Author Archives: Kathy

Sewing For Preemies

I sew quite frequently for preemie babies and because of that, I’ve created a number of preemie patterns which I sell in my Etsy shop (Kathysheirloomshop). You can click on the shop name and it will take you to my shop.

Recently I was contacted and asked about even smaller size preemie daygowns. I currently have my Prince/Princess Preemie Pattern available for a 4 – 5 lb. preemie.

By adding length to this top (I believe I added 8″ to the bottom of the 4 – 5 lb. size), it becomes a daygown rather than a diaper shirt.

The little bit of hand embroidery adds such a sweet touch to the gown and bonnet!

The person that had contacted me felt that a gown smaller than the 4 – 5 lb. size might be needed. Challenge accepted! LOL! I worked at making a smaller size pattern. I ended up with a 3 – 4 lb. size pattern. I did a test sew of the pattern and it worked out just as I expected. However, because the diaper shirt/gown is completely lined, the sleeves are sewn in last, meaning “in the round”. Sewing the sleeves into this tiny armhole opening was quite the challenge!!! I could only stitch about 5 – 6 stitches, then would have to reposition and repeat. 😱 I also ended up hand basting the sleeve into the armhole opening. It was just to fiddly to have to deal with pins while trying to stitch the sleeve in. 😳

I tried it on a 15″ baby doll “model”. This does make a sweet doll pattern as well!

Because of the difficulty/challenge to sew in the sleeves into the tiny armholes, I have decided to offer this as a free download. I was not prepared for the multitude of questions from buyers regarding the sleeve stitching! You cannot imagine how many messages I get as a seller!!! LOL! So, be aware, the tiny sleeves ARE a challenge, but they can be sewn with a LOT of patience!!!

The download is ONLY the pattern pieces, NO INSTRUCTIONS for sewing are included. If you have purchased the preemie pattern or the pattern for sizes NB – 12 mo., you can follow those instructions. If you want/need sewing instructions and have not purchased one of the patterns, you will need to purchase one of them in order to have sewing instructions.

If you want the diaper shirt to be daygown length, add 6″ to the bottom of the shirt.

As always, I still recommend soft fabrics (batiste, lawn, etc.) and if you choose to use a print, make sure it is a tiny print so that it doesn’t overwhelm the baby (or doll).

Happy Stitching!!!

Kathy

Happy New Year – a gift for you

I’ve sadly neglected my blog. That said, I have been busy sewing, designing and such. I hope to do a better job posting in this year to come. 😊

Today I was contacted by someone that was going to make my Annalise top and she wanted to find the heart design that she had seen somewhere – probably Pinterest. It turns out that this was something that I designed MANY years ago when I used to make and sell custom garments on Ebay.

I designed the heart smocking to match the fabric on the pants, which was a crooked heart. Isn’t she the cutest model!!! I’m sure that she’s in college by now!

I had to do a bit of hunting to find the design. Thankfully I had saved the pencil graph of the heart. With that, as well as the pictures to go on, I graphed out the heart design on the computer and wanted to offer it to my followers so that it can be smocked on a Valentine outfit for this year!!! I have graphed out the smocking design that fits perfectly on the Annalise top (available in my Etsy shop – just click on the name and it will bring you there) as well as offering it in a regular yoke design.

This is a relatively simple smocking design and suitable for someone that has mastered reading the picture smocking graphs

I

hope that you will enjoy making a cute outfit using one of these smocking designs! The single design is perfect for a small area to smock while the expanded version will work well on any yoke dress!

May God bless you and keep you in this New Year! Happy stitching!!!

Kathy

SPAGHETTI BIAS – shaping and application

The bias has been prepared (see previous post) and the dress marked and is ready for the bias shaping and application. Start the application process at the center back of the dress. Using glass head pins, pin the bias to the skirt following the scallop shape and then shaping the loop area (see video). As you pin around the skirt, ensure that the outside edges of the bias are flat and smooth against the fabric.

The inside of the loops will need to be pulled in such that the bulk is distributed evenly. Thread a needle with a contrast thread and do a running stitch around the inside of the loop. Pull the thread so that the inside loop gathers in and will sit flat against the fabric. Then pin to secure.

When the beginning point is reached, cut off the excess spaghetti bias and tuck the cut end underneath the spaghetti bias loop to hide the cut ends (see video). With all the bias pinned in place, get the washable glue and glue underneath the bias to secure. Finger press the bias to the glue to secure. Carefully work around the skirt. To dry the glue more quickly, it can be pressed from the inside of the skirt using NO STEAM – only the dry iron.

Once the glue is dry, the bias is ready to stitch to the skirt. Decide if a decorative stitch will be used (blanket stitch, etc.) or if it will be straight stitched. Use 60 wt. thread, size 70 needle and an open toed foot. If using the blanket stitch, a 2.5 stitch length and a 1.0 – 1.5 stitch length is recommended.

Cut strips of Sulky Super Solvy and pin behind the area that will be stitched. Stitch around the inside and outside of the spaghetti bias with the stitch desired. Then soak the dress in cold water to remove any blue wash-out marker as well as the stabilizer and allow to dry.

The video showing the process can be viewed on YouTube. This technique can be used on so many different projects – pillowcases, tea towels, etc. Have fun trying this on your next project!

Happy Stitching,

Kathy

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

SPAGHETTI BIAS – use, design & how to make spaghetti bias

Spaghetti bias is a great way to jazz up an outfit with very little expense. I’ll be sharing how to use spaghetti bias, how to create a design for a hem application as well as how to make your own spaghetti bias.

The above examples are my Bee-Utiful Pinafore pattern, available in my Etsy shop. It shows creative uses of spaghetti bias around the hem of the pinafore as well as using it as a leaf in the red/white pinafore.

Spaghetti bias was used above this hemline to create vines and leaves.

In the Suzette pattern, the spaghetti bias was used instead of a sleeve.

It can also be used to make bows as shown in the Sweet Cheeks Diaper Cover pattern.

The demonstration on the video uses the Ready To Smock Bishop pattern dress.

To create the design for the hem, you will need to determine what sort of design is desired as well as how many repeats of the design will be done. Find the center front and center back of the skirt and mark with a blue wash-out marker. Then place the CF and CB on top of each other to find the side seams and mark them. You can view my fold and mark process on the YouTube video.

Create a template using paper, pencil and a curved ruler and draw in the type of curve desired. Cut out the curve and then place on top of the skirt and mark each of the scallop designs.

To create bias strips, find the exact bias on the fabric (45º angle from the selvages) and use a rotary cutter, ruler and mat to cut 1-1/8″ strips of bias. Join strips together to get the length needed to go around the skirt.

After strips are joined together, fold the strips with right sides together and sew along the length of the bias with an ACCURATE 1/4″ seam allowance using regular (40 wt.) all purpose sewing thread.

Using the Fasturn tool (see video for visual instructions) turn the spaghetti bias right side out. Let it rest for a bit to allow the bias to relax – it was stretched a bit while turning. Then lightly steam ensuring that the seam side is rolled slightly to one side of the bias. If the bias will be used only in a straight fashion, you can give it a hard press using press bars.

Part 2 for how to apply the bias strips will be coming soon!

Kathy

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Gifts For The Seamstress – Notions

This is the last in my series of Gifts For The Seamstress. The first was on pressing aides, the second was on scissors & rulers and this one focuses on the smaller necessary notions.

A seamstress always needs a variety of marking tools. A chalk wheel is an efficient way to mark lines on the fabric. The chalk comes in white or blue and refills of the chalk dust can be purchased when it runs out.

Of course, the traditional tailor’s chalk can also be used to mark with. It comes in a variety of colors. Both the chalk from the chalk wheel as well as the tailor’s chalk will wear off eventually as the fabric is being handled.

Other marking tools, which I tend to prefer, are the wash-out markers. I most frequently use the fine tip blue wash-out marker. I also use the air-erasable marker if I know that I will finish my project the same day. That marker tends to disappear within 24 hours, so speed is necessary. These can be purchased as a combination maker as well with each end being the different tip. If you are working with dark fabrics, a white marker is available.

Other marking tools include the Sew Line marker, Stadetler non-permanent lumocolor markers (I have only found these at art supply companies) as well as the traditional pencil markers.

Then there are the piping rulers. Darr makes a nice ruler, though it is short compared to others. Ten Sisters makes a longer one, which is preferred by most.

Washable Glue is an invaluable tool to have in the sewing room. I use this for so many different things – securing rickrack/piping/trim prior to sewing, etc. Sewline makes a nice glue pen which creates a nice, fine line of glue. Roxanne’s Glue Baste is a favorite of mine. It also creates a nice line or even dots of glue. Both Clover and Dritz make a washable glue stick.

Some less known tools include the Dritz Hem Gauge, which works fabulously for pressing up a hem on a garment, curtains, etc. Fray Check comes in handy for stopping ribbons or buttonhole ends from fraying. The Simflex Buttonhole Marker/Gauge is a MUST HAVE for all sewing rooms. It will accurately mark buttonholes on a blouse, dress, etc. The Hera Marker will aide greatly in pushing out sewn scallops. An Awl is also a very valuable tool, particularly for anyone that hand-embroiders, although it is helpful for guiding tricky sewing under the foot of the machine as well.

Any seamstress can use new sewing machine needles!!! If you aren’t sure of any other of the tools mentioned, you can’t go wrong with good needles!

I hope that these suggestions have been helpful! If you prefer to watch the YouTube video where you can see all of these different products, you can do that as well.

You should have plenty of ideas for gift-giving for the seamstress in your life now! Have fun shopping!!!

Kathy

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Gifts For The Seamstress – Scissors & Rulers!!!

The ultimate seamstress gift is a great pair of scissors. Gingher scissors are among my favorite and I have a nice collection of them – everything from the 8″ dressmaker shears to the 4″ designer embroidery scissors. The nice thing about the Gingher scissors is their customer service. I’ve had some of these scissors for many, many years, and have sent them back to Ginger regularly for service. Any Gingher scissors can be sent back to Gingher in Greensboro, NC along with a check for $15 and they will sharpen, oil & service them and they will be returned about a week later as good as new! (You can click on any of the links below to view the products mentioned.) Of course, the video presentation with explanations can be seen on YouTube!

An 8″ pair of dressmaker shears is the most frequently used scissors. These are also available as left hand scissors.

If cutting has become difficult due to weaker hands or constant use, the 8″ spring action shears are a great choice.

7″ scissors sit next to my sewing machine, though some prefer to use the nippers next to their machines. Both work well.

Pinking shears aren’t a necessity, but they do come in handy for using as a seam finish for seams inside a wool jacket or something similar when you don’t want to overcast.

The tiny snips are wonderful for hanging around your neck for traveling – they are readily accessible.

The 4″ kindergarten scissors are also great for travel or for keeping in your lap while working on a project. The blunt ends are a much better choice than the embroidery scissors as they won’t pick you. I also use these exclusively for trimming fabric from behind lace. The blunt ends work well because you don’t end up with a pointed scissors end inadvertently catching a hole of the lace and cutting it accidentally.

A particularly lovely gift of scissors would be one from one of the designer scissors series that Gingher comes out with from time to time. The green print set is called “Sara” and I have the 8″ dressmaker shears as well as the 4″ embroidery shears. I also have the 5″ “Tessa” scissors. The designer series come out as a limited edition collection from time to time.

The other scissors that I really like is the Dovo scissors. These scissors have teeny, tiny serrated blades that grip the fabric so that it doesn’t slide away. My favorite set is the set of 3 gold-plated embroidery scissors (far left) that my husband gave me. ❤️ These are generally available at specialty heirloom shops.

Along with scissors, rotary cutters and self-healing mats are a great addition to the sewing room. I use both scissors as well as rotary cutters, depending on the project and my mood at the time. These also come in a variety of sizes. The smaller mats work well for small projects and for travel while a larger mat is wonderful to use on top of a cutting table. Mine is 36″ x 72″.

Rulers and measuring tapes are a necessity for any seamstress. Having a basic measuring tape in the sewing room, and then a retractable tape to carry around in my purse is always best. Then rulers, which there are a plethora to choose from, are wonderful to have as well. Heavier rulers like the 6″ x 24″ size work well to use with the rotary cutters. A lighter weight 2″ x 18″ ruler with a grid is also a necessity for me. Quilters will use a wider variety of rulers than someone that sews clothing.

French curve rulers and seam allowance rulers (far right) are wonderful for anyone doing a lot of changes to patterns or someone delving into pattern drafting.

Magnetic pin cushions have to be one of the best inventions ever!!! I have several in my sewing room – one next to the sewing machine, one on my cutting table, one next to my iron, etc. I like the ones with the cover because they work so well for traveling – even from room to room. Of course, spilled pins are a thing of the past with these! I also use glass head pins and not the pins that come with the cushions. You can iron over a glass head pin, but ironing over a pin with a plastic head can melt the plastic and cause havoc with a project.

Unfortunately, seam rippers are a necessity in the sewing room for those mistakes that happen from time to time. The Clover one is a brand that has a nice shape and sharp cutter. A seam ripper with a magnifier works well for those that need a little help seeing the tiny stitches.

If buying sewing notions for the seamstress is totally out of your comfort zone, hand creams are always a welcome choice. Keeping the hands soft is imperative so that fragile fabrics won’t snag on hang nails or callouses. I like to use Camille Beckman’s Glycerine Therapy at night and then use the Nutrogena Hand Cream throughout the day, supplementing with Earth Theraputics Cuticle and Nail cream as needed.

I hope that this has provided you with plenty of gift ideas for the seamstress in your life. You will never go wrong purchasing a quality item that will be well loved and used!!!

Kathy

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Pressing Gifts For The Seamstress

Since Easter has come and gone, the next significant holiday (for me anyway!) is Mother’s Day. I thought I’d offer some ideas for Mother’s day gift giving for those that need some help in this department.

I know I’ve already done a blog post about pressing tools, but this post compliments my YouTube video on pressing gifts for the seamstress. So often friends/family don’t know what to get for a gift, saying that I’m difficult to buy for. You may have the same situation. Well, after years of accumulating wonderful notions & pressing aides, I thought I’d share some with my YouTube watchers and blog readers in case you don’t have some of these and think you’d want them. You can share this blog post or the YouTube video with them and let them know all the wonderful things available. You may not even realize that you “need” some of these!!! LOL!

I have shared my 3 pressing units – my Rowenta Steam Generator Iron, which I absolutely LOVE!!! If I could only have one of the 3, this would be it. Also my Singer Press, which works so well for pressing lengths of fabric but also is especially wonderful for applying iron-on interfacings and/or foam to tote bags, purses & travel bags. The 3rd is my Rowenta Steamer – this is great for quick touch up jobs so that you don’t look like you slept in your clothes!

Various other tools for pressing, such as all the wood tools (clapper, pointer/clapper, tailor board & seam stick) are a must for me to get a good press on difficult seams. Of course, I wouldn’t be without a ham or sleeve roll. Sometimes you just need that for the perfect press – especially on the roll collars, as shown in the video. I couldn’t do without the ham holder for collar pressing!

So, if you have someone that has difficulty finding just the right gift for you, these ideas should really help out and get you something that you’ll love using rather than some random gift that gets put away and never used. All different price points are covered, so there’s something for everyone! You can thank me later!!!

Links to products mentioned:
June Tailor Cut N Press

Pressing Ham

Sleeve Roll

Clapper

Ham Holder

Point Press Clapper

Tailor Press

Rowenta Steamer

Rowenta Steam Generator Iron

Singer Press

Finger Guards

Press Cloth

Rajah Press Cloth

Sleeve Board

Wide Ironing Board

Stainless Lab Spatula

Quilter’s Bias Bars

Seam Stick

A few other tools that I forgot to mention but are also great to have:

Teflon Press Cloth

Clover Mini Iron

Dritz Hem Gauge

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

GET CREATIVE – WALKING THROUGH THE DESIGN PROCESS

My design process is pretty simple, but involve auditioning LOTS of different fabric choices as well as ribbons, rickrack, trims, piping, etc. In the YouTube video I show many different design options that were auditioned for this dress.

After choosing the pattern and base fabric, other co-ordinating fabrics are pulled to see which ones speak to me at the time as well as observing which ones seem to look the best and “pop” with the main fabric.

For this dress, I chose the Children’s Corner “April” pattern.

If you haven’t used Children’s Corner patterns before, these are great patterns to use. They are drafted well, have great instructions and fit well. It may be a challenge to use the 1/4″ seam allowance. If that is the case for you, you can always add to the seam allowance until you have a seam allowance that you’re comfortable with. When doing this, it is nice to use some seam allowance rulers. I prefer the 3/8″ size. You can see how to use the ruler on the video. You can also purchase sets of rulers with additional sizes included (1/2″, 5/8″). These work great if you are drafting patterns or making significant changes and need to add seam allowances.

Sometimes I will start by taking a picture or screenshot of the line drawing of the pattern and then will print the picture. This allows for a blank canvas to add details and color in.

Once a general idea for design has been sketched over the line drawing, then I pull out the matching trims, etc. and begin the audition process (see video).

Because I wanted a fuller skirt, I used a 42″ width rather than the width suggested in the pattern for both the skirt front and back on the size 5 & 7 that I made.

Play with different ribbons, trims, buttons, rickrack, etc. to see what works for what you have in mind. With the floral dress, I had difficulty finding matching trims. Lavenders are a hard color to match, so I made a fabric ruffle.

Also, if you want to use buttons and don’t have a good match, covered buttons work well. Rather than bows, yo-yo flowers or fabric flowers are another good choice.

I hope that you will find this process helpful for you as you plan your next outfit!

Happy designing and sewing!!!

Kathy

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Heirloom Sewing 101 – Sewing Flat Lace To Fabric

Working with heirloom laces is easier than you think. For these instructions and the corresponding video, I will be working with the Tapered Smocked Preemie Bonnet by Laurie Anderson. If you are a Facebook member of the SAGA Wee Care group, she has generously donated this bonnet pattern to the group and it can be downloaded there. I am making this bonnet to match one of the Wee Care gowns completed in a previous video.

For this technique, I am using Imperial batiste, heirloom lace, 60 wt. thread, sz. 70 Microtex needle & Faultless spray starch.

After cutting out the pattern and pleating, per the instructions, flatten out the bonnet in order to attach the lace. Pull one of the header threads of the lace in order to go around the curves, as shown on the video.

Place the lace 1/8″ from the edge of the bonnet front, with the scalloped edge of the lace facing towards the bonnet (right sides together). Set the straight stitch of the machine to a 2,0 length and stitch the lace to the bonnet, stitching on top of the header threads. Go around the corners carefully, ensuring that the gathered portion of the lace isn’t caught in the stitching.

After the lace is attached, switch to a zigzag stitch (4.0 W & 1.0 L) and zigzag the seam allowance of the lace to “roll & whip” the seam, which will give it a nice finish. The left swing of the needle should be on top of the header lace/stitching line and the right swing of the needle should go off the fabric.

Once the roll & whip has been completed, finger press the seam allowance towards the fabric and then change the zigzag stitch to a 1.5 W & 1.0 L. Stitch this zigzag stitch on top of the lace with the left swing of the needle going through the bonnet fabric & seam allowance and the right swing of the needle barely going into the lace. This keeps the seam allowance from flipping forward and showing through behind the lace. While this is an optional step, I always do it to keep the lace in place.

All of these steps are shown in the video, so you can refer to that to see the steps completed.

I hope that this will help you in your quest to learn more heirloom sewing techniques!

Happy Stitching!!!

Kathy

Links to some of the supplies mentioned:

Imperial batiste

60 wt. Mettler thread

Size 70 Schmetz Microtex Needle

Starch

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Machine Granitos

Machine granitos are simple to make and can be finished much more quickly than hand-stitched granitos. To prepare for stitching the granito, use a circle template and a blue wash out marker to draw the circles where they are to be stitched on the fabric.

Cut a small piece of Totally Stable stabilizer and iron it to the fabric behind the drawn ccircle.

Thread the machine (top and bobbin) with 50 wt. DMC cotton thread in the color desired and use a size 70 Schmetz needle and an open toed foot. Set the machine for a .3 – .5 stitch length.

Take 1 stitch in the center of the circle. Gently pull on the top thread so that the bobbin thread comes to the top and pull it through. Holding both threads, take a couple stitches to secure the threads, then trim away the tails next to the fabric.

Set the machine to a zigazag stitch with a stitch width of 1.5 and a stitch length of .2. Stitch 12 – 20 stitches. Be sure to count the stitches! Stitch the same number of stitches forward, then backward, then forward again and backward again. This completes the machine stitching. For the granito stitched in the video, I stitched 13 stitches.

Gently pull on the bobbin thread until the top thread comes to the back. Tie a square knot to secure the threads. I generally will tie 3 knots.

With your thumbnail, push back and forth a few times on the wrong side of the granito to push the threads towards the front. Then pull away the stabilizer. Your granito is complete!

If the granito doesn’t look completely round, the shape can be pinched between finger nails to help round it out (see video).

Granitos are a lovely way to add visual interest to garments, pillowcases, doilies, etc. Have fun stitch some!!!

Kathy

Supplies needed:

Circle Template

Fine Tip Blue Wash Out Marker

Totally Stable Stabilizer

Schmetz sz. 70 Microtex needle

DMC 50 wt. Cotton Thread

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.