Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Seminole Patchwork Piecing -- Quilting with Strips of Imagination




 
Completed Seminole patchwork strip with cutting board and rotary cutter
Seminole Piecing Strips Made With Rotary Cutter and Board

Seminole patchwork from the various Seminole Indian tribes creates strips of patchwork quilting designs often used as borders for skirts, pillowcases or even curtains. You can make this patchwork with strips of fabric instead of squares, cutting hours of time off your project.

You’ll need at least two different fabrics -- a solid and a print will show the design best. For this example, we used 2 1/2 inch strips that were the width of the fabric. We use 1/4 inch seams and the result is 2 inch squares for the Seminole patchwork. We use a rotary cutter and cutting board for precision and speed.

Trim the edge of the fabric so that it’s straight and square at the corners. Press if necessary. Cut strips horizontally on the folded fabric from center to selvage. We used 2 1/2 inch strips for both fabrics.
Six strips of fabric stitched together to form alternating design
Six Horizontal Strips Stitched with 1/4 inch Seams


Alternate the fabrics for stitching. Use 1/4 inch seam allowance. We stitched six alternating strips to make this design.

Press the seams toward the darker color. Unlike garments, we never press seams open in quilting to prevent batting from coming out or showing at the stitches.

Cut into vertical strips the same size as the horizontal strips
Check Measurements and Cut into Strips Vertically


Place the six sewn strips on the cutting board and cut in 2 1/2 inch strips vertically. Assemble these cut strips like a ladder, pinning at every cross-seam. Stitch together with 1/4 inch seams. Press all seams from the backside.
Stitch strips together with 1/4 inch seams to make ladder design
Create a Ladder or Steps with the Cut Strips



Place the laddered strip straight on the cutting board. Cut a diagonal from the top left edge of one solid-colored square to the bottom right edge of the laddered matching square on the bottom. Move the ruler over and cut another square, skipping the dark block. Our cuts are 2 1/2 inches apart. Continue until you have only scraps remaining.



Fabric stitched and on cutting board ready to make diagonal strips
Stitch, Press and Lay on the Cutting Board for Diagonal Cuts



Stitch the pieces together to create one long strip of Seminole patchwork. Press the seams from the backside.

Stitch the diagonal strips together to make long strip of Seminole patchwork
Cut Strips Fit Together to Make a Long Strip of Seminole Patchwork


Trim the edge of the patchwork if necessary and it’s ready to use for pillows or home décor, skirts or wearing apparel. You can also make a belt or use it for a purse handle or design. You may want to use light fabric for a backing to add to the strength of the Seminole patchwork if you’re using it for something that requires a sturdy fabric.

Place completed Seminole patchwork on cutting board and trim if needed
Trim Seminole Patchwork Strip for Accuracy if Needed

Once you’ve worked with this awhile, try different combinations or colors and three or four color strips. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

See you soon!

Linda

http://www.cajunc.com
 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Use a Double Needle for Sewing and Hemming New Stretch Fabrics



 
Kenmore Sears 1974 sewing machine with double needle and multi-purpose foot
1974 Kenmore Has Everything Necessary for Double Needle Stitching


Sewing Stretch Fabrics and Knits with a Double Needle



Pants and jeans are skinny again, and stretch fabrics are back. If you’re short, you probably have to hem every pair of leggings, jeggings, jeans or whatever name we’re using this year. Even if you have mechanical sewing machine (not electronic) with straight stitch and zigzag, you can use a double needle to sew stretch fabrics and it’s worth the needle purchase to have double stitching that will stretch with the garment.


A double needle has one shank, so it fits in the needle slot just like the single needle. You need two spool holders for thread and a presser foot that will accommodate a double needle. My 1974 Kenmore will sew with a double needle, although it didn’t come with one.


Schmerz makes a universal double needle that you can find at Hancock, JoAnn or maybe even Michaels or Hobby Lobby. It should work in your sewing machine if you have two spool holders. Buy two double needles in case you damage one while sewing (they’re less than $5 each).


Remove your single needle and replace it with the double needle. Replace the presser foot with one that allows zigzag stitching -- you need the width for the double needle stitching. I use the Q-Foot or multi-purpose plastic foot for this with the best success.

Close up of threaded double needle in sewing machine
Double Needle Has Two Needles on One Shaft


Place a spool of thread on each of the spool holders. You may find that stitching works best with thread coming from the front of one and the back of the other. Thread the sewing machine with one of the threads according to the machine instructions, but when you get to the eyelet just above the needle, you may have two channels for thread. Choose one and thread the needle closest to the channel you choose.

Run the thread from the second spool in the same guides as the first one, including the tension guide, until you get to the eyelet above the needle. Place the thread in the unused guide and thread in the empty needle. Pull both threads to the back. 


Thread the bobbin as usual, and pull the thread up through the soleplate by easing the wheel forward slowly until the double needle goes into the bobbin, catches the thread and comes back up. 


Use a piece of fabric to see how the double needle works, and check the tension. You may need to adjust the tension for knit or stretch fabrics.

Close up of double needle sewing showing top stitching
Front of Fabric with Double Needle Stitching
Your stitching should appear as two lines on the front and a zigzag on the backside of the fabric. 

Sample shows backside of double needle sewing
Backside of Double Needle Stitching is Zigzag Stitch


For stitching leggings or stretch pants, you’ll need to pin the hem so you can sew from the front to the back, since you want the double stitching to be on the front. Use a seam gauge to make your stitches about the same distance from the edge all the way around the pants leg. Hem the other pants leg the same way. The double needle sews a stretchy stitch so the hem won’t rip out as easily. 

Close up of stitching in progress with double needle on knit pants
Sewing Knits or Stretch Fabrics with Double Needle from the Top


You can’t pivot with a double needle in the machine, so it won’t sew to the end of the row and turn to stitch the same area again. You can backstitch with the double needle in place, but it’s easier to go forward and overlap stitching. Once you’re familiar with double needle stitching, use it for topstitching and crafts projects.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sewing is Easier with a Few Nifty Tools


image of 1974 Kenmore portable sewing machine
1974 Kenmore is 40 Years Old and My Primary Sewing Machine



Twentieth century sewing was more difficult than it is today. You’ve seen that with the newest sewing machines and sergers that do stitches we never imagined before the millennium. I had a straight-stitch Singer for 10 years and when I got my Kenmore in 1974, the zigzag was a thrill. So was the automatic reverse. Likewise with the cams I could use for fancy stitches for my baby girl’s clothing.


I’ve buzzed along for 40 years with the same Kenmore sewing machine, and haven’t needed an electronic machine or many new doo-dads. Since I quilt and sew as well as do fabric crafts, I’ve added a few tools to my “notions” that you may not have considered necessary if you sew.

Olfa rotary cutter and C-Thru self-healing mat
Rotary Cutter and Mat



Rotary Cutter and Mat -- Old cutting boards were usually a piece of cardboard with a one-inch grid. Add a self-repairing mat and a rotary cutter to make sewing easier. A large mat and a small one are most useful, as you don’t have to clear the table completely to use the small mat. This isn’t for dressmaking, as nothing works better than your old cardboard cutting board and a pair of scissors for following a curvy pattern. If you make home décor like curtains, drapes, pillows or bedspreads, you need the rotary cutter and mat for more accurate and easier cutting. Gingher, Fiskars and Olfa all make rotary cutters now, and Olfa makes a pinking blade for a rotary cutter.
Silver colored lightweight metal needle threader
Needle Threader is Inexpensive and Useful


Needle Threader -- If you don’t have a needle threader because you have excellent eyesight, you’re missing out on a handy tool to thread your sewing machine as well as the hand sewing needle. Maybe your machine has an auto-threader -- but I can thread a needle the first time every time with an ordinary needle threader and good glasses. A built-in needle threader for sewing machines doesn’t seem to be an improvement over the fine wire needle threader I’ve used for years.


Seam Ripper is an Essential Tool for Sewing
Strong Glasses -- Sometimes drugstore glasses are better than your prescription ones. I have a pair of 3.50 magnification that are about the strongest I’ve seen available at the local stores. I leave them at the sewing table and use them only when doing close work. They have saved me hours of time with threading, accurate sewing and (occasional) ripping.


Seam Ripper -- Rippers have been available for years. If you thought you didn’t need one, now is the time to treat yourself to a sharp ripping tool for removing stitching mistakes and old seams for alterations. It’s an indispensable tool for sewing, crafting or needleworking. 

Right Angle -- A right angle isn't just a quilting tool. It helps you cut on the grain by lining the edge with the selvedge, and it is useful for many crafts. You can make a right angle from cardboard, or purchase one at Hobby Lobby, Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics or Hancock.
Cardboard commercial right angle ruler in package
A Right-Angle Ruler is Handy for Crafters, Quilters and Seamstresses

Other Notions -- A quilt basting spray holds pieces into place on one another, and a fray checking solution will keep your fabrics from fraying while you work. Sometimes it's just easier to pin items in place or zigzag stitch around the edge, but occasionally, these products are handy. Pinking shears are not essential, but are sometimes useful as well, but there's nothing worse than a cheap pair of pinking shears. The chew the fabric -- so you might as well have it frayed. I keep a crochet hook on hand when I sew, and use it as a bodkin to make points sharp when I turn a belt or a craft item. A knitting needle will work just as well to push in the corners to get them sharp.

Think through what you could use to speed your sewing or make it easier, or take a look on the notions wall at your local fabric, craft or hobby shop. New items are available and many aren't necessary or very useful, but a useful tool can save time and errors. Make your sewing, quilting and crafting easier by using notions suited to your style.

See you soon!

Linda
Cajun Collection


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Make a Tote Bag Bottom with Plastic Canvas and Easy Sewing


Tote bag made of upholstery fabric with fall flowers
Tote Bag from Crafts Show




A well-made tote bag at a crafts show caught my eye and my purse strings, and I tried to use it the other day. It has no stiffening in the bottom, so I set about to fix that with plastic canvas. Rather than take the bag apart to place the plastic canvas between the lining and the inside of the bag, I just added the plastic canvas to the bottom of the lining by stitching the ends securely on the sewing machine. I’ve used plastic canvas before for sewing crafts, so I know it sews easily with regular thread and the straight-stitch presser foot.


burgundy lining fabric shows inside of tote bag
Turn Tote Bag Inside Out with Lining Free from Bag Fabric


Lining of Tote Bag with Sheet of Plastic Canvas
Use Any Color Plastic Canvas for Bottom


Turn the lining of the bag to the outside. Measure the length of the bottom side seams and the length of the bottom of the bag. You’ll have rectangular measurements to apply to the plastic canvas. If you have a tote bag with a round bottom, you’ll need special round plastic canvas for it. 

Cut the plastic canvas close to a solid row (so the prongs aren’t sticking out) in the approximate size of the bottom of the tote bag or purse. 



bottom of tote bag with plastic canvas in position to straight stitch side
Lay Plastic Canvas on Top of Bottom Edge of Lining to Stitch




Lay the plastic canvas on top of the lining of the tote at the side seam and place under the presser foot with the plastic canvas on top. Stitch down the side of the lining and on top of the plastic canvas to the end of the side seam. Pivot the fabric and plastic canvas and stitch through the same area again. Tack with a backstitch and cut the thread. 


Shows stitching down side of plastic canvas and bottom of bag
Pivot needle and stitch down the same side again to hold plastic



Check the size of the plastic canvas again. You don’t want it to buckle because it’s too long for the bottom of the bag. Trim a row or two off the plastic canvas end if necessary.

Stitch the other side the same way as the first, sewing down the edge of the canvas and lining seam, pivot and return to the place you started. Tack with a backstitch and cut the thread. Check your work by returning the lining back inside the bag. You don’t need to stitch the long sides because you’re just trying to keep the plastic canvas from sliding around or coming out when you dump the contents.

Plastic canvas isn't as heavy as I like for the bottom of a tote bag, but it works better than no stiffening at all. I like a piece of hard plastic or stiff cardboard, but both of those have drawbacks. The hard plastic breaks and the stiff cardboard can't get wet, so the plastic canvas is an alternative that allows the bag to sit with a little structure instead of taking the shape of the objects in the tote. It won't break and water won't damage it. The next time you need stiffening for a crafts project, consider plastic canvas. It's almost indestructible, easy to sew and comes in several different colors. It's available at your nearest hobby store.

See you next time!

Linda
cajunC