Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tip of the Week

The other day a sewing enthusiast dropped by the sewing center looking for answers. She had recently retired and was finally enjoying her sewing machine that had spent many a long year in a dark closet of her home. This lady was making doll clothes for her granddaughters.  She just wasn't happy with the results. She blamed the less than optimal results on herself and her rusty sewing skills.

After listening to the reasons the clothes were not quite right we started researching the potential problems. One stood out among the rest---fabric. Whether you quilt, decorate your home, or sew fashions, one thing you need to watch out for is fabric grain.

Fabric grain that is off will result in crooked garments, garments that start out relatively straight but then become disheveled upon washing, home furnishings, and, yes, even doll clothes that don't hang or drape correctly.

Woven fabrics have a lengthwise grain running along the selvage edge. And fabrics have crosswise grain running along the cut edge of the fabric as it comes off of the bolt. Then there's a bias----that's crosswise across both the grains.

So what does this all have to do with the crooked clothes? Well, fabric has the least stretch along the lengthwise grain, a little more stretch on the crosswise grain, and along the bias---well unless you want a curvature effect you want to stay away from the super stretch of the bias.

In addition, the grain on fabrics aren't always straight right off the bolt. You'll know if you have a crooked grain if you join the selvages and the fold doesn't lay straight. Sometimes you can fix the grain---sometimes you can't. Grains that are crooked on fabrics with printed on stripes or plaids can't usually be fixed. You'll know if your fabric is printed if the wrong side of the fabric doesn't match the rightside---if it does, the fabric was woven with colored threads instead of printed after weaving.

So how do you fix?

  •   Wash and press your fabric. Fold so that selvages are together and stretch on the bias. If that does the trick the fold will become straight and neat when the selvages are together.
  • Cut through the selvage and pull a crosswise thread all the way through from selvage to selvage adjusting the fabric as you pull the thread. You can then cut along the trail that your missing thread has made in the fabric and you will have a squared, crosswise grain. (I've had the best luck with this method.)
  • You can simply cut through the selvage and rip tear the fabric. The fabric will tear along the crossgrain, giving you a nice squared grain.
Again, nothing much will help a fabric that has printed on stripes or clear diagonal lines---you'll have to catch this type of problem at point of purchase and not purchase faulty fabric no matter how much you fall in love with it.

So before you start your next project take a look at that fabric and make sure its grain is straight and your masterpiece will be a masterpiece.

Notion of the Week

Have you seen our newly arrived line of Floriani stabilizers?  The line includes stabilizers to help you with any project you're working on whether you need a stabilizer for cut-a-way designs or if you're sewing napkin corners, or if you're placing applique.

There's even a stabilizer in this line that helps with the hoop placement of quilt blocks for machine embroidery (This product is designed to go through your printer so that your embroidery design specifications are printed directly on the product.)

Come in to the Kalamazoo Sewing Center and shop the full line of Floriani Stabilizers---and if you're not sure which of these products is right for you and your current project, just ask, we're here to help.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tip of the Week

Curious about the different types of sewing machine needles and why you would ever step past that package of assorted size Universals?

Here are the top needles and the particulars on why and how they make different jobs easier, more efficient, and give better, professional results:

  • Universal needles---the good old stand by. For general purpose sewing these guys are great. Different sizes handle different weights of fabric.These are the needles that handle most sewing jobs but for special situations, when the stitches don't exactly turn out as planned read on.
  • Topstitch needle---Did you ever need to thread heavier thread into your machine, whether for decorative topstitching or a speciality, heavy seam. The Topstitch needle has a big eye for that big thread---making it easier to use for this kind of project than that trusty Universal.
  • Embroidery needles are used for that delicate embroidery work. Embroidery threads can be more delicate than all purpose thread. To protect your embroidery thread and project the Embroidery needle has a special scarf (the part of the needle that interacts with the bobbin to form the stitch), a bigger eye, and a rounded point.
  • Denim needle---while that heavy duty Universal may work just fine for some projects, you may want to include a package of Denim needles in your sewing supplies. Denim needles are super sharp to go through those heavy fabrics---canvas too. A Denim needle simply won't be shoved aside by heavy fibers!
  • Quilting needles---sure you can quilt with a heavier Universal, but for some real help for both you and your machine, try a quilting needle. A quilting needle, with it's specially shaped point and ballpoint will absolutely glide through all those layers---even if you decide on a 10 layer quilt.
  •  Stretch needle---if you have one kind of  needle besides your Universal/Embroidery needles , grab a package of stretch needles. Stretch fabrics need special handling for good results. These needles have a special scarf that grabs on and eliminates pesky missed stitches. Stretch needles can help out in a pinch with both genuine and synthetic leathers too.
  • Ballpoint needles handle specialty knits with ease. With their special ball points they stitch through those knits without snagging the fabric; keeping the stitches and fabric beautiful.
  • Leather needles are the best for leathers. Super sharp ---they were made just for this job.
Still curious? There are many great resources on the internet to answer any sewing question that may be needling you. Here are just a few:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Notion of the Week

Potholders are important, handy, and easy to make, but what is that stuff in between that prevents those burnt fingers?

Look no further than Kalamazoo Sewing Center for the insides of your potholders---and don't just trust your fingers to regular batting. The product you need to keep your fingers in tact is called Insul-Bright. It's a special batting product with a heat resistant Metalized Polyester layer---that's what protects your fingers. The product is heat resistant---don't try to stick it in your microwave oven---there's another product for that use.

Insul-Bright comes with a handy oven mitt pattern right on the package. Sometimes there's a question regarding the right or wrong side of the product---never fear there is no wrong side to Insul-Bright these days!

This product can be difficult to find locally but we have it in stock. And if you need an idea for a Valentine or hostess gift for a friend---how about a cute potholder or oven mitt---everyone can use another; don't you think?          

Friday, January 13, 2012

Notion of the Week

Are you sick and tired of winter already? How about coming by the sewing center for a class?

Whether you're interested in learning how to sew and use your machine or you would like to learn a new quilting technique or you'd just like to get better use of that embroidery machine---we've got a class scheduled for you.

Check out our class schedule by pointing your browser here. You can download our calendar to your calendar so you will never have to miss a class---new classes are added several times a year. And let us know if there is something else we can help you with. We look forward to helping you get the most out of your sewing machine.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tip of the Week

Whether you're a fashionista or have a daughter or granddaughter who is--- now's the time to start thinking of that spring wardrobe. The professional fashion designers put out their spring collections months ago (they're oohing over  their fall collections now).

Trends for this spring and summer are in what we used to call "pastels"---pale, pillow mint colors that look great on everyone---light tangerines, lilacs, the palest raspberry, airy lemon yellows.

Plenty of inspiration can be found on the internet---with a quick search with words like spring 2012 fashion trends you'll be able to view what the professional designers are doing . And with your sewing machine you can create one of a kind creations of your own---not the same old off the rack everyone else has.

Or, if time is short, how about using that sewing machine to make embellishments to that off the rack or thrift store jacket, dress or pant? Maybe you already have an accessory or garment that you love but that could use a bit of updating? A little embroidery on a sleeve, adding a trim to that handbag, or a decorative stitch on the hem of that spring dress adds a little something to make that garment or accessory your own original.

So whether you're sewing for yourself or your family, on a limited budget or have a fashionista windfall, let's dust off those sewing machines and create---the power of creativity with a sewing machine.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Notion of the Week

Ever had a problem with skipped stitches or broken needles when sewing over heavy seams on your blue jeans? Your machine may need a little help with the traction between the feed dogs and the presser foot.

And that is just what a Jean-a-ma-jig helps out with! This handy little helper tackles all kinds of thick seams. And it's so reasonably priced every sewing box should have one!  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tip of the Week

Thread----so many choices. If you're new to machine embroidery you'll soon be wondering about all those choices and not only about what color to choose.

Rayon thread's shine makes it a great choice for colorful, high gloss designs. Rayon comes in a 40 weight and heavier 35 weight. Be sure to swap out the needle on your machine---use an embroidery needle and keep the needle sharp for the best results.

For durablity, colorfastness, and washability Trilobal Polyester thread is had to beat. This thread is now being made with a glossy finish that comes close to Rayon. Again, a size 75/11 embroidery needle is recommended for this 40 weight thread.

When shine and sheen don't matter nothing ever beats good, old fashioned natural cotton thread. Vintage hand embroidery was done in cotton and now machine embroidery can also use this natural fiber. Cotton thread holds color very well---as demonstrated in all those heirloom examples that remain colorful from years past. A heavier cotton thread 20-30 weight makes great redwork designs (use a 90/14 sharp embroidery needle.) Cotton comes in a number of weights---use your embroidery needle in the correct size.

For your bobbin thread a lightweight bobbin thread is best. We carry pre-wound bobbins in black and white; a real time saver when you're anxious to start creating and don't want to be held up by winding bobbins. If  you would like your design's back to match the front then use a coordinating thread, otherwise it is perfectly acceptable to use white or black bobbin thread depending on your fabric and design choices.

We carry a wide variety of colors and types of threads in addition to bobbin threads and pre-wound bobbins. We carry R/A, Hemingworth, Coats and Clark. We've just added the Floriani line to the choices we offer to inspire your creativity. And if you are ever in doubt about what type of thread is best for your project----simply ask our staff.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Design the New Year in!

Just look at the embroidery area on this Designer Diamond Machine. That area is a huge 14 1/4 x 13 3/4 that can be embroidered without re-hooping.  This sewing machine is full of features that make sewing elegant projects so fun and easy.

Have you ever been embroidering a project and needed the sewing machine for a quick "regular sewing" minute? Have you ever wished that your sewing machine had a bigger work surface for those large projects---on the Designer Diamond you can leave the embroidery unit on for regular sewing and, yes, take advantage of that extra big work surface.

Your embroidery jump stitches are automatically clipped and brought to the back for you! How nice would that be? Plus all your help is built right into the machine---no need to look elsewhere.

If you buy from our Sewing Center, your machine also comes with FREE classes, special Favorite Customer Discounts on accessories, notions, and more.

And for a limited time only there is special financing----approved customers take home the machine today and make payments, interest free---same as cash. Come see us in the store for complete details.