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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Zippers, Buttons, and Darts Oh My!

Yesterday marked the second session in my 4 week sewing course. If you missed my post on the first class, Machine Basics, you can find it HERE!

This week's class was called Sewing Essentials, and was a little more information overload than last week. And also a much smaller group, so easier to learn and ask plenty of questions.

We covered zippers, buttons/buttonholes, darts (for altering clothes mostly), and even learned how to make a casing for a small ribbon drawstring bag.


I was glad we were going over this because as much as I think I can I think I can, I never can.
First step (one I never did), machine baste stitch the two pieces of fabric together with a 1/2" seam allowance. The zipper is eventually going to be placed here and be the opening of your bag. But but ... how, where will the zipper go, yeah I know, I asked the same thing.

Flip over your fabric and press the seam open.

Lay the zipper, teeth down, face down, whatever you want to call it and pin it in place so that the center of the zipper is laying exactly where your basting stitches are.

Next, once the zipper is pinned in place properly, using a hand sewing needle, baste stitch the zipper in place. This may seem overkill, but really it is worth it because the zipper will be perfectly in the center of your fabric.

When that is ready, all you have to do is stitch down either side of the zipper (using a zipper foot if you have one), pivot at either end back-stitching to secure it in place.

I was too busy paying attention and not messing up to take pictures during the process, but here is our finished zipper pouch!


The buttonhole practice was a little silly for me because my machine was so automated I hardly had to pay attention. The one most important thing I took away from the buttonhole lesson was to make sure you get the right size buttonhole for your button. Nothing worse than trying to make that button squeeze through your FINISHED project to find out, oh wait it's too small. 

If you don't have a buttonhole foot that measures the size for you. Take the diameter of your button and add the thickness of your button, and that is the size your buttonhole should be. It doesn't sound like taking the 1/16" of thickness of your button will much of a difference, but trust me, it will!

OK I lied -  second most important thing I took away: always apply a fusible interfacing to the back of your fabric where the buttonhole will be placed. It makes it more durable and less likely to fray, ruin over time.
Buttonhole practice - My machine has a lot of different buttonhole stitches available, I tried these 4.


Not the kind you throw at a dartboard in a bar. The kind that fixes clothes that don't fit. I am not really into fixing clothes, I think I would rather pay the designers and get a new one. BUT, this technique was pretty interesting to learn.

It takes a lot of practice. We didn't apply it on the actual piece of clothes, just on a square piece of white fabric to figure out the technique (probably better this way). You can't see it from the front picture, but there are a lot of measurements and drawings involved on the other side to make this happen. Questions? Take the class.. or an alterations class because this was tricky and way over my head!

No, but really, it takes measuring your body, the clothes you want altered, applying the measurements to the fabric, sewing, cutting, testing...etc etc etc.
Dart on a random piece of fabric!

The last thing we did in last nights class was put together a little drawstring bag with ribbon and mitered corners (the bottom of the bag).

It turned out to be perfect for my foot pedal and sewing machine plug for when I need to transport my machine. So Cute!

Start with two pieces of fabric, same size. On one piece of fabric, on the wrong side (interior), draw 3 horizontal lines, 1" apart. These will be your folds for the ribbon casing (later!).

Now we get to practice our buttonholes on a real live project!

Measure approximately the middle of the fabric in between your first and second lines. This is where you will fuse a small piece of interfacing and put in a buttonhole.

Once your buttonhole is complete, lay the two pieces of fabric flat with the right sides of the fabric facing together. Pin, and sew around 3 edges with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Turn bag right side out and admire! Still need to finish the top, casing for the ribbon (the point of this lesson).

Take your project to the ironing board. Fold your bag on the lines you drew earlier, pressing with each fold. It should fold over twice leaving your buttonhole visible on the inside of your bag.

Back at the sewing machine, place your bag around the machine and stitch all the way around the top creating the casing for your ribbon.


Well, insert the ribbon. I use a safety pin to do this. Attach one end of the ribbon to the pin and slide it through using both hands.

I have pictures of the finished product here. But again, I was learning and in class so couldn't really take a lot of pictures of the steps. I hope this still helps, but if you have questions please feel free to ask me any time!

 Next week, hand sewing... Yuck! But hey, we all need to learn it eventually.

If you made it through this whole post, know that I appreciate you. I just realized how much I blabbed on this post. Anyways, if you are new to my blog, please follow me or visit my facebook page (links on the right). Thanks for visiting!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Machine Basics - Check!

Thank you PDX Seamsters for my first official sewing machine education course.

Everything I knew up until yesterday, I taught myself. I'm doing SOMEthing right because I can do a lot of things in the sewing world that I never could before. I can cut fabric properly, press projects, sew in a straight line, read patterns, all foreign to me just a year or two ago.

So even though I know a lot, there is always something new to learn in the world of sewing. I decided to step up my game and learn from a real professional seamstress.

Machine Basics course was yesterday, first of four sessions. I took my sewing machine for a ride and we learned. I got a lot of good practice time in and learned a lot of things I didn't know about my Brother.

We started with a few simple things I've already done such as winding the bobbin, threading the needle, but I took advantage and asked questions about my sewing machine that I hadn't already learned from the handbook.

We practiced on a few pieces of fabric, different stitches, stitch length, the importance of slow vs fast stitching, a few other technical things. I messed around with some weird stitches I didn't know my machine had.

We made circles (harder than it looks), turned corners, made a labyrinth, and a mini pillow pocket. We even learned an advanced technique called easing, which is good for making sleeves and clothes, something new to me.
Mini pillow pocket. Sewn shut with slip stitch.
My favorite was the slip stitch, so now I can finish my projects with a neat, hidden hand sewing technique.

Next week, Sewing Essentials, we'll learn zippers, casings, darts, and buttonholes. Also some things I already sort of know, but also - taught myself. Excited for this session, zippers intimidate me!