Part 3 (of 5 part series) – Making your project look store bought

Picking out your fabric –

Fabric may not seem like it makes a difference, but it can make a big difference in your finished project. With a little help and experience you can learn to select the right fabric for the right job.

  1. Back to the pattern for just a moment. Each pattern envelope has fabric suggestions. Make note of whether they are asking for lightweight or heavyweight fabric. The designers of patterns spend a lot of time trying different weights and types of fabric to see what looks and hangs best with each pattern.
  2. Pay attention to the fabric nap. The fabrics that have naps are fabric like; velour, velvet, and corduroy, to name a few. If you wonder if the fabric has nap just run your hand up and down on the grain. It has nap if it feels smooth one way and rough the other. It also changes color when brushing it different directions. Some patterns have suggestions for yardage for with nap, and without nap. With nap takes more fabric because you have to have all pattern pieces going the same direction. If the pattern is cut out with the nap not facing the same direction the fabric will reflect light differently, so the colors look different. For instance one leg could look light brown while the other leg looks dark brown.
  3. Fabric color and pattern. Designers really set current trends. If you want your project to look store bought, do some research – browse catalogs, store ads, and your favorite stores. Be sure to take your pattern along. Think about the fabric color, type, and print. Make your project your own, but if fluorescent pink is not in style, it is probably not your best choice. Instead choose a softer pink that is stylish.

Follow these simple guide lines and your finished project will be the envy of friends, and they will want to know from which store you purchased your garment. 

Happy Sewing, JoLene.

Part 2 (of 5 part series): Making Your Project Look Store Bought

Part 2 in this series: The pattern.

Of course the pattern is one of the most important parts of your project. When you are new to sewing you probably don’t know what to look for when selecting a pattern. Pattern companies try to make it easy for beginners these days. Look for the words ‘easy’, ‘start’, ‘beginner’, ‘learn to sew’, etc. on the pattern package. When searching in pattern books there is usually a section dedicated to beginners with easier-to-make patterns.

After you have selected your pattern the secret to, Making Your Project Look Store Bought, is:

   1. Understand the pattern. I read the pattern a couple of times. I curl up on the couch with the pattern like I was going to read a good book. The pattern companies have put a lot effort in writing the pattern directions, so read every part of the instructions to gain a clear understanding of the project. Even if it is not a beginner pattern they include some very basic information that beginners should read.

    2. Cut out your pattern. I suggest that you cut along the cutting lines of the pattern on the tissue paper. This makes it easier to see where to place your pattern pieces on the fabric and make any adjustments that are needed. After you do this a couple of times you can cut around the patterns as you cut the fabric.

    3. Adjust your pattern. Following the instructions on the pattern will make this task easier. There are several different ways to make adjustments. I say don’t take short cuts. This process takes time but it makes the difference in your finished project.

   4. Laying out pattern on fabric. Here is the part that really counts. Remember the part about reading the pattern? There is a section in the directions that will tell you all kinds of important information about laying out your pattern – such as; placing patterns on the fold, placing patterns on the straight of grain, and measuring equal distance from grain line to the salvage or fold. (If you don’t get your pattern on the straight of grain your item will not hang right when finished.) Your pattern is designed to help you get it right. Take your time and ask for help if you don’t understand. There are a number of sources (sites) on the Internet where you can get answers or you can call your nearest fabric store and they will be glad to help.

   5. Cutting. Double check every placement before you cut. This will save a lot of heartache. Check to see if you have the fold piece on the fold. I always pin across the fold to remind me not to cut. Always cut the notches – don’t cut them off, as they are there to help you to get your fabric aligned when sewing you project together.

   6. Marking the fabric. You will need both dark and light chalk pencils to mark your pattern – then mark, mark, mark everywhere the pattern says to mark. This helps with fabric placement as you sew to get all pieces to match up.

    7. Place your pattern pieces in a zip lock bag to take good care of them – as you may have to refer back to the pattern piece later. If you like this pattern you can use it again. You can change it a little or do a different view.

Along with following these very basic steps – gleaning all that your pattern has to offer will, ‘Make Your Project Look Store Bought’. Remember to be patient.

Happy sewing,  JoLene!

Part 1 (of 5 part series) – Making Your Project Look Store Bought

Part 1 in this series is: Getting to Know Your Sewing Machine.

It may surprise you that simply getting familiar with your sewing machine can make a difference in the appearance your finished project. I have been sewing since I was 12 (or thereabouts) and I can use almost any machine. A few years ago I got a computerized sewing machine. The basic operation was the same, but it had features that my previous machines never had, like an automatic threader. Boy, do I love that threader feature! Now most new basic machines have threaders. Understanding how it functioned was a challenge, but once I mastered it, what a time saving difference it made.

I will give you some basic things to do, so when you sit down to sew a project you will be more comfortable with your machine. Then you can concentrate on your project and not be worrying about operating your machine.

    1. Read your machine manual from cover to cover. You will be surprised what you will learn about your machine and how it operates.

   2. You will need some painters tape as most of your projects will be sewn with 5/8″ seams. It really helps to put a piece of tape on the 5/8″ seam mark on your machine and line your fabric up to the tape, and sew. Cut up an old sheet for fabric and practice sewing to develop your skills. Try lining up the fabrics on the 5/8” mark and begin sewing in a straight line.

   3. Starting at the front of the machine manual and become familiar with the parts and pieces and their names. When you have questions as you start reading project patterns, you can look up help online, or take a class, to learn the terms used.

   4. As you work your way through the manual practice each machine function discussed. This process is how you become familiar with your particular machine. Change the feet and do the stitches that correspond with each foot. Wind the bobbin as directed. I realize if you have never used a machine before some things in the manual can be a bit overwhelming, but do as much as you can on your own.

   5. If you buy a new machine take the user classes they provide. Those seminars will cover the functions, parts, and operation of your particular machine.

   6. Locate and read the manuals troubleshooting guide. Understanding this guide will help you diagnose a problem and possibly resolve it. You will still need to consult it with each concern, as it will help ease your tension when the machine is not operating properly.

   7. Practice, practice, practice. Take a week or so and train on your machine. Become as comfortable with your machine as you can before you start that big project.

 By following the basic principles I share with you in this series your projects will gain that store bought look many desire… and getting to know your machine is the first step.

Happy sewing, JoLene!

First Adult Workshop was a success!

You never know how things might turn out when you do them for the first time, but my first Adult Workshop was great! We had good food, made new friends and learned a lot. I am not sure who learned the most, though, me or the students (I think it was me).

Kids Can Sew has a saying: “There are no mistakes, only lessons learned.” I so agree with that – we had lessons learned by both the teacher and the students.

The next Adult Workshop has started. It is a 5-week class teaching the same things as the all-day workshop – again, a great bunch of women and lot of fun.

The next all-day workshop is November 21st, but it’s already full (sorry!). I won’t be scheduling any more adult classes now until after the first of the year.

If you want to take adult classes after January 2010, send me an email at jolene@jolenesews.com and I will email you when as soon as I get the dates.

Until then, Happy Sewing!

JoLene

Weekly Classes are now open for registration! Find them under Child/Teen Classes. Dismiss