • Pull thread all the way so that the stitch is reasonably taut but not loose. It should not be so tight that you can see dimples or puckers on the right side. Here’s how my hemming looks. I like it.

Invisible hem

Tip: My favorite hand position while pulling the thread is holding the stitch between my thumb and forefinger of the left hand (the right hand plies the needle). For lefties, reverse this. If I can feel the thread moving, I can control the tension of the stitch. This is also a good way to avoid thread tangles .

Pull thread

  • Keep hemming until all four sides are done.

   Tip: I kept the napkins visible through the hallway, and took a few stitches as I passed by. As I write this, the ecru napkins still need to be hemmed.  Hope you like my invisible hemming ways :).

Tea & napkin

My home is a cloth napkin establishment. We almost never use paper napkins unless necessary, like the time when my guest asked for a paper napkin rather than use the pretty cloth versions. Yes, that really happened.  What do you think?   Why do some people shy away from a nice clean cloth napkin?

Samina

 

 

Blog post #67 is not about sewing. We’re going off on a tangent and shining some beams on the software company which allows me to write this blog: WordPress.com.

Cover

I usually stop in my tracks for any book title that is fashion related. Therefore author Scott Berkun’s book caused a stop-in-your-tracks moment (um, the word “pants”). A second look at the cover image indicated that it could be porn for all I knew (shudder). The sub-title cleared it all up – it was an inside look at WordPress.com, the blogging software I use every day. It’s like someone writing about your friend although I have no personal or business affiliation with Automattic or author Scott Berkun, and probably never will. So, in the interest of turning the tables, below are some things I took away from the book about WordPress.com and their work style.

  • It was eye-opening for me on several levels. Scott Berkun joined Auttomatic on the condition that he could write about it. Not as a fly on the wall, but actually working as a team leader. In the book he has divulged the unconventional work style of a successful software company from the inside out. To use a sewing analogy for all my seamstress readers, it’s like turning an unusual piece of couture clothing inside out to see how it was created (there, this post is not totally devoid of a sewing reference).
  • As a reader, a user of WordPress.com and clueless about programming/coding, and one who will never use the information about unusual work styles for the rest of my life, I found the book engaging and simply written.
  • Matt Mullenweg owns Automattic© which owns WordPress.com. Get the play on words? Matt…. Automattic©
  • Employees are called Automatticians. Clever Matt, taking cues from Disney and their “imagineers”.
  • Automattic© operates by dividing the entire company into mini (as small as four people), self-motivated and autonomous teams. This is referred to as a “distributed” company. There seems to be minimal input by the CEO, and the employees are driven by their own vision and love for their jobs, which somehow seems to dovetail into the CEO’s vision. In my next life, I want Matt Mullenweg to be my boss.
  • The teams are given names like “Team VIP” (for big clients like CNN, Time, Inc. and other biggies), “Team Social” (the author’s team which worked on the Comments section and social media connections, if I understood correctly) and so on. The most aptly named is “Team Happiness” (you and I know it as the Help Desk or Customer Service). Members of Team Happiness are called “Happiness Engineers”. Their job is to keep WordPress.com users happy. Can you guess what “Team Theme” does?
  • Working with Team Happiness is required for all new hires before moving on to their own specialized team. Why? Because Team Happiness has the most thankless job ever – dealing with issues/complaints from customers/bloggers like us, fixing reported bugs and the like.
  • It’s a global company in the most authentic way. Employees work from anywhere in the world on a daily basis, interacting with each other online, through Skype or other ways. When they do meet, its in places like Athens, Greece or Hawaii. Each team chooses its own meeting destination when a face to face interaction is scheduled. Verrry nice. I repeat, in an alternate universe I want to work for Matt Mullenweg.
  • New updates, improvements and features are released frequently and seamlessly; I don’t even know what was done and when.
  • Scott Berkun refers to what he calls the “Future of Work”, defending Automattic’s distributed work style, and at the same time calling it “chaos”. It’s a successful chaos.  Is this the future of work? I, personally, think so. Automattic beat most others to it.

Samina

PS: If you’re a blogger and into attending blogging conferences, the BlogHer 2014 conference is being held next week in Silicon Valley, CA and WordPress.com will be there, and there will be a”Happiness Bar”. Way to go Team Happiness! People, take your blogging questions there and get happy.

PPS: I promise to go back to sewing posts. Thank you for reading!

 

 

It summertime and the sewing is easy.  Next month, it will be hotter ‘n hell in Texas.  While the fashion industry and most well-organized home sewers are planning and replenishing their fall closets, I am still trying to sew summer clothes for myself.

 

Casual Lady V2

This striped tunic recently came off my sewing machine in the way of summer clothing. Its the Casual Lady pattern (available from Go To Patterns), sewn in striped fabric  from Spoonflower.  Please note that I have a complete stash of striped fabric. The striped fabric fairy visits me often, and I have more striped stuff in transit as we speak……

the-Casual-Lady-cover-791x1024

The tunic pattern was purchased in 2013 because at the time the money went to a worthy cause; I’m happy to say that the pattern itself fits well and is nicely shaped. This, by the way, is the second use of the Casual Lady pattern; the previous one was made in 2013 and was inspired by a Jason Wu t-shirt. See that post here.

I will use this pattern again since it is a good easy make for summer. I could lengthen it to the floor and call it a maxi. I could go the opposite way and make it into a crop top, at the risk of being disowned by family and friends.

Occasionally I get obsessive/compulsive about sewing details in the most casual, quick-sewn item. Here is what I just had to do when turning the armhole edge.

photo

Instead of sewing up the entire hem edge with the same cream thread, I stopped at the beginning of the mustard part and changed to mustard thread. Don’t raise your eyebrows; Coco Chanel changed the thread mid-buttonhole to match the print in haute couture items! I’m in good company…

What have you sewn for the summer? Have you skipped summer sewing and gone directly to replenishing the Fall wardrobe?

Samina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Independence Day, America!

 

Wrap Cover

Page 36 of a special publication by Stitch magazine features my “Out & About Wrap” in all its glory. It is super simple to make, and super chic to wear. It works for 21st century women like us. I want to thank the editors for making it look glorious in the pages of “The Unofficial Downton Abbey Sews” . It is just how I like to wear it in the winter.

 Bonus use

There is another option to wearing the wrap, as mentioned in the accompanying text. It can be worn as a big old scarf around your neck on cold and windy days. The scarf option is not pictured in the magazine, so I am showing you here with my own wrap, the original one. It has been road tested many times in the harsh 2013 winter of Texas.

My globe trotting friend thought it was the ideal thing to have in her air travels.

So I’m asking you, dear readers, how would you wear this tweed wrap?

 

There are other beautiful items to make in this publication, designed by talented designers, all inspired by a collective obsession with the PBS program Downton Abbey.

Are you ready for the next season? You can watch the new season while making this wrap. Really.

Happy sewing :)

Samina

PS: Can someone please tell me why the font in WordPress keeps changing on me?

 

 

Hi readers,

I am thrilled to post this update to last week’s blog post about the double triangle zipped pouch. The designer, Nancy Shriber contacted me to dispel my thoughts about the author of the book not actually making the bag. She did, and I owe her an apology. Nancy, I am sorry.

Take a look at the original!

Folded Triangle bag by Nancy Shriber

Folded Triangle bag by Nancy Shriber

 

Very kindly, Nancy has included her zipper installation process in the message below. In her own words….

“Dear Samina, Thank you for the kind words. I would like to clarify a couple of things in your blog.  I have indeed made multiple handbags of all the designs in my book and taught numerous classes for years sharing these techniques.  I will send you, via separate email, a photo of the actual handbag that is illustrated in the book.  Concerning the zipper installation, the zippers are sewn in the bag by hand to eliminate machine stitches on the right side or fashion side of the handbag.  The line of machine stitching divides the handbag into two separate compartments.”

Another update: Nancy Shriber is one of the many instructors teaching at the 2014 American Sewing Guild Conference. If you are in the St Louis area, head on over to the venue. Details here.  There’s a class schedule on the ASG Conference page. For details on Nancy’s class, scroll to find classes 31A, 31B and 31C.

Happy bag sewing!

Samina

 

 

 

 

 

There should be a UFO (unfinished object) month celebrated in the sewing community at least once a year.

Bracelet bag2Finished

Look what I found in my unfinished sewing archives (aka UFOs). An indigo blue 14” square, embellished with the Japanese folk embroidery called Sashiko (s-a-a-sh-i-k-o). This was a class project for Sashiko expert Nancy Shriber’s class – um, several years ago.

Sashiko thread

What does one do with a 14”, flannel backed square like this? Why, make little bags, of course! Just like the ones in Nancy’s book. Of course Nancy is a garment sewer and incorporates her exquisite Sashiko-embroidery expertise in beautiful garments. But for Sashiko-newbies like me, her book,Sashiko Handbags, 14 on 14  (2005) gives ideas for using up those squares for little Asian inspired, folded bags. I would have loved to see actual photos of the bags rather than illustrations. Even though they’re pretty water color renditions done by Nancy’s sister. I was going to link up Nancy Shriber’s website as listed on a sticker on the book, but it cannot be found.  Here’s a link to the Amazon page where you can buy the book. There’s something amiss, though because a new copy is priced at $64.93 (!!) and a used one at $59.50 on Amazon.

I decided not to add images of the book, since the author prohibits the reproduction or transmission of any part of the book.

For my square I chose to make it into bag #11 on page 47– the Folded Triangle.  Here’s how it went down:

The original square was already Sashiko-ed up. I needed the backing/lining; a quick dive into le stash found flowered indigo/white Chinese cotton (brought back from China by my daughter). Since I did not have flannel for backing the lining (as the book suggests), I found the thinnest cotton batting in the stash. (What a non-quilter is doing with piles of batting in her stash is beyond me). Chinese cotton lining and the Sashiko square are then put together, ready for binding.  The bias binding was created and applied. If one were looking for detailed binding instructions in this book, there are none; just a couple of paragraphs on how to cut bias strips and join them.

Sashiko UFO Square2 Square3

Now, as Nancy says, the project looks like a potholder (a 14 inch potholder). So far I’m good.

Turning the “potholder” into the illustrated bag is a bit of a head scratcher.

The first step suggested by the author is folding the square into a triangle, then sewing a line from the center of the folded edge to the corner. This creates two triangular sections. The next step in the instructions is to install two zippers in each triangle opening.

Wait, wait wait…… think ahead to how zippers will be installed in the two triangles – it will be near impossible in such a closed area, even by hand.

Don't sew

At this point I’m losing patience with the printed instructions, but want to make it work. So, I DO NOT sew the line down the middle after the first fold; it will be easier to install the two zippers when the piece is still a flat square. Here it is.

zipper zipper2

Not difficult, but not easy peasy either. After much folding and pondering I added the two zippers, with each zipper tape sewn to a side of the square.  It turned out to be a very fiddly process. To make it more confusing, the end of the zipper needed to be turned inside – see last image above. Or you can buy a smaller zipper than the 14” recommended by the author, or cut the end of the zipper after sewing some horizontal stitches on the teeth. Well, the zippers are in, and I needed to move forward. I was now wondering if the author actually made this bag.

My next step was to make and sew in a loop with each end (of loop) on the opposite corner of the Sashiko square – on the lining side.

Loop Loop2

Now, we’re ready to sew the center seam which divides the piece into two triangles. Can you see the seam in the picture below?  Done. Whew.

Center seam

I then hand-sewed the bottoms together with a slip stitch. It could have been machine sewn but with 2 batting layers and 4 fabric layers, I just grabbed a hand needle and slip stitched away.

Sew bottom

Add a little doo-dad to the loop and the bag is done. At this point, I ignored the book instructions to add an elasticized wrist loop.

Loop closeup Finished

Instead, I threaded the loop through my bracelet!

Bracelet bag

Now, to road test this bag. I like how it turned out. What do you think of the bag? Do you think I should have added a picture of the book illustration to compare the two, in spite of the dire warning prohibiting it?

Samina

 

 

 

In the finest American business tradition, McCalls Pattern Company recently proved to me that customers matter.

Remember my post about Vogue 9005 and how the draft seemed wrong?

Since McCalls Patterns is now active in social media (best business decision ever), I sent a direct Twitter message about said draft and, was thrilled to see an immediate response (see their comment on the above referenced blog post) with a contact e-mail to send the details of my pattern problem. I did, and got a reply from Laurie at  Vogue Patterns Customer Service; she knew exactly what I was talking about, and that she had forwarded the issue to their grading department. Them pattern companies know their stuff…..

 

This post is dedicated to McCalls Patterns where I’ll briefly show you something I own, which the company probably has in it’s archives.

Read on, all sewing history nerds….

 

McCalls Pattern Book, Spring 1953, Fabric Issue

Let’s take a peek inside.

Cover

Editor was Marion Corey. In any magazine, one of my favorite pages is the editorial staff listing. I always want to know who created the deliciousness on paper.

Ed page

Inspiration: It is 1953 and the inspiration seems to be Christian Dior, especially in the look on the left.

The much coveted European look, non?

Dior-like European

Tailoring was king, even in spring. I love this outfit with the lace collar.

IMG_1374

The dolman sleeve is rampant, especially in the “jiffy” patterns. The “tube jersey” dress, top of left picture is so easy, it may not even need a pattern. Click on the picture to read the text.

Jiffies IMG_1376

An advertisement for Avondale – chambray never had it so good!  On the right, an ad for the new Slant-needle Singer sewing machine. Ergonomic machine from the pioneering Singer Company. Readers, did you, your mom or grandma own this one?

Chambray Slant Needle Singer

I am now coveting this gorgeous parasol print on the left by Bates.  On the right, um, no politically correct ads, please.

 

Parasol print IMG_1377

 There’s much more in this precious pattern magazine, detailing spring colors, sewing questions and answers and more. I’ll save that for another post. 

McCalls Patterns, thank you for years of sewing enjoyment!

Samina

PS: not sure at all why the font changed on me…

 

…. and done! As we all know there is no feeling to match the strange equilibrium one feels after actually finishing a sewing project.

Finished upright

This is the end result of my previous post about the WIP iPad keeper using Trace ‘N Create templates from Clover and Nancy Zieman. I must say, it turned out very pretty, even if I say so myself. Thanks to both companies for designing a great product. Again, no affiliation with either company. Soon, this keeper will travel to it’s destination and receive it’s very own iPad.

While making this project, here are some items that clearly became my best sewing buddies, and made the process easy. Plus, a couple more thoughts.

  • Binder clips. Whoever invented the binder clip as an office supply, must have really meant it for sewing a binding. Otherwise why are they named “binder” clips? They are perfect for the job! Sew binding, turn to other side, hold with binder clips and stitch-in-the-ditch.

Binder clip binding

  • Edgestitch foot #7 (Bernina). It helped me immensely with sewing a straight line close to the two sides of the inside spine, and elsewhere. Talk about precision sewing.

Edgestitch foot

  • Double sided basting tape, which is actually recommended in the instructions for a couple of tasks in this project. One of the tasks was joining the ends when finishing the binding process. I also used the tape to align the center spine since no pins were going to work with the thick Peltex inside.

doublesided tapeBinding join

  • Rotary cutter, which actually cut the plastic inserts to size very smoothly. Not sure whether to give credit to the plastic or my rotary cutter.

Plastic insert

  • Size 16 Universal needle by Schmetz which sewed through all layers including the thick Peltex (Pellon)interfacing, like butter! Like. butter.
  • The old Bernina 1230, circa 1989, my BFF for life.
  • Remember the concern I had about the ¼” seam being too small? No basis for that fear. It worked fine. Moral: obey Nancy Zieman.
  • The plastic inserts were smaller than the fabric pouches – enough to not catch in the final stitching around the perimeter. Another concern dispelled.

Inserts

  • The last step is stitch-in-the-ditch for the binding, which was perfect on the outside, but a little funky on the inside.  Anyone has tips for maintaining an even “under side”?

inside

  • I changed the elastic from the headband (see WIP post) to regular ¾” black sewing elastic on the corners.

Now I’ll have to see about making a Nook HD keeper, which I actually own.

Please comment if you’ve used the Trace N Create template for tablets, and what are your thoughts about it!

Samina

 

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