My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

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

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


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.


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.


…. 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.


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.)


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.


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


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!?




I promise I ironed it after this.

Pretty spiffy eh!


Happy Trails – sewing on the go September 23, 2013



Since I’m sitting here bored, without any of my belongings, I figured I should probably do a quick “tutorial” on sewing while traveling. 




Because if I had taken my own advice, I’d at least have a bit of sewing with me – or even my machine and I wouldn’t be watching a Star Trek marathon (the original to Voyager)…. again.  


Ok, I probably would be, but with my sewing machine wirrrrring next to my laptop as it played.



First – is it actually possible to take your sewing with you?


Of course!  For just hand sewing, there are so many different types of sewing baskets available, you could be stylish AND have something to do.

You could have vintage to traditional to just your style.








hello kitty


Even a tackle box would work if you’re not picky about what it looks like.


Make sure you’ve got everything you think you might need.  But usually you can find it in a smaller scale.  You probably won’t be cutting out any dresses on your hotel room floor, so large scissors probably won’t be necessary.  Do remember your thimble for hand sewing.  Unless you enjoy pain, or have no feeling left in your fingertips, you’ll want something for those hand needles.





This is probably a bit more then you’ll actually need – but you get the idea.


For those of us who like to bring their sewing machine with them, for say… classes, moves, long vacations, a craft night at your friend’s house or sewing with the other parents for a school function – what ever your reason, there is a way to safely and conveniently move your sewing machine AND your serger if you have one.

Several companies make varying styles of bags, roller bags, totes and luggage to carry your not-so-little precious all over and back.  As always, it comes down to price and style.

Whether your going for the quick and easy Joann’s at 50% off or the “matchy-matchy” whole darn set.  There is a right one for you.

One of my personal favorites, due to the functionality and color choices is Tutto.  How can you go wrong with that many color choices after all!


Now that we have most of our tools and gadgets with us, let’s answer our second question.


Why would we want to sew while we’re traveling?


If sewing is only for when you absolutely have to – then you don’t really need much of these.  A mini-kit in your luggage will suffice for emergencies.  

If sewing is a passion, then a small sewing basket and your latest work to practice a little hand sewing, will do great.  After all, once you’ve seen one corn field on your move…. you’ve seen them all.  

If sewing is a little more of an addiction than say, crack – than you’ll want the luggage.  And as the ReFashionista shows us, there’s always time to whip-up a dress!


And for those of you, who are seriously, seriously addicted, there are, in fact, sewing, knitting and crocheting cruises and vacation destinations.  


Happy Trails!





Talent, gift, desire, whatever…. March 25, 2013

Filed under: Random thoughts,Sewing — blankenmom @ 3:28 pm
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This video has been passed around FB for a while now, but I just love it.  I always wanted to be able to play music, or sing.  I was actually in band and choir growing up; not sure why as my musical abilities are as severely lacking as the math talent it’s supposed to assist with?  And as I popped out little boys – it only got worse.


It doesn’t stop me from appreciating the music however.


That makes me think of my talent, or gift, or whatever you want to call it.  Sewing definitely creates something and is even an art, but it’s not as if sewing brings dramatic feelings to a person.  We don’t see a person crying tears of joy over newly hemmed pants (well, I’ve seen some pretty weepy brides over their gowns?) or people standing in ovation at the pure amazement of a new scarf.  So what does a person do when their talent isn’t life changing or ovation worthy?


If you think about it, the car mechanic doesn’t get much glory, or the plumber.  Mothers, teachers or road workers.  But that’s their calling, gift, desire or talent.  And without them we wouldn’t be able to appreciate musicians, actors, artists or the various other creative outlets that bring everyone else so much passion and joy.


So, as someone who “just” sews, the appreciation for our talent comes from knowing that the person out front sharing their gift, has all their dangly bits covered so we can all better enjoy their talent.








1/4″ at a time March 23, 2013

Filed under: Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 9:11 pm
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Not so much a sewing lesson I guess, but sometimes getting to know a new tool that can save you time – thus money is nice too.






This little tool is called a 1/4″ hem roller (you can actually buy them in different sizes I believe, but not by much).  You would use this for napkins, sheer fabric hems, some curtains.  Places you’d see both sides of the fabric so you want as little hem showing as possible or as light weight as possible.


You can do these hems by hand, but trust me, as someone who has done this by hand on yards-and-yards of a hem – get the foot!


You need to start out by doing a quick, very close to the edge straight stitch.  This keeps the fabric from stretching as you sew with the roller foot and give the fabric something to roll around so to speak.  You’ll want to leave the thread tails for something to hold onto to pull the fabric through in the beginning since it won’t want to feed by itself.  It’s also useful at the end so you can keep the fabric feeding through the foot and won’t pop out.






Attach your nifty little foot, set the needle to just barely catch the fabric curl (it’s about a 3 on my machine) and feed the long threads you left through first.  If you just set it under there, it sort of self feeds itself into the foot.  Do make sure that the thread from the needle and bobbin are fed through the bar AFTER the curl or the fabric won’t go anywhere.  You’ll have a lot of thread coming out the back of the foot – it’s ok, you’ll cut it off when you’re done.  Set the foot down right before the fabric and start the fabric through.  You’ll want to start slightly before the fabric, but not much.  Pulling gently letting the fabric curl through the foot.





You can see it curling itself here.

It works best for me to pull (very gently) with my left hand and guide with my right for this.  You’ll want to play around to find the “sweet spot” for guiding the fabric in that get’s the best roll.  It’s usually slightly to the left for me.  If it’s a long enough piece of fabric you can just hold your hand in one spot letting the fabric slide through.


This is what will come out of the other side.


Sorry for the bad photo.  Odd angle.

It ends up being very neat and clean if you do it right.  You may end up with a few spots where it didn’t tuck the fabric all the way up and you’re left with a slight raw edge.  You can go back through with small scissors and cut those spots off – being careful NOT to clip the folded edge of the sewn fabric.

This does take practice, but’s well worth the time and it’s well worth the $20 for the foot!