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My favorite tools

As with any activity, the tools used become a critical part of the successful completion. I thought I would talk about a couple I use on a regular basis while sewing.

Over the past few years, I have become a HUGE fan of KAI scissors. As you can see from the picture, I have quite a few. Plus duplicates! They are balanced correctly, comfortable and a pleasure to use. AND the company (located in Seattle, WA) offers a sharpening service: you mail them the scissors (4″ and larger), and for $5 +tax each, they will sharpen and mail them back.

KAI scissors
KAI scissors

Another tool I love and use alot is the Marti Michell Corner Trimmer. She demonstrated this several years ago at Sewing Expo and I was hooked immediately! It is great for joining lengths of fabric for binding, piping, fabric tubes, etc.

corner tool
corner trimmer alignment

The MOST important step of using this tool is to lay both strips of binding right sides up. I sometimes layer several strips to speed up the process but I ALWAYS remember to have them right side up!

corner tool
trimmer with corner of fabric cut off

The “corner” on the tool lines up the fabric for a nice 1/4″ seam. Lay the two pieces at right angles along the bias cut edge, right sides together, and sew.

stitching angle
stitching angle

I press the seam open so there is less “bulk” at the join. On solid or small print fabric, the join is virtually unnoticeable.

joined binding
joined binding

When joining one-way fabric, turn one strip upside down but STILL right side up. Notice the direction of the fabrics that have been trimmed off.

cutting one-way binding
cutting one-way binding

After joining, the direction on the fabric will be correct. I am not ashamed to admit it took a few tries to get this right the first time I used one-way fabric!

joined one-way binding
joined one-way binding

Let your creativity begin! And have fun 🙂

 

“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”
Prov 2:6

 

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Useful Accessories for Heirloom Sewing

Many times, after telling others about my passion for heirloom sewing, the response I get is “I don’t have a fancy machine”. Trust me, ANY machine that has a straight stitch and zig-zag can be used to create wonderful heirlooms!

Of course, having a top-of-the-line machine gives you a wider array of decorative stitches to choose from. Great to have but not required!

Another useful “tool” is the presser foot but, again, not absolutely necessary to have more than the standard to create elegant fancy bands and trims.

foot box

I am lucky to have a Bernina 830 and a wide array of feet. Each one was designed for a specific use but can be used for other purposes as well. I am going to talk about the ones I used in creating the Fancy Baby Dress (see related post).

feet
assorted feet (numbers refer to Bernina feet only)

Everyone has a ‘favorite’ foot for general sewing and I have two: #1 and #34. In the photo, #1 is mounted on the machine and #34 is just to the right. On the #1 foot the indentation in front of and behind the needle opening allows for easier forward and reverse stitching. #34 has a transparent sole which ensures a good view of the stitching and needle area. I use this one quite a bit for sewing laces and trims together.

Foot #37 is the Patchwork foot, developed for projects with 3mm (1⁄8”) or 6mm (1⁄4”) seam allowances. As the name implies, it is used mostly for quilting.

#32 (7 grooves) and #46C are the pintuck feet. I also used #46C for the corded piping. It has larger grooves which makes sewing the piping easier.

pintucks
pintucks with grooved foot

#54 is a zipper foot with a non-stick sole. I also used this foot to attach some of the piping.

#20C is called the open embroidery foot but I use it when combining laces, entredeux and trims. The open foot allows for greater control of the delicate fabrics and a clear view of your stitching.

lace to entredeux
lace to entredeux

I tend to switch feet often, trying for the best combination and ease of sewing.

beige dress
beige dress

Remember, you DO NOT HAVE to have all these feet to create heirloom garments or gifts. Just start stitching and enjoy the creative process!

“For nothing is impossible with God.”
– Luke 1:37

 

 

 

 

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Fancy Baby Dress

Last Sunday I attended a baby shower for a new member of our church. The baby was 1 month old and a little doll. I thought the suggested gift of children books, so the family could learn English, was great!

Anyway, needing a gift for the shower allowed me to do what I absolutely love – heirloom sewing 🙂

The fabric I chose was a bright white Satinella Batiste by Stylecrest; it has a slight sheen and a wonderful feel. I selected a simple square yoke pattern with a gathered sleeve and smocked skirt.

On the bodice, I created a verticle “fancy band” with lace and entredeux inserts alternated with pintucks.

fancy band bodice
fancy band bodice

The sleeves have one row of the lace and entredeux framed with pintucks down the middle.

sleeve band
sleeve band

After cutting the front skirt piece to length, I pleated 10 half-rows across the top. This was then blocked to match the bodice yoke, the pleats startched and steamed into place. I ran a row of back-smocking on the first and 8th rows of the pleating. {I will cover pleating in more detail in another post}

pleated skirt
pleated skirt

After the smocking was completed, it was time to assemble the dress. The bodice is lined and piping was added to the yoke (front and back) and neckline. Small pink pearls accent the bottom row of smocking.  I finished the sleeves with a simple band, trimmed by the piping.

yoke and skirt
yoke and skirt

The back placket is closed with clear plastic snaps and accented with white “pearl” buttons.

back of dress
back of dress

I cut the skirt long, to allow for a 3″ hem. I then added piping along the hem stitch line by creating a tuck. This enclosed the raw edge and gave the dress a finished look. As a side note, I believe in enclosing as much of the raw edge as possible. The side seams are a modified french seam and the yoke is stitched over the skirt gathers.

The fully-lined bonnet is very simple, with pintucks and piping accenting the front band. I finished it off with a satin ribbon bow and tie.

bonnet
bonnet

And here it is!

dress and bonnet
dress and bonnet

Love and prayers for a long life were included in every stitch. I thoroughly enjoyed this project!