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Life's a Stitch, . . Let's sew it up!

8.14.17  "Using the Grid"  This weekend I made a hooded bath towel for a family member’s new little baby girl.  I wanted to put an embroidery  design on the hood so I took two separate embroideries, edited them together on the screen of my machine while they were in embroidery edit, printed out a template and embroidered the designs on the gift.  For those of you who enjoy embroidering on projects, this is something you may do often.  For those of you who are new to embroidery, what I did may not be entirely clear.  First of all, I have an embroidery machine that allows me to bring more than one design onto my screen.  I also have a feature that allows my machine to group separate designs together, allowing me to manipulate the multiple designs as if they were one design.  Also, for placement of the designs before grouping, I have a feature that puts a grid on the display screen so lining up designs becomes much easier.  For the Pfaff and Husqvarna Viking machines that have the grid feature, all of the grids are fixed in spacing except for the grid on the Epic.  (The Epic allows the user to choose the spacing of the grid lines for incredibly accurate design editing.)  For those of you who have a machine with the grid feature, it may be helpful for you to know that the grid lines are spaced approximately 3/8” apart.  I hope you are able to use the grid feature to help you expand your embroidery design library!

8.7.17  "In the Round"   I started making gifts for people many years ago.  Every wedding, birth, house warming, etc. was an opportunity to give a personal gift from my husband and me.  Many of those creations over the years have been made with the use of the circular attachment for my sewing machine.  Just by varying the size of the circles, the order of the decorative stitches and the types of decorative threads I used I could make some stunning projects with more fun than effort on my part.  Just remember that when you use one of these attachments, you will be left with a hole in the center of your project.  Depending upon the fabric you are using, that hole may or may not heal completely.  It is for this reason I always have something planned, usually a monogram of some kind, to be placed in the center of the circle to hide the hole.  It is also best to use decorative stitches that do not have a lot of backwards motion to them as these types of stitches have more of a tendency to distort as the stitches navigate the circle.  As with all projects, you will want to do some kind of test piece first which will give you an idea of the type of stabilizer you should use and the type of stitches you think will look best in your new circular creation.  Not sure which attachment is right for your machine?  Give “Bonny’s Sewing and Fabric” a call and we would be happy to help you!

7.31.17  "Hoop Clips"  If you have invested in a sewing machine that has hoop driven embroidery capability, you probably love your large hoops.  The potential size of the embroidery field is sometimes the determining factor for many of our customers when buying an embroidery machine.  It is very convenient to cover a large area of fabric with beautiful embroidery with a minimum need to re-hoop the fabric.  It is very important, when using a larger hoop, to use the metal hoop clips that are available from Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff.  For many of you, those clips came with your machine.  (If they did not come with your machine, they are not very expensive to purchase separately.)  For hoops that have the clip slots along the inside of the top hoop, the clips work beautifully and are easy to attach and remove from the hoop.  The clips keep your fabric and stabilizer from moving while you are stitching out your designs.  The bigger the embroidery area, the more need there is for using the clips.  Not using them can cause your top thread to break more often due to the “flagging” of the fabric up and down as it is being stitched and can lead to the fabric becoming “slack” in the hoop if your stitch count is rather high.  Since they only take a minute to install, they should always be within easy reach, ready to be clipped onto that great big hoop.  Happy stitching!

7.24.17 "Quilting Pressure"  Many of our customers spend enjoyable hours piecing beautiful quilt tops, but a growing group is also using their sewing and embroidery machines to help them do their own quilting of the finished product.  Some of our customers are using free motion quilting and do not use the feed teeth of their machine, dropping them and guiding the fabric by hand.  Others are experimenting with quilting using the Interchangeable Dual Feed (for Husqvarna Viking) or the IDT system (for Pfaff).  If you are using a dual feed and have found that the top and backing fabrics sometimes do not feed evenly, even with the special tools and features of the machines available, it may be because the presser foot pressure is simply too great. Dual feeding of fabric works extremely well when there are two layers but when you add a third layer (the batting) it’s advisable to lower the presser foot pressure.  This keeps the presser foot from “plowing” in the fabric and batting sandwich.  If you are finding the layers of your quilting project shifting even though they are pin basted properly, try lowering the presser foot pressure to 3.  Remember, depending on your machine, if you are able to adjust the presser foot pressure, you will find the presser foot adjustment knob on the top or side of your machine or you will find the adjustment option in the “Set Menu”.

7.17.17  "Flat Construction"  I have been sewing most of my life.  My parents were experts in the craft and they taught me.  Even as a young beginner I was experiencing garment construction from every angle.  I have always followed written patterns, learning the pattern lingo and following it to the letter.  It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I heard of “flat construction”; the assembly process used in the ready -to-wear industry.  Simply put, you sew the garment in an order that allows you to sew as many seams as possible while they are flat, before they become round (this is not always in the order given in the written pattern).  Example:  I no longer put sleeves in round sleeve openings.  I sew the shoulder seams first and insert the sleeve before I sew the underarm seam.   I then sew the garment from the bottom hem to the wrist.  Another example:  I press up all the hems for a garment as I unpin the garment from the paper pattern.  I find that when I press the hems while the garment is flat, I get a much nicer crease and once the garment is constructed the nicely pressed hems are much easier to sew.  I hope you give this a try on your next garment!

7.10.17  "Floating Trim"  In past TOW’s I have talked about creating your own trim.  I enjoy using custom trims on my projects for that one-of-a-kind look.  If you have not tried couching before, you may want to consider it for your next creation.  Couching is simply the technique of attaching decorative threads, pearl cotton or top stitching thread for example, to the top of your project using either decorative thread or monofilament thread to hold everything together.  If you choose to use monofilament or clear thread, your trim appears as if it is floating on the surface of your fabric.  Both Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff have a special foot and guide that make this technique a breeze.  Simply decide where you would like your trim to be on the project, mark it with a fabric marker, attach the presser foot/guide and use a beautiful satin stitch (if you are using decorative thread in your needle) or a zig-zag stitch (if you are using monofilament thread in the needle) just wide enough to cover the thread you are couching.  Couching works well on quilts, home décor, garments, tote bags, placemats, anything.   Pfaff calls this technique couching or braiding and Husqvarna Viking calls it gimping.  All three terms mean the same thing.

7.3.17  "To the Point"  If you have ever needed to sew something into a point, say for a dart, you know it can be quite tricky.  Seems simple enough to sew a wider seam at one end of the work and gradually make the seam allowance smaller, but if you just sew as you do for every other seam, you will not be pleased with the end result.  Sewing to a point on a piece of fabric can cause the fabric to pucker at the point. 

This can be particularly unflattering for garment darts, such as a bust dart.  Nothing says “I made it myself!” quite like puckers in your work!  When I sew to a point, I do my back stitching at the widest part of the seam to reinforce the work, but when I get to the point, I do not back stitch.  Instead I decrease my stitch length to the least amount possible.  I stitch with this decreased stitch length until I am finished, leaving a long thread tail.  I remove the work from the machine, make a double knot by hand with the long threads and cut them off.  I trim and press the dart on a pressing ham to maintain the natural curve of the dart and I’m set!  In the pictures, I started with a stitch length of 2.5.  When I was about 1/4” away from the point, I reduced the stitch length to .5.

6.26.17  "Saving Thread"  Anyone who sews has a collection of thread in a wide variety of colors and types.  Each project requires just the right shade of thread to match or compliment it.  Construction thread is one thing but add to that collection quilting and embroidery threads and now you’re speaking my language!  My collection of thread is something I’m not sure my husband has a complete grasp of.  To say it’s a substantial collection would not be a lie.  Over time, every thread degrades so how do you keep your thread in like-new condition, ready to use when you need it?  I keep my threads sorted by type and color in clear plastic bins.  My embroidery thread is almost all rayon, so I keep those spools in their own bins, sorted by color groups in zippered plastic bags.  All of my thread is stored out of direct light sources to keep the colors alive and beautiful.  Specialty threads, such as monofilament, wash away basting thread and metallic threads all have their own zippered storage bags that are kept in drawers so no light gets to them until I need them.  Storage is important, but it is equally important to recognize thread that is no longer suitable to use in your projects.  When you pull on the thread, does it break fairly easily?  Does it look dry?  Has the deep rich color faded a bit?  If you have a “yes” to any of these, thank the thread for its service and throw it away!  Your projects will be at their best with thread that’s been kept in excellent condition!

Here you will find our "Tip of the Week" or TOW that is published each week in our customer email.  Tips cover a variety of topics of interest to our customers and speak to all areas of the art of sewing.  We hope you find this page helpful and informative.  (Tips are found by the date they were included in the weekly email.)

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