Archive | August 2015

A New Top! New Look 6762, View E

This is not de’ja-vu.  I’m posting about New Look 6762 again, but View E this time for the top.  See, I left my favorite navy blue top at the coast and wanted to wear it to work tomorrow.  I had some fabulous navy blue jersey I got at Hancock Fabrics a few weeks ago in my stash, so I made myself a new top this morning.  (Seriously, how cool is that?!)New Look 6762As always, I dry iron the pattern pieces flat so the cutting lines measure as close to the designer’s original as possible.IMG_3326_new(1)I held up the pattern to myself and decided that I’d add 1-3/4″ to the length.  I’m tall and high waisted so I like a bit of length in my tops.  I cut the front and back pattern pieces on the lengthen/shorten line and then measured out a couple of extra paper pieces to add the additional length. IMG_3327_new(1)

When adding length, I don’t get all obsessive about cutting exactly on the lengthen/shorten lines but instead make sure that the printed line matches up with my drawn line on the paper.IMG_3328_new(1)If needed, I true-up the new cutting line with my designer’s curve.IMG_3332_new(1)I’m loving my new hardware-store-washer pattern weights!  I prefer to cut my fabric, especially knits, with a rotary cutter.  Some seamstresses freak out about a rotary cutter, but to me they are so much more accurate.  Sometimes with scissors, I get that jagged edge where the scissors were repositioned and I’m not comfortable with having to lift the fabric off the table to cut it.  Rotary cutting prevents that completely.IMG_3330_new(1)This was the first time I’d ever sewn a raglan sleeve.  It was kind of weird going in because the top of the sleeve blends in with the neckline vs. the shoulder like a regular set-in sleeve.  IMG_3333_new(1)The instructions to make this top only had 9 steps.  Nine!  It was so easy to put together.  Here it is finished on Betsy, my duct tape dress mannequin.  Betsy, as in Betsy McCall.  Making her was a hoot and her total cost was $12!  I’ll have to post about how she came to be some time.IMG_3334_new(1)I topstitched the sleeves, hem, and neckline with a double needle.  I see I’ve got some threads along the neckline I need to clean up.  There’s a little wonky rippling there on the neckline too.  Maybe it will lay down after it’s washed, but if I make this again, I’ll cut the neck band on the bias instead of the straight of grain like the pattern said.  Truthfully, I should have seen that one coming.  But it doesn’t bother me enough to take it apart and do it over.IMG_3337_new(1)  Here it is worn!IMG_3348_new(1)And I’m on my tippy toes so you can see the length. That look on my face is me trying not to fall over!  Ha!  All ready for work tomorrow!IMG_3350_new(1)

Palazzos! New Look 6762, View A

New Look 6762I don’t know about where you are, but where I am, these pants are all the rage.  Big, bigger, biggest, and comfy like wearing pajamas to work!  I love me some Palozzo Pants!  I actually stopped a couple of girls at work that were wearing them to study the design and pattern (that’s when you KNOW you are really a sewing obsessed dork!) and then I went straight to Hobby Lobby at lunch and I looked for patterns to work with in that design (I had that awesome 40% off coupon!)   I was wandering in the fabric aisles and OOOhhhh!  Look at THIS!  This Aztecan striped knit print is beyond Awesome!  I see it with my solid knit navy blue top.  The bolt was 60”, and I’m 69” so I figured 2 yards would be enough to make the pattern run vertically down my legs.  The lady at the cutting table said she liked the fabric but couldn’t think of what to do with it.  I showed her the pattern and explained the Palazzo Pant.  After cutting, instead of putting the bolt to the side to be returned to the shelf, she winked and put it behind the counter for herself saying her daughter would love some. Hobby Lobby Fabric

 Let me start by saying, if you don’t have a serger, DON’T even attempt this pattern with this particular fabric.  It was great to sew with, BUT!…The inner navy lining was stringy, it frayed, it balled, and was possessed with some kind of sticky.  Many times I was like my cat with a piece of tape on her paw (which is outrageously funny!).  And I cut it out using a rotary cutter.  I could have probably done it with scissors but I prefer to cut my fabric out as much as possible with rotary cutters.  New Look 6762

 This pattern is perfect if you’ve never sewn pants before – which truthfully, I never have successfully done.  These were my VERY FIRST completed pair!  And I’m very pleased with the result.  The only thing  I needed to do was lower the waist an inch.  And I cheated at that because I ended up rolling in the elastic waist one turn and securing with another zig zag stitch.  I eyeballed the leg hems too.  Seriously, I never took a single measure.  These went together so easily.  I did, however, use sticky notes pinned to each piece up near the waist that said “Front” and “Back” to make sure I didn’t sew front to front and back to back (been there; done that; many years ago and tossed it).IMG_3314


 I wore them to work on Casual Friday and a sewist co-worker said that if I hadn’t told her I had made them she would have sworn they were RTW.  Biggest compliment ever!  I will be making many, many more of these babies.IMG_3319


Resizing Digital Embroidery Design Files

One of the “newby” assumptions I made when I first got my Brother-PE770 Embroidery Machine was that any and all PES design files would work with the machine.  Brother (and Baby Lock) embroidery design files are in the PES format and I quickly figured out that all machine brands have their own format.  So I went blindly along buying cool PES design files.  However, when I attempted to transfer those files into my machine using the USB drive, the machine couldn’t “see” the files.  They simply wouldn’t show up on the screen.  “Whaaaat?  Where the heck are they???” Commence hair pulling…

I went digging through the User Guide and it only mentioned that the hoop size on the PE770 was 130mm x 180mm.  OK…so?  What it DOESN’T say (Brother, please take note) is that files larger than the hoop size cannot be used on the machine.  Maybe they think it’s intuitive?  I dunno but I was very frustrated until I figured it out.  So the files had to be resized.  I’m a techy kind of girl so it shouldn’t be a problem, I’d need some software – and I didn’t want to pay for it.  🙂

Well.  I’ll just say that not all embroidery software is created equal.  There’s a lot of freeware out there and some of them are very good at some things, and not so good at others.  And most are a real PITA to use.  What I came to require was 1) The software should resize without screwing up the stitch density or making the design all wonky; 2) The code shouldn’t look like it was written in Windows 98; 3) It would actually work on Windows 7; 4) It needs to be user friendly; and last but not least, 5)It should be FREE!  After much searching the interweb, lo and behold in an embroidery user forum the search was over:  Welcome Wilcom TruSizer!

This software is so up-to-date (I’ve already received software updates from the company…for the Free version no less!) and it’s very user friendly.  It looks and operates just like Word in Microsoft Office so it’s super easy to use.  And check THIS out!  They also offer a mobile version – for free – so you can resize images on the go!  Ha!  How cool is that?  It downloads very cleanly without any hidden malware/spyware (frequently found in freeware) or extra advertising crap. It puts a handy icon on my desktop too.  Mind you, it’s for “resizing” only.  While limited in scope, it’s VERY good at what it does.

The rest of this post is image heavy because I’ve written IT tech manuals before and if you don’t show every single step, I’ve found that users tend to get lost and then my email blows up with nasty-grams saying “YOU DIDN’T SAY TO…or YOU LEFT OUT A STEP!”.  So sorry if you’re up-to-speed with the whole File/Save As concept.  No insult intended.

I’m making my feline-loving friend a wall hanging for her birthday from the Cats Meow collection from Lunch Box Quilts.  After dropping a significant amount of cash on this collection, I discovered that nearly all of the embroidery files are sized bigger than my hoop size so my machine can’t see them.  So I had to resize them all.  I’ll show you how I resized Felix – a very cool cat!  To see the details in the images below, click on them and they will be big enough to see everything clearly.OrigSizeHeightBox

After downloading the software from the link in the company name above, double click on the TruSizer icon on your desktop.  No, my home screen isn’t screwed up.  I wanted to hide some icons from y’all.  🙂WilcomIconThere’s a single splash page you have to click through.  Click OK.WilcomSplashPageTo get your original “too-big” file, go to the menu in the upper left corner and click File/Open.FileOpenThen navigate to where you have your embroidery files stored on your computer.  Note that the software defaults to the .EMB format.  If you don’t change the format to PES, it won’t see your files.DefaultEMBFormat

When you click the down arrow by the EMB File Type, a ginormous list of possible file types pops up.  I highlighted the PES file format.OpenPESThen I navigated to the original Felix file and clicked Open.  Isn’t he cool?  OrigFile-TooBigOnce the image shows up on the screen, you have to Select the image by clicking on it.  Once you do, you’ll see some little handle boxes around the image.  Under the main menu bar, there are Property boxes.  See how the height is more than the allowable 180mm for my machine? (highlighted in blue below)

OrigSizeHeightBoxMake sure the padlock is locked and then change the largest offending number to a number that works in your machine.  OrigSizePropertiesPadlock

I changed my height to 180mm and hit Enter.  See how he resized perfectly. No distortion at all.ChangeHeight

When I save my files, I do a “Save As” so I don’t destroy the original file and then give it a unique name so I can tell the original from the new.  So then in the upper menu go to File/Save As and go through the routine of changing the .EMB file to your file type.


I normally use the new dimensions in the file name so I can tell it will fit in my machine and differentiate it from the original.FelixSizeNameSo back to the embroidery machine I go to retrieve Felix.ScreenUSBThe image below is from before the resizing and it couldn’t see Felix. There’s 9 files on the USB stick, but it only sees 8.NoFelix

Then after resizing, there’s Felix!  The machine sees 9 files and there he is!FoundFelix

But of course the proof is in the stitching.  I think he turned out great!  I’ll do some final trimming of the jump threads and he’ll be ready to go!FelixFinished


A Cute Curtain Solution to an Ugly Door

When hubs and I bought our little trailer down on the Texas Gulf Coast, it had some serious issues and required a total interior remodel. Believe me when I say this place has good bones.  You wouldn’t know it to look at it then. We literally gutted the place…new paint inside & out, new flooring, new cabinets, new tile, new plumbing, new kitchen and bathroom sinks, new, new, new.  We love coming down here now for the weekends and I can’t wait to get my grands here for a week in the summers when they get a little older.  Yep, I’m the proud owner of Texas Wheel-estate! HA  Beach anyone?

THENWP_20140504_13_52_18_Pro20140504135813 (3)

NOWWP_20150808_14_10_57_ProIn one of the extra bedrooms, the closet door had a big hole in it from some brain surgeon who probably punched it. It was shoulder height and was the size of a man’s fist. Rather than attempting to repair the door, I told hubs to just pitch it.WP_20150808_08_21_22_Pro

We have friends coming down next weekend who will be using that room, so I wanted to lose the ghetto look and dress up the door.  Nothing like company coming to make you get moving on unfinished projects. I found this super cute fabric at Hobby Lobby and decided it would make a nice curtain to hide the cleaning supplies and charcoal we keep in that closet. If you haven’t been to Hobby Lobby lately, they have REALLY upped their selection of fabrics – and quality fabrics at that.  I buy a lot of high-end quilting cottons at quilt stores and this fabric I bought is right up there with some of the best I’ve purchased before.WP_20150808_08_22_06_Pro

The door is 24” x 80” so a single width of fabric would work fine and I purchased 3 yards to make sure I had enough length for hem and the casing for the tension curtain rod I wanted to use. I folded in ½” on the sides and then folded in another 1 inch or so (I just eyeballed it) to hide the raw edge down both long edges.WP_20150808_08_31_26_Pro

Then I finished off the top of the curtain by doing the double fold again but this time I folded down the top about 4 inches and stitching it in place. Then I put another line of stitching about 1.5” down from the top to create the casing for the rod. I hung the curtain to determine the final length.WP_20150808_09_49_26_Pro

WP_20150808_09_49_48_ProOne thing I learned in one of my Craftsy videos, was to use washers from the hardware store as curtain or drapery weights. They make the drapery hang straighter and help to provide a nice drape to the fabric.

So I hopped on my little scooter and toodled over to the local hardware store to find some washers that would work. While I was there, I snagged some larger washers to use as pattern weights! .99 cents each! Score!WIN_20150808_105554

I used some of the extra fabric I cut off from the hem to create a little pouch for the weight and stitched the pouch to the inner portion of the hem so its invisible from the front.WP_20150808_10_01_33_Pro

Then I stitched the hem into place and was finished! TA-DAA! I think it looks great and I’m sooo happy with it! Goodbye Ghetto Closet!WP_20150808_002






Adding Piping – Easy Peasy!

Sew Mama Sew is sponsoring the 2nd Super Online Sewing Match (I love following this; it’s like Survivor with a sewing machine HA).  This week’s challenge is for the remaining contestants to sew a set of Carolyn Pajamas from Closet Case Files and the pattern calls for piping.  I actually bought this pattern and it’s in my queue waiting for the perfect fabric find.  So in honor of the Art of Piping, I thought I would share my experience with adding piping to a project.

I love piping because it adds a great embellishment to an otherwise blah seam. When my daughter-in-law was expecting my 2nd grandbaby, Miss Callie, she sent me a picture of her dream nursery and asked if I would make it for her.  Well, of COURSE!  And the one she chose was gorgeous.  It looked like it has piping of some type on the top of the bumpers and around the crib blanket so I was excited to tackle it.  Does my DIL have amazing taste or what?InspirationRoom

What is piping? Piping is simply cord wrapped in fabric. That’s it. Cut a strip of fabric wide enough to go around the cord while still leaving enough fabric for seam allowance, enclose the cord by sewing it very close to the edge of the cord on the outside of the fabric, and then sew the seam allowance to the seam where you want the piping to go. How easy is that? Seriously.  While you can buy pre-made piping from your local fabric store, I prefer to make my own piping so it matches my project.  So I ordered the fabric from the website and got busy.  As a side note, all the fabric for this project was just under $125.  To order the items pre-made from the website was over $500!  Another reason sewing is such a cool thing to have under your belt!IMG-20130907-00252

When you see how easy this is, you’ll be piping everything. And of course, being a gadget girl, I needed a gadget to make my piping.  (Apologize for the grainy photos – my ISO was up too high on my camera and I didn’t have my glasses on to see the camera screen but you get the idea).Groovin' Piping Tool

Sometime before the idea of this nursery, I picked up the Grande Groovin’ Piping Tool at quilting store liquidation sale. Don’t you love those sales? All except the part about the store closing ::boo::, but the deals are great! I didn’t need the tool at the time, but the discounted price was too good to pass up.  I’d never attempted piping before this tool purchase and I’m so glad I picked it up.IMG_2282

The tool’s main purpose is to provide a steady seam allowance to the inner edge of the cording once it has been covered.  Basically it’s a simple piece of plexiglass with a groove going down each side – one groove is 1/4” away from the edge of the tool, and the other is 1/2” away from the edge so the distance of the groove from the edge is the width of the seam allowance. Once I used it I realized I really didn’t need one, because the simplicity of it can be replicated very easily. But now that I have it, I love putting it to use.IMG_2280

This shows the depth of the grooves from the underside of the tool – kinda like a business card holder.  Your cording will snug up inside those grooves.IMG_2196

To make the fabric cover for the piping, I cut 2 inch strips of fabric and sewed them together just like for a quilt binding. A 2″ strip was wide enough to go over my piping and still give me enough overhang to allow a 1/2″ seam allowance.   Stitch the ends of the fabric strips, right sides together (RST), and sew the diagonal line between the “V” that is formed at the top and bottom of where the two pieces of fabric meet. I cheat and used a Sharpie to actually draw a straight line all the way to the edge of the sewing machine surface so I could keep the lower V straight as I sew (in blue on the image). At first I felt bad like I was putting graffiti on my machine, but I use it so much that when I got my 2nd machine, it was one of the first things I did to it.IMG_2198

Enclose the cord inside of the strip of fabric. The old-school zipper foot is best for this. The zipper foot that came with my machine will not work at all.

IMG_2201IMG_2203Now just line up the edges of all three: the bottom and top fabrics RST and the piping with the cord part AWAY from the edge. Stitch as close as possible to the cord.IMG_2204


IMG_2205TA-DAAAAA!! I’m a Piping Hero!