Category Archives: Tools

Parent to subcategories; Tool I use in Sewing

Rolling Edges

Knits are infamous for rolling edges. Generally I handle them my serging the edges before prewashing and serging the garment as soon as the knit- fabric is cut.  But thereI’ve acquired a  new knit that rolls as fast as it is cut. This is a problem. It’s not that easy to unroll and serge.  I find that I’m changing the size of my finished garment i.e. I’m sewing the garment significantly smaller than cut.  Should  I add more ease to compensate? How do I know how much to add?  Is this something I have to make a test for each garment?  See how I can really obsess?

I decided instead to try out a few solutions to the rolling edge.  I purchased Terial Magic

I purchased mine from Amazon but I’ve seen it in several places. It came with a spray, so I tried spraying. Oy vey!

Look at the selvage on the left of that pic above.  It took 8 different spaying plus ironing without steam and it is still not flat.  Next, I poured TM into a small bowl, painted and ege and allowed to dry over night:

TM is a winner!!!!  Needs only a light press without steam. Heck I think I could skip the pressing.


Another recommended product is Blue Glue

I’m told it must be the blue, washable, school glue so that’s what I bought for the first trial.  I squirted it along the cut edge

Admittedly this may be a user error, but I couldn’t get an even application with out the help of a small spatula

Once again dried over night

I hang things that-need-to-dry-a-while over the shower curtain in the guest bath.

Don’t have a good photo to show you, but the glued edge curls as it dries.  I gave it a shot of steam and pressed lightly to unroll the edge.  I did have one place that was tightly curled and would not unfurl.  Made me glad I started by cutting project size pieces 2-inches larger than the expected finished project piece.  I can just place my pattern above the edge far enough to exclude the furled edge.

Both products performed. TM was better at producing a flat edge .  Blue Glue has some additional attributes.  It’s a lot less expensive — by far. Easily available and also functions as a washable resist. Yes, use it as a resist which will wash away and be gone.  I’ll use the TM as long as I have it.  Not sure I would buy a second bottle because, I’m cheap.




A Different Ripper

It happens. A sewing Booboo. It happens so often with machine sewn  buttonholes that I wrap the buttonhole area with water-soluble thread. That way when the button-hole is bad, I can easily shave it off.  The last time I messed up a button-hole was on this lovely test of the Tabula Rasa Blouse

Click pic to read about the blouse.

Can’t blame the machine. No, I didn’t have the blouse front perpendicular to machine’s throat place. The buttonhole was obviously set on a diagonal. To make matters worse, I didn’t add WSS before stitching buttonholes. Could it be worse? Yes, I couldn’t find the shaver I keep in the Stash Room for this very purpose.  I did however have one of these next to the embroidery machine

These are called Eyebrow Shapers. Available in most drug stores and invaluable for sawing through Birds Nests on the embroidery machine. I grabbed the handy one to see if it would work.

I found I needed to hold it perpendicular to the sewn thread. That meant the last sewn threads are zig zags and I sawed up and down across them.  The first stitches of this buttonhole are straight stitches that already run perpendicular to the edge. I rotated the shaper 90 deg now sawing horizontally across those threads. I finished by using my thumbnail to scrap away the remaining and already cut threads.

To my delight, I was done in about 3 minutes. No harm done to the blouse fabric but I was careful and checked often.

Off-Season Clothing Storage

Another ‘not post-gussy’ project, just happened to get done shortly after I decided to quit gussying the sewing and stash rooms for this year.  Every year my closet gets overburdened just before I completely change from hot to cold or vice versa weather clothing. It’s only a few weeks a year that I know I’ll need both clothing to warm me and the least clothing possible so I can keep cool. I’m relieved, usually, when it’s time to put away the previous season’s attire. I also try to purge a little at this time–and always surprised next year when I need to purge even more.  This year, to my surprise, the number of clothes I’m keeping and was wearing has grown. I did release worn and non-fitting items as well as those that were not worn even once.

But my usual storage is not sufficient. Primarily because it is still occupied by deep winter sweaters and pants. I looked around and realized that my gussying had ‘freed’ a little space in the ironing closet (the closet you see in all my pics). I purchased 2 new Sterite containers. Cleaned the top shelf in the aforementioned closet and after filling, tucked the new containers into the far corner.


I plan to give this closet a good cleaning, probably when I move the winter coats upstairs. For now, I’m tickled and pleased with myself for having taken 20 minutes to do a really good job which will make it easier when I get to the point of earnestly. cleaning the closet.

Wish I had thought to take a preview.  That corner was a mess.

Not exactly post-Gussy-project(s)

I burned up another  iron.  I’ve had several well-meaning individuals encourage me to buy a professional iron.  They insist that although more expensive a professional iron would rid me of this need to replace irons.  Thing is, just because an item is branded ‘professional’ and even ‘commercial’ does not mean it’s going to last longer, or do a better job.  Instead of buying a professional iron, I spent the time searching out the specs for my favorite and comparing with the other irons available.  I hunted the internet avoiding only those sites which specified a business license of some sort was required. OK, I did not check all 356,769 links Google returned; and maybe I should have used other search terms. I discovered to get a truly better iron, something that would hold up to my near-daily, 3-4 hour use, would cost between $1,200-$1,500 and up. For my budget this translates to credit card use which entails some interest.  I made the choice to continue buying irons marketed for the home user.  I know full well and accept that my irons will last at best 12 months.  My last one the Kalorik, lasted 14 months.

So I bought another. When it arrived, I was still in the mode of cleaning. In fact, I’m enjoying these 15-20 minute bursts of intensive cleaning. I took a little longer to cleaning and straighten the entire Ironing Station which includes, iron, stand and bulletin board:

dscn5982_resize dscn6261_resize

Those pictures don’t show the Ironing Station at it’s worst. I’d actually cleaned a little before I thought to take pics.  A good thorough cleaning which included pulling out the stand, cleaning all the shelves and the floor and discarding unused ‘tools’; later:

dscn6451_resize dscn6453_resize

I left only the things I use on the bulletin board and in the basket.

Looking into the basket — which got a liner!


Why did I not line that basket before? 10 years of fuzz was difficult to clean.

From the side:


… and yes that is a repurposed wine rack.  I thought the bottle rack would be great for holding rolls of stabilizer and pressing tools. I prefer to have my stabilizers stored next to the cutting table where I assemble my embroidery hoops for the machine. Turns out there aren’t many ‘rolled’ pressing aides. The basket, er ice bucket has turned out to be excellent for holding many things.  I keep scissors for use and spot cleaning laundry aides. That’s spray starch and water hanging on the side. On the back side, hangs a sweater buzz and more spot remover. We get lots of spots.

I had to move the electric strip to the shelves after those photos. Pity,because I’d like to have most of that space for cleaning out the shelves under the embroidery machine:


Which is a future project, I’m sure.

PS my new iron looks just like my old one. May be the same model too. I liked how it works and loved the price.

Weights and what to do with them in the Stash Room

I use weights to hold my pattern pieces on top of fabric.  Picked this habit up, oh 20 years ago.  For one thing, favorite patterns get damaged when they are pinned repeatedly.  My adoption of the rotary cutter to do the majority of my cutting sealed the deal.  I do find it much more convenient to slide my weights onto pattern tissue and then slash away at the fabric.

I’ve collected a number of weights over the years. My first were heavy ceramic with felt on the bottom. Man I hated when those things dropped on my feet. Eventually 2 managed to find their way into oblivion i.e. I don’t know what happened to them but I don’t have them anymore.  DH found me a couple of interesting rocks. One is naturally formed into a heart. Another I swore was a chocolate lump. I mean I tried to take a bite out of it.  It looked that much like chocolate.  I also like to collect those slices of rocks which look like jewels to me

I needed a place to keep all my weights. A place close to my cutting table.  Last year I made an FSL basket.  Used 15″ long strips of grosgrain ribbon to form the handle.  That worked so well, I made another basket this year — because my collection of weights won’t fit into a single small basket.

This basket is also FSL done on the Viking Ruby (last year I used the Brother PE770).

I added green straps same length as the previous basket. Green because I wanted to see at a glance which basket I’m picking up.

The baskets sit on a glass serving dish

because, well most of the time I want both baskets.  If I only want one basket, I can pick it up by its handle. I love glassware.  Particularly fond of this one with its rose pattern.  I’ve had it for a few years and keep envisioning a printing project….. I’d really rather not it chip or otherwise damage the plate, so this year I added a doily to cushion the baskets. It was another FSL project. I felt like I was making pizza slices.

Need 8 to form the whole doily, which are zig zagged together at the SM.

Both baskets sit on the doily on the plate

which sits on the shelf between my tape dispenser and a small set of drawers which contains notions.

I love having the second basket and the doily. But something I really loved was the feeling I was sewing while cleaning the Stash Room. Yeah the machine keeps stitching thousands of stitches while I’m sweating in the other room.  Then it takes only minutes to complete a lovely project by sewing the pieces together at the SM. But it’s such a relief from the drudgery of cleaning. A real mental lift.

Easiest Bust Dart

Well, as far as marking and sewing, this is the easiest!

Mark the point, legs and center on your fabric using 4 dots only.

Fold by pinching the dart bust point and the center dart point. My fabric just draped over and it is a high-starched sheer nylon.  Line up the leg dots and throw a pin or two along the fold line to keep everything in place while you walk to the sewing machine.

At the sewing machine, slide the wide end of the dart beneath the foot and drop the needle into the aligned, leg dots.

Turn on your laser light and align it with the dart point mark

Sew as usual keeping the laser light aligned to the bust point.

OK Confession, I had to ‘enhance’ the laser line. It didn’t photo too well. But it was no problem when I was at the sewing machine.  Also, sorry but if your machine doesn’t have a laser light like my Dream Machine, you can’t use this method.

The more I work with my Dream Machine, the more I love it.



Woven Cami II

With the embroidery finished, I turned my attention to construction.

I folded the embroidered rectangle  in half, long ways. Replaced the pattern pieces and rotary cut my two main sections, the back and front.  I decided against bias tape. I didn’t want to make my own and feared the commercial tape would be too heavy for this fabric. I dug through the FOE box and found 2 cards, 1 yard each, in a closely matching purple.

I traced the bust dart with disappearing ink. Long time ago, Threads Magazine had a helpful hint that darts were easier to sew if all 3 lines were traced. The dart is folded on the center line and stitched on either leg.  I tried the method and was immediately hooked. No more rippling darts. No uneven legs.  It was actually faster to draw all three lines, fold and stitch than to make dots, try to line them up and fuss at the sewing machine.

Except for today.

 Today the lines disappeared before I could finish sewing the first dart:

Under the sewing machine light, the bust-dart stitching-line was invisible. What to do? Well turn on my Dream’s laser light and line it up with the pin at the point:

Continued stitching to the end. Sorry I just couldn’t help bragging about the laser light once again. When I purchased this machine I thought it would be wonderful for bias and Quilter’s joins. I thought it would be very helpful at those times but only occasionally in use. I’ve found myself using it over and over with nearly every garment. The laser light has been exactly the solution I needed in many tricky sewing situations.

I serged the shoulders together and then applied the FOE around the neckline.  I was going for taunt but not stretched and ended up with about 8″ left over. Good thing because the 1 yard on the other card was not enough for both armscyes. I didn’t have another FOE even close to this one. Couldn’t find a matching/coordinating lace or ribbon. Oh I’ve got purples, but not these purples. Yeach!  I joined the 8″ left over from the neckline. Divided the resulting strip in half and stretched each half to fit around one of the armscyes.  This could be an error. The armscyes can be ironed flat but they always resumed that slightly gathered look.  Worse, the finished under-garment is too high at the underarms

Since this is a test garment, and I already had a significant error, I decided to practice narrow roll hemming at the SM.  I stitched two lines 1/8″ apart at the edge of hem:

I thought you judged the width of the fold (and stitching lines that help the fabric fold)  by the curl of the foot which was about 1/8″. But as I was sewing:

I found it really wanted to roll 1/4″ twice for a finished total of 1/2″ instead of the planned 1/4″.

I had problems, always do with a roll hem done at the SM instead of serger. But, at least this time I completely roll hemmed my cami.  There are spots of darker purple on the face of the garment because

I Frey-Checked loose edges resulting form those problem times; and trimed them with my duck-bill scissors.


Lot of pictures for what you are already an expert at. I’m not. An expert. So I wanted to carefully document my procedure for the next time.  I’m hoping to improve each time I attempt a roll hem. That means making mistakes and learning from those mistakes.

The finished garment fits close to expected:

Eh, not wonderful but OK for a woven cami. I’m not really concerned except for the armscye depth.  I think I might want to add to the over all length longer or maybe tuck the cami into my pants because it shows under my upper layer:

Nasty ridge when I was hoping the Cami would smooth over my jean’s waistband making for a smoothly fitting tunic.

I don’t count this first cami a failure. I learned that 2 yards of FOE is not enough for a cami. (must up the ‘buy amount’ to 3 yards.) My version of the Walmart Cami has slightly less fullness through the waist and hip BUT it is enough.  I love that the cami fits smoothly over shoulder, upper bodice, and bust. No excess there to rumple under garments.

Despite it’s short comings, I’m  going to wear this cami. The tunic has some issues which I think are fabric related (my sweater knits looked fine after they were either lined or worn over a cami.)   I think my HSN Tunic is so pretty.  I’m disappointed that the cami did not ‘fix’ drag lines like it did for the sweater knits.  Oh well, I can always wear a vest.



Sorry this second post got a little long.  I didn’t want to make you come back for a third post and just as importantly, I wanted my experience detailed in as few posts as possible.  When I go back and review garments for what I did and what I might want to change, I lose my own interest when it’s buried in several posts. Two I can handle. Three put me to sleep.

Another Robe New Look A6233

I made a caftan type robe back in Nov 2015 with Burda 1992-05-112. That is the shape I want but I find it doesn’t want to slip on an off very easily.   I’m not batting 100 with Burda patterns. Not only do I have fitting issues, but Burda likes to fit clothes much closer to the body than I like.  That robe fits that category.  I need more ease right under the bust and across the shoulders. Oh it looks nice. But it’s a pain to put on and take off. So reluctantly, I decided to make a classic robe using New Look A 6233:

I’m using a classic robe fabric too.  It’s a dark-plum polyester with a napped surface almost like suede — but it’s not. It has a tricot backing like my Burda Caftan.  The tricot backing didn’t help with my Burda Caftan, so I lined this new robe fully.

Ok part of the reason I fully lined the robe is because I had this lavender fabric in the stash.  It’s been there for years.  I keep thinking I’d like to make a blouse with it except that lavender is really not my color.  Lavender makes me look washed out and slightly sick. Why do I have it even in my stash?  I have problems telling lavender from periwinkle when I’m in the store. I do occasionally come home with lavender which is more red-purple than blue-purple. Periwinkle has a touch more blue.  It’s easy to tell when the colors are side by side but not in the stores especially under their nefarious lighting.

This should be an easy-to-sew garment. Fitting is not an issue. You want in the Goldilocks range. Not too big — don’t need to be tripping. But not too small– don’t want to be restrained or uncovered. The real classic robe usually has a tricky shawl collar as well. This has a single band running up the front, around the neck and down the other front. Should be easy. I fought with it the whole time.

Firstly, the suede-like fabric was resistant to sewing. Yeah, I heard the needle going pop pop pop as it forced its way through the fiber.  I thought to treat it as a knit because of the tricot backing.  I started with a size 10 ball point needle as the fabric light weight.  Changed to a 12 and then 12 microtek. At least the popping was not as loud.  I used hair elastics for button and belt loops.

Yes I added buttons to this classic ‘wrap’ garment. No matter how hard I try or how wide the fronts are, they never stay overlapped for me.  I’m always getting this cold draft.  Plus I tend to lose the belts. They untie and crawl away. Ach!

I learned something about elastic hair ties.  They can be too fat:

These were so attractive in the store. The perfect color. The two on the bottom even coordinate with my embroidery colors.  They were fat and the ones on top very shiny. The sewing machine, my new Dream, protested but did baste them into place.  The serger however bent needles and created knots around the finger. I had to cut the elastics out and replace them with the plain black skinny elastics as seen in the pics.

I cut the plum suede and the silky lining from the same pattern pieces (size large with 5/8″ added at the neck edge and 1.5″ added to the hem). Did not change a thing for the lining. I laid out the fabrics separately. I didn’t try to cut through 4 layers even though this was 3 easy large pieces (plus front band, belt and pockets). Somehow the lining was smaller at the hem. I added a gusset between hem and underarm which added 6″ ease at the hem.  The sleeves, shoulders, chest all that was fine.  I walked the seams of the two fabrics. Those areas matched. But at the hems there was not enough  lining .  How does that happen?  I don’t know. By the time I found the issue the decision was either gusset or trash.

My hems were all very simple.  I made the lining and fashion fabric separately like two garments.  Trimmed the sleeve and bottom edge 1.25″ (my standard hem depth) and aligned the raw edge of the lining with the fold of the hem. Turned the hem up and pinned in place before top- stitching at the Dream. Ummm my straight stitch was the lightening stitch set at 5mm long and .5 wide, 1″ away from the folded edge.  I still think of the plum fabric as knit. Also pinning was not that easy!  I felt like I was forcing logs through this suede fabric.  When I tried the fine silk pins, they bent and would not penetrate.

I used the bottom of the buttonhole stitch as my tailor tack to secure lining and shell together at the shoulder and underarm.  The band is applied last, even after the hemming.  I basted the lining and shell together. Basted the two edges of the band together. Then serged the band to the shell/lining. I did say I fought this fabric all the way?  Despite the basting, at least two places were not secured and had to be ripped. Another two made little bubbles which I left. Who’s going to see this thing? Me. DH. The Dogs and occasionally UPS.   I pressed the serged seam towards the inside of the garment and then top stitched at the Dream.  I used its Muv-it foot for the first time on the hems and band top stitching.  Almost wish I’d used it to baste all 4 layers (lining, shell, and two edges of band) together before stitching.  The Muv-it definitely kept the layers from shifting and ripples developing in the hems.  I know because I stitched the first 8 inches without the Muv-it.  Ripped that out. Installed the Muv-it and finished the hems.  The Muv-it device comes with 2 changeable feet.  They promise more are being engineered. I don’t like having to unscrew the shank to change feet.  There are times and this was one of them, when it’s worth while.

Lastly, yes I embroidered the heck out of this garment.  How often do you get a this big of surface for embellishing:

Closeup of embroidery on back. 10,000 stitches

This is from a set of embroideries I’ve had for so long they aren’t available on the internet anymore. I loved this guy’s designs and technique. This is one embroidery, one color. It stitched without any floats. None. Ruby trimmed the thread at the end so I had no stray threads.  My clean up was spritzing with water to remove the water soluble stabilizer placed on top.

On the front are two embroideries that are combined and mirrored for the other side.

Each front has 8000+ stitches. Total is about 30,000 stitches, 3 hoopings– NO, ZERO, NONE, ZILCH jump stitches. The guy was a master.


Will I use this pattern again?  Yes. Not in the near future but this is a classic garment and despite my objections to its tendency to fly-apart in front, it is easy to slip on and off with a moments notice. Which is about how long I have between the dogs barking and UPS  ringing my door bell.  I’m retired. Getting fully dressed in the morning is not a priority.  This style is easily sized and shortened.  I don’t expect to look like a movie star and generally no one else does either.  At least, not in my family. I pressed its pages and put it carefully away for the time when I need another house coat/robe/smoking jacket etc.


Dream Machine + Viking Feet

Why would anyone want to use Viking Feet with a Brother Machine?  That’s what I was asked when I posed the question of possibility.   I see the point of view. Brother’s feet are engineered to be compatible with Brother machines i.e. no issues no problems.  Another point is that Brother included nearly everything possible with the Dream Machine; in the price of the machine. So why the interest in using feet from another source?

Several people volunteered that they preferred a foot or two from another machine. I may find that to be true with a few feet but for now I’m forcing myself to work with Brother’s feet so I can master this machine. But  I was particularly interested in using a beaded trim. I don’t have a Brother foot that works with beading.  I have a Viking Beading foot. In fact I have two.  One I’ve never used. AND I just bought them last September when the Dream Machine wasn’t even on my radar.  So here’s the response I got:

The Dream Machine is a high shank machine. There is a low shank adapter included with the machine. (Brother anticipates you might have or want to use a low shank foot at some time during your sewing life.)

Use size A or class 15 bobbins.  The Dream includes a bobbin adapter for the L type but it’s better to use the size the machine was designed to use.

The Dream Machine XV8500D uses category J feet or Brother ‘sa’ feet for 7mm or less. Be sure not to go over the 7mm.

The Dream Machine can use generic, screw-on, high-shank feet.

The Dream Machine can use generic snap-on feet that fit it’s high-shank snap on adapter. Viking feet are too narrow where they connect to the snap-on.

On my own I found that the Dream Machine can use Janome snap-on feet. Every Janome foot I still have works perfectly.

To use Viking feet with the Brother Dream Machine:

  • Attach the Viking Shank to the low shank adapter.
  • Remove the Brother shank from the machine. Screw the low shank adapter to the pressor foot bar and slip on the Viking foot. Voila:
  • View from Right
  • Straigth on
  • View from left
  • Notice that the screw which holds the adapter to the bar is now on the opposite side than when it attaches the Brother High Shank to the pressor bar.
  • DH did have to open the hole on the Viking Shank a little. The screw Brother provided was just a bit large for going into that hole.  I understand that several other ladies have had the hole drilled out and someone mentioned that they’d found a longer screw.


Experience:  It WORKS!  I tested with my Stitch-in-the-ditch Viking foot because I like it better than my Brother.  Technically it works, guiding the stitch evenly but it stitched to the right of the well of the seam instead of directly in the well.  Perhaps I could reposition the needle. Maybe I should just accustom myself to using the Brother foot

Then I put my Brother J foot on the Viking Shank. (The J is equivalent to Viking’s A foot meant for straight stitch or light zig zag.)  I broke a needle. I was top stitching around a neckline. At the shoulder, the needle struck the back of the opening in the J foot.  Left a dent and a snag (removed with  emery cloth0. Possibly, I could have pushed the little button in for uneven seams. Except, I’ve used the Brother foot several times and never had issues sewing over the shoulder seam until I added the low shank adaptor and Viking Shank to the mix.

My conclusion, use the Brother feet with the Brother shank.  Use the Viking at your own risk.

I’ll probably be buying the Brother Beading Feet.