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R.Kay Design: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Weave Technique to Create A New Fabric

Last night I tried a new technique I thought would be cool to use as a cover for a billfold or business card holder. It would also be nice used for the flap on a clutch purse. 
I used some scrap fabric and don't really like the two prints together but, with the right fabric, I think it will be very pretty. I snapped photos as I worked and thought I'd share. I need to put together a tutorial to post on Pellon Projects, so I think I will use this technique to make fabric for the outside of a business card holder. When I do that project, I will pick some better fabrics and post the info to the tutorial.

Here I'll handle like I did the Molly Handbag Sew-Along - I'll post the picture and caption it with the instructions. This is really easy and can give some projects a new dimension and texture.

First cut two pieces of fabric the same size. Mine were 10 x 13, a square piece would be good too. Make sure they are ironed and wrinkle free. You can add spray starch if you like as it may make the strips easier to handle when weaving.
Next, take one piece and lay it right-side down on the cutting mat or table. Measure about 1/2 inch from one edge and draw a line parallel with the edge. Starting at the edge opposite your line, cut wavy lines about 1 to 2 inches apart up to the line you drew. The edge that was not cut will hold all the strips together.
On your second piece of fabric, lay it face down and opposite the direction of the first piece. For example, if your fabric is 15x10 inches, and on the first piece your strips are 15 inches long, on the second piece you will cut so that your strips are 10 inches long. Cut the same as for the first piece except cut all the way through. Keep your pieces in the same order that you cut them as you want to weave them into the other fabric with the same cut edges touching.
Second pieces is cut all the way through.
Now start weaving your strips through the first piece. To get the pieces to touch and be tight, use the eraser end of a pencil to push the fabrics together.
Continue weaving keeping the pieces from the second piece of fabric in the same order that they were cut.
Keep weaving until you've used all the strips you can use.
Continue to use the eraser to push the pieces close together.

Move your woven piece to the ironing board, right-side down.
If the weave loosened during the move, use your eraser to tighten up everything.
Lay a piece of fusible interfacing on top with the fusible side down. Fuse it to the backside of your weave. I used Pellon Deco-Bond and it worked nicely.

Once interfaced, take it to your sewing machine and use a satin stitch over every edge. I sewed all edges going one direction and then I turned the piece and did all the edges going the other direction. I used a zig-zag stitch that had a width of 5.0 mm and stitch length of .5 mm. A contrasting thread looks very nice. Be sure the satin stitch overlaps both edges where the fabrics meet.
Here's where I turned and went the other direction. I just sewed right over the satin stitching going the other direction.
Finished~now, if I had used the right color fabrics, this would look pretty great. But like I said before, these were scraps that didn't necessarily go together.
So, to conclude, and I'll say again, I don't really like the fabrics I used, I was just using scraps and playing around. However, I'm going to do this for a business card cover and when I make that cover I'm going to use some fabrics that coordinate, maybe two solids, I'm not sure yet. In making the cover, I think I can just cut it out like it is a regular piece of fabric - we'll see won't we? I'm going to add a lining and then I'm going to satin stitch around the edge. We'll see how it turns out, I'll definitely let you see the finished project.

Until next time ~


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Do You Have a Plan to Get from Start to Finish?

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Have you ever known exactly what you wanted to make, what you wanted it to look like, and when you wanted it to be done – but somehow, and you really don’t know why, it didn’t happen that way? Instead of finishing that project, a new shinier project came along and stole your attention and this one ended up unfinished in a drawer somewhere? Maybe you even have multiple unfinished projects in that drawer? Believe me, you’re not the only one, I’m the queen of unfinished! But recently I’ve worked really hard to teach myself how to finish, and, low and behold, I’m actually getting my projects to the finish line.

What am I doing? Probably nothing you haven’t already heard or know about, it’s just that doing it is not always easy.

I first start with a plan to finish. Believe it or not, telling yourself and your ‘always looking for something new to do brain’ that you plan to finish this project helps you get there. Whenever I decide to start a project, I actually allocate time to do it and I never purchase the items unless I have the time to do it. Not that I know exactly how many hours it will take, but I usually have an idea. I tell myself what days I’m going to work on it and why I have time on those days, e.g., my hubby will be at work that night and I’ll be home alone, or we plan to have pizza on Thursday and I won’t have to cook dinner.

I work a fulltime job and time is always short, so allocating time for my project keeps me moving forward. When I come home after a long day at work, if I hadn’t planned to work on my project, I know for certain that I would fall on the couch and enjoy one of my favorite TV shows. And believe me, nothing ever gets done sitting in front of a TV. However, if my plan was to work on my project that night, I don’t even turn on the TV unless it’s the music channel (I always listen to music when I sew or create). Once I get started working, I always seem re-energized.

The other thing I do and probably the thing that keeps me on track best is, I stay away from the fabric store. I just get starry eyed when I go to a fabric store, it’s the craziest thing. I swoon over all those beautiful fabrics and the wonderful things that could be made from them. My brain doesn’t function rationally while in the store, it doesn’t understand that the fabric will still be there the next time I visit. I try telling myself that even if the fabric I like isn’t there next time, something better will be there in its place. That only works about 20% of the time. It’s better to just stay away and reward myself with a trip when my current project is complete.

I know situations change and sometimes, even though you planned to work on your project, something will come up and you can’t…that’s life. Rarely will a plan laid out in detail be followed though without any adjustments. Changes can and will be made along the way, but planning “the way” is how you get to finish. Without any plan at all, you become a victim of your circumstances (e.g. being tired and just wanting to watch TV) and at that moment, it’s hard to tell what will move you closer to your goal and what will take you farther away.

I think most of us know what we need to do to complete a project. Making a plan and finding YOUR way to execute it will help you complete more projects.

How do YOU get projects to completion? Do you have any ‘little tricks’ that might help the rest of us? Leave a comment.

Until next time ~


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Friday, September 23, 2011

Finding Handbag Hardware

I'm having the hardest time finding the right hardware for my newest handbag pattern. I'm at the point in my design process where I'm ready to make a prototype out of real fabric. I've already made the pattern in muslin but didn't include the handle or add the hardware, as I didn't want to spend the time or money on the muslin piece. So, with that part of the design still in my head, my next step was to head down to JoAnn's to buy fabric and pick up the hardware, as JoAnns has a pretty good stock of handbag hardware.

After spending almost two hours picking my fabric (love it, love it, love it), I headed over to the handbag hardware aisle. I was confident I would find what I needed and really disappointed when it didn't pan out. What I thought would be an easy purchase became very difficult, very quickly. They had one piece I needed in the color I wanted, but then the clasp that would attach to it was way too small. So I looked for a larger one, they had the larger one but not in the color metal I wanted. And even if I changed the color, they didn't have the first piece in other color. I started thinking to myself, "are you serious?". So I put everything back on the shelf and decided that I'd make the hardware purchase on the internet.

The next day I started looking on the internet even though I wasn't completely sure that was the road I wanted to take. I was trying to consider the person who will buy my pattern, do I really want to sell a pattern that requires my customer to search the internet for the needed hardware? Not really, but I decided to take a look anyway.

You know what? There's not much to be found on the internet either. I found some suppliers on Etsy and Ebay but none of them had exactly what I wanted. I even stopped by Michael's to see if they had anything - nope. You think maybe I should check out Lowe's or Home Depot? I'm starting to think that maybe I'll go into the purse hardware business, or at least offer for sale the hardware that I use on my purses. That's definitely a consideration for the future. So anyway, I was back to the drawing board AGAIN. I needed to find a new way to attach the handle to my bag.

Last night I took the purse I made from muslin, stuffed it with towels, and stared at it for a while. I was trying to envision a new way to design the handle. Actually, I think I was greiving the loss of the original design and I had no idea how to change it without starting completely over. This morning I decided to look at pictures of purses to see if I could find some inspiration and I think I found it. I came up with a new way to attach the handle. It still requires hardware but I think it's hardware that I can easily find at Joann's (we'll see)...and it maintains my original vision with just a little more work than before.

Wow, who knew handbag hardware was so hard to find? Have you had trouble finding just the right piece of hardware to finish a handbag you were making? Do you know of any great places to buy purse hardware? Do you think it would be a good business decision for me to consider selling handbag hardware in the future? Post a comment, I'd love to hear what you think.

I'm going to be working on my prototype this weekend. Hopefully I'll have something to show you soon.

Until later ~


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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Safety in the Sewing Room

At work today I was working on an online training assignment that needed to be completed by the end of the month. Included in that training were several modules about different types of safety. That reminded me that I had cut my finger recently with my rotary cutter and that when we sew there are things we need to do to stay safe.

Even though, for the most part, safety when sewing is common sense, I thought I would list a few things for you to think about. In the end, even the smallest injury could ruin a beautiful project by staining it with blood. Larger injuries could change our lives forever. Safety is up to each of us, just being aware may help you prevent an injury.

Most sewing tools are sharp, e.g., scissors, rotary cutters, pins, needles, and seam rippers, to name a few. And I didn't even mention the sewing machine. Since all sharp items can cause injury, here are a few safety tips when using some of our most used tools.

Seam Ripper - when using a seam ripper, aways point it away from you. When I rip a seam, I pull the two pieces of fabric apart and catch the thread between the fabric about two or three stitches in, then I pull just a little. That usually releases several stitches and then I do it again. I hold the fabric close to my body using one hand to pull the fabrics apart with my thumb and my first two fingers. The seam ripper motion is away from my body. When finished, I put the seam ripper away and if yours has a cover, use it.

Needles - I almost ruined my daughter's wedding veil when I poked myself with the needle when I was attaching her tiara. I was lucky that the blood only touched the underside. I was working on this just a couple of days before the wedding, it would have been very hard to replace it had I bled more and gotten blood on a portion where it could be seen. When using a needle to hand sew, a thimble can really help. I also use little leather grabs that I buy in the quilting department. These help me pull the needle through thick layers and keep the sharp point away from my skin.

Pins - When using pins, just stay aware of what you're doing. I stick myself mostly when I'm trying to do two things at once, like when I'm thinking about something else and pinning at the same time. Also, sweep often to pick up stray pins that may be on the floor and wear shoes in the room where you sew. I stepped on a pin once when I was young and it hurt for a very long time. Wearing shoes will also give your feet protection against a dropped pair of scissors or a rotary cutter.

  • TIP - Keep something in your sewing area for discarded pins, needles, and sewing machine needles. An old mint tin or empty prescription bottle works great. If you cut a hole in the top of the prescription bottle you can just drop the old needles in, then tape the hole shut when you put it in the trash.

Scissors - When using scissors, try to remember to lay them down in a closed position. When handing them to someone else, be sure they are closed, grab with your hand around the blade, and hand them with the handles facing the other person. Also, when clipping seams, sometimes I find myself holding the fabric taut with one hand, thumb and first two fingers. Since with this type of clipping you use the very tip of the scissors, be sure the skin between your fingers and thumb is out of the way of the tips of your scissors.

Rotary Cutters - A rotary cutter has got to be the most dangerous tool in the sewing room. When used safely, a rotary cutter can cut the amount of time to cut out a project in half. But when safety is not used, a rotary cutter can cause a lot of misery and even end a sewing hobby forever.

When using a rotary cutter, before you start to cut, stop and look at your hands. Make sure the hand that's not holding the cutter is not anywhere that could come in contact with the blade. When I first started using a rotary cutter I found that the straight edge ruler I was using to cut against didn't always keep the cutter on track. The cutter would fly off the line I was trying to cut. Be absolutely sure your other hand is nowhere that the blade might end up. I try to keep that hand behind the blade.

Additionally, get in the habit of always retracting the blade to the safety position or put a cover on it before you set it down. The last accident I had was when I layed the blade down for a second without pushing the safety cover up. I then wiped up some frays from the table with a sweeping motion and my finger ran against the sharp edge of the blade. It's really a lot sharper than you think, so think about safety when using it and go slow.

One other thing to consider when using a rotary cutter is to wear a cut-resistant glove. I haven't found one but have only started looking after that last accident. If anyone reading this post knows where to get a good one that has flexibility, please post a comment.

Lastly, before discarding a rotary blade in the trash, fold a piece of cardboard around it and tape the edges. You can use the cardboard from a box of crackers or something from your kitchen. You don't want a sharp blade to cut through the trash bag and hurt someone when they're taking out the trash.

Sewing Machine - The only thing I can say here is don't sew when you're tired or talking. If you have someone there with you, just don't talk when the machine is moving. When I first learned to sew in jr. high school, I had a classmate who sewed a lot like I did. One day she came to school and her finger was all bandaged. She told me that she wasn't paying attention and her finger got in the way of the needle. It was very painful for her. I still cringe to think about it and am very careful when I have to get my fingers close to the moving needle on my sewing machine.

If you've never seen or used a needle felting machine - OMG - it has five fast moving needles and the needles have barbs! It's like a needle fest under there. Thank goodness those machines have a needle guard!

Lastly, I want to close with a word about sewing safety where there's children in the house. I'm not going to say much as that's a whole other subject and I know all of you already know how to keep your children safe. Please understand that I'm not trying to talk down or patronize you, I just feel I need to add a word in this regard. All these items are very dangerous in the hands of a child. Be sure to put things away when you're not using them so that children cannot get to them without supervision. I don't have young children in the house any more but one thing I always used to do when I did have small ones was to take the electrical cord off my sewing machine and hide it every time I was finished sewing. That kept curious hands from getting into a moving needle. Of course, that was along with all the obvious stuff having to do with scissors, cutters, needles, and such.

Until later ~


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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Molly Handbag Sew-Along - FINISHED!

The Molly Handbag Sew-Along is finished! Mine is called 'Uptown Molly'. I just think the fabric makes it feel so, well, uptown!.

I hope everyone who was sewing along with me finished too and will post pics on the Flicker group I set-up for the sew-along. I really want to see the finished products, everyone has such different taste in fabrics and such, it's so cool to see all the versions. I think you can follow this link: Molly Handbag Sew Along Flickr Group and then just join. If the link doesn't work, try going to and searching "Molly Handbag Sew Along".

Below are my sew-along pics for the weekend. I hope you don't get too bored but instead pick up a tip that you can use in your projects.  Like last weekend, I'm going to post the pics and then add a caption to each.

I'm going to run a give-away soon and Uptown Molly will be the prize. I haven't researched how to do that yet but I'm sure I'll figure it out. So stay tuned for the announcement.

Happy sewing!!

I'm using a magnetic closure for this purse. It will be added to the Top Band lining. That's the two pieces of Top Band that weren't used for the exterior shell and that have woven interfacing.

First, mark the middle of the Top Band with a pin by folding the piece in half. On the wrong side measure down 1 inch and put a mark at the mid-point and 1 inch. Actually, it may even be better to go 1-1/8 inch as that will leave a little more room for your top stitching around the finished top. Here I went 1 inch but still think 1-1/8 is better. I'm going to add an addendum page to the pattern changing this measurement to 1-1/8". Also, if you want to add a small extra piece of medium weight interfacing where the magnetic clasp is going, do it now. I didn't do it as I didn't think it was necessary but it will make the area a little stronger.

Each side of the magnetic closure piece will have a flat backing piece of metal with slots for the closure piece to grasp. Use the flat backing piece to mark your fabric. Place the center hole on the mark made in the prior step. Then mark the oblong holes.

Fold the fabric in half perpendicular to the marks with the fold going through the mid-point dot, basically folding the oblong lines in half.

Clip the oblong marks. Don't cut too long, it's better that you clip just short of the marks you made.

Now add the magnet part on the right side of the fabric slipping the prongs through the holes you just cut.

Place the flat backing metal piece over the prongs on the wrong side.

Bend the prongs out.

Right side of Top Band after the magnetic clasp is added. See how it's a bit close to the edge, I really think 1-1/8" would be better.

To do the other side, don't measure like you did with the first one. I did this once and measured both sides and the clasps ended up not being lined up. Instead, line up the other side of the Top Band and lay it down on the table.

Now feel where the mid-point of the clasp is. If you used the male portion of the clasp on the first side, you will feel the protrusion, if you used the female portion, you will the indention.

Mark the protrusion or indention with your marker. Then use that as your mid-point and complete as you did for the first side.

Finished adding clasps. Then sew the Main Body pieces to the Top Bands for both sides just like you did for the exterior. Don't forget to top stitch.

Next we're going to add the zip pocket. It's an option in the Molly Handbag pattern but very easy to do. First mark the middle of one side of your lining with a pin by folding. Also mark the piece cut for the pocket. You want to mark the middle of the 10 inch side. Lay the lining piece right side up on the table and put the pocket piece wrong side up (or right sides together) on top of the lining piece. Move the pocket piece until it is centered by lining up the two pins. Then move it down so the top edge of the pocket piece is 3 inched from the top of the lining piece. Pin in place

Now measure 1-3/4 inches from the top of the pocket piece and place a dot with your disappearing marker. Also measure 1/2 inch down from that and place another dot. Then measure 1 inch from each side on the same lines as your first two dots. You might need to use a straight edge to make sure the outer dots are lined up straight.

Now connect the dots to make a rectangle.

Draw a line down the center of the rectangle but stop short of the ends. Use a ruler to find the middle which will be 1/4 inch from the top or bottom line. Connect the mid-line to each corner like in the picture.
Sew all the way around the rectangle, stopping at each corner with your needle down, raising the foot and pivoting to turn the corner. You will be sewing the pocket piece to the lining piece.

Here's a closer shot of my stitching.

Now cut down the middle line through all layers.

Another shot of me cutting the center line.

Follow the lines you drew to the corners. The closer you can get to the stitching without cutting through it the better.

A little better shot of cutting to the corner.

Now push the pocket piece through the hole you just cut.

I won't look good until you iron it.
Press the seam so the pocket piece sits nicely on the wrong side of the lining. The wrong sides will be touching.

See how the pocket piece is now on the wrong side of the lining?

The right side of the lining has a nice finished rectangular hole. This is where the zipper will be inserted.

First thing I do is tack the top end of the zipper tape together. I do this by hand, it makes it easier to deal with the zipper.

Center the zipper in the hole. Be sure you have the top of the zipper to the  left so it will open from left to right. Pin all the way around thinking about how you will sew. Put the pins in the direction so you can pull them out easily as you sew.

Using a zipper foot, I start with the zipper pulled down a little, then sew a couple of inches.

Before I get to the zipper pull, I stop, put my needle down, lift the foot, turn the zipper somewhat and pull the zipper pull to the top. Now I don't have to sew around it and my stitching will be straighter. Just turn the piece back, put the foot back down, and start sewing again. You don't lose your place because the needle was down and all the movement was just pivoting on the needle.

The last pic showed the zipper pull down, this pic it is pulled up.
Now I'm sewing straight again without the zip pull in the way.

I always use the same color thread as the lining because my stitching never goes straight on these pockets. See how I got crooked? But this is the lining and since the thread matches the lining, it won't be noticed. I left it.

If your zipper is just a little too long, Trim it off. I used a 9" zipper. Believe it or not, you're done with the zipper!

Now,on the wrong side of the lining, take the bottom of the pocket piece and fold it to meet the top. Pin in place.
Now sew all the open edges. Do not sew to the lining, sew only on the pocket piece. It will only be attached to the lining at the zipper.

This is the right side.

Okay, now it's time to sew the lining together. To make sure that the magnet closure lines up, put the two magnets together and leave them that way while you match the side seams and sew them together.

Sew the side seams first and then stop and iron the seams open. Remember when sewing the exterior shell you had to match the the Top Band and Main Body seams at the side seam? Well, you need to do it again.
BUT...if it's not perfect (like above), don't fret so much. This is the lining, it probably won't be seen. But if it's way off, you might consider redoing it. I didn't bother with the one above. Had this been the exterior shell, I would have ripped it out and redone it.

Press the side seams open.

Fold back the side seam when you sew the bottom seam.
Sew the bottom seam but leave an opening about 7 inches in the middle. It's hard to see in my pic but I only sewed about 4 inches from the side and then stopped.

I clipped the corner, it made it easier to press the bottom seam open.

Next I pressed the bottom seam open. You can't get to it on the ironing board, so I folded one side back and pressed. I pressed all the way across even though the seam doesn't go all the way. This will make it easier for you to close the hole after the exterior and lining are sewed together.
This pic shows me folding back the other side of the seam.

And here I'm pressing it. So the seam is pressed open by pressing each side back.

Next step is to make the box corners to form the bottom. Use the instructions from the exterior. Again, if the seams don't match exactly, not a real big deal unless it's really bad. They will be in inside of the purse at the very bottom. Who'll notice if they're a millimeter off?
Once the corners of the lining are done to form the bottom, it's time to sew the lining and exterior shell together. Leave the lining inside out. Put the exterior shell, that is right side out, inside the lining. The right sides will be touching and you will see the wrong sides of both pieces. Pin all the way around the top matching the side seams.
When I sew the exterior to the lining I always us a walking foot. The picture above shows the walking foot I used to use on my old machine. A walking foot feeds the top fabric through with the bottom one. In other words, the bottom piece of fabric is pushed forward with the feed dogs, the top just follows along. This causes the top to shift a little when you have thick layers or slippery fabric. A walking foot pushes the top fabric too so the two pieces move through the needle at the same rate, so that the top piece doesn't end up with a little extra at each pin.
Sew all the way around the top. Be careful to keep the seam at 3/8 inch and no more. If you can do a 1/4 inch seam even better. Reason is because we want room to do a top stitch line around the top without running into the magnetic clasp.

My new machine has a built in walking foot. Here's a picture of me engaging it. If you don't have a walking foot, don't fret. You may get some shifting but just ease it in as best you can and if you need to make a little pleat, do it at the side seam.

Because the layers are a bit thick, I use a little longer stitch. I changed my setting from 2.5 to 2.8.
When done stitching the top, it will be time to turn it. Reach into the opening you left in the bottom of the lining and pull everything through it turning everything right side out.

That's the lining, right side out, on top of the exterior shell.

You can push the lining into the exterior shell but it won't look too good...yet.

I first press flat at the seam where the exterior and lining meet (the very top of the purse).
Then I iron it down after pushing the lining inside. I then pin the top edge so it stays nice while I top stitch all the way around the top edge.
Here's the top stitch around the top edge.

Now you need to close up the bottom of the lining. I didn't do this before because in order to get that top edge into nice shape, I had to stick my hand in there and work it. It was nice to be able to do that.

I use the machine to close the opening. I line up the folded edge. Remember, we ironed that seam all the way across when we pressed the bottom seam open? You can also hand sew this if you don't want to see it, but a machine stitch will hold up much better to the crap we women put in our purses.
I wanted the bottom seam of the lining to be as close to the edge as possible. You will be able to see it but it'll be in the very bottom of the purse. Anyway, I moved my need to the right, instead of being in the middle which is 3.5, it's at 5.0 which is to the right some.
See how the needle is to the right a little?
When I sewed the stitching was closer to the edge. Doesn't it look nice?
Here's the inside after completion.
And here's Uptown Molly all finished.

Okay, now it's your turn. Show off your completed Molly on Really, I want to see them.

Until later ~


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