Thursday, October 31, 2013

Choosing Fabric for Doll Clothes

Just like clothing for little girls, fashion for 18-inch dolls has many unique elements. Dresses, shirts, pants, skirts, jackets, sleepwear and accessories are all essentials for a complete wardrobe, and choosing the right fabrics to make these small garments is important. 

Below, we'd like to share some handy fabric-selecting tips with you from two of doll expert Joan Hinds' popular books, All Dolled Up and Doll Fashion Studio:

Flowered Party Dress
Cotton - Many doll garments are made from cotton fabrics, and a lot of cotton prints today are designed to have several companion prints. These make bright, colorful clothes that girls love, like the "Flowered Party Dress" pictured here.

Embroidered Jeans
Denim - For fabrics other than cottons, the weight of the fabric is important. Making jeans for dolls - like the "Embroidered Jeans" - is much easier, and the fit is better, if the denim is lightweight. Another choice for jeans would be a chambray or lightweight twill. 

Knits - Knits are good to use for making doll T-shirts. Many people may hesitate to sew with knits, but they're not difficult to work within the T-shirts since the smaller pieces tend not to stretch as much as larger ones. Sewing with knits only requires a few minor changes:

• Make sure your sewing machine needle is appropriate for knits. 

• The seams in the knit garments are quite short, which helps eliminate stretching. Use a straight or zigzag stitch if using your sewing machine, or stitch the seams with a serger. 

• You may want to try a double needle for hems on shirts and leggings. 

Fleece Vest
Fleece - For fleece garments, stay away from very heavy fleece. If you can find a microfleece fabric, this works the best for doll garments. The fleece used on the "Fleece Vest," with good results, is medium weight. 

Classic Nightgown
Flannel - Flannel prints are good choices for sleepwear, as pictured on the "Classic Nightgown."

Rainy Day Fashion Raincoat
Laminated Cotton - Laminated cotton, which was used on the "Rainy Day Fashion Raincoat," is fabric with a protective finish applied to the surface. Follow these tips to make sewing on laminated cotton easier:

• Only put pins inside the seam allowance when cutting and sewing your fabric. Pins will leave a permanent mark on the fabric. Try using double-sided or cellophane tape to hold the fabrics together when cutting and sewing. 

• Do not press the fabric from the right side because the coating on the fabric will melt. Press only if needed on the wrong side or on the lining side.

• Use a sharp needle, size 12, with a 1/8-inch stitch length. If needed, try a Teflon-coated presser foot when topstitching to keep the foot from sticking.

Scale - Larger-scale prints can look great in doll clothing if they match a girl's outfit. Sometimes, prints have companion fabrics with both large- and small-scale motifs. If you're making matching outfits for a girl and doll, use the larger pattern for girls and the smaller one for dolls. 

Weight - The weight of the fabric will have a bearing on some of the techniques used. For example, some garments in All Dolled Up have a ruffle that is made by doubling the width of the fabric. It is folded in half with wrong sides together and stitched to the garment. The need for a hem is eliminated, and the ruffle has more body. If you're using a cotton fabric for a doll garment, a double fabric ruffle will be appropriate. If you're using a heavier flannel, the doll ruffles consist of only a single layer of fabric. You may need to adjust the pattern depending on your fabric choice. 

Sewing Secrets for Doll Clothing
For more doll sewing tips and tricks, check out Joan's new DVD, Sewing Secrets for Doll Clothing. On this DVD, Joan will show you measure your doll, create a paper towel pattern, match it to patterns in a pattern book and adjust if necessary. She'll also teach you all about tiny tools and notions, fabric tips, pressing tricks and much more!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Homemade Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List

Stitch Craft Create Gifts 2013
With the holidays around the corner, many of us are thinking about what kind of special gifts we can make for our friends and family members this year. Of course, garments, linens and home decor items are always popular and well-received, but there are lots of other creative gifts you can stitch up as well. Our sister magazine, Stitch Craft Create, recently released a special edition devoted entirely to the concept of homemade gift giving. Below, we've shared photos of some of the fabulous projects this issue includes, as well as a list of other small project ideas to jumpstart your planning.

Garter Mug Cozies (left) and Pretty Storage Pocket
Men's Custom Tie
Bath Time Buddies (left) and Modern Stars and Stripes & Square Jack Pillow
Girl's Weekend at the Lake Quilt (left) and Garden Baby Bib
Small project ideas:
• Set of table napkins: Use several fabrics from your stash that play well together. Cut, hem tie with a ribbon and you're done.

• Set of placemats: Same drill as with the napkins. You may want to line the mats to make them more substantial.

• Journal covers: Purchase journals and make fun covers for them.

• iPad/iPod/iPhone padded cases: Pad a case with washable batting and hand-stitch it sashiko-style.

• Pillows: Stamp, paint or stencil a design on canvas, then stitch the fabric into rounds, squares or bolsters.

• Throws: How about denim for the outer layer and a cozy lining of soft flannel?

• Basket: Make an outer cover and/or lining for a purchased basket. If you have time, sewing fabric strips together makes a unique quilted basket.

• Cuff/wristlets: Quick, but oh-so-fashionable. Denim scraps are great for a base.

• Canvas dog chew: Really simple! Cut and sew a bone shape, stuff and stitch. (A small, catnip-filled mouse is just right for a cat.)

• Pet collars: Only fabric scraps required. Embellish with ribbon and rickrack.

• Children's pajama bags: How about a cat's head with a flap in back to hang on the closet door?

• Child's superhero cape: Appliqué a super-sized first initial for the hero!

• Sleep masks: Fill with a restful herb mix.

• Sewing-machine cover: For your friend who hasn't discovered the dangers of dust.

• Chef's apron: Perfect for your grillster.

• Pot holders: Everyone needs more of these.

• Holiday ornaments: Stuff and stitch shapes, adding a ribbon to hang.

For more great gift ideas, be sure to check out Stitch Craft Create Gifts 2013. Inside are tutorials for 50+ homemade gifts. With projects involving sewing, paper, jewelry, yarn and more, this will be your go-to issue to inspire a perfect gift for everyone on your list. 

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

Monday, October 14, 2013

Create Stuffed Sewing Stash Pumpkins

Our finished pumpkins!
With Halloween and Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it's prime time to decorate your home with lots of fun seasonal décor. These whimsical stuffed pumpkins are impressive to look at, easy to assemble and the possibilities for embellishment are endless!

Created by our design manager Leighann Lott, these pumpkins first appeared in our September/October 2009 edition and can be used in your home year after year. Each sample pumpkin pictured here has been dressed in detail using wooden spools, ribbon, miniature buttons and floral wire, while the largest pumpkin is machine embroidered with a design from Mary's Graduation Dress Designs CD, available in our online store. 

When you're finished creating your pumpkins, set them on a table alone or group them together to create a stunning, sewing-inspired centerpiece for fall.

What you need:
• Fabric and ribbon scraps
• Needle and heavy-duty thread
• Polyester stuffing
• Wooden spools
• Permanent marker, paint or stain
• Silk or fabric leaves
• Floral wire
• Craft glue
• Tracing pen or pencil
• Buttons (optional)
• Rice or dried beans (optional)
• Embroidery thread (optional)

Cut - Trace a circle onto fabric and cut. Varying circle size will give you different sized finished pumpkins (photo 1).

Photo 1

Stitch - Fold fabric edge 1/4 inch and sew a running stitch using heavy-duty thread (just like a large yo-yo). Gently gather fabric as you stitch (photo 2). You will create a loose ball with a hole in the center.

Photo 2

Stuff - Fill pumpkin shell with polyester stuffing. TIP: Adding rice or beans first will add weight to the bottom. Pull thread and gather fabric until opening is approximate diameter of wooden spool. Tie off thread (photo 3).

Photo 3

Create Pumpkin Sections - Anchor thread or embroidery floss near opening and wrap thread around entire ball of fabric to opposite side of hole. Insert needle into fabric to anchor and pull thread slightly to form a groove in pumpkin. Take a couple of stitches to secure. Stitch through gathered edge to begin next section and repeat to form another groove. Repeat steps to form six or eight puffed sections. Tie off thread (photo 4).

Photo 4

Stem - Paint or stain wooden spool(s). Wrap spool using ribbon scraps and put a small amount of glue on end to secure. TIP: Glue buttons to spool top to decorate. Glue two spools together to make a longer stem if desired.

Ribbon Stem Cap - Cut a length of ribbon the same diameter as fabric circle used to make pumpkin body. Sew a running stitch along one long edge of ribbon. Gather gently as you stitch. When you reach opposite end of ribbon, pull thread to form a ruffled circle of ribbon that will fit closely around stem. Keeping center opening the  size needed to fit over spool, put right sides of ribbon ends together and continue running stitch along short edge to join ribbon ends together. Tie off thread (photo 5).

Photo 5
Assemble - Position stem cap over opening in pumpkin (photo 6). Insert stem through stem cap into opening. If opening is too large and loose, make a couple of stitches and pull to cinch in opening snuggly to stem.

Photo 6
Finishing Touches - Glue silk or fabric leaves in place around spool stem. Curl varying lengths of floral wire around pencil to resemble tendrils of a pumpkin (photo 7). Place in opening between leaves and spool stem (photo 8). If necessary, secure with glue.

Photo 7
Photo 8
More great ideas:
• Use unconventional colors like moss green, off-white and autumn colors.
• Add a bit of texture to enhance your pumpkin sections by adding embroidery to your fabric before cutting your circles.
• Hand embroider a Jack-o-lantern face on one side.
• Apply beads for a touch of sparkle.
• Add small buttons at the end of the tendril for a touch of whimsy.
• Add a ribbon loop to make Halloween tree ornaments or tack them to a door wreath.

For more sewing inspiration, check out our newest collection CDs: Sew Beautiful 2004 and Sew Beautiful 2005. Each collection includes six full electronic issues of Sew Beautiful, complete with printable patterns, tips, techniques, how-to articles and more.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall and Holiday Sewing Inspiration

October/November 2013
Fall is in the air, and the holiday season is right around the corner! Our newest issue of Sew Beautiful combines both fall and holiday sewing inspiration, so when you're working on fall projects you can be actively planning your special holiday garments, too. 

Projects include a lovely lace overlay skirt, an elegant three-dimensional appliquéd leaf table runner and a delightful "Happy Scarecrows" picture smocking design. We're also proud to share our contest winners from the 2012 Martha Pullen Sewing Awards and much, much more. Read below for more about a few of our favorite projects this issue has to offer:

Martha Pullen Sewing Award Winners - We received more than 150 entries for Martha's 2012 Sewing Awards, and a panel of judges from Martha Pullen Company and Sew Beautiful magazine individually assessed each one. Winners were chosen in seven different categories. Pictured above is the grand prize winner, a flower girl dress created by Martha Broyles of Ballwin, Mo. 

Lace Overlay Skirt - I (Amelia) based this design on a tweed skirt with an orange guipure lace overlay I saw in a booth at a sewing expo in Michigan. I started with a basic, straight pencil skirt pattern and used a wide butterscotch galloon and a coordinate suiting for the underskirt.

Happy Scarecrows: Jack and Jill Straw Smocking Plates - With crisp fall weather comes the autumn harvest and the delightful and ever-so-practical emergence of the scarecrow. Being one of the most familiar figures in the American rural landscape, this ragged character is a natural motif for back-to-school apparel. Let Gwen Milner's Jack and Jill Straw smocking design put a smile on the face of your little adventurer(s). Jack stands in a cornfield while Jill poses among the sunflowers.

Appliquéd Heirloom Christmas Tree - Christmas memories are like having treasured heirlooms in our hearts for a lifetime. Create a cherished memory for your little girl by making her a holiday jumper accented with this appliquéd tree. Designed by Trisha Smith, the tree is decorated with a tatted garland and then embellished with Swarovski Hot Fix Crystals.

Green & Gold Silk Elegance Smocking Design - Smocked in an elegant diamond and serpentine pattern in glorious gold and traditional shades of red, this smocking design from Cheryl R. Davidson captures the essence of the season brilliantly. Pair it with our "Pascale" Sew Beautiful Collection Pattern and luxurious green silk dupioni - as pictured here - and you'll have a dress made for holiday celebrations.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Make a Personalized Handkerchief Pillow

Handkerchief Monogram Pillow
This lovely monogrammed handkerchief pillow designed by Gail Settle is perfect for a quick all-occasion gift. The monogram adds a personal touch, but any design can be stitched in the center. If you would like to make a quick ring bearer's pillow, omit the monogram and stitch a 9-inch length of ribbon to the center for securing rings.

What you need:
• Two 12- x 12-inch hemstitched handkerchiefs
• Two 7-inch squares of white cotton fabric for pillow filler
• 2 yards of 1/8-inch silk satin ribbon 
• Fiberfill for pillow filler
• Floriani® Wet-n-Gone Tacky™
• Sulky® Solvy™ water-soluble stabilizer
• Regular construction thread
• Size 75 embroidery needle
• Water-soluble marking pen
• Size 18 tapestry needle for ribbon weaving
• Embroidery design of your choosing
• Rayon embroidery thread (white)

Embroidery Instructions:
NOTE: The rose border design pictured on our sample pillow is available to download on our website. Click the "Web Extras" tab, then "Free Machine Embroidery Designs." You'll find it on the bottom row of designs. Gail used a script font from her Pfaff 3-D software package for the lettering -- choose your favorite font to fit the center space. Gail created one combined design for a 5 x 7 hoop; if you use a 4 x 4 hoop, stitch the monogram in the center of the handkerchief before stitching your border design.

1. Print a template of your design, align and mark or crease fabric for placement on right side of one handkerchief.

2. Hoop a piece of Floriani® Wet-n-Gone Tacky™ and score center to remove paper from inside hoop area. Mark center lines on tacky stabilizer with marking pen. 

3. Place handkerchief on stabilizer aligning center lines. Place a sheet of Solvy™ on top. Attach hoop to machine and baste.

4. Stitch out embroidery and monogram in white thread.

5. Cut away excess stabilizer and soak to dissolve remaining stabilizer.

Pillow Instructions:
1. Cut 1/8-inch ribbon into four equal pieces. Thread one end of one piece through tapestry needle and weave through first row of hemstitching closest to embroidery. Leave 4-inch ribbon tails at each end. Repeat for two more sides, leaving one side open for inserting pillow filler (fig.1).

2. Straight stitch along edge of center square just next to ribbon and hemstitching on three sides woven with ribbon (fig. 2).

3. Make a pillow insert by stitching two 7-inch cotton squares with a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Leave a 3-inch opening on one side for turning and stuffing (fig. 3). Stuff with fiberfill and close opening by hand.

4. Insert pillow between handkerchief layers. Close final edge with ribbon through hemstitching and straight stitch along edge as before. 

5. Tie bows at each corner to finish.

Visit our online store to discover more embroidery and monogram projects!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sew an Extra Stable Lace Finish

Sometimes small, simple changes can yield big results in our sewing. Today we'd like to show you how to sew an extra-stable lace finish along a fabric edge. Anyone who has sewn with lace knows what a delicate fabric it is. Using this technique will reinforce your stitched lace edge to ensure that your heirlooms last for years to come.

1.  Pin the lace to the right side of the fabric with the heading even with the seam allowance line and the right side of the lace facing up. Using a small zigzag (L=1.0; W=1.5) and a 70 Universal needle, stitch the heading to the fabric (fig. 1).

Fig. 1

2.  If the lace is being attached to a curved edge, shape the lace around the curve referring to the lace shaping directions. If necessary, pull the uppermost thread in the lace heading to make the lace lie flat (fig. 2a). 

Fig. 2a

For inside curves, shape the lace into a curve on the ironing board before placing it on the fabric. This will keep the scalloped edge from being wavy (fig. 2b).

Fig. 2b

3.  Press the seam allowance away from the lace, toward the wrong side of the fabric (fig. 3). 

Fig. 3

If the edge is curved or pointed, you may need to clip the seam allowance in order to press flat (fig. 4).

Fig. 4

4.  On the right side, use a short, narrow zigzag to stitch over the lace heading, catching the fold of the pressed seam allowance (fig. 5) or follow step 7 below.

Fig. 5

5.  On the wrong side, trim the seam allowance close to the stitching (fig. 6).

Fig. 6

6.  If the design includes miters, stitch them with a small zigzag (fig. 7).

Fig. 7

7.  Optional:  

a. Place a lightweight tear-away stabilizer to the wrong side of the lace shaping area. Change to a 110 or 120 Universal needle.

b. From right side of fabric, pin stitch the lace to the fabric along the heading of the lace (L= 2.5 - 3.0; W= 2.0 - 2.5) (fig. 8). Carefully remove the stabilizer.

Fig. 8

If you'd like to learn more lace techniques, be sure to check out our DVD Normandy Lace with Martha Pullen. Normandy lace refers to the patchwork quilt of lace. It usually consists of a central motif with beautiful pieces of lace, embroidery and overall lace forming the body of the piece. 

On the DVD, Martha will show you the tricks of machine embroidery on netting, along with what stabilizers and thread to use. You will also learn how to create lace-shaped diamonds, hearts, curves and more.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How to Embellish with Whimsy Sticks

If you'd like to add whimsical embellishments to your next sewing project, Kari Mecca's Whimsy Sticks are just the ticket. These creative tools are used to make playful and precise loops that can be easily transformed into an endless variety of trims and flowers. This simple technique of wrapping ribbons and trims around these "sticks" will have you creating mounds of embellishments for your favorite projects in no time. Discover tips and tricks for using these clever tools and learn how to create a Single Loop Trim and Single Loop Flower in the following excerpt from Kari's book More Sewing With Whimsy. 

Made of high quality green acrylic, each Whimsy Stick is a different width for varying sizes of flowers and trims. To use sticks, you will need 1/4- and 1/2-inch-wide rolls of a low tack or basic masking tape. Test tape on trim before using. If tape is too sticky, apply pieces to a smooth surface several times to reduce tack. To make yards of trim, wrap ribbon around stick and apply tape to hold wraps. Remove stick and sew trim according to project. Trim can then be sewn to garments or made into flowers.

Kari's Hints for Success:
• To quickly wrap stick, hold trim out taut and twist stick guiding ribbon as it wraps.
• Wrap trim loosely, leaving 1/8 inch between wraps on narrow trims and up to 1/4 inch on wide trims.
• Do not pull tacking stitches tight, unless instructed.
• Once pinned, view flower from right side and make adjustments, if needed.
• When wrapping, make sure petals (loops) do not “stack.” They should be offset from previous layer.
• If making several flowers, cut looped trim into desired lengths before making flowers (this will ensure you do not run out of trim).

Single Loop Trim:
1. With ribbon right side up, tape end to end of Whimsy Stick labeled "start here" (photo 1).
Photo 1
2. Wrap ribbon around length of stick, leaving a 1/16- to 1/8-inch space between wraps (photo 2).
Photo 2
3. Push wraps toward start, adjusting so ribbons lie side by side and wraps are smooth. Continue wrapping and smoothing until entire length of stick is covered (photo 3). If wraps are too tight, it is difficult to remove from stick.
Photo 3
4. Apply tape over wraps on both sides of stick (photo 4).
Photo 4
5. Remove tape at end of ribbon and slide wraps off the "start here" end of stick. If you are wrapping long lengths of trim, slide wraps leaving 3 to 4 taped wraps on stick. Continue wrapping and taping the length of trim. Overlap tape ends when applying and remove from stick when completed (photo 5).
Photo 5
6. Place taped trim under presser foot and sew close to one edge of wraps; make sure you do not sew through tape (photo 6).
Photo 6
7. Remove tape from finished loops (photo 7). Hint: Tape can be reused several times.
Photo 7
Single Loop Flower:
Before you begin, 
• Make single loop trim (above) using desired ribbon and Whimsy Stick.
• Thread milliners needle with beading thread and knot ends together.

1. Hold trim with stitched edge at bottom and fold end of ribbon down (photo 8).
Photo 8
2. Loosely wrap trim around end two to three times. Cut trim and fold end down when flower is desired size (photo 9).
Photo 9
3. Turn flower upside down and insert pins across flower base to hold. Using hand sewing needle, stitch across entire base of flower making sure to keep tension loose. Repeat several times keeping wraps loose as shown. Knot thread to finish (photo 10).
Photo 10
Single Loop Flower

Check out our Sewing Whimsies with Kari Mecca Ultimate Collection for more from Kari Mecca. This kit includes three books (Sewing With Whimsy, More Sewing With Whimsy and Whimsy Flowers & Trims) PLUS three DVDs (Secrets to Stitching Bullion Whimsies, Whimsical Appliqué and Whimsy Flowers & Trims)! The “Whimsy Flowers & Trims” book comes with a sample set of punch-out Whimsy Sticks inside, so you can start creating right away.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia