Finishing the Edge – Do you need a Serger?

You’ve heard of sergers. You know that the basic difference is that a serger has more threads than a regular sewing machine, but do you know what a serger can do for you? 

 

What exactly is a serger? A serger is a sewing machine that sews, trims and finishes seams all in one step. Not only does a needle stitch down the regular seam, three or four other threads wrap around the edge of fabric to prevent it from fraying. A serger can also make decorative edges and attach elastic. Look at the seams of any store bought garment (like the inside of a t-shirt) for an example of what a serger does.

Do I need a serger? This question is asked by all levels of sewers. It is one to ask yourself when you want to take your sewing to the next level. The answer? Maybe. It depends on where you want to go with your sewing and if what the serger can do will benefit your projects.

Juki MO-104 Serger
Juki MO-104 Serger

 

Here are a few questions to consider:

– How serious is your sewing?

If you sew clothing often, a serged edge looks professional and will make things easier and faster. Even if you are just sewing for you and your family a serger will allow you to quickly finish an edge. If you’re using lots of wovens, a serged seam will ensure your finished product will survive washing and wearing.  You can also piece quilt tops with a serger!

– Do you sew knits often?

As long as you’re using the correct needle, you can get away with using a zigzag or stretch stitch on your regular machine for knit fabrics.  But if you sew knits often or for other people, a serger is the way to go. With a serger, knits are incredibly quick and easy to sew.

 

What can a serger do that your sewing machine can’t and does that matter?

Sergers are great at something that many sewing machines can’t do – a rolled hem. A rolled hem is what it sounds like, a tight overlock stitch that rolls the hem in on itself ever so slightly. It makes a great finished edge for bridal gowns, flowy tops, and dresses. A serger can also do things like gather or stretch the edge of a fabric, which is great for ruffles.

 

Adding to the machines to consider, there is also a Cover Stitch Machine.

A cover stitch machine makes a twin stitched  hem that is covered by multiple threads on the back. Again, look at the hem of a mass-produced t-shirt for an example of what a cover stitch looks like. Notice how the raw edge of the hem is covered up by the threads on the back side of the fabric?

Some machines, like the Juki MO-735 are both a serger and a cover stitch machine, depending on how they are threaded and configured.

The Juki MCS-1500 is purely a cover stitch machine, meaning it produces only the cover stitch and chain stitch, and does not trim fabric as it stitches.

Juki MCS-1500 Cover Stitch
Juki MCS-1500 Cover Stitch Machine

 

I need a serger. Now what?
Sergers can appear pretty confusing if you’ve never owned one, but they’re nothing to be afraid of!  If you have a friend or relative who has one, see if you can test drive it. Even better, come to Fabric Hut and talk to us!  We have multiple models on the floor and can show you how to thread them, how they work, and give you more information to help you pick out the machine that best fits your needs.

Let’s face it, sergers do cost money, but they can save you assembly time, and make your projects last longer. If you are selling your clothing or other projects, a serger is a great way to finish it in a professional way that will ensure your customers will stay satisfied.

 

Need more help? Don’t worry we’re here to help you!  Send us an email with your questions or give us a call!.

Fabric Education: Silvercloth

 

 

What is Silver cloth?

There is a difference between silver cloth and a silver polishing cloth. While we carry both here in the store, today we are talking about kenized silver cloth.

Kenized Silver cloth is a treated flannel that is used in the storage of silver. The flannel goes through a chemical process called keninization that embeds specks of silver and other semi-precious metals to counteract the effects of tarnish. Wrapping your silver in the cloth helps to prevent the silver from tarnishing, which should lead to less polishing to be done. The silver cloth we carry comes on 60″ wide rolls and is cut by the yard to order.

Where can you use it?

Silver chests and jewelry boxes are the top places you will find people using their silvercloth. You can make a bag from it to store your jewelry in, line your jewelry box with it, or just lay the silver items on a flat piece of the cloth and cover with another piece. Some musical instrument makers use it in the lining of their horn cases as well.  Do not get the silver cloth wet – it will lose its protective properties. Keep your silver cloth dry and and your silver should be safe from tarnish!

 

Silver cloth comes in black, brown and red, and is one of our top selling products online!

 

 

2017 Row by Row Panel Tutorial

It’s that time of year again, where quilters roam the streets, collecting patterns…

That’s right, it’s Row by Row!

 

This year’s theme is On the Go, and our block is named On the Go to Fabric Hut. We’ve tried something new – kits for our block are available, and the kit is a panel!

We had these specially printed for this year’s Row. They are limited edition, meaning they will not be restocked once they’re gone.  With each panel you will get a copy of the pattern with instructions and templates. The only other thing you need is a half yard of the fusible webbing you like to work with..

Best of all, the block is completely customizable! Don’t like to fly? Leave the airplane out! Get seasick? Skip the boat! How you want to be On the Go to Fabric Hut  is completely up to you.

 

We realize that some people might not have worked with a panel before, so let’s get started with the tutorial!

 

1- Iron your panel! Press on the back of the panel (not the printed side) and use a low to medium heat. This is to make sure your pieces are flat before you start cutting.

 

2- Cut out your pieces!

If you’re doing Raw Edge Applique, cut around the shape itself. For the Bay shape, there is a Plain blue 1/8” outline – trim this off! The Road piece will be a little long, but it will be trimmed later after you have it placed.

 

If you’re doing Needle Turned Applique, cut around the outline. For the larger pieces (the Ground, Sky, Bay and Road) there is not a separate outline, so cut around the shape.

 

For this example block, we are doing Raw Edge Applique.

 

Got everything cut out? Great!

 

 

3- Put the ground and sky pieces right sides together and stitch along the long edge with a 1/4” seam allowance. This seam allowance is built into the shapes, so you don’t have to trim the block after you’re done.

 

4- Press!

 

5- Apply fusible web to your applique pieces. We’re using Heat N’ Bond Lite, which means we need to apply the web to the BACK of the applique pieces first.  Follow the instructions regarding temperature, and don’t forget to put down a protective layer on your ironing surface!

 

If you’re doing Needle Turned Applique, you might want to use the templates provided with the pattern to cut out your webbing so that you have an easier time with your turning allowance. For Raw Edge applique, just apply the fusible and trim around the pieces, making sure that there are no pieces of web sticking out!

 

6- Let’s start placing! Place the bay shape first. It will line up at the seam of the ground and sky (the horizon line) and along the left edge.

 

Place the Hut on the right side of the block. You decide how far up or down you want it, just as long as it’s more than a half inch from the right side. In our example block, we’re putting the center of the hut about 7 inches from the right edge.

Place the road in the middle. Line up the shortest edge to the horizon line.

7- Time to fuse! Follow your fusible’s instructions, and we recommend using a press cloth. Once those are placed, trim any of the road piece that overhangs at the bottom.

 

 

8- Now that we have the places to go, let’s add the transportation!

Put the boat on top of the bay.  Make sure it’s more than a half inch away from the left edge!

Put the car on the road – point it along the road, towards the horizon line.

Time for takeoff! Get that plane in the air! Put the plane in the sky wherever you want.

If you want to add the clouds, place them in where you like.

 

9- Fuse those pieces according to the instructions, and you’re set!

10- Finish your applique using your chosen technique. For our display block, we’ve gone around each piece with monofilament to secure our applique.

 

 

Congratulations, your block is done! Add it to your quilt and we’ll see you soon!

 

Don’t forget – we’ve got a brand new license plate this year too! Stop in and pick one up  (and one from last year if you missed it!)

 

 

Fabric Education: Vinyl

 

Vinyl.
Let me guess, when I say that word, you think of slightly gross 1970’s Barcaloungers. You’re not alone, but it’s time to update that viewpoint – vinyl has come a long way in the years since!
Today’s vinyls can be just as textured or soft and buttery as real leather, and much easier to clean! Vinyl can come backed with a soft flannel type of backing. An advantage of this is if used as a tablecloth, the backing can help protect furniture from scratching. If used in a bag, it may help eliminate the need for a lining, depending on how you want your bag to look.

There are many different types of vinyl, each one has a different potential for greatness.

When you hear the terms faux leather, or pleather, know that these words are just different names for types of vinyl. Faux leather and pleather are very thin vinyls with a texture reminiscent of real leather. They are great for making belts, bags, bag straps and accents, or jackets.

 

Transparent vinyl comes in multiple thicknesses and can be used for ID windows in wallets, or table and seat coverings.

 

If you’re a boater, you know that the coast is a harsh environment, and your seats and bolsters need to stand up to the elements and be easy to clean after a day on the bay. Marine vinyl is a thicker vinyl with built-in UV resistance. Most manufacturers also integrate anti-fungal properties to combat mildew. Marine vinyl comes in a multitude of colors to match any boat’s color scheme.

 

So you want to give vinyl a try? Great! As with any specialty fabric, there are some tricks of the trade you should know when sewing.
1. Don’t use pins! Vinyl is not self-healing and doesn’t have threads that you can rearrange after you put a pin in it. Once a hole is put in vinyl, it’s there forever. When you’re assembling your pieces, use clips to hold them together. Wonder Clips work great, but so do binder clips and clothespins.
2. Make sure you have a heavy duty sewing machine needle. Even thin vinyl is much thicker than quilting or garment fabrics. If you use a thin flimsy needle, you will break it almost immediately. Denim needles might be able to handle thin vinyls but Heavy Duty or Leather needles will be your best option.
3. Replace needles often! You’re essentially punching holes in the material, so they will dull quickly.
4. GO SLOWLY! Test sew some scraps first to make sure that your machine can handle multiple thick layers.
5. Some vinyls and leathers like to stick to the underside of your presser foot as you sew. Try putting a piece of scotch tape (the satin kind, not glossy) on the bottom of your foot. If you feel that sewing with vinyl is going to be a long term thing, think about investing in a Teflon or “ultra glide” foot to avoid sticking.

 

What if you want the look but don’t want to tackle it yourself? Bring it to us! We’ve got the workroom to recover or fabricate your piece with the vinyl of your choice – even boat seats! Give us a call and let us help!

Fabric Education: Monk’s Cloth

 

Fabric Education: Monk's Cloth

 

First of all, what IS monks cloth?

Sadly, it’s not cloth handmade by monks in a mountaintop monastery from threads of gold. There’s not a lot of documentation on its history, but it is believed to be the kind of cloth that monk’s habits were made from in the 18th century.

White Monk's Cloth

Monks cloth is a loosely woven cloth. If you know cross stitch fabrics, it’s similar to Aida cloth, but is a 4×4 weave, with more drape. The Monks cloth we carry here at Fabric Hut is cotton, 60” wide, and comes in various colors. We carry at least 6 shades, including black, white, gray, navy and others.

 

Monks Cloth on rolls at Fabric Hut

 

Now that we know what it is, what do you do with it?

  • You can cross stitch with it!  If you do, stabilizer is DEFINITELY recommended.
  • You can use it as a base to make latchhook crafts, like rugs or wall hangings.
  • Or most popular, you can weave with it by threading yarn in and out of the holes and between threads to make patterns. Sometimes this is called Swedish Weaving or Huck Embroidery.

We have a whole board on Pinterest filled with Monk’s cloth projects and ideas!

 

Want to try a monks cloth project for yourself? See what we have in stock here!

 

Fabric Hut Q&A: Sewing Machines

Q&A: Sewing Machines

 

New to sewing? Want to buy a new machine and not really sure what to look for? We can help! Ann and Stephanie have answered some of our most frequently asked questions about sewing machines for you.

 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SEWING MACHINE, AN EMBROIDERY MACHINE, A QUILTING MACHINE, AND A SERGER?

A sewing machine will have multiple stitches, including zig-zag and decorative stitches, and is used for everyday craft and garment sewing.

An embroidery machine has a hoop that attaches to an arm that holds the fabric tight while the machine creates a design on the fabric. A sewing machine that does decorative stitches is NOT the same as an embroidery machine. Embroidery machines tend to cost more because of the components required for it to run.

A quilting machine will often only do one stitch – a straight stitch. It can vary in stitch length and occasionally in speed, and can lower and raise the feed dogs to allow for free motion quilting.

A serger is used to finish edges and prevent fraying in fabrics. The seam on the inside of your t-shirt was most likely done on a serger. A serger sews with 2 to 5 threads depending on the model and the settings, and can either cut the fabric before it sews it or it can roll the fabric into the seam.

There are some embroidery machines that also do sewing and decorative stitches. There are some sewing machines that can raise and lower the feed dogs for free motion quilting.

Types of Sewing Machines

 

 

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN SHOPPING FOR A NEW SEWING MACHINE?

First, list the things you want your sewing machine to do. Knowing what your sewing needs are is a great place to start when you’re looking for a new machine. Do you make clothing? If so, you should look for a machine that does automatic buttonholes. Do you sew with knits a lot? A serger is a great machine for sewing knits and finishing seams. Do you quilt? You would want a machine that comes with free-motion quilting accessories and a quarter inch foot, as well as the ability to raise and lower the feed dogs.

 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MECHANICAL AND COMPUTERIZED MACHINE?

Mechanical machines are set with levers and dials that control mechanisms inside the machine. Usually these machines only have straight and zig-zag type stitches, and other dials to adjust stitch length and width. Usually (but not always) mechanical machines cost less than computerized machines.

Computerized machines are controlled by a small circuit board. This allows manufacturers to offer machines with multiple stitch patterns and other features. Computerized machines can make sewing easier – Automatic buttonholes are a great example. Instead of having to adjust a dial and flip a switch each time you need to change a stitch or direction, the computer has the sequence of changes memorized and does it for you in a matter of minutes.

Computerized vs. Mechanical

 

WHAT KIND OF ACCESSORIES DO I NEED?

At the very least, extra bobbins and needles. There are all types of specialized presser feet you can get, but figure out what your needs are before investing in a fancy cording foot that you may never use.  Extra presser feet to have in your basic collection include a zipper foot, quarter inch foot (for quilting), or a walking foot. Many machines will come with extra presser feet, so find out what your machine includes before you buy something extra.

 

MY MACHINE HAS A METAL BOBBIN. CAN I SWITCH TO PLASTIC?

Absolutely not, and likewise you cannot switch from plastic to metal. Especially in front loading bobbins, the mechanisms that determine bobbin tension take into account the weight of the bobbin itself, and using a lighter bobbin (plastic) instead of a heavier (metal) or vice versa will cause bobbin tension issues. Usually the machine’s manual will tell you what type of bobbin you need. If not, bring a bobbin with you to the store and use it to compare bobbin height, diameter, and the curve of the top of the bobbin. Some plastic bobbins have a curve to the top of them, some are flat with a notch. As always, if you have a question, ask for help. Helping you find what you need is why we’re here!

 

WHAT IS A “WALKING FOOT?”

A walking foot, also known as an “even feed” foot, is a presser foot that adds feed dogs to the top of your fabric to correspond to the feed dogs that are underneath. The top feed dogs help grab the top fabric and keep it moving evenly with the bottom fabric. The walking foot is especially helpful when sewing or quilting with thicker fabrics and batting. It is a great accessory for quilters and garment sewists -it helps a lot with matching stripes!

Walking Foot
A Generic Walking Foot

 

WHAT KIND OF THREAD SHOULD I USE?

That depends on the project you are working on, however it is important to note that you should use the same weight thread on the top as in your bobbin to keep the tension from going too tight or too loose. Even if you are using two different colors of thread, make sure the thread you use is the same weight. For example, mixing jeans thread with common polyester thread is a recipe for poor tension and stitches pulling out easily..

 

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A CERTAIN NEEDLE? CAN’T I JUST USE THE ONE THAT CAME WITH MY MACHINE ALL THE TIME?

It is important that your needles, thread and fabric are all compatible. The point of the needle, groove and shaft, and diameter of the needle should be considered when selecting the right one for your project. While woven fabrics are generally happy with universal needles, knits require a ball point needle to avoid ripping holes in the fabric. Thick fabrics and vinyls need a thick heavy duty needle to avoid breaking, and leather needles have a lens-shaped point for cutting through the leather.  Top-stitching thread needs a needle with a larger eye. Given the variety of needles on the market, it is usually easy to find just the right needle for your sewing.

Schmetz has a great needle guide that explains the different types of needles.

As tempting as it is to leave the same needle in your machine for months at a time, please don’t! Needles do get dull and bent, especially if they are heavy use needles.. Even a slight bend that you can hardly see can lead to skipped stitches, thread breaking and torn fabric. Torn fabric and skipped stitches lead to you being frustrated and upset. Save yourself and change your needles often!

 

WHAT IS A “KNEE LIFT” ACCESSORY?

A knee lift is a great accessory for all sewists. It is an attachment that extends from the front of the machine to the side of your leg when you’re sitting at the machine. When you are done sewing a seam or just pivoting your fabric, your knee applies slight pressure to the lift and then the presser foot raises, hands free!

 

WHAT IS A “FREE ARM” AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

A free arm machine is any sewing machine with a detachable area that leaves a smaller surface to fit cuffs, sleeves, pant legs, etc., around to allow for easier mobility when sewing them. Some machines have smaller free arms than others, but usually there is a section of the base of the machine that will detach and often is able to hold other accessories for the machine, such as extra presser feet and bobbins. This isn’t available on all types of machines, but most regular sewing machines should have free arm capabilities.

Machine base removal revealing free arm capability.
Machine base removal revealing free arm. Photo from Juki America.

 

 

 

So…you’ve got your machine picked out and want to learn to sew…now what? We’ve got a great post to help you out! Check it out here. Even better, come in take a class!

 

We hope we’ve answered some of your questions! If you have one we missed, ask us in the comments!

A Q&A with Fabric Hut’s Quilting Department

Quilting Q&A

While quilting fabrics make up a large portion of our inventory, we know not everyone is that familiar with them! We sat down with Shilo, our Quilting specialist to answer some questions about quilting fabrics, quilting and more…

WHAT IS QUILTING COTTON?

Quilting cotton has a weaving standard. It must be an even weave with a minimum of 60 threads both directions (per square inch). Not all cottons comply with this standard. There are different grades of quilting cotton. Some of the cottons that are produced for discount stores are thinner and rougher than cottons produced for quilt shops. Many of the quality quilting cottons are 68 to 78 threads per square inch.

Ink & Arrow Quilting Cottons In Store
Ink & Arrow Quilting Cottons in the store

 

CAN I USE QUILTING COTTON FOR STUFF LIKE CLOTHES?

Yes! However you should wash it before cutting it out and will probably need to iron it. You can also use it for throw pillows, curtains, napkins, place mats, table runners, pillow cases, tote bags and purses.

 

CAN I USE CLOTHING FABRIC TO MAKE A QUILT?

You can, however it may not be an even weave like quilting cotton. It will quite possibly be thicker or thinner than typical quilting cotton, so it might be more difficult to work with or may wear out sooner. When quilts were a necessity rather than a style choice, quilters used old clothing and scraps from clothing they made.

 

WHY ARE SOME QUILTS REALLY THICK AND OTHERS REALLY THIN?

Thickness is determined by the batting used in the quilt. This is called loft.  High loft batting is puffier than low loft batting.

 

I’M SEWING PIECES OF FABRIC TOGETHER. ISN’T THAT QUILTING?

You’re piecing! Piecing is sewing together pieces of fabric to form a quilt top. Quilting is sewing through the quilt top, batting and backing together. The quilting stitch is either done in an allover ramble called stippling, or in a pattern that compliments the design of the top.

 

HOW DO I GET STARTED QUILTING?

Jump right in! Find a book, a Youtube video, or ideally take a class. Ask if the class is suitable for someone new to quilting before signing up.

 

WHAT SHOULD I BRING TO A QUILTING CLASS?

Everything on the supply list you receive after you sign up. Basics are: Fabric, pins, thread and scissors. If the classroom doesn’t supply these: ruler and rotary cutter. Don’t forget your sewing machine with bobbins, power cord and foot pedal.  If you take a class here at Fabric Hut, we will gladly rent a machine to you while you’re taking the class.

 

Okay, let’s talk about quilting terms:

WHAT IS A BLENDER? 

A blender is a cotton with a small print that has the appearance of a solid from a distance. Blenders are usually chosen in colors from the feature fabric.

 

WHAT IS A FEATURE FABRIC?

The fabric in the quilt that influences other fabric choices. It’s usually a medium to large scale print.

 

HOW BIG IS A FAT QUARTER, AND WHY DO I WANT ONE INSTEAD OF A REGULAR ¼ YARD CUT OF FABRIC?

A fat quarter is 18″x22″. It is a good choice when a 9″x44″ piece is too narrow, but the piece doesn’t need to be wider than 22″. Many quilt patterns are written exclusively for fat quarters and they are frequently used for applique.

 

WHAT IS A JELLY ROLL?

A set of 2-1/2″ strips cut the width of the fabric. A jelly roll usually has one or two strips from each print in a collection/group. It is one of many kinds of precut packs.

Jelly Roll from Moda
Jelly Roll, photo from Moda Fabrics

WHAT IS BATTING AND WHAT KINDS OF BATTING ARE THERE?

Batting is the layer inside the quilt that makes it warmer. Cotton, polyester, silk, tencel and bamboo are used for batting. Frequently two or more are combined for a blend.

 

WHAT IS A “QUILT SANDWICH?”

The quilt top and batting layered on top of the backing is called a quilt sandwich.

Anatomy of a Quilt Sandwich

 

WHAT IS AN APPLIQUE?

Applique is when cut shapes are attached on the top of a block

 

WHAT IS A FUSIBLE?

A fusible is a substance that you iron onto your fabric. There is fusible stabilizer and interfacing, which strengthen your fabrics and keep it from distorting. There are also fusibles like Heat N Bond, which let you apply one fabric to another for things like applique.

 

Ok, let’s move on to quilting itself!
WHY DO I NEED A QUILTING PATTERN? AREN’T THEY ALL JUST SQUARES?

There are quilts that use squares, rectangles, triangles and curves. There are also quilts with shapes cut from fabric and placed on top of a background. Quilt designers make all kinds of quilts with different shapes.

Anatomy of a Quilt Sandwich
Charleston Block Quilt

 

CAN I COMBINE DIFFERENT FABRICS IN MY QUILT?

Yes, crazy quilts traditionally have a variety of fabrics – cotton, silk, velvet. For the best look later or to add stability for thin or stretch pieces of fabric:
– Pre-wash if possible to eliminate or minimize shrinkage.
– Use a light-weight fusible interfacing on the back of the piece.

 

WHAT SEAM ALLOWANCE SHOULD I USE FOR A QUILT?

Quilt patterns are written for a quarter of an inch. If you use a smaller seam allowance the fabric may pull from the seam and make a hole. If the block uses more than a piece or two of fabric and you use a larger seam allowance, the pieces may not fit together correctly, or the block may end up smaller than intended.

 

CAN I USE A SHEET FOR THE BACKING?

Please don’t. Most sheets have a much higher thread count than quilting cottons do, which makes them more difficult for your machine to stitch through.

 

SO THEN WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR BACKING MY QUILT?

Quilting cotton and flannel (44″ wide and 108″ or wider) are what are typically used. You could also use Minkee/Cuddle for a soft plush backing. This is great for a snuggly baby quilt!

 

HOW DO I WORK WITH MINKEE/CUDDLE FOR MY BACKING?

Temporary spray baste and/or pins. Because of the nap of the fabric, it likes to shift while you’re working with it.

 

HOW DO I PREPARE A QUILT TOP FOR QUILTING?

Make sure that your top is straight and aligned. Some people spray baste their quilt layers together, others use safety pins to anchor the layers together.

 

WHY ARE SOME QUILTING THREADS VARIEGATED/MULTICOLORED? WHY WOULD I USE THAT?

Stippling with variegated quilting thread can add interest to a simple quilt. If you can’t find a solid color that works well with a quilt, quilting with a thread that has subtle variation in color will sometimes help thread blend into various prints or keep the eye from continuously traveling along the quilting and let it focus on the piecing.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW BEFORE THEY COME IN?

An idea of what they need – how many pieces of fabric, yardage, size if applicable. Bring your pattern with you if you have it!

WHAT SHOULD I BRING WITH ME?

Your pattern, any fabric you want to coordinate with, measurements for your window, table, person, a mind open to choosing a different color or pattern. Don’t be afraid to ask one of us if you’re stuck and need another opinion or expertise – we’re happy to help!

 

We hope we’ve answered a few of your questions! If you have one we missed, ask us in the comments!

I Want to Learn to Sew…Now What?

 

I want to learn to sew...now what?

 

So you got a sewing machine for the holidays. Congratulations! A sewing machine is a great investment!

…Now what?

1. Stock up on essential items

There are some basic things every sewist needs in their arsenal, no matter what you are sewing.

  • Seam ripper – every sewist has to rip something out, no matter how long they have been doing this. Everyone makes mistakes! You want to be prepared to backtrack if needed.
  • Scissors big and small – A good pair of scissors stays sharp for a long time. Your kitchen scissors that you keep in the junk drawer are not going to cut it this time (get it?). You want scissors that have never touched paper, and you never want to let them touch paper. You will need more than one pair, and in more than one size. Some heavier fabrics will need a larger pair, whereas some of your lighter fabrics will not need as much heft in the cut.
  • Extra bobbins – Bobbins are so small and so easy to lose, you are going to want some extras. You also want to be able to keep as many filled bobbins as possible so that when you need to change colors, you will have the bobbin ready. You also want to be able to fill a bobbin with the thread you are working with without having to unroll another bobbin to do so.
  • Needles – Chances are that your machine comes with a few extra needles for when yours breaks. However, you are going to want to use different needles for different projects. Schmetz has a great chart depicting what needles should be used for different projects, as well as this link which shows what the points of certain needles look like and what each of the band colors mean for what you are working on.
  • Thread – Always keep spools of black and white thread handy. Black and white are the most commonly used colors in projects, followed by neutral colors. You don’t have to match every color in every project you make, but if you love purple and know you’ll be sewing lots of purple things, then by all means get purple thread!
  • Tape measure – A tape measure allows you to measure areas that are not necessarily straight and flat and thus harder to measure with a ruler or yardstick. They come in 60” and 120” lengths and can often come in fun colors!
  • Pins or clips – No matter how much control you think you have, you will never have complete control over your fabrics. Pins keep things in place where you put them while you are working on other parts of a project. Pins keep a pattern stuck to your fabric while you are tracing it or measuring it. Clips help when you are not too keen on poking holes in your fabric or if you are working with several layers of fabric.
  • Pin cushion – (or other storage device) This one should be self-explanatory. No one likes stepping on a pin, do they? There are plenty of fun ways to keep your pins, from your typical tomato-shaped pin cushion to a magnetized saucer or pin cushion for your wrist.

A few other supplies you may want to try include a rotary cutter and a self-healing mat (to make cutting fabric much quicker and easier on the hands), tailor’s chalk or marking pencil/pen (for tracing patterns onto your fabric without permanently marking said fabric), the aforementioned Wonder clips, pinking shears (for cutting edges of fabric so that they do not fray), or if you do not want to get pinking shears – Fray Check (which seals the edges of your fabric).

 

2. Take a Class

You sit down at your machine to start a project, and a space-ship control panel looks back at you. What do these buttons do? How do I do a zig-zag stitch? What is a blind hem stitch? How do I change stitches? Overwhelmed, you stand back up and walk away, only to come back a week later to the same dilemma.

Fear not, beginner sewist! Even the most experienced seamstress had to start somewhere, and more often than not they had someone to teach them, whether it was a mother or grandmother or a Home Economics teacher. Fabric Hut offers free classes with machines purchased in its store, or you can sign up for one of our classes online or over the phone. In your class you will learn the ins and outs of your machine at a comfortable pace. Able to learn on your own? Read through the manual. Modern machine manuals tend to be very user-friendly and often explain things in layman’s terms so that when you are confused by a certain setting, you can check the manual and it will help.

 

3. Choose a starter project

Even if your end goal is to recreate Marie Antoinette’s most elaborate gown, you have to start small. A pillow case, a zipper pencil pouch, a drawstring bag, or a rice heating pack can all be great starting projects. Most starting projects will have very few instructions and will be fairly self-explanatory. One of the main reasons new sewists quit sewing early is that they try to get too complicated too fast.

Play with your machine. Find some scrap fabric and sew some stitches with it, seeing how it feels pulling through the machine, what certain stitches look like on cotton vs. knit vs. heavier fabrics. Get comfortable with your machine and find out all the cool things it can do, then use those features to your advantage later on when you have a more complicated project to work on. Looking for tips? Check out our Sewing Know How Pinterest board for some informative articles and necessary knowledge.

 

4. Find a pattern

While you may think you know how to make something as simple as a pillow case, it is always a good idea to have a pattern available – even if only for visual reference. This will keep you from having a pillow case shaped like a triangle or a zipper pouch shaped like a blob.  You can find patterns from the major companies like McCall’s and Simplicity in most fabric stores (including Fabric Hut!)

There are also lots of independent pattern companies that sell downloadable PDF patterns. An easy way to find them is to search Google or Pinterest for the type of pattern you want like “leggings sewing pattern” or “elephant stuffed animal sewing pattern” or “baby quilt pattern.”

Read the directions on the pattern. Does something look funky? Are you unsure what the numbers and letters on the back of the pattern mean? Ask questions! We get questions about patterns all the time and we are more than happy to answer them when you bring them in.

 

5. Dive In!

 

 

Double check before you cut. Make sure the pattern is laying the right way. Check the directions again as you go. Stitch slowly so you can control your fabric. Make sure to trim and tuck in all your threads when you’re done!

 

6. Be easy on yourself.

When a kid learns to do something new, they don’t care if they’re perfect the first time, they know they’re learning. You are too! Sewing is a skill that takes practice. Don’t give up if you finish your first thing and think it looks bad. It was a learning experience, and I bet you’ll have figured out at least one thing to do next time and one thing NOT to do.

 

7. Find a community.

Getting in touch with other people that sew is so beneficial.  If none of your friends or family members sew, see if your area has a local chapter of the American Sewing Guild or find out if there’s an “open sew” time somewhere near you. Online there are many Facebook groups devoted to different kinds of sewing and plenty of Youtube tutorials (check out our partner Dad Sews!). There are also sites like Textillia and Craftster with forums. Even Instagram is a great resource – follow hashtags like #sewing, #quilting, and #sewingtutorial.

Here at Fabric Hut we have our classroom open on Wednesday for open sewing time (bring your machine!) and host 2  ASG chapters once a month. Interested in forming your own group to meet here? Drop us a line and let’s get something started!

 

Learning to sew opens up  new worlds for people. Have fun! Experiment! The possibilities of fabric combinations and techniques are endless!

 

Have more suggestions for communities, tools and resources? Let us know in the comments!

A Q&A with Fabric Hut Home Decor

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One of Fabric Hut’s many offerings is a wide range of home decorating fabrics and services. But if you’re not familiar with interior design, all those rows of heavy fabrics can be a little intimidating. Don’t worry, we’re here to help!

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We sat down with Randy to answer some of your questions about upholstery basics and re-covering your furniture.


WHY SHOULD I GET MY FURNITURE RECOVERED INSTEAD OF JUST BUYING SOMETHING NEW?

Randy: I have heard many reasons – size, for instance a certain piece fits the person or space in the house. The customer might want a specific pattern/color, or can’t find another piece of furniture that goes with the rest of the room. Another reason is quality. There is some cheaply made furniture these days and most older pieces are made better. Not only that, it might be sentimental…”this chair was my Moms,” or “Dad’s recliner.” Or maybe you just can’t find the style you like in a new item.

WHY CAN’T I USE JUST A REGULAR KNIT OR COTTON ON MY CHAIRS?

R: Most fabrics can be used on furniture, but not all fabrics will withstand the abuse that furniture takes.

HOW LONG DOES GETTING SOMETHING REUPHOLSTERED USUALLY TAKE?

R: Normal time is a few weeks. First we have to tear down the piece and take the tacks/staples out just to get it ready. Then we cut and sew the new pieces and then attach the new fabric. Take a chair for instance: you start with the seat, then the inside back, inside arms, outside arms and outside back, then the skirt if needed and then last to be covered are the cushions. It’s not a speedy process, but the results are worth it.

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WHAT IS THE BLACK FABRIC THAT GOES ACROSS THE BOTTOM OF COUCHES AND CHAIRS? WHY IS IT NEEDED?

R: Some people call it blackbottom, the actual name is cambric and it’s a great dust cover. It covers up the springs and frame work and makes the job look neater.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN A PIECE OF FURNITURE CAN BE REDONE OR IF IT’S JUST TOO FAR GONE TO BE REDEEMED?

R: If it was covered once it can be covered again. It may need a little extra padding or springs need to be re-tied or the joints may need a little glue, but most pieces can be saved.

I HAVE HAD THIS SOFA FOR 20 YEARS AND I WANT TO HAVE IT RECOVERED WITH THE SAME FABRIC, CAN YOU FIND IT?

R: Maybe once in a while but usually not. The fabric companies make new fabrics all the time and are updating new ones so not too many older fabric styles are remade.

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WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE KIND OF HOME DEC PROJECT THAT COMES IN?

R: I like seeing a chair that someone has loved to sit in and they find that right fabric to bring it back to life and they’re happy with the results. Also, when someone comes in and they say “I’ve been looking for a special fabric for a long time” and we start looking at our selection of fabrics in stock and in the many fabric samples they see the one that they have been looking for.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW BEFORE THEY COME IN?

R: Bring pictures! Not all chairs and sofas are the same size. If you’re trying to match a color in the room bring in a sample with you, it makes finding the fabric choice much easier.


 

We hope that this helped explain the basics a little more for you.  As always, let us know what questions you have! We’re always willing to answer! Leave a comment, give us a call at 1-877-4-FABHUT or drop us a line at homedecor@fabrichut.com.

Aprons Have You Covered

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Some people think of aprons as being an outdated 50’s housewife sort of thing, but if you’re the kind of person who gets any sort of messy in the kitchen, an apron is a great idea. Even if you’re not messy, sometimes they’re a cute addition when you’re hosting a barbeque, dinner party or event. On top of all that, aprons are a remarkably easy project!

 

Ink & Arrow Fabrics has multiple apron panels in their Happy Hour and Ooh La La collections.

Happy Hour Apron Black

 

Happy Hour Apron in Cream

 

Happy Hour Apron in Pink
Happy Hour Apron in Pink

 

The best thing about these panels is that you don’t need an entire cartful of items for one project. All the pieces and instructions are included in one panel. The only other things you need are thread and something to sew with!  There is no need for a separate paper pattern to cut out and pin to your fabric – just cut around the pieces on the panel.  The instructions tell you how much seam allowance is needed once you start stitching, and which tie goes where.

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Not only are they easy to make, they’re easily customizable. You could add a backing fabric, patches, lace, rhinestones, embroidery or anything else that you think would look great!

We carry all three of these panels on our website (currently with free shipping!). We can’t wait to see the results if you make one!