Thursday, December 1, 2016

How to Finish Fabric Edges

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some pictures on Facebook of the little travel tissue holders that I made for the Operation Christmas Child boxes that our church put together.  In case you missed it, here they are again.


They were a lot of fun to make and are a great way to use up scraps of fabrics as well.  This is the TUTORIAL that I used to make mine.

I thought I would use this project to write a little tutorial on how to finish off fabric edges to keep them from fraying after washing or use.  If you make a project that has exposed seams on the inside, you will need to finish them to keep them from fraying after much use or washing.

I used woven, cotton prints for these little pouches so that is what we will be working on in this tutorial.  Woven fabrics like to fray so we need to treat the edges.  Let's begin!

3 Ways to Finish Fabric Edges

1.  Zig Zag Stitch

If you have a sewing machine at home, chances are it can sew a zig zag stitch.  There are some straight stitch only machines but the majority of machines have several stitches to choose to from and the zig zag stitch is one.

To finish my edges, I set my machine to the zig zag stitch and then adjusted the stitch width and stitch length.  My stitch length is 2.5 and as you can see from this picture, my stitch width is 3.5.  This is how wide the zag is.  You can make it bigger if you would like but I didn't have a lot of fabric in my seams after I trimmed them so I kept this number at 3.5.


Most machines do come with a special presser foot to do the overcast stitches (which is what a zig zag stitch is) but for this tutorial, I am just going to use the standard presser foot "A". 

I put my fabric under the presser foot and what you want to happen is when the needle goes to the left, it stitches in the fabric but when the needle moves to the right, it should go off the edge of the fabric by just a little.  You can turn your hand wheel towards you a couple of times to make sure you have lined it up correctly.  You can reverse with a zig zag stitch so don't forget to do that at the beginning and end line of stitching!






Here are all of the tissue holders where I zig zagged the edges!  There is a seam on each side of the holder but this picture only one side of the holders.  If there aren't perfect or if you didn't go off the edge of the fabric perfectly, don't worry!  These are one on the INSIDE and normally are not seen.  They really are meant to be functional more than pretty.  This will help keep your edges from fraying.





2. Pinking Shears

You remember these shears from Grandma's sewing box.  They looked really cool to cut with but she wouldn't let you near them!  Now you will find out why!



These are the shears with the little triangles in the blades.  They are super sharp and you want to keep them that way so do NOT use them on paper!  They aren't the easiest to have sharpened so keeping them sharp is a high priority here.

You can use these in a couple different ways to finish off fabric edges.  You could cut out your pieces of fabric with pinking shears before sewing OR you can trim off your seams with them after sewing.   In this project, I choose the latter.  I sewed all of my little holders together and then went back and just slightly trimmed off the fabric edges with the pinking shears.  These little triangles cut the fabric on the bias and when that happens, it is less likely to fray.





Pinking shears are a great thing to have on your Christmas list too.  Here is a *link to where your loved one can buy a pair for you!



3.  Serger

Now I do realize that most folks don't own a serger but I still wanted to cover it in case you find that it would be helpful in what you mainly sew.  As you know, my Etsy shop offers catheter bag covers and these are not lined so all of them have exposed seams on the inside.  I use my serger to finish off all fabric edges so that they don't fray from all the washings they will receive.  My serger provides a very sturdy overcast serger stitch so I prefer this over a zig zag stitch on my regular sewing machine.

This is my serger.  I actually bought it used at my local Janome dealer here in Stallings called AAA Sewing Shoppe.  The owner knew that I was in the market for one and that I didn't really want to pay a lot for a brand new one since I didn't know then how much I would really use it.  She called me when the local school district decided to trade in their "old" ones for the year (mine was barely 3 years old and hardly used).  My Janome serger is an 1110DX.



You can either finish off the edges of fabric with the serger BEFORE sewing the fabric pieces today or you can serge the seams as you sew your project.  I just serge my seams for this project after I was all done.  Here is how they look.





Serging the fabric edges is a really durable way to finish them especially if they are going to be handled or washed a lot.  Now, see that thread tail in the second picture?  What I do with those that are left hanging out is to thread that tail through a large knitting needle and then run the tail back through the serged loops of thread.  This is a great way to finish them off so they are less likely to come undone.  There are other ways to finish off the tails but this is the method that I use the most.  





So there you have it!  Three common ways to finish off the fabric edges in exposed seams.  Hope one of these methods works well for what you make.  




* Affiliate Link

Friday, October 14, 2016

Support Your LQS - Local Quilt Shop

Support your local quilt shop!  

Some folks think that local quilting stores are "just for quilters" or are "too expensive" when in fact their fabrics can be used for LOTS of projects and they often have sales to help make their high quality fabrics more affordable!  

My local quilt shop is Quilt Patch Fabrics here in Stallings, NC. This weekend is Barefoot Weekend at the shop where members get 20% off fabrics and supplies. I became a member years ago by paying a small fee and enjoy this once a month sale more than I care to admit.  

Check out their Facebook page and join their newsletter to find out more about their fabrics and classes! Support your local small businesses!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ironing Board Cover Tutorial

So apparently, I go through a lot of ironing board covers.  I buy them at Marshalls to keep costs down but I was wanting a cover that I could just throw into the wash to clean the spray starch and water mineral goop off from it.  You can't really do that with the pads you get from the store as the batting on the other side gets a little funny when you throw it into the washing machine (ask me how I know).

Here is my ironing board before its makeover:


Yeah, I know, that is NOT pretty and I felt bad for husband who likes to iron his very WHITE dress shirts on my hot mess of an ironing board.

Here is my ironing board now:


Isn't it pretty? SOO much better!  If you would like to make your own cover that you can take off and throw into the washing machine, come with me through this tutorial which is perfect for folks with a little sewing experience!



    Materials and Tools Needed:  
  • 2 yards of a cotton woven fabric (I used a quilter's cotton print)
  • 2 yards of 1/4" elastic
  • 2 packages of single fold bias tape
  • small ruler
  • chalk or something to mark your fabric with
  • basic sewing supplies like a sewing machine, scissors, safety pin or bodkin


This is the fabric that I will be using.  A white print on a black background.  I am hoping to hide some of the ironing board goop in the black.


I will be using a small 6" ruler and white chalk.

The first thing you want to do is lay out your fabric with the wrong side facing up.  I used a large folding table to lay it all out on but you could use a dining room table or a hard floor.  Next lay your ironing board on top of the fabric.


You have probably noticed by now that I left a cover on the ironing board.  This cover has a thin pad on it and I still wanted padding on my board so I am going to keep it on under my new cover.

Next, use your ruler and measure about how much fabric you will need from the top of the ironing board and then for it to wrap underneath.


I used my existing pad/cover as a guide and I decided to go with 2.5" all around the board.  I did make that measurement more (3.5") at the point of the ironing board since my pad/cover has more coverage up there and I am sure there is a good reason for that.

Go around the ironing board and draw a line 2.5" on the fabric from the board.  


Make sure to make that measurement a little larger when you get to the point.


Here is the whole board with the chalk outline around it.


Next, go ahead and cut right on that line with your scissors.

If it isn't perfect don't worry about it!  This is a very forgiving project!


Next take your single fold bias tape and open up the package.  This project will take about one and a half packages of the tape.  I am using this red striped bias tape as it is easy to see to sew on but you won't see it in the end.  The reason why we use bias tape in this project is because it works very well on projects with curves and this project definitely has those.

Two side edges are folded in on one side of the tape.  Go ahead and unfold one of the edges.  We are going to sew this edge to the RIGHT or pretty side of the fabric.  I know that seems odd, but trust me that it will all work out in the end.

I would start sewing just past the top of the tape leaving a little loose (you will see why in a minute). You want to sew right in that crease of the bias tape closest to the edge of your fabric.  The edge of your fabric and bias tape should be aligned.  


Go ahead and sew the bias tape all the way around your fabric.  At some point, you will need to stop and join the two packs of bias tape together.  I just sew the two ends together and then keep going.  Sorry that I forgot to take a picture of that.  If you have trouble with this step, let me know and I can walk you through it.  Once you get back to the beginning, sew the two ends together there as well (this is why I had you leave some of the bias tape loose at the beginning.

Now take your fabric over to the iron (another reason why I left one of the old pad/covers on) and fold the bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric. You are folding and ironing it under.


You won't see it from the pretty side of the fabric once it is all ironed under as seen here.


You will now sew down the other edge of the bias tape.  Try to stay as close as you can to that edge so that the elastic has as much room as possible down the center of the bias tape (it is going to be like a little tunnel for the elastic).  


When you come to the area where you started sewing, leave about an inch or so, open.  This will be where we insert the elastic.


Using a small safety pin or a bodkin, we will now thread the elastic through the casing made by the bias tape.  If you are not familiar with what a bodkin is, here is a picture of mine:

 It looks like a pair of tweezers but you put one end of the elastic in between the pinchers and then slide the tightener up until tight so that it has a firm grip on the elastic.  HERE is a tutorial that I did just on the bodkin in case you want to know more.  I love using mine more so than a safety which tends to open up inside of casing on me.  You can find bodkins at most stores that carry sewing notions or you purchase one HERE.

I used a 2 yard length of elastic initially to get it all the way through the casing and then I put it on my ironing board and tightened the elastic by pulling each end until I was comfortable with how it fit.  I ended up using about 1.5 yards of elastic on mine.  When you get the elastic to where it fits snugly on the ironing board, take the two ends of the elastic (and the fabric) to the sewing machine and sew across the ends together several times to secure them on place.  Then you can cut off the excess elastic.

Tuck the elastic inside of the casing and sew up the little hole and you are done! Put it on your ironing board and enjoy how nice (and clean) it looks!




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fabric/Quilt Shop in Blowing Rock, NC

I mentioned in my last post that my husband and I were able to go to the mountains last week for a quick getaway while our girls were away at camp.  One of the towns that we stopped in was Blowing Rock, NC which is one of our favorites.

Now normally when we go there, we have our two girls and our springer spaniel in tow so we are a bit limited in terms of what shops we can spend time in.  This time it was just us so we were free to roam!

I was able to finally visit The Mountain Thread Company which is an adorable little shop filled with baskets, quilts, and fabrics.  It is right near the park and main street, where the fun shopping is Blowing Rock, in the yellow building.  I just love going into these independent little shops and seeing the choices of fabrics that they have.

Here are some of the fat quarters that I picked up there:



I LOVE that bicycle fabric.  Isn't it adorable?


These fabrics will be ADORABLE in something made for the kitchen.  Love that picnic basket print!

So if you find yourself in Blowing Rock, I would encourage you to stop at this shop.  The owner is very friendly and helpful as well.  She also has a shop on Etsy where she sells her baskets, fabrics and other supplies online.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Drawstring Backpack

Last week, our 13 year old twin girls went to camp, with other teens from our church, in the mountains of North Carolina.  They had a GREAT time and did I mention that they were gone the WHOLE week!  Yep.  So my husband and I were able to get away and go kayaking on a lake and shop in some of our favorite little mountain towns.

Here are some pictures from our day kayaking at Julian Price Lake near Blowing Rock, NC.



I needed a new drawstring backpack to take on our travels mainly because I don't even have one to call all my own!  We have some laying around the house that we got for free over the years but I wanted needed a pretty one.

I bought this peacock fabric a while ago from Joann Fabrics with a gift card that my favorite father in-law gave me for Christmas and decided that this was the right time to use it.





This bag is lined and was really easy to make.  It would make a GREAT project to make with your older child/teen this summer or make some and add them to your Operation Christmas Child Boxes later this year.



Here is the link to the PATTERN on Craftsy that I used.  If are not a member of Craftsy, it is a great website with lots of free patterns for all types of projects! If you decide to make one, I would love to see pictures!