Monday, August 19, 2013

Old dogs can learn new tricks and tools of my trade

I make a lot of tote bags to keep and to sell, but I never mastered the bottom of the bag corners.

For a quick tute - Sew4Home How to Box Corners.

I did not use the cut out instructions; rather, I used the basic instructions. I didn't want to try this on a big bag that I might mess up, so I did it with a mini-bag. I had some 6" squares of M&M fabric and some M&M ribbon. Here's the end result:

I think it turned out pretty good. And guess what? I'm no longer scared to make boxed corners. I can do it!

As I was ironing the seams open on another project this morning, I started thinking about what I use when I sew that I consider required tools. I started a mental list:

  1. Seam ripper. I know, that sounds like an odd must have, but it gives me the confidence that if I 'mess something up,' I can take it apart and start again.  It's my mistake fixer. I have a few around the house in all the areas where I sew. I happen to use the Clover flat seam ripper. 
  2. Good sewing needles. I buy Sullivan's for hand sewing and Schmetz for my machine. Without a sharp, proper sized needle, for hand or machine sewing, it's difficult to make a good seam. I use my sewing machine and hand sew about equal amounts of time. It took years to settle on Sullivan's, but I have never regretted it. Great needles have made all the difference for me. 
  3. My Bernina 1130 and my 3-thread Bernina serger. I purchased the 1130 about 28 years ago. I love it. I take it in religiously to have it serviced and cleaned. My guy at Nancy's Calico Patch in Newport News, VA keeps it running like a top. He's tried to interest me in newer models, but I'm still that old dog and I won't change if I don't have to. I use the serger for finishing seams and that's about it. I'm fine with that too. I know there are fancy sergers that will do just about anything. Mine was free with the purchase of the 1130. I don't have an embroidery machine. All embroidery I do is by hand.
  4. Quality thread. Guttermann makes about the best thread for my purposes, in my opinion, but I do use Coats and Clarke too. It is so annoying when a thread breaks while I'm hand sewing. That's a function of either the needle, cheap thread, or both. I'm a stickler for making sure I have the same thread in the bobbin that I have in the needle when I machine sew; I've had too many bad experiences with mix-and-match experiments. My new thing is variegated thread. I have embroidered in the past with variegated threads and I'm glad it's available for sewing now. 
  5. Amazing scissors and pinking shears. Find a brand you like and keep them sharpened. I have two pair of "don't you dare cut paper with these" scissors. They fit my hand well and cut like a dream, but only when I keep them sharpened. Again, my guy at Nancy's keeps them in good shape for me. 
  6. Ironing board and iron. I keep the board set up. A friend came by once and said, astonished, "you iron?" I press fabric, seams, fusible webbing, fusible interfacing, transfers, and who knows what else. Yep, I iron. A lot. As I sew, so shall I iron.
  7. Marking pencils and pens. Love them. Can't find the perfect one, but before my rotary cutter was ever used, I was marking and cutting with scissors. 
  8. Rotary cutter. I was late to the rotary cutter game, but I use mine often. I have two. The hard part is finding 65 mm blades. (My cutting mats tie with the cutter. I have a rotating one, a large one, and a couple small ones.)
  9. Rulers! I have a 4" wide, a 2" wide, two wedge shapes, a 4" square, and several others. I still have the first see through ruler I bought back in the stone age. 
  10. Fabric glue, fray stopping agent, bias tapes, pins (they must be long and with a beaded head for me), magnetic pin cushion, tomato pin cushion, clear plastic containers for fabric and notions, and bookshelves - these all tie. They're all super necessary for me. I have to stay organized or I lose track of what's what. The containers are clear so I can tell what I have!
  11. Oh, and let's not forget fabric. I have years' worth of fabric squirreled away. I could use more! You can never have enough. I have Sponge Bob, firetruck, Halloween, Strawberry Shortcake (both vintage and new), Christmas, Hanukkah, rainbow, fruit, Peter Max, and oodles of other theme or print fabrics. Don't forget my box of receiving blankets that I use for the center layer of placemats and my heat resistant batting for potholders. Oh yeah, I have a lot.
  12. Plans. I have thousands and thousands of projects in my head ready to come out at any time. Potholders, tote bags, placemats, kids' clothes, clothes for me, quilts, and gosh knows what else. 
  13. My dog. She's great at feedback, listening, hanging around, being supportive, and in general, giving me dog looks that reassure me that maybe I'm not a crazy fabric lady after all.
Okay, there are probably a thousand more things, but that's the start of my list. What's yours?