Tester Spotlight Interview

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What prompted your interest in sewing? I always had an interest in sewing since I was little, but what rekindled it was having my girls.

Who taught you how to sew? My mother taught me how to sew the basics when I was 8, then self-taught the rest of the years.

Why do you choose to test sewing patterns? It’s fun socially and to help the designers get that perfect fit that they are looking for.

What kind of sewing machine do you use?  Did you purchase it, or was it handed down to you by a family member? I own a shark euro pro, I actually bought it for my sister, but then she later gave it to me because I was using it a lot.

Do other members of your family sew?  My mother and grandmother sew, and also my in-laws sew. Calling on everyone if I have any questions is fun.

Tell us about you: I am a cosmetologist by trade and living the country life. Now a stay at home mom to my two little girls. Love my new job!! I just love to do anything that I can create with my hands.

What special sewing skill do you have and how did you discover it? I don’t know if I have a special skill yet.

What is your favorite kind of things to sew? I love making dresses. It’s my goal this year to make more dresses, too.

What other hobbies do you enjoy? I refinish furniture, cook, paint, and do photography. I think I enjoy almost everything.

What other hobbies would you like to learn? I’m still learning photography, and probably actually building furniture (I have tons of ideas in my head.)

*Rachel is a top-notch sewing pattern tester. We are thrilled to have her in our circle of testers!  Thank you Rachel, for sharing your love of sewing and your talent with us.

 

 

 

BSD Maggie Sew-A-Long Post #4

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Welcome to BSD Maggie Sew-A-Long Post #4 – Side Seams and Neckband

We’ve gotten a little sidelined here in Oregon due to weather and sickness, so our sew-a-long is way behind schedule.  I am going to wrap up the instruction posts this week and I will post the link up at the end of the week.  Following the link up, I will also publish the posts talking about the wonderful fabric companies I was able to work with for this sew-a-long.

Today we are going to talk about the side seams and neckband.

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BSD Maggie Sew-A-Long Post #3

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Welcome to BSD Maggie Sew-A-Long Post #3 – Serger vs. Sewing Machine, How to Shorten/Lengthen your pattern, Cutting, and Shoulder Seam and Sleeve Insertion

Today, I am going to show you two different sewing methods that will work equally well on the Maggie Top, Tunic, & Dress, and we are going to get started sewing!

I had originally planned on breaking this down into three separate posts, but I want to get back on track, and they’re not very long topics, so I am combining them.

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Bella Sunshine Designs Maggie Sew-A-Long!

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Welcome to the Bella Sunshine Designs Maggie Top, Tunic, and Dress Sew-A-Long! I have to apologize we are getting started a little late. My daughter had a basketball injury and we spent the day yesterday at the doctor’s office getting a cast and healing instructions. Because of this, I am adjusting our schedule a little bit. The entire schedule is listed below.

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A Tale of a Fabric Nightmare

houseScary movies–bring it.  Stephen King novels–yes! Haunted house tours–I live in Louisiana near The Myrtles Plantation and not too far from New Orleans’ infamous spooky graveyards–absolutely!  Mess with my fabric, and I wither like a dead spider.

Over the summer, a traumatic thing happened.  Our beloved Hancock Fabrics stores closed.  If you live in the U.S., you felt the burn, too. I was devastated.  I had been shopping there since moving to Baton Rouge in 1987.  With three locations conveniently located, I was in fabric central.  High quality, easy access, great prices.  And then, boom! Within three months, fabric doom.

So what to do?  JoAnn’s.  Hobby Lobby. Quilt Shops (although scarce and far, far away). Okay.  I am not a fabric snob.  I like nice quality, pretty fabric at a good price. But I also like selection.  And quantity.  And again, GOOD PRICING.  But most importantly, GOOD QUALITY.

So I did the unthinkable.  I ordered from Spoonflower.com for a special diaper bag project for a sweet couple for their second son to be born in December.  Because I work well under pressure, I waited until the last minute.  And I did the unspeakable.  At $17.50 per yard, I placed my order with shaking hands.  After a few weeks, I received my order.

I was happily awaiting a beautiful, high quality fabric to sew up a great project.  What I received was a cheap set of bedsheets I could have purchased at Dollar General for around $4 for the bulk. Sheer, pathetic, cheap, $2 per yard-looking fabric.  So I quickly did the Facebook PM “hey, I hate my fabric, I wanna a refund….”  Here’s the response I received:

I did some research on this company.  All good ratings.  Hmmmm.  I dug deeper.   Deeper.  Ah, yes. Not so good.  Apparently, lots of not so good.  This company does not stand by its product.  Okay, so they print the fabric after your order it?  I did not see that coming.   And, yes, I am not the only one taken in by this ratty company.

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My happiness right now?  Measure it with two boxes of balled up tissue in the corner of my bedroom and a $60 entry in my checkbook, which I can now count as waste.  Happiness?  Shut up.

So, here’s my suggestion:  just don’t.  Don’t do it.  If you have access to a great fabric store, go to the store.  I hope that Spoonflower.com sees this because I did let them know I would be advertising my experience for them to help them make their customer service better, and their products better (matching their pricing with their product line), and I try to keep my promise.  But mostly, if I’m going to be taken in, I won’t allow others to be taken in after me.  I’ll go down with the boat, but I will throw you the paddle.  So my sewing friends, save yourself.

Happy fabric shopping.

 

 

Sewing with Leather

 

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Leather is one of those fabrics that is admired and equally feared by many people who sew.   The following are tips from Stacy Campbell, Pattern Tester Group Member/Master Leather Sewist, who frequently sews with leather.  Stacy’s superpower?   Check out her sewing work!

Leather Selection
Different animals produce different kinds of leather products. Tandy Leather has a detailed explanation of weights and terminology. Here are some basics that I have learned.

Also check out this leather buying guide by Tandy Leather  https://www.tandyleather.com/en/leather-buying-guide.html

Lambskin
Lambskin is the softest and thinnest leather available in commercial outlets. It is a common leather product and is generally dyed in various colors. It may also contain embossing (a pattern stamped into the leather). The hides are generally small. Lambskin is popular for making apparel due to its soft and pliable nature.   It is also easier to sew with it due to the thin nature of the skin.

Pigskin
Pigskin is soft, relatively thin, and is usually a little larger than lambskin. Larger projects, such as purses, can be sewn from one hide. These skins are also dyed in many different colors and can be embossed.

Deerskin
Deerskin is very soft and large. These tend to be expensive due to the size of the skin, however, deerskin is very durable. These are generally found in more natural colors, such as brown and black.

Cowhide
Cowhide is probably the thickest and most durable type of hide available on the market. It is available in varying thicknesses (from those that can be sewn on a home sewing machine to those that require an industrial sewing machine).   Because of the thickness of cowhide, it is the most difficult to sew. The more processed the skin, the softer and easier the skin is to sew, however, processing does not reduce the thickness of the skin.

Sewing Leather by Machine
If using a standard home machine sewing, you should not encounter any problems sewing the thinner leathers (Lambskin, Pigskin and some Deer hides). If your machine experiences difficulty sewing denim, it will likely experience the same difficulty sewing these types of leathers.

A few things to make sewing with leather easier is a high quality Teflon foot made for your machine, and high quality leather sewing machine needles. If you would prefer not to invest in additional feet, add a layer of tissue paper between the leather and the sewing machine foot. After completing the seam, carefully tear it off the paper.

A walking foot is also recommended in place of your regular sewing machine foot.

Suede may more easily glide under the pressure foot, however, it can be a sticky fabric, and more difficult to work with because of that character.

You may also need to decrease the presser foot pressure. See your Sewing Machine Operator manual for how to do that.

Under normal circumstances, use normal weight thread when sewing with leather. For “heavy traffic” areas, it is best to use upholstery thread. Upholstery thread is much thicker and may require tension adjustment.

Use a longer stitch length (the longer, the better). This reduces the number of holes punched in the leather, thus reducing the likelihood of tearing the leather fabric.

TIPS & TRICKS—SEWING WITH LEATHER

  • You can iron leather—NO STEAM (water can cause permanent stains)
  • When ironing leather, use a press cloth so the iron will not stick to the leather
  • Use a hammer or mallet to pound down seams, creating a flatter seam (this makes it easier to get your work under your pressure foot)
  • Do not use pins. Use Clover Clips or paper clips to hold in place. The pins will puncture holes in the leather.
  • Use glue or Wondertape to stabilize or bind your work before stitching
  • Leather stretches. This is something to keep in mind for bag handles. You can use interfacing (including iron-on interfacing) to keep them from stretching out too much. Twill tape or ribbon sandwiched between layers to keep things in place is also helpful.
  • Leather can be washed, but some types of leather hides respond better than others to washing. Using a color catcher in the wash the first few times will ensure the dye does not “bleed” onto other garments. The leather will lose some of its softness when washed.
  • Dry clean jackets, skirts and bags, although leather accents such as leather patches or can be washed in cold water and hang to dry.
  • Lighter colored leathers are predisposed to staining. To prevent staining, seal your fabric.
  • Never wear a new pair of blue jeans with your natural colored leather handbag!
  • Unless you are interested in tooling leather, stay away from the vegetable tanned leather hides. These are usually heavier in weight to account for the tooling/stamping that happens with these unfinished hides. They are fairly hard and not recommended for garments. They can work for handbags, but will likely require hand stitching. (Tooling leather is a different type of craft that requires special tools and equipment.)
  • If you are using rivets or studs for the leather, be aware that they come in different thicknesses. Thin leathers require rivets and studs with shorter shafts (or rods).
  • Thick leather sometimes requires hand stitching. Industrial sewing machines designed specifically for sewing leather are very expensive, so unless you plan to sew lots of leather projects, have the extra room and are willing to make a substantial financial investment, a sewing needle and thimble (which is a must) will be sufficient. Use a high quality hand sewing needle specifically designed for sewing leather, linen waxed thread, and a leather hole punch for making the job easier.

Article written by Stacy Campbell
Edited by Angie Hebert

Please visit Stacy’s blog @ http://www.stylinstacy.com.
Stacy has been sewing for over 30 years and is a master of leather sewing.
Stacy’s work is amazing! (She did a pattern test for me in leather!)
Photo and sewing credit, and article content credit: Stacy Campbell

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Our Lovely Stacy: Member, Writer, Photographer, Leather Master

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Stacy, wearing that gorgeous smile and leather belt!