Sunday, 19 June 2011

"I Chose Threads Magazine..."

I chose it because it looked like it would be the best one for me in that it shows you how to get better results from your sewing. So I subscribed and shortly after got a letter saying that I had subscribed and that I would get my first issue in September. What? 3-4 months! I'm not having that! They've got the money now via PayPal, so I should have my magazine. An email later, the phone rang. It happened that they had one current issue left. Right. Anyway, I have my magazine now. I got it on Saturday, the 4th and promptly had it out of the wrapper.

The first thing I saw was the back cover which has something called Up Close in which they show you a puzzling-looking garment and direct you to the article inside that shows you how the pattern was made. This issue it was a 1940s evening dress with drapery around the front hips.

There was another interesting article, this one by Susan Khalje, about vintage sewing techniques: waist-stays, wrist zips on narrow sleeves, adding godets to an area without seams, and hand overcasting seams for a couture touch. How I do love vintage sewing! It makes garments look so much better. : )

Another good article raised a point that I hadn't noticed. When you Hong-Kong finish side seams in a skirt, the seam allowances can go all wavy and look very unsightly. But if you ease the seam allowance, you can avoid that and end up with a beautiful Hong-Kong seam!

There is a good one about Zero-Waste Sewing including an updated Viking Dress (no, really, Vikings) that wouldn't look out of place at a party or a wedding if it were made longer.

They were the most interesting articles for me, but there were some more articles that probably interest others more, like the one about a sewing event in Vancouver, Canada (given I live in Hornsea in Yorkshire it wasn't very relevent for me).

There is an article on using your overlocker/serger to make decorative flat lock seams. I don't have an overlocker (yet) but you can get a similar look on your sewing machine by using a blind-hem stitch, and then pulling the seam flat. You don't get as many "rungs" on the ladder as you would with an overlocker, but I suppose you could shorten the stitch length a bit or use a zigzag stitch to get more.

I wanted to take photos of inside the magazine, but I don't want to infringe on copyright laws. I'll just put the link to Threads here:

I'd give the magazine about 6 or 7 out of 10 because while the articles that I like are good, there are also articles that are more like adverts for the patterns to me. The helpful articles are good opportunities to sample the writing of the authors before getting their books.

What do you think of Threads magazine? What are your favourite sections and why? Please leave your comments below. Maybe the editors will find this page and take notice to make it an even better magazine! : )

Until next time, happy sewing (and reading).
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner

P.S. How many of you subscribe to BurdaStyle magazine? Do you use many of the patterns?

"How to Do More With Your Blind-hem Foot! Part Three: Edge-joining"

Edge-joining is used to attach "insertions" (ribbons made of lace), ribbons etc. to each other or to fabric with a zigzag stitch. While you can do it with a set blind-hem foot like mine, you can get a better result if you use an adjustable blind-hem foot because you can put the guide in the centre.

How to Use Your Blind-hem Foot as an Edge-stitching Foot

But each of your two pieces of fabric up against the guide on the foot. You may like to hem them first, or to hem the fabric before you join it to an insertion or a ribbon.

Set your zigzag to a width that will catch and hold securely both pieces of fabric. I used 5.5mm wide. Then just stitch, keeping the two pieces butted against the guide as you go.

If you have an adjustable blind-hem foot, you will be able to use a narrower zigzag, but I had to use a wide stitch so as to miss the guide with the needle.

You could also use an over-locking stitch on your sewing machine. If you are going to use a fancy stitch, move the balance wheel by hand for the whole of the first stitch to make sure you won't hit the foot.

This is what my sample looks like up close:

It doesn't look very neat in the photo, but if I had used a more suitable thread, such as invisible thread, and had been able to use a narrower stitch, it would have looked better. has a video showing this technique with an edge-joining foot, also known as a centre-blade-foot.

Now that you have your edges joined, you could just leave them like that, or you could put ribbon underneath, catching a bead every so often or making a bow. It's really up to you! Do you have any more ideas? Please share them below! : )

Until next time, happy sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner

P.S. Next week will conclude this series of Blind-hem Posts with instructions for Stitching-in-the-Ditch with your Blind-hem foot.

"How to Do More With Your Blind-hem Foot! Part Four: Stitch-in-the-Ditch"

If you like to sew your projects quickly, this is a great technique for waistbands, anchoring facings, and probably many other things. You can also stitch-in-the-ditch when you do machine quilting to sew the layers together. There are stitch-in-the-ditch feet available, but why buy something extra when you have a blind-hem foot to do the job already?

How to Stitch-in-the-Ditch with Your Blind-hem Foot
1) Sew the waistband onto the garment RS together. Press, then press the waistband and seam allowance upwards. If you are adding elastic, put it in now, sitting in between the seam allowance and the waistband.

2) Neaten the raw edge of the waistband. Fold down the rest of the waistband's fabric so that it covers the elastic, keeping the raw edge down. The upper photo on the left is what it looks like on the inside of the garment, and the one below it is what it looks like on the outside of the garment.

 3) With the waistband pointing towards the left, put it under the presser foot. I have it this way around because the little kink in the guide bar makes it harder to get in the ditch if it is the other way around.

Move the needle (or the guide if you have an adjustable Blind-hem foot) so that the needle goes right into the ditch. On my Brother sewing machine, this is at 2.5mm from the left on a straight stitch. Sew along the ditch until you get to the end.

If the stitch is still a little visible on the RS, slightly roll the waistband fabric down to cover it, and press.

The photos below show what it looks like when you have finished. The top photo is what it looks like from the RS. It's nearly invisible. The photo below is what it looks like on the inside of the garment. Since this is a sample, I didn't neaten the raw edge.

This technique isn't limited to waistbands. You could also use it on cuffs, or anywhere else you want a fast finish. You can also use it to apply bias binding quickly. Can you think of any other uses? Please share them below in the comments. : )

Until next time, happy sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner

Sunday, 12 June 2011

"How to Do More With Your Blind-hem Foot! Part Two: Top-stitching/Edge-stitching and Pin-tucks"

Top-stitching is a very easy way to decorate your projects with only a straight stitch. It really looks best when it is neat and and even distance from the edge. With careful attention you can do it well with your standard presser foot, but it is a lot easier when you use your blind-hem foot. Note: You can also use your overcasting foot if you want to be a bit farther from the edge.

It is very easy. Just attach your blind-hem foot, but your folded edge against the guide, and with the needle to the left, stitch. And that's it.

How to Sew Pin-tucks With Your Blind-hem Foot
Since that's not a lot for one post, I'll show you how to make pin tucks with you blind-hem foot as well.

Pin-tucks are very narrow, stitched folds in fabric. If there are enough of them they can make a garment smaller, but if you only have a few, it usually won't make much difference.

Groups of pin-tucks look best when the pin-tucks are parallel, evenly spaced and very neat.

To make a pin-tuck with your blind-hem foot, first fold the fabric where you want the pin-tuck to be, then put the folded fabric under the foot with the fold butted against the guide. Then sew as usual. When you have sewn the pin tuck, sew the next one parallel to it and repeat until you have enough.

You can use these for smocking
If you baste these pin-tucks (fairly close together) instead of stitching them permanently, you can smock them and then release the basting. Smocking looks very pretty on little girls' clothes and on summer blouses. You can really smock just about any fabric, but I should think it would be easier on fabrics with a softer handle. When you smock, you can add a bead to each join. This makes a very nice evening look and can be used on bags too!

Pin-tucks are a classic and very pretty look on summer blouses and dresses. They look best in groups and can be a smart, understated trimming on work blouses and school blouses (I don't know if they are allowed on school blouses, but I don't see why not).

Different Ways to Use Pin-tucks
Pin-tucks needn't be vertical, you can sew them above a hem or anywhere else you would like horizontal lines. You can sew them in one direction and then pin-tuck over those in the opposite direction (vertical then horizontal or vice versa) to make cross pin-tucks. Or you can lay the pin-tucked fabric flat then stitch up across the pin-tucks then down across them a few inches to the left, then up again the same distance to the left and keep going on like that to get a wavy design. 365daysofsewing posted a similar technique on You can use pin-tucks as narrow dart tucks, or you can sew them on the inside of the garment for a different look.

If you are sewing very light fabric, you can sew with a cord in the tuck and then pull it up to gather. You could do this to the top of doll's house curtains or a doll's garment's waist as well. You could use shirring elastic instead of cord to make it stretchy.

If you are going to make lots of pin-tucks... is best to pin-tuck the fabric before you cut it, because too many pin-tucks will naturally shorten or narrow the fabric and affect the fit. If you pin-tuck right across the width of the fabric, you can use this in the design and have the sleeves cut with pin-tucks near their hems, creating harmony in the design.

Can you think of any other ways to use pin-tucks? Please share them in the comments below!

Next week's post will be about edge-joining with the Blind-hem foot. I suggest you have a go at it rather than judging it by the photo because the photo doesn't look very good. : )

Until next time, happy sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner

P.S. I have started a page on this blog that shows some of my favourite sewing books and things. It's actually an aStore so if you would like the same things, you can get them here. It's the page link on the side bar that says "My Favourite Sewing Books and Things".

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

"How to Avoid Tangled Embroidery Threads and Recycle Used Thread Spools"

When you have reached the end of a spool of thread don't throw it away! You can use it again and solve another problem at the same time. You can avoid tangled embroidery skeins by winding the thread onto you empty spool.

If you want to keep note of the colour number, you can put a little sticker on top, or just stick the paper from the skein with the number on top.

This is a much tidier way to keep your threads.

You can do this with thread that comes on a card as well, and the spools won't get tatty like card does!

If you you have bobbins that don't fit your sewing machine, you could use those. I haven't tried those yet, so I don't know how much floss they will hold, but they are a much better size for travelling!

How do you save sewing waste? Have you solved any problems by recycling? Please share your tips below. : )

Until next time, happy sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner