Tag Archives: sewing aids

Shortening a curtain…

31 May

Just a quick tip…

A friend asked me to shorten shower curtains for her.  She thought she needed a serger to hem it and she doesn’t have one.    The good news is when there is enough room and you have a straight curtain, it is one of the easiest things to do with your sewing machine and a few tips 🙂

1. When you know the length you want, mark it with a pin.

2.  Using a seam gauge or ruler you measure from the place you want the hem to be to the existing hem.   If it is over 6″  just cut some off.  If not you lay your curtain on your ironing board wrong side facing you .

Below is a picture of a 6″ seam gauge if you haven’t seen one, they can be purchased on the notions wall at your fabric store….

3. Start at the end and take the measurement you got in step 2.  set your gauge to  that measurement.  For example..2.5 inches.

4. Lay your gauge on the curtain with the old hem facing toward you and the pinned hem facing away.  The curtain will be wrong side up to you but the hem turned up will be the right side of the fabric facing up to you.  Let the bulk of the curtain hang off the ironing board between you and the board.

5.  Go along from right to left, if you are right handed… press a crease at the designated length you need.  This crease will be your new hem line.

6. Go to your cutting surface or just stay at your ironing board and cut off the unneeded fabric.  To determine how much to cut off I use the length of the former hem.  What the manufacturer of the curtain used.  In my friends case it was about 5/8″ .    Double that, so you have fabric to turn under. So, 1 1/4″ .   Now you can eye it or use your gauge and go along and cut off the unneeded fabric containing the old hem.  You are measuring from your newly ironed in crease line.

7.  This is how her curtain looked after I cut the old hem off.

The stripe in the fabric makes it a little difficult to see, but down by my thumb you see the crease ironed in and my cut edge.  I eyed this one.

8. Now for a beginner you can turn 5/8″ from your cut edge and press wrong sides of fabric together.  Pin if desired all along the hem.     If you are more comfortable you can just go to your machine and turn under and sew as you go.

9.  You already have your other crease line so, actually you will fold your new crease line over once and then over again in toward the first hem marking crease line.

10. Now you have an enclosed edge.  And are ready to stitch…

There are two schools of thought on how to stitch,

1. some say- stitch with the hem up facing you so you can see what you are doing.  This is a great way if your machine has good bobbin tension and your bobbin seam looks as good as your top seam.   I haven’t always  had that so I adopted this second way.

2. I have always top stitched.  I trust my measurements and the seam allowance I choose.  for 5/8″ I would choose 1/2″ or so for a seam allowance.  The top stitching always seems to look better to me.

Do what makes you most at ease at your work and what will give you the best result.

I hope this helps!  This simple tip takes quite a bit of explaining but once you get the idea and practice a few times you’ll be so glad you know the iron in the new hem trick!!

Off to life…Chrissi

Machine Applique’ 101 A tutorial ….

26 May

Applique’ is a good way to add a theme to your clothing and household items.   It is very simple to accomplish.  Especially if you are not a perfectionist!

This is our little lady bug applique with hand embroidered antennae and button embellishment.

For this tutorial, a customer wanted a butterfly on the front of her top.  I gave Victoria some different views I would like to see and she drew some up for me.  They were nicely detailed, but since this is machine applique’ I had to simplify her designs.  These are what she came up with.  Well, actually these are my modifications.  Hers were much more real looking!

When the customer decides what she wants, I’ll show you the stitching.

Supplies for machine applique’;

tracing paper ( or any other paper to draw your pattern ), pencil, eraser!, scissors to cut paper,  scissors to cut fabric, fabric, heat and bond ( a two sided fusing medium), stabilizer, thread, sewing machine, blue wash away marker for detailing, fray check,  hand sewing needle, possibly small crochet hook….

O.k. She picked the paisley butterfly…but larger than our sample. So, I cut out a larger one and added the little blue marker wing lines for detail..

Now it is time to trace and cut out heat and bond for the positioning of the applique on the base garment, or project.  Be sure to flip your design over to wrong side to trace heat and bond.  You want the glue side to be against the back of your design.  Since you trace on the paper side you have to flip it.

Next we trim so none of the sticky stuff gets on our iron or ironing board, and we fuse the glue side to the back of the applique’ .

Next we peel the paper off the fused piece and it leaves the glue film on the applique and we are ready to position and fuse the applique’ to our base garment, after fusing there is no pinning, no worries, just carefully sewing around your applique…

Now we have another preparatory step:  Stabilizer for the back of the design so your satin, or zig zag stitches and your design lay nice and flat.

I have graduated to iron on, wash away, tear away stabilizer by Floriani, in the past I have also used extra tissue paper from my patterns, (kind of slippery), Also paper towels, not bad, just hard to clean up and get out of stitches.  The point is to have nice flat, even stitches.  When pulling and tugging to get your home made, cheap stabilizer out you damage your stitches, it just becomes frustrating.  So, I invest in the stabilizer.  That said, there was a day that stabilizer just wasn’t in the budget.  It’s o.k. to be creative, just know you must take your time when removing it  and might possibly need to  carefully use scissors.

…Back to our applique, the above picture shows the stabilizer ironed on the back of the garment behind the design.  Always make your stabilizer larger than your design, you want stabilizer under your stitches which are bigger than your design.

You can see slightly how much taller than my design the stabilizer is, because I need  to make my antennae.

In this next picture observe the top right corner….

It is not nice and flat….

When I turn it over to see why…  I see I ran off of my stabilizer,  I am going to press and let this go because it is a small section and pressing is helpful.  But, You can see why I am stressing the importance of stabilizer 🙂

Now, if you look close you can see the threads at the end of the stitches.  Don’t cut them.  It is good to leave yourself a little more than I did when you take your work off the machine, but, what we want to do is pull the threads through to the back side of the applique’ and tie them off with their bobbin thread.

This can be accomplished two ways: 1. In the above picture I found the top thread and gently pried it with a pin from the back side, checking in the front that the tail was getting shorter to make sure I had the right thread…. Or 2.  Leaving a longer top thread, you can actually thread a needle with the thread tail, because it is long enough, and put the needle through the last stitch.  This is much easier, but sometimes, if you’re like me, I am hurrying and forget. 🙂  Better to be slower at this!

Now ..below I show using a small crochet hook ( like a 2.5 mm)  to help me tie my knot, because I didn’t leave my threads long enough.  Confession:  I used my machine thread cutter and it just leaves me about a 3/4″ tail which is wonderful in most cases, just not this one.   Note:  try to tie 2 or 3 knots for durability.

All right moving on.. Just about finished!


Here is the butterfly attennae and all.  See my longer threads?  It is good to learn from our mistakes!!  All I need to do now is put all these threads to the back and tie my knots. On these ones I was able to use the needle method.  It was a dream!  Then I carefully tear away my stabilizer and moisten my design to erase the blue marker and dissolve the rest of the stabilizer and voila!!  A butterfly embellished top!

This customer had some ideas and asked me to make this outfit up for her.  She sent me some pictures, measurements and this is what we came up with.  I hope she likes it.  It is definitely summery!

Happy applique’ing!


A helpful tool…

6 May

When cutting patterns out there are so many markings to make.  When I learned to sew we used pins, chalk, sometimes even pencils or pens.  Those are great when the marks will be hid or with easily washable fabric.  Also when you are sewing for yourself and you can keep secrets 🙂  Maybe you all have heard of the wash away marking pen but if you haven’t I would be remiss to not let you know of it.  We use  Mark B Gone, it comes in blue for lighter fabrics and in white for darker fabrics. 

 It is wonderful for marking lines when doing a bit of shirring, or adding double ruffles to a garment, or trims. 

Also, when you hand embroider you can actually draw your design with it.  So, you see the possibilites!  When your design is done you dampen the marked area with a wet cloth, or we sometimes spray with a water bottle when the fabric doesn’t have a lot of sizing in it.   If the marker is not easily seen when the project is done, don’t worry about it, just use it or wear it and then in the first washing it will B Gone 🙂   Happy Sewing! Chrissi