Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cone Thread Nets From Upcycled Produce Netting

I love garlic and buy it fresh at my local grocery store. The heads come packed three in a sleeve. It's not because I am OCD that I cannot throw anything away, it is that I often see something as a resource instead of a liability. Many things that begin with a particular purpose can be adapted to serve another. 

So it was no surprise to me that when I removed the garlic from these sleeves that I knew immediately how I would put them to use. I have purchased thread nets and though not expensive, these garlic sleeves were essentially free!

These sleeves are finely webbed with just enough elasticity to cover standard thread cones as well as these larger commercial cones. 

Just slip them over the top, pull the thread through and tuck in the excess on the bottom. Easy! And the best part is that you have just saved another piece of plastic from the landfill.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pattern Weights - A DIY Tutorial for Covering Metal Washers

Whoever discovered using weights instead of pins for layout and cutting was a genius. Though it does not allow the pattern tissue to "stick" with the fabric after cutting, the ease of cutting alone warrants great praise. I have seen pretty weights at fabric stores and have seen tutorials for wrapping with fabric strips or Washi tape. Is there anything you cannot cover with Washi tape? It's the new duct tape. 

I found myself wandering the aisles of Ace Hardware one Winter day admiring the ingenuity of so many varieties of wing nuts and washers and happened upon these large washers and thought, aha! I have found my pattern weights. But the smooth side slides on the tissue and the edges on the perimeter and in the opening are rough and can tear the tissues. This is why they are normally covered. As I wandered down the aisles I came across Plasti-Dip, a liquid plastic that you dip the handles of tools into to get a better no slip grip. Light bulb moment.

They had red and black. It would have been fun to have more colors to play with but this would have to do. I lined a box with newspaper and placed a dowel through the handles.

I dipped the washers into the coating. It was kind of thick and there are directions for thinning it which I may try next time. 

These hang to dry for a couple of hours.

Dip again and allow to dry for about 4 hours and Voila! You have no slip sure grip covered pattern weights. Hmmm. I wonder what else I could dip.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Storing Vintage Sewing Patterns

The first time that a pattern is pulled from it's envelope, unfolded and cut to create a garment is easy. Putting it all back together is the tricky part. Some seamstresses neatly press the tissues and slip them back into their envelopes. It's not always a perfect fit and often the envelope will tear in the process. So seamstresses have searched for alternative storage methods for their used but precious patterns.

I have in my collection, numerous patterns where the seamstress has split the envelope and pasted the front and back onto a manilla envelope with the contents inside.

The flat envelopes card shops slide greeting cards into are fairly common for pattern storage. But storing patterns in waxed paper folders was a surprise for me. I had never seen these flat sheets of waxed paper before. But what a clever storage idea for the 1930's seamstress.

On the back cover of the Perkins "Sanigenic" folder they have imprinted a space for a letter to identify the contents when filed and even suggests filing patterns in the folders. These envelopes are constructed from a lightweight chip board with sturdy folds glued at the back and a wide flap.

The folders preserve the pattern envelopes nicely with no tears and help keep the tissues in good condition. This extra effort by the waxed paper manufacturers reminds me of how the feed and seed companies aided the rural homemaker by printing pretty patterns on what would have been plain white muslin. By offering another purpose for the folder they extend it's usefulness and ensure it's longevity. What a great idea!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Twin Sisters - Vintage Toy Sewing Machines

If you have ever passed by one of these toy sewing machines at a garage sale or thrift shop, you may want to rethink this. Manufactured in the 1960's, Sister electric sewing machines were made in Japan. That's about all the history I know about them. There are, of course, many other brands of toy sewing machines that date much further back than my two little sisters. But many of them, though certainly not all, function primarily the same way ... they sew a straight stitch but have no bobbin. 

These little machines are made of fairly durable plastic housing and have an electric motor with a foot pedal and a light, just like mom's. The electric foot pedal is notorious for failing though the motor seems to hum softly. Not to worry! There is a hand crank that works without electricity that will get the job done. I wrap the cords up to keep them out of the way.

Though these are a breeze to thread, I have two so I keep one threaded with white thread and another with black. They are small so they take up very little space and lightweight so they can be moved quickly and easily should I require that space. 

The hand crank moves easily but the machine is a little jumpy. It handles various fabrics and thicknesses well and uses common 24 X 1 needles. I only use my Sisters for basting.

Because these machines have no bobbins they do not produce a lock stitch. They produce a chain stitch. I am a firm believer in basting before sewing and the ability to simply pull out the basting stitch with such ease has saved me both time and frustration.

There is a tension control but no stitch length control. The top of the fabric looks just like a lock stitch while the bottom is a chain. Just a little toy machine that does one thing really well. I picked these up at thrift shops some years ago for a few dollars. They have been trusty companions in my sewing studio for many years.

Do you baste before you sew and like the idea of a stitch and pull basting stitch? Look around, these little machines are out there for reasonable prices. And you can always let your own little one sew right next to you and get hooked on the fabulous art of sewing.

Missing the manual for your little Sister? Download a copy here for free.