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Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders
101 Sewing Projects Using Cottons, Knits, Voiles, Corduroy, Fleece, Flannel, Home Dec, Oilcloth, Wool, and Beyond
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Format:Spiral bound $29.95 $39.95 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 16, 2011. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Like you, we are so excited to see the different types of fabrics being created by our favorite contemporary print designers. When you want a perfect-for-fall corduroy skirt, summery sheer top, cozy fleece mitts, or an easy springy knit, you’re no longer confined to dull solids or gaudy colorways. You can now find lively printed corduroys, velveteens, voiles, and coated cottons from some of your most loved fabric designers!
The Wild World of Fabrics
As exciting as these new fabrics are, they often have complex sewing and care rules. This easy-to-follow manual will introduce you to the wild world of wonderful fabrics, some of which you might not even be familiar with, and teach you all you need to know for the best sewing success. For instance, just how do you press corduroy without crushing the pile? How can you cut knits without having the fabric stretch and curl out of shape as you go? And what kinds of things can you make with oilcloth other than tablecloths?
Well, read on for the answers to these and many more questions. In this book we have tips and tricks for working with so many different kinds of fabrics, including: lightweight fabrics such as voiles; quilting cottons; heavyweight home decorating fabrics; flannels; pile fabrics such as corduroy and velveteen; coated fabrics such as oilcloth; fleece; knits; and woolens.
Of course there are far more fabric types than we are able to cover in this book, so simply use the information provided as the foundation in your quest to work with assorted fabrics. A mind-boggling array of silks, wools, knits, leathers, and man-made fabrics awaits you!
Making Your Sewing Machine Work for You
Your sewing machine was designed and built for precision; it’s up to you to ensure that it delivers. Whether your machine is new or old, mechanical, electronic or computerized, it’s important to familiarize yourself with its basic functions. The key functions you need to know are how to thread your machine, how to wind and insert bobbins, and how to change the needle. The rest will come with time, patience, and practice.
If you have your manual, read it, keep it within arm’s reach, and refer to it regularly. We can’t stress enough just how important the manual is, because it explains the nuances and special functions of your specific machine. Even though you most likely know how to use your sewing machine, you might be tickled to find additional tips and tricks in your manual that you just didn’t know about. Above all else, remember that your sewing machine is your friend and partner in creativity, and you must communicate and work together.
Stay sharp! Always make sure that you choose the appropriate needle for the project at hand. Generally speaking, you need a needle that is fine enough to enter the fabric without leaving a puncture hole and strong enough to go through the fabric without bending. The wrong size or a damaged needle might break, mar, or tear the fabric, and will almost certainly result in skipped stitches, poor stitch quality, or even no stitches at all. In addition to the size of the needle, pay attention to the type. For the most part, you’ll use a universal needle for most sewing projects and a ballpoint for sewing on knitted or stretch fabrics. The best practice is to start each project with a new needle, as needles tend to wear down and dull with use. You’ll thank yourself later.
Stitch length is another matter of importance. Adjust the length of the stitch depending on the type of fabric, as well as the type of sewing you are doing. As a general rule, the heavier the fabric, the longer the stitch length. Regarding the fabrics discussed in this book, voile fabrics require the shortest stitch length, while heavyweight home decor and corduroy fabrics require the longest.
That said, even when sewing only one fabric, it may be necessary to use different stitch lengths within the same project to achieve different results. For example, it’s a good idea to use a shorter stitch length along curved edges to ensure a smoother curve. Topstitching typically requires a longer stitch length than seams. Basting requires yet a longer stitch length, as the stitches are temporary and you will most likely want to remove them later. Gathering fabric requires the longest stitch length of all. Refer to the Fabric Type Cheat Sheet on page 13 to fully understand seam stitch length as it pertains to fabric you are working with.
Type A or Type B? Also of importance is stitch type. The bulk of your sewing will be done with a straight stitch, but you may want to venture beyond. When working with knits, for example, set your machine for a stretch stitch or small zigzag stitch when sewing seams. This will prevent your seams from breaking. Depending on your sewing machine, you may have several additional decorative stitches. Experiment and have fun!
Don’t be so tense! Sewing machine tension can also be a tricky detail that is best not overlooked. It’s crucial to pay attention to, and familiarize yourself with, both the top needle (upper) tension, as well as the bobbin (lower) tension. Perfect tension is when both the upper and lower threads are perfectly balanced, and are drawn into the fabric the same amount (the bobbin thread does not float on the bottom of the fabric and the upper thread does not float on top of the fabric).
Once again, your sewing machine manual will come in handy. Most manuals have a chart detailing the appropriate tension adjustments for working with specific fabrics. Take care that your tension is not too loose, because the threads can pull out completely, or too tight, resulting in puckered seams. Always test the tension on a scrap of the same fabric you are using in your project, using the same thread and needle.
Best Foot Forward
Your sewing machine probably came with the standard (a.k.a. zigzag) presser foot, as well as a few additional feet. If not, it’s a good idea to invest in some specialty presser feet that were designed for working with different fabric types. A Teflon foot, which looks just like your standard foot, is useful when working with hard-to-handle, stickier fabrics, such as oilcloth and other coated fabrics. Additionally, there is a wide range of foot options out there for specific tasks and applications such as cording, making buttonholes, darning, gathering, and inserting invisible zippers, just to name a few. Probably, there’s a foot for every task!
Take the driver’s seat. Speaking of feet, take your time and don’t be a lead foot! As with your automobile, the speed at which your sewing machine stitches is variable. Let up on the speed (unless you are under a serious time crunch); it’s best to sew at a steady, controlled rate. This way, you can stop any mistakes before they get too out of hand. When you don’t stitch at an even pace, the result is likely to be uneven and less than ideal. We can’t stress enough that your sewing machine is your friend and partner in creativity. Enjoy your ride together!
A satin stitch foot is slightly longer than the standard presser foot with a larger opening that allows dense stitching through medium to heavyweight fabrics.
A walking foot helps feed heavier fabrics and fabrics that tend to shift through your machine, because it feeds the fabric layers evenly.
A roller foot has actual rollers to provide better friction when feeding some fabrics, like leather and vinyl, through your machine.
Making & Using the Sewing Patterns
For each project in this book, the sewing pattern will appear in one of two ways:
* You’ll be told to look for a full-size pattern in the pattern envelope. When you find the pattern pieces, pay close attention to the markings. Some pieces have an edge labeled with asterisk symbols and the note: “Mirror along this line.” These pieces represent half of the entire piece. To make the entire piece, you will need to trace one side, then flip the piece over on the mirror line to trace the other side. You’ll also notice some pattern pieces are nested within other pattern pieces. You will find it easiest to redraft these nested pieces onto sew-in interfacing, pattern-making paper, or tissue paper instead of cutting them out.
* You’ll be given instructions for drafting your own pattern from a set of measurements. You may do this directly on your fabric or play it safe and draft it first on sew-in interfacing, pattern-making paper, or tissue paper. If it’s a project you love, and you think you’ll be making it again and again, draft it on paper. When drafting your pattern pieces, use a ruler for straight edges and a curved ruler for curved and rounded edges. In general, take care that your lines are neat and tidy and that your measurements are precise.
Please note that some projects in this book require the use of both pattern piece types; you might need to find a pattern piece in the envelope and also draft a piece based on the dimensions provided.
Pattern notations. Take note of all marks on the paper pattern pieces. Specifically, watch for asterisks, notches, dots, darts, tucks, pleats, and other notations. Transfer all marks to the wrong side of your cut fabric pieces before removing the paper pattern piece.
Notches and dots will help you put the project together smoothly and help eliminate any confusion. Before marking, refer to the Fabric Type Cheat Sheet (see page 13) for the appropriate marking tools for your fabric. Test the suggested marking tool on a fabric scrap or in a corner of the fabric to make sure the marks don’t bleed through to the right side.
To mark fabrics cut right side up in a single layer, simply place a piece of tracing paper, right side up, under the paper pattern piece and fabric. For fabrics cut in a double layer with right sides together, use two pieces of tracing paper, placing one right side up under the fabric and the other right side down between the paper pattern and top layer of fabric. Some heavy fabrics may require you to mark one layer at a time. In all cases, gently use your tracing wheel to transfer markings.
Best Sewing Practices
There are many details that should not be overlooked when sewing. Although this may be overwhelming at first, you will find that the below practices quickly become second nature. You will not even think twice when it comes to pinning your projects, clipping curves, or pressing as you sew. You’ll be thrilled with the finished results.
Thread. Pay close attention to the thread you select for your sewing project. Threads vary by weight, luster, and fiber content. These factors affect the look of the stitches and, potentially, the tension of your sewing machine (see page 8). The tried-and-true thread choices that work with nearly every fabric are cotton-wrapped polyester or 100 percent polyester thread. The polyester core ensures strong, durable seams while the cotton wrap provides smoothness and luster, making this an ideal choice for an all-purpose thread. You may also use 100 percent cotton threads, which are lustrous, smooth, and have little or no stretch, for machine- or hand-sewing natural woven fabrics.
You will also find an assortment of special-purpose threads for specific applications such as sewing with denim, silk, nylon, metallic, elastic, and more. Experiment to determine what thread works best for your project. It’s always a good idea to do a little test sewing on a swatch of the actual project fabric to determine the correct thread tension (see page 8). Getting these details right ahead of time will ensure the best possible results!
Pins. Always pin or otherwise clip your pieces together before and while you sew. We know, it seems tedious and cuts into the fun sewing time, but you will be absolutely amazed by the professional results you’ll achieve when you take the time to pin your projects before you sew them. You will find it most convenient to put the pins perpendicular to the edge of your fabric. This makes them easy to remove while sewing, and less damaging to your machine if you accidently sew over them. That said, the best practice is to remove the pins before you sew over them. If you don’t, you might break your needle on a pin, and that’s a drag, to say the least. Keep in mind that for some fabric types (see page 13), pinning isn’t recommended, but you can always use clips (hem clips, binder clips, paper clips, you name it) as alternatives.
Feed dogs. Don’t pull your fabric while sewing. Your sewing machine has been designed to move your fabric along as you stitch. The feed dogs (located in your sewing machine’s throat plate) and the presser foot work together to make this happen. Pulling your fabric as you stitch will result in uneven stitches, screwy tension, and an unhappy sewing machine.
If the fabric does not feed through easily, it may be time for a service call. There will be instances where you are working with multiple layers of heavy fabrics, such as home dec, denim, or corduroy, when the fabric seems stuck and your feed dogs aren’t doing their job. In these instances, there are special tools you can use, such as a roller or walking foot, or a Jean-a-ma-jig (a product designed to help your machine handle heavyweight fabrics, kind of like a shim) for sewing over bulky seams. They are addressed in the appropriate fabric chapter.
Backstitching. Backstitching is crucial! A backstitch is required of most fabrics at the beginning and end of every seam to lock the stitches. Usually ⅛″ to ¼″ of backstitching should be enough to do the trick. However, when working with lightweight or easily perforated fabrics, you might find it better to leave a long tail at the beginning and end of each seam and tie the threads into a knot by hand. This will eliminate bulk and unnecessary stress on fragile fabrics. On coated fabrics, this technique will minimize perforation of the material at the seams.
Turning corners. When stitching around corners (such as collar points or bag corners), slow down as you approach the corner. Stop with your needle in the down position once the needle is a seam allowance width away from the raw edge of the fabric. Lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric on the needle. Lower the presser foot and resume stitching. This will guarantee neat corners, and save both time and thread while stitching. On heavier weight materials (home decor, heavy woolens, vinyl), rounding the corner stitches instead of pivoting will make the corners appear sharper once the project is turned right side out.
Trimming, clipping, and notching. Notch and clip the seam allowance around curves and trim corners to ease fullness. Clipping (see the glossary) is done to reduce tension on concave seams (inward curves), while notching (see the glossary) is used to make convex seams (outward curves) lie flat. You will also find it necessary to trim corner seam allowances at a 45-degree angle close to the intersection of the two stitching lines. One quick tip is to use pinking shears to remove some of that excess fabric within curved seam allowances. But whatever you do, don’t clip through your stitching line!
Pressing. Embrace the iron as the silent partner in your sewing projects. You need this partner to achieve great-looking results. It’s as simple as this: press as you stitch – the success of your project depends on it. Skipping the pressing step will make your projects look “homemade” as opposed to “handcrafted.” You might hate ironing, but please know that pressing is something different entirely. Ironing is done on a finished garment, while pressing is done as you create it, to mold and shape your work in progress. When the instructions direct you to press a seam allowance open, or in a certain direction, pay attention. These steps are crucial to your finished project. Keeping all your seams neat and even as you work will definitely pay off. Invest in an iron with a nice steam button to make pressing so much easier; you won’t be sorry.
Your Sewing Pantry
Here’s a list of the 48 essentials we think you’ll want to have on hand, not just to complete your projects, but to ensure a frustration-free sewing experience every time! Just as you wouldn’t attempt to cook a fabulous recipe without your essential cooking utensils, and just as you keep your kitchen stocked with a smattering of basic ingredients, so must you keep your sewing pantry stocked with some fundamental sewing necessities. Of course, you don’t have to run out and buy everything for your first project, but build up your sewing pantry as you master the various projects and techniques that go into making them.
Fabric Type Cheat Sheet
Lightweight cotton fabrics often feel luxurious and light on the skin, perfect for summer apparel! Voile and lawn are two lightweight plain-weave fabrics that fabric manufacturers have recently started to produce in popular contemporary prints. Voile is soft and fairly sheer. Lawn is finely woven, with a high thread count, and often with a slight sheen.
Most of the projects in this chapter were made with voile, lawn, or gauze, but you can use several lightweight fabrics with specially woven and/or embroidered textures that offer a nice change of pace. Among them are dotted Swiss, dobby, and eyelet, all of which have great surface interest. Double gauze is another great lightweight woven fabric, available primarily from Japanese fabric manufacturers. Gauze has a loose, open weave (fewer threads per inch) and its individual warp threads are twisted. Two layers of gauze are tacked together at regular intervals to create double gauze, so it isn’t as sheer. Here are some things to know about lightweight cotton fabrics.
Lightweight cottons are somewhat fragile and can be easily damaged by dull or large sewing machine needles, feed dogs, and/or presser feet. Seams have a tendency to pucker, but a tension adjustment often corrects the problem. Seam slippage, where the fabric pulls away or separates at the seam, can also be a problem, particularly on close-fitting garments (see Stitch Types, Tips, and Machine Settings for some quick fixes). Since these fabrics are often sheer or semi-sheer, your seam allowances will show through on the right side of the finished project, so keep them neat!
Use a 60/8, 65/9, or 70/10 universal needle. Always use a new needle when starting a new project.
Sewing Machine Accessories
To avoid pulling the fabric into the throat plate, try using a roller foot or straight stitch foot. Alternatively, use a standard presser foot but adjust the needle position to the left or right of center, if your machine has that option for straight stitching.
Stitch Types, Tips, and Machine Settings
Use 1.25mm–2mm stitch length for most seaming. Avoid backstitching whenever possible to minimize the threat of puckering and damage to your fabric. Instead, leave thread tails long at the beginning and end of your seams and knot the thread tails before trimming them. Knots, instead of backstitching, minimize bulk at the seams and the fewer holes in the fabric can help prevent seam slippage. If you are having a problem with puckered seams and seam slippage, and can’t seem to correct it with tension settings or a new needle, try tissue-stitching your seams. Tissue-stitching simply involves adding a layer of tissue paper to the seam. After the seam is stitched, carefully remove the tissue, but avoid pulling at the stitches and distorting them or the fabric. Staystitch along curved seams to help pattern pieces retain their shape.
Like most cotton fabrics, wax-based marking methods are not suitable for lightweight woven fabrics; all other marking types are fine.
Make sure all of the fabric is on your work surface while pinning the patterns and cutting them out. If the fabric hangs off the table, it can stretch and distort. If the fabric has sheen, treat it as a napped fabric. If your fabric is particularly slippery, try placing a piece of flannel (or a flannel-backed tablecloth or similar material) on your work surface, underneath your working fabric to help hold it in place and keep it from sliding around. Of course, take care not to cut through the flannel work surface!
When projects call for the use of lightweight woven fabrics, they typically want to highlight the sheerness, lightness, and drape of the fabric; therefore, interfacing is rarely used.
Use well-sharpened shears, and very fine or new pins on light and delicate fabrics.
Self-finished seams, such as French seams and flat-felled seams, are best. Trim seams whenever possible to ¼″ or less.
Pressing and Ironing
Although made of cotton fibers, which can withstand high heat, press lightweight cotton fabrics at a slightly cooler setting than the cotton setting. Lightweight fabrics always want a cooler iron than heavier fabrics of the same composition (fiber type); otherwise, you run the risk of scorching or burning the fabric. Press a fabric scrap first to test the iron settings and your pressing style.
Preshrink all cottons before cutting and sewing, especially if you are making an item you intend to launder! Otherwise, consult the care instructions as recommended by the manufacturer.
Designed by Don Morin
This versatile halter is the perfect lightweight top for summer beach parties. Or dress it up with some jewels and wear it to your much-anticipated holiday party. The perfect pairing with pants, skirts, or shorts, this forgiving wrap style has a flattering shape and a fit that looks great on all body types.
* Locate the pattern in the envelope (sheet #1)
- On Sale
- Nov 16, 2011
- Page Count
- 416 pages