Friday, February 23, 2018

invisible zipper tutorial for a couch throw pillow

While making some couch pillows with an invisible zipper recently, I decided to take step by step photos showing you some of my tips and tricks.
This is a tutorial I used for my Pinners Conference in Arizona in October 2017. It is from the Key not app.

I prefer using a regular zipper foot when sewing invisible zippers because it allows me to get closer to the teeth. My invisible zipper foot is very nice but sometimes if I don't buy my zippers from the fabric store in town, and I order them online instead, the teeth are slightly too large and get stuck as they slide through my invisible zipper foot channels.
The tutorial is using a regular zipper foot so that anyone can insert it with their regular zipper foot.


Supplies needed for one pillow cover to fit an 18"x 18" pillow cover:
2(two) squares of 18" fabric (finished pillow size will be approximately 17")
1 invisible zipper 20" inches long

It is not necessary to iron your zipper teeth open flat, but if you do that and it will help you not have to hold it back so much as you sew. I personally do not iron my teeth, it doesn't make a difference to me. I have sewn in a billion (it seems like it) zippers and I just don't bother anymore.
BUT I feel as a beginner, you should iron and it will make it less complicated for you if this is your first ever invisible zipper. Don't use super hot heat on the iron, these teeth are nylon.

I'm going to have you pin both sides of the zipper down before sewing the zipper. Once both sides are pinned it will keep the zipper from flipping and turning. Plus it does safe time for you if this is your first time.
After you have sewn a pillow or two, you will begin to see how you can adjust and make it easier for you.
I usually don't use pins at all when I sew these pillows. It gets easier and as you gain more sewing experience you will also find ways that are best for you!

TIP: There is a pattern on the zipper tape, shown below, between lines 2 and 3, this is a chevron pattern. Between lines 1 and 2 is a different woven pattern that you will want your needle to sew down. Anywhere in this pattern, between the lines, should suffice. If you sew over line 1 towards the teeth your zipper will not close and unpicking is a pain. If you sew over the line 2 your finished zipper will not be totally invisible.

Even if you do iron your zipper teeth flat, as mentioned above, you will still need to use your fingers strategically to hold it flat as you sew.

Now below, we will sew up the other end 1" by starting on the edge of the fabric and sew towards the zipper pull.

With both of the 1" sides all sewn up to the edges, you can zip up your zipper and see how it "hides" the bulky pull in the seam.
It's like magic!

Normally I do not clip my corners but fold them over each other as I flip the pillow right side out.
If you fold it over, and not just bunch the corner fabric up, it will have a nice crisp corner. I wish I had the correct wording to explain to you. But clipping the corners are a great way to reduce bulk.

My favorite place to buy pillow inserts are IKEA. They have 20" down filled and 20" soft poly filled for a great price, like less than $6.

My favorite place to buy zippers online are from a shop on Etsy called ZipIt!
The canvas weight fabric used in the tutorial is and the gray chevron is old from my stash.
The three fabrics in the very top header image are from Hawthorn threads, designed by Joel Dewberry. It is a thicker twill, which is my favorite! It's so beautiful and so soft to touch.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

sewing classes for beginners

I'm now offering sewing classes! Those in or near South Orange County California that have always wanted to learn to sew or advance your skill this is for you. Tag a friend and get your kids signed up to take a Spring break class together.

Create Sewing School is a collection of sewing classes designed to teach, inspire, and encourage creativity in the lifelong skill of sewing. I have a strong focus on empowering kids (and adults!) to love sewing and to realize they are creative! I believe that learning to sew should be fun and rewarding, not frustrating.

New classes start in March including a Spring Break camp.
I'm offering those who refer a friend, $5 off their next class!
To see the upcoming projects, the class schedule, and to sign up go to Create Sewing School.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

must have sewing tools

As a seamstress, I have a few tools of the trade I can't live without. I'm sure this is true for most artists and tradesmen. I use most of these daily and I'm pretty particular about the exact item I have. For example, I know there are several different types of seam rippers, and I've used them, but I found the perfect one for me and it makes my job more efficient.
I did link to all these items above where it says "Shop My Favorites". But I wanted to give a little more description as to why I love each item. I have linked to the items online for you to see in person. Some links are affiliate links and that only means if you purchase through clicking the link I may get a reward but it doesn't effect the price.

#1 Is a spool of white Gutermann thread. I use white 95% of the time. I have many other colors in my drawer but they last me quite a while. When thread goes on sale at Joann, I buy white in bulk and stock up because it's pricey for thread. It comes in the jumbo spool size with 1094 yds for a reason. Yes, I am particular to the brand, I have decided it's best for my machine with experience and research. I only buy Gutermann thread and I find that it's stronger when sewing. It's a finer woven thread and causes less lint build up in my machine.
I also stock up on the larger spools of black but do not go through them near as fast.

#2 Is Sulky thread. I've used it as a specialty type of thread and have been pleased with the results. It is the only thread I use in my embroiderer. I use it for my appliqued advent calendars.

#3 Is a round Bobbin Saver. I used to keep my bobbins in a clear plastic case and it became a mess. Over the years I discovered the round bobbin holder and it's been a life saver! I would suggest everyone new to sewing start with this. No more loose threads or nests and knots when the bobbins come undone. Heaven forbid you ever dropped your clear plastic case full of bobbins and they rolled all over the floor! I've dropped this round and nothing has escaped the tight grasp.

#4 Orange handled Fiskars scissors. These are my go to scissors. Not only are the comfortable to hold, but they are sharp and they stay sharp for years. I have several scissors and the orange handled one the far right is my favorite for cutting fabric. The bottom pair has a flat side that allows you to cut closer to the table when cutting fabric for a more precise cut. See how the black lines are angled below. The top pair with the gray inner is perfect for snipping threads. But I really tend to just use the bottom pair for everything.

#5 Wide handled seam ripper. There are plenty of small handled seam rippers out there. But I like my hand to hold a nice big handle to give me more support as I'm picking out seams. Picking out seams isn't fun but it's a fact of sewing, might as well make it more efficient.
The white one with the flat handle is the one I use. The white Bernina seam ripper is very sharp and is a nice back up. The blue one is a run of the mill you find at any fabric shop. It does the job, but it's not as efficient and it's stored in my middle drawer with things I rarely use.

#6 My Juki MO654DE serger. A serger isn't a necessity to most who sew. If you sew clothing regularly, then it will come in as a higher need. I have had this one for about 4 years. It is super fast! It's the best quality for your money. I may be biased here because I learned to sew on this serger my older sister had. When I was in jr. High, she taught me to sew my own school clothes using this machine. It was tricky to me as a young girl, but my sister was good at teaching me tricks for the tension and how to change the thread. When I bought my own serger, I made sure I was confident with threading it and changing the thread. I think that it can be intimidating for many to own a serger and learning to thread it but it doesn't have to be hard if you read the manual step by step.
I also am pretty good at cleaning it and getting all the lint out and vacuuming the inside clean. I would definitely buy this serger again.

#7 Seam Gauge. It is always within arms length. Pretty basic tool but plays a huge role. The blue part slides up and down to hold the mark and allows you to hem precisely and measure small amounts exact. I use this much more than my long taper measure.

#8 Magnetic pin cushion. It's not really soft, so I guess it's more of a pin grabber. It's such a time saver by not having to put each individual pin back in a pin cushion. This grabs the pin from a couple inches away when you drop it. If you happen to drop a pin on the floor, or several, you can easily grab them by waving the magnetic holder above them and they jump right up.

#9 A pinking refill blade for my rotary cutter. These are hard for me to find and I have found the best price for these on Amazon. I use these for many things but the main project is the party banners and photo prop buntings. I buy this in the olfa blade on amazon always because I have had the hardest time finding it anywhere else.

#10 I made a quilt a while ago using half square triangles and discovered this template to square up the blocks. It made he process go so fast and I've used it many times since.

#11 Fiskars rotary cutter. This is by far my favorite style. I love the comfort of the handle. I love the safety feature on this. The blade pokes out for you squeeze the handle and cut. When you are done cutting you relax your grip and the blade goes back in. If I need to sit down my blade between cutting and re-positioning, I don't need to bother sliding the blade in like some other brands or designs, this does it automatically for me. There is also a small orange circle button to lock the blade in when you want. I have never cut myself with my rotary blade but I have seen and heard about some pretty nasty cuts and will do all I can to avoid those. I thank Fiskars for this design!
The top image shows my hand relaxed with the blade closed, and the second image shows me squeezing the handle ready to cut with the blade out.

Friday, January 26, 2018

altering clothing, boot leg jeans into skinny jeans

The skinny bone legs on the left are not mine, obviously. But I'm in no way unhappy with the way my legs look. I'm not fat and I don't consider myself fat. I'm 5'5" and not as short as the photo shows me to be. But lets look past the legs and not compare ourselves to a model, who may have been photoshopped, and just focus on the bottom opening of the jeans.

These jeans were originally boot cut and I wanted them to be straight leg. I don't want really skinny jeans that are like tight leggings. The reason I bought the boot leg jeans was because the waist was a low rise in front. I was having such a hard time finding any jeans that were not high rise or mom jeans. I like my jeans low, way below my belly button. All the jeans I found with narrow leg openings had 90's mom high rise waist. Once I found the rise I wanted I knew I could always work with the boot leg on my sewing machine so I bought these.

Many times I look past what is offered in store bought clothes and look for what I can make it into. If there is a perfect part of the clothing item but it also has a part that I don't like or that doesn't fit right, if it's easily altered, I will buy it and make it fit me the way I want. I love not having to settle on what is offered in the stores because I can sew.

So here is a quick run down on how I made the wide leg jeans into a narrow width.
If you have any questions let me know, this is just a simple explanation, and I can answer more in depth if you need. It's really hard I've decided to try and explain things in writing.
This is not a hard project, it was tricky though. It did take quite a bit of time to get it done right. I may have spent just over an hour on a pair. I did this with several pairs of jean I bought back in November.

First, I unpicked the hem on the side seams. I only did about 2 inches on each side so that the original hem would still be in tact when I was all complete.
Then I marked with a pen on the inside where I wanted to sew to take the jeans in. The white stitch line below shows my new marking, and the red lines show the original boot stitching.

Next, I picked out the yellow top stitching that goes up the inner leg. I unpicked just to the knee, not all the way up. I stopped just past the point I wanted to start taking in the boot flare.

Hint: The way the top stitching is originally sewn in the factory makes it easy to just pull on the bottom bobbin thread and it comes undone after you get it started. This is tricky if you do not know what you are looking for and hard to explain in words. But you can always just take it out with a seam ripper all the way up.

Laying the jeans flat, I sewed up the new stitch line (white remember) on each pant leg. It's important to have the outer worn hem match up and also the dark line where the stitching will go as you sew this inner side seam. 


Then I trimmed off the excess with scissors and finished the raw edge with a serger. I only used the serger on the first pair of jeans. On the other jeans I altered, on the raw edge, I used my sewing machine zig-zag stitch, adjusted to a smaller stitch length and it worked great. You do not need a serger for this.

Now that the legs are narrow, they need to be put back together with yellow thread to look like the original jeans. The side leg top stitching needs to be done before the final hem.

I use regular yellow/gold Guterman thread, it's not a special jeans type, just regular all purpose thickness. Although, I like to use a stitch selection on my machine that makes the thread look thicker and stronger. It is number 6 on my Bernina. But every machine should have a stitch similar to this, even my 30+ year old Kenmore has this stitch. It's a stretch stitch so look around and see if you notice it near the stretch selections on your machine. It sews three times over each stitch not just one.

As I sew up the inner leg top stitch, I start from the bottom opening. Sewing up towards the knee, I have to adjust the pant leg and bunch it up so that the needle can reach all the way up the now narrow leg without catching the bottom part of the fabric.

The connection of the original top stitching to the new stitching blends right in. You can't even tell it was sewn differently. That's why I love that stitch #6 selection!

After the side seam is complete, I finished the hems. They each had about an inch on each side to sew up and connect to the original hem stitching.
As I fold the hem up, this is where you see the importance of the worn lines matching up. (see above). As you see in the image below, the white dotted lines will be the new stitch lines (inner leg top stitch and the hem). The red is the existing hem that I will connect.

The finished hem blends right in and no one knows any different. I've done this with four jeans in the past month and while it is time consuming to get it just right and make sure it looks decent, it is well worth it to me to get a great fitting pair of jeans.

Have you altered jeans, or any other clothing items? I would love to hear about it!
Original jeans were Lucky Brand, Charlie Baby Boot.