Gathering

Gathering can be found in many sewing projects and is used in everything from basic crafts to garment construction.

There are several different ways to gather, but my favorite way is using two rows of stitches.

TIP: USE TWO ROWS OF STITCHES

Creating your gathers with two rows of stitches provides a safety net, just in case the worst happens and a gathering thread breaks. It may save you from having to start all over again. The two rows also helps the fabric to lay flatter. This is a plus when you need to sew the gathered fabric to something else.

When sewing gathering stitches always use a long stitch length. The longest stitch length on your machine is usually best and can range anywhere from 4.0 – 7.0. I find 5.0 – 6.0 is usually my go to stitch length for gathering. The thicker your fabric, the longer the stitch length needed.

The two rows are stitched with a gap between them. I find it most successful when I use a 1/4 and 1/2 inch seam allowance for the gathering stitches. This leaves a wide 1/4 inch gap and provides a little bit of leeway for small errors in the seam allowances size. (If the rows of stitching get too close together it may stop the fabric from sliding along the threads.)

When you gather you do not backstitch (this would create a knot) and you leave the thread tails long.

TIP: SLIDE DON’T PULL

To create gathers we hold the two bobbin threads and slide the fabric. Our instinct when gathering is to pull the threads to create the gathers, and if that doesn’t work, we pull harder. Uh oh…then you hear it…snap! The thread breaks. This is a particularly dreadful noise when you are gathering, especially if it is something large. Having the two rows of stitching instead of one could save you, but not always.

So, instead don’t pull…slide. Simply hold the thread tails in place and slide the fabric along. See the video below for what to do when it won’t slide anymore! Pulling the threads isn’t the answer, as there is too much of a chance of that thread breaking. But if you remember….slide, slide, slide! It helps 🙂

TIP: USE TWO DIFFERENT COLORS OF THREAD

When you are just learning how to gather, identifying the correct threads to hold can be tricky. If you thread your bobbin and top thread with two different colors it makes it super easy to find the threads you are looking for! The bobbin threads become obvious and you won’t make the mistake of holding the wrong pair of threads. I used yellow thread for my main spool, and blue thread in the bobbin.

TIP: GATHER FROM BOTH SIDES

Sometimes when we are on a roll and gathering quickly we accidentally slide our fabric off of the threads entirely! At that point, there is nothing to do but begin again. To avoid this, gather half of the fabric from the left, and half from the right, so there is no danger of sliding the fabric too far.

See the video below for a detailed tutorial on basic gathers!

SKILL BUILDING VIDEO:

Happy Sewing!

Christmas Stocking

I’m so excited to share this project with you today! It has been quite a while since my last post and I am happy to finally share with you a fun holiday project.

Life and work caught up with me the last few weeks and it took the excitement of Christmas projects to motivate me to get back to sewing!

This is a quick easy Christmas Stocking.

It is fully lined and has a fold over cuff!

The free pattern is available in several sizes.

The pattern works great with flannel, fleece, and cotton fabrics.

If you enjoy this tutorial keep an eye out for future posts in which I’ll show you a few quick alterations to the same pattern.

SUPPLIES:

  • Coordinating Thread
  • Ribbon (4 – 8 inches)
  • 7/8 yard (or less) Fabric for the Outside of the Stocking (Cotton, Flannel, or Fleece)
  • 7/8 yard (or less) Fabric for the Lining and Cuff (Cotton, Flannel, or Fleece)
    • The project works best when the lining and outside fabrics are the same type of fabric.
    • The amount of fabric needed varies a lot depending on the size of the stocking you make and the direction you need to cut your fabric.
    • I recommend reviewing the pattern sizes in the table below if you would like more specific measurements.
    • Remember you will need two lining pieces and two outside pieces.

A bit more on yardage:

For instance, if I want to make a size small I know I need two pieces of outside fabric that will fit the pattern (which is 8 by 16.25 inches). If the direction of my fabric doesn’t matter 1/4 yard would work…but if I have to follow the selvage, for example on fabrics with words or a specific direction, I may need 1/2 yard.

Enjoy!

FREE PATTERNS:

QUICK OVERVIEW:

DETAILED VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS:

Learn to Sew: Lesson 6: Drawstring Bag

In this lesson we will learn several topics that are applicable in a wide variety of sewing projects. The drawstring bag introduces how to make a casing or channel that can be used to hold, a drawstring, elastic, ribbon, and more. This skill is used everywhere from bag making to garment construction and makes the drawstring bag a great project for beginning sewers.

Lesson Category:

  • Machine Sewing – Straight Seams

Lesson Topics:

  • Making a Drawstring
  • Making a Casing
  • Sewing Straight seams
  • Finishing Seams
  • Pressing

This bag measured approximately 13.5 x 15 inches when finished, but could easily be adapted for other sizes.

The bag features a 1/2 inch wide drawstring made by piecing and folding 2 inch strips of fabric.

This project was designed to only use 1/2 yard of fabric, and as a result the drawstring is pieced, but you could use more fabric if you prefer to make the drawstring out of a continuous piece of fabric rather than multiple pieces.

It has a wide casing for easy threading of the drawstring. I’ll show you a quick way to make sure the sizing of your channel is consistent.

It also introduces finishing seams, which is a great skill in general. If you are interested in learning more about finishing seams check out my Skill Building Video on the topic!

In the video also introduces tips for how to turn a corner exactly, how to finish the edges of the drawstring channel and more.

Supplies

  • 1/2 yard cotton fabric
  • Coordinating thread

Helpful Tools

Instructional Video:

Learn to Sew: Lesson 3: Machine Stitching Practice

Using a sewing machine for the first time can be exciting, intimidating, and often frustrating.

With this lesson I hope to provide you with tips and instructions that will help you feel comfortable and confident as you begin to use your sewing machine.

Lesson Category:

  • Sewing Machine Basics

Lesson Topics:

  • Basic Machine Functions
    • A Brother Computerized Sewing Machine is used as the example
    • How to control the speed
    • Basic Stitches and Parts
  • Sewing Lines
  • Sewing Corners
  • Sewing Curves
  • Sewing with a Seam Allowance

It may seem strange, but the best way to start using the machine is to practice sewing on paper.

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This allows you to learn how to control your machine without having to deal with the complications that arise when using fabric and thread.

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We’ll learn how to sew corners and curves. We’ll also learn how to use a seam allowance.

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This lesson uses a Brother Computerized Sewing Machine for the example, but the principles can be applied to any machine. If you are using a different type of machine you may want to do some research or consult your manual to find your machine’s default needle position as well as how to use the seam allowance measurement guides so you can accurately read your needle plate.

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Stitching Practice Sheets:

Stitching Lines Practice by learncreatesew

Stitching Corners Practice by learncreatesew

Stitching Curves Practice by learncreatesew

Seam Allowance Practice by learncreatesew

Here is a Seam Allowance Measurement Guide for Brother Computerized Machines:

Brother Computerized Seam Allowance Guide by learncreatesew

Brother Computerized Seam Allowance Guide by learncreatesew.pdf

LESSON:

Sewing Skill Builder: Slip Stitch

I am happy to share with you today my first Sewing Skill Builder video. There are a lot of essential skills in sewing that if mastered, make your projects beautiful and professional looking. However, when those same skills remain a mystery sewing can become a challenge and at times frustrating. In this series I hope share with you essential skills that you can use and build upon as you make projects in the future!

The slip stitch is also often referred to as a ladder stitch or invisible stitch.

The slip stitch is used to close pillows, linings, stuffed animals, and more.

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The slip stitch comes up again and again in sewing regardless if you are making bags, plush toys or garments. Being handy with a slip stitch is extremely useful.

When you slip stitch you are usually joining or closing two folds.

We make our stitches parallel to the folds, essentially hiding the thread inside.

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Your stitches often begin to look like the rungs of a ladder, hence the name.

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Once you pull the thread, the layers will join making the stitching invisible.

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It helps when slip stitching if you use a thin sharp needle. I also like to double thread my needle so I don’t have to worry about it sliding off.

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DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

Learn to Sew: Lesson 1: Name Tag Stitch Sampler

Welcome to our Learn to Sew series!

This lesson is the first in a series that will teach the basics of sewing. Through a series of projects and exercises we will learn a variety of skills and techniques that are essential to sewing. We will cover everything from hand-sewing to basic bags and crafts, how to use store bought patterns, and general garment construction.

I look forward to sharing with you all that I have learned! I hope you enjoy these lessons.

Lesson Category:

  • Hand Stitching

Lesson Topics:

  • Using a grid ruler
  • How to select your needle
  • Threading the needle
  • Tying a knot
  • Sewing a Backstitch
  • Sewing a Running Stitch
  • Sewing a Whip Stitch

Whether you have been sewing for years or are picking up a needle and thread for the first time, hand stitching is essential. To learn a few basic stitches we are going to make a Name Tag Stitch Sampler. It’s a great project to begin your sewing experience, and it’s fun to display in your room, or on a shelf or locker.

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The backstitch is great for the name. It is a strong stitch and there are no spaces between the stitches.

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The running stitch is your most basic sewing stitch, and one that is used in most hand sewing projects. The whip stitch also comes in handy in general sewing.

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LESSON:

Scrunchies with Removable Ties

One of the projects that my students request to make most frequently is scrunchies! They are quick, easy, and don’t take a lot of fabric.

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You can use a variety of fabrics to make scrunchies, so it’s a great way to use the fabric in your scrap bin. Scrunchies are great in cotton, flannel, velvet, satin, and more.

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You can mix and match removable ties to add a bit of flare to your scrunchies.

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Scrunchies only take a few minutes to make and even beginning sewers can be successful with this project.

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You can make the scrunchies without the ties if you prefer.

Here is the pattern for the removable ties!

Scrunchie Tie Pattern by learncreatesew

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

QUICK OVERVIEW:

Face Mask Key Chain Case

Once I started making tons of face masks I decided it would be nice to have something to carry them in.

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They also make great gifts if you are planning to give face masks to others!

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This case is super cute and small enough to fit on a key chain.

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I made two different versions, one lined and one without lining.

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I also used several different closures – velcro, snaps, key rings, swivel hooks, and D-rings.

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I hope you have as much fun making these as I did.

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Face Mask Key Chain Pouch Web Pattern by Learncreatesew

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

QUICK OVERVIEW (LINED/FINISHED EDGE):

QUICK OVERVIEW (BASIC/UNLINED):