Tips,Tricks and Inspiration for Creative Success
Blog by Sher
I've been asked numerous times do I give sewing lessons? Yes, I have and I will. What I enjoy most is to share my best tips with those who are at the beginning to intermediate level in sewing and needle work.
Let's jump right in with sewing tips.
When first shopping for sewing notions or needlework supplies, the temptation to buy it all can be hard to suppress. There's only a few notions or supplies that are truly needed to get you going with ease. Save the extra gadgets for the future when you are comfortable with your machine, notions and skills.
1. Keep your sewing area to the back and left of the machine clear and free of obstructions to allow the garment or item evenly feed through the machine.
2. Learn to work with the basic machine feet that were provided with the machine.
3. Look for patterns that are "Easy" or, "Quick". etc. These are made for beginners in sewing.
4. Read all instructions printed on the envelope and pattern guide.
5. Cut all pattern pieces apart and press before beginning to pin. Put away those pieces you won't be using.
6. Keep your machine free of lint and dust; oil regularly as directed by the manual.
7. Use the internet to show you any "how-to's" you may need.
8. Whether cutting a pattern out or sewing at your machine, take breaks! Give your shoulders, neck and back frequent stretching.
As with sewing notions, needle work (crochet, knitting, embroidery, needlepoint) can suck up the budget quickly. Start with the simple basics, as simple as the pattern you are working. You can save money buy purchasing an entire range of crochet hooks or knitting needles - buying one at a time can be pricey.
Speaking of pricey - personally I haven't found a need after all these years of needle work to buy or use lighted crochet hooks. Ergonomic hooks are a bit more expensive but worth the money if you plan on doing needlework frequently. Wood hooks and needles or bamboo are quite comfortable and smooth to use. Many lines of needles and hooks are priced and made for novelty but in the end it's the consumer's choice. Look for what's comfortable to use and does not pick or snag yarns.
1. Posture is important when working with any form of needlework. Protect your neck and shoulders by sitting up straight, elbows bent and work raised to about chest height.
2. There are several types of heads on a crochet hook. Try several out until you find what works best for you.
3. Always make a gauge swatch before proceeding with your pattern.
4. Tape the edges of your canvas before working your needlepoint.
5. Work with inexpensive yarns and threads while you learn.
6. Choose patterns marked "Beginner" when first learning.
7. Learn basic stitches before working patterns. Making squares and rounds are a good way to practice stitches.
8. Keep a lotion bar or bottle of lotion handy as your hands will dry out significantly while stitching.
There are more tips and guides to be found on the site, or browse the internet when you are needing a quick answer to your questions. I am always available to answer any of your sewing, crochet or needlework questions - knitting is a little rusty :)
With these tips, your new notions or project supplies, I wish you success and inspiration, today and always!
There comes a time when even the prettiest of fabrics or yarns are saved too many times and a small bag of scraps turns into several full of yarn boxes or baskets. Use some of these ideas for fun and quick stash buster projects while on vacation, or traveling to your vacation destiny (Authors are credited where names could be found).
No matter how much or little yarn you have, if there are more than a few left, you have a stash. There are dozens of projects out there on the Internet, but I picked out a few that I believe are the most useful. Like this phone wedge (pictured). It's crocheted (designed by Sher of Day Dreams) and comes in any color or combination of colors you desire. It's awesome as a stash buster and makes a super gift!
This sunny Kitchen Duo by Lori Zeller is a must for happy households. No need to worry about the right colors - have you seen the real colors of Gerbera Daisies? Color your world!! Make up several sets for weddings, showers, grads, new Dads or winter holidays.
Shower scrubbies are always a pleasurable gift to give yourself or someone else. Give a whole set with this Spa Set - Back Scrubber, Body Scrubber, Soap Holder, Wash Mit, Wash Cloth.
And finally, there's no reason to not make a few stress balls! The pattern by Abigail Gonzalez works up quickly and she gives great suggestions for uses.
That's a wrap on this post. Remember, you are always invited to share your finds, ideas, tips and tricks with us in the comments below. Until next time, I wish you success and inspiration, today an always!
There is a trend to pair the bobbin thread with it's mate on the spool or cone. It's not an issue until the pairing is done with rubber bands. The outcome on this is weakened areas where the rubber band is/was or broken thread while sewing or in the seam of the garment.
The effect is much the same as placing a needle in the thread to hold the needle....something that should not be developed as habit.
In the end, always best to do it right the first time. Short cuts are best left to clipping curves and corners.
Whichever method you use and choose to call it, remember I wish you success and inspiration in all you do, today and always!
There are a few old sewing kits around that have the little black and white, two hole button included. You know the one, it had thread, needle, and two small buttons to replace on your shirt. Have you ever wondered how the maker of the emergency sewing kit knew what buttons to include? Why does your Tailor seem to always have the right size and match for the button you lost? It seems there are standards (regulars) in the button world, but no hard rules to use them. Well, then how do you know what to choose?
The first thing you probably want to think about is what do you have in mind for buttons? Will this idea work for the garment or item? Ask yourself if you need sturdy, thick buttons - or will light and small suffice? Do you want decorative or plain? Big or small? Functional or faux? Have you ever stood in front of the buttons rack and stared for minutes, taking them all in view at once? It can be mesmerizing and overwhelming.
I've done a bit of searching on the question, "How many types of buttons" exist, and not one strong answer was found; some people answered four; most say thousands! I'm pretty certain my own button box has thousands (Above: just one small bag of my "gem" buttons.). I don't know how many types there are, but if I have to name a few:
Shank, Toggles, Flat, Frogs, Poppers (Snaps). Some flat buttons have ridges, some are beveled - so that's not really flat, right?
Let's toss another twist in the answer; styles of buttons. Oh, there are so many styles! Gems, pearl, covered, branded, plastic, glass, wood, shell, metal, and cloth. Some have two holes, some four with no absolute rule to be followed (Thank goodness! I can't imagine having to remember which button goes with what!)
So, you can see there are some decisions to be made before you make your final choice. There are times when a random button may do in a pinch (when mending in emergency)., but you will ultimately change the button to the original set or create an entire new look with the change of buttons.
What ever you choose, I wish your decision to be made with success and inspiration, today and always!
If you know Day Dreams Sewing and the owner, me, then you are quite familiar with my view on giving to others. Giving to others never goes out of style and it never gets "old" to me. Looking at communities, groups, organizations, etc. that need help is a good way to spend a few minutes break time. Please read on about a few of the groups who need seamstresses and crafters of all types to help prepare their items for giving hope and help to people in need.
Don't just Give. GIVE!
Who Are They?
Who are the groups that are looking for creative helpers? Where do I find them? How do I reach them? These may be a few of the questions asked when the decision has been made to give back - or create for free.
Where to look? Search online for interest groups using key words that you associate with (i.e., crochet for charity, sew for charity, etc.) You don't need to be involved in a local group - creative giving of any form can be as individual as you!
Places to Create For
Start Your Own
It's a good feeling of satisfaction, or encouragement when there is a big smile on the face of someone you just helped. In my work, there are situations that I won't charge the customer, or give a substantial discount just because it's the right thing to do. There are a few organizations in the area that I give my services to when I can. Fixing a zipper, mending or patching clothes for them is not a huge effort on my part, but it's surely appreciated by the recipients!
Do a quick search online for sewing for charity. I bet you will find plenty of sites to choose from! You can always check in with your local hospital or clinics, Lions Club, Rotary Club and others and ask if there are items that are needed for their donations that you can sew, crochet, knit or lend other talents. Make sure you are not duplicating another group's efforts. It makes more sense to give in other projects or join the same one, rather than trying to compete.
My favorite idea is a fashion show fundraiser. Think of all the wonderful outfits that can be sewn and auctioned off for a charity of your choice! Or, rather than sew from scratch, what about a fashion show revolving around repurposed garments? Let the imagination flow!
I think you get the point by now. Giving back is always in fashion and it can be focused around fashion. With that, I will close and wish you success and inspiration, today and always in all you do!
Too many times I hear, 'I have a sewing machine but don't use it. I did once and it got all (insert tech verb here), so I haven't used it since." Yikes! Don't give up after the first few tries - I'm getting ahead of myself. Patience - that's a practice I need to work on when I'm not sewing!
First practice (or best practice) of sewing: Patience. I bet you guessed that. Sewing can't be rushed. Sewing should be approached with patience or you will spend hours seam ripping, threading and re-threading the machine, fixing bobbin jams and replacing machine needles.
Break your project into achievable time blocks.
Second practice: Confidence. Knowing your machine and tools for sewing is a solid confidence builder. When I purchase a new machine I read the manuals, and then read while looking over and learning about the machine. As for patterns, do I read the entire layout pages, terms, and review the pattern? I do review the pattern to make sure all the pieces are there, review the steps (sometimes they through a curve ball in the instructions!) and read all the pattern pieces. Approach your project with confidence that you know your machine and raise your confidence level with sewing by knowing what to expect from the pattern.
Knowledge is Power. True; however, let's not take that statement to mean you need power as seamstress (unless you plan on developing a fantastic identity and costume to be an Avenger!). Take in the form of your skill set for sewing. What can you do confidently? What do you need to practice. with? Do you know your machine and can you confidently run a straight or zig-zag stitch? Can you set the tension properly or stitch length/width?
Techniques and steps to follow are as important as the traits above. Below are a few examples.
Physical Care is an excellent practice to keep up with. Sewing places a large amount of strain on your neck, shoulders, back, hands and knees. Taking stretch breaks is good for you physically and mentally. Stretch your back, shoulders, knees, etc. Walk away from your sewing area when you need to stretch. You won't be sitting at the machine for an hour sewing; however, 15 minutes of sitting in the position to sew at a machine can be toll heavy. A few tips:
Keep It Clean. Your sewing area should be kept clean. Pick up pins and needles as you drop or find them. Pick up dropped threads (they clog a vacuum brush), pieces of fabric and other items. Don't keep food anywhere near your sewing project - this goes for drinks as well. If you do have a drink, keep it away in an area that will prevent spoiling the garment.
Keep your machine and tools clean! They are investments to protect the same way you would protect and care for a vehicle or other valuables.
That sums up some of the best practices for beginning sewing that I recommend. What practices would you add? Share your thoughts in the comments - I'd like to hear from you.
With that, I wish you success and inspiration in your new sewing adventures, today and always!
I remember a time when a person could shop several fabric stores in an afternoon - brick and mortar stores. Now it's an afternoon, late evening or early morning browsing through the pages of online stores.
I found that living in a rural city can limit my shopping choices of many items, such as fabric. I know of two stores in our town that sell fabric, both having limited selections, so I taught myself to shop fabrics online. I've been purchasing fabrics online now for a little over ten years and want to share with my readers what I consider are the most important tips to buying fabric online.
There are a few favorite "go to" online stores I shop first before digging into the pages of more obscure sites (I am not compensated in any form for sharing these sites). What makes them my favorites? Prices, quality of goods, user friendly sites, and accurate images/descriptions of the fabric I need. Let's move forward with seven tips to buying fabric online.
1. Keep a swatch book. If you are a frequent flyer of online fabric stores, keeping a swatch book is a terrific idea. A swatch book will provide you with a tangible sample of fabrics to choose from while shopping. I've been building my book for about 5 years, making careful choices of what I include. Many online shops sell swatches for under $3.00, or you can cut a swatch from fabric you have already purchased. Most swatches come with all the info you need attached, so I try to apply this practice to swatches cut from fabric already on hand.
3. Follow pattern suggested fabrics. The pattern designer knows what fabrics will and will not work with the garment being made. If you are working with home decor, use keywords in your search such as "upholstery fabric" or "curtain fabric". If you are putting several patterns together, make careful decisions on the type of fabric you want to purchase.
4. Read product specs. There is a wealth of information to be gained from the specs. The fabric content, width, whether it's reorderable, cleaning instructions and more. Many times the specs will state what the fabric is best used for.
5. Keep a sample window open. It's usually a good idea to keep a sample of the color, dress or pattern you are working from open on your desktop. Working with a split screen is helpful while shopping online. Read how to work in split screen (Windows).
6. Know the shipping time. Assuming you are making a garment for yourself, once you have the pattern selected you'll want to purchase your fabric. Some companies are slower than others in shipping, and keep in mind where the fabric is shipping from. Shipping from overseas takes more time than shipping from Indiana. Knowing the shipping time is key to the planning of your garment.
7. Use the glossary of terms. An especially helpful part of shopping online is a glossary. For example there are numerous varieties of knits - which one to buy? Look for the glossary provided by the site or if one is not available use the glossary found on Day Dreams Tips & Tricks page.
What tips can you share with readers about buying fabric online? I invite you to share below in the comments. Until next time, I wish you success and inspiration, today and always!
Which is Better?
Many people ask me the question, "Which is cheaper? Custom Sewing or Factory Made clothing?" My answer is usually the same - it depends on what you want. The latest styles found in department stores and boutiques can be sewn (most times) or come close to it. However, is off the rack the quality you want or will custom sewn be more to your liking?
When making the choice or decision to have the garment sewn or buy it off the rack, there are a few factors to consider.
What is the total cost of the notions and fabrics to make the garment? What is the cost of the factory made garment?
Will making the garment cost you time, or do you have the time to create it? If you are making the garment, are you able to make enough profit for your time?
If you purchase the garment, will you need to pay for major or minor alterations?
Is the fabric you will use of high quality - as nice as the fabric from the off the rack garment? Perhaps the off the rack garment is made from lesser quality fabric?
There is also the consideration of the construction. Will the garment you make wear long or will the factory made garment last longer. This in an important question to consider if the garment will be worn only once versus one that will be worn for a lifetime.
Sometimes people will fall head over heels for a garment and believe it has to be possible to make it (DIY). While you may be able to find the fabric(s) and notions at your favorite fabric shop, you could be disappointed in the outcome.
Other factors of practicality are size. Sometimes it's impossible to find the size you need in factory bought clothing, and having it altered to fit is an option.
Be aware of whether or not the garment's construction can be altered. Most garments can be altered, however, there are some that are impossible, leaving you with an item to sell or give away.
Can you take on the project of custom sewing with the skill it will take? Is the garment complicated, perhaps using tasks above your skill level? If you aren't confident in your skills, don't take on the project.
If you are sewing for yourself, it may be worth the time and money to make your garment if your size or fit are difficult to find in stores. Lingerie (underwear and bras) are a category of clothing you will do well to consider learning to make your own. The fit is better and you can make the colors you desire.
It seems the question is still not answered. That's only because it's all dependent on the answers to questions like those above. Ultimately, it's a personal choice. Alterations can always be performed whether the garment is custom made or store bought, so that's not genuinely a factor.
Can you think of other factors that would sway a person between custom sewn or factory bought? I'd love to read your comments on the topic - just fill in below.
What ever you decide the answer is to custom sewn or factory made, keep in mind I wish you success and inspiration in all you do, today and always!
There are times when my sewing machine seems like it's not sewing well. I check everything I can think of and it hits me - check the needle.
Did you know the needle can be so specific to the fabric and thread you are sewing that it needs to be the right one for the task? Not just close, but the right one.
Sometimes we get in a rush to mend or "put in a quick stitch" that we think it doesn't matter what needle is there and, well...you know the rest of the story. That quick stitch turns into a mess and time wasted. Stay with me and I'll help you sort out the confusion about sewing machine needles.
Tips to Remember
The packages pretty much give you the clue as to the type of fabric and thread you will use the needle for. Some companies stamp the size and type on the needle, such as color coding. . So what is the meaning of the numbers? What more do we know beyond a size?
Rule of thumb; The lighter the fabric, the lower the size of needle. Most packages print both US and EU sizes, reading as 16/100 and 11/75.. Remember to select thread that is the right weight for the fabric and needle size. A few examples are:
Very Fine Fabric = Polyester or Extra Fine Cotton
Light Fabric = Fine mercerized cotton, Cotton/Polyester, Silk
Medium Fabric - All Purpose Cotton or Polyester
Heavy Fabric - Heavy Duty All Purpose Cotton, Polyester or Silk ,
Have I lost you? In case I have, take a look at the line below.
11/75 ---> Light Weight Fabrics -----> Mercerized Cotton, Silk or Polyester Thread
I hope this short post has cleared up at least a bit of confusion when it comes to selecting the right needle for the job. Just remember: the lighter the fabric, the lower the number. With that, I will leave you to your happy place in all the glorious fabric you have!
Remember, I wish you success and inspiration, today and always!
Exactly. Not the business; Day Dreams is doing great and it feels just as great to know I'm providing a valued skill and service to my home town and surrounding communities.
In the past 5 years of business, I have had some orders that were an immediate, "no", a few that were, "you're kidding, right?", others that I thought, "I'll give it a shot." and yet more that left me wondering, "What did I get myself into?". One of those, OMG moments as you look down at the project and not sure what to do or where to start.
Let's have a little fun and re-visit some of the projects that gave me those OMG moments.
This is an image of a coat that was brought to me for repair. There was metal burned into the fabric, melted nylon and more. With a little imagination and skilled sewing, I managed to make the coat wearable again.
A customer ordered the Double Wedding Ring Quilt on the left. It turned out gorgeous, though it was a tremendous amount of work. I found a pattern in crochet for the same quilt and, you guessed it. I made that too. A living room full of stacks of arcs and yarn, and one year later I had a bedspread.
So, I made the decision to try Etsy for awhile. Personally, running an Etsy store takes more work and time than what I put into for running my tailor/seamstress shop. On top of the work put into an Etsy shop, there is the risk of having your items deleted because someone thinks they look too much like their items, or too much like the original merchant product. I left Etsy with the knowledge that apparently, every item made or manufactured is an "original idea" Ummmm, really?
It speaks for itself. Scary. Glad it was in a duck blind and daylight.
Yes, you are seeing right. Truly an OMG project. These sleeves came to me just as you see them. Stitched on the outside to raise them. I made an entire guide from this repair and alteration about how not to raise sleeves. I still shudder seeing this picture of all the horrific errors on this suit coat. I saved it and made a young man quite happy!
I'm sure my OMG moment projects are not finished yet, as I plan on another 5 or 10 years before I pack up my sewing machines. Be sure to check out the portfolio page for a view of many projects, as well as Day Dreams Sewing on Facebook.
What are some of your projects that caused you to wonder what you got into? Share with us in the comments section below. Until we chat again, I wish you success and inspiration, today and always.