Tip from Reva: Decorative Stitching at Its Best

October 6th, 2015

Our machines have the most beautiful decorative stitches that are so fun to use and can add an artistic touch to your next project.

Here are a few tips that can help make your stitching have the most impact:

Stabilize – Decorative stitches are a form of embroidery and you will get the best results if your fabric is stabilized. This will help your stitches lay flat and reduce the possibility of the stitching pulling in on the fabric and tunneling under the foot. I prefer to use a lightweight tearaway stabilizer that is meant for decorative stitching (not hooped embroidery) that will easily and gently tear away from the bobbin thread, once finished, without damage to the threads. A stabilizer that has a light iron-on property is very useful to keep the stabilizer right where you want it and further controls the fabric that you are stitching on. My latest favorite is Alex Anderson’s “Quilter’s Select Tear Away”. Use it for decorative stitching, crazy quilt stitching or machine applique. It is the best!!!

Pfaff Multi-Line Decorative Foot

Pfaff Multi-Line Decorative Foot

Draw a line and Use the right foot – It is easier to sew a straight line if you have one to follow. Use a wash-away marker or a Frixion Pen to draw a reference line on your fabric or use a seam line as your guide. Remember that it is easier to maintain a straight line if you aim out in front of the foot vs aiming at the needle. Does your machine have a laser guide built in? Use it! If not consider a foot like the Pfaff Multi Line Decorative Stitch Foot (Viking has one too); it has a reference mark way out in front of the needle and also has great markings on both sides of this large clear foot to easily maintain many straight rows of stitching. Using a foot that is designed for decorative stitches is a must! This allows the multiple stitches to pass freely under the foot and not get hung up.

Take your time – Remember to relax and not to rush. It is your machine’s job to feed the fabric and create the stitch. Your job is simply to make sure that the fabric stays straight. DO NOT HELP FEED THE FABRIC. If you do, the resulting stitches can easily be skewed and inconsistent.

Have fun, play, & create,

September Sew Fun Harvest Sweatshirt Tutorial

September 29th, 2015

This is a fun use for an embroidery design set that was originally designed to be a table runner. Lee decided to be extra creative and use the design set to embellish a cute sweatshirt jacket. It was simple to do and makes quite an impact. You could use a variety of design sets to create your own stunning project.

Here are the steps:

  1. Back of Finished Sweatshirt.

    Back of Finished Sweatshirt.

    Embroidery Design: “Along the Fence Table Runner” by Jana Davidson. Large design, pieced together. Leave the extra fabric on the end pieces. (You might need to add a little more to reach around the front.)
  2. I used a men’s size medium sweatshirt. Cut the ribbing off the sweatshirt. Cut it open at the center front. Staystitch the neckline.
  3. Bind the top of table runner using 2-1/2″ straight strip of fabric. Sew the table runner onto the bottom of the sweatshirt. Bind bottom of sweatshirt and the sleeves.
  4. I used a straight strip of fabric: 5-1/2″ wide for the front bond. I cut 2 strips of fabric 5-1/2″ x 45″, seamed them at center back and then padded them with fusible fleece.
  5. Shape the front by cutting 2″ off the center front at the bottom and cut a line to the shoulder seam. Sew the band on center back to bottom on the wrong side of the sweatshirt. Seam across the bottom. Trim off excess. Turn, top stitch and you’re done.

Happy Sewing!

Tip from Reva: Convenient Pinning Pins

September 24th, 2015

Convenient pinning pins are an absolute necessity in one’s sewing room. Not all pins are created equal, though, and this is why most sewists have several different styles of pins within easy reach while working on a project. The style that I use the most are the Clover Flower Head Pins:

Clover Flower Head Pins

Clover Flower Head Pins

Here are some of the finer points (pun intended) of this style of pin:

  • Large head is easy to see
  • Size of head is easy to grasp and manipulate into the fabric
  • Pin is long enough to work well with multiple layers of fabric
  • Pin shaft is fairly thin and has a nice, sharp point, good for most all fabric types
  • Head can be stitched through without breaking a needle if accidentally left in
  • Since the pin lays flat, it won’t interfere with a ruler that is placed over top

Consider having two pin cushions, one at your machine and one at your cutting table. This way you will have your pins within easy reach when you need them. I prefer a magnetic pin cushion. A magnetic pin cushion makes it easy to grab a pin when needed and drop it back onto the magnetic surface when done. If you happen to drop some pins, one swipe of the pincushion over the mess picks them right up for you. Try out the brand-new Zirkel Magnetic Pin Cushion. This little critter is cool!

Zirkel Magnetic Pin Cushion

Zirkel Magnetic Pin Cushion

When a pin is placed on its surface, the pin tip gravitates towards the center and the heads hang out around the outer edge, leaving each pin exposed for easy grabbing when you need one. Just look at it in action:

Take a little time to set up your sewing environment so it is most convenient for you. You will get more done, save time, and enjoy the process so much more.

Have fun, play, and create,

Tip from Reva: Etched In Stone… Well, Glass Anyway: Glass Etching with the Brother ScanNCut

August 10th, 2015

I love to explore and try many different creative techniques. Lately I have been exploring glass etching using my Brother ScanNCut.

The supplies needed for Etching on glass are very simple:

Etching Cream – this does the actual work
Plastic Spatula – to apply a nice, even coat of cream
Mask Vinyl – cut your design out of this sticker-like material
Pick Tool – to remove the unwanted parts of your Mask
Transfer Material – transports your Mask Vinyl Design (and all of it’s little pieces)at one time to the glass
A glass item to etch – try etching on glass, mirrors, polished marble & more

You can get started with the etchall Glass Etching Bee-ginner Kit, available here!

Tips for Glass Etching Success:

• Test your design layout – make sure that the size of your design will fit
• Before applying the Mask Vinyl, make sure the glass surface is clean and free of any film – isopropyl alcohol is the best for this.
• Make sure that you mask off a large area around your design so that the glass you want left clear is protected.
• Double check to make sure that the Mask Vinyl or tape is adhered well around all edges of the design to prevent any cream seeping under the mask.
• Take your time when applying your Mask – what you see is what you get
• Mix up the Etching cream well! Shake it, shake it, and shake it some more.
• Apply a generous coat of cream to the desired area. The cream can be reused so don’t be skimpy (use a plastic spatula to get an even coat)
• Let the cream set on the desired area for at least 5-10 minutes (more won’t hurt). This will give you a nice, visible etch. If not left on long enough, the result will be rather soft or pale in appearance.
• Every minute or so, for the first 5 minutes, swirl the cream around on your design. This gentle mixing of the product on the design area will help release any air bubbles and ensure a smooth result.
• After it has set for the desired time, scrape off as much cream as you can and put it back into the container to reuse later (Note: this is not the case with all etching creams; the one that we have from Etchall is reusable – check labels).

Watch this video and you’ll see how it’s done:

Have fun, play, and create!

Sewing Tips from Reva: Make Those Threads Behave

July 10th, 2015

Decorative threads, such as, Mylar and metallic can be so beautiful and add such interest to your project.  There is one thing, besides their beauty, that they all have in common, they can be oh so very temperamental.

There are a couple of things that I have found to be helpful when working with theae styles of threads:

  • Use the Right Needle – choose a needle that is designed for use with metallic threads. The front groove and the size/shape of the eye are made to accommodate this thread best.
  • Slow it Down – sometimes a slower speed of stitching is helpful
  • Longer Stitch – if the stitch you have chosen has many small stitches, try lengthening the pattern and see if that helps your sewing be smoother.
  • Horizontal or Vertical – if the thread on the spool makes an “X” pattern, the thread should feed off of the end of the spool.  If the thread on the spool is parallel, then it should pull from the side so that the spool turns as the thread is used.
  • Spool Pin Adapter – An additional thread stand can be very useful to help the thread have time to relax before it starts it’s business of creating a stitch.

If you love new innovations that make your sewing easier and more enjoyable (no one likes to fight with a crabby thread), you will love this new style of thread stand.  The “Thread Director” fits right on your machine’s existing spool stand and changes the thread’s path so that metallic threads will spool off properly, keeping them from twisting and kinking while sewing, quilting, or embroidering. But the benefits you will enjoy are far greater than what it may seem!  When using this specific spool adapter, you will find that you can sew at full speed with the most persnickety of threads (yes, I am talking about the beautiful but painful to use Mylar thread) with out thread breaks and the frustrations.  I have tried so many tricks and workarounds to get that thread to give me nice results without the headaches. None have even come close to the pleasure of sewing with out breakage while using the Thread Director.  It is so much more fun to complete projects quickly and  to sew without worrying about having to re-thread the machine constantly.

Working with decorative threads should add beauty to your projects and make you happy when you use them.  Set yourself up for success first and your projects with be event more enjoyable!

Happy Sewing,

Tips from Lana & Friends

June 26th, 2015

Tips for July Sew Fun Projects!

  • From Doree Shandera – “Mix the flavored Best Press with the unflavored Best Press to tone down the fragrance.” Love this idea as I want the pretty fragrance, but not the strong smell…Perfect!
  • From Amanda Brown – Use a Heat gun to gently shrink the stitching into place. Hats are a perfect place for this technique. I have also used it on embroidery that may have a loopy…be careful, you can melt your stitches.
  • When clipping curves on important projects where leaving a seam allowance is important, clip one layer at a time off-setting the clips between the layers. If it is crafty things, use pinking shears instead. Pinking shears clip the curves quickly and easily but leave a very small seam allowance.
  • I always press seams open before turning; however, some things are just too small for that, like the leaves and mitten coasters. So, I use my finger as my iron by going through the opening and finger press the seam open.
  • Instructions for leaves, mittens, etc. state that you draw the design onto the wrong side of the backing fabric. Then layer batting, top and backing fabric and stitch the design.
    • 1st – clip the back fabric for the slash so you do not have to try to separate the pieces later. This makes it easier when you have to slash the backing fabric to turn to the right side.
    • 2nd – when I pink the edges of the project I do this from the batting side. This allows me to see the edge of the batting that was trimmed away and then I don’t get too close to the sewing and accidentally clip the seam.
    • I press the seams open with a Point Presser or finger press if the item is too small for a Point Presser.
  • OMG…sometimes I astound myself with my brilliance…LOL…To do the leaves for the table runner, I needed 12, I chose to use my Brother ScanNCut to draw all the leaves!! I sprayed the fabric with Best Press and pressed to stiffen the fabric a bit (I did 2 applications pressing after each). Then placed on my ScanNCut mat and let it draw all of my leaves. NOTE: I did not cut them out with the SNC because you layer the fabric then stitch around the leaves before you cut them out.
  • If your Steam-A-Seam II is shredding while you are removing it, heat it up for a second and it will come off easily. :)
  • For great corners when you flip right sides out, always re-sew the corners with 1.0 stitch length starting and ending about an inch before and after the corner. No back stitching on either side. Stop a stitch or two from the corner and cut across the corner with 2-3 stitches, for a thin project or 3-4 stitches, for a thicker project. Trim across the corner just outside the new stitching. Press seams open and turn right sides out.
  • If you are trying to press your strip of fabric away from your quilt and it does not want to lie flat, spritz it with a little Best Press to help coax it the way you want it to go. I like to use the small 6 oz. bottle because it has a finer spray.
  • When sewing something that you leave an opening to turn your project through:
    • Baste across the opening
    • Leave a long thread tail to hand sew opening closed, that way you do to have to attach one later.
    • Press the seam allowance in the basted area away from the seam. This will give you a pressed line to follow when you are hand sewing the opening closed.
    • Remove the basting and press the remaining seams open for a better turn of cloth.
    • Turn right sides out and hand stitch the opening.
  • When using Frixion pens on some cottons like batiks, you will sometimes get a white hazy line remaining when you press to remove the markings. Well…If you first spray it with Best Press, let it stand for a few seconds, press and the lines will go away and so will the white hazy lines. If they still remain repeat the process.
  • If you do not have one of the wonderful circle sewers by Pfaff/Viking, or Brother/Babylock, or you are doing a circle smaller or bigger than your device, or your machine manufacturer has not made one for your model, or your machine maybe older and they did not make them back then…well do not fear you can still do perfect circles. Use a flat head thumb tack. Place Floriani Perfection tape sticky side down onto sharp point of tack. Add another piece in a criss-cross manner. Now here is where the ones you buy make it easy, you will have to mark straight out to the left (or right) of your needle, and tape the thumb tack to your machine or extension table half the width of your circle. Place the center of the circle over the tack and stitch whatever stitch you want…TAH DAH!!! A perfect circle.
  • Love the Ruler foot and templates, but I had trouble with them moving while I was quilting. I first tried InvisiGrip. That helped but it still shifted. So I put on my thinking cap and looked around my studio for a solution. Well, I found a solution, (pun intended) it is called Alene’s Tack it Over and Over. OMG…this was PERFECT!!! After doing my quilt, there was lots of debris on the sticky stuff. I washed it with warm water and mild soap and it was sticky again!! Brilliant Solution, if I do say so myself! See Ruler Foot tips for more ideas on controlling the slippage of the templates.
  • Whenever I fuse on a large piece of Steam-a-Seam II to the back of fabric, I get air bubbles that I have to try to work out. So consequently, I usually cut things into smaller pieces if I can. Enter the digital cutters. To smooth things onto a mat, you use a squeegee…ding, ding, ding…hmmm, would this work to squeegee the fusible web onto the back of the fabric? Let’s try…Tah Dah! It worked…no trapped air bubbles…yeah!!!
  • Glues: This is a great video on types of glues and how to use them.
  • Ruler Foot Templates:
    • Controlling Template slippage
      • There are various ways of controlling the slipping that occurs with using a template. Below I will tell you all the things I have tried. They all worked. It will be how you like applying the different products and how they worked for your project. I gave stars 1-4, 4 being the best, in my humble opinion. Criteria for stars, easy of use, ease of removal.

        Stable Tape

        • Stable Tape**
          • Comes in a pack of 5
          • Cut into small pieces
          • Permanent adhesive
          • Pros: Works well, no slippage of template
          • Cons: Cannot see through so you could lose the ability to use some of the squaring up lines.
        • Invisi Grip

          • This was better than nothing, but I still had slippage. There are better products to use.
        • Alene's Tack It Over

          Alene’s Tack it Over and Over**
          • Spread a thin layer over backside of template and let dry
          • Pros: This work very well although it stuck really good and you do have to work the first few moves a bit to get it off of your fabric. Once a few fibers pick up on the glue it moves easily.
          • Cons: Causes a haze of fibers on the back of the template. This can be washed in warm water and a mild soap to remove the fibers and revive the stickiness.
          • To remove glue spray with alcohol and rub until the glue rolls of the template.
        • Alene's Repositionable Spray

          Alene’s Repositionable Spray **
          • Spray on the backside of the template and let dry
          • Pros: Kept it’s tackiness even after repeated washings to remove lint.
          • Cons: Leaves a haze on your template, although you can easily see all the markings
          • Remove: Spray with Cooking spray and set for 5-10 minutes. Rub the template to help remove the adhesive. Wash with soap and water.
        • Double-Sided Tape

          Double Sided Tape – Permanent ***
          • Place tape on back side of template
          • Pros: Easy to apply, easy to remove
          • Cons: Depending on the size of the project, you may have to replace the tape often.
        • Temporary Spray Adhesive

          Temporary Spray Adhesives **
          • Pros: Easy to apply and sewers and crafters usually have this in their supplies
          • Cons: Leaves a haze on your template although you can still see the markings
          • Cons: You will have to re-apply depending on the size of your project and the lint of the fabric.
          • To remove spray with Cooking Spray and set for 5-10 minutes. Rub the template to help remove the adhesive. Wash with soap and water.
        • Rubber Cement

          Rubber Cement **** (A great suggestion by Linda Moore)
          • Brush across the back of the template and let dry
          • Pros: Does not pick up as much lint as some of the other adhesives
          • Pros: Easily removes by just rubbing your finger across the template
          • Cons: Leaves a slight haze, but not as much as some of the other products.
    • No Pivot function so the foot does not rise above the template
  • Tips: Things I have discovered while using the Ruler Foot and Templates.
    • Per the developers instructions sew slower than you normally would.
    • Breathe, this is fun, and even if you do not free-motion well, your design will be perfect so no one will notice. :)
    • There is a height adjust template that comes with the Ruler Foot. I have found for my quilts and machine that this sets the foot too high. Check the height by placing quilt under the foot and moving it around after you have lowered the foot. If it moves smoothly tighten the ankle screw. Make sure the fabric does not bounce up and down (foot too high) as you stitch as this will cause skipped stitches.
    • Do not watch the needle, watch the edge of the Ruler Foot against the template
    • Do not turn the quilt, simply go around the template, the fabric stays straight
    • Brother Dream or Babylock Destiny (high shank)
      • No problem with Madeira Aerofil Thread
      • Tension at 3.0
      • Cotton thread
        • Use a 90 topstitching needle
        • Stitch slower than your normal free-motion stitching
    • Pfaff (low shank)
      • The low shank templates allow room for the IDT to not interfere with the movement of the templates.
      • Older Pfaffs – When you put these machines into free-motion mode they raise the foot up too high as it is assuming you will be putting on a Pfaff free-motion foot. Follow these instructions:
        • Place the Ruler Foot onto the machine and adjust the height for the thickness of quilt
        • Change the stitch length to ‘0’
        • Set foot pivot height to ‘none’
        • Do not put it in free-motion mode

You can Download This Entire List Here!

And Download a USA Flag project here!

Sewing Tips from Reva: Sometimes You Just Have to Let Things Slide

May 12th, 2015

Teflon Foot

Teflon Foot

Have you ever worked with vinyl, leather, oil cloth, microfiber, or any other type of material that had a surface that was difficult to feed through your machine? Did you know that the source of relief for this frustrating situation could be as simple as changing your sewing foot?

Try a teflon, or non-stick foot! This foot has a teflon sole (some styles may also be completely coated by or made of teflon). This teflon material works the same way for your fabric as it does for frying pans, letting what ever is in contact with it’s surface simply glide through.

Teflon has a slickness that greatly decreases the friction which occurs between a standard foot and the fabric being stitched. Makes sense, doesn’t it? These specialty fabrics may have a glossy and seemingly smoother surface but that is just what causes the issue. The smooth non-porous surface of the fabric makes a great bond with the smooth non-porous sole of a standard foot. Changing out your standard presser foot for one with a teflon sole is like adding a lubricant to help greatly reduce the friction and gripping between the foot and fabric (Note: a teflon foot does not actually contain or add any actual lubricant, only a theoretical lubricant).

There are teflon feet available for all makes and models of sewing machines and there is now even one for the serger, yeah!!! This is definitely a foot that you will want to make sure that you have at the ready. You never know when it will come in handy.

Happy Sewing,

Sewing Tips from Reva: The Easiest Way to Cut Appliques for Your Embroidery!

March 26th, 2015
Make Applique Cutting a Breeze!

Make Applique Cutting a Breeze with Your ScanNCut CM550DX!

Have you seen what the new update for the ScanNCut CM550DX can do? It’s simply amazing!! Let me show you how quickly you can take an applique that is from your machine and have your SNC cut it out automatically for you. This info works with any Brother embroidery machine that has a color touch screen.

1) Choose an applique design that came on your machine – or create one with the auto applique feature if your machine has that capability.

2) Save the built in applique design onto a memory stick. Do this by touching the USB icon.

3) Put the memory stick into your ScanNCut and touch “Pattern.”

4) Next touch the USB symbol to read the design from your USB stick.

5) Open up the design from the stick. The design will be in a folder with the name “Pocket” in it. Touch the design you want to use.

5) How cool!! Once chosen, you will see that the cut line is ready for you to work with.

This is such a great new capability, you are going to love working with it! Even better is that with just a couple more steps on your embroidery machine, you can save any brand of applique design so you can cut the pieces on your ScanNCut. Make sure to watch our video on how I did this with an Anita Goodesign applique embroidery design:

And if you need to know more about how to install the new update for your ScanNCut CM550DX be sure watch this quick video:

Happy Sewing!

Ann’s “White and Black Binding”

March 12th, 2015

From Ann:

As I have been traveling around with Sew Fun I have had numerous requests for a copy of three demos I have done on Binding. I thought the easiest way would be to post them on the blog and then you could read and copy them. Here they are:

  1. Foolproof Binding Method
  2. Starting and Ending the Binding
  3. White and Black Binding


White and Black Binding

How often have you gotten to the binding and realized you were a few inches short? You can use muslin or other scrap fabric for the underside of your binding. Here’s how:
• For a 2 ¼” wide binding, cut your fashion fabric 1 ½” wide and a piece of muslin 1 ¼” wide
• For 2 ½” wide binding, cut your fashion fabric 1 5/8” wide and a piece of muslin 1 3/8” wide
• For a 2 ¾” wide binding, cut your fashion fabric 1 ¾” wide and a piece of muslin 1 ½” wide
• For a 3” wide binding, cut your fashion fabric 1 7/8” wide and a piece of muslin 1 5/8” wide

Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch binding and muslin RST. Press seam toward muslin and then press your binding strip in half WST as you normally would. Bind your quilt as usual.

Ann’s “Starting and Ending the Binding”

March 12th, 2015

From Ann:

As I have been traveling around with Sew Fun I have had numerous requests for a copy of three demos I have done on Binding. I thought the easiest way would be to post them on the blog and then you could read and copy them. Here they are:

  1. Foolproof Binding Method
  2. Starting and Ending the Binding
  3. White and Black Binding


Starting and Ending the Binding

Step 1.
Starting: I begin on the center bottom edge. Fold the end of the binding at a 45 degree angle and press. Cut on the diagonal leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Start sewing the binding to the quilt with the folded edge of the binding open. Sew through one binding thickness for about 3-4 inches, keeping the raw edge of the binding lined up with the raw edge of the quilt top. Backstitch and cut threads.

Starting and Ending the Binding 1

Step 2.
Fold the binding into the doubled position. Start sewing an inch or so forward from where you end in step 1. Now continue sewing around the quilt. Miter your corners as usual.

Starting and Ending the Binding 2

Step 3. Ending:
After you have sewn the binding around the whole quilt stop stitching 4”-5” from the starting point, leave the needle down. Bring the unstitched end of the binding and overlap to the pressed 45 degree angle. Measure past the pressed edge and cut off the excess length, leaving ½”-¾” past the pressed edge. Tuck the end of the binding into the pocket formed at the starting point. Continue to stitch through all thicknesses and making sure you stitch past the point of your first stitching. Backstitch and cut threads. Enjoy!

Starting and Ending the Binding 3