Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Tips: Tearing on the grain

Hello Tuesday! 
I recently was working on a project where instructions said to tear the fabric and it will tear along the grain on a straight line.  This is true except pertaining to this project it doesn't work.  Unless you are told to straighten your fabric. What is all this mumbo jumbo jargon I am speaking?

Ok what is grain? The grain is the direction the threads run. You have lengthwise grain and crosswise grain.  Your crosswise grain threads are usually a tad weaker than your lengthwise threads. 
Lengthwise threads run parallel to your selvage, they are strong and stable because they need to be during the weaving process.  The weft (cross grain) threads are weaving in and out of them.

diagram above taken from Vogue Sewing. A book that is a keeper and excellent reference!
When you buy your fabric and come home you wash it right? Yes I am a stickler for this, maybe it is my design background but all fabric should be washed before using it.   When you wash it the fabric goes back to it's natural grain.  If you tear it afterwards it will tear along the grain and the fabric won't necessarily be even.  So back to the beginning of this post, I was a little perplexed and questioning myself when directions for this project said to tear the fabric.  I followed the directions and what do ya know,  I ended up with a strip of fabric not even.  My goal was a strip 1" wide.  rrgghh why didn't I trust myself.  I remember having to block pieces of fabric back in school.

So what should you take away from my mishap? Straighten your fabric before cutting.
Get your good ole L ruler and line up with your fabric.  If these edges don't match up you may need to do a bit of pulling and stretching the fabric back to grain.  Basically your edges will align up on all sides forming a beautiful 90 degree angle. 

For this specific project, I ended up cutting the fabric and not ripping.  The overall project took longer than it should have since I was going for a frayed edge.  However now I know.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Project: Colorblock Spring Infinity Scarf

My co-worker Faye and I found some Nani Iro fabric that was begging to become a scarf.  How does fabric beg? This fabric was a small piece, it was a scrap.  What else to do with it but make a scarf.  Nani Iro fabric is a beautiful Japanese fabric.  This one is a double gauze so perfect weight for spring.  Since the piece we had was 1/2 yard x 44" we had to improvise a bit.  So in the pictures you will see 3 colors:
navy shot cotton by Kaffe Fassett
yellow shot cotton by Kaffe Fassett
and white Nani Iro Colorful Pocho fabric

The below directions are for only using 2 fabrics 

makes 2 scarves, depending on your width you probably can get 3 scarves
materials:  1 ¾ yards Kaffe Fassett Shot cotton
1 ¾ yards Nani Iro double gauze
matching thread

Cut one piece of each to be
-63” X 12”  shot cotton
- 63” X 12” Nani Iro (I started with one piece Nani of 44" x 12" so I added a piece of yellow shot cotton to make the length 63")

feel free to make your scarf as wide as you want but I think that 11” is a good width not to strangle yourself.

Lay fabric face to face, iron out and pin

Sew ½” seam allowance along 3 sides leaving one short side unsewn

Trim corners at a diagonal

Turn inside out and press side seams, topstitch 3/8” seam allowance

Tuck in raw edges and press

Match short edge to short edge and layer by ½” - basically you are sandwiching the two ends.  

Top stitch twice



Wear it wrapped around your neck twice or let it hang loose!  I personally like using the 3 pieces of fabric.  Not only is it a great way to use up scraps but also adds some color interest.  This is a quick project that you can easily do in 1 to 2 hours. Remember prewash that fabric!

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Best Fabrics to Sew with if you are a Newbie

I constantly tell new students, "Don't make things harder or more frustrating for yourself, just use what fabrics your project calls for".  Many new students before they hear me say this show up to one of my Intro to Sew classes with the wrong fabric and wrong thread.  What could I do to make them understand? How could the description be more clear?  For example:
1.5 yards of light to medium weight cotton woven fabric  
Many students, I should say most students do bring correct fabric, but some bring in knit, polyester, heavy wool, or the worst, a loose weave linen or canvas. 

I feel terrible because then students get so frustrated with trying to sew and it isn't them, it's the fabric.  So if you are just starting out here are some good basic fabrics you should use and accomplish some simple projects first like napkins!

broadcloth- densely woven, medium weight
canvas or duck - heavy duty, strong, durable, comes in lots of colors!
chambray - soft, plain weave, light to medium weight
denim - washed or light weight, no stretch
lawn - light weight, can be a  little challenging because of the high count of thread it is very soft and slick
moleskin - very soft, twill 
muslin - boring but stable, light weight
poplin - medium to heavy weight, similar to broadcloth but has a slight cross ribbed weave
quilting cotton- light to medium weight, fabric holds up well over time

Also a great book to buy is Fabrics A to Z, this covers almost every possible fabric out there, the properties of the fabric,  how to sew it, what needle to use, stitch length, and care instructions.

Do you  have any fabrics you love to sew with? Any beginner challenges you are facing?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Products I've Been Working On. Sewing with Liberty of London

Last night in class a student told me she never heard of Liberty of London until taking my class.  Well I am a fan. Liberty of London is beautiful and cool, well made and obtainable.  Obtainable is key because as a consumer you can't always buy quality fabric by the yard.  Only 3 stores in NYC sell it.  Another student asked, is it difficult to sew with. This is a good question because Liberty feels like silk, also it has a similar weight.  Liberty is 100% cotton and yes it is easy to sew with, just use a size 8 or 9 needle.  The last quality I appreciate much with Liberty, it is made in England. It is difficult these days to buy something not made in Asia.  When you buy Liberty you are buying from a company that is paying fair wages. Check out this cool video of the print facility.

Last summer I launched a new product in my etsy shop and on my website, Liberty Bandanna Scarves. What's a bandanna scarf? You can wear it in your hair or as a scarf. Great for temperamental weather.

This spring I have introduced Pocket Squares (which also can be used as a hankie, ladies).  There are now a few listed in my etsy shop but more are to come!

Thanks Andy for modeling for me.

Bourton - a lovely blue paisley

Susanna Pocket Square

Emilia with Capel
Capel is a whimsical floral in a perfect dress shirt lavender.
Not posted on etsy yet. 

Since this is new product I am always looking for feed back. What do you think?  Do you like the prints I have chosen? Would you use this as a pocket square or hankie?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Get Crafty in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Craft Camp March 16th

I was so excited to see what I think might be the first ever crafty festival/camp in Brooklyn.  Brooklyn Craft Camp is an all day affair being hosted by Brett Bara.  Brett Bara is author of the popular craft and lifestyle blog Manhattan Craft Room and a regular contributor for Design Sponge.

From 10 am to 7 pm you will be crafting, snacking, mingling and cocktailing.  Enjoy tasty donuts from Peter Pan Bakery in Greenpoint to get you started. Then choose from a variety of classes: Beginner Knitting, Knit a Chunky Cowl, Crepe Paper Flowers, DIY Nail Art Bar,  Beginner's Crochet, Make a Terrarium, Twisted Crochet Headband, Learn to Embroider, Make a Painted Wooden Bead Necklace and Printmaking. WOW! What a line up!

Lunch is being sponsored by Purl Soho as well as a Pom Pom Station. How fun is that!

Keynote speaker will be Jay McCarroll, remember him from Project Runway Season 1, the winner?  Not only is he a fab designer, he is a fantastic fabric designer. I personally have some of his Wonderland fabrics which are so dang cute!

And every attendee walks away with a free copy of Craft a Day by Sarah Goldschadt. Sarah will be having an all day Instant Gratification Station teaching super fast crafts.  So if you have time in between  some of your work shops you can stop by her booth.

Finish your day with cocktails sponsored by West Elm. 

Find more info here at Brooklyn Craft Camp. Maybe I will see you there!