Saturday, January 14, 2012

New website!

If you've come here looking for Needles, Nuts and Bolts updates, I need to you head on over to:

I've combined this blog with my others, but you still be able to find all the info about my latest sewing classes.  

Stay updated to upcoming classes and new tricks and tips by clicking "Follow" in the right sidebar at S as in Sam and subscribe to the blog using your favorite reader!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Simple Pillows

Here’s a simple facelift for your couch—pillow covers!


I like to make simple envelope pillow covers.  Here’s how:

1.  Measure your pillow.  You’ll need to know the length and width.


2.  Do a little math.  This pillow measured 11 x 15 inches.

  • Front pillow piece:  You need 1 rectangle.  Add 1/2 inch to the length and 1/2 inch to the width.  For this pillow, I used 1 rectangle measuring 11 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches.  
  • Back pillow pieces:  You need 2 rectangles.  The width will be the same as the front piece.  For the length of each piece, divide the length of the pillow by 2 and add 3 1/2 inches.  My 2 rectangles measured  11 1/2 x 11 inches.


3.  Hem one long edge of each of the back pillow pieces.


4.  Stack your fabric like this:

  • Front piece right-side up.
  • Back pieces wrong-side up, hem toward the middle.

101_1160 101_1161

5.   Stitch all the way around the pillow with 1/4 inch seam allowances.


6.  Trim the corners, turn your case right side out, and press it well.


7.  Slip it on your pillow.


A few notes: 

--This envelope pillow will work for any rectangular/square pillow.  Just measure your pillow and do the same math you did above. 

--If you are worried about the back overlap gaping, you can add more than 3 1/2 inches to each back piece, or just attach a small piece of Velcro to either side!

--Embellish away!  I try to remember to embellish the front before I put my pillows together.  You can paint, piece, add ribbon or ric rac, anything you want, just as long as the front finished pieces measures 1/2 inch long and 1/2 inch wider than your pillow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

1 Skirt, 6 Ways

big skirt post

I love a good TNT (Tried And True) pattern.  The basic idea is this:  find a pattern you like, make it fit and the add (or subtract) design details to create the garments you want.

In my 1 Skirt, 3 Ways class, I start with the essential, flattering-to-everyone A-line skirt. I use McCalls 3341 during the class:


Using this pattern, I made this skirt, just as the pattern instructed. (For a review of the pattern, please see my review on PR.)


The easiest way to tweak a skirt is to take it from fitted to an elastic-waist gathered skirt by leaving out the darts and placing the center back on the edge of the paper eliminating the center back seam. I also added a little extra at the top so I could make a casing for my elastic waist. Here’s skirt #2:


(sorry about the crooked picture)

Skirt # 3 was altered to straighten it to a pencil shape, add pleats and a waist band.  You can get the details in my PR review.


Skirt # 4 was made like Skirt #2.  I did add a little extra fabric by placing the “PLACE ON FOLD” mark about 1 inch from the fold.


You can read the process for Skirt #5 on the PR review.


Skirt #6 was made from a cotton lawn.  I loved the way the fabric draped, and that inspired me to make the ruffle. This skirt is lined with a rayon lining and has an elastic, gathered waist.


Spring 2012 Sewing Classes in Shreveport/Bossier City

I’ll be teaching classes through LSUS Continuing Ed again this spring.  Here are the dates and details:

Getting to Know Your Sewing Machine:
Thursday, January 12 6-9pm
Monday, January 23 9-12
Saturday, January 28 10-1
Thursday, February 16 6-9pm
Monday, March 5 9-12
Thursday, March 22 6-9pm
Thursday, May 3 6-9pm

What else can your sewing machine do? 
Thursday, January 26 6-9pm
Monday, February 6 9-11
Thursday, March 1 6-9pm
Saturday, March 17 10-1
Thursday, April 12 6-9pm
Monday, April 9 9-11am
Thursday, May 17 6-9pm

Learn to Read a Pattern
Tuesday and Thursday, January 17 & 19 6-8 pm
Monday, Janury 30 9-1
Tuesday and Thursday, Februrary 21 & 23 6-8 pm
Saturday, February 25 9-1
Tuesday and Thursday, April 3 & 5 6-8pm
Tuesday and Thursday, May 8 & 10 6-8 pm

Curtains and Pillows! 
Tuesday, January 31 6-8pm
Monday, February 6 11-1
Tuesday, March 6 6-8pm
Saturday, March 17 11-1
Monday, April 9 11-1
Tuesday, April 17 6-8 pm
Tuesday, May 22 6-8pm

Basic Applique: 
Thursday, February 9 6-9pm
Monday, February 13 9-12
Thurday, March 15 6-9pm
Thursday, April 26 6-9pm
Monday, May 16 9-12

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nuts and Bolts, 2: Finishing your seams

***This is an installment in my series for beginners.  The information included is very basic, but quite helpful if you are learning to sew.***

Did you notice that your raw edges of your seam allowances are starting to ravel?  Wearing, using, washing and drying garments could make that ravel much, much worse.  To prevent a big tangled mess of ravels and strings, you need to finish your seam allowance.


I teach beginners 3 different ways to finish seams.  There are several more, but unless you have a serger, a machine with with an overlock stitch, or a desire for Hong Kong finishes, these will get the job done.

The quickest and easiest way to take care of raw edges:  pinking shears.  Trimming your seam allowance with pinking shears won’t completely eliminate raveling, it will minimize it.

Look for a picture tutorial for zig-zaging your edges and French seams in the next few days.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nuts and Bolts, 1: What is a seam?

***This is the first installment in my series for beginners.  The information included is very basic, but quite helpful if you are learning to sew.***

What is a Seam?  A seam is the stitching holding 2 or more pieces of fabric together.  This is a seam:


To start your seam, match your 2 pieces of fabric together.  Line the raw edges up with a marking on your foot plate.  How do you know which ruler to use?  That depends on what your pattern tells you to do.  Commercial patterns like McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick and Vogue usually call for a 5/8 inch seam allowance.  (A seam allowance is the space between your seam and your raw edges.  It allows for raveling, fitting changes, alterations, etc.)  That means that you need to line the raw edges of your fabric up to the 5/8-inch line on your foot plate.  Your needle will now stitch a seam 5/8-inch from the raw edge of the fabric.

You can secure a seam by backstitching.  In other words, you sew back on top of your seam to make it secure and keep it from coming “unstitched”.  Start your stitch by sewing two or three stitches.  Then, hold down the reverse (backstitch) lever or button on your machine and stitch backwards two or three stitches.  Let up on the button and sew forward.  You repeat these back stitches for two or three stitches at the end of your seam.  When do you need to backstitch?  Anytime you want a secure seam.

The question I hear most often from beginners is:  “How do you know which stitch to use?”  Basic seams require your needle in the center position and a stitch length of about 2.5 mm.  You can use your sewing machine manual to learn how to change your machine to these settings.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Those Zig Zag Scissors



These scissors are actually called “pinking shears”. 


The sawtooth blade creates a “zig zag” cut. 


Why would you want to add a pair of pinking shears to your sewing box?

Woven fabrics fray.  Many times, they fray A LOT.  Cutting raw edges with pinking shears won’t prevent all this fraying, but it will limit the length of the threads that fray.  So, having a pair of pinking shears is handy for trim seam allowances and preparing the edges of some fabrics before your wash them.