Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Sewing Bears : An Adventure Begins!

Mara and I are getting ready to start a new adventure - and after this crazy year, that sounds like an awesome idea.

It's also the perfect time to get the blog running full steam again.  The instant and constant conversations on social media are fun, but I miss the deeper stories and project details of a full blog post. 

....and our new adventure will certainly need longer details!

After more than a year of wishing and talking about it, a special present is waiting to be opened.  

I wish it was an upgrade for me - but not yet.  Last year the sewing bug bit Mara and she has been asking for her own machine ever since.  

She took my tiny scraps and decided to make rings.  

Then set up a shop.  Ha!  It was named The Sewing Bears. 

I have also been submersed in a full Charlotte Mason school year for Mara.  She would be in 2nd grade, so it's a most excellent time to give this a shot.  Handicrafts are an important part of the Charlotte Mason philosophy, and learning to machine sew will fit in perfectly!  

I can't wait to share our lessons and creations.

Friday, May 15, 2020

FQ friendly Mask and Pouch Tutorial

A fat quarter is perfect for two pleated masks and a pouch - tutorial for that in my last post.

I pulled four FQs, and ended up with super cute mixed sets for teacher gifts.

(Half way through I decided to make one of the pleated masks into my normal style - to give the teachers one of each type.  I needed a different fabric for the lining when I made those.)

I thought Mr. Andrews would prefer a more masculine mask.... a straight quarter yard is also perfect!

One cut 8" wide and the full width of the fabric can yield two mask cuts and a piece for the pouch.  I mixed a couple making his 4th of July set.

But back to the FQs.

To make a mask I use 8"x15" pieces (or 8x14 if that fits better).  One pouch needs 4.5"x12"

Decide which way you want the print to sit on the finished mask.  The short side runs across your face.

Then you can cut your FQ  like this...

Or this....

There are a million tutorials for the pleated masks, but I thought I would share what I've found is easiest for me when inserting the elastic.

Press the piece in half - right sides together.

Mark the top edge about 3/4" from corner.  Sometimes I tack my elastic at this point, on this outside end - other times I don't.

I use 1/8" wide elastic - 6.75" long.  This seems to work for both men and women for a quick trip into a store.

Take the whole thing to your machine.  Lay the elastic at the fold, lined up with the raw edge.  

Close the fold and start stitching here, using a 1/2" seam allowance.  

The most annoying part of the elastic is that it tries to scoot away when you stitch over it.  Starting at the fold - with the elastic against the fold, eliminates the scooting on this end.

Once you get to the other end and around the corner, I stop.  Leave a gap for turning, then start back at the fold for the other side.  

Pleat and finish.....I haven't figured out any other process optimizing bits on the last steps yet.  

But the FQs do make for super cute sets!

Monday, May 11, 2020

Mask Pouch Tutorial - Teacher Gifts for a Covid Year

Useful end-of-the year teacher gift?  Horrible souvenir?

At the least, there's a super cute little pouch that could be used for holding dog-walk bags or other random things.

I came up with four mixed sets of corona virus protection fun, with four FQs.  I'll show you more info on that later.

a-dor-able fabric - Summer Side by Dana Willard

We'll start with the little pouch that can hold one mask.  Snap it onto a belt loop, toss it into your glove box or purse, and a nice clean mask is ready to go!

Cut a piece of fabric 4.5" x 12" - then take 2" off the end for making the tab.

The tab is totally optional.  But handy and fun!

Make the tab by folding in half to find the middle, turn one end down about 1/4", fold each end to meet in the center, then fold in half again.

Topstitch around the three sides, starting and ending at the raw edged end.

This is my favorite foot for topstitching.  On my machine it's actually called a blind hem foot. 

That flange in the center keeps the needle perfectly placed on the fabric, so the top stitching is super even and pretty on the sides.  Without much stress.  Like bowling with the gutter guards up!

To prevent frayed edges inside the pouch, I use a serger for the long fabric sides.  You could also trim with pinking shears or run a bead of FrayCheck down the raw edge.

Next, fold both short ends in twice then topstitch, for a nice clean flap.

Fold your fabric into thirds, overlapping in the center just a tad.

My pouches are about 3.75" wide. Lightly press to mark the creases.  

Lay the raw edge of the tab along one side, in the center section, near a crease.  Then fold the pretty sides together.

Make sure you turn the tab up a little, or you will catch it in the other side seam.  

Then you would have to pull out the seam ripper.  And that's no fun.

Sew down both open edges using a 3/8" seam.

Then I go back and sew once more about 1/4" in, where the tab and the overlaps are.

Just for a little extra strength at the stress points.

That was fast!  Flip right side out.

Poke the corners with a chopstick. Or something pointy, but not too pokey.

Now just to finish up the tab.  I placed my snaps 3/4" in from the end - any closer to the end, and it was hard to pull open the snap.  

Then the other goes 2" down from there.   You could also use velcro, or even stitch both ends into the seam for a plain loop.

I use KAM snaps.  I have a boatload of snaps and an awesome press from when I was making Mara's cloth diapers.   

If you need any kind of fasteners, I highly recommend ordering from this family business. Amazing customer service, super helpful owner, high quality well tested products. 

DONE!  Now to put a mask inside.  

A pleated mask fits perfectly.  Fold it into thirds.

Slide one end under the flap.

Pull the other side from behind and over the mask...

 ....while you stuff it in. 

Ready to go.

As a note, I made a few and ran them through the washing machine. As if I had been out and needed to wash my mask and maybe also the pouch when I got home.  

The pouch washed up beautifully.  

I tested topstitching the pouch a bit, but it wasn't needed to help hold its shape and it made the pouch lines look a little less clean.

Next up, cutting info if you want to make some mask and pouch sets with your cool fat quarters!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Clean Your Machine!

Lots of people are doing lots of sewing - making masks or other fun stuff during our home stay.


Before Mara came, I had a grand time as a trained Bernina service tech.  I had machines come in that had so much lint that it was like a piece of felt inside!

When your machine is clean, it makes a big difference in how smoothly your machine runs.  Also, if you have skipped stitches or your bobbin is jumping around, sometimes it is because the bobbin area is jammed full of lint.

Things don't look too messy right here.  But I know things are lurking inside....

Take the foot off - gets it out of the way.  You might take your needle out, too.  Then you won't stab yourself and it probably needs to be replaced.  Unscrew whatever big screws you see in your needle plate.

Carefully remove your bobbin case.  It's just sitting in there.

Fuzz everywhere!  I actually cleaned my machine about a week ago, and I use a really high quality, low lint thread.  It's surprising how all that lint builds up.

Grab some q-tips and carefully swipe them all around.  The lint sticks to them really well!

Things are so much nicer!

Now you carefully put your bobbin case back in.  There is probably a little arrow on the machine that lines up with the case like I have here.  But it won't fit in backwards, and sit nice and flat.

Turn the hand wheel a few times toward you to see it all move smoothly before you put the plate back on.
before clean, but good shot of the arrows...

Get everything put back together, thread it up, and take a run of test stitches.  You're ready to sew!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Washing Masks

The CDC says we need to wash our masks each time we wear them.

When it's time to wash your masks - what to do?!

All the masks I make are 100% cotton that I have pre-washed in hot.

After I'm done running around and ready to take off my mask, I carefully remove it and place in a fabric bag for washing.  Lace used to tie, included.  (If you've used a wire for your nose, don't put that through the washing machine. It might rust or poke holes in stuff.)

Then I just toss the bag, with the mask inside, into the washing machine with a load of towels.  I wash those all in hot.

If I don't have a load ready and I want to wash a mask, hot water and some tide or dawn dish soap in a big bowl works just as well.  I scrub it and let it soak for a bit before rinsing well.

When the wash cycle is done, you can either let your mask air dry or shift it into the dryer with the rest of the load.  As a test, I pulled one mask from my bag to let air dry overnight.  The others went through the dryer cycle.

The next morning, my airdry mask was pretty well dry, and looking nice.  I dumped the bag of dryer-cycle masks out next to it.

Bwahaha.  Poor little crumpled masks.  But not to worry!

I'm not one to iron anything other than my in-process fabric.  But a quick press of the masks made them ready to wear again.  Hurray.

I'm currently taking orders for masks : Covid Cover Listings