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    Sewing For Beginners: Choosing Fabric and Preparing


    2009 - 09.25

    Sewing for beginners is pretty simple!

    When first learning to sew, you will read or have many people tell you to stick with cotton or cotton polyester blends for your beginning projects.

    sewing fabric

    You will read or have many people tell you to stick with cotton or cotton polyester for your beginning projects. I do agree that these are some of the easiest  fabrics  to work with. However, my girls thankfully removed my fear of working with other materials.

     Learn To Sew Like A Professional, Click Here! 

    When I first started sewing I tried to understand all of the differences between the fabrics: the fibers (natural vs. manmade), the fabrications (woven, knit, non woven)… After being overwhelmed, I stuck with cotton and polyester/cotton blends. Then my kids got involved in choosing their own fabrics and I threw all cares out the window. Anything shiny, see through, or furry were the most exciting to them. We also combined different fabrics, using anything and everything together in the same projects! (That last statement would make most professional seamstresses croak.)

    Through this we learned :

    What we did like working with, what was difficult and why, why some fabrics didn’t work well together, which fabrics needed special seams, some that we would prefer using a serger with…the list goes on. All the things that we could have read about, but we completely understood why through our hands on experiences. Again, barriers were broken down, and problem solving skills were sharpened. We noticed that certain needles worked better than others and we needed special seams for certain fabrics to deal with fraying… Although we still couldn’t name all of the different types of fabrics we recognized them by feel and look. We are just now starting to identify all of them by name.


    Just the other day my youngest daughter and I were looking for fabric for her Christmas presents. We picked up a beautiful linen fabric and she immediately was able to identify that it would not be good for her project because she needs to sew these pillows with the edges exposed. We had done a previous project with linen that had fallen apart over time from the stress on the seams.
    There are some excellent books that discuss all the types of fabric, as well as the special treatment they need. My favorite is Singer’s Complete Photo Guide to Sewing. It is an excellent beginners book .

    If you are wanting to stay with the easier fabrics, look for:

    1. Does it unravel easily. Look at the bottom edges of a bolt where the fabric has been cut. Is it coming apart real easy or staying together?2. For matching seams; solids and small prints are best.
    Fabrics are either Directional or Non directional. Directional fabrics or fabrics "with nap" – means that it either has a design that can only go in one direction, or the fabric looks lighter or darker depending on how you hold it. This type of fabric must be cut in a certain way so that both sides look the same (i.e., the design isn’t upside down). When working with directional fabrics you might have to buy extra to accommodate the design. *Don’t let this stop you from buying these fabrics. However, if you or your child are perfectionists I would steer away from plaids, starting off. Non directional or "without nap" – means that the design can be turned any way and it looks the same, or there is no design at all.
    3. Fabric that do not stretch alot. Some examples of "easy to work with" fabrics include: cotton, polyester cotton blends, denims, firm knits (not as much stretch), wools, broadcloths, poplin, flannel, sweatshirt knits, seersucker, calico…the list goes on. (When I first started, I would look at a list like this and say, "I don’t know what all these are – help". Remember, with you and your child’s first projects being small, you are not having to buy large quantities of fabric, so don’t feel limited. Look, feel, and experiment! )

    Three suggestions for finding fabric:

    1. Buy on sale only. There are great deals out there. *If you go into a fabric store, ask if they have a discount table. Internet sites will have a link to their discount fabrics .
    2. Use old clothes. My husband works on our family ranch and goes through clothes like crazy. We use his old shirts, jeans, and socks. My youngest daughter at 3 even used a pair of her old underwear, stitched the legs up, and made a hat for herself (she was only allowed to wear it in the house with family).
    3. Use other people’s old clothes. My grandmother was getting rid of a huge bag of clothing, so my girls asked if they could have them. We made the cutest quilts, headbands, and purses with her silky shirts.

    Very Important – Let your kids choose their fabrics – even if they don’t match and are ugly!!

    One more thing to consider: will what your making need to be washed often? Fabric is either washable or dry clean only. For the projects that we will wash a lot (our clothes, doll clothes, and some of our tote bags) we buy washable fabrics, due to the expense of dry cleaning.
    **You will be amazed at all of the beautiful faux fabrics available now, that are actually machine washable.

    Preparing fabric for sewing:

    *When buying fabric, look at the information on the care of the fabric (i.e., washing, dry cleaning, if it has been pre-shrunk, or if it will shrink). At stores this is found on the end of the bolt. When buying over the internet they post this info. for you. If the fabric has colors that might bleed, or if it states that it will shrink some when washed – wash it. A great habit to get into is, right when you get your fabric (if it is machine washable) wash it. We put ours in the wash to pre-shrink and we add a little vinegar to help set the colors. We then dry and press.

    This way your fabric is ready when you are ready to sew. I learned this the hard way. I made some precious 4th of July US flag quilted placemats. Although, I didn’t have to preshrink the fabric, we couldn’t use them to eat on because I didn’t set the colors. If I were to wash them now our white stripes would turn pink; we still use them to decorate with.
    Another example: Your child makes their first shirt, it fits perfect, you wash it, it shrinks, and they can’t wear it again! If it states that the fabric will shrink, take the time to wash it!

    Dry clean or machine washable?

    The important thing is to take into consideration what you are making. Will it need to be washed often? If yes, buy machine washable. We use a lot of dry cleanable upholstery fabrics for our pillows and purses. We also use this fabric for special dresses.

    By Kristi Borchardt

    Vintage Fabric

    Whether a fancy frock or a pretty little pinafore, it’s often the fabric so carefully selected by the home seamstress that makes these garments so popular. 

    The Fabric Bar

    Amy from The Fabric Bar wants to give you some fabric! She has a beautiful new website with loads of designer fabric, Japanese goodies, and patterns.

    Choosing The Right Fabric

    In spring and summer, although you want a lighter, brighter effect, the curtain fabric should be heavier, both for privacy and good looks. A high thread count fabric is desirable.

    Sewing Ideas

    I’m also looking for tips on choosing fa fef bric to reupholster these chairs.

    Make Choosing Fabric for Your Quilts Even Easier « Learn How to Quilt

    One Response to “Make Choosing Fabric for Your Quilts Even Easier”. Misty Says: August 23, 2009 at 14:30. Great tips. I started a quilt using curtains, bedspreads, clotes and so forth that I used and discarded throughout my life.

    Types of Furniture Fabric

    Style: It is important to keep the particular furniture piece in mind when choosing fabric. In addition, the style of the room and home in which the furniture will be placed should be considered. 

    Tips On Sewing A Hem


    2009 - 09.01

    patterns for sewing, fabric to sewfabrics to sew, pattern fabrics

     Sewing hems is pretty simple once you got the hang of it.

    Do you know how to sew a hem? Sewing hems is pretty simple, and the following instructions will teach you how to sew a neat, almost invisible, hem every time. After, you learn the basics of  hemming you will know how to hem a pair of jeans.

    To start with, iron flat that area of the fabric you need to hem. Now we need to turn up and pin the hem. The easiest way to do this is on a flat surface, such as a table. Your   fabric  should have the wrong side facing you. I know most patterns allow for 5/8" for a hem, but I allow a little more to ensure the hem is not too bulky. Start with a small section of the fabric and turn over about 1/2cm or ". Now fold over again another 1cm or ". Pin this in place. Because I am right handed, I now move to the left about 6cm or 2" and do the same again (if you’re left handed, move to the right). Continue in this way until you have pinned the entire hem. Now check and make sure that the hem is straight, with no bulky sections or gathers. If there are, just rework that section of the fabric until it is more even. Unpin, redo your folding and re-pin. At this point, you can turn the fabric back to the right side and iron it, but this isn’t necessary unless your fabric is particularly slippery (like satin or jersey).

    Next, we need to get together our sewing kit.

     The most critical thing to ensure that your hem is almost invisible is to choose the right thread for your fabric. If your fabric is very light, filmy, or delicate (such as chiffon, satin, jersey, cheesecloth, etc) then choose a very light nylon thread.

    If your fabric is a medium weight (such as cotton, linen, polyester, etc) then use a regular nylon thread.

     Learn How To Sew Like A Professional, Easy Guide 

    And if your fabric is thick, heavy or bulky (such as denim, canvas, polar fleece, etc) then consider using a heavier cotton thread.

    Once you have decided on the best type of thread to use, you must choose the right colour. If you can get a perfect shade match, well and good. If not, go for one slightly lighter than your fabric rather than darker, as this is less likely to show.

    Your needle has to match the fabric and thread. So for light filmy fabrics use a very fine needle, a regular sized needle for ordinary fabrics, and a larger more robust needle for heavier fabrics.

    To see whether you have the right needle, run it through your material once without any thread in it. If the hole you create with the needle closes up or disappears by itself, you’ve got the right needle. If you can see the hole afterwards, try a smaller needle.

    Now – to sew!                        

    Thread your needle, and leave the short end of thread about 20cm long or 8". (Note: I never sew with the thread doubled unless I am sewing on a button). Tie a knot in the long end of t 1000 he thread.

    I find it easiest to  sew with the fabric   on my lap (or the part to be sewn on my lap).

    The fabric should be wrong side up, with the pinned hem closest to you. Pick a starting point (a side seam is usually good), and insert the needle through the body of the fabric, as close to the top of the hem as you can, and without piercing through to the right side of the fabric (that’s why I usually start on a side seam). Now pierce the needle through the top of the hem by placing the tip of the needle slightly underneath the top of the hem and bringing it up through the outer part of the hem. You can see an image here.

    Now place the needle about 1cm or " to the left (or to the right for left handers) **, as close to the top of the hem as possible, and insert through several fibres of the fabric (try not to go all the way through to the other side of the fabric). Again, place the tip of the needle under the top of the hem and insert through and out to the outer part of the hem. Repeat this until you are back where you started.

    ** How far apart you do the stitches depends on several factors such as how robust the hem needs to be (the more wear and tear, the closer the stitches need to be), the weight of the fabric (generally lighter fabrics can have stitches farther apart than heavier fabrics) and whereabouts on the garment the hem is (if fingers or toes are likely to get caught in the hem when putting it on, the stitches should be closer together).

    To finish off the hem, sew 2 stitches one on top of the other, tie a knot in your thread, and you’re done. Iron your hem (and admire)!

    By: Diane Ellis

    Article Directory: http://www.articledashboard.com

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    How To Sew a Hem Video

    Video: How To Sew a Hem. Sure, you can always use iron-on hem tape to shorten those pants, but maybe it’s time to join the 35 million Americans who can sew—yes, with a needle and thread—a hem. 

    Projects How-To’s How To Sew A Lettuce Hem

    Add a natural frill to boring hems and edges!   

    How to Hem Jeans in Three Steps

    Measure the length of the cuff; ignoring the hem; divide that measurement in half, and re-pin using the new measurement as the length of the new cuff. Sew the new cuff in place as close to the original hem as possible. 

    How to Sew a Hem

    Di Ellis asked: Do you know how to sew a hem? It’s pretty simple, and the following instructions will teach you how to sew a neat, almost invisible, hem every time. To start with, iron flat that area of the fabric you need to hem. 

    Lead weight hem « THE SEWING DIVAS sewing

    I love to wear linen blouses but I do not like the wrinkles and pleats of the back hem. I wear a long blouse so it creases a lot at the back hem due to sitting. I wondered if there was a cure to prevent any more bunching up the hem. 

    Choosing The Right Fabric, Tips And Basics


    2009 - 08.30

    If you are looking for the perfect fabric to make the perfect shirt, dress or other item, you should think about the texture and feel of that you’d like in the finished product.

    The fabric that you choose can make or break your sewing project. There are so many types of fabric available that it is important you know exactly what you are hoping to achieve and then purchase the right type of fabric.

    tips and basics for fabricFabrics come in a seemingly endless variety. If you are looking for a bit of warmth in a cold climate, a cuddly fleece could be just the right fabric for you. Fleece would make a beautifully warm and cozy robe or pajamas or even a lovely blanket. Jersey knit is also another very popular fabric for t-shirts, both short- and long-sleeved, as well as sheets, which prove to be more comfortable than flannel and a lot warmer than  traditional cotton blends .

    You just have to freely use your imagination and you will be able to find just the right fabric to make the perfect outfit. The cozy, warm, soft and dreamy fabrics are available to you at any fabric store. If you are unsure as to which fabric will best suit what you need, any one of the people working in a fabric store can help guide you and advise the best fabric for your project.

                          Learn How To Make Roman Shades 

     Quilting fabric is usually made out of very good quality cotton. Which is what traditional quilts are made from. Quilting cotton also comes in a variety of different colors and hues and values, to add dimension to your finished quilt. You can make a quilt out of any kind of fabric.Quilt fabric is easier to work with and quilting thread doesn’t work in sewing machines. Quilting fabric is usually pre-cut.

     Velvet fabric  is usually made out of many different types of fibres. Velvet is difficult to clean, but at least we have dry cleaning to use. Velvet fabric is ideally made from silk. Though, cotton can still be used but it produces a less luxurious feel and appearance. It can be used for clothing, furniture and even bedding. 

    If your looking for fleece fabric, knit fabric,  cotton fabric  , drapery fabric, cotton velvet cotton velvet fabricfabric, vinyl fabric, upholstery fabric and other different types of fabrics. You can find them at online fabric stores and you can usually find great discount fabric. The right fabric depends on what sewing project or what your using it for, as there is many types of fabrics.

    By: Mel C

     Article Directory: http://www.articledashboard.com

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    Fab Fabrics 

    I see wonderful things happening right now in the fabric industry, with many more organic options becoming available. 

    Fabrics

    A selection of fabric swatches from Reprodepot Fabrics.

    Candied Fabrics

    One of my goals has been to start using organic fabrics.

    Fabrics N Quilts: New Fabrics

    This afternoon was a great time to list some new fabrics on Etsy! Many (many) more to come, but check out these cute Buck A Roo Prints, Disney Cars, feminine florals, and even a crackle marble print!