Saturday, May 7, 2016

We Bring you... Colette!

We are very excited to introduce no less than 12 Colette Patterns to our store! 

Sarai started Colette Patterns back in 2009 and very quickly established herself as the leader in independent pattern designers. Her patterns are well known for being easy to read and are filled with helpful graphics. They are designed to teach anyone how to sew their own clothing and they come in a large range of sizes. 

On Colette's blog, there are tons of pattern hacks, extra pocket and sleeve variations, fabric advice, inspirational images and last, but not least: sew-alongs. When you buy a pattern from Colette, you are fully supported the entire way through. Not to mention, there are many sewists, spread far and wide over the internet, who have sewn these patterns and have their own hacks, variations, tips and tricks. 

We chose patterns in classic shapes that would sew up easily in quilting cottons, flannel, voile, silk noil, corduroy and other fabrics we have in the store. Mahri has sewn a Negroni shirt with short sleeves in one of our Batiks. It's perfect for summer: casual enough for an afternoon in Lithia Park and dressy enough for an evening at the Elizabethan Theater. This shirt is mid-century modern with classic details and an athletic fit. 

Negroni includes a front facing, convertible collar, back yoke and pockets with flaps. There are some pocket variations that can be downloaded from her website. We can't wait to try them all! Peter over at Male Pattern Boldness has sewn several Negronis and has a sew-along as well as pattern hacks for a button placket and a formal collar stand and fall. 

There are so many fabrics that we would love to make into one of these wonderful shirts. 
What fabrics are you dreaming of?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Basix Tool - Guest Post by Terry

Despite her retirement, Terry has been very busy around the store teaching classes and leading our Fabric Collectors Club. She has been quilting up a storm! We asked her to review one of our favorite tools, so with out further ado I will let her introduce you to the Basix tool!

I confess -- I have become a notions junkie. When I started quilting back in the 90s, I bought a mat, a ruler, and a rotary cutter. And fabric, lots of fabric. More fabric. A little bit more fabric. And then I started discovering all the cool rulers and templates that make cutting and using that fabric so much easier, and so much fun. At Quilt Market in 2007, I walked past a booth and did a double take at the wonderful quilt hanging there. In I went, and fell in love with the X-Block tools, designed by Patricia Pepe of Quilt Queen Designs. I think I started my Venetian Tiles quilt before I unpacked my suitcase! 

At Quilt Market in 2015, another booth drew me in, and there was Patricia with her newest tool -- Basix. Again, love at first sight! The Basix is very similar to the X-Block, except Basix is designed to use with either 2 1/2" or 1 1/2" strips, which so many of us tend to have in our stashes. Both the X-Block and Basix tools help you turn very simple blocks, often nine-patches, sometimes rail fences, into more complex looking blocks, whose components would be either tedious or difficult to cut. Patricia's tools come with excellent instructions, and she has a wealth of patterns to support both the X-Block and Basix. 

These are tools you'll use more than once, that will help you burn through your stash, and we all need help with that. Some of her simplest, scrappiest patterns will help you produce warm, rich, and lovely quilts.

Guest Post by Terry Tobey

Sunday, April 3, 2016

What do you know about Peppered Cottons?

Have you played with our Peppered Cottons? 

They are fun, versatile fabrics that come in a large range of colors! 

We love using them to make table napkins. 
Fray the edges and add a decorative stitch and you're good to go!                                                      They come in fun stripes too!

Here are some tips and tricks from the designer Pepper Cory:

How to Work with Peppered Cottons By Pepper Cory (July 2013)
What Peppered Cottons are. Peppered Cottons are 100% shot cotton fabrics that almost fall into the solid color category. The term ‘shot’ means that the weft is “shot through” the warp, but uses a discernibly different color thread. Because the warp (lengthwise threads) and the weft (side to side threads) are different colors, the resulting shades are muted and variable combinations of the original colors. For instance, a black warp thread plus a blue weft thread woven together makes for a very dark blue such as Ink color# 45. When a fabric like Ink is viewed from different angles, the blues and blacks produce subtly different visual effects. Above all, shot cottons have a tactile hand-woven quality and display deep colors well since all threads are dyed prior to weaving. There is no wrong or right side to shot cottons--a plus for quilt-makers.
Peppered Cottons on the bolt. All shot cottons, after being woven, go through a finishing process where they are washed, dried and calendared. Calendaring is a heat-plus-pressing process which imparts a subtle sheen and a soft hand to the cotton fabric. The final step for the finished goods is to go through a double and rolling machine where the fabric is folded and wound tightly on to bolts. Calendaring disappears after washing. Art quilters, who do not need to wash their fabrics, can use shot cottons straight from the bolt, but most quilt-makers will want to wash the fabric prior to starting a quilt project.
How to Wash. Keeping the fabric in its double and rolled form, slightly trim a little angled ‘ear’ from both selvedge edges of the length of fabric. Unfold the fabric. If washing small pieces of the fabric, put the shot cotton pieces into a lingerie bag or knotted pillow case (give the fabric room to move— not a tight knot). My preference is to wash in warm water and rinse in cold. Use the same sort of soap or detergent you would use to eventually clean a quilt. If washing multiple pieces, sort into several bags by color. Wash in a full tub of water and use a Color Catcher ™ in the load. FYI: this step is to capture any excess dye particles. Peppered Cottons are color-fast! After washing, take the fabrics out of the bags and ‘fluff.’ Cut any loose threads at that time. Re-insert the damp pieces loosely into their bags and dry about 20 minutes. Do not walk away and let the fabrics over-dry. Unfold the pieces and air-dry completely. If the pieces are small, you may iron them at this time. Most of the time, I snip any loose threads, fold the dry shot cottons yardage and store on shelves. Then when I’m ready to sew with the shot cottons, I only iron as much as I need of the fabric for that specific project.
Washed Peppered Cottons. Washed and pressed Peppered Cottons have a slightly different hand than when they are on the bolt. The calendaring sheen rinses out and the weave firms up, giving the fabrics the hand (texture + weight) of good-quality unbleached muslin. The brilliant colors also slightly intensify when the light-reflective finish is gone. Because of the difference in finishing between on-the-bolt and washed Peppered Cottons, the best advice is to purchase all you will need for a project at one time and to treat that entire length of fabric in the same manner. In other words, no un-washed and washed Peppered Cotton colors should be mixed in the same project. Note that Peppered Cottons are a higher thread weight than most shot cottons which means that they blend well with regular-weight quilting fabrics. You can mix-and-match Peppered Cottons with fabrics from your stash with the assurance that they will stand up to use.
Sewing With Peppered Cottons. Before cutting patchwork pieces from the fabric, give it a light mist of spray starch and press. This step gives the fabric even more body. Align selvedges, especially if cutting with the grain, and cut pieces as usual. When sewing, use a good quality #50 or #60 100% cotton sewing thread and use your normal stitch length. Either match the color of thread to the fabric or choose a shade that will blend in well with your project like taupe, grey or khaki.
 Appliqué Tips. I like to spray-starch shot cotton yardage twice (spray both sides) when doing appliqué. Since appliqué requires a lot of handling, a little extra body never hurts, especially when doing needle-turn appliqué by hand. When performing sewing machine appliqué, sample a block first so you can adjust stitch type, length of stitch and your preferred weight of thread. In most cases, either #50 or #60 weight thread is a good choice for machine appliqué work.
Pressing. Always use a clean iron. I prefer a lightweight nonstick-coated iron and I seldom use steam. When ironing shot cotton yardage and sewn patchwork, set your iron on Wool, the setting just below Cotton. A too-hot iron can cause crinkling at the edges of the cut patchwork. There is no need to work at any hotter setting than Wool.
Quilting. When machine-quilting, use a new needle and again, a thin strong thread. I like a flat look in my quilts so prefer a thin cotton or wool batting--almost the flatness of flannel. For quilt backing, choose a quilting-weight cotton fabric, rather than more shot cottons, to give more density to the quilt.
Working With a Professional Quilter. If you hire a professional quilter, be willing to work with him/her in the event that he/she has had no experience with shot cottons. Tip: take the quilter a sandwiched block (top, batting, backing), using the same shot cottons used in your quilt top. This sample is so he/she can test his/her stitches. Make the bottom layer (backing) of the quilt sandwich using a regular weight cotton. Shot cottons are easy to quilt, but sometimes a professional quilter uses the same size needle for all tasks. FYI: you can tell when too large of a needle has been used in machine quilting--when the finished quilt is held to the light, tiny pin-holes appear and light shines through them. Hopefully, these miniscule holes close up after use and washing. To be sure, when quilting a shot cotton quilt, ask that your quilter use a new, slightly thinner needle and thinner thread
for the best combination. You should plan on using a non-shot cotton quilt backing fabric. Work together with the quilter so you can achieve the finest final product.
Quilting by Hand. When quilting by hand on shot cottons, I like to use a good quality thread. Thoroughly baste the three layers so they do not shift while working. The usual weight of hand quilting thread is #40. Since quilting stitches show so well on the surface of Peppered Cottons, this is a great opportunity to experiment with contrasting colors of thread. Or another option would be to try Big Stitch quilting using a #8 or #12 perle cotton.
Finishing and Binding. After quilting, but before binding, run basting stitches completely around all  sides of the quilt, especially if there are any cut bias edges that might stretch. Stitch in from the open cut edges of the quilt 1/8th inch. Basting can be done by either machine or hand. Leave basting stitches in place. After basting (which “closes up” the sandwich of top/batting/backing), decide if you want to trim the quilt exactly to its cut edges or leave a little batting/backing to plump up the binding. Cut binding either with the straight of grain or on the bias. If using shot cottons for the binding and cutting bias, another light spray of starch will help you handle the stretchy bias strips better. We hope you enjoy working with Peppered Cottons and find them a great addition to your quilting palette! Keep your eye out for more new colors coming soon.

From Pepper Cory and all the folks at Studio e Fabrics

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wool Applique

I have been playing a lot with wool lately. It is the perfect thing to take with me when I travel or even if I am waiting for an appointment! I can prepare my blocks ahead of time and keep them handy in a project bag with thread, needle, thimble and scissors.

Here are some tips:

When I applique with wool, I prepare the background fabric by ironing Formflex to the wrong side of the fabric. Formflex is a light-weight cotton with a fusible on one side and when it is affixed, it gives your fabric enough body to support the wool. You don’t need to put fabric in a hoop when you use Formflex.

I transfer my patterns onto freezer paper and cut them out using paper scissors. Then I iron the shiny side of the freezer paper to the wool pieces that I have chosen and cut them out using fabric scissors. If I am playing with circles, I love the pre-cut wool circles that we have at Sew Creative in 4 different sizes! Lately I worked with hexagons and we pre-cut those too using an Accuquilt Studio machine. We keep it in the office and use it whenever we want quick and accurately cut shapes.

I love using wool because it is so easy to work with. Our wool is hand dyed and felted in the process. This means that it does not ravel so I don’t have to turn under edges when I sew it down. Wool felt is a different product altogether. It is thinner than felted wool and doesn’t have the same loft. I prefer felted wool when given the choice.

So now I am ready for pinning. I love my applique pins because they are small so my thread rarely catches on them when I am sewing. I don’t like to use fusibles with wool because I find that they don’t stick well due to the thickness of the wool and the pins make it unnecessary to do the extra step of applying a fusible.

I like to use embroidery needles because they are easy to thread.  I hate trying to find the eye of the needle with some of the others! I use 2 strands of matching embroidery floss when I sew. The strands disappear into the wool and this allows me to come back in with thicker embroidery threads for embellishment later. I use a whip-stitch to sew my pieces in place but I know others who swear by the blanket or buttonhole stitch. The choice is up to you.

I love Sue Spargo’s Creative Stitching book for examples of embellishment stitches. We carry many of the threads she recommends and it is always hard to choose from all the lovely colors. I like playing with Sea Grass when I want my stitches to lay flat and contrast against my wool. I also love using silk threads because of their gorgeous colors, sheen and the way they show up against the wool.  

Lately I have been working on the next Block of the Month (using some of the hearts pictured here) and I have been embellishing with different trims and cording. It is easy to sew through these trims or over them to couch them down.

If I don’t have a specific quilt in mind then I just sew circles to each other. I love the way they look and someday they will become a quilt. In the meantime, my hands are busy and I am having fun.

Join me on the fourth Saturday of every month from 2 to 4pm for wool club.  I am happy to demonstrate stitches or answer any
questions. Wool Club participants receive 15% off on wool that day. It is a great way to get going on that wonderful wool project that has been calling to you…or just to sew with friends.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

New Fabrics and how to use them!

Hello all!
We have tons of new fabric in the shop! We're practically spilling out into the street!
Several of our fabrics are not mid-weight quilting cottons. Quilting cottons are great because they are widely available, easy to work with and come in every print, color and texture imaginable. However, some other fabrics are just as stable and may work better for your projects.

Without further ado, here are some ideas, explanations and guidelines to get you sewing with the great fabrics we have in our store.

Cotton Sateen: a heavy weight fabric woven with a satin weave. A satin weave has a three-over, one-under pattern instead of a one-over, one-under pattern. This creates a slight sheen to the fabric. Cotton sateen is great for home decor projects and for bags, pot holders and other useful things.

Cotton Sateen 

Rayon and Voile

Rayon and Voile: lightweight fabric with tons of drape. These fabrics are very common in apparel sewing because they make great summer dresses, skirts and blouses. However, they are very stable fabrics. They would make a lovely lightweight summer quilt as well.

Corduroy: is a heavier fabric with long ribs running along it called the "wale". There can be a large wale that would be great for kids overalls, or a small wale that you would see on pants for adults. Corduroy is a great bottom weight. Skirts, pants, over-shirts, or coats would all be lovely.  Corduroy has been used for years for clothing, however it can also be used for your quilting and crafting needs! Terry made a stunning corduroy quilt in lovely jewel tones and because it is a heavier fabric, it would also hold up in a tote bag or pillow cover. You could easily make a slip cover for your sofa with it or use it for potholders and neck warmers.

Linen/Cotton Blends: Unlike their pure linen counterpart, linen/cotton blends come without any of the drawbacks. They are heavy fabrics that don't wrinkle easily. We make lots of market bags combining vinyl mesh and lovely linen prints. However, the best part is that you can add them to your quilts! Terry used a gray polka dot linen fabric as the background for a Jen Kingwell quilt and its a showstopper!

Raw Silk or Silk Noil: This fabric takes a little getting used to because of it's texture and nubby feel, however it is one of my favorite fabrics. It is more stable than cotton, irons nicely and comes in lovely saturated colors.  You could use this fabric for absolutely anything: quilting, clothing, home decor and crafting. Fair Warning: it shrinks and bleeds. Throw it in your washing machine and dryer before you cut it and then you can wash it and dry it forever.

Raw Silk or Silk Noil
I hope this helps you understand fabrics better! Guest Post by Mahri.

What are your favorite non-quilting-cotton fabrics? Tell us in the comments below!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Is your tension giving you a headache?

Getting the tension right on your sewing machine can be a real pain. Before you despair try these quick and easy fixes!

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  1. Clean the bobbin casing of lint! Even using good quality cotton thread, you will get a build up of lint in your casing.
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  3. Re-thread your machine! Sometimes it gets off track and can severely mess up your stitching. Make sure your thread is going through every thread guide. Check that your bobbin is in correctly! This is crucial. Double check in your sewing machine manual how your bobbin is supposed to go in.
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  5. Was your bobbin wound too slowly? If it is too loose or too tight you can have tension problems.
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  7. Check that the thread coming off your spool and from your bobbin is the same brand and color. Different weights and kinds of thread can cause big problems!
  8. Photo Credit: Sew Creative Ashland
  9. Do you have the right needle for the job? Needles differ greatly and we have a book that can help you choose the correct needle.
  10. Change your needle! Old needles will often cause tension problems.  If it's dull or has burrs it could mar your fabric too!

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  12. Different weights of fabric require different tension settings. Play around with a scrap of fabric until the tension is right on your fabric. 

Do you have any quick fixes for tension issues? Let us know in the comments below!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sweet Tweets

This is a quick and easy project from the new book called Sweet Tweets. I made it in an evening using a cotton/linen blend for the background and lots of scraps.The birds are fused to the background and the free motion quilting is supposed to be a little wonky so you don't have to worry about being perfect! There are lots of cute patterns and it is hard to stop with just one!