Readers…..Chime in!

Hi everyone,

I got a question from a reader yesterday that I thought would be great for you all to chime in and help answer.

I think we’ve all had to fix this problem at one time or another.

Here is her email:

Hi Linda,
Thank you for your blog!
I am working on my daughter’s bridal gown and will soon begin on the bridesmaid dresses.  My question deals with the invisible zippers in the dresses.  The bridesmaid dresses are strapless with simple a-line skirts in the back.  There are three layers: chiffon, charmeuse, and lining.  I have always struggled with getting a completely smooth transition to the seam at the bottom of the zipper, often getting a little bump.  Since these navy colored dresses have nothing to help hide an imperfect installation I would appreciate any tips to achieve a flawless look.
Thank you for any advice!
Have a great day,
Nancy

Thank You!

The WordPress annual report just showed up in my inbox.

I am speechless.

There were over 290,000 visits to this blog in 2013!

That’s about 800 per day….incredible!

And you are reading this blog from 179 countries all over the world…

(from some countries I have never heard of)…..even more incredible!

Thank you to each and every one of you for making my “job” so much fun!

Sewfordough will be five years old this coming April.

If you’d like to know how this all started, read this post.

And if you’d like to know how I learned to sew, read here.

It is inspiring to see which posts you look at each day.

And I love getting your emails, questions and comments.

Keep them coming!

Oh, and before I close out the year, I just want to let you all know that my husband and I are going to be grandparents, for the first time, this coming June!

We’re so excited!!!

So, any tips you have on sewing for grandkids or how to be a good grandma, will be totally appreciated!!!

I hope you and your family have a very blessed New Year filled with God’s richest blessings!

Quick Gift Idea

I went to my quilt group the other day and one of the ladies had an impromptu craft to share with us.

Those of you (and I’m not one of you!) who are handy with paper crafts can figure this out by looking at it.

It’s a star ornament filled with 6 Hershey kisses.

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It’s cute, isn’t it?

Here’s another angle:

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I don’t know where she got the pattern.

I might be able to explain how to make this to you:

We started by making the exterior of the star. You just fold into 5 (?) parts and have a flap that is glued to hold it together.

Then, we took a long narrow piece of good qualtity turquoise paper.

You fold it into 4 equal sections. There are two of these and they fit inside the big star. These hold the kisses.

Then, you can see the triangles that fit above and below the kisses.

We glued those to the top and bottom of the star.

(She had this great glue that dries in a flash.)

It was a little white bottle with green letters.

I know, I am a big help, aren’t I?!!

Then, she embossed the turquoise strip that goes around the star and we glued that on with this machine:

Then, there is a scalloped shape “roof” to the star.

Now, it’s time to add your kisses in the compartments.

Next, we punched a hole through this very thick ornament with an incredible gadget she had called a Crop-A Dile.

Crop-A-Dile

(Oh, my goodness, I may need one of these!

I don’t know why, because I don’t do paper crafts, but it just looks like it does alot of cool stuff!)

Next, we tied the silver cord through the hole to hang it on the tree.

Then, she gave us the silver medallions to glue on the center of the star.

The only thing that she didn’t have was a round rhinestone to glue in the middle of the medallion.

For those of you who know how to do this type of thing and have all the great gizmos to do it, it doesn’t take any time at all.

And it sure looks elegant!

Should You Charge A Minimum Fee For Alterations?

I get asked this question alot.

So, let’s take an example.

This morning, I found a bag on my front porch.

Inside was a pair of workout pants:

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The customer said there was a hole in the seam at the knee and would I stitch it up?

Certainly!

Here is a photo of the small hole:

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Here’s what it looked like on the inside:

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So, I switched the thread to black and put in a stretch needle and sewed it up:

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When I have a small job like this, I like to see if there’s anything else that needs stitching up or reinforcing..

I noticed that the other knee seam was coming apart too:

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So, I stitched it up as well.

That way, the customer is happy you went the extra mile for them.

Did I charge this customer?

Actually, no.

This customer is my niece!

Personally, I don’t charge my family members.

And there are others I don’t charge.

Sometimes, I just want to bless them.

I may not want to charge a person for a small item if they are a first time customer.

They always come back with more alterations the next time.

So, when do you charge a minimum fee?

The bottom line is, you have to figure this one out for yourself.

You have to do what seems right and best for you.

I ask myself…”Do I feel comfortable charging for this?”

If the answer is “yes”, then I charge.

If it is “no”, then I don’t.

Now you’re wondering what amount to charge, right?

Ask yourself these questions…

What would you want to be charged for such an alteration?”

“What is your time worth?”

“How much work was it to get the job done?”

Answering these questions, and any others that pop into your head, should give you a pretty good idea on whether or not to charge a minimum fee.

How To Alter a Top That’s Too Low Cut

Have you ever tried to alter a blouse that was lower at the neck than you were comfortable with?

To make this alteration, we are going to do two things: take up the front shoulder seam and take in the collar.

Generally, you don’t need to take up the back of the blouse, but have the customer try it on so you can see how the back fits.

If the back fits well, don’t touch it.

If it doesn’t, you could pull up the back and front at the same time.

This back of this blouse fit great, so it didn’t need to be altered.

The only seam on this collar was at the back:

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and I was glad because I didn’t want to mess with the “fluff” on the front.

The center back neck seam was stitched and then gathered to fit:

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Let me explain what we’re going to do and then we’ll get after it.

We are going to decrease the circumference of the neck at the middle back seam and when we do that, we’ll need to decrease the circumference of the top as well.

To begin, take a seam ripper and unstitch the stitches that hold the collar and the shoulder seam together:

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Take out the stitches from just past one shoulder seam, all around the back of the neck to just past the other shoulder seam like this:

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Next, you’ll want to open up the shoulder seam. This was a delicate knit and I had to be careful where I placed my seam ripper so as not to cut the knit, but just cut the stitch:

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I opened up the shoulder seam halfway:

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Once that was opened up, I was able to shorten the front of the blouse by pinning like this:

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Stitch that shoulder seam by sewing along the original back shoulder seamline and trim off the excess front fabric.

Next, you’ll need to take in the back neck seam on the collar. Can you see the excess collar material?

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Since I took one inch off of the front of the blouse on the left and the right for a total of 2″, I need to take up 2 total inches on the collar as well.

I took the seam apart and stitched up two inches of fabric and trimmed the seam.

I apologize that the photo is not real clear, but I hope you get the idea:

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Now, stitch the collar to the neck edge of the blouse:

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You can see the newly adjusted collar:

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You might want to re-serge or zigzag any uneven edges.

That’s all there is to it!

If you have a t-shirt type top, you may need to work with ribbing or a facing.

Use the same principle of taking up the shoulders and taking in the circumference of the top to the measurements you need.

This will work for tank tops too.

Unless you have a really long top, you may not be able to adjust more than a couple of inches before it affects the look of the blouse.

But this should help those tops that are just a little too low for your comfort level.

Sewing With Treadle Machines in Africa

My family and I just returned from an amazing, life changing trip to Zambia, Africa!

It is a trip we will never forget.

Our daughter, Michelle, works for an orphan ministry called Every Orphans Hope.

We wanted to go and see her working first hand and help where we could.

There are 11 orphan homes consisting of one mama and eight children.

The mamas are hoping to learn to sew so that they can run a business and make some money.

My part was to teach the mamas how to sew.

Last year, we raised money to buy each mama a machine:

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We had heard that some of the machines were not working correctly.

After looking at several of the machines, we realized that report was accurate.

Each one had different problems.

So, because of this, some were being used as a table:

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Kristin, a teammate of mine, learned how to use a treadle machine before we got to Africa.

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I watched Kristin use the fly wheel and her feet simultaneously.

As she explained, it’s sort of like working the clutch on a car…there’s a point when you know when to start with the feet.

(I watched a You Tube video before I left and thought it looked easy, but it was something I never got the hang of.)

The machine Kristin learned on here in the states was a SInger and she was taught to turn the fly wheel away from you as you start.

We finally figured out that, with these machines, you need to turn the fly wheel toward you as you start.

There were many dissimilarities like this that we needed to work through.

After about three days of trying to get them to work, we realized we needed to visit the sewing machine dealer where they were purchased last year.

The owner assured us that he would fix them all.

What a relief!

He also let us know that these machines can be altered from treadle to hand crank.

Hand crank machines means you crank an added piece on the fly wheel while you sew with your left hand.

The mama in the middle, uses her own hand crank machine:

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She made this bag on my shoulder last year and my daughter bought it as a gift for me!

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The owner at the sewing machine shop also explained that we could buy a kit that would convert the treadle machines to electric for about $15 US dollars!

This would be great for the mamas that live in the city, who have some electric power daily.

At the Every Orphan’s Hope office, we worked with a Zambian volunteer, Agatha, to show her how to make a simple tote bag.

Agatha is a tailor in Zambia, but I’m not sure if she had made a bag before.

Here is the finished product:

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We saw Agatha at one of the homes the next day.

She was hemming a chitenge, which is a 2 yard piece of fabric that the women of Zambia drape around themselves as a skirt.

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As you can see, she is using an electric machine.

It amazed me that these women can sew without a table and while sitting on the floor!

As soon as we left, we saw the mamas moving into this house ready to take a lesson on making tote bags.

What joy to see the ladies taking something they learned and teaching those around them.

It is our hope that they will be able to practice and soon start their own businesses.

The mama who made the tote bag for me is already selling her bags.

You can find them on this page of the Every Orphan website.

Check them out.

You could start your Christmas shopping early and help a mama in Zambia at the same time!

Teaching the Mamas How to Sew

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that I will be in Zambia, Africa, for the next two weeks!

Last summer, as many of you helped raise money to buy the mamas there each a sewing machine, God was impressing on my heart that I should be the one to go and teach them how to sew.

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And sew (so!), that’s where I am headed!

I am getting excited!

I’ve gotten all my shots and the bags are packed.

A friend of mine challenged me to help her sew dresses and skirts for each of the orphan girls. We had so much fun that we ended up making 62 when we only needed 42!

Most of them are tiered skirts, but we made a few dresses like these:

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I’m sure we’ll find plenty of extra girls to give them to.

My friend even started making boy’s pajamas as well.

The ladies in my Bible study donated so many things for the kids: toys of all kinds and personal items. I was really touched by their generosity:

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What I am really excited about is that I get to help my daughter and son-in-law in the ministry called Every Orphan’s Hope!

This ministry is doing amazing things to help the orphans and widows in the country of Zambia.

And if your heart is moved, go ahead and sponsor one of the orphan’s!

It only takes $27 per month to sponsor one of these kids who have lost their parents to the AIDS/HIV crisis.

Several of the children have tested positive as well.

But your money goes to give them food, water, medicine, clothing and an education and the ability to live in a home with 7 other children and a mama who loves on them with extra special love. Most of the mamas are widows.

I can’t wait to meet them all!

And teach them how to sew.

There is another lady joining me on this adventure, whom I will meet in Zambia, who is willing to help me teach them.

I’m so grateful for her.

We hope to make great progress with these mamas so that they can learn to make purses or bags and sell them as a small business for themselves.

One of the mamas is already doing this and her bags are on this page of the  Every Orphan website.

If bags are not your bag, there are other ways of helping the ministry, like buying real live chicks for the orphans and mamas to raise.

Check out the website by clicking on any link above or on the photo in the right sidebar.

I can’t wait to come back home and share all kinds of incredible stories with you!

Until then, I won’t be able to respond to your questions daily like usual.

Internet will be spotty there.

But, I’ll respond as fast as I can.

In the meantime,  if you have a question about something, type the subject (like hems or side seams or wedding dress) into the search box on any page of my website and find articles and other seamstresses comments that will guide you through your sewing dilemma. Remember that there may be several pages of posts with the answer!

I would appreciate your prayers as I embark on several long flights and for good health and that I might be helpful and show the love of Jesus wherever I go.

Thank you soooo much.

I’ll be back soon!

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