What I Learned from Industrial Sewing 101

Hi!

A lot of my sewing friends are curious and have asked about how my sewing class went, so I thought I would share my experience.  I took Industrial Sewing at my local college alongside another course which will not be discussed (because drama).

First, my teacher was amazing.  She’s worked in “the industry” for decades.  By industry, they’re referring to clothing manufacturing.

Industrial Sewing is part of the Fashion Design associate’s degree.  My program is a patternmaking certificate, but there is obvious overlap. Most of the students in the class were only there because it’s required for both Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising.  With the exception of two other girls, nobody had used a sewing machine at all, or they claim they haven’t used it since they were children.

The Studio

On day 1 the teacher had everyone sewing on industrial Jukis. There was very little explanation, and everyone seemed to get it… eventually. We used cones of Gutermann poly thread only (similar to what they sell at Wawak.com).  There were sergers available, which we also began using the first week.  The Juki sergers PURRED.  They are amazing.  My home serger, a Brother, seems so clunky and loud and sloppy in comparison, but one benefit to a home serger is that it can be threaded in under 20 minutes.  The teacher even had trouble threading these beasts, and it took forever.  The kids in the class were CONSTANTLY not leaving tails and every other time you would sit down at a machine, despite the warnings they gave us, the sergers would be unthreaded. They also had a coverhem, but apparently nobody was allowed to use it until they have taken the knits course.  There was also a dusty mid-arm on a frame in the back of the room, but nobody knew anything about it and apparently it’s rarely used.

For buttonholes, there’s an older Bernina available.  Nobody liked it, which surprised me because of Bernina’s good reputation.  Students preferred putting a buttonhole foot on the Singer or the Elna even though it didn’t look quite as neat.  The Singer and Elna were there for zig-zag stitches and buttonhole needs, but nobody sewed on them for regular sewing, either.

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Knitting machine in foreground

IMG_7651Note the iron with the gravity water-feeder. These irons are life-changing.

This was only half of the studio, it took up two very large rooms.

Another benefit to the program is that there’s open lab days where students can come in and sew whatever they want or work on homework.  There’s even knitting machines available if you have taken Textiles I.  It’s staffed with instructors to help you with whatever you’re working on, be it drafting patterns, knitwear, homework, sewing for yourself, etc.

The Course

We had several main objectives:  sew a traditional blouse, draft and sew a skirt of our own design,  sew a little black dress, and make a sample book of stitches.  I was in the “advanced” class which meant it was half a semester but we met twice a week so it was at a faster pace.  The first project was the blouse, which was the most difficult.  I’ve sewn lots of tops before, but we had to do different techniques to show what we learned, so there were different types of finishes on everything.  All of the muslins were cut in the industry standard size 10.  The patterns were not pretty like the indie patterns I’m used to, there are no markings except notches and holes for everything, and nothing was marked front/back/collar etc., you had to figure it out which was good in sense that we all learned.  We were given an Order of Assembly and the teacher demonstrated.  We started immediately, baptism by fire.  We also had to make a sample swatch with every machine stitch, hand stitch, dart, hem, seam finish, closure, and facing that we could ever possibly use and keep it in a binder.

I learned so much, and I am sure I pestered the teacher by asking her every question I have bottled up since I started sewing seven years ago. :)  Some points that really stick out to me that you can take away are:  that 1) pretty much everyone doesn’t follow or know the “right way” to make sure you’re on grain, and I will post their method soon; and 2) never use a permanent marker for tracing patterns because it’s “too thick” to be accurate; 3) neckline facings should be cut in three pieces to make sure they’re all on grain or else you’ll have an ever harder time getting them flat, 4) If you’re closing a dress with a zipper, there really needs to be a hook and eye above the zipper to keep it closed; 5) tailor tacks are SO EASY and better than chalk marking IMO; and 6) nobody there knew the beauty of the rotary cutter and everyone pinned and cut with scissors.

The follow-up course, Advanced Industrial Sewing, will have us make stand-up collared shirts, a Chanel-type jacket, and trousers.

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Halloween 2014: DIY Gumball Machine Costume

Hello!

Quick post on Audrey’s costume this year.  She found a lovely costume in a catalog, unfortunately it was $79.50, and that didn’t include ANY accessories.  I’m a DIY kinda gal, and I thought it looked pretty simple.  This is the first time I’ve actually made her a costume and I’m happy it’s something she likes.  (CANDY!!!)

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So my purpose here was twofold:  limited budget costume, and something quick.  If she’s wearing it for two hours, I don’t want to go crazy.

Red felt was both cheap and, wonderfully, IT DOESN’T FRAY.  Neither does the thin vinyl I chose.  This means that you can cut it out, sew the seams, and not finish ANYTHING and it will look fine.  No facings, no binding, no serging, nothing.  Heck, if you don’t want to sew, you could get a red dress or sweatshirt and just add the vinyl and Pom Poms yourself with a glue gun. :P

 

This is how I did it:

Make it from a pattern you already own or draft your own.  Or trace it from a dress that fits.

I took 1 yard of red felt and cut the basic pieces.  One front, and two back pieces.  You can finish the back pieces with velcro or a zipper. Velcro would be very easy to get in and out of, and where I live you’re going to need to put it over a parka anyway, so velcro is smart.  Just cut one front piece (I cut the left side of the piece on the right and flipped it in a mirror image to cut the other side, NOT cutting the center seam. You don’t need a seam in the front).  You want the front to be ONE piece, this is half of what the front looks like.

Next, grab the piece pictured below on the right one more time. Cut one, including that long line on the right (center seam).  Then flip it over to make a mirror image and cut another all the way around.  Those are my back left and right pieces.

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The piece on the left is a shape I created on a white vinyl-ish cheap fabric from JoAnn’s.  You would need a 1/2 yard or a big Fat Quarter. You could get a nice reflective silver fabric, but they didn’t have any when I went and I didn’t have time to order ahead (plus that would increase the budget).  This shape is only HALF of what you want it to be.  Don’t cut down that center seamline!  Trace the armhole, neck, bottom, side, and then flip it over to the left to mirror image it so you have one piece and not half of a bodice.

You will have one bodice piece cut in the white fabric.  Now, take this piece and use it as a pattern piece on your vinyl, so you will have one bodice piece of vinyl.

Take the white piece and put it right on top of the red felt.  Right sides and wrong sides don’t matter here.  Sew it directly on, following the outline of the shape.  Next, take the vinyl and sew it on top of that, repeating what you just did, but LEAVE A SECTION UNSEWN so you can stuff it with gumballs.  We experimented and decided that one-size poms worked better than a mix of sizes.

Sew down that last spot on the vinyl after the poms are in.   Cut a “flap” out of white felt for the opening where the gumballs fall out.

Place your back pieces on top of the pom pom (right side), matching necklines, armholes, and side seams.  Sew a 1/2″ all around these pieces right on top.

Flip the back over to the back.  Sew your velcro as desired along the back seam.

I hope that makes sense!  It’s really VERY SIMPLE, you don’t even need a tutorial, just think to yourself, how should this look?  And make your next move.    Don’t stress.  All of the seams will be on the inside and won’t be seen.  The vinyl is going to be reflective and bunchy, whether or not you DIY’ed it or bought the catalog version.

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We’re going to accessorize with a gumball machine necklace, candy bracelets, and we would do big beaded earrings, but her ears aren’t pierced yet.

Total cost was about $14 with tax.

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Mermaid Wonky Log Cabin

Pretty sure I finished this project last Christmas and it was quilted in the Spring (by my lovely friend Sarah Russett).  I would say that it’s time to blog it. In fact, I’ve actually been stopping myself from blogging further makes because of the guilt of not blogging this one. Ha.

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This quilt actually took a very long time to make in the sense that it was a Work in Process for so long. I would make a few blocks, tape them to the wall, and do something else for a few months.  In fact, I had never made a log cabin block before this.  Most of the prints are from Mendocino by Heather Ross (can I mention here that I got my yardage at $7.00/yd around 2010? So happy it will be reprinted), Out to Sea by Sarah Jane, and some randoms.

The background is a soft cotton couture pink that is super sweet in my daughter’s room.IMG_7217 Backed with a wide Kokka linen-cotton blend by Melody Miller.

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Go Anywhere Tote make

I’m not a bag maker.  Ironically, a bag pattern was my first quilt shop purchase (Amy Butler’s Swing Bag from The Needle Shop!).  It was probably my first Work in Progress that was never finished, though I did re-use the scraps and officially put a stop to it.  I’m not sure now why I didn’t finish it.  I’ve made one bag since then, from the BurdaStyle book.  It had an oval bottom piece, so my first time doing that was a little strange, and I didn’t really enjoy the experience.  Probably didn’t help that the purse was not interfaced (it didn’t call for it though I used mid-weight linen/cotton, and I didn’t know better) and it’s kind of a slouchy mess so I never use it.

Anyways, despite knowing tons of bag-makers and even bag-pattern-makers, I have been needleshy.

And yet… I hate buying purses.  I’m really a tote kind of gal.  I just know that I would be happier with one of my own making.  One thing that has scared me off was how dirty my purses get, and I would hate to see a beloved fabric get dirty and beat up.  We’ll see how that goes.

tl;dr version:  I needed a bag, didn’t want to make one, did anyway.

So I made Noodlehead’s “Go Anywhere Tote” with some trepidation.

Which was completely unnecessary.  Unlike my issues understanding the Divided Tote (still not finished, and probably more to do with my insistence on sew-in interfacing complicating things), I had NO problems understanding or making it.  It probably took less than 2 hours, including cutting and fusing.

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Fabric Used:  Tomotake Muddy Works canvas for exterior pockets & straps; Andover chambray in black for exterior; On the Grid for the interior and Arrows for interior pockets, both by Rashida Coleman-Hale for Cotton+Steel.   SF-101 interfaced everything.

Since I’ve been using this bag for about two weeks now, I can comment a little on the wear. The exterior front pockets called for a little triangle to be sewn where the top of the exterior pocket meets the body (dividing the exterior pocket), and despite my triangles looking very nice, one has already been ripped away from the body and needs re-sewn.  I used my standard Gutterman Mara poly.  Next time I would use a top-stitch/thicker weight thread and I think it would look nicer and show off the stitching.

I also wish I used something thicker than the chambray, which is starting to have a really worn-in look; perhaps Essex linen next time.  The chambray/bold print combo  is a very popular combination for bags, so thanks blogosphere for the constant inspiration.  And thanks, Noodlehead, for making such a wonderful pattern.  She was even kind enough to leave a nice comment on my Instagram, something I know is very hard for busy people and people who get tagged constantly to do, and I appreciate her taking the time to touch base with customers.

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Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition 2014

Hello!  I’m presenting my official entry into the Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition for 2014.  In case you don’t know what that is, in summary,  Umbrella Prints is a natural screenprinting textile studio run by two lovely ladies in South Australia.  They hold an annual competition that people all over the world enter by using one of their sample scrap packs.  Other fabrics and supplies are allowed, and it doesn’t have to be sewn.

For my entry, I purchased a trimmings pack of their heavenly Floating World collection.

trimMy packet

10299661_501084676681083_360738136_nI used lovely, soft solids to highlight the “floating” luminosity of the prints.  The incredible lightness of their being, to steal from a book title.  My favorite is the bright green bird of paradise. The pattern I used to make my mini quilt is Single Girl by Denyse Schmidt (with permission).

Here’s a photo of the mini taken near my old home in Northern Illinois, in one of the many “falling down barns” as my husband likes to say when he spots them, in the area.

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This quilt was really fun to do.  Partially because I only had to make one large block and not a whole quilt. :)  Cutting the templates and fabric using scissors instead of a rotary cutter was not something I would want to do!  God bless our ancestors.

SONY DSCTo vote for my quilt or whichever strikes your fancy, visit the Pinterest board and leave a comment!

Thanks so much!  I can’t wait to use the other fabric I purchased from the company now that the trimmings competition is over.

Samantha

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Glitzy Hanami top

Another pattern pinned years ago has finally been made good… a Hanami top for my daughter!  (She wasn’t big enough before, that’s my excuse for taking so long).  The pattern is a downloadable .pdf by StraightGrain.

The Hanami features a gathered peplum/flounce, several sleeve options, and a crossed back bodice (alternatively, there’s instructions for an invisible zip closure).  In some photos I see the buttons on the outside of the bodice, but I sewed the button to the lining only of the outer piece so the button is facing her body and the buttonhole to the inner pieces of the bodice (next to the skin) so it’s completely hidden.  It takes a few extra seconds to put it on her since I have to button it by sticking my hand inside of the top, but it’s super cute.

I chose a border panel Michael Miller’s Glitz for the fabric.  The bottom dots ran across the selvedge, so my ruffle was cut on the crosswise grain.  The metallic also made the fabric pretty thick with a lot of body, so it sticks out more than that pattern probably called for (my gathering isn’t the best here, either, ugh, but don’t look).  Also.. I didn’t have quite enough fabric to make the ruffle as long as the pattern called for, so that’s probably another reason it looks a little off.

photo(13)  photo(12)She actually loved the full-bodied stiffness of the print though, it made her feel like a “princess” in her words.  Much more practical than a full princess skirt, no?

The pattern was REALLY EASY.  It’s lined, which is the only kind of anything I ever want to make.  I really don’t get why some people consider lining more advanced than making facings and bias-binding to close necklines, because most of the time those need fiddled with and look terrible but lining comes out perfect if you’re careful with your pressing every single time.  In my future, I see a double-gauze Hanami, like this one:
hanami button In summary:  Highly recommended pattern with full color, how-to photo tutorials in for the win.

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Gypsy Wife Quilt Work-in-Progress

I started what will be “my quilt” just around Christmas.  With time constraints what they are for everyone, I thought it would be reasonable to have it done within 9 months. That’s the goal anyway.  :)  It’s very hard to find time to sew as we all know.  As long as I’m not working on a deadline and keeping my expectations realistic, it’s really not that bad knowing that I’m chipping away at something that will be so gratifying in the end.  I really don’t enjoy the process like some claim. Picking out the fabric and looking at it when it’s done is good enough for me. :)  Before this quilt I had never sewn triangles, so on the first ones you will notice I lost a lot of my points, but I am learning and getting better so that’s a win.

The quilt pattern booklet apparently wasn’t well-tested as there are quite a few mistakes and unlabelled or mislabeled diagrams, some acknowledged and corrected, some not.  In the Gypsy Wife Quilt-Along on flickr there is a great errata sheet, and @craktpot on Instagram gives really good tips. However, I’m told that that’s how most old-school quilt patterns are written like this; I guess I’m used to bloggers taking pictures and holding your hand, maybe?  But really, this quilt pattern is amazing, and the process has been so fun even though I’m essentially learning as I go!  I really recommend the pattern as the major error has been corrected on Jen Kingwell’s site (one strip missing) and all of the issues are pretty minor.

I have a few more copies of the Gypsy Wife pattern by Jen Kingwell for sale in the shop. Once they’re gone I am not re-stocking, but they should be floating around for sale for a while.

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Meet Tinny

I’ve been sewing a lot for my daughter lately.  She’s 2 1/2, and can reliably walk, run, and play while wearing dresses and skirts now.  Plus, she’ll be wearing the same size more than a few months.  In the past, she’s flatly refused to wear anything I make her. She also won’t wear any of the dresses from the Tea Collection (she must suspect I made it).  She must sense the desperation in my eyes when I’m like “wear it, mommy needs to take a picture to show her friends!!”)  When she saw this dress, she immediately said, “I don’t want it.”  I said, that’s ok, I’m making it for your friend.  Nooo! It’s mine! Mine! And now she loves her new “princess dress.”  Hey, kid, it’s nani freakin’ iro!

photo(10)Seriously, mom??

The pattern is Tinny from An at Straight-Grain.com. I’ve been a huge fan of An and her blog straight-grain.com for a few years now. When I worked at the law office, I subscribed to a a handful sewing blogs via e-mail and they always made my day, and hers was one of the first.  She’s pretty spectacular, and really famous.  So, the Tinny had been on my bucket list for a while, but I was intimidated by the collars and the notched sleeves, both of which I had never done.   I also detest printing and taping .pdfs, but with a child-sized pattern, pages that were actually numbered and diagrammed, and a little chart telling you which pages to print, made it much more palatable.  BUT I finally stopped crying and made a Tinny.  Because I sew fearlessly.

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Seriously, it was A BREEZE.  I think I was intimidated from making impressive-looking clothing like this because a) I’m self-taught and b) commercial patterns are not meant to be instructional (unfortunately) and c) I’m constantly expecting failure. But, good indie patterns like Straight Grain include color photos, step by stop information and advice, which really help me.  I did not have a single problem making this dress!  (Bonus, for me: no buttons. I hate buttons. Invisible zippers are the way to go).

Another contributor to the smooth process was the fabric, Bird’s Eye by Nani Iro.  It’s a brushed cotton (aka flannel but without all the cheap pilling).  It’s imported from Japan, so it’s not cheap.  But honestly, if I’m spending my time to make her a fancy dress, she’s getting a fancy dress.  It’s going to be nice.  She’s wearing it to picture day and for Easter.  I would pay a lot more for this at the store.  The fabric is dreamy, and it was a dream to sew with because it’s so much thicker than quilting cotton yet has a wonderful drape. I used Michael Miller’s cotton couture solids in spa for the collar/cuffs. Both fabrics are in my shop now.

photo(7)   Isn’t this pattern sweet?  Well, I’m giving away a downloadable copy of all the StraightGrain patterns!

You have a chance to win by leaving a comment on this post.  Additional comments allowed if you follow me on Facebook and Instagram.  The giveaway ends Sunday, March 9, at 21:00 Central Standard time.  I’m also taking entries on Instragram at my account @patterncrushfabrics (there are separate rules detailed there).

I may have neglected my blog in favor of Instagram a teeny-tinsy-tiny-teeny-weenie bit but I’m whipping it back into shape.  You’ll also be able to shop for my fabric and paper patterns by the end of the month on this site as well as Etsy.

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Doll Quilt Swap 14

Hi everyone!  I’m making some big changes to my blog/website.  Soon, there will be a store integrated, but this blog is and always will be my personal blog.  While I like to talk about my shop, it’s not meant to be a big ad (I do have a newsletter if that’s what you’re looking for–sales, new arrivals, etc.).  I’m still trying to figure out how to balance talking about my work and talking about new products, but hopefully I’ll arrive at a conclusion.

I recently made a quilt for Doll Quilt Swap 14.

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I don’t know why that looks so fish-eyed, I must have had a strange camera setting.  The pattern is Swedish Blooms-Time by Ayumi Takahashi in Patchwork, Please!  The birds in the center and the petals are both available in my shop.

The swap was fun, though it’s hard doing them because, well, you have to give it away and you feel bummed since you want to keep it.  And then there’s all those “I like it, but I don’t think it’s for me because it’s too _______ (fill in the blank).” Thankfully my partner didn’t do that, but geez, I would have been crushed if one of them was my partner, so that’s a little weird.  It’s helpful if you’re in the planning stages, but not after the quilt is already made and you can’t really go back.  And then what if you get a partner that is totally silent you just hope and pray they like it. But THEN you receive your package in the mail, and it’s the best day EVER.  My partner Chelsea spoiled me.  Finally, your partner says thanks, I love it, and you feel glad because you really want them to be satisfied and you did your best.

If you ever get the opportunity to participate in DQS 15, go for it! The swap mamas are awesome, and really, everyone is so talented it hurts.

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SMS Giveaway Day 2013! – CLOSED

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!

Elizabeth H., you’re my winner!

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THANK YOU SO MUCH for everyone who entered.  Your answers were so helpful.  I won’t be able to reply to everyone due to the overwhelming response, but your comments were all read and appreciated.  Happy Holidays!

PS – If you’re bummed you didn’t win, you can take 10% off your order in my shop through the end of the year with code “SMSGIVE” – I have the bundle set at a great price right now.

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As you probably know from clicking, it’s Sew Mama Sew’s annual giveaway day!

ImageI own a modern fabric shop on Etsy called Pattern Crush.  I’m pretty active on Instagram (@patterncrush and @patterncrushfabrics) and I love to quilt and sew.

Here’s a sample of the pretty things you can find in my shop:

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The Giveaway!

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What are you waiting for?  Leave a comment telling me which fabric lines you’re looking forward to next year, and if you really have no idea, what you would love to see in a fabric line.  You don’t have to subscribe or jump through any hoops, though you’re welcome to!  EXTRA ENTRY for Facebook Followers.  Leave a comment indicating that you are one.  There’s a”like” link on the right of the page for convenience.

International customers are welcome (a huge portion of my customers are international!).  I hope you can favorite my shop on Etsy to visit later.  In return, I’ll pick one random winner for the Acacia bundle!  Giveaway closes December 13th at 5pm PST.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!

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