Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Yarn Embellishment Set and Felting Fun

Have you seen Viking's newest accessory options? The yarn embellishment set is FANTASTIC! It's easy  -- and lots of fun to use!  We  used it to make this stunning table runner for our pumpkin table setting.

The yarnwork can be done on fabric (as we've done on this linen), or it can be created on water soluble stabilizer to be used as lace.  Fun options for a fun tool set! For Product Info click here.

Watch this short video to see it in action

The Felting Set is another cool tool that debuted at this year's National Convention.  Use this tool set with wool roving to make 3D felt flowers, leaves, and shapes, or felt roving onto wool -- or batting onto wool -- or two pieces of fabric together --- or ... or.... or.... the possibilities are limited only by your imagination!  We've made these gorgeous felted flower pins (class info here)  (and here.) 

Come by soon to check out the exciting things these new accessories can do!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Chanel Style - Step by Step - Choosing the Right Fabric and Pattern

After I made the Sectioned Skater Skirt from last week's post, I decided I REALLY loved the boucle' on the top section. It was crying out  "Chanel....Chanel...make me Chanel...." A Chanel style jacket is a powerful piece, much like the lady who inspired its iconic, classic presence in the world's wardrobe. There are no age restrictions to its wearability. It goes equally well with jeans or pearls. A Chanel styled jacket walks from the office to dinner with ease (o.k. - it really doesn't walk - but you get the idea...) 

Vogue Ad Fall/Winter 2014

The good news is  ----  it's not a difficult jacket to make!  You can go with pockets...or not...with buttons....or not....with a collar....or not...with long sleeves....or 3/4 length...or no sleeves (Chanel had a sleeveless version in their Spring 2013 line).  It's a great jacket to sew for your "first" jacket, and in just a few blogposts I'll take you through the process of making this little wardrobe gem.  There are a lot of great techniques in its construction to apply to many of your sewing projects.

Step 1:  Choosing the right fabric and pattern.
What makes a jacket look "Chanel" is a great marriage between fabric and pattern.  Most Chanels are created with boucle' or tweed fabrics.  They're often soft and drapey (you can even use stable sweater knits), and they're often trimmed with fringey fun (I placed this phrase in my sewing vocabulary a long time ago - you won't find it in a real dictionary).  As you look for fabric, think about how you might like to trim it.  Can you use the same fabric?  Would a contrast trim make it PoP? 

There have been patterns for Chanel style jackets in the pattern books for decades.  As I was going through my stash, I found examples from the 70s (gleaned from my mom's collection - she'll never miss 'em), 80s and up till today.  The thing you want to look for when choosing a pattern is the seaming.  Don't pick a box.  What makes a jacket great is the fit.  Unless you're shaped like a box (and NONE of us are, regardless of our size) choose a pattern with curved or straight princess seams.  You'll be much happier with the resulting fit and it's just four more short seams to sew. I'm using Butterick 5719....because I had it in my stash....and it's ten o'clock at night and I want to get started...and I want to show you how to sew curved princess seams.  There are others that are just as good or better. 

One of the most important things to think about in the fit of a Chanel style jacket is the front shoulder/neck width.  It's a common pattern adjustment that many people don't think about until AFTER you've cut, sewn, and tried your garment on for fit.  Unfortunately, by then, for this adjustment, it's often too late! (Think - have you ever folded out the fullness on a neckline and sewn on a button because a opening was too big?  Yeah... I know you have...)

We show customers how to make this type of pattern adjustment several times a week, so I'm gonna put it on these pages  -- just in case you're sewing at ten o'clock at night and our shop is closed.  Often patterns are graded up in size and the neck openings are HUGE!  It doesn't even have to be a large-sized pattern for this to happen.  This adjustment, like any pattern alteration, begins with a good body measurement.  Measure across your front shoulder area from "ditch to ditch" (as our store founder, Lucille used to say), or measure a garment whose fit you like to see what the front shoulder width should be.  I'm large busted, but I have a narrow shoulder width.  I know for a fitted jacket, my front shoulder width should be about 12".  You can see this on my dress form.
By the way, if you buy a dress form from us you can come to a free class on adjusting it to customize it to your shape.  Check class information here.

The next thing to do is to compare the measurement  you need with the pattern measurement to see if you need to make a change.  In the pattern below, you'll notice that when I measure from center front to the sleeve seam allowance I need to remove fullness. (This pattern would be 13 1/2")

There is always more than one way to adjust a pattern.  I watched Lucille make a "pinch" in the shoulder area for many years to narrow a shoulder.  It's a quick adjustment, and it works....most of the time.  But what this super-quick adjustment does is alter the grainline of the front piece, skewing up the lower edge of the center front.  In a loose fitting blouse it wouldn't matter, but in a fitted jacket it does.  So, I'm going to show you how to make a modified pivot/slide adjustment.  I mark a line perpendicular to the grainline about 5 inches below the shoulder point all the way across the pattern piece.  I also make a line parallel to the grainline from this line up to the edge of the pattern piece.  Sometimes I make two lines (as I did in this pattern - see pic above).  I do this when I need to take out more than an inch or when I want both the shoulder width and the neck opening narrowed. Cut apart section 1 and section 2.

Keeping the lower line straight, slide section 1 and 2 over until your new seamline measures what you need.
Tape pieces together.  (I actually made this one a bit more narrow than 12" because I plan to add a fringey fun border.) :)  Now you'll notice you've got some jagged edges you've got to do something about.  You can take a lot more time and pivot and slide the whole piece, but I usually don't.  I take my handy-dandy Style design ruler and "true" (even-out) my curves.
O.K in this pic you see my broken handy-dandy ruler from when one kid bopped another kid over the head with it.  But for product info on a new (unbroken) Style Design ruler click here.  We use these for almost every garment we sew.  If you don't have one - come get one - it makes altering patterns so much easier (even when it's broken).  Notice that I am shortening the side front seam.  I know, for me, I need this (I'm 4'11").  You may need to make your curve match the original cutting line.  Use the Style Design ruler to align your curve.  True the shoulder line (see photo above) and neckline (see photo below - again use your Style Design curve).  Now look at the pattern on my dress form.  You can see the alterations and see that it now "fits" and keeps the original grainlines intact!
If you need help adjusting a particular pattern to fit your shape, we offer that service in a private sewing class. Next time we'll begin to sew by quilting the lining to the fashion fabric (a hallmark of Chanel jackets) and successfully sewing princess seams.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Know Your Knits

Customers come into our shop almost everyday with questions about knits -- not only sewing questions, but questions about the fabrics themselves.  What is jersey?  What kind of knit do I need for leggings?  If different types of knits are confusing,  read on.  I'll go over the most common types of knits and how they're used.

Not only am I a sewist, I am also a knitter.  The first step in knowing your knits is to understand how the fabric and stitches are created.  Knit fabrics are made of a combination of knit and purl stitches. The basic difference between those is whether the yarn is carried from stitch to stitch on the right or wrong side of the fabric. For knit stitches the yarn is carried on the back side. With purl stitches the yarn is carried on the front side.  This is very noticeable in looser weave sweater knits like the silver metallic in Peggy's latest tunic.

Sweater knit.  We have it in both silver and old gold, along with animal print sweater knits and some colorful yarn couched pieces. Sweater knits make beautiful unstructured drapey jackets and vests, scarves, and tunic tops --  gorgeous for the upcoming holidays! Click the pic below to see more!

                                          Right Side of Knit               Wrong side of Knit

                                          Sweater Knit in Old Gold
This method of knitting the right side and purling the wrong side is how jersey knit is formed. The picture above is a sweater knit, but if you look really closely, you can see the same stitch pattern in the jersey knit below. Remember that jersey is a type of weave or stitch, not a fiber.  Fiber combos for jerseys  are rayon, cotton, silk, and more!  Jersey can be very stretchy, or not very stretchy at all.  Often, jersey knits are woven with a bit of spandex, lycra, or elastic, to improve the stretchability and stretch recovery of a knit. 

 Jersey knits are great for t-shirts and tops, dresses, light-weight jackets.  If you're making leggings, look for 2-way  or 4-way stretch knit blends made with lycra or spandex.  These fibers will help the garment retain its shape after wearing and washing. Nobody likes baggy knees!

People often have a hard time telling the difference between the right side and wrong side of finely woven jersey knit.  Because of the way the stitch is formed, this type of knit has a tendency to curl toward the right side parallel to the selvedge, and away from the right side perpendicular to the selvedge ( notice pic above).

Our next knit type is Interlock Knit. Interlock knit is a type of double knit fabric. Without going into super technical details, it’s kind of like two pieces of jersey knit back to back with the same thread.  Because of the way the yarn is carried (in the middle between the two knit sides) this knitted fabric looks the same on both sides and it doesn’t curl (usually). Interlock is the fabric I recommend to people who haven't worked with knits before – it’s stable, usually has good stretch and recovery, and is generally the easiest knit to work with.  ITY polyester knits (interlocking yarn) have become a popular choice for new and experienced sewists.  They're thin, so you can make drapey garments, but they're easier to control than a curling jersey, and they come in great prints and solids.

Ponte (pon-tee) or ponte de roma is a type of interlock knit, made with a blend of synthetic fibers.  We carry "Sophia" in many beautiful colors. It's a wonderful, easy-to-sew ponte, that's a dream to sew and press.  Ponte knits are great for more tailored garments: straighter dresses and tunics and tees, jackets and pants.  They look almost identical on both sides with a slight horizontal line to the weave. You can do almost anything with these knits!

O.K., I could go on and on about knits all night, but the sewing machine is calling and the ones above will make up the majority of your knitwear wardrobe.  Come by the shop to see all our beautiful new knits for fall.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Circle Skirt Hem

I just finished this quick little wool blend circular skater skirt - a speedy little update on a basic circle skirt.  It's a good thing to make with those small ends or remnants you've got hiding in your stash -- or in this case, when you can't decide which fabric to use because you like them all!

I used Butterick pattern 4686, but you could just as easily do this with any other pattern.  It also  works great with straight pencil skirts. For a circle skirt, you want to increase the yardage for each band by about 6" (depending on the size of the skirt).  For this skirt I used a scant 1/4 yard for the top band, 3/8 yard for the middle, and 5/8 yard for the third section.  I simply cut my pattern into 7" wide sections.  If you're taller, you may want to use wider bands. 

This made me think about how many times someone asks me how to put a narrow hem in a circle skirt, so I thought I would share my favorite method with you. First of all, there are LOTS of different ways to hem a circle; this is just one.  But here's why I like it: 

1) It works on many different weights of fabric.  Roll hemming feet work best with only lighter weights.
2) It's easy -- one pass with the serger -- one pass with the sewing machine, no ease stitch involved.
3) It's pretty on top and bottom. Only one line of straight stitching shows on both the top and bottom sides.

Here's how you do it.
Step 1: Serge the skirt edge. Don't press.
What??? Don't press??? You're always supposed to press!  Yes -- but not right now.... resist ...walk away from the ironing board...  really ...

Have you ever folded a piece of paper to "score" a line?  In essence, this is what you are doing to the fibers of your garment with this initial line of serging.  The serging stitch is controlling, or easing, the outside edge of your circle. If you press it now, you're going to un-do what you've just done, so don't! If you have a differential feed adjustment on your serger you can play with the amount of ease.  But I usually don't go to the trouble -- I just serge the edge below the hemline. (usually 3/8" below hemline)

The width to leave below your hemline should be equal to twice the width of your serging stitch.
The width of your serged edge is the finished width of your hem, so if you can alter the width of your serging by moving your knife blade this will make a narrower or a wider hem.

Step 2 is to turn under the serged edge and stitch close to the edge.  For all you pinners out there look at the first picture.  Truthfully, I don't usually find it necessary to use pins at all for this hem (and you won't either -- look at the second picture).  The serged stitch rolls easily to the inside; turn it to the inside as you are stitching.  NOW YOU CAN PRESS!  FINISHED!

The secret to making this process easy is using the right foot on your sewing machine.  This hemming method uses my favorite foot -- the Edge-Joining foot.  We carry this foot to fit all Viking models, and most other sewing machine brands offer one as well.  If you don't have it - get it - it will make your sewing life easier and you'll look like you tried really hard to make all those stitching lines even and straight.  Just accept the compliments -- non-sewers don't need to know the foot does all the work!
This little foot is a miracle worker in the sewing world.  (If you think you may have one but aren't quite sure, look closely at the foot.  It has a little straight bar that stops before the needle position.  Many people mistake a blind hem or hemstitching foot for this one.) Use it with your needle in center position for perfect stitching-in-the-ditch, move your needle position to the left or right of the bar for beautiful top-stitching, use it with a zig-zag stitch to join two pieces of lace or edgings -- I could go on and on.  It is my favorite accessory foot!

So, circle up and don't be afraid to hem with confidence!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tricks of the Trade #1

Tip #1    The Skirt Slit 

Each week in our blog we'll be bringing you a tip for making your sewing look more professional, for better-fitting garments, pattern alterations, and sewing with specialty fabrics.  Is there something you've struggled with?  Send me an email and I'll try to post a tutorial to solve your problem. 
Today's tip is for the perfect, non-bulky skirt slit (also works with a kick-pleat)

What’s the proper way to finish a slit or kick-pleat?  Do you turn up the hem first?  The facing first?  What looks best?  Do the edges get bulky?  Have you ever had a skirt slit rip up the seam of your skirt?  Then read on…

The Retro dress (described in yesterday's post) features a couture finish for a slit or kick-pleat in a skirt. 
 Miter the corners; it creates less bulk for the edges.  When mitering corners, the iron is your best friend.  For a perfect miter, follow these instructions – they work even when the facing width and hem width are different.

Step 1: Press facing toward inside.  Press hem up at proper width. (It doesn’t have to equal the width of the facing, but it looks pretty when they’re the same.) Mark both the hem and the facing where they meet. (See figure 1)
 Figure 1

Step 2: Open out both facing and hem.  With right sides together, fold the hem and facing, bringing the marks together.  Stitch from this mark to the pressed corner. (See figure 2)

figure 2

Step 3: Trim the seam,  trimming at a 45 degree angle toward the corner.  Press seam open and turn to outside.  Press. Repeat with the other side of the slit, making sure that slit lengths are the same. (See figure 3 and 4)

figure 3 and 4

Step 4: To keep a slit from ripping further up the seam, first reinforce the slit when you stitch, using a piece of seam tape, seams great,  or organza. (See figure 5)

figure 5

Step 5:  Sew the eye portion of a hook and eye to the inside of the garment facing at the top of the slit.  It will never tear! (See figure 6) Note: I usually use the bar portion of a dress hook/eye closure, but a skirt eye-bar closure works as well and is shown in the picture.
figure 6

Happy Sewing!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Our First Blog Post

March 2, 2012

I am thrilled to be posting our very first entry on our shop’s blog!  We’re excited to be bringing you shop news, sewing tips, pics and videos, and all kinds of sewing  news.  

I was helping a customer measure a pattern this past week, and she mentioned that there was always someone in the shop who knew how to fix any problem she was having  – she’s probably right.  If you add together our years of sewing experience, it adds up to over 200!  (I promise we’re really not that old.)  It got me to thinking; we’re like the Geek Squad of Sewing  (no offense, Best Buy; we’re not geeks – just very knowledgeable).  We all have our specialties, whether it’s evening and bridal wear, tailoring, embroidery, or home sewing.  I thought the blog would be a great way to share some of our experience, keep you informed, and bring you weekly tricks of the trade.

This week, we’re sharing a dress that we’re doing in one of our sewing classes in March – the Retro Dress. This is a two-day class, Friday March 30 and April 6. Please click on class schedule from our website  www.houseoffabricsnc.com for more information. This dress features inverted pleats, a fitted bodice, and a self-covered belt and buckle.  (Yes! There really is an easy way to do a belt and buckle.)  There’s even a separate pleated cummerbund or overskirt to turn it from day dress to dinner dress.  We’ve made it using Amy Butler’s Lark print in Aqua, and we have it ordered in black and white as well. This is a great dress to make from a wide variety of fabrics.

It’s a charming way to kick-off spring!
Keep sewing!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Welcome to Our New Blog!

We are excited to be posting tips, happenings and news here with you at our blog. Check back here soon for new information!