Here at Sew4Home, we’re quite well known for our bag designs; it’s even the focus of our recent book with Fons & Porter: Bags and Totes, 10 Fashionable Projects Anyone Can Sew. When we start a new bag concept, one of the first things we think about is hardware: buckles, slides, clips, hooks… the elements that provide both functionality as well as a professional finish. The right piece of hardware can even be the genesis of an entire design. Since it’s such an important element, you know we were thrilled when we found out about the new Dritz® hardware coming out this Spring. In particular, we were excited to see two brand new finishes: copper and gunmetal. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day - we’re celebrating Products We Love today – ones we think you’ll love too!
Buttons are among the most basic methods of fastening one thing to another. They also make a pretty embellishment all on their own. We love them lots… until they come off. And, they almost always come off, especially from store-bought items, which often seem to be sewn with some kind of “quick release thread.” If you’re tired of buttons coming loose or popping off, you are going to love the new Secura Button Thread from Coats. It sews like regular thread, but the secret comes when you’re done sewing. Steam the sewn button from the back for just a few seconds and the heat activates the thread’s coating, allowing it to stick to itself. It doesn’t stick to the fabric or the button – just to itself.
Your project instructions call for two yards of 60" wide fabric, but the fabric you want to use is 45" wide. Hmmm... attempting to dredge up that old math lesson in proportions is probably not going to happen on the fly. Instead, print out our handy conversion chart for those times you don't have a pattern envelope with a yardage conversion table.
I love those little emergency sewing kits they have at hotels. They're a life saver if you lose a button right before an important meeting or have another kind of "wardrobe malfunction." But I wouldn't dream of using them for my regular sewing – anymore than I'd open a hair salon that only carried those cute little hotel shampoos. However, for some sewers, especially beginning sewers, their set of tools is at about the same level as the free repair kit. If that's the case with your sewing basket, you have some shopping to do. Having better quality tools and notions actually helps you achieve better results on your projects. It can make the difference between a project that was fun to create and you're proud to display, and one you feel like hurling out the window. This is also a great article to share with friends who are just learning to sew. Helping them collect the right basic tools is one of the best ways to make sure they start off on the right foot.
Accurate pressing is one of the most important parts of the construction process. Having a tool that holds precise, narrow folds and clean angles is critical. And, if that tool allows you to do that without your fingers getting dangerously close to the iron, it’s a must-have in our book! One of our favorite pressing tools, the Clover Hot Hemmer has a new friend: the Hot Ruler. This 2½” x 10” ruler is part of the Press Perfect collection by Joan Hawley for Clover, and is made of the same super thin, heat resistant nylon fiberboard with a special non-slip surface.
Here is your word for the day: plethora. As in, "a whole bunch." As in, "With such a plethora of ribbon options on the market today, why would I want even more?" Because you can. The Janome Ribbon Sewing Guide allows you to stitch directly on ribbon up to 1" wide, so you can personalize the color and design of your ribbon accents and create exactly the look you want and need.
Life can get a little sticky sometimes. In general, that statement covers a vast array of scenarios. But in the world of sewing, we’re usually talking about laminates, vinyls, faux leather, oil cloth, and the other sticky fabric substrates that look cool but can be challenging to sew. The surfaces of these specialty fabrics love to drag across your presser foot and/or needle plate, causing your stitching to bunch or break. Plus, with non-wovens, once you make a hole it’s there to stay. So the last thing you want are extra holes due to messed up seams. The Janome Ultra Glide Foot and its accompanying Needle Plate Set gives you the ability to sew through your sticky situations like a hot knife through butter.
Years ago the Thermos® company had the slogan, "Keeps hot things hot and cold things cold." You can't say it much better than that. Did you know there are fabrics that help you do the same thing? These aren't the heavy industrial materials that keep steelworkers, astronauts, and firefighters safe, but honest-to-goodness fabrics you can actually sew with.
Often, the most exciting notions look rather nondescript inside their cardboard boxes and cellophane wrappers. Our goal with the Products We Love series is to break open the packaging, show you how to use these cool tools, and inspire you to add one or more to your own sewing basket. The Clover Hot Hemmer is one of the best little pressing tools we've come across in a long time. Although pressing is an incredibly important part of the construction process, we're not always happy to be hemming. But the Hot Hemmer helps keep all those narrow folds accurate without having to get your fingers too close to the iron. Nearly every time we feature this tool in our instructional photos, someone asks about it, so we knew it was time to make sure you had all the details.
You probably already know the rule of thumb for sewing machine needles: install a new one at the beginning of each project. When a needle is piercing your fabric at 600 to 1,000 stitches per minute, small things like a dulled point or an eye that's beginning to wear, can make a big difference in the quality of your stitches. But it's just as important to choose the right kind of needle. This is information we like to run at least once a year because it's such a good reminder to us all. Our thanks to Janome America and Janome Canada for helping us with the fine points of machine needles.