Friday, April 17, 2015

In search for the right sewing machine? Me, too!

The perfect stretch stitch for Lycra 1230
As I write this, dig deep into your years of sewing and share back, is it me? Or is this your experience as well? Once you read this blog post, I would really like to know who has a sewing machine that they can brag about? The focus being sewing stitches, not embroidery.

First check out the condition of your current machine and be sure it is cleaned and oiled before comparing the stitch quality to any machine you may audition.

There are times when sewing a garment that my current machines really do not produce that perfect little stitch that is so nicely aligned. I remember the joy of my Bernina 1230, where all the stitches of the straight stitch were so perfectly placed.  I haven't owned a machine with such detailed stitching in a decade.  I fell in love with machine embroidery and sewing moved over to the side along with costume making.

Invisible zipper 1230 insertion
I was reminded of the differences in todays sewing stitch quality, just last week, while looking at cottage industry paperback covers being sold at a bookstore locally.  The smaller sized covers didn't look homemade. I knew they were because the store keeper shared the story behind them. The small covers had uniform perfect stitches lined up so beautifully. I could feel myself literally fighting back tears of remorse of having sold my Bernina 1230. It was my first "perfect" stitching machine.  I picked up a larger book cover and it was clear that these were made on a different sewing machine.  The stitching was acceptable but certainly not "exceptional" as on the smaller covers.

Embroidery lured me in
Like me, perhaps this "unknown" seamstress wanted a machine that could do more embellishing, like machine embroidery.  The trade off in the hooking system was apparent between the small and larger book cover that I was examining. More considerations passed through my mind about the "unknown" machine that produced the larger cover sewn:  Was there also a change in the quality of parts or how the newer machine was made? Or perhaps the machine needed a new needle, good cleaning and oiling? I left the store with no book, or book cover instead motivated to do research and update my own sewing system having returned to garment sewing. Observing classmates struggling on machines in a recent design class, I set my goal:

In search of perfectly sewn stitches on a dedicated sewing machine...

I would really like to know who has a sewing machine that they can brag about? The focus being sewing stitches for garments, accessories and not embroidery.  If you have a combo machine that does both produced in 2012 or later, share that too, here or on Facebook.

Next post, let the search begin!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

DIY: Design your own Onesies, Peep Tees and Ruffles!

Tees with Ruffles is the theme for this week. I love decorating simple t-shirts and socks because decorating them transforms them from ordinary into a boutique item in less than 2 hours. Using the videos on the CookieSews channel, let me show you how to do it with ease.

Gather your supplies while we create a pretty embroidered tee shirt that is embellished with ribbon, embroidery and ribbons.

Supplies used:
Sticky Stabilizer
Blue pen wash-away marker
1 yard ribbon
2 strips measuring 3 1/2 x 60 inches of cotton fabric
Water soluble topping
Tee Time Design Set with baby chick, bee, ice-cream, flip-flops and more
Embroidery Machine
5x7 hoop
Sewing Machine
Ruffler Foot
All Purpose Foot
Narrow Roll Hem Foot
Easy Tool
Matching threads for designs and ruffles

Step #1 - embroidery
The first step is easy - select your tee design and embroider the selected tee. Reminder: hoop sticky paper and score off the top to apply tee shirt firmly to the sticky surface. If you haven't used your Easy Tool for snap tees and small baby tees, watch YouTube video below to get the first one done.  TIP: Place a piece of water soluble topping over the area to be embroidered which will keep the stitches riding on top nicely making them more defined.

Step #2: Adding ribbons
Stretch the sleeves slightly while using a zigzag stitch to attach them in the same manner used for attaching ribbons to socks. Need to watch a video for attaching ribbon?  Here it is:

Step #3: Adding Ruffles
There are two ways to add ruffles, one is to fold a 6.5"wide set of strips in half to stitch them in place. I prefer this method below which uses a ruffler, and hemmer foot saving fabric and lightening the weight of the finished rumba tee. Always embroider the t-shirt first before adding ruffles when working with the Easy Tool. This one never did get embroidered - learning lessons!

I am whipping mine up over the weekend and will add it to Facebook on Tuesday.  I would love to see yours, too!~ Cookie

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sketch It In Stitches: the basic outline sketch

The best part of using embroidery digitizing software is the freedom you have with a tablet or track mouse to sketch in stitches!

If you put all the rules of digitizing aside and sketch (or trace) an inspired image with wild abandonment, the results can be very rewarding.

In some software packages, there are fabulous sketching/drawing tools where you first create your artwork, perfect the sketch and then apply the stitches.  Art and Stitch is a perfect example of this type of software. You can get an idea of how this works in their tutorial videos.

A shortcut in sketching with Bernina software is the Blackwork Run tool. This auto tool eliminates the jumps quickly and efficiently.

Brother and Babylock have simple drawing tools in the Design Center of their software packages. Once you have your image drawn with the tools, and ensure that all lines connect in stage 3, it's a click of the outline tool in Stage 4 and the drawing is complete.  5D and 6D have wonderful sketching tools. Janome MBX has easy to use drawing tools for sketching. The list goes on.
What you do need to consider is the length of the running stitch! 
It's important to use longer stitches when sketching to keep them from sinking in.  Think of your own sewing machine and how it sews the running stitch with the lengths 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5. Pick your length by the weight of the thread and the needed space to keep the stitching smooth. There are a variety of stitches available once you have drawn your outline.
Think about the type of outline stitch you apply. In most instances the basic running stitch is perfect!
For a smooth outline, a simple running stitch is preferable. Bean and Triple stitches are heavier and can create more issues with the thread rippling the fabric due to length and thread density. Consider a lightly applied column stitch with feathering for shading effects to be done after creating the sketch. All software packages have an easy way to change the stitching order.

Learn more about sketching in stitches, Artistic Digitizing: from Inspiration to Stitch.

If you are currently enrolled in this class, remember you can always use the 30 sec. repeat, post questions directly to me at the point in the lesson where you need help, share screen shots of where you are and receive personalized answers based on your software.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Feeling lucky with machine embroidery!

March is around the corner.   I am up early having a cup of coffee before attending a conference which begins at 8am.  By the time you read this, I will have been all over social media checking in.  Craftsy questions answered, tweets done, and a new free design for a limited time made available to Facebook fans on the CookiescreationsWebsite Fanpage.

Which designs?

  • ITH Mug Rug 5x7 to the left


  • 8x8 Pillow front declaring your skill over luck in the crafting world.
It's amazing how much can get done in just a couple of hours with the clock ticking away at a deadline. But what isn't done?

The moulage! a.k.a. stupid blouse pattern. Yes, I'm still taking the class (week 6) and finally decided to start over.  It needed too much adjusting (which I did complete). I had my husband pin it and there is very little ease! (No surprise in how he pinned me in.) 

I began to wonder about the sizing of the pattern overall.  I remeasured the sewing lines and armholes and went down a size. Forget that chart on the package. It's not accurate enough for what I want. Mind you, I did stitch all the adjustments to the larger one before making this decision.  

When I return to Atlanta, I will be busy stitching up the completely new one.  Wish me luck! I will line up all the weeks and have Ron take photos... it's a comedy of adjustments.

Have a great weekend!  Cookie

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

#2 Working on my embroidery blank with pattern sewing and drafting...

Still working on my embroidery blank!

I'm in week 4 out of 10 in a pattern making class in Atlanta.  Each week, we (classmates) show up, have fittings made to each of our basic pattern revisions, and stitch up a new and improved version.  Learned some faster sewing tricks from the instructor, and enjoying the camaraderie of those who love sewing.

This is number #2. Before stitching up #3 that has a much needed front view adjustments, and I am backing into rooms at this point. I am scrutinizing the back though it passes class inspection. The left side and right side are not hanging correctly.  The darts are off, there are wings at the lower hips, the sleeve material is greater than the armhole space, seam lines are off.  Center back seam is okay.  Fisheye darts and side seams need help.

Can't really judge the upper back fully as the sleeves are part of the rippling.  The upper back curve is correct from a side view. That was achieved by slashing the pattern - very good lesson! Better to learn it in person than in a book.

I asked for outside opinions and thank you to those who shared their expertise with me. I remeasured the arm holes and adjusted the seam under the sleeves pattern for #3 pattern. I asked the instructor for her thoughts on extending the fish eye darts straight down instead of a curve outward. I also requested wing removal at the sides, last night. She really understood that I do not want fake curves and I wouldn't pick out a blouse with that look either.  Looks great on people who have those curves, but I don't. It's a personal preference.  I will put up #3 this week, while I stitch #4.

I spent the weekend watching two very good classes on pattern making and sewing. See previous post. I stitched up pattern #3 after asking friends to chime in based on their own experience. Adjusted the sleeves and I went to class. Discussed the concerns of #3, wings etc.

This pattern quest started because I switched to a Mac computer and I couldn't run my original Wild Ginger PMB software.  Latest version of Wild Ginger will run in bootcamp on a Mac with Windows 7/8.  I still want to understand how all the adjustments come to fruition. But I am hopping over to get the latest PMB. My body double is staring at me with doubts. Need hubby to take photos.