Showing posts with label Tips n' Tricks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tips n' Tricks. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Quilting Bags - Tutorial

I love quilted bags! Quilting a bag is such a great way to add extra structure, visual interest and more importantly, it can bring WOW factor to almost any fabric! I love finding a solid, gorgeous vinyl and then kick it up even more by quilting it. Many big fashion houses have their own quilted bags - I think it is because it just adds class! 

However, many people are hesitant about quilting bags, and especially vinyls, but I'm going to try to take away all your fears about that with this post - and hopefully inspire you to try quilting your bags!

This is my Singapore Sling Bag, made with a gold vinyl which I quilted in a diamond shape. This bag would have had much less visual interest, and would probably look rather "plain and boring" without the quilting.  

This is the exact same vinyl as the Singapore Sling Bag above, just quilted differently with an alternating pattern that I will show you below.  Isn't it amazing how different it looks? This is my Beginner Bag pattern, soon available for free in my Facebook group

But cotton fabric looks fantastic quilted too! Here I've used a gorgeous solid yellow Kona cotton fabric and quilted only the bottom of the bag for that extra contrast. You don't always have to quilt the entire bag, just a small part can be a beautiful addition. 


You will need: 
* A dual feed foot: or "walking foot" that will feed your fabric evenly top and bottom. 

* Foam interfacing: I highly recommend "By Annie's Soft and Stable", there's no other foam interfacing in my eyes that gives the same beautiful "puff", nor stands up as well to wear as this one. But Pellon Fusible Flex Foam, Bosal in R-Form or similar very works well too. 

* A new needle: Preferably a topstitching needle if you have, as you don't want skipped stitches when you're quilting. Don't skip this, neat perforation is especially important when working with vinyl, but makes a difference on cotton too. Do not use a leather needle when working with vinyls as it will cut up the vinyl and weaken it. 

* Fusible Web/Spray Basting Glue/Thin fusible interfacing or similar: If your foam isn't fusible or if working with vinyl or similar like cork that can't be pressed from the front. Read below to see what you need for your choice of fabric and foam.

HELP:  If you have issues with skipped stitches or tension, see my guide to this here: Skipped stitches & tension issues help

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First, you have to attach your fabric to be quilted to your interfacing, how you do this is a little different depending on your fabric and interfacing choices. 

Prevent shrinking:
If you don't pre-shrink your cotton fabric or don't interface it properly, heavy quilting can shrink your fabric excessively (with some woven fabrics, such as home decor weight woven fabrics, this can happen despite all precaution because of mixed fiber contents and loose weaves). 

When working with cotton and fusible interfacing, before cutting your pieces: Press all cotton fabric on the cotton setting of your iron with steam, to pre-shrink the fabric. This is to prevent shrinkage and that undesirable crinkling when we fuse the interfacing. 

I highly recommend that you interface your cotton fabric with a thin, woven fusible interfacing before quilting it, to get a more profession "feel" to the bag, like Vilene G700 woven fusible, Pellon SF101 Shape-Flex or similar. This will also give your cotton extra strength to withstand wear and tear and it will also prevent excessive shrinking from the quilting of the bag, which can otherwise happen with cotton or other woven fabric.

If working with cotton and fusible foam:
Then just fuse the foam pieces to the wrong side of your exterior fabric, making sure it’s carefully centered if your foam is smaller than your fabric. 

If working with cotton and non-fusible foam:

Basting glue: If you have spray basting glue at home (like 505 Basting Spray), you can simply just spray baste the foam to your fabric using the spray.

Fusible web: Take the fusible web, fuse one side of the fusible web to the foam interfacing (this way we make our own “fusible foam” by adding fusible web to the foam).  

Remove the paper covering the fusible web if you haven't already and fuse your foam pieces to the wrong side of your exterior fabric, making sure it’s carefully centered if you exterior is smaller than the interfacing.

If working with vinyl:

Basting spray: If you have spray basting glue at home (like 505 Basting Spray), you can simply just spray baste the foam to your fabric using the spray. 

Thin fusible interfacing: 
I have a YouTube video showing how I do this here: Adding Foam Interfacing to Vinyl
Place your exterior pieces right side down on your ironing board. 
Sandwich and center the foam between your exterior piece and a lightweight fusible interfacing piece of the same measurement as your exterior. Place the glue of the fusible interfacing down towards the foam. Cut a slit in any corners in the thin interfacing to make it easier to fuse the interfacing over any darts/corners or similar. Press the interfacing in place, centered on your foam and continue pressing down the sides to your exterior fabric, keeping the foam centered. 

Since we're only pressing the seam allowances of the vinyl, we don't have to worry about potentially ruining the vinyl by pressing it to hotly from the back. However, nearly all vinyl can take pressing from the back, even all the 3D vinyls I've worked with have been able to take a medium heat pressing from the back without losing shine or structure. But if you're unsure, you can always try on a scrap first.  

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Here's where I differ from most people, when I quilt my bags with straight line quilting - my best friend is painters tape! I always keep at least two widths of good quality (I use 3M) painters tape. It's not only great to hold things in place temporarily when sewing bags, it's also perfect for marking your lines, it doesn't take any time to remove (unlike chalk markers or water dissolvable pens etc) and it assures a perfectly straight line! 

What widths you choose is of course up to you, but the two top ones is what I use the most, and what I'll use in the tutorial below. If you can't find a width you like for your project, tape a larger size it onto a baking sheet, and cut it to size using your ruler and rotary cutter. The baking sheet will preserve the stickiness. This is why you want good quality painters tape, the good quality I can re-stick 10-15 times, while the bad one maybe 2-5. 

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Marking the first line
Here you should really let your creativity flow! But I'll be showing you how to make the pattern on the Beginner Bag above, so it's an alternating width diamond pattern. Try out angles for the lines with your quilting ruler, and when you have one at what you feel is a pleasing angle for your first line, use your ruler as a guide to ensure you place your tape along it's edge, to ensure it's perfectly straight. I started with my 1 1/2" wide tape here and placed it from corner to corner. 

* It is important to remember how you placed your tape at this first line, as you want your diamonds to not come out wonky on your bag so your handle placement for example won't look weird or off in comparison to the quilting, so I always snap a photo with my phone to make sure I remember. I'll talk more about this when we get there. 

Switch to the dual feed foot/walking foot on your machine, lengthen the stitch length to somewhere between 3.5-5. I recommend you try your settings on a scrap of your fabric with the same interfacings on it to see what you think looks good with your thread and fabric. On the scrap you can  also make sure your tension is good, if you have tension issues, I have a post on that topic here to sort you out: Skipped Stitches & Tension Issues

Follow the tape and sew a line from end to end. I actually backstitch one or two steps when starting and stopping these seams as with the long stitch length, I don't want to risk them coming undone during construction of the bag. Then sew a second line along other other side of your tape. Do not sew your lines every other direction (going back and forth) as that will cause your fabric to pull in opposite directions, sew all lines from the same direction. 

When you've sewn both lines, take your painters tape of a narrower width and stick it down, edge to edge with one of the seams. Sew the new line. Repeat until you've covered the entire piece with every other width lines. 

When it's time to start on the lines on the other diagonal, place your ruler like you did when you made your first lines. Remember that it's important to get the same angle as the other diagonal lines so here I matched up the same corners again. Continue the same way with every other tape width all over the piece.

Voila! We have a beautiful pattern all over our fabric! And as you can see, since we made our pattern even, the handles will be perfectly centered on your quilting - and on your bag! 

For the Singapore Sling Bag above, the diagonals are more slanted and that gives me a flatter diamond shape which I thought looked nice. Here I used electrical tape , instead as I had used up my painters tape for actual masking when painting our spare room. ;) 

If you don’t wish to quilt in straight lines, you can draw your design on the foam interfacing of your piece and quilt from the back (just increase your top tension a bit extra, to ensure a nice looking stitch on the bottom, i.e. the right side of the fabric). Or go crazy and print a beautiful design you found online, tape or clip the printed paper in place on the back of your exterior, and quilt on the foam side just stitching over the paper to follow your desired design. Just make sure you print on poor quality paper (easy to tear away) so you can remove the bulk of the paper fairly easily, and make sure you secure your threads by backstitching in the seam allowance when you start and stop your seam.   You can get as creative as you want here! I'll expand this tutorial with more information and photos of that process later as the weather has been too bad for photography lately. 

Please don't hesitate to ask in the comments or in the Facebook group if you have any questions! I'll leave you with a few of my quilted bags for quilting inspiration.

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It doesn't have to be complex or time consuming to quilt a bag, this Hollywood Handbag in Kona Cotton fabric looks great with simple straight line on the body part of the bag only. 

Beginner Bag, cotton fabric quilted in a diamond shape. 

Don't be afraid to play around with free motion quilting! For this Hollywood Handbag I quilted monstera leaves on the inside of the exterior. Makes for a bit of extra interest when you open the bag.

This Fresno Foldover bag is sewn in a quilting cotton with denim look. Quilted only the front with a simple diamond pattern but using twin needles to get the cool look. However, as it's interfaced with a simple quilt batting instead of a foam, there's much less puffiness to the design. 

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Skipped Stitches and Tension Issues - Help

"My machine can't sew several layers of interfacing" 
"My tension is off"
"My machine skips stitches when I try to sew vinyl" 

Some of the most common cries for help during my classes. As I can't teach classes right now, I thought I'd compile a list of remedies for these issues here, for easy reference for you all =)

 Usually these issues are easily solved by playing around with your machines settings or with simple adjustments of tools used. People are often afraid of adjusting top thread tension, presser foot pressure and similar - but there's absolutely no need to be! I'm here to help you! My patterns are made to be sewn on your domestic machine, and for all my patterns,  I always sew one of my own tester bags on my domestic Husqvarna Opal 690Q, to make sure I'm not asking too much of your machines out there ;)

If you're very unsure about this and currently have settings that work for your most common sewing, take pictures with your phone of your machines tension and similar settings before you start playing around with them.

Skipped stitches

If you experience pretty much any issue when sewing, always start by rethreading your machine top and bottom making sure all is correct, clean out the bobbin area/under your needle plate and change to a brand new needle.

  1. Switch to a brand new needle, preferably a topstitch needle (they have a longer and bigger eye, allowing the top thread to move freely and catch the bottom thread more easily). I sew pretty much exclusively with topstitch needles. For thick layers, a 90/14 or 100/16 needle is usually needed for proper penetration. A skipped stitch happens when the bottom thread doesn't catch onto the the top thread so there is no "joining" of the threads - which is needed for a correctly formed stitch.  

  2. You might need to increase (higher number on the dial/setting) your presser foot pressure to compact your layers, and help the bottom thread catch. Increase it a little at a time, to ensure your fabric still feeds evenly. Many machines especially have an issue with the presser foot pressure becoming too low when using a walking foot.

    On the Juki 2200 QVP mini you adjust your pressure foot pressure like this:

    On the Husqvarna Opal 690q you press the SET menu (A) to get to your settings and there at the top you can adjust you P-foot pressure at the very top. Increase the number for higher pressure.
  3. It might be that your machine has issues keeping the pressure foot pressure even. Switch from a walking foot if you use that to a teflon or roller foot if working with vinyl or similar fabrics. If you’re already working with a teflon foot, try a slimmer one such as an edge stitch foot or a zipper foot (like the universal one in the photo, they’re available for most machines). This will allow the entire foot to lay flat on the fabric while you sew, keeping the presser foot pressure even - even if you're working next to bulky interfacing for example.

    If you don’t have a slimmer foot but can move your needle, try moving your needle as far to the right as it will go, so as much as possible of your presser foot is on the fabric when you sew, keeping the pressure even. But I highly recommend getting one of these feet, they're amazing for everything from bag making, zipper installations and piping.

  4. If you always experience the skipped stitch when making a turn with the needle down, the reason for that is that you haven allowed the machine to "go all the way" and finish the stitch before you stop and continue sewing. Meaning that the bottom thread hasn't catched to top before you keep sewing. So allow your machine to come to a full stop on it's own, or even hand crank the machine so the needle has just started to move up again in the stitch - to ensure the bottom thread catches.

  5. If you experience skipped stitches when sewing over a thick seam allowance, or when sewing a thick strap for example, that's also because it makes your pressure foot pressure uneven due to the leaning angle of the presser foot. To remedy this, you can use a "hump jumper" or "seam jumper" that often comes with your machine. Place the little plastic piece under the back of your presser foot to bring the back of the pressure foot up to the same height as the seam allowance or strap, before it starts leaning. If you don't have a hump jumper, you can do like I do and fold up  some scraps to the correct height and use that instead to level out the presser foot. 

  6. Despite what you might read in many forums, skipped stitches has nothing to do with thread tension, so there's no need to change your tension settings if you're having a skipped stitch issue. 

Saving a skipped stitch after sewing the seam

If you need to save a skipped stitch without unpicking the entire seam, I show you how I do that in this short video, to view full size on YouTube, please go here:

Tension Issues

If you experience pretty much any issue when sewing, always start by rethreading your machine top and bottom making sure all is correct, clean out the bobbin area/under your needle plate and change to a brand new needle. 

  1. If you’re having issues with your tension there’s a simple rule:
    * If you can see the bottom thread on the top of the fabric - top thread tension is too high = Decrease (turn to a lower number on the dial/setting) the top thread tension.
    A highly unlikely issue when working with thick layers - if your machine is threaded correctly that is.

    If you can see the top thread on the bottom of your project - top tension is too loose = Increase (turn to a higher number on the dial/setting) tension.
  2. In the unlikely case that your top tension dial isn’t doing the trick despite being “maxed out” in either direction, try rethreading your thread, top and bottom with your presser foot up. Before rethreading the top thread, with your presser foot still up so the tension discs are loose, blow hard into them to clean out between the two top tension discs to remove any dust or thread residues. Restart your machine if it’s a computerized one.

    On the Juki 2200 QVP mini the tension discs are clearly visible and just by the tension dial

    On the Husqvarna Opal 690q and many similarly constructed domestic machines, the tension discs are "hidden" in the first (to the right) vertical opening the thread goes through when you thread your machine.  So not the left opening with the little "lever" that goes up and down as you sew. 

    If you remove the little middle section by carefully pushing up and out from the bottom of the plastic piece (thanks dad for that tip!) you can clearly see the discs and clean between them easier. You might not be able to do do this on other brands.
  3. If none of those things help, you might have to adjust the bottom thread tension to get this seam perfect. Please check your machine manual or YouTube, as there's a few too many peculiarities with this for the many different kinds of machines to list here.

    If you have a Juki 2200 QVP mini like me, all the ones I've had in classes come from the factory  with slightly too loose bottom thread tension IMHO, so I almost always end up adjusting that for my students when they bring their Juki 2200 QVP mini to class. 
I hope you found this helpful! =)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Pressing Cotton Bags - Giving your bag a professional finish!

The secret to really professional looking cotton bags boils down to two things in my humble opinion - interfacing and pressing. Both subjects I cover in my latest YouTube video.

I quite often get the question about how my bags can look so crisp in photos despite then being made from cotton with fusible interfacing. For this look - the importance of taking 20 minutes pressing your bag after finishing it can not be stressed enough! I try to share this during my classes, but it's not always we have the time to talk about this to the extent I'd like. So I made a little tutorial showing how I do this. 

I recommend going to youtube to watch this video. 
It'll give you better quality then the embedded version. 

In this video I also show how I use my beloved Clover Mini Iron II, it's such a great tool!

Here is also a sneak peek of my BRAND NEW BAG design! The bag is not completely finished in this video, but it's a good hint. ;) 

Monday, December 9, 2019

How to use Fusible Interfacing with Vinyl and Faux Leathers

Using fusible interfacing with vinyls and faux leather makes many people a unsure. So I made a little video showing how I do this. I hope you'll find it helpful =)

A little side note I forgot to mention in the video: If you press all the pieces for a bag, make sure you switch around your pieces and press them on different sections on your pressing board, so the board doesn't get too hot and start melting your vinyl from the front.

I recommend going to youtube to watch this video. 
It'll give you better quality then the embedded version. 

I'm still very much a youtube beginner so any helpful hints or comments are much appreciated!
And I'd love if you become a subscriber of my channel! That way you won't miss any upcoming sewing tips or tutorials: 

Friday, October 25, 2019

How to save skipped stitches - without unpicking!

I made a little video showing how I save skipped stitches. No need for unpicking, we will rescue these handle connectors anyway =) 

I recommend going to youtube to watch this video. 
It'll give you better quality then the embedded version. 

I've gotten a lot of requests in the past for more video tutorials so I'm trying my hand at making more, I'm brand new at this and the quality is not great but I'm trying and working hard on bettering myself. I hope you'll find this video informative and helpful despite its lack of polish (yes and that goes for both the film work and my horrible gardeners nails!) *lol*

I'd love if you become a subscriber of my channel! That way you won't miss any upcoming sewing tips or tutorials:

Sunday, October 20, 2019

How to Sew Rolled Bag Handles - Video Tutorial

Many are unfortunately a little intimidated by the my favourite bag handles, my faux rolled handles that I use on for example my Stockholm Bag and Daytona Bag. Therefore I made a video showing how I make them, hopefully it'll give you the confidence you need to make your own.

These handles are truly great, no need for any interfacing, rope, tubing or similar, just vinyl. They look fantastic and will add such a professional touch to almost any bag!  Attach them by sewing them down with a rectangle directly on the bag like on the stockholm bag, or attach them to handle connectors like on the Daytona.

I recommend going to youtube to watch this video. 
It'll give you better quality then the embedded version. 

I'd love your comments on this video, any and all helpful feedback is most welcome as I'm so new to video making =)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Fabric folding and storage

I have this obsession to when it comes to organizing and storing my cotton fabrics. I need to se them all at a glance and I love having them in rainbow order. So I made a little video showing how I fold and store my fabrics.

I recommend clicking the link and viewing it on YouTube directly though:

I store most of my cotton fabric in an IKEA "Billy bookcase" with "Oxberg glass panel doors", to prevent the fabrics getting so dusty - while still allowing a nice overview. I try to sort by color for that pretty rainbow effect. But it's not always possible, some fabric just doesn't "read" like a single color, so those I have at the bottom there in the "messy and yardage section" *lol*

Sunday, March 24, 2019

All about my sewing machine - a Juki TL-2200QVP mini review

The question I'm most often asked by people, both during classes I teach and in messages online is "what sewing machine do you have"? So I thought I'd give you the answer to this question as well as let you know why and how I chose this machine, and what my thoughts are now once I've used her for 6 months.

Since august 2018 have a JUKI TL-2200QVP MINI, she is what they call "a portable 1 needle straight stitch machine".  But I like to say she is right between an domestic machine and an industrial. Her industrial quality build combined with the domestic size and ease of use is just amazing!

A little background/my sewing machine history 

When I started my sewing career about 12 years ago (yep, I've not been sewing for longer than that, if you'd like to read about how my sewing journey started, this article from RikstÀcket is lovely) I had an Emerald Husqvarna 118 that I received for my 18th birthday from my lovely parents. While this is a great little machine, the space under the arm was a little too small once I started quilting, so I bought a Janome Horizon 7700.

That machine was my everything, it was sooo expensive to me back then but I wholeheartedly wanted it (it was the same machine the owner of the quilting retreat me and my mother attended had) so I splurged; not knowing anything about the brand, other brands or what options there were. I'm so happy that I did as that machine has allowed me to grow with it and learn with it for so long. But I apparently was lucky with mine as several friends who bought the same machine has had so many issues with theirs, while mine just kept on working.

However, after 10 years of hard work she started to give up and my dad who nowadays is a sewing machine repair man (I'm a lucky girl!) said it was not worth trying to save her as she was basically just too tired and worn all over. So the hunt for a replacement started!

Deciding on a machine 

I can honestly say I tried almost every big brand out there. Which I also recommend you to do if you have the possibility. As each brand has their own great features, uniquenesses and perks. Husqvarna and Pfaff (absolutely lovely machines in many aspects, my second machine is a Husqvarna Opal 690, but they in my experience nor after testing everything from their Epic to the cheaper options don't handle thick layers well unfortunately. My parents sell this brand, I was almost disowned buying a Juki *lol*), Bernina (they too have fantastic machines! But they're quite expensive and quite digital and advanced which isn't great when you live in a country almost completely without any qualified repair men on computerized machines. And they're a little to fuzzy and particular for me I realized after borrowing my friends fantastic machine to try for last years quilting retreat, thanks again Maria <3 ), Janome, Brother and so on. After reading up so much, testing soo many machines during the spring and summer of 2018 I pretty much only had Juki left and made an appointment with awesome Marie and Henry of

I had brought some thick vinyl fabric folded 8 times (as you can see in the photo above) to test with as I'd done for all other brands, and the only other brand which had managed this test of mine somewhat successfully was the Bernina 570 (which costs about three times more than the Juki), so I was so excited to see that the Juki managed it without a moment's hesitation. I also tested free motion quilting with it of course and it was a breeze.

When I then realized that industrial presser feet could be used, I was ecstatic and felt like a kid in a candy shop looking at all the options available to me in the presser feet drawers!

Review of the Juki TL-2200QVP mini

I've now been exclusively sewing on my Juki for 6 months and she's been thoroughly tested, both for quilting and for sewing bags. And I LOVE HER! I could literally not be happier with this machine. She has everything I need, a super strong motor and feed (I broke so many needles on zippers before I got used to her strength! *lol*) that feeds so evenly.

She literally sews everything I've put before her so far, I've tested 10 layers of vinyl and even that she feeds like a champ and makes beautiful stitches! Doesn't matter if it's two thin layers of cotton or all the layers of a bag, the stitches are always perfect and so beautifully straight! Here I'm using one of my favourite feet the 1.5mm compensator foot, which makes all edge stitching a breeze and always perfect!

She has a big "lever" for backstitching which is easily used and she does cut my thread for me, which is something I just can't be without. you can actually have the pedal cut the thread for you by pressing the front part of it (which a lot of people love I know), that however was not for me so I use the plastic protection thing to disable that function as I just cut the thread accidentally too many times.

The knee lift is something I got use to with my Janome Horizon and I'm so happy to have one on the Juki, it's so convenient no matter if I'm free motion quilting or sewing bags. The knee lift also lifts the presser foot higher than the regular lift, which can be good to know. However, I do find the placement/angle of the knee a little less than optimum as it's so close to my leg when sewing that it's easily touched by mistake. That along with the relatively poor lighting are the only two little things I can say negatively about this fantastic machine.

At first I found it so difficult to not be able to move my needle sideways when sewing to use the presser feet as I was used to, but now when I have got a proper foot for everything, I don't even think about it anymore.

She's amazing for quilting, I bought the acrylic extension table and I'm so happy I did! You just turn the machine 90° and suddenly you have like a mid arm! Look at all that quilting space!

I also bought the turned open toe free motion quilting foot to make this easier and I'm so glad I did, so convenient! Here you can see the turned one on the left next to the regular one on the right. This way I see my stitches just as well when having my machine turned.

Here you see it in action.

Such a clever solution! I have sooo much space to move my quilt sideways!

I also absolutely love that I don't have to unthread my machine to wind a new bobbin (yes, I'm lazy!), I just plop down a new one next to the other and wind away!

So, do I recommend this machine? The answer is a resounding YES!! I'm so, so happy with it, I literally couldn't not have gotten a better machine for me! If you have any questions regarding this machine, please don't hesitate to ask them below.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Straight Line Quilting - with Painters Tape

When I straight line quilt I don't use chalk or pens to mark my lines, it's just to time consuming. Instead I use good quality painters tape to mark the lines. First, join your fabric to your desired interfacing, you can use something like 505 basting spray (I use that spray glue when quilting up to queen size quilts on my domestic machine), or for bags (especially cotton) when I want that extra stiffness/stability - I use a fusible web. If you use cotton fabric, I recommend something like Heat n Bond Light to join your fabric to the interfacing if it isn't fusible. 

I used by Annie's Soft and Stable in this bag, as I want that beautiful puffiness for the squares that you can't get with any other interfacing. But there's several great options out there. Use your walking foot for quilting, to make sure all layers feed evenly.

To start I just lay my ruler across what I'm to quilt at a pleasing angle and place my tape along it's edge. Then I sew the first line edge to edge with the tape with my walking foot. When I then have a stitched line to go after I just re-stick the tape along the seam line.  This is why you want good quality painters tape, the good quality I can re-stick 10-15 times, while the bad one maybe 3-5.

If you can't find tape in the desired distance for your lines, stick it on a baking sheet or just on your cutting mat and just cut it to the desired width. This one I cut down to 1/2".

When quilting, make sure you lengthen your stitch for the most beautiful result, something like 3.5-4-5 is usually very pretty. Test on a scrap of your fabric before starting.  And then you get this gorgeous texture! So next time, don't hesitate to go for some straight line quilting, it's so much faster with painters tape! 

This is also a little sneak peek at my new pattern in the works.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Setting your seams - or how to get those perfectly flat quilt blocks

I published a photo of a quilt block I'd sewn, and I got quite a few private messages on Instagram asking me how I get my seams so flat, so I made a little video to show the importance of setting your seams, and how to do it. This is the photo that I posted, a cute simple square in a square with fabric from Kate & Birdie and Kona Cotton.

I highly recommend clicking the "Watch on Youtube" link in the video as this low quality won't allow you to see what I'm talking about. Video is available here: Watch video.

When we sew quilt blocks, we usually do not sew with a dual feed presser foot, which causes a slight stretch/tension in the fabric on top compared to the fabric being fed at the bottom by the machines feeders; which is why the top piece usually comes out longer than the bottom one, despite being totally equal in length when the seam was started. This causes the fabric, when the seam is sewn to have a slight "waviness" to it, as the fabric has been stretched slightly. This can be made worse from improper thread tension. Adjusting your presser foot pressure (usually reducing it) so your seams come out as flat as possible, while still retaining enough pressure to make a nice seam will help this. However, a slight waviness is difficult to get rid of.  Starching your fabrics with spray starch before you cut it is a great way to reduce this issue too. However for baby quilts such as this one, where you don't wish to spray the fabric with a bunch of chemicals is not desirable. This is where setting your seams come into play.

Setting your seams is something the old school quilters amongst us will say is such a standard thing to do that it doesn't warrant a post, but I've found a lot of new quilters don't know to do this, and it makes such a difference!

Set your seams: 
Start with your block in the same position as when you lifted it from your machine, don't open up the fabrics, just lift it from the bed to the pressing table. Here you can see the little waves in the fabric.

Put your iron on the cotton setting. With or without steam is a personal preference, have you pre-shrunk your fabrics properly with a hot iron with steam, you can use steam here to without danger to distort your block. Set down your iron on the block and give it a good press. Here you can see how flat it becomes, the waviness is gone!

Next press your block like you normally would (I'm pressing the seams open here which I normally don't, as it's for a baby quilt so I want it as flat as possible).

And enjoy your perfectly flat, beautiful block!

In the video there's a comparison with a block with the seams not set. Leave your blocks to cool flat on the ironing board, preferably even under a heavy book or a quilt ruler to let the fibers set in place flat before moving them.

Hopefully this will help you to get your blocks properly flat and beautiful!

Monday, July 16, 2018

A clever use of staples

When sewing curves or any other tricky seams which are troublesome to get to stay in place, make your seam allowance 1/2" and instead of pinning or clipping with wonder clips or similar - STAPLE! 😍 Your seam allowance will stay dead put throughout the curve or seam, minimising the risk for folds or unevenness!

First wonder clip the section, to make sure everything is where you want it, and then replace the clips with staples.

Beautiful, smooth curves and seams is the result! After I've sewn the seam I just cut down the seam allowance and with it the staples which I've placed at the edge - making the process of removing them a breeze!