So You Bought a Sewing Machine!

What an exciting time for you! And with the current Stay-at-home orders currently being extended in many places, sewing could be the perfect hobby to get started with. Over the years, I have had several friends purchase machines, people ask me to teach them, and just a ton of questions about how to fix, grade or correct a pattern to get a good fit. I decided it was time for me to go ahead and give a series of lessons and that the best way to do this is via my blog and Facebook page (any live feeds will be added to my YouTube channel with closed captioning with a brief post here to let everyone interested it has gone live.)

This is a project to help out friends getting started with the wonderful world of sewing. I am accomplished in the sense that I have been sewing off and on for over 30 years but really got back into sewing as a regular hobby when my youngest was born. I grew up consistently wearing handmade items from my mother and grandmother. And year after year, I was roped into gift making and crafting throughout my school days. As a young adult, I always worked, rarely giving myself time to indulge in any kind of crafting except handmade cards for people for birthdays and gift giving. Take a look at the photo archives for some of the creations, I have been wearing handmade virtually my entire life.

TL: Hand crochet baby blanket with a baby in the middle. TR: Small curly haired child wearing striped pjs that say Grandmas Lil Turkey ( my favorite pjs apparently). BL: Me and my brother with Santa, I’m wearing a sweatshirt dress (very popular when I was in 1st-3rd grade) made by a grandmother. BR: My mother putting shoes on my feet in a handmade by her clown costume (I was about 18mos.)
These photos were taken in 1987ish, all of us (my cousin, brother and I) are wearing handmade items. My cousin in a romper, my brother in a military inspired shirt and khaki shorts and my shirt.

Once Sweet Pea was born, we realized it would be easier for me to stay home and I set about to figure out a way to enjoy being at home with her when she was napping and between therapies and appointments (one can only nap and read so many books.) Joseph happened to have a small, very cheap and basic sewing machine and I remembered basic sewing skills from all the years off and on. I set about to remember the things I forgot and that is now 6 years ago.

So now that you know my history, let’s talk about you and your new machine. Whatever machine you have purchased it’s really important to get to know your machine, what type of stitches it performs and how to maintain the machine to get the best use and life out of your machine.

Over the years I have seen are 3 different types of people when it comes to getting a new machine:

1.) People that rip into the box and pull the machine out and start fiddling with settings

2.) People that go right for the instruction manual and read it thoroughly before or after pulling out the machine

3.) People that may or may not read the manual but leave the machine in the box for months and months sometimes afraid to get started

I am a #2 person, I get excited and slightly terrified to open and begin using the machine but feel a ton better once I read the manual several times. Which kind of person are you?

Let me start with saying that if your machine comes with a manual that is your best resource when your machine begins to act up.

Let’s assume you have already read the manual and you are ready to get started playing with your machine. Many machines come with starter thread and needles (some even come pre-threaded.) If your machine comes with this set up, I would recommend taking out the thread, bobbin and needle if you are new to sewing so you can practice threading and changing the needle. The next post will cover changing the needle, threading the machine and bobbin.

Take a look at what else comes with your machine. Many machines have a storage drawer either containing a few extra items, sometimes the extra items are bagged separately.

I have a Viking Emerald 116, it is a “basic” machine- meaning it is all manually adjusted. My machine came with a removable machine extender that includes a small storage space plus some additional tools (your machine may come with some of all of these pieces plus small screw drive, small brush for getting lint out of the machine):

Working from top left: zipper foot, additional thread holder, additional bobbins, see through presser foot, automatic button foot, free motion arm for quilting, 2nd utility foot (there is one that came on the machine), a regular or manual button hole foot, and an edging foot.

What kind of tools or extras came with your machine?

Our next post I will be talking about getting to know your individual machine, how to change your needle, load your bobbin and thread your machine.

May the Fourth Be With You!

I know it’s been a bit since my last post. Quarantine life has been complicated and getting into ANY KIND of routine is hard. I have been sewing masks off and on but I did take some time out to sew for my sweet girl.

We celebrate May 4th in this house like we celebrate a birthday— fun foods, new clothes. With the quarantining we had to go super simple and Sweet Pea was bummed she didn’t get to go to school wearing her new dress.

I participated in the George and Ginger Sew Along for May 4th, which had lots of people sewing a variety of patterns with varying levels of love for the Star Wars franchise.

I opted to use a favorite designer of ours, Goober Peas Designs. We opted for the new Emilia Dress, which we got to test.

Sweet Pea showing off the beautiful hemline.

We love the angled hemline so when Sweet Pea asked that we use this pattern with some modifications, I said sure!

The Emilia has lots of features and was formerly the Gingersnap Dress by George and Ginger.

Sizing now 0-3m through 14. Sleeve lengths include sleeveless, short sleeves, 3/4 and long sleeves.

From the website:

“The Emilia Dress is a mini dress (hitting well above the knee at center front and back) that looks great with leggings, or on its own as a dress for those who are comfortable with the length.

The loose and flowy fit is very stylish and lends itself to a “grow” style—being worn for years, first as a mini dress and then as a tunic. There is a grow cuff option for the long sleeves, allowing them to be folded up at first and then unfolded as the child grows. Other sleeve length options include short, elbow length, and sleeveless.”

I used double brushed polyester (DBP) from Boho Fabrics. They do have a delay on shipping do to the current quarantine but they shipped within the time frame stated on their website. This DBP has a thick in hand feel and lovely drape.

I used a new htv vinyl my husband purchased from Walmart because I couldn’t find what I needed for curbside pick up from Joann Fabrics and I noticed after a few days of wear I need to reapply the heat press. It is very thick vinyl and with applying to DBP I used a lower temp and it’s possible I did not use enough timing for the heat application.

I added length just under the armscye to take the dress to floor length and added a snap on cape.

We finished up the look with a felt mask from a shop on etsy and went outside for a photo shoot!

Spring Fling Blog Hop

Oooh it’s been a minute- I have been sewing weekly but it is that chaotic time of year where it’s the perfect storm of sport seasons changing, annual appointments for all of Sweet Pea’s specialists and now with the self quarantining and having to teach school. I’m going to be doing something I have never done before and if you read all the way to the end AND COMMENT, I’ll draw a name for a free pattern from Goober Peas Designs Patterns (the pattern company I used for this post today!)

I love when spring comes. It feels so delightful to be outside with a light weight jacket after being bundled up for so many months on end. But with that shift in weather comes digging through my children’s closets to ensure they have what they need for the weather transitions.

This year Sweet Pea asked for ALLLLLL the dresses. Which isn’t all that unusual for her, she loves dresses. She added she wanted length and twirly to the request.

So this means figuring out new patterns or even better, with all the uncertainty currently going on, digging through the depths of all my patterns and creating fun mash ups.

I decided to fill the request of the wee one I wanted to use bits and pieces of a couple different patterns from Goober Pea Designs Patterns to create a whole new look for her.

I got a super fun farm print from Shear Madness Fabrics and I knew I wanted something with colorblocking.

I started with the Hip 2 B Square tee which has a ton of features:

  • Youth sizing of 0-3mo to size 20
  • Basic Tee
  • Short and long sleeve options
  • Sleeve colorblocking with optional venting
  • Full or partial color blocking of the bodice

I opted for the short sleeve (Sweet Pea is not a fan of long and it would have been my preference due to the time of year but she was having none of that) with colorblocking of the sleeve and bodice. I left off the bottom colorblocking panel on the bodice and trued the back to match since I was attaching a skirt to the hemline. I also lengthened the sleeve a bit because Sweet Pea prefers elbow length sleeves.

Next to work on the twirl factor and make a dress from the top. I could have gone with the Addison/Sadie add on pack that would have added a circle skirt but I knew with the request of maxi dress length it meant making an adjustment. So I decided to hack/mash it with the Talia Tiered Dress (which is free to newsletter subscribers.)

Talia has a few fun features:

  • Sizing from 0-3mo- size 14
  • Sleeveless, short sleeves, long sleeves
  • 1,2 or 3 tiers to make peplum, tunic or dress length

Since the 3 tiers puts the dress at close to a tea length, I knew it would be easy to add a 1.5 inches to each tier to get close to ankle length. It was soo much gathering. I also added clear elastic when attaching the skirt because I was worried about the weight of the skirts with the added length.

She literally wore this dress for a week straight once it came off the machine so I would say this ended up being a successful mash up!

Welcome to the Spring Fling Blog Hop! 

Sew Much Charm kicked off the Spring Fling with the  Spring Fling Giveaway!  A huge congratulations to the winners: Lorna P. of England & Patti V. of Texas!  Each prize package had a retail value of $191!

Let’s keep the fun rolling this week with more sewing and more fun.  Sew Much Charm is now also hosting the Spring Fling Blog Hop and I’m going to introduce to you our Bloggers for the Blog Hop!

Be sure to check each day by 6AM (Central Standard Time)!  Each day there will be a blogger (or more) doing a giveaway!  So be sure to check each blog post & just comment on their blog post from this blog hop and you are entered to win!

Monday Sew Much Charm & Vlogger Sewing From Scratch

Tuesday –  TPtheModestDoll22 & That’s Sew Venice

Wednesday –  SewGr8ful & Sequoia Lynn Sews

Thursday –  Let’s Go Hobby! & The Sarcastic Sewist

Friday –  The Bear & the Pea Atelier & Wildflowers & Whimsey

Week 5: Cheryl’s Pick, Upcycle Something

This week I opted for more of a refashion over the upcycle. My definition of choosing refashion comes from using a RTW t-shirt we have had for a bit and turned it into a 100 day t-shirt for school.

I asked Sweet Pea what she wanted for a design element and after a bit of time she opted for an appliqued unicorn.

We went with a Unicorn Applique from the German Makerist and I got to work making a unicorn in the colors that Sweet Pea wanted.

It was lots of stitching and a bit awkward since the shirt was a rtw shirt (note to self, next time I work on an applique for a shirt, it should be done before sewing the top together.)

It turned out really cute now it was up to Sweet Pea to add 100 dots with various colors to decorate it.

Our final product came out great!

100 days of school all summed up in a fun project.

Week 3: Sew with Sweater or Swim Knits

So this is one of the few challenge rejected. I did sew a knit fabric, just not what was suggested.

I did use one of my favorite fabric company’s in a strike off fabric Cosmic Fabric Creations that will open up mid-February.

I chose to sew up new slippers for my tiny girl that always has cold feet. I went with the Canmore Cuddle Slippers from Goober Peas Patterns. I love that I can get a slim narrow for for her tiny width feet and ankles. Its the first time we have had slippers that fit more like a sock and close to her body.

Eeking Out the Last Scraps

I sometimes am lucky enough to get fabrics that my kids get super excited about, like this Ladybug fabric (opening soon from Shear Madness Fabrics) and like to try to use up every last scrap. This is so when they outgrow that epic hoodie or dress or whatever I have made them, they get to keep a piece that isn’t just for wearing. Favorite ways to preserve these fabrics in the past has been using them for chapstick holders, small bags, pencil bags.

I recently got into making patches with the fabric that has larger artwork and it’s something Baby Bear really loves. Here is a tutorial using hot glue and painting but you can easily do the same with fabric. My favorite method is similar to this tutorial using a regular sewing machine. If you are using fabric I would recommend using heat n bond in between the decorative fabric and heavier weight interfacing then stitch around the design. My son prefers a more flexible patch so I just heat and bond the back of the fabric but for a more traditional weight patch, you would need to use the heavier interfacing. Make sure to use a heavy duty, jeans or leather needle as the interfaced fabric can be thick and universal needles will sometimes skip based on the decorative fabric with the interfacing.

And now that Sweet Pea is getting older, I am hoping to get her into patches too. But for now I am happy with inventing a new way for her to play. I took this fabric and fused it with heat and bond then fused to felt for felt story board play.

A variety of Ladybug and Cat Noir characters and kwamis cut into smaller shapes on felt backing. The Chloe character is already sewn around.

I sewed around the characters then cut them out as close to the stitching as I could.

And since I gave these to Sweet Pea, she has already engaged in several hours of fun.

Sweet Pea plays on her storyboard with the felt Ladybug and Cat Noir characters and Kwamis.

Don’t have a felt board like we do, no problem. You can cover cardboard, or poster board with regular eco felt. You can even get fancy and duct tape 2 pieces of cardboard together then cover with felt so that it is a collapsing storyboard to take places with you.

All the characters on a rainbow blanket all laid out.
A happy Sweet Pea smiles while holding up the characters and Kwamis for Ladybug and Cat Noir.

Hours of fun, entertainment, and storytelling just by using a few scraps.

Week 3: Sew Something for Health or Fitness.

Here we are 3 weeks in to the sewing challenge this year and I am already running behind….

The last couple of years I have tried to literally follow the challenges of the 52 Week Sewing Challenge and if it wasn’t literal then I would mark it as challenge rejected or going rogue. This year I decided that instead of just following along to meet a sewing ideal that I would look at my current sewing and how I could interpret it to meet the needs of the week’s suggested sew.

THIS week is sewing for health or fitness. Many in the group chose to sew with athletic fabric or using patterns that were designed to facilitate a healthy journey. I did see some fun sews that assist with both like a running belt and lunch boxes. I went a some what more vague route by sewing pajamas for Sweet Pea.

I chose to interpret this as being sewing for health because it is necessary to have warm clothing for our very cold winters here in New Hampshire. I was fortunate enough to be brought into a current pattern test with Eunoia Patterns to take photos of a soon to release night set (Goodnight Darling Robe and Nightgown set) and I knew that it would be the perfect pattern to stretch the definition of this week’s sewing challenge.

Sweet Pea holds a purple puppy that wears a crown named Princess Hot Dog that she is looking down at. She is wearing just the nightgown and the photo is a close up of the offset bodice with pink snaps. The nightgown is white with tiny pink rosebuds. You can see the pretty gathering of at the wrists.

From the Eunoia Website:

“The Goodnight Darling Robe and Nightgown is a nostalgic nod to long ago with a lovely floor length robe and sweet tea length nightgown. This delightful pair is perfect for flannels, eyelet lace, embroidery or vinyl embellishments, vintage buttons and even matching doll looks for your child to match their doll.”

Sweet Pea looks down at her feet. She is wearing the Goodnight darling nightgown in white flannel with tiny pink rosettes all over it. Her little feet are sticking out crossed beneath the hem of the nightgown.

Sizing is 2t-20 and the relaxed fit allows for comfort while playing and sleeping. We found it was perfect for all the playing that Sweet Pea likes to do before story time and bedtime.

Up close of the collar piping detail while Sweet Pea reads a book with a purple puppy under her arm.

We love the sweet details from the ability to use piping to the offset bodice of the nightgown and sweet gathers at the wrist.

Sweet Pea in Vamperina RTW pjs with the robe over top.

I also love how the robe can be paired with favorite rtw pajamas we already own to give a tad more warmth.

Sweet Pea lifting the robe and dress up while she steps out.

Check out this sweet pattern while it’s on sale for $7.50 (regularly $12.00) with a code in the Facebook Group to get the dolly pattern for free during the release sale. The doll pattern is priced at $2.50 and also includes both the nightgown and robe as well.


A Whole New Year!

Here we are starting another new year and a whole new sewing adventure.

So I am not really a resolutions person per se. I typically feel like setting resolutions sometimes set me up for failure so this year I am setting some clear sewing goals for myself.

-This year I vow to participate more in the House of Curves group.

-Sew more for me, I plan to try and make something for me every other month. This means 6 garments total for me. That sounds totally doable😊

-Get Baby Bear even more involved with his own sewing. Maybe even have him post his own blogs on here about what did and didn’t work for him on a pattern.

-While my creative space is all over the place (much like my own mind), I would like to clean and organize my crafting space AND work on keeping it that way. In the past I would always clean it up and 3 weeks later its back to chaos, I’d like to work on scheduling that time to focus on staying organized and sticking to it.

So that’s where I am this year!

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