This was a challenge.
In all my years of sewing and DIY projects, I imagine I have enough experience to qualify as a professional "Handy Woman". I adore sewing; however, while alterations are good work with terrific outcomes there is a strong sense of satisfaction and pride from DIY or sewing repairs. Recently, I received a fun compliment when a loyal customer stated,"You are so talented you could make #@#$% look good!"
If I would have taken pictures over the past 30 odd years of all the last minute repairs of melted lace and beads on wedding gowns, torn suits, zippers, torn or shredded upholstery, broken and/or burned furniture, and recently a bathtub (the rust and lyme were so thick it took more than 20 hours of chipping and scrubbing to clean) there would be enough to publish a coffee table best seller! Extreme Repairs include that mess of fabric pictured above. The hood was burned in a welding accident. Metal pieces were melted into parts of the fabric and the poly fibers melted so much it turned to a plastic like material. Ahh yes, well...repairs that are extreme in nature seem to be how I roll!
Challenge: "See what you can do?"
The young man handed me his coat with the, "I can't believe I did this."
sort of look and asked me, "See what you can do with this?"
He bought it recently and was shocked at how fast the fabric melted (Good word of caution there - check the fabrics in your child's coats). First step:
Cut away burned areas and see what's left. I carefully seam ripped the hood off, having to actually cut away some. Once the hood was off, it looked quite repairable.
Second Step: Hood or Collar? I decided on collar since the owner told me he burned the second hooded jacket that same day. Ouch!
Starting to shape up, isn't it?
Cut 3" on the fold for the collar and matched the trapezoid for the burned panel.
I found suitable sport fleece in dark brown to make a collar. Measuring inside and outside the jacket from point to point of neckline, I cut the fabric for the repair. There was another issue; the trapezoid shaped panel (Grey) would need more than patching. It could not be removed as it had melted to the lining, fusing it like plastic in some places. I cut out a soft sport fleece (so not to irritate his neck area) to cover the burned canvas area shown.
Third Step: Home free at this point! The longest part, honestly, was picking out the burned fabric, pieces of metal and preparing the coat to receive a new collar. Once that was finished, attaching the collar was a cakewalk.
Following are a few more shots of the steps I took with some things you may want to watch out for if you have a repair such as this.
That's about it! It's how I roll on a day to day basis around here. There is always a new project waiting on the side lines for those days when I am not crocheting, designing, sewing, etc. Future challeges? Bring 'em on!
Wishing you all success and inspiration today and always,
"Fabric and yarn are my canvas, threads are my paint and notions are the tools I use to create works of art." S. Marchman-Day
As more people upcycle and think of the impact their purchases make on the environment, sewing, knitting and crocheting have increased in popularity with a deeper interest in learning the skill sets of these arts.
When working with serious projects, upcycling or repurposing, each requires a basic knowledge or an understanding of the differences between all the fabulous colors of yarn, wool, fabrics and threads available. If you want your project to stand above the rest, make sure you know how to find information about your materials.
What’s All the Fuss?
Those of us with some fiber art experience have an embedded picture in our memory of a failed project made with the wrong yarn, thread or fabric. It’s a good lesson actually; one that I recommend everyone working with fiber arts experience just once. When you do, you will understand why.
There is a good reason for manufacturer or distributor labels on your fabric, yarn and threads. It’s the same reason all items are labeled – to tell you what you’re buying and how to use it. If you purchase the wrong yarn or wool, you could be in for that failed project mentioned earlier. Take a look at the labels or “wraps” on a few yarns and the information each provides. Most show how to wash, what the weight is, the fiber content and how many yards or ounces you are purchasing. Some show dye lots to try and match materials when you need more.
Tip: If the label is missing and you are unsure of the content of the yarn, try this: Take two ends of the fiber and fray them slightly. Wet the ends and try to rub them together. If they felt together, you have wool. If not, it’s most likely an acrylic or blend of acrylic and other fiber.
Sewing thread has specific labels as well. On the top, have you ever noticed it says, “All Purpose” or “Quilting”? Threads are marked specifically for different projects. Quilting thread is thicker, just as button twine is. All purpose thread is fine, thin and made of cotton or polyester/cotton blends. Threads are also sold in silk and clear vinyl.
Click pic for PDF
Here is a neat little download - a Thread Advisor from Coats & Clark
Tip: If the label is missing from the top, bottom or both, try the burn test. Over a sink or outside, hold the thread in tweezers or hemostats. Light an end. If it melts you have polyester. If it turns to ash, it’s cotton. Some say they can tell by feel, but I’ve found better luck w/the burn test.
| |Regarding fabrics,
one piece can provide a good amount of information, as demonstrated by this post from * iKnitQuiltSew, “What Can A Piece of Fabric Tell You?”
In her post she shares an easy way to learn about fabric by the “label” on the selvage.
Tip: If you have purchased lengths or scraps from a thrift store or yard sale and the selvage is missing (usally the case) you will quickly see if it’s cotton or a blend of cotton and some other fabric by the feel and most times, weight. Polyester (or knit) will have a defined give or stretch to the fabric and there are some that have distinct characteristics such as tulle, chenille, wool, silk, and satin.
You may not have the specific information as to the percentages of blends in your fabrics, but you should have a good idea of what the fabric is and if it will suit your purpose. If you are unsure, ask someone to help you. Many are quite willing to share their knowledge of sewing skills!
To help take some of the mystery out of your fiber(s), why not make and carry your own book of swatches when you are shopping. No need for your swatch book to be large – an address book will work (Yes, they still make those!). Tape or glue swatches of a variety of fabrics, yarns, wools and threads in your book and label with the information you feel is important to you and the projects you frequently make. For example, if you quilt, what is the style, size and type of quilting thread you normally use? For knit or crochet, what is the weight you normally use to make the hot selling baby layette set? You get the idea.
Don’t let yourself be intimidated with all the information placed on the wraps and tags of fabrics, threads, yarns and wool. It’s easy to be confused and when that happens, consult your swatch book, pattern or ask someone in the store. Or, you could always throw caution to the wind and like me on occasion, get daring and purchase that beautiful piece of fabric or hank of yarn (or wool?) knowing there will be a use for it soon!
Wishing you great success and inspiration with your fiber arts today and always,
Last week`s post was a metaphor about having the right tools to achieve a positive outcome for any task or goal a person has before them. "Having the right tools for the job" is not just a metaphor, but a golden rule for any activity, task, project, goal or objective.
A more in depth approach to this golden rule: replace "tools" with "skills" and then "knowledge". The difference is now the golden rule has turned into a metaphor for learning. You are probably asking, "What does this have to do with trends in fashion, sewing, DIY, crochet, etc.?" I will answer with this: if you don't have the knowledge to use the tools, or the skills to apply use to the tools, your outcome will be disastrous. Disasters in fashion, sewing, crochet, knitting, upcycling, and even your employment are costly in time, money and emotional well-being.
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Hand in Hand
It is common knowledge that skills & knowledge go hand in hand. The internet offers a large variety of tutorials and lessons in sewing, crochet, knitting, DIY and upcycling, but what if you don't know what you are reading or watching? Having a foundation of skills to build your knowledge on will save you the frustration and costly outcome of disasters in your projects. There is no guarantee that every project will be perfect - I'm sure celebrity do-it-your-selfers and crafters have had their fails. What I can guarantee: if you have the right tools, skills and knowledge, you increase the chances of success.
Trends & Disasters
A fun little exercise for you is to search for *sewing disaster images* or *fashion disaster images*. If you don't want your project to wind up in the dump or food for mice while in the attic or garage someplace, assess your knowledge of the trends before it becomes a disaster. This fashion disaster cartoon is a perfect example of the disasters I'm talking about. DIY on your own trendy fashion or home decor is okay as long as you KNOW what you are doing and have the skills to do it!
I am a firm believer (my mission) that people can rethink their plan in any arena and design their world to fit them. This does not mean we all fit the same molds in apparel and home decor or crafts. Obviously, though we may have similar tastes and styles, we are each different. The current trend (and it's not a trend to me, but okay, I'll bite...) is upcycling - everything. Good things can go overboard like HERE
with humorous look at a craft fail.
When taking on a project involving current fashions or trends, you may want to consider how much you know about your self whether the new trends fit your style. If you tend toward simple and down to earth you certainly won't wear well this look for Spring 2013.
This is more suitable for casual, yet trendy. FYI, trends this spring are black and white, color blocks, and....Vintage!
Each piece pictured in the spring fashions have a basic foundations - jacket, straight skirt, sleeveless shift, button down blouse, the classic tank. The accessories are those found in about any thrift store in our old bags and boxes of accessories we've stored away.
Where does upcycling fit with these fabulous trends? Many will make their own garments based on these designs and with skill and knowledge they will make most of them from upcycled garments. However, some will try without having the skills and guess where it will end up? With exploration first, find out what you enjoy, are good at or want to learn. Once you have in mind what you want to learn, begin with learning the basics skills and build your knowledge base from there. In crochet, learn to chain; in knitting, learn to cast on; in upcycling you will need several basic skills such as sewing or using hand tools and knowledge of your own personal style and tastes.
My point: as long as you have the skills and knowledge and know your style you can pull any of the trends off with upcycling. Follow the Second Golden Rule.
Home decor this spring features bright colors that pop in frames, throw pillows, blankets, baskets, mirror frames, and other accessories. "What fits me" and, "How can I save money" are the hottest trends in home and apparel fashion. The answer: Upcycle what you have to fit your plan, your dream. http://www.bhg.com/
The Second Golden Rule: Have the Right Tools for the Job.
| |Where Do You Find the Skills & Knowledge?
There is no secret to learning your style or preferences in apparel and home decor. Take a long hard look around your home and in your closet. Are there pieces that stand out to you or grab your attention? Pieces you know you would not want to do without? Colors that are predominate? If you like them, why change them for the sake of the latest in fashion or home decor?
What about skills and knowledge to upcycle, sew or perform other new skills? I would be silly to not put in a plug for the lessons in crochet and sewing
I offer, and there are a variety of places online I *bookmark and use to increase my skills and knowledge base. In fact, recently I took up knitting. There are many garments that combine knitting and crochet, so the logical next step for me was to learn the basics of knitting. I think it's going along quite well! See my progress here: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/daysew/unique-basketweave-washcloth
Fortunately after crocheting for many years the technique of knitting was actually easy to learn. Again, if one has the foundation, the rest comes easy in learning any new skill.
Whether you are making changes in style to your home or apparel keep these in mind:
Wishing much success and inspiration today and always,
* Here are my recommendations for places to bookmark when learning a new skills or refreshing old ones.
You Tube - Just about anything you want to try and learn using video is here. It's free and if you don't like one video, try another.
eHow - Videos, step by step tutorials, free patterns - it's all here. I've not found a better source to give me the basics or a quick reminder for a specific stitch, skill or design tip.
About - If you didn't like what you found at You Tube or eHow, try About. Filled with all the same instructions, videos, links, tutorials, etc., another solid source for learning or brushing up on basic skills.
September is National Sewing Month; however, for me and thousands of others every day is a holiday when it comes to fabric and the art of sewing such beautiful prints into works of art.
There are those days when mistakes in sewing are costly, some embarrassing. To help you learn from other’s mistakes, I have posted below the rules of sewing I have personally learned through experience. Beginners, it’s a good idea to print and post these where you can easily see them as a daily reminder.
Do This . . . So You Won't Do This. . .
Sew only when you are alert and feeling well. When you are overtired you will make mistakes . . .
. . . such as risking injury, cutting mistakes or forgetting a specific change you made to to any pattern.
Read your machine manual to learn how to clean, use and trouble shoot problems you may experience with your machine.
Don't risk spending several hundred dollars in repairs, cleaning or a new machine.
*image from http://bit.ly/Nw0Q3y
Keep your sewing area clean. . .
...if not, it may produce a large medical bill for a needle or pin in the foot!
Change your needle after each project. P.S. Keep extras on hand!
It will save you skipped stitches, pulled fibers (runs) and from a broken needle that can damage the machine or harm you.
(Don't sew over pins!)
Measure twice, cut once.
Measure twice, cut once.
Lest you be more than embarrassed!
*image from http://bit.ly/Nw16zn
Use a Seam Ripper.
Never use knives, scissors or blades. See the cut in fabric where it SHOULD NOT be?
Iron over buttons, zippers or embellishments with an ironing cloth.
You really don't want to end up replacing your iron!
*image from http://bit.ly/NvYMs7
Use ample lighting. If you can, sew by a window. If at night, get a good lamp.
Hard to see isn't it?
Shop for a solid machine with cast iron and solid parts.
The new ones with bells and whistles are nice, but I have found you get what you pay for.
These are only a few of the most important rules I have learned in my 40 years of sewing. A few more are:
What other rules have you found that are important to pass along to others? I invite you to share your rules of sewing with us! Until next week, I wish you all much success and inspiration,Sher
I've been reading a few blogs, browsing and viewing craft sites, filling a few orders and deep in thought while doing what I love to do. I am always on the lookout for inspirational ideas to apply to sewing or hand crafts and new ways of construction. The amount of online tutorials and websites providing instruction can be overwhelming so what does a person do who wants to learn just the basics?
Lately, my thoughts while I work on projects or read have been focused on a comment I read about sewing; how the true art of sewing and handmade items is becoming a lost skill. At first I thought why would that be? Doesn't everyone know how to sew? Ummm, no. While browsing the craft and DIY websites the one term I consistently note with concern is "No Sew" followed by the name of the item. A part of me understands why so many items are no sew and "quick" (another frustrating term) and I understand the concept behind online tutorials - it's all about saving time and money. Yet, there is a part of my brain that is bothered by the question, "What happened to quality and time lasting treasure?" Have the skills of basic sewing or needlework not been passed down? This is simultaneously bothersome and comforting as the realization comes to mind, I'm an Old Dog but I'm still useful (and I have learned a few new tricks).
I'm an Old Dog but I'm still useful!
The Value of 1:1
You can learn how to make over a lamp shade or revitalize a favorite pair of shoes, etc., on numerous websites, but what about learning the basics? I don't think recovering a lamp shade or your couch will turn out well if you don't know how to read a tape measure. I've also struggled with the idea of how a person can watch a video tutorial online while trying to sew a seam, insert a zipper or finish a seam. Unless you know the very basics of sewing and hand crafting (how to read a pattern and basic construction of what goes where) you will be wasting your time and money and the item will be out in the trash (headed to overfilled dumps). It's like building a dog house; would you dare try if you didn't know how to measure and cut wood or drive a nail?
Knowing the beginning basics of any sewing project or DIY project will save you hours of frustration and your hard earned dollars, and you will have an item you truly can use or gift. If you throw away what you make, there was no point in the first place of making it yourself! Of course, there are those fabulous online tutorials, but what about learning these skills from (loosely speaking) an Old Dog?
My daughter proudly showing her pillow she made for her son!
| |Places to Learn
While there are some great places to start online for learning the basics, I am a strong supporter of 1:1 learning. A few good ideas of places to look for learning the basics are:
- Mom, Uncles, Aunts, Grandma
- Extension Offices
- Local Fabric Stores
I'll be tech savvy here and post a few online resources I feel are quite helpful for those just learning or need to brush up on a few skills.
Sewing.Org offers excellent step by step guidelines.
The Craft/Yarn Council provides good instruction on taking basic measurements (works for fabric as well).
The English Ruler is more difficult to read than a Metric. Here you will find the mystery decoded:
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Learn the basics of measurement and how things are constructed for a successful project.
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Speaking from experience, it's a thrill to hear the words, "Will you teach me?". A strong sense of pride and love filled me when my daughter asked me to teach her to sew recently. The 1:1 time we spent together teaching her the basics of beginning sewing will always be cherished for the conversation and the bonding, and her son loves his new nap pillow she made for her first project! Just as heartwarming was my oldest Grandson asking me to teach him how to sew. We started with basic stitches making a very cool bookmark for his favorite books. That was a stellar week for me!
I'd like to read your responses....leave me a comment on these questions:
If you are an Old Dog, what's the best new trick you have learned?
What have you asked an older or more experienced friend or relative to teach you?
What skills have you passed onto another?
I stand by there is nothing more valuable to we Old Dogs than asking us. Go ahead; ask us. We like to show off our new tricks!