Monday, November 28, 2011

The Giving Season

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the Earth since September.  Sorry I have been so late blogging, but I've been busy--which is the whole reason for this site anyway!  I've made a 1 1/2 skirts, working on a pattern of my own for a handbag (more to come later) and more recently giving holiday napkins for the Thanksgiving/Christmas season.  I gave out several napkins on Thanksgiving so the recipients could enjoy using them the whole season.  And I made some for my own family--so I've sewn about 40 napkins or more.

Below is a picture I took from scraps of the fabrics I used for the napkins, as well as some of the threads I used.

These are very easy gifts to create if you have a serger.  I made all of my napkins on my serger using a rolled edge and wave stitch which is available on the Baby Lock sergers (see exhibit B).  The wave stitch is like an accident, but made to work for the sewer.  And it looks pretty cool.  Your creative juices can soar by using a variety of threads for the loopers.  I used metallic threads mostly to give that holiday flair, as well as some polyester threads that have that sheen to them which adds a more dramatic effect to everything.  I'll give you a list of some of the threads I used in case you want to look for them where you live.

Most of the napkins I made are cut from raw (unwashed) holiday fabric in a 14 x 14 size for smaller napkins.  With a serger, you don't have to worry about the raw edges since those get cut off and bound with thread as its fed through the machine.  You can position your fabric so that only a sliver of fabric is cut.  So your finished size, of course will be a little smaller all around.  And, I didn't turn the fabric at the end of the fabric edge--each edge is run straight through.

Below is a pic of a set of gift napkins I gave to my husband's out-of-town friend whom we haven't seen since 1996.  He was having a house-warming party--so I decided to make these along with a bottle of wine.  He and my husband were in culinary school together so I felt it very apropos.

You can see the metallic purple thread I used above in the upper looper.  The wave stitch is a combination of 3 threads--1 needle (position right), upper and lower loopers are used.  The threads are threaded differently than normal into your serger so it provides the differing tension it needs.  Below are examples of wave stitches I used.  The gold fabric was sewn using one regular serger thread (Robison-Anton) in green; 1 gold metallic thread (upper looper) and one green metallic thread (lower looper).

And the green fabric has gold metallic threads that run through it.  This wave stitch example shows me using a Christmas Sulky Blendable thread from their newest collection.  It's a spool of 3 colors-variegated.  This was used in the upper looper with a gold metallic in the lower looper.  Regular green serger thread was used in the right needle.  You can see the combination of these threads more clearly when the threads come off the fabric at the end.

The threads I used are the following:

Floriani polyester (also known as FuFu polyester), YLI brand Supertwist metallic threads in purple, green and red, Razzle Dazzle in silver (this is a thicker thread and a little harder to get it going when actually sewing.  All of the regular serger threads are the Robison-Anton brand.  It's a longer staple cotton so it sheds less lint than many other serger threads.  Sergers, in general leave a lot of lint behind so clean yours on a regular basis by vacuuming it out after your projects.  I'll be taking mine in for its annual maintenance so I'll let them clean it for me.

Happy Holidays to everyone and remember "Jesus is the reason for the season." ><>

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Messenger Bag: Completed

I have finished working on the messenger bag, much to my daughter's delight!  I was pleased with it when I was done.  Here is a picture (modeled by my daughter):

*Check out the review and other pictures on my list of projects--in the right column on the home page.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dedicated to Mama

I finished my mother's present for her birthday--it was actually for Mother's Day, her birthday, and her retirement which is this month--so excited for her!!!  Below, you see pics I took of the tote bag I embroidered for her.  I did not make the tote--only embroidered the designs which were bought online at Embroidery Library.  She really liked it which made me happy. 

I have learned a bit more about stabilizers and their must use in embroidery sew-outs.  There are so many different stabilizers for various applications, such as what to use with t-shirt knits, or heirloom wovens, etc.  The stabilizer I used for the project I have mention here are from Floriani.  If you visit their site at you will see links to learning about the stabilizer products and when to use what kind which is pretty important.  The two products I used with this project was the tear away and the cut away.  I think using the cut away is easier and holds the stitches for stable for the design.  If you use the tear away, you may need to float an extra piece of it under the hoop for extra stability.  See the Floriani site for more info.

**Also: Use appropriate embroidery needles, change your bobbin case if you have one especially for embroidery work (this will suit the tension needed for embroidery work), lower the feed dogs on your sewing machine and use an appropriate bobbin (pre-wound) for your project.  And ALWAYS do test-outs before embroidering your special something.

I wanted to embroider a tote, which I have had for a while--along with all my other embroidery blanks that I bought a while back.  Thank goodness I still have them.  But, I had the tote in mind so she could use it in her retirement days to take her great grandchildren to the library for story time and check out a few books herself.  She has wanted to get back to reading (and cooking) like she used to do.

The other side is where I embroidered the middle as you see below.  I then embroidered the names of all the girls in her family--my sister and I, my niece, my daughter, and my two grand nieces, if that's what you call them.  They are my niece's daughters.  The butterfly was an iron crystal design I decided to add at the last minute.  I found it at Jo-Ann's.

So, this post is dedicated to my awesome mother who just turned 70.  She has worked very hard at the place she is retiring from for 20 years and deserves much needed rest and relaxationYour family loves you!!!

*Please Note:  In no way do I have any affiliation with the products or businesses that I mention in my blog in regard to any compensation in any way, shape, or form.  I mention the products/businesses based on the positive results I have had with them and want to pass it along to maybe help others, as I have been helped.  Pass it forward........<><

Monday, August 22, 2011

Messenger Bag-A Work in Progress

The project that I started before the embroidery project (see below post) is a messenger bag for my daughter for school.  She has waited patiently for me to finish her cousin's present before going back to hers.  We settled upon a pattern I found in the book, Sew What! Bags after looking at many in books and patterns I had in my stash.  The pattern is called City Satchel.

It looks to be a fairly straight-forward pattern.  I had cut out all the pattern pieces before having to move to the embroidery project.  And I was in the middle of adding more interfacing to the pieces to stiffen it up a bit.  I don't want it to sag when she wears it.  Below is a pic of the fabrics my daughter selected.

We have three fabrics:  the plaid is the flap you see on the front and for pockets under the flap, the paw print is for the back and the fabric you see peeking through from the front of the bag, and lastly, the pink is for the lining--an added option for the pattern.  There are no pattern pieces in the book--you have to make them yourself from measurements the author gives you. 

My daughter also wants me to embroider a tiger face on the paw print fabric on the back of the bag.  I think that will look cool!  So, I am back to the bag project to add more interfacing and start the construction of it.  Wish me luck---photos to follow when completed!

Busy, Busy, Busy

I'm happy to admit that I have been a busy sewing bee with a couple of new projects I have going one---one just ended.  I'll save the second project for the next post entry.  First, let me tell you about an embroidery project I did for my niece's 7th birthday which was last Saturday.  I had bought one of those totes you can get as a blank to from Hobby Lobby a long time ago.  So, I thought I would conquer the embroidery for her--all of which would also test my ability to do it all by myself with no help, whatsoever!  I was excited, but really nervous.

My daughter and I did some verbal research to find out what her favorite color was so I could incorporate that into the designs.  I have to admit, whether good or bad, that I have collected and not used (yet!) hundreds of embroidery designs that I bought shortly after buying my Baby Lock embroidery sewing machine.  That was 2 years ago!  I had never used any of them.  Isn't that awful!

So, after searching through several binders of designs I made way back when, I decided upon a unicorn on the large side without a pocket, her initials in variegated thread on the other flip side, and then a butterfly and floral design for the small vertical sides.  That's 4 designs I hunted out, tested out and then executed.  Now I know for sure why my Baby Lock dealer said you can never have too many needles!

Also, part of the project was learning the embroidery software I bought in pieces (yes, pieces) starting in December of 2009.  It is called Embird.  It's an awesome product that costs much less than many other software programs out there.  And when I say I bought it in pieces--that's exactly how it is sold.  You buy only the parts you want.  The basic program is more expensive, obviously, and comes with Font Engine which allows you to use their fonts in your designs.  The other 'pieces or parts' of Embird are the Iconizer, Studio, Digitizer and Sfumato.  I bought a couple of tutorials for the program by independent users which I broke out for this project.  Embird is easy to use and can do anything other programs can do.  Check it out for yourself at

So, below are my test outs.  I used different colors than you see for the unicorn to make it look lighter in color.  Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of the finished project---thinking I would do that at my niece's birthday party.  But, I got distracted, and so, alas, no pictures.

As you can see from my crowded bulletin board above my sewing machine-are the designs I tested in purples, blues and a little pink.  I had been working on these designs off and on for about 1 1/2 weeks.  I also added hot fix crystals to the unicorn's horn, the curly q's on the initials, as well as on the butterfly and the floral design.

If you don't know much about machine embroidery and are interested in learning--make sure you find out about the correct stabilizers to use for the design (I floated an extra piece of stabilizer under the unicorn, especially since it had over 20,000 stitches), appropriate thread to use and how to hoop your designs (or not hoop which is an option too).

Needless to say, I am thrilled about getting going on my next embroidery project for my mother's birthday, but shhhhhh...don't tell her!

Monday, July 25, 2011

'After' Photos of the Singer 115

So, I know it's about time I showed you some 'after' pics of my vintage Singer 115 treadle sewing machine.  The one thing that pics don't show is the belt.  I forgot to put it back on before I took these.  I hope you enjoy looking at them, as much as I enjoyed working on it.

I ordered some small parts after I refinished everything, such as new felt pieces for the thread spools.  I also had to order a replacement for the bobbin winder tire ring.  And to further outfit it, I bought some new class 15 bobbins and a repositional adhesive needle throat plate marker.  All of these I bought from Sew-Classic online at really good prices.  You should check them out for any vintage sewing machine parts you may need. 

*Note:  I don't work or have any professional affiliation with the sites I mention on my blog.  I just like to acknowledge places where I enjoy doing business or who have provided me with valuable knowledge and want to share it with others......pass the knowledge.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Visit Your Local Dealer

I have been working on restoring my 'new' treadle sewing machine (see posts below).  So, that's why I haven't posted lately.  But, I do promise to show you some 'after' pics real soon.  Today's post is to hopefully help you get in the sewing mood.  One stop for motivation that I can speak to is visiting your local sewing machine dealer for ideas and motivation to sew.  I visit my local Baby Lock dealer at Zede's Sewing Studio for monthly club meetings where we are told about new classes coming up, new products and then a show-and-tell from club members showing their latest wares.  This is the part I get the most motivation from--seeing what other people have made.  It makes me want to get back in the sewing room and whip something up (not that I could do it too quickly, if you know what I mean!). 

If you don't have a local dealer you 'deal' with, then look in your phone book and call up some places to find out if they have some sort of monthly meeting of some kind to showcase their products, classes they may provide and some nifty new notions you didn't know about about!  What is one thing that movtivates you to sew?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Process of Working on the Cabinet

During the interim of working on the actual machine--I have also been working on the cabinet.  It appears to have some kind of varnish/lacquer finish over the original wood finish.  It is much darker than the orginal--which you can see when you open the cabinet.  I would like to take the darker finish off, but am worried about somehow messing it up altogether.  Below are some pics to show you the difference in the finishes, including the last picture of the varnish on the side of a drawer.  These pictures are AFTER using Murphy's Oil Soap and Old English Scratch Remover for dark woods.  I have two more finish steps to go.  I am hoping that when I use the Howard's Restore-A-Finish with steel wool that it might break up some of the old finish.  I'm just not sure what it will do.

The photo below is after opening the top.  You can see the difference in finishes.

I would appreciate any ideas for comments about whether to pursue stripping the outside of it or leaving well enough alone.  I am not sure what to do.  What would you do about it?

I want to take the time to thank the members of the web site I recently found called Treadle On.  This web site provides information, pictures, advice on vintage treadle Singer sewing machines for owners and collectors, as well as other vintage treadle machines.  The members have a lot of wisdom about these beautiful machines/cabinets and are happy to share it with you.  All of the cleaning and restoration information I am using to bring life back to my 115 is from this site, founded by 'Captain Dick'.  Visit their web site at

Also available are a couple of vintage Singer sewing machine groups at Yahoo Groups.  One group, in particular has extensive information on various models of Singers, as well as files, links, and photos to help with identification, manuals, parts, and so forth.

It's Not What I Thought It Was!: The Singer 115 Revealed

It turns out that the vintage Singer I own is actually a 115; not a 15-88.  It was made on December 8, 1915 in Elizabeth, NJ.  My grandmother was born in 1908--so I'm thinking it belonged to her mother first.  The machine was in good shape to begin with, but obviously is needing a little help.

I have been working on cleaning the old grime off of it and polishing up parts over several days now.  It definitely takes some patience and time to get this done.  I'm am almost finished with the cleaning of the machine. 

I also have to add here that using dental tools was so helpful in cleaning those fine grooves, such as in the plate you see below.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Making Room for a New Addition......And It's Not a New Baby!

Wow!  I was SO excited to find out this past weekend that the sewing cabinet that my sister has been storing for me in her garage--the cabinet that belonged to my grandmother--has the actual sewing machine inside of it!  I had no idea all this time that the machine was in it.  Below is a picture of it (not super clear since it was taken on my cell phone).  I'll take better pictures when I get it to my house.  I didn't have room in my house to put the sewing cabinet in it, but never forgot about it.  Now, I am going to have to move things around/get rid of a few things to accomodate this wonderful find.

The sewing machine is a Singer 15-88/15-89.  Not quite sure of the exact model # and don't know the serial number yet.  It has the original owner's manual, all the parts that go to it, plus thread in the front drawer, along with other stuff my grandmother had.  It even has thread still in the needle!

The belt will probably have to be replaced at some point, but still works.  My brother-in-law was able to turn the wheel and move the needle up and down.  I just couldn't believe my eyes and kept saying, "oh my gosh!"  The cabinet and machine need work, obviously after all this time.  I am going to restore the original finish rather than stripping it.  I can hardly wait to get it over here!

I'll show my restoration process via photos on my blog of restoring the machine and the cabinet.  So, I guess you could say it IS my new 'baby'!  If you have any suggestions or tips on handling a find like this, please contact me.  Also, if anyone owns or has any information about this particular vintage Singer, I would love to know about it--do you like, does it sew well and anything else you might want to share.    ><> Leslie

Friday, June 3, 2011

An Idea for Pattern Organization--To Follow You Everywhere!

I created a way to keep a visual record of all my patterns by taking a digital pic of each one (front of envelope and back of envelope) and then putting them into folders in my 'Pictures' folder by the pattern manufacturer.  Then, after taking the pictures, I would sync the folder with my iPod Touch so I could take my inventory anywhere, such as to the local Jo-Ann store.  I have so many patterns that I forget which ones I have and don't want to buy duplicates.  It was time consuming to create it--and it's on-going for future patterns I purchase, but was well worth the time spent.

Finishing Pajama Shorts

Hey Everyone,

I am hoping to complete the pajama shorts project I was doing for my daughter very soon.  I have 3 more (out of 6) to finish, as well as a pair for me.  Then, on to something new--like a top for me...........or maybe I should finish the shirt pattern I cut out for my dear daughter a few months ago.