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April 2015
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Make Memory Quilts

Posted By on March 5, 2015

Add New Dimension to Your Sewing — Make Memory Quilts!









Memory quilts, like the one above, can be done several ways.  The finished size of the wall hanging memory quilt shown is 23″ x 32″ tall, and has loops at the top in order to use a dowel for hanging.

This particular one has fabric pieces of various sizes sewn together, with colors and print ideas chosen by the mother of the little girl.  The pictures were all made by scanning them and printing them on printable fabric (fabric by June Taylor) in an ink jet printer (you can’t use a laser printer for these pictures because the ink will rub off).  You can see that the pictures are not in any type of sequence, but rather just as a collage.  The lower left square has two little pictures in it, with a decorative butterfly applique.  The middle right picture has been made to appear like it is in a picture frame, with lace edging surrounding it.

I have seen memory quilts that have been made for a particular child as a gift when the child heads off to college.  The one in particular that I’m thinking about had pictures of the child all the way from Kindergarten to high school senior made on the printable fabric.  As the quilt was pieced together, squares were added that had a poem that the child had written in the 6th grade, an art picture that was made in middle school, a copy of a cute Mother’s Day card that had been made at school, etc.  This type of memory quilt was indeed a full size quilt, but I rather doubt that the daughter ever actually used it on her bed.

Quilting is a bit time consuming, however people are willing to pay for these timeless treasures if they can only find someone who will do the work for them.  The memory quilt wall hanging took several months to complete, as the seamstress worked on it a little at a time, as she did her other sewing projects, in order that her main business of sewing and alteration work could still be completed in a reasonable time.

With a little imagination there is no limit to what can be done with memory quilts.

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Pass Along Your Love of Sewing – Teach Children How To Sew

Posted By on February 26, 2015

What a wonderful feeling it would give you to teach someone about your passion of sewing!  Not only would you feel proud of that person’s accomplishments, the person doing the learning would feel “on top of the world” to have created something unique and useable.

If you’re wondering where you could begin, start with some children – your own children or grandchildren or friends or neighbor’s children.  I would say around 5-8 would be a good age to begin teaching them the basics of sewing.  I started my grandchildren on the very basic stitching by using sewing cards (here’s an example of a set that I used).

Assorted E-Z Sew Sewing Cards

After they got the hang of doing even stitching around the sewing cards I brought out my Learn How To Sew book and turned to the hand sewing projects.  After picking a few of the hand sewing projects and making them, the children were HOOKED on sewing – they were so proud of the things they made they could hardly wait to get them home to show their parents.

By doing hand sewing projects first I could introduce them to various stitches for them to practice while actually making something, as well as getting them used to using, threading and being careful with needles.

When the time came for moving on to using a sewing machine, the same book, Learn How To Sew, has very clear pictures of the various parts of the sewing machine that the kids need to know, then it moves on to practice pages for beginner sewing – learning how to sew following  straight lines, circles, and slightly more complicated stitching designs.  For very beginning sewers, we recommend that you make the practice sewing projects out of pattern paper for ease of use, then let them follow the stitch lines without thread in the machine.  After they get the feel of how to start / stop / turn on the machine, it is time to add thread and use the same practice designs before moving on to making an actual clothing or craft item.

There are many ways to set up sewing classes for children — go “one on one” with a child, or if you’re going to teach older kids (8-10-12 year olds), you could set up the classes in groups of 4 per class or 6 or the number you feel like you could easily handle.

In order to teach actual sewing machine skills, you will need to have a sewing machine for each student.  We have found that going to flea markets and yard sales, we’ve found good sturdy older machines that just need a little bit of cleaning, oiling and adjusting and it was ready for use.  Of course you’ll need a little more room in order to put in the number of machines you’re anticipating that you’ll need for the number of students you want, so again, what we did was set up an area against a wall in the garage for the machines and it worked perfectly.

A couple of notes need to be mentioned here – first, be aware that there are also many adults that would LOVE to learn how to sew, so once the word gets out that you’re teaching sewing, you may have more than just children for your classes.

A second note is to let you know that the Learn How To Sew book was written by my husband and me.  When we wanted to start teaching our grandchildren how to sew, there simply wasn’t anything available for a teaching aid, so we wrote the Learn How To Sew book in order to cover all the aspects of sewing, and that it could be used for children and for teenagers and adults.

Teaching someone how to sew doesn’t take very much time – perhaps an hour once or twice a week, depending on how often you want to do the classes.  The sewing classes will make some extra money for your business in addition to giving you a good feeling about passing along your love of sewing to someone else.

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DARN That Hole!

Posted By on February 24, 2015

Oh No!  My favorite and most expensive wool skirt got snagged and left a hole – is there any way you can fix it for me?  Have any of your customers called and asked you that question?  And what did you tell them?  “Sorry, but I can’t fix holes in woolen garments.”  That little hole in the woolen garment is going to grow and grow unless it is darned right away.  Once the repair has been made, the garment has a whole new lease on life!  Let me pass along some information about darning holes in wool garments.

If it is possible to pull ravelings from a seam or the edge of the hem, or a like piece of material, these should be threaded into a needle and used for darning.  Use the ravelings that come from the length of the cloth for the lengthwise darns, and the ravelings from crosswise of the cloth for the crosswise threads in the darn.  Try to imitate the weave of the material, that is if it is a loose material do not put the darning threads too close together.  If it is closely woven material, make a tight darn.  Do not make knots in the thread.  Always work on the right side of the material to see how the darn is going to appear, but start and end the threads on the wrong side and leave loose ends of about half an inch of thread on the wrong side when starting and finishing off a thread.

If there are ravelings, try to match the material with a thread of the same size as that woven in the material and the exact color.  If the shade cannot be matched exactly always use a shade of thread a little darker than the material.  And always use dull thread for darning.

A good idea when darning is to put the material into a small embroidery hoop.  This will keep the area from puckering while holding it and keep the darn nice and flat.  If the darn is pulled too tight it will pucker when finished.  If it is too loose the finished darn will puff out.

After finishing the darn, shear off any small threads sticking up on the right side of the garment, but leave all loose ends on the wrong side.  Press on the wrong side, and brush up the nap slightly on the right side.

Sometimes, when it is impossible to match the color of the thread exactly, it is possible to find a fabric crayon or regular wax crayon, that does just match the color of the material.  Always try it out by marking a few strokes on the inside of a seam.  If it exactly matches, warm the crayon a little by putting it in the sun or in the oven for a very short time.  then mark back and forth over the darn on the right side.  Then put it between two pieces of wrapping paper and press with a warm iron.

Try this, and see how you do.  This is another area that you can specialize in – advertise it, and watch your business will grow.

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How To Make Fringe

Posted By on February 19, 2015

Fringe can be put on just about anything, from home decor items such as pillows and table coverings to clothing garment items like head scarves, jean jackets, sweaters and more.  Oh, I know you can buy some types of “fringe” by the yard, but it doesn’t come in every color under the sun, and most importantly, it wouldn’t be “hand made” by you.

Fringe is not hard at all to make — granted it is a little bit time consuming, but just like other things that take time, it will be well worth the extra time spent!  Give it a try today!













Cut 6 or 8 strands of thread or yarn (length depending on the article to which the fringe is added).  Double the strands to form a loop (Fig. 1).  Insert a crochet hook through the stitch at the edge of the article (Fig. 2), pushing the crochet hook through the back to the front of the garment, and draw the loop through (Fig. 3).  Pull the loose ends through the loop as shown (Fig. 4), then pull the ends down tight to make a knot (Fig. 5).  Repeat this process all around the article, making the fringe 1/8″, 1/4″ or 1/2″ distance apart, depending on whether you’re using thread or yarn, and how close together you choose to make the fringe threads.  Trim tne ends evenly.








Cut 6 strands of thread or yarn the desired length and make a row of plain fringe, following the instructions given previously for plain fringe.  This is the base row for the double knotted fringe.

Next pick up 6 strands of the first fringe and 6 strands of the second fringe and make a knot (fig. 6), 3/4″ to 1″ down and in the center between the two previous knots.  Pick up the remaining 6 strands of the second fringe and the first 6 strands of the next fringe and make another knot.  Continue in this manner all around the article.  Trim the lower fringe evenly.










Cut 8 strands of thread or yarn about 16 inches long and make a row of plain fringe, according to the instructions given for plain fringe.  This is the base row for the triple knot fringe.

Now make a row of double knot fringe following the instructions given above for double knot fringe.

Next work another row of knots by taking half of the first group of fringe and half of the next group of fringe and knot together about 3/4″ from the second row of knots (Fig. 7), keeping the knots centered with the ones above, as shown in the diagram.  Continue all around the article.  Trim the fringe evenly at the bottom.

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New Life For Daddy’s Old Shirts

Posted By on February 18, 2015

Have you ever thought about renovating old clothes to make new garments?  If some of your customers are going through hard times, but still need sewing done, you could try various renovating projects ahead of time, just to see what you’d feel comfortable doing, then offer those services to your customers.  There are many “renovating” projects that can be done; however we’re going to focus on making a girls blouse or boys shirt from a man’s shirt.  (You can get lots of other ideas and instructions from the book “Make A Child’s Wardrobe From Your Old Clothes“.)

A size two blouse or shirt pattern is about the largest that can be made from a man’s medium size shirt.  If the shirt is long sleeve you can make either a long sleeve or short sleeve blouse / shirt; and of course if the man’s shirt is short sleeve, you could only do short sleeves on the children’s blouse or shirt.  The children’s blouse or shirt can be made with larger patterns if you’re using a large or extra large man’s shirt.

** Carefully cut up the shirt, following all the seams.  Cut the sleeves so they will lie flat.

** Lay together the two front pieces of the shirt and pin the blouse/shirt back below the pockets.  The blouse/shirt back is supposed to be on a fold, but when you’re making it out of a shirt, it just can’t be done.  The next best thing is to make a seam up the middle of the back, which doesn’t detract from the finished garment.  When you are cutting out the back, be sure to allow for the center back seam, otherwise the blouse/shirt back will be smaller than the pattern.

** Next, fold the back of the shirt.  Pin the blouse front to the tail of the man’s shirt.  Use the top of the back for strips for the front bands of the blouse.

** Lay the shirt sleeves together and pin the blouse/shirt sleeve as far towards the top as it will go.  (If the elbows of the man’s shirt sleeves are worn, then the short sleeve blouse/shirt pattern is the only one you can use).

** Depending on the condition of the man’s shirt, you may not be able to cut a collar for the blouse/shirt, so you may have to use a co-ordinating color fabric that would go with the color of the shirt, or if the shirt is plaid or printed, use one of the colors within the shirt for the collar — and you could even use the co-ordinating fabric for cuffs on the sleeves (if making long sleeves) and for the front band of the shirt/blouse.

By using men’s old shirts, the cost of the little blouse or shirt is only the labor that was spent in renovating the shirt.

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40% Off Our Most Popular Repair Books!

Posted By on February 10, 2015

Getting ready for spring/summer sewing?  Be sure your sewing machines and sergers are in tip top shape so you can get into the sewing projects — you DON’T want to have them in the repair shop!

Sewing Machine Repair For The Home Sewer is our all time most popular book!  This one book will help keep your machine humming in your sewing room and not in a repair shop.  From now through Feb 17, you can grab this book at a 40% discount.  Simply use the promo code “sewing” (without the quotes) to get your discount.



The Serger Repair for the Home Sewer, Complete Guide to Treadle Sewing Machines and Sewing Machine Repair As A Home Business are all included in the 40% discount – for one week only.  Now is a great time to get these books into your sewing room – just in time for spring and summer sewing projects!  Again, use the promo code “sewing” (without the quotes) to get your discount.

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Sewing Shortcuts are a Lifesaver to Seamstresses Short on Time!

Posted By on February 5, 2015

When a deadline for doing a sewing job is very near, shortcuts can mean the difference between it being wise or foolish for an expert or novice to undertake the project.  For those who dislike detail or those whose temperaments demand that a project must go quickly, shortcuts can mean the difference between continued interest or giving up on the project completely.

Quality must not be sacrificed, and it needn’t be if the entire project is viewed with shortcuts in mind.  Consider some of the following shortcut suggestions.

**If your customer has a more-than-one size figure, it may be easier to ask her to purchase separate sizes in patterns for the top and bottom of a garment, just as when buying ready to wear.  Or buy patterns styled for the easiest fit that have a minimum of “fitting” requirements.

** Use chalk for markings when you can as it washes away easily.

**Cut the fabric with right-sides together; the wrong side will then be exposed for quick marking.

**Sew the center seams right after removing the pattern from the fabric.

** Fold the pattern pieces as you go so they don’t get lost or torn.

**When you reach the end of a seam, and before fastening off, check to see if there is another seam that can be fed into the machine; this will make fewer starts and stops, and clipping of loose threads.

**When you don’t have a second seam to feed into the machine, always clip the threads “as you go” to eliminate the need for finding and clipping all loose threads when finished with the project.

**Substitute basting tape or basting-adhestive glue stick for basting stitches whenever practical, even for holding zippers in place.  This will eliminate the need to spend time on removal of basting stitches.

**With fusible webbing, fuse pockets in position for top-stitching; fuse hems instead of hand sewing them; fuse facings.  (Of course the use of this shortcut would be determined by the type of fabric being used).

**When practical, sew in sleeves before sewing the side seams and sleeve seams.  If done in this manner, you can make one “side seam” stitching from the cuff to the waist or to the hem of the garment.

For additional helpful articles, visit  Check out the pattern making books/classes and repair books that can give your sewing time a boost.

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Converting Store Bought Patterns Into Maternity Styles

Posted By on January 28, 2015

Nice looking stylish maternity patterns and maternity clothing are usually very hard to find – especially if you’re not an “average” size.   Petite maternity clothing or plus size maternity clothing are very difficult to match the size you really need.  Even if the size is available, how many different “styles” of maternity clothes are available.  Pregnant women usually have very little to choose from, and if you’d like to have “modest” styles, there is almost nothing available.


Changing  regular “store bought” patterns into maternity styles is exactly what it sounds like — take the normal patterns that you like to use, and have on hand and change them so they can be used as maternity patterns.  Our practice blouse begins with a simple top that has a back neck zipper closure.





This first pattern is using any back zipper closing top that you like to wear.  We’re going to add the yoke and fullness to make it into a maternity style.


1.  To determine where to begin the “yoke” portion, measure up 4.5 cm (1 3/4″) from the horizontal lower armhole line, as indicated above.  If your blouse pattern doesn’t have a horizontal lower armhole line, simply draw in your own line, then use that line as a guide to position the cutting line for the yoke.  Extend the new yoke line 7 cm (2 3/4″) out as shown on both the front and back bodice pieces (this will be the extra allowance for the gathers.


2.  At the lower front measure down 3 cm (1 1/4″) to allow for the tummy expansion, and draw in the new slightly curved line.


3.  At the lower armhole point measure out .5 cm (1/4″) to give the extra room needed in the armhole area.  (NOTE:  If you’re using a pattern that has sleeves, you’ll want to measure out the .5 cm (1/4″) on the lower sleeve edges as well, and re-draw the curve on the sleeve (if you neglect to do this, the sleeve won’t fit into the opening.)




4.  When finished drawing in the new “yoke” line and adjusting the armhole edges, etc, you are ready to cut the paper pattern pieces.  After cutting the yoke portion from the remainder of the front bodice, it is necessary to “remove” the dart.


5.  On the paper pattern draw a short vertical line from the bust point to the yoke.  Next cut the short vertical line to the bust point (this is done on the paper pattern, NOT on the fabric!).  Fold the original dart together.  As you fold the original dart, it will spread the “cut” line on the pattern and will get rid of the original dart, as well as make a little extra room for gathers.


6.  The back yoke is drawn and cut from the bottom part of the pattern in the same manner as the front.


7.  When you pin the pattern pieces to the fabric, be sure to leave enough room between yoke and lower bodice to draw in the new 5/8″ seam lines (shown here with dashed lines).


8.  When doing the sewing of the garment, of course you’ll be putting the front pattern piece and the yoke on a fold, and the back yoke and lower pattern piece will be along a selvage edge because of the zipper closure.


9.  Pin and sew the front and back lower bodice pieces to the respective yokes, gathering the lower bodice onto the yoke.  After this part is finished you can follow the pattern package sewing directions for the remainder of the of the blouse.


You can see how easy it is to change a store bought pattern into a maternity blouse.  Just a few simple changes to the patterns will give you a huge wardrobe of maternity clothes!  In addition, many of the maternity clothes can be changed back into regular clothing after the baby is born! Whether you’re looking for maternity dresses, maternity evening wear, maternity bridal gowns, maternity pants or whatever type of maternity clothes and maternity wear you’d like, this on line downloadable sewing class is all you need to get started on your sewing projects. There are two “converting store bought patterns into maternity styles”  classes available – one for the regular S-XL size ranges, and the Full Figure class for those who are 1X – 8X size ranges.


          MAT101 – Converting Store-Bought Patterns into S-XL Size Maternity Patterns – $14.95



MATF-101 – Converting Store-Bought Patterns into Full Figure Maternity Patterns – $14.95


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How To Start Your Home Business

Posted By on January 26, 2015

The goal of Sewing is to give information, tips and inspiration to those who have a small to medium size business AND for those who would like to earn a living through their own endeavors.

It has come to our attention that we’ve told you how to become an expert in your field and how to have loyal customers, but we’ve neglected to give a basic outline of how to actually start your own home business.  It is our desire to help the new home business entrepreneurs get through the “learning curve” with as few mistakes as possible.  Even those who have been in a home business for years will pick up some pointers and will say “why didn’t I think of that?”.  Here are a few tips that would apply to nearly every home business, whether it’s sewing, crafting, alterations or whatever your interests may be.

**Never use “grocery” or “rent” money to begin ANY business.  There is no business that can guarantee success, much less “overnight” riches.  If you don’t even have the basic $100 or so that many businesses can be started with, we suggest you save amounts of money each week until you do have enough to start.  Proceed cautiously and keep in mind that few miracles occur in any business.  Rule out luck and use your ability, perseverance and judgment to utilize all attributes of a successful business person.  Keep costs at a minimum, use what’s available and keep it simple.

**Open a separate business checking account for your new home business.  Use this account only for business.  This will make your end of year accounting much easier, in addition to knowing immediately what money is coming in and what you can spend on advertising, new products, etc.

**When selecting space in your house for an office or work area, keep in mind that the location can have a direct impact on how well you run your business.  If you don’t “like” your office you probably will spend as little time as possible there and you certainly won’t get much done!  Is the heating and cooling system adequate in your office?  If you’ve chosen to put the office in the garage, spring and fall weather might make working conditions okay, but summer heat and winter cold will prevent you from working in your “office” unless you make some changes.  If you’re using a spare bedroom, can you arrange things so you can look out the window while you’re on the computer, or have outside lighting while cutting fabric, etc?

**If the working area you’ve chosen has limited space (such as a spare small bedroom), it becomes easy to make a “pile” of papers here, a “stack” of letters over there, a separate “pile” of letters to answer later, etc.  Eliminate the clutter and take care of work as it comes in — answer the letters immediately, file the papers NOW, open and go through the “stack” of letters you’d saved for “later” – get the table cleaned off!  Set a time EACH DAY to take care of the “will get to it later” items – and don’t wait until “later”!

**A manila “expando” file is perfect for keeping all your cash and paid-by-check receipts.  An expando file sectioned off by “months” will work nicely.  You can make labels for the various categories of receipts — Advertising, office supplies, postage, telephone bills, equipment purchase, etc and place the new labels on top of the “month” separation headings.  At the end of the year all receipts will already be categorized and ready to be totaled for income tax filing.  Oh, yes, speaking of POSTAGE receipts – keep EVERY business related postage receipt, even if it was just for one stamp.  You’ll be amazed at how much these add up over a years’ time.

**You should be prepared to stay in business for at least a FULL YEAR in order to get things running smoothly and profitably.  Give it your all!

**The number one reason for business failure is management – or the lack of it.  The lack of knowledge, experience, imagination, ambition, preparation, determination, unexpected competition and a waning of motivation.  Eliminate as many entrepreneurial risks as possible at the beginning – know what you want and be determined to go for it!

**Enthusiasm is contagious.  Choosing to look at the world with enthusiasm, confidence and a sense of humor is a choice YOU must make.  Avoid pessimists – they can poison life and your outlook on life!

**THOUGHTS determine what you want… ACTION determines what you get!!

Lastly, and this little tidbit is free — it’s amazing how much more  can be accomplished in a day if you get up 30 minutes earlier than usual!  That’s for early risers like me, my daughter would say “if you stay up 30 minutes LATER than usual”.  Whichever works for you, the extra 30 minutes x 365 days makes all the difference in how committed you are to making your home business work!

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Working With Plaids and Stripes

Posted By on January 22, 2015

Do you tremble a bit when a customer brings in stripes or plaids for you to work with?  Are you a little uneasy and just “hope” you’ll be able to do a good job?

Plaids and stripes are not that difficult to work with when you know a few rules, and most especially if you can make up a chart for your customers to educate them about “even” and “uneven” stripes or to make them aware of whether the stripes on a piece of fabric runs “lengthwise”, “crosswise” or “diagonally”.

All of the rules for cutting stripes and plaids can be summed up in one dire warning.  Don’t cut until you are sure everything is going to turn out all right!

Following are some hints and pointers regarding stripes and plaids that must be taken into account as you prepare the fabric for cutting.

**Stripes can run lengthwise, crosswise or diagonally.  To test lengthwise stripes – make a lengthwise fold, right sides of fabric together; turn back one corner to form a right anged fold — EVEN stripes will match along the angle in width, color and sequence; UNEVEN stripes will not match in all three respects.

**In nearly the same way, test cross-wise stripes by folding the fabric CROSSWISE and turn back a right angle corner – check for a match.

**Test diagonally striped fabric by placing the fabric with (unfolded) surface right side up; for diagonals running from upper left to lower right, turn back a lower left hand corner; for diagonals running the opposite direction, turn back the lower right hand corner – check for match in all respects.

**EVEN stripes are easiest to work with and can meet to form a chevron “V” without difficulty.  UNEVEN lengthwise stripes will chevron only if the fabric is reversaible.  UNEVEN cross-wise stripes will chevron on shaped, curved or bias seams.

**PLAIDS require more careful scrutiny.  Fold a plaid in the same way as a lengthwise stripe, but examine the outside edges of the folded corner, as well as the angle.  Everything must match, in all directions.

**When purchasing plaid fabric, always buy half a yard extra to allow for matching.  Then plan how the plaid or stripe should run.  Do you want the main lines to run bias, across or up and down.  If the fabric pattern is bold and large, more care is required than for a smaller stripe or plaid.

**Stripes and plaids cannot match in every area, so give priority to side, front armhole and waist seams, or to points where an upper and lower garment meet.

**Make all pattern alterations before laying them on the fabric.  Cut out even stripes and plaids on pinned double layers, if desired, but cut uneven ones singly and use them with the “with nap” pattern layout.

The extra precaution taken at the beginning of the project will be well worth the effort as your customer proudly shows off the completed garment.

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