Sewing for the Very First Time

by Kathleen Mathews

The first time you do something is often memorable and if you close your eyes you can conjure up poignant memories of many first time experiences. Nothing has better memories for me than when I learned how to sew. My Mother did not know how to sew, she claimed that growing up in the depression, her family didn’t want to risk her breaking the machine as they didn’t have the money to fix it. Maybe, but I think that sewing can skip a generation if all you have to do to get homemade delights is to ask your Mom for it!

I was aware that my Grandmother and her sisters sewed and they had shown me a bit of how to make a quilt at a very young age. I had to bide my time to really learn until I was in Jr. High.  I can still remember the excitement of preparing for Home Ec class. We got a list of supplies and my Mom took me to a fabric store to purchase them all. I got needles, thread, thimble, seam ripper and a small ruler. This was in 1967 and I still have that little ruler.

In those days, Home Ec was only for the girls and that difference was part of the excitement as we sat at tables. One the first day, we learned how to use some of our sewing items and to thread the machine. Finally we got our first assignment, an apron. I went with my Mother to Marshall Fields to buy my pattern and fabric. I looked in the easy section of the Simplicity catalogue and chose a dress.

Yes, from an early age I was a sewing rebel! This dress had kimono sleeves and finished with braid. The clerk assured my mother it was an easy first project. And it wasn’t but I sure did find out what a seam ripper was used for. After a couple of weeks, ta da, I finished my dress. It even had a zipper. (Feel free to ooh and aahhh.)

Here was the significant detail – it fit! I loved it. The fabric was a clever blue and beige kettle cloth and to this day, I love that color combination. It was a glorious feeling! I will never forget the sheer pleasure and joy of completing that first project.

I was off to the races after that, I made myself a pink and white gingham peignoir set. Because really, what 13 year old girl doesn’t need one of those? My Mother had me make a blue and white set for my aunt. I sewed culottes for my Mother and party dresses for my sister.

I sewed and sewed for the next 17 years. I loved it but after a while, it became a bit routine. I was no longer making all my clothes; I felt the need for that triumphant rush of completing that first dress. What to do?

How did I revisit the joy of conquering sewing? I took a quilting class and learned the completely old school way how to make a quilt, 100% by hand. I was older now so I could wait for the gratification and within several months I had made two sampler quilts. I was thrilled and I still have the book we used.

And naturally I still have those quilts! They hang in my current sewing studio and I get a kick out of looking them. It reminds me that while there is only one first time, you can discover that joy and sheer fun by seeking out new projects and skills.

Did they all give me that rush? In a word, no. Don’t talk to me about paper piecing. But I have learned to Longarm, I’ve done traditional quilts in a modern way and done improvisational piecing. I never want to lose that terrific high of doing something for the first time.

This year I plan to perfect my free motion quilting and work with wool. For the very first time. Want to join me and feel that first time sewing delight? Or perhaps you’d rather create your own new goals?

Just don’t bring up paper piecing.

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Posted in For Beginners in Sewing, Guest Writers, Kathleen Mathews | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

How to make a scarf: Chenille Style!

Chenille Scarf by Ruth Chandler

brittany wearing chenille scarfThis technique uses a special rotary cutter that has a guide on the bottom of the blade to prevent all layers of fabric from being cut. There are two ways to accomplish the fraying that makes the chenille. First, you can cut the fabric at a 45 degree angle, second you can stitch the fabric at a 45 degree angle. Without this angle the fabric will not fray nicely and you will be disappointed with your results.

Supplies:

There are two different options to choose from
when making your chenille scarf…

Option #1 – Fabric cut at 45 degree angle:

Stitch lines 1/2" apart from end to end

Stitch lines 1/2″ apart, from end to end.

  • First, press your fabric. I like to use a light starch spray such as Best Press. It will allow you to get a more controlled cut.
  • Lay the fabric out on a large table with the cutting mat under the fabric.
  • Using your ruler, find the 45 degree angle.
  • Line it up on a selvage edge of the fabric and draw a line along the ruler on the fabric. You will have to move your ruler keeping it lined up with the marking line until the line reaches across to the other selvage.
  • Now is the time to decide how wide you want your scarf, I would suggest no narrower than 6 inches and no wider than 12 inches.
  • Use at least 4 layers of fabric but no more than 6… I used 5. More than six layers and the scarf will be too bulky and the cutter will have a difficult time cutting through all the layers. Not to mention the wear and tear on your hands!
  • Now for the layering – the bottom (or first) layer needs to be right side DOWN.
  • Place the other layers right side UP on the first (or bottom) layer.
  • Pin the layers together, matching up the edges and smoothing out any wrinkles. Take your time with this step and use lots of pins, especially with the rayon.
  • If the edges are a little off that is okay, we will trim it up at the end.

Now it is time to stitch. Stitch from one end to the other, length wise. I used the markings on my machine throat plate to guide the stitch lines, but if you are not comfortable with that you can mark lines with your marking pencil. Try to keep the markings as faint as possible so they are easier to wash out. The chenille cutter has instructions on the package, it is important to read these so you can choose the right blade guide for your scarf. My stitch lines were a ½ inch apart so I used the medium 6mm guide. This worked well on the 5 layers of rayon that I cut at the 45 degree angle.

  • chenille pix trio 309x640Start at the right edge and stitch lines ½ inch apart end to end, until you have filled the whole scarf.
  • Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each row to hold the stitching.
  • Lay the scarf out on the cutting mat.
  • Prior to this next step, engage your chenille blade in preparation for cutting.
  • You may want to snip the ends of your rows first with scissors, to get started.
  • Now, slide the cutter guide into the first row of stitching under all layers EXCEPT the bottom layer – do NOT cut the bottom layer of fabric!
  • Slide the cutter along the row and repeat this process till all rows are cut.
  • Be sure the guide is flat on the table, it will work more smoothly.
  • Sometimes a few fibers from the fabric will catch on the guide, simply pull the fibers out using a pair of tweezers.
  • If you want a little fringe at the ends of the scarf, you can cut through all layers to separate them. I would suggest not cutting the fringe any longer than 4 inches.

 

close up of chenille scarf after washing

Here is a close-up of the chenille scarf
after it’s been washed.

Now comes the magic part! Throw the scarf in the washer. I suggest a few towels also. Wash on a regular cycle. When you pull it out it will be frayed! Dry it with the towels, (you may have to shake your towels outside to get rid of stray threads) and when it is dry you will have a beautiful scarf! If the edges need to be trimmed to make it less ragged on the edges, use your straight rotary cutter to trim the outside edges.

Option #2 – Fabric stitched at 45 degree angle:

  • This technique takes a lot more time and thread.
  • Press and starch the fabric.
  • Lay the fabric out and cut 5, 8″ wide strips the length of the fabric.
  • You should have 5, 8″ x 72″ strips.
  • Lay the first strip right side DOWN.
  • Layer the next 4 strips right side UP.
  • Pin all layers together.
  • Find the 45 degree angle on your ruler and mark across the scarf starting at one narrow end and working down to the other.
  • Stitch along the markings, be sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end of each row.
  • Stitch all rows.
  • Prior to this next step, engage your chenille blade in preparation for cutting.

  • You may want to snip the ends of your rows first with scissors, to get started.
  • Now, slide the cutter guide into the first row of stitching under all layers EXCEPT the bottom layer – do NOT cut the bottom layer of fabric!
  • Slide the cutter along the row and repeat this process till all rows are cut.
  • If the guide is flat on the table it will work more smoothly.
  • Follow the above directions for washing and drying.

I hope you enjoy making a scarf to match your personal style. As always, I love it when you send me photos of your finished work.

Ruth

Click here for more more projects by Ruth Chandler

Posted in Fabric Art, Free Craft Projects, Fun Stuff, How To, Ruth Chandler, Tutorials, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 ~ by Terry White

On The Eleventh Day Of Havel’s Holiday Project,
My True Love Is The Snip-A-Stitch

Finishing the Edge:

1. Use the same thread in the top and the bobbin of your sewing machine. Choose a nice edge finish stitch.

I use an edge foot because the stitch seems to look so much better with it.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (1)

Snip-A-Stitch is a great tool for any kind of work on the sewing machine. You can see the little notch in the blade…this notch gets you very close to the fabric to cut the end threads without cutting the fabric.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (2)

This is what the edge of the album cover looks like.

2. Position your album on the cover and mark where the folds should be. This cover is just like the book covers we made as kids to cover our school books.

Press the folds with an iron.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (3)

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (4)

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (5)

Here is the album inserted in the fold of the cover.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (6)

Here is the back of the album cover.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 11 (7)

Here is the side view of the album cover.

Next: On The Twelfth Day Of Havel’s,
My True Love Is The Rotary Skip Blade

 

For a printable PDF, please click here.

Posted in Fabric Scissors, For Beginners in Sewing, Free Craft Projects, Free Quilt Patterns, Free Quilt Projects, Fun Stuff, Guest Writers, Holiday Projects, Patterns, Quilting, Quilting & Embroidery, Terry White, Tutorials, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 10 ~ by Terry White

On The Tenth Day Of Havel’s Holiday Project, My True Love Is The Rotary Pinking Blade

Time to Make the Back Label and the Spine Label:

1. Apply fusible web to fabric before cutting.
(This will keep the back label and spine label from fraying.)

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 10 (1)

2. When using this blade, be sure to always hold it upright so that both sides of the blade cut through.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 10 (2)

I used an archival permanent drawing pen to write on the labels.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 10 (3)

Then, I positioned and fused them in place.

Next: On The Eleventh Day Of Havel’s,
My True Love Is The Snip-A-Stitch

 

For a printable PDF, please click here.

Posted in Fabric Scissors, For Beginners in Sewing, Free Craft Projects, Free Quilt Patterns, Free Quilt Projects, Frequently Asked Scissors Questions, Fun Stuff, Guest Writers, Holiday Projects, Patterns, Quilting, Quilting & Embroidery, Terry White, Tutorials, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 9 ~ by Terry White

On The Ninth Day Of Havel’s Holiday Project, My True Love Is The Rotary Wave Blade

Now, Let’s Continue And Start Creating the Border:

1. Choose your border fabric.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 9 (1)

The color you choose will be what frames the project. So, it can either be subdued, or as I chose, something that’s bright!
The color you choose will frame the project,
so it can be subdued, or as I chose, something that would be bright!

2. Measure the size of your borders and add 1/2″ for overlap.
The wavy edge will overlap your design area.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 9 (2)

3. Apply fusible web to your border fabric and tear off the backing paper before cutting.
This way you will avoid fraying.

Free Christmas Quilt Pattern Part 9 (3)

4. You only need the wave design on the inside of each border. Cut the outside edge with Havel’s Jumbo Rotary Cutter for a straight finish. For the center area, cut both edges out with the Wave Blade. Press the borders to the lining and the overlap of the design areas.

*Make sure that you keep following along so you can see what other products Terry loves to use while creating all of her favorite projects!*

On The Tenth Day Of Havel’s Holiday Project,
My True Love Is The Rotary Pinking Blade

 

For a printable PDF, please click here.

Posted in Fabric Scissors, For Beginners in Sewing, Free Craft Projects, Free Quilt Patterns, Free Quilt Projects, Fun Stuff, Guest Writers, Holiday Projects, Patterns, Quilting, Quilting & Embroidery, Terry White, Tutorials, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment