Posts Tagged retromama

Sewing 101: Part 4

Sewing 101: Part 4

Today is Part 4, the final post of the Sewing 101 Series, and Kim is going out with a bang! There’s so much juicy appliqué info in today’s lesson that will leave you falling in love with sewing.

-Sara

P.S. Here’s Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Hi everyone! I can’t believe how fast the past 3 weeks have flown by–here we are at the final installment of the Sewing 101 series! We’ve covered sewing tools, sewing straight lines + corners, and curves in past lessons, and this week I’m going to introduce you to one of my favorite sewing techniques, appliqué.

When I first started sewing, I didn’t think that appliqué was a skill that I would use very often, but it turns out that I use some form of appliqué on almost everything I make!

What is appliqué? The general definition is an ornament that is applied to a different surface. In sewing, this typically means one fabric being attached to a different fabric.

Some examples of different styles of appliqué:

Satin stitched edge – machine stitched, satin stitch is a very tight zig-zag stitch that completely covers the edge of the appliqué

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Raw edge – machine or hand sewn, some examples include a straight stitch sewn just on the inside of the raw edge of the appliqué, a blanket stitch, or a zig-zag stitch that is looser and leaves some of the edge visible (Straight stitch on felt)

Pear Applique

(Hand sewn blanket stitch)

Four partridges

(Zig-zag edge)

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Turned edge – the edges of the appliqué are turned under, and are often hand sewn, to hide the stitches

(Dresden plate applique: the tips of the plate are turned under, and I zig-zagged the edges, but you could also hand sew the appliqué to the backing fabric with a blind stitch)

Pink Birdseed Dresden Plate

If you are doing a raw edged or satin stitched appliqué, a good way to adhere your appliqué to the fabric is to use fusible web, which is a fiber that sticks to fabric when heated. Underneath the fabric you are appliquéing you will want to use a stabilizer to support the stitching you will do around the appliqué, especially when sewing by machine (I’ll show you how to use both of these materials in my tutorial below).

  • Fusible web: I mostly use Wonder Under paper backed fusible web, which is sticky on both sides, but there are several other brands and products for different uses.
  • Stabilizer: can be temporary, such as tear-away or wash-away, or permanent, such as cut away, or in the case of our project below, some type of interfacing. A nice article covering the different types of stabilizers can be found here
  • Interfacing: material that is sewn between two fabric layers, used to add rigidity and shape. Can be sew-in or fusible.

Since we haven’t covered it before, I wanted to take a moment to talk about zig-zag stitching. I often use a zig-zag stitch around the edge of applique pieces, and you may choose to use a zig-zag or satin stitch for the applique tutorial below, so here are a few of my zig-zag tips:

  • Determine the stitch length and how close the zig zag stitches are together by practicing on a scrap of fabric before you stitch on your project. Check your machine manual for how to adjust the stitches.
  • When zig-zag stitching, the needle moves back and forth from left to right. Start with the needle down on the outside of your appliqué piece, or just off the raw edge of your fabric, with the needle in the right sided position of the stitch.
  • Use the embroidery presser foot for greater visibility while sewing appliqué.

Let’s appliqué!

Cloudy Day Appliqué Tote Tutorial

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(This tutorial shows you how to make a tote, but you could put this appliqué on anything, from pillow covers, to tea cozies, to quilts, you name it! Just remember to figure out what type of stabilizer you’ll need for the specific type of fabric you are putting the appliqué on.)

Materials

  • Fabric scraps (quilting cotton in various prints)
  • Linen, linen/cotton blend, or lightweight cotton twill in a solid color (1/2 yard; at least 50″ wide)
  • Quilting cotton for lining, solid color or print (1/2 yard, regular 42-44 inch width is fine)
  • Wonder Under paper backed fusible web, regular weight (1/4 yard)
  • Thread (cream or natural colored thread works great on natural linen)
  • Sheer weight or lightweight fusible interfacing (1 yard if it is 20 inches wide, 1/2 yard if it is wider than 26 inches)
  • Cloud and Raindrop templates

Tools

  • Iron and ironing board
  • Cutting surface
  • Rotary cutter and/or scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Seam ripper
  • Zig-zag/embroidery presser foot (optional, but handy if you have one)
  • Chopstick or point turner

Instructions <

Prepare the bag pieces

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1. Cut one piece of linen, lining fabric, and fusible interfacing that are each 26″ x 11″.

2. Attach the interfacing to the wrong side of the linen according to interfacing instructions (typically this means fusing the bumpy side of the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric).

3. Cut two strips of linen that are 24″ x 4″, these will be your tote straps.

4. Fold one of your linen strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press with a hot iron. Open up the strip, and fold both long edges to meet in the middle, press again. Fold the strip along the original middle fold and press one more time. Repeat for the other strip.

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5. Sew a single stitch with your machine along the long edges of the linen strips, on both sides, very close to the edges. Sew the side where the two folded edges meet first. I use a slightly longer stitch length (3.0 on my machine) for this step. Set aside someplace safe.

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Appliqué

1. Print the appliqué template onto regular paper (make sure under print settings that your Page Scaling is set to “None”, or your pieces will print a bit small). Cut out the cloud and raindrop.

2. Cut a rectangle of Wonder Under that is a little bit bigger than the cloud piece. Fuse the rough side of the Wonder Under to the wrong side of your cloud fabric.

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3. Remove the paper backing from the fabric, then cut out the fabric right along the edge of the fusible web.

4. Place your cloud template piece on the wrong side of the fabric, it will stick a little to the fusible web, which is helpful, because now you want to cut around the cloud template. Peel off the template paper. Repeat steps 2-4 for several raindrops (I made 5).

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5. Fold the large linen rectangle in half, short sides together, and crease on one side to determine the midline. Open up the linen. Place your linen piece right side up on your ironing board. Place the cloud appliqué piece right side up near the top (one of the short sides) of the linen 2 to 2-1/2” from the top, and 1-1/2” from the side.

6. Fuse the cloud to the linen with a hot iron. Fuse the raindrops to the linen below the cloud, the lowest raindrop at least 2-3″ above from the midline.

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8. Sew around the edge of each of your appliqué pieces. If you use a satin stitch, practice on scrap fabric before you work on your project. Remember to start with your needle on the outside of the appliqué pieces. Or you may want to use a simple straight stitch on the inside of the raw edges, which is what I will be using on the project (I like to use a shorter stitch length, 2.0 on my machine, so the curves are smoother). Either way, sew slowly and use my suggestions for sewing around small, tight curves from my last post.

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You might find it helpful to roll up the bottom part of the linen and pin it on each side, to make it easier to maneuver the fabric while sewing.

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Sew the Tote

1. Pin one of your bag straps to a top edge of the right side of the appliquéd linen, raw edge to raw edge. The outer edge of each side of the strap should be 2-1/2″ from the edge of the appliquéd linen (see photo). Measure to make sure the strap is centered, and also check to see that the strap isn’t twisted. I like the side of the strap where the folded edges meet to be toward the center of the bag. Repeat for other strap.

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2. Sew both ends of each strap to the bag, close to the edge (about 1/4”).

3. Fold your appliquéd linen in half, right sides together, and short sides (top and bottom) together. Pin the long sides.

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4.Sew with a triple stitch all the way along the long sides (which will be the edges of the bag) with a 1/4” seam allowance. Trim bottom corners, but do not clip the stitching.

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5. Turn the linen right side out, and use a chopstick or point turner to push out the corners.

6. Fold your bag lining in half, right sides together, and pin the sides. Sew one of the long sides with a triple stitch and 1/4” seam allowance, and go all the way from the top to the bottom. On the other side, you will do the same thing, except leave a 3” hole unsewn, somewhere toward the bottom, at least a couple of inches from the bottom (see photo). Trim the bottom corners. Do not turn the lining right side out.

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7. Place your linen bag piece inside the lining. Make sure that the straps are hanging down on the inside of the lining. The right side of the linen should be facing the right side of the lining. Match up the side seams with the top of the seam allowances open, and pin the pieces together, all the way around the top, matching the raw edges.

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8. Sew a 1/2″ seam around the top of the bag, using a triple stitch. You may find this easier to do with a 90/14 needle. If your machine has a free arm, now is the time to use it. You’ll want to use it again for the topstitching in step 12.

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9. Turn your bag right side out through the turning hole, and leave the lining outside the bag.

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10. Turn under the edges of the fabric around the turning hole to create a straight line with the rest of the seam. Press with an iron, then sew the lining shut. You can either hand stitch it closed with a blind stitch or ladder stitch, or you can use your machine and sew very close to the edge (a zipper foot is helpful for this method). Don’t forget to backstitch!

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11. Put the lining into the bag. Press the bag around the top edge, making sure the lining does not stick up beyond the top edge of the bag so the top of the bag will look neat after topstitching.

12. Topstitch around the opening of the bag, very close to the edge. I like to use a slightly longer stitch length (3.0 on my machine).

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The bag is the perfect size for magazines or children’s picture books, and I love it as a library tote. The natural linen will get a bit crinkly with use, I think it adds personality!

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Thanks for sewing with me during the Sewing 101 series, and as always, if you have any questions just leave them in the comments below.

Happy Sewing! Kim

Sewing 101: Part 2

Sewing 101: Part 2

Did you get your sewing machines out and ready for this week with Kim? I know I did. If you missed part 1 from last week go check it out!

Now on with Kim’s lesson and rad coaster tutorial…

-Sara

P.S. Here’s Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4.

Hello! Kim here again, from Retro Mama, continuing with the second installment of introductory sewing lessons here at Craft Snob. Last week we chatted about sewing tool essentials, and this week’s topics include a mini-glossary of sewing machine stitches, some tips I wish I had known about when I first started out, hints for straight lines and corners, and finally, my first project tutorial of the series!

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Some common stitches and what they are used for:

  • Backstitch: a couple of extra stitches back and forth at the beginning or ending of a seam to keep the stitches from unraveling
  • Straight stitch: most common type of stitch, used for sewing 2 pieces of fabric together, and also for topstitching and quilting
  • Topstitching: can be a straight stitch or decorative stitch, and is used to create a finished edge
  • Triple stitch: a very durable reinforcing stitch I frequently use when making bags and stuffed toys, creates a straight stitch that is reinforced 2 times
  • Zig zag stitch: decorative, appliqué, finishing edges of seam allowances to help prevent fraying

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My Basic Sewing Tips (a.k.a. A few handy suggstions that might save you a headache or two)

  • Always backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam. This means: sew a couple of stitches forward, a couple of stitches backward, and then go ahead and sew the seam as desired. This prevents the thread from unraveling at the ends of the seam.
  • Press, press, press your fabric. Before you cut. Before you sew. After you sew. You will have much more accurate and neat results when you are working with unwrinkled fabric. Always make sure to use the proper heat setting so you don’t melt something to your iron, and used distilled water in your iron so you don’t get mineral buildup.
  • If your machine is constantly tangling up threads, skipping stitches, or otherwise having a fit, the first thing you should try (after removing the tangled threads and making sure there are no stray threads under your needle plate) is to put in a fresh sewing needle and rethread the machine. A dull needle will wreak all sorts of havoc, trust me!
  • Do not sew over straight pins. Your pins will get bent and your needle can be ruined if you happen to land directly on a pin. I remove the pins right before I sew over that area. Also, if using pins with plastic heads, be very careful when ironing as the heads will melt if they touch the hot iron.
  • Trim your needle and bobbin threads whenever you finish a seam (trim close to your project, and leave a few inches of thread hanging from the machine) so they don’t get pulled into your machine or tangled up with your next seam.

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Are you ready to sew? I thought you might be… I’ve whipped up a little worksheet for you to practice straight lines and corners, you can get the PDF here. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam! Go ahead and sew right on the paper, but don’t use that needle on fabric afterward as it will become dull from the paper.

Tips for straight lines:

  • Only sew as fast as you are comfortable with. With more experience, higher speeds will become more comfortable.
  • You should not need to push fabric through the machine while sewing. That’s what the feed dogs are for! Keep your hands relaxed and guide the fabric along the seam allowance line. (If you are sewing with paper, however, you might need to gently push the paper along because it is so slippery)

Tips for turning corners:

  • The key is to land your needle in the down position exactly on the corner so that when you turn the fabric, the edge of the fabric will match up again with the seam allowance guide. In reality, it doesn’t always work out this way on the first try (or the second), but it will get easier with practice. Either reverse the knob on the side of your machine to take up the last stitch you made if you went too far the first time, or go back and add a stitch or two so your needle will land right on the corner before you turn.
  • If you are having a really tough time judging where to turn the corners, try placing dots on the corners with water soluble or disappearing fabric ink. With experience, you’ll get better at knowing just where to turn!

Seam Allowance:

  • Those little lines on the needle plate of your machine are seam allowance guides. Line up the edge of the fabric with the appropriate guide line (when your needle is in the center position) while you sew.
  • Quilting seam allowance is typically 1/4”, which is probably not one of the seam allowance lines on your machine. A couple of options to obtain an accurate 1/4” seam allowance are: A) use a quilting 1/4” presser foot, or B) with a regular presser foot, line up the fabric with the right edge of the presser foot, and adjust the needle position by moving it right or left with your machine controls (mine has button controls that move the needle to the right or left), until it is 1/4” from the edge of the fabric (use a ruler to determine the setting on your machine).

Now I know you’re dying to try out your straight lines and corners on some real fabric, so I’ve put together a tutorial for you:

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Fair and Square Patchwork Coasters

Materials:

  • Fabric scraps or charm squares for patchwork Linen
  • Solid colored cotton or twill
  • Shot cotton or other fabric for surrounding fabric and coaster backing (1/4 yard, or a fat quarter)
  • Cotton quilt batting (a small crib-sized package will leave lots left over for other projects, or you could have 1/4 yard cut from a roll)
  • Thread

Tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Quilting ruler or quilter’s square
  • Rotary cutter
  • Scissors
  • Chopstick or point turner
  • Iron and ironing board

Instructions:

1. Play with fabric! Choose several prints to use for your coasters. I kept it simple and stuck with a red and blue theme.

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2. Cut your prints into rectangles. Each rectangle should be 2-1/2” wide, but the height can vary. I cut the rectangles between 1-1/2” to 2-1/4” tall. You will need about 4 rectangles per coaster.

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3. Pick some rectangles for your first coaster and line them up in the order you wish. Try to make the pieces add up to at least 6-1/2” tall before they are sewn together, because you will lose some height in the seam allowances and you need the final height to be 4-1/2” tall.

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4. Place piece A on top of piece B, right sides together (the sides of the fabric that are printed are the right sides), matching the 2-1/2” wide sides. Sew along the 2-1/2” wide side to connect the pieces, with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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5. Open up your pieces and press the seam allowance to one side with your iron.

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6. Continue sewing rectangles C and D together so they make one strip. You want your final strip to be 2” wide by 4-1/2” tall. If your strip is too tall, don’t worry, just go ahead and trim it. If it is too short, remove the top or bottom rectangle with a seam ripper and sew on a new rectangle that is taller. When your strip is the right height, then trim 1/2” from the width.

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7. Cut a strip from your linen or other backing fabric that is 1-1/2” wide by 4-1/2” tall. Sew it to the left side of your patchwork strip, right sides together, and long sides together, and using a 1/4” seam allowance.

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8. Press the fabric open.

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9. Cut a strip from your linen or other backing fabric that is 2-1/2” wide by 4-1/2” tall to the right side of your patchwork strip, right sides together, and long sides together. Press open.

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10. Using a quilter’s square or other ruler and rotary cutter, trim your patchwork piece into a 4-1/2” square.

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11. Cut a piece of batting into a 4-1/2” x 4-1/2” square. Place your patchwork square on top the batting.

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12. Keeping the batting and patchwork together, topstitch (straight stitch) on the linen, very close to the edge where it meets the patchwork. I lined up the edge of the linen with the inside edge of my presser foot (see arrow in photo). I also used a slightly longer than usual stitch length (3.0 on my machine).

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13. Repeat the topstitching on the other side of the patchwork.

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14. Cut a 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ square from your backing fabric (I used linen). Place the backing fabric on top of the patchwork piece, right sides together.

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15. Pin together. Sew around the outside edge of the coaster, starting at the bottom black dot, going around the outside, and then stopping at the black dot above. This will leave about 2” unsewn. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam!

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16. Clip the edges of the coaster close to the seam, but be careful not to snip the stitching.

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17. I went ahead and trimmed a little bit of extra fabric around the corners, to reduce the bulkiness even further.

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18. Open up the top layer of linen and turn the coaster right side out.

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19. Use your chopstick or point turner to gently push out the corners. Don’t stretch the fabric!

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20. Carefully tuck in the unsewn edges of your coaster to create a straight edge and iron the coaster flat. This step is very important!

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21. Topstitch all the way around your coaster, very close to the edge (remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam so it won’t unravel!). If your machine has a little trouble getting going on the corners, use the tip of your chopstick to gently push the fabric under the presser foot as you sew.

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22. Repeat as many times as you wish to make your set of coasters!

Happy Sewing, and see you next week!

Kim