Monday, November 7, 2022

 Hi everyone,

This morning I experimented with our new vegan leather.  We have it in 2 colors:  tan and blush.  I haven't sewn with it myself, and I thought some of you might not have tried it.

So I did some quick experimenting and want to show you my results.

First, I tried pressing the fabric. A warm iron on the back side of the fabric is okay, but don't try pressing on the right side.  I tried it, again using a warm temp and a light touch, but the iron just wants to stick, rather than gliding across the surface.  I found that finger-pressing worked well--I kept flattening the surface of the fabric as it moved through the sewing machine.

Then I tried stitching.  My machine has a leather setting, so I clicked it just to see what it advised.  It lowered the pressure foot pressure and changed to a 3.0 stitch length.  I found that both adjustments are important.  In fact, I manually lowered the presser foot pressure even more.  Practice on scraps to see what settings work best.

Next, I changed to a teflon foot.  (I did try my usual metal foot, but it stuck to the fabric.)  Here's what mine looks like:

Some manufacturers sell the feet; others sell strips of Teflon to stick on a foot.  A Teflon foot will really help with this fabric.

Stitching a seam with the fabric right side to right side was easy.

I did use my fingers to gently help the fabric move through the machine.  (Again, lower that presser foot pressure!)  The back side of the fabric slides through the machine easily.

Then I tried topstitching.  I could not use a metal topstitching or edgestitching foot--mine don't have Teflon on them.  So I kept the Teflon foot and aligned the fabric with the edge of the foot for topstitching.  


I had fingerpressed the seam first.  I found that it helped to once again gently use my fingers to help the fabric move under the foot.  The stitching was easy, but I would practice on scraps to get the feel of it.


I aligned with a different corner of the foot for edgestitching.

Results are pretty good.  I used contrast thread so you could see my results.  However, it shows any little waver in the stitching, so I moved on to matching thread.

I found that top and edgestitching were easier when only the wrong side of the fabric was next to the bed of the machine.  So I trimmed one seam allowance to about 1/8" and left the other one flat to encase the trimmed one.  This worked better.  The fabric moved through the machine more easily and there was no problem with bulk because I had trimmed one seam allowance so closely.


First, I tried just topstitching this seam.  That worked well.  Then I tried also edgestitching a portion of it, and that also worked well.

Overall, I think a couple of simple adjustments will allow you to easily use this fabric.  I think a slightly slower pace is important, allowing you to help your machine do a good job.  So:

Use a Teflon foot.  Lengthen to a 3.0 stitch length.  Reduce the presser foot pressure quite a bit.  Experiment with your settings.

I would choose a pattern without too many details for this fabric, which is fabulous looking and will make a beautiful garment.  

I do think seams will need to be topstitched to keep them flat, so keep that in mind as you design the look you want.  

If you need to topstitch a collar or facing, go slowly.  The right side of the fabric will be against your Teflon foot and on the stitch plate of your machine on the underside of the collar.  Practice on scraps first and you'll have good results.

Post your pretty garments on the Forum to inspire the rest of us!! 

Monday, January 3, 2022

 Happy New Year everyone, 

Louise has a new project for you to get 2022 started with a bang.  You know how she is--coming up with great ideas so we can create unique garments.  Let's take a look at the new options she has for us:

This is Point of View, but what makes it special is the linen bands Louise has added to her shirt.  They are linen bands on a linen shirt, to be precise.  Note that on the right front the bands extend from the shoulder to the hem--that had to be done while the shirt was under construction.  The band over the buttonholes had to be added once the front was constructed so it would fit properly.  Then the buttonholes were stitched.  The band across the front had to be added into the sleeve seam during construction, then finished later.  Louise tried the shirt on to determine where that single button on the left front should be placed.

Let's see the back:

Again, the bands were added during construction, then finished later.  

Now you have the general idea.  Here's the vest Louise created:

It's a Light and Shadow vest using the same type of embellishment.  It's not complicated, but it has a major impact on the style of the garment.  Once again, the bands were added during construction, so the hems of the garment and bands were finished together.  

I know you're going to want to try this fabulous look, so let's talk details.  First, I'll repeat that this project is linen on linen.   So choose your pattern and cut out your garment pieces.  Then it's time to cut your bands.  It's vital that your bands are cut on the straight of grain, across the fabric.  You can easily establish a cutting line by pulling a thread, which is easy to do in linen.  

First, snip the selvedge edge of your band fabric and find a crosswise thread, like this:

That little dark thing in the middle of the photo is the thread.  Gently pull that thread while using your other hand to gather the fabric ahead of the cut--the thread will guide your straight, on-grain line.  Like this:

Cut across the fabric on the puckered line--you'll be exactly on the crosswise grain.  You can see my thread that I'm pulling, but if it breaks, I'll just pull another one on the cut edge.

Louise's bands are about 2" wide.  You'll want to plan ahead.  You can use bands with raw edges, as on Louise's vest, or bands with finished edges, as on her shirt.  So plan your finished dimensions.

For finished edges like these, add 1/4" to each side of the band over and above your finished dimension.  Using a 1/4" Pressing Template, press the 1/4" to the wrong side.  At the end of the band, the easiest option is to leave that edge raw to avoid bulk at the corners.  Lay strips of Steam-a-Seam on the 1/4" hems, press lightly, and remove the paper backing.  Place the bands where you want them and press again to fuse them. 

Use an edge-stitching foot and move your needle to achieve a straight line of stitching near the edges of the bands. 

Note that the diagonal band on Louise's shirt is free at the end, not pressed down.  She laid the shirt flat on her worktable, smoothed everything in place, then determined the button placement and stitched her buttonhole.  Also note that the diagonal band overlaps the top of the short band.  It's good to look at the details of her design for more ideas.

The vest has a different treatment:

These bands have raw edges.  It's critical to cut them on the straight grain so your fringe on the edges is even, but as you could see above, it's easy to pull threads for straight cut edges.  Again, lay Steam-a-Seam on the wrong side, leaving a margin at the edges for the width of the fringe you want.  Press lightly and remove the paper backing.  Align the bands on the garment pieces where you want them and press to fuse.  Again, choose a presser foot that will help you stitch in a straight line.  Use a short stitch (2.0 stitch length) to stitch the bands in place.

Here's how the hem works:

The bands just become part of the garment and are treated as one with the garment fabric and hem.

Let's take another look at the back of the shirt:

I think that the impact of this fairly simple embellishment is way beyond the effort needed to create it.  I hope you'll all give this a try, and that you'll post your garment on our Facebook Forum to inspire others to try this technique.

Have fun,


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

 I hope you've already read my previous post in which I explained the applique process Louise used to make her sensational Light and Shadow vests.  

In this post, I'll show you photos of her second vest.  They'll give you more ideas.  Then I'll explain how she created her faux sashiko stitching.  First, the pieces of the vest with applique and stitching.

Here's the Right Front.  Louise used a black and white print, cutting it to show various motifs.  She also used a yellow print.

And the Left Front.  Note that there's no applique where the Left Front will slide under the Right Front.

Here's a detail of the cowl.  

Two close-up photos to show you details:

Now I'll explain the steps to achieve the faux sashiko stitching.  First, you'll need thread.  Louise used 6 strands of DMC embroidery thread.  She did not separate the strands at all, but used them just as they were.  She advises using a crewel or tapestry needle, since those are sharp and have large eyes to accommodate the 6 strands.

Prepare the vest pieces for the stitching.  On each piece, consider how lines of stitching will help the appliques relate to each other.  Use a straight and/or fashion ruler to mark straight or curved lines, using her vest for inspiration.  Use white chalk (from a Chalkoner) as your marker.  (Colored chalk may not all come off your fabric.)

Next, thread your machine with typical white thread.  Using a 6.0 stitch length, stitch along your chalked lines.  Be sure to use this stitch length, as it will help you with your sashiko.  Again, consult the photos.  Louise also stitched over some appliques.  Look carefully--she changed colors where she stitched over an applique.  She really considers the details!

You're ready for sashiko.  Thread your crewel or tapestry needle with a length of the DMC 6-strand thread.  Knot the end.  Bring your needle up from the wrong side at the end of a line of machine basting.  Let the DMC remain on the right side of the fabric for the length of 1 white basting stitch.  Take your needle down to the wrong side, skip the length of the next white basting stitch, and come up again to repeat.  So your sashiko will show beside every other basting stitch.  At the end of the line, make a knot on the back.  Have fun!  

Be careful to avoid catching the white machine basting.  When your sashiko is complete, remove the basting.  The white thread will not leave any marks on your fabric.

Here are the front and back of this second Light and Shadow vest.

We hope you'll give this project a try.  You'll have a piece of art when you're done, and you can try designing other projects using the same techniques.  Other sewers will be amazed!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

 Hello all you creative sewers out there,

This blog post is going to show you a fabulous project.  It's one of Louise's inventions; she taught it at 2 ASG Conferences and at a retreat or two.  Now we'd like to show you how it all works, so you can do it yourself at home.  We've had many requests to teach this again in person, but we decided to extend the how-to's for all of you instead.

Louise based her vest on our Light and Shadow pattern.  She used the usual pattern pieces to create her vest.  The special part of this is the applique and the faux sashiko stitching she designed with.  In this post, I'll show you step by step photos of how she created the unique look.  Please read through the entire blog so you'll understand the process before you start.

She cut out the vest pieces from linen.  Then she chose a print (use linen or cotton) to cut up for her applique pieces.  This one had so many colors in the print that she only needed one fabric for all the appliques.  

Let's see the vest, so you can see how fabulous this project can look.  Here's the finished vest back:

And the finished front: right front over left front.  You can see how the cowl drapes in this photo.

You can also see that she didn't fussy cut individual shapes from the print.  Instead, she cut circles and blocks in interesting shapes, even cutting through some individual motifs in the fabric.  Take a close look to see what I mean.  Also note that some small appliques slide just a bit under the edges of larger appliques.  

Here's the back laid flat on the table to give you a clearer view:

I'll point out a few details, then explain how the process works.  Note the little tabs tucked under the circle at the upper right.  Below that is a long strip with a short strip tucked under it near the top, and on its left a triangular shape with one edge tucked under.  Three blocks on the left overlap each other slightly, with 2 small shapes added.  On the left side seam edge is a strip folded double, with its folded edge extending onto the back piece.  When the side seam is sewn, the raw edges will be caught in the seam, while the folded edge will extend from the seam.  (I'll address the faux sashiko stitching later.)

Let's talk about how this works.  Cut out your vest pieces and set then aside for a few minutes.  Lay out your applique fabric(s) and just look them over.  Begin cutting out shapes: squares, rectangles, strips of varying lengths and widths, circles, half circles, etc.  It's more effective to keep the designs abstract, focused on the colors, than to fussy-cut flowers, leaves, or other motifs.  Once you have lots of shapes, begin laying some of them on a vest piece, moving them around until you like the overall look.  Here's Louise's preliminary layout on the back.  You can see the raw edges of her applique pieces.

Another view of the back.  Note that the small pieces that will eventually tuck under the larger pieces are on top at this stage.

This photo shows that folded piece at the side seam.  She eventually shortened this to keep it out of the miter.

Once you've finished your applique layout on a vest piece, take a photo to help you remember your design.  Also, put pins around each shape so you'll put it back in the same place as before.  Like this:

 Above is a photo of the cowl with pins marking the location of each applique.  Keep all your applique pieces near center front of the cowl.  (At the sides and back, you'll want to allow the cowl to fold down on itself; appliques would make it too stiff there.)  Once you've marked placements with pins, remove the pieces.  You'll have this:

NOTE:  Place your Right Front vest piece on top of the Left Front vest piece.  Use chalk to mark the edge of the Right Front on the Left Front.  You won't need any applique on the Left Front where it lies under the Right Front.  Here are Louise's right and left fronts with their preliminary placements.

The next step is to deal with the edges of the appliques.  First, let's talk about the circles.  Make 2 templates from file folders or similar materials.  One will be the size of a circle you want to cut.  Make the second template 1/4" smaller all the way around; you'll use it to press the raw edges under.  Staystitch, using a regular stitch length, all the way around each fabric circle, 1/4" from the raw edge.  Lay the fabric circle wrong side up on the ironing board with the smaller circle template centered on it.  Carefully press a 1/4" hem over the small template to give the fabric circle a finished edge.  

Also staystitch 1/4" from the raw edges of all the other shapes.  Use a Pressing Template to press a 1/4" hem on all edges of each shape, except where an edge of a small piece will extend under a larger piece.  

Once all your raw edges are pressed under, place strips of Steam-a-Seam on the 1/4" hems, sticky side down (pieces are wrong side up on the ironing board).  Press lightly, then remove the paper backing.  

Using the pins for reference, begin placing the appliques right side up in the placements marked by the pins.  Of course, each piece is slightly smaller now because of the hems, but your placement will be just about the same.  Also refer to the photos you took as you did the preliminary outline on each vest piece.

Once you're satisfied with your placements, press each applique piece to keep it in place.  

Using a 2.5 or 2.0 stitch length and matching thread, edgestitch each applique shape.  I find a blind hem foot, adjustable blind hem foot, or edge joining foot works well, along with moving the needle.

At this point, your applique design is finished.  In the next blog post, I'll address the faux sashiko stitching.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

 We're almost there, everyone,

When I ended the previous blog, I had just sewn the sleeve seam, leaving 2" open at each end of the seam, like this:

Now let's move on.  It's time to stitch the underarm sleeve seam from the raw hem edge (unfold the hems you've pressed earlier) to the dots at the underarm.  Be sure to match those dots accurately.  

Then stitch the side seam from the matched dots at the underarm to the matched dots at the top of the side vent.

(Let me interject something here.  In all our instructions, we suggest that you keep the paper pattern pieces with the fabric pieces you have cut.  Then the first step for each Front, Pocket, Sleeve etc. is to mark clips and dots.  You probably did that when you originally cut the pieces, but we remind you.  As you move on to each new garment section, you can quickly check that you have all the markings completed.  If not, you can do it before you sew that section.  It's much easier to mark while everything is flat, and you have the pattern right there, rather than folded away in the envelope.)

Ok, here's how the shirt looks once you've completed those seams.  The pressed underarm sleeve seam is to the right, the pressed side seam is to the left, and the hole in the middle results from leaving 2" open at each end of the sleeve seam.

Turn the sleeve right side out so it's inside the garment, which remains wrong side out.  Match the side and underarm seams at the dots, like this:

It's important to get the dots (where your stitching stopped) matched precisely.

Now fold back all the seam allowances so they are together and moved to one side of the seams.  I put a pin through one dot, then look to see that it's through the dot on the other side.  Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to get it right.

Once your dots are perfectly matched, pin to hold everything in place and stitch from where your previous sleeve seam ended to the dot, securing your stitching at the dot.  

Repeat folding the seam allowances back and stitching the open portion of the sleeve seam on the other side.

Now you're ready to serge the sleeve seams.  Note that the underarm and side seam allowances are still free.  That's the whole idea--they allow the garment to drape properly when worn.  They don't pull or pucker.

Fold down the seam allowances on one side, and begin your serging on the other side:

Begin serging on the seam allowances that remain upright, trimming them to 3/8".  Serge all the way around the sleeve.  When you approach the end, fold down the seam allowance where you started.  Your result will look like this--

This technique is used in several of our patterns, and now you know the details of how to complete this unique finish.

Next time, I'll review a few items for finishing your new shirt.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

 Greetings again, everyone,

Let's move on to stitching the sleeves in the View B shirt from At Every Angle.  By the way, much of what I'm talking about can apply to other patterns in our Cutting Line Designs line of patterns.  So carry this info with you as you work on other shirts.

The pattern instructions tell you to serge both vertical edges of the sleeves.  It's best to serge from the underarm corner to the hem.  If you go in the other direction, you are working against the grain and you'll stretch the edge of the sleeve.

Then you can press the hem edges.  In this case, there are 2 folds so you end up with a clean finish.  First, a 3/8" fold, using one of our Pressing Templates.  (My bad; imagine this turned 90 degrees!)

Then use the same Template to press a 2" hem (all the Templates are 2" wide).  I like to press the hems while the sleeves are flat, even if I have to touch up a bit later.

Now you're ready to pin the sleeve into the garment.  As I've explained before, you are working with a concave edge (the garment) and a convex edge (the sleeve).   So the cut edge of the sleeve is longer than the cut edge of the garment.  However, the stitching line is the same length on the garment and the sleeve.  That's why you will find it easiest to pin in a certain way.  Let's look:

Note that the pins catch only a few threads right at the stitching line.  That's where the sleeve and the garment are the same.  The different edges can do what they need to.  (See the May 20 blog for more.)  By the way, sharp pins with glass heads really help.  

It may also help to see how the corners look when matched correctly.  They should cross right at the stitching line--not at the corners.

Time to stitch.  In this pattern, you begin stitching 2" in from one underarm corner and end 2" from the other underarm corner.  Like this:

Next, stitch your underarm seam of the sleeve.  Unfold the pressed hems.  Stitch from the raw sleeve hem up to the dots at the underarm corners.  Also stitch the side seam of the garment from the matched dots at the underarm corners to the matched dots at the top of the side vents.

Tomorrow, I'll explain how you'll stitch that open spot at the underarm.

In the meantime, I hope you're following along and finding info you can use in other projects.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Hello fellow sewers,

It's time for the next step in constructing the Shirt (view B) from At Every Angle.  In the last blog, we ended with beginning to pin the collar to the shirt's neckline, so let's see how that looked.

As a quick review, this collar is somewhat unusual.  As you can see in the photo, the collar is slipped down over the neckline of the shirt (in other words, the neckline is inside the collar), right side to right side, center backs matched.  At the center front edges, the collar would fold around the fronts and back on itself with the neckline sandwiched between the 2 collar layers.  Once both layers are pinned, it's time to stitch.

Look closely at the stitching below.  I sank my needle with the fabric turned in the opposite direction and stitched to the end of the collar.  Then I turned the collar around as you see below.  I like this technique because it avoids the dimple in the fabric's edge that backstitching often causes.  Now I'm ready to stitch across the combined collar/neckline.  I'll mirror image this technique at the other end.

Same view as above.  

Once the collar/neckline seam is stitched, it must be graded and clipped.  I've mentioned in other blogs that we now clip on the diagonal.  I clipped one layer, then turned the collar/neckline over and clipped in the opposite direction, and so the clips don't overlap.  Thus no ridges or gaps press through to the right side.

Below, I'm pressing the collar up and away from the neckline of the garment.  You can see that the top edge of the collar is open.  See the raw edges?

You might be wondering, "How on earth do I close the top of that collar now?"  It can be done!  Of course, all of this is explained and illustrated in the instructions, but it's helpful to see it done.

You'll roll the front edges of the shirt and pin them out of the way, like this:

Note that I've pinned the rolled front.  It can be rolled again on top of itself.  Once you've rolled each front, you can pull the collar down over the garment, wrong side out, and pin the edges together.  Begin stitching the collar at each center front end and stitch toward the center of the collar as far as you reasonably can.  Grade the seam allowances where you've stitched and press them open over a point press.  This photo is showing you one end of the collar. 

Once you've stitched and pressed both ends, you can turn them right side out, using a point turner to walk out the corners.  The middle of the collar will still be open.  Turn the seam allowances down inside the collar, pressing them carefully so they are even.

Once the pressed seam allowances are perfect, trim them to 3/8".  Slide a strip of Steam-a-Seam between them, remove the paper backing, and press to fuse this last part of the collar together.  Finally, you'll edgestitch the collar.  Work on the side of the collar that will show when worn and begin stitching at center back where the collar joins the neckline.  Edgestitch all the way around.  You did it!

Next, we'll construct the sleeves.  We have different way of finishing the underarms, so I'll show you that in the next blog.