Welcome to the Garden

I like to think that this is your site. A place where you feel welcome to learn and grow in your expertise and ability. A place where your craft is cultivated and you can ask questions. Chances are if you have a question, others have the same question. So ask!!! And please feel free to leave comments. I’d love to know how this site has helped you!

Enjoy strolling around The Sewing Garden. I hope you find it a beautiful place where your questions are answered and you feel empowered to jump in and tackle the sewing projects in front of you. I hope it helps you bloom in the part of the world where you are planted!

An Alteration Dilemma

I received a good question via email today.

It concerns taking in a garment where the customer has lost a lot of weight.

How much work is too much? Long story short: it’s whatever the customer is willing to pay for.

Here is the question I received:

“I need to alter scrub jackets for a woman who lost 22 pounds after she purchased them. They are embroidered with the dental clinic she works for, so she can’t return them. These jackets have snaps in the front, they aren’t pullover tops. They are too wide in the shoulders, the sleeves are too long and too big around. My concern is is that she is very large busted. They have set in sleeves. So, my question is, should I remove the sleeves, shorten the shoulder seam, reattach the sleeves, cut off the length needed to shorten the sleeves from the bottom of the sleeve (they have ribbing cuffs) and reattach the cuffs, then take in the side seams, making sure to leave room for her to snap them closed when needed? I tried taking one in by just basting in the side seams and sleeve, but there is still too much fabric at the underarm. Would appreciate any help you can give, thank you.”

My answer:

This is a great alteration question because there are a few things to think about when taking on a job like this. First, in order to do all of the things you are thinking of doing, it could cost the customer two or three times what a new scrub jacket would cost (assuming you are charging enough for your work!) If the customer is ok with that, then doing all of those things is possible, but it is difficult to get a great fit if you basically have to remake the top. This post explains what I’m talking about a little more in detail:

https://sewfordough.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/taking-in-a-dress-thats-5-sizes-too-big/

So, let’s say she doesn’t want to pay that much to alter each of these scrub tops. You also want to consider what you can do to get the most bang for her buck. In this case, I would take as much out of the side seams and sleeves as I could, not tampering with the cuffs, as I don’t think it’s necessary. Once you’ve taken out what you can, maybe let the rest go. This post shows a hand drawn diagram that outlines what part of the sleeve and side seams need to be taken in:

https://sewfordough.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/taking-in-side-seams-and-facings/

You may need to take in much more than the diagram shows. Yes, the jackets may be still too large, but they are going to be a lot better than what she started with. It’s up to you and the customer to decide how much work is worth doing for scrub tops. Maybe fit for her is a greater priority than price and she’d like for you to take them apart and put them back together again, but I don’t think they’ll ever fit perfectly. She’d do better to buy new ones. So, perhaps alter the sleeves and side seams of one of them and see how she likes it before you do all of them. That will give you a better handle on what your customer wants.

I hope that helps!

How to Sew a Zipper into a Pillow, the Easiest Way Ever!

Yes, there are many tutorials online that teach how to put a zipper in a pillow.

But this method is Different. Easier. 

As I stitched up some pillows recently, I wondered if there was already a post out there with these instructions. To my amazement, there weren’t any. So I thought I’d share that with you today, along with some helpful tips that will save you time and trouble.

First, choose your fabric. Buy enough fabric to cover the front and back of each pillow you are making.

Buy a zipper (regular or invisible). I buy a zipper at least two inches shorter than one side of the square of fabric.

For example, if I’m making a 16″ pillow, I use a 14″ zipper. You’ll see why later.

If you have to cut your zipper down, do. Just make sure you stitch across the zipper teeth several times at the correct length so that your zipper tab doesn’t fall off while you’re constructing the pillow!

I am using a regular zipper in this tutorial.This is so that if you don’t have an invisible zipper foot, you can see how to insert the zipper.

Buy a pillow form for each pillow, make your own, or use one from a previously used pillow that’s still in good shape.

Measure the pillow form.

Most tutorials will tell you to cut the fabric one inch larger (all the way around) than your pillow form.

I’m here to tell you that you’ll be sorry if you do.

The finished pillow will look too baggy.

Cut the fabric one inch smaller than the form. You read that right… smaller!

For example, if your pillow form is 20″square, cut the fabric 19″ square.

I usually like to finish the edges with a serger, but you can use a zig zag stitch if you don’t have a serger.

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Next, place your zipper (invisible zipper or regular zipper) face down (right side of zipper to right side of pillow fabric), centering it on one side of the fabric square.

Using a zipper foot, stitch 1/4″ away from the zipper teeth all along the  zipper.

Make sure your needle is on the correct side of the zipper foot so that you don’t run over the zipper tab when you get to it.

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Turn the zipper so it is facing up and away from the pillow fabric as shown:

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Now, lay the other pillow fabric square on top of this one, right sides together, matching the edges. Pin. See photo below:

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Stitch 1/4″ away from the teeth, on the unsewn side.

Be sure to take out pins before you sew over them.

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Now, unzip the zipper part way. If you don’t, you’ll stitch the zipper inside and it will be tough to get it unzipped to turn the pillow right side out.

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Next, match the three remaining sides of the pillow squares, so that the edges line up.

Now, line up the zipper edges.

Start sewing on the zipper edge of the pillow about 1/2″ away from the zipper stitching toward the inside of the pillow.

Stitch around the 3 non-zipper sides and stop as indicated in the photo below:

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I know it seems strange that your stitching doesn’t match up with where you stitched the zipper on, but this is why this method is so awesome…you don’t have to line up your stitching and you don’t have to worry about the zipper teeth or the tail of the zipper showing!!!

Now, reach in and turn the pillow right side out and look at the zipper!

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Here is the view with the zipper closed:

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I made three of these pillows recently, and it took no time at all.

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See how nice and full they look?

And you don’t see the zippers on the bottom.

Bam! Done!

 

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe its been 6 months since I posted last!

2014 was a very challenging year and perhaps I’ll write more about it soon, but I just wanted you to know I haven’t forgotten about you and I thank you for all your prayers and encouraging emails for our daughter and granddaughter.

Our granddaughter is doing wonderfully. She is growing and developing at warp speed and we love her to pieces!!! She is so much fun. Those of you who are grandparents know what I’m talking about.

Our daughter was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease and she is on some medicine to hopefully put this disease in remission. So, we appreciate your continued prayers for her as this is new territory. She and her husband are handling this all so well and trusting the Lord each step of the way.

I know many of you struggle with health issues as you’ve written and shared your stories. The Lord is good and we know that He will work all this out for good. It’s just hard to see your kids go through difficult things as you would rather carry that burden for them.

As we head into 2015, I’m hoping to get back into writing more sewing posts. I continue to get many great questions in your emails and I hope to answer many questions on future posts. I figure if one has a question, many more probably do as well.

Thanks for your friendship. It feels like I have thousands of sisters all over the globe!!! How fun to study the year end report and see all the different countries you log in from…some I have never heard of. I had no idea how far the Internet reaches!

Do you have any New Years sewing resolutions? I’d love to hear what they are. And I’d love for you to email me pictures of your most challenging alteration this year. It would be fun to post them for all to see. Be sure to include a little paragraph on why it was so challenging.

May 2015 be a wonderful year for you and your family!

It’s Official…I’m A Grandma!!!

Just wanted to stop by and let you know that our precious little granddaughter has been born! She came a month early and weighed 3 pounds, 10 ounces. She and her mama are doing well. She was born a little over a week ago and will be in the NICU until she can feed with consistency. Otherwise, she’s perfect! Her mama and daddy can’t wait to get her home! Please keep them all in your prayers as they learn all things premie and mama recovers. Thank you!

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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!

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.

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!