My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Rounding the corners and creating more space July 30, 2015

Filed under: lessons,Made by me,Sewing — blankenmom @ 1:45 am
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Have you ever looked at a pattern that has curved edges and wondered how exactly you were supposed to do that?  Ten burnt fingers later, after trying to lay the edges down to press it and finally giving in, and ending up with a shirt with wonky edges.   (Wonky is technical word you know.)

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This lesson, I will show you how to round your corners, whether it’s on a collar, a hem, or something in between, without losing your mind, or spending hours burning yourself.  I’ll also show you a quick and easy way to give yourself a bit more space between your shoulders if you’re like me and have “swimmers shoulders”, but no chest.  Meaning, you’re back is bigger than your front.

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Let’s start off with the room in back –

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I tend to pop stitches under my arms and on the back arm seams when I move because of this, even in ready to wear clothes.  But I also have plenty of room in the chest of the same exact shirts.  Sure I could redo the whole back, which would mean adjusting the collar too, but if I just want a quick, easy shirt, why?  Plus, it adds a little style.  Like you were all technical and fancy!

This is not the only way, but it is a very easy way.  Just make sure it doesn’t affect the look of the fabric or style of outfit.  Casual shirts, nice blouses, some dress bodices work well with this, and you can always modify it for your own tastes and affects.  (Click on photo’s to enlarge.)

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shirt 13

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When you put the pattern edge to the fold, creating the center back, place the bottom in the correct spot.  No extra fabric, just as the pattern calls for.

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shirt 14

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At the top, give yourself some extra space, I used and 1″ (one inch – more or less, depending on how much more room you need).  Just keep in mind that if you keep the line on the pattern 1″ from the fold, it creates 2″, an inch on both sides.

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shirt 12

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Now you’ll stay stitch the top.  (Stitching the unfinished edges, usually of the neck and shoulders, so the fabric doesn’t shift when you start putting the pieces together.  You will not be sewing together two pieces of fabric, just running the fabric through the machine to make it behave.)  To create this particular fold, I butted the two edges of where the fabric *should* have been cut, up to the center fold and stitched it down and pressed.  By doing this, the top of your shirt will still match the collar.

You could make the fold on the outside, by putting the folds the other way.  You could also place a small tack stitch (a stitch to make things stay put – look at the bottom of a ready to wear zipper) farther down the back, creating a more “bubbled” look.  I have a few vintage patterns that do this.  I wanted something very casual.

By doing it this way, and not adjusting anything else, it created only a slightly bigger back.  Even though I didn’t make any other adjustments, the waste still fit me correctly.

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Now let’s start with those curves –

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shirt 10

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Place your curve, here we have a ruffle edge, under the presser foot close to the edge.  You’re going to sew it as you would a ruffle, gathering as you go.  Put your stitch setting on a long stitch.  I had mine at 5, which is the smallest gathering stitch.  If you have an older machine, this may actually be your largest.

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shirt 8

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Tie off one end so it doesn’t slip as you pull the thread on the other end.

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shirt 6

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When you pull the threads, it’ll look like a big ol’ mess.  It’s ok.  Keep gently pulling until it starts to lay itself on the inside, towards the center.  Press.

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shirt 5

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That big mess, now looks all purdy and lays flat.  Make sure to use steam if possible, to make it easier.

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Now turn over and press again.  If you used a regular sewing machine, you may need to cut some of the fabric away from the edge, so you don’t have a lot of fabric inside the corner, or fold over again, to make the edge look clean.  If you’ve serged, this won’t be necessary.

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shirt 4

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See how nice that looks!

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And repeat at hems.

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shirt 3

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This is a bit more subtle since the corners aren’t as sharp.  And it will be necessary in some places, but not in others since parts of the shirts hem may not have a curve.  You don’t need to run the gathering stitch across the whole hem, only at the curves.  And, there is no exact spot.  It’s ok to eye ball this.  Pull.  Hem stitch and Press.

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shirt 2

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Now show off your curves!

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shirt 1

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Sew seamless June 23, 2014

Filed under: Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 1:31 am
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I wanted to demonstrate how you can make a seamless elastic top seam like you would buy in the store.

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You could just sew straight through the elastic on this top, but it would make a very noticeable line across the top.  Which, unless you are adding it on purpose with a design in mind, wouldn’t look very good for this particular look.

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We want a clean line that doesn’t look like anything is really holding it up so that the pleates can fall freely.

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I’ll start by saying, all I did to measure this was wrap it around me.  I will also make sure to mention (if you didn’t read the other post on this dress) to make sure to measure it around your largest body part.  Once done, sew up the side seam or seams to make a long tube.

When selecting an elastic for this dress, I wanted something larger so it wouldn’t roll or fold.  I wanted it to act as a foundation and as a sort of facing.  It also had to be able to hold up a large amount of heavy fabric.  I believe this was 2″ elastic.

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Sewing the end of the top to the end of the elastic.  (Ok, you could really do this with the machine, but I was watching the World Cup, but you get the idea.)

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What it should look like when you’re done joining the two.

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Flip the elastic over, only showing the fabric.  Here is where you would normally sew it down, creating a seam line.  Instead, tack the elastic down at the side seams and any other inconspicuous places, making sure to add a mark for front and back if necessary.  (Some tops or dresses this isn’t necessary as it’s obvious, but this type of dress, it’s a bit harder to tell.)

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That should be all you need to keep the elastic in place and from flipping every time you try to dress.

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A very nice clean look!

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Bob Ross moment

Filed under: Church,Made by me,Places,Sewing — blankenmom @ 12:57 am
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… “You made a mistake?  Turn that mistake into a happy little bird.  That’s it.  A happy little bird.”

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If you’ve never seen Bob Ross’ show, you have no idea what I’m talking about and now officially think I’m nuts.  Go google him.  He was awesome.  He was also excellent at putting my first-born down for a nap with his quiet tone and calm.  I’m sure the hair helped somehow too.

But beyond that, he teaches a great lesson.  If you make a mistake, you can always turn it into something good!  I got a “two-fer” on this post.  The dress I just finished (and LOVE) was designed around a mistake I made.  And some people I have met at church have shown me that even when we make a mistake, God can use it to make something great!

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Let’s start off with my spiffy new dress shall we!

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Amazingly comfortable btw!!

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So you’re asking… “What was the mistake; it looks fine?”

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That nifty little pleat in the front and back weren’t at first supposed to be there.  It was supposed to be one piece of fabric, wrapped around.  That’s great when you wrap the fabric around your pathetic little chest to fit it and forget that you have an ever-growing posterior.

So what fit up-top, didn’t so much around the middle and ended up looking more like a stylin’ hospital gown with cheeks flapping in the wind.

So a back was also cut out and I figured I’d just gather.  So boring!  When I wrapped the dress around “Betty” for the night, I just really liked the way it looked.  So clean and simple.  And if I really wanted to add more, I could always add a pin or a belt.

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When I first realized what I had done, short-changing my backside, I thought I had ruined a yard or so of fabric.  But when I sat and thought it out, it turned out perfectly!

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Now, on to the people I met at church.

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On my day to volunteer, I had asked the woman who oversee’s our area if she knew of anyone that would be able to help us out with “that house”.  You know, a little business advice.  I obviously suck at this and needed some serious guidance.  She thought for a bit and said “Yes!  Can you come by next week to meet them?”  I of course said yes excitedly and even offered to volunteer again since I was there.

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After service, she brought them over and I explained the situation.  They talked with me a bit and I became sort of disappointed that they didn’t have much in the way of business advice as they don’t have rentals.  However (and that’s a GIANT however) what I got instead was not only much better, but what God knew I needed instead.  The encouragement, advice, scriptures, prayers and reassurance that God can turn a mistake into something amazing was much more than I was expecting.

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The place we live in now is called Selah, meaning to pause and reflect.  After meeting these people and a few others here, I really believe that we are here to pause and reflect.  Regather.  Recoup.  Learn and get ready for the next adventure God has in store.

Have you made a mistake?  Selah – Pause and reflect on God’s goodness.  The answer will come and His goodness will set things right.

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selah

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As for your sewing.

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Turn that mistake into a happy bird… that’s right… a happy bird.  Or in this case, a purdy little dress.  That’s right… a purdy little dress.

 

 

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Mistaken May 4, 2014

Filed under: Made by me,Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 12:17 am
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A while back I had promised to share a few of my sewing mistakes.  I went through my closet and found some of the items that I couldn’t quite bring myself to get rid of, but didn’t wear either because I *knew* what was wrong with them.

 

Some are obvious, some not so much.

 

It reminded me of a few items that I no longer have, mostly because they were *so* bad, I just couldn’t bare to look at them long enough to repair them.  *Lingerie that I overstuffed the chest in.  A nightgown that was poorly sewn and impossible to wear.  Tops that I didn’t pay attention to the grain on and they ended up longer on one side than the other and oh so many more…..

 

Why am I showing you these things?

 

When you watch sewing shows, read blogs or magazines, I want it to be understood that those people weren’t born with needle-in-hand.  They too had wonky seams, pockets that didn’t line up and crooked hems.  Granted some people are more talented at this craft than others, but by no means do they *never* have mistakes.  The exact opposite actually – the more creative the person and the better the designs, the more mistakes they most likely had beforehand!  You have to make several mistakes before you get it just right.

 

Let’s get started shall we:

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This shirt, in itself, is not bad.  The sewing is actually done quite well.  The problem comes when I didn’t pay attention to body style.  This is ALL wrong for my body, hits me in all the wrong places and makes me look like a fat old woman.  Which will be fine when I am, but I still have a few years until then.  Maybe I’ll just hold on to it until I get there?

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This top was obviously meant to be worn over a tank top.  I actually made it to go over a mandarin top that turned out excellently!  This however is just sad.  Very sad.  The sleeve caps don’t match and the ribbon edging on the front is pathetic.  I will be fixing this one, once I figure out exactly what I want to do with it.

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Where to get started….. To begin with, yes the print is FAR to big for my small frame, but have you ever tried to look for small tropical prints?  Yeah, there aren’t a lot of them.  Especially in gauzy type fabric.  This little item was sort of slapped together in an attempt to look “casually put together” (read: slapped together).  It’s terrible!  I will be taking the strap off, that dorky under-bust seam will go, and turn it into a strapless maxi.  Because we all know how often I wear dresses?

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This dress I’m actually very proud of – other than the major mistake I made on it. Here’s the back-story:

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“I custom-made this costume about 10 years ago.  I draped the whole thing.  Sewed on all the beads, some you can’t even see here.  It took over 6 months.  I made the whole thing on “Betty”, who is covered in slightly “sticky” flannel.  What a surprise when I put it on my body and realized I had made the opening to the dress far too big for my smooth skin to keep up!  In an attempt to fix this, I made a “collar” of beads to hold the dress up.  Fast forward to the churches Fall Festival.  As I’m escorting my four small children around the church, some poor, random child walks up the back of my dress and proceeds to pop off all the beads on the “safety collar” – the only thing that stood between me and nekedness.  AWKWARD!

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I love this dress.  I WILL figure out a way to fix this.  Idea’s anyone?

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And finally:

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How could you not love this jacket with that lining?  Anyway, the problems include sleeves whose outside fabric is longer than the lining fabric, causing sad, sad ripples above the cuffs.  Pockets that aren’t attached very well, that you can see the lining from the outside of.  And while it fits quite nicely, it looks sloppy when buttoned because the jacket isn’t tacked or sewn down properly to the lining.  This one will also be fixed – I just like it too much to keep it in the closet any longer!

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While there were more, and will be more in my future, I proudly hold on to these few as proof that it can only get better!

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Now go out and make some mistakes!

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Because I felt like it March 28, 2014

Filed under: Boys,Made by me,Pets — blankenmom @ 10:49 pm
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I recently posted that I had made some felted baby rattles and a few people asked how I made them.  As I discovered when I went to make these, I found methods to make felted balls using the wet method, but no rattle and making felted rattles, using a felting tool – which I’ve used before, but have no patience for.  Granted you have more color control with the second method.  So if you feel like getting all wild and design-y, I suggest you go for the second method.  Also a good stress reliever I would imagine – STAB, STAB, STAB!

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I went for the quick and easy wet method using a cat toy inside.

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This is the style I prefer for baby rattles.  No obnoxious bell and if the baby does make it to the ball inside, no choking hazard.  Plus these tend to be a bit smaller, which I like for their little hands.

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The items you’ll need for this particular demonstration are cat toys, roving, the hottest water your hands can take with a few drops of dish soap.  That’s it.

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These are the cat toys I had on hand.  Ironically, my cat doesn’t play with toys – at 19, I’ll let her have this one since she doesn’t cost me any vet bills.

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I’m going to use these to juggle with, so I’m not too worried about the choking hazard.  As a felted cat toy, I wouldn’t be worried either.  Also, depending on the mom, you may not want to let them know you used a cat toy inside their baby’s toy.  Some mom’s are so no fun!

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This is the roving I happened to find today.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a place called “Craft Warehouse”, but I highly suggest it!  It was pretty amazing in there!  However, my last set I got the roving from online and I preferred their roving over this since the strands were longer.  Same amount, just longer strands.  (Better for this project.)  Plus they had a ton of coordinating colors to sample.  But this worked in a pinch.

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Start heating the water.  I set mine to “Low”, your’s could be “1”.  The lowest setting is probably all you’ll need, or can stand.  You can also use boiling water with cold water if you don’t want to stand over the stove the whole time, I just didn’t want to keep rewarming the water.  Make sure to add some dish soap.  I added about 6 “squirts” to this.  It WILL NOT work without the soap.  I forgot it the first ball and it was a sad, sad mess.

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While your water is heating, lay out your roving and decide what colors you want to do and if you want to mix colors.

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WRAP, Wrap, wrap.  Then dip and smoosh.  Roll and roll.  You want the roving to completely wrap around the cat toy.  I halved the roving, wrapping in one direction and then another, making sure none of the ball showed through from the edges.  Once it’s all tucked.  Dip away from the opening first and then the opening and proceed to smoosh it.  Make sure to keep your hand on the opening of the roving until it starts to mesh and hold itself.  Think – play-dough as you roll.  Dip and smoosh, dip and smoosh.  It will be very loose, sort of “goopy” and heavy until it starts to form.  Once the fibers start to wrap around each other you can begin rolling the ball.  You can roll it in your hands like play-dough and/or on a towel.  You’ll want to keep this up until it starts to shrink and there are no visible edges.

If you see die coming off in large amounts in the water, don’t give that one to the kid.  No mom wants to turn around to see her child turned royal purple from their rattle!

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You can see the still visible edge on the lower right side on this one – keep rolling!

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This is something good to do while you’re watching t.v.

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rollingrollingrollingrollingrollingrollingrollingrollingsmooshingrollingrollingrollingrolling

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Four toys took me about an hour.

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To make the different colors, just wrap another color around the first one before you dip.  I’m not digging my two-tone ones though?

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Don’t worry when you set it on the side to dry that the rattle doesn’t seem to be working.  Give it about an hour to dry and you’ll be able to hear it again.

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I am not a “crafter”, if it’s not easy, I’m not going to do it.  That’s how easy this is!  I’ll be making more of these for the pregnancy clinic.   Worst part – the prune hands.  I will warn you however, that if you have any young (or old) boys in the house, the um….  ball jokes will be endless.

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Muslin: One of Life’s Musts January 19, 2014

Filed under: Hubby,Random thoughts,Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 10:49 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

My dentist man came home from work Wednesday and informed me during our hurried “before co-ed soccer” dinner that the company party this Friday would be semi-formal.  My eyes bulging like a cartoon character must have let him know something was up, as his next response was, “What?”

 

In two days, we had to have something semi-formal to wear, along with school, car repairs and still making dinner.  Not an issue to a man who has business suites, military uniforms and frequently updated work clothes (we won’t go into the 20-year-old flannels).  It was a bit more of an issue for a stay-at-home mom who’s necessity for “fancy” clothes was extremely limited and consisted of shirts without stains and jeans without holes.  It’s just not something I think of?

 

Yes, I could have run to the store and bought something…. and then proceeded to alter and hem it.  $100 to do what I could have just done from the beginning?  I think not!  So, bright and early Thursday afternoon I went off to the fabric store.  I must admit the local place is *very* limited in their nicer fabrics, but I did find a brown silk that would do just perfectly.  And as an added bonus, it would be my first time wearing silk.

 

And this is where that clever title above comes in.  The importance of a muslin in life.  After going over my measurements once again and shedding a tear or two as I cranked “Betty” to my new correct size, I began to look over the pattern size I would be needing and realized I was two sizes larger on the bottom than the top.  Three actually, but the pattern didn’t go that small on top.  *sigh*  It’s a good thing I know how to decrease.

 

Before even attempting to cut into my on sale, “you bought 1/4 of a yard too little” and “you’ve got one shot at this because tomorrow is the party” fabric, I made the first muslin.  Sure enough, it was too small in the keester.  As in, stitches were popping and no amount of shaving my legs was going to help it ease up.  And the top was gaping open as if to say “Seriously – you really have that small of a chest?”  No worries, I proceeded to retrace the pattern in the adjusted size.

*SLIP*  It went over the bod like butter and not one thread of my fancy fabric was harmed.

 

While this may not be a tale of woe or a super huge lesson on life itself.  Had I jumped over this step to try to save time, I would have had to show up in my fanciest jeans and nicest t-shirt.  Oh how impressive.

 

Making a muslin = no skipping steps.  You can use it as a metaphor for life.

 You’re welcome!

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I looked smoken’ by-the-way!

 

Sticking to it November 22, 2013

Filed under: Boys,Family,Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 12:40 am
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This isn’t a lesson so much, more of a “Hey cool!  Look at what I sewed and you could too!”, type tutorial.

Those of you who either have family or are in a line of work that requires name tags may already be acquainted with this type of set up, but this was the first time I had ever seen it done and thought it was just too cool to pass up doing.

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My oldest and his friend work together in a camp kitchen and for his friends 18th birthday got him a cooks jacket to match his.  He asked me to make a name tag for him though.  But not just an ordinary name tag.  He wanted one that said his friends last name on one side for when the bosses were there, but on the opposite side had another name entirely.

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…. yes, you’re reading the bottom one correctly ….

At first I thought Velcro?  The small dot kind that you would use on purses?  I even bought them.  But the idea of how nifty it would be to have a name tag you could just “slap” on?!  The hunt began….

The normal type of name tag magnet wouldn’t work for this application however.  Because I needed to flip the tag, the polar’s wouldn’t work when we flipped it around.  But I am so keeping these in mind for future use!

So I turned to these little guys – plus, I didn’t have to wait for shipping.

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Extra strong “rare earth” magnets.  The small one went into the name tag.  The bigger one, on the back of the shirt.  Mind you, the smaller one is the size of an eraser head and the bigger one is smaller than a dime.  They are pretty heavy, but not so heavy as to shift the shirt, which was another concern with the larger magnet.

After finding the right kind of magnet to do the job, I made the name tag.  Embroidery machines rock!  I made two separate name tags and using clear thread, put them together.  I could have used hot glue, but I thought that might give it too much bulk.  However, if I were to do this over, I would use my embroidery machine for just the words and my serger for the outer lines.  But this still looks pretty good – just hard to match up edges.

Before putting them together, I made little pouches to put the smaller magnets in.  The reasoning behind pouches instead of hot gluing the magnets down was so that when you changed sides of the name tag, the magnets could flip to the correct polar’s.  If I were to glue them down, they would resist each other when turned to the other side and it would be pointless.  (There’s your science lesson for the day.)

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Small pouches, one on each side, both holding the smaller magnets sandwiched between name tags.

I hand stitched the inner edges and allowed the clear thread to catch the outer edge so that the pouch would stay put.  Then the two patches were sewn together.

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Now to sew in some tiny pouches to the inside of the jacket front.

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Also hand-stitched, two pockets, to the inside of the jacket.  Allowing the magnet inside to move freely.  (Yes, I forgot to take a pic of the inside of the jacket.)

One new fancy patch – that will “snap” right on to the shirt.  C’mon – how cool is that!?

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I promise I ironed it after this.

Pretty spiffy eh!