Where have all the students gone?

Are in-person sewing classes going the way of the Dodo?  And if you are asking, “What’s a Dodo?” then you actually have the idea.  There are a tremendous number of learning opportunities online, from blogs, to webinars, to videos, to vlogs, to online sewing education providers… I think it’s marvelous.  I love the fact that I can sit down at my computer at any time of day or night and take a class on just about any sewing subject, often for a reasonable sum.

But the key words for me there are “at my computer.” My computer cannot look at terrible thread nest that just occurred at my sewing machine at 2am and help me figure out

a) how to fix it

and

b) how to avoid it happening again.

If I want to really improve my skills both rapidly and to an exceptional degree, there are three things I require. First, I need to learn the skill; second, I need to practice the skill; and third, I need feedback on my skill.  Computers, books, and teachers can all give me the first two, but the last one can only be found with a local human teacher.  Yes, it’s true that I do not need feedback on every skill I learn – many are relatively simple to learn by myself – but there are skills and troubleshooting that are much more efficient and effective when another experienced teacher can look at your work and help you out.

And what about our social needs?  I don’t know about you, but I find my interactions with friends decreasing each year.  I feel I don’t have time, and even when I find time, my friends don’t have time to get together.  But a sewing class allows you to get together with other like-minded people and enjoy your hobby together.  Awesome!

Although I love the online community and opportunities for learning, I am sad to see the decline in the number of students taking sewing classes in local dealerships and fabric shops. Is this really what we want? No more quilting bees? No more touching fabrics and looking closely at another person’s excellently sewn hem in order to learn from her (him)?

I’d love to hear your opinion. What do you look for in a sewing class?  Do you ever take in-person classes in your community?  Do you learn exclusively online?  How important is it to you to develop your skills to a high standard?  Do you just want to complete the project? What kinds of classes draw your attention?

I wish you a very beautiful new year full of sewing opportunities of all shapes, sizes, textures, and techniques!

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Original Sewing and Quilt Expo – Minneapolis, MN 2014

I have written about the OSQE before, and I was not complimentary. I have a new experience to share this year!

I have attended the OSQE four times now, and this was by far my best experience. To get the negatives out of the way right off the bat, the venue was not big enough for a conference of this size, making the vendor hall(s) and finding rooms confusing and frustrating. Next year they will be at a different location, which should solve this problem.

In the past I chose my classes according to the techniques or projects I thought sounded interesting, and I was consistently disappointed in the instruction and often in the projects. This year I took a different approach and chose the teachers instead of the topics. My classes were all I hoped for and I learned something in every class. The class I learned the least in was with an excellent instructor, but I apparently knew that topic better than I realized.

The instructors whose classes I chose were: Linda McGehee, Laura Murray, Cynthia Guffey, and Cindy Losecamp. Instructors I know are excellent, but I was unable to attend classes with this year are Lorraine Henry, Linda Lee, and Carol Steinbrecher. If you ever attend the OSQE, try to take at least one class with a few of these instructors and I think you will go home with new information.

Cindy Losecamp has great hands-on classes. The challenge is that although her projects are designed to be completed in the time given, and I have always finished mine, they are always tight on time. It helps if you know how to run an embroidery machine before taking her class, just because it will help you complete your project in the time allotted. Her projects are always beautiful and full of techniques you can replicate at home with your own embroidery designs.

Laura Murray is “the” Paintsticks lady, as far as I am concerned. I have owned paintsticks for a while, but I never took them out to play. It was fun to use them without being responsible for the clean-up. What a great workshop!

Cynthia Guffey is personality plus, but regardless of what you think of her personality, she is one of the most experienced dressmakers you will meet. She knows so much, and what I most admire about her is that she is constantly learning herself, and continually experiments and tries to improve on current sewing techniques. In her classes you will learn how to be accurate and sew more and rip less. She is one who believes in doing it right the first time. I tend to rush more than she would like… 🙂

If you want to learn about how to fit and alter patterns, Lorraine Henry is the teacher you just can’t miss! She will teach you how to alter patterns using the seam alteration method, and her experience as an excellent dressmaker means she knows how to fit patterns and then put them together beautifully. She is also one of the sweetest, most giving people you will meet.

Anyone who sews has probably had a friend or family member ask her to mend some clothing item, and we all know it is not as easy as it sounds. Carol Steinbrecher alters and mends professionally and knows all the ins and outs of replacing zippers and hemming pants, to name two commonly requested repairs. Take her image class also to learn about personal style and how to dress to impress.

I hope I will get more opportunities to take classes with these awesome instructors. I am so grateful that they take the time to pass on their incredible skills. If you get a chance to take even one class with them, do so. Not everyone is willing or able to share their knowledge or talents in a way students enjoy, so it is special when you to study with someone who can teach you something, whether you are a beginner or an experienced needleworker.

Binding: Serger Quilt part III (finally)

I apologize for this taking so long.  Has anyone finished the quilt body?  Is anyone ready for binding yet?  Please send me a picture when you’re finished with your baby quilt. So, why put on a quilt binding with your serger?  First, it is fast.  Second, you end up with an evenly wide seam allowance, which means when you wrap your binding to the other side, your binding is even.  Third, if you use fusible thread in your lower looper, you fuse the binding down to the other side of your quilt and it holds it there, without pins, for you to sew down with your favorite sewing technique, either hand or machine. If you are just joining us, you can find Part 1 of this baby quilt here, and Part 2 is here.

Serger Quilt Binding

Materials: 1/2 yard binding fabric for straight grain binding decorative serger thread

  • if using embroidery thread, you need 2 spools of at least one color

water soluble glue, such as Sewline glue stitck, Scotch permanent glue stick, Elmers blue gel glue, or equivalent Construction: Cut four (4) 2 1/2 x WOF strips of binding fabric.

  • If quilt is larger than planned, cut 5 strips.  Cut one strip in half and sew each half onto the end of one of the other strips, so that two of the strips are longer than the other two.

To serge strips together: Lay one strip end perpendicular to the other strip end, right sides together with bottom strip going east-west and top strip going north-south. binding 1 If desired, draw a line from upper left to lower right of the square formed by the intersection of the two strips. Serge with the needle stitches falling on this line and with the knife cutting off the extra. binding 2

binding 3

Press seam to one side.

binding 4

Fold strips in half lengthwise and press. I wanted to add a piped detail to my binding, so I used the wave stitch on my serger.  You could also use a rolled hem or a narrow hem just as well.  Set your cutting or stitch width to the widest setting you can for the stitch you select, and set your stitch length to form a satin stitch, probably around 1.5mm. Although I like the sheen of embroidery thread on rolled hems, I find it is too fine for good coverage.  I fix this by putting two (2) threads through the same looper.  Since I have a Baby Lock, that means putting them both into the same looper port.  On a different brand serger just thread the loopers with the two threads as though they were 1 thread.  It works for all rolled hem applications.

fancy threads

2 in each looper

I then serged the wave rolled hem on the folded edge of the long strips of binding.  I chose to use a squared off binding, but you could also try this with a mitered binding.  I worried that the piped effect might get in the way with mitering, so let me know if you try it out!

Place the raw edge of the shorter piece of binding against the edge of the WRONG side of the quilt sandwich, and use a 4 thread overlock stitch, only trimming enough of the edge to even it out, to serge the binding to the quilt.  Repeat this on the other short edge.

binding attached

Fold the binding to the front of the quilt and use water soluble glue to hold the binding in place while you use a sewing machine to stitch in the ditch of the faux piping to attach the binding to the quilt.  Trim the ends even with the long edges of the quilt using a rotary cutter or scissors.  Why didn’t I let the serger trim the ends?  I wanted to be sure the serger didn’t get hung up on the multiple fabric and thread layers.

binding topstitched

You can also make this quicker by using a fusible thread in your lower looper.  Then when you press the binding to the finished side, you fuse the binding in place so it holds still while you stitch it down.

Repeat this process with the long strips of binding on the long edges. Make sure that the binding extends about 2 inches beyond the quilt at either end.  But what to do with those ends when you stitch it down?  The piped edging made it too thick for a traditional fold at the end. Fold the tail back on itself to the right side of the quilt, tuck the piped edge underneath the tail, then fold the binding down over the tail and stitch it in place.

binding corner 1 bound corner top

Beautiful, embellished binding, both front and back.

bound corner final

back of binding

Serger Questions

I would love to do a question and answer, a serger FAQ if you will.  What questions do you have about serger sewing that you have wanted to ask someone?  Either email them to cherishedneedlecreations@gmail.com, or post them here as a comment, and I will try to answer them.

Question 1:

Do I need a serger?

I would say it depends on the type of sewing you usually do.  And I would insert in here that the only serger worth getting is a good one.  Shop around and read reviews on the web;  don’t just buy the cheapest to see if you will like it, since you’ll probably hate it if you do that.  There are good inexpensive sergers out there, but there is also a lot of frustration wrapped up in cheap serger packages!

If you are a fashion sewer, definitely try to get one. Fashion sewers will find that finishing seams is a breeze and so much faster that you’ll recoup your serger cost in the time saved very quickly.  Knits are easier to sew on the serger, and some clothing you’ll find you can serge and finish in one fell swoop.  How you use it will depend on what you are making, of course, but you’ll use if on just about every project you make.

If you sew accessories, especially for sale, a serger can save you time and money.  Lots of accessories can be finished quickly and professionally with a serger.

Is home dec your passion? You should look into buying a serger that has a large throat space and the capability to do a coverstitch and chainstitch.  Decorative serging is a blast and can make all kinds of unique surface embellishments.  The list for that is truly endless.

If you make children’s clothing a serger can speed things up immensely; a serger would be a good investment.  Even heirloom sewing can be done on a serger.  The results are a little different, but they are equally beautiful in their own right and can be combined with traditional techniques to speed up the proecess without losing any of the beauty.

If you are only a quilter I would say you probably do not need one.  I have posted about quiltling with a serger, and I really like doing that, but it would not pay for a quilter to have a serger with which to make quilts.  If you make a little bit of other stuff, it still probably won’t pay to buy one.

I adore my serger, which, if you’ve read my blog before, you already know, but I would never replace my sewing machine with a serger.  They are teammates and I go back and forth between them constantly.  I sew and serge a wide variety of projects, and I look for creative ways to use my serger.  It will still never replace my precious sewing machine, no matter how fancy or powerful it gets.

Please send me your questions.  I’d love to help you figure out how to better utilize your serger (investment.)

Craftsy: A great opportunity for excellent online learning

Read below to find out how to sign up for a free class!
What is Craftsy?
Craftsy is a worldwide craft community offering online classes. It also has a patterns marketplace where independent designers can sell their patterns; a supplies shop with great deals on yarn, fabric, and class kits; and a projects section where members share pictures of their latest craft successes. With over two million members and counting, Craftsy has something for just about everyone, in categories ranging from quilting, sewing, knitting, painting, photography, cooking, and more.

Behind the Scenes: The Making of a Craftsy Class
Before filming even begins, hours and hours are spent determining what content will be covered in each class, and how to best teach specific techniques to the camera. Instructors work with an instructional designer to create an in-depth outline of each lesson, and decide how to best prepare props or “step-outs” that show what your project should like at different steps. Instead of a scripted class, instructors follow their outlines on camera to create an authentic and engaging teaching experience.

Most Craftsy classes are filmed in one of five Craftsy studios in Denver, CO, assuring that every part of the production process goes off without a hitch. They fly in instructors from all over the world to spend several days filming, then spend several weeks turning hours of footage into a two to three hour class experience that has been watched, rewatched, and reviewed by industry experts. The final result is an HD-quality video that takes you in-depth into specific topics in any given craft category- from cooking and fine art to sewing and knitting.

What IS the Craftsy experience?
Craftsy classes are designed to have all the benefits of an in-person class, with none of the drawbacks. Available online and on-demand, you always have world-class instructors at the tip of your fingers. You can retake the class as many times as you want, and the 30-second repeat feature allows you to watch the same section over and over again until you get every technique just right.

Watching a Craftsy class is like having a first-row seat with some of the best instructors in the world. Even better, classes have a 100% money-back guarantee.

Try online learning today with a free mini-class from Craftsy! Choose from 23 Free Craftsy Classes ranging from drawing and painting to sewing and quilting, from knitting to cake decorating and more.

CREATING PROTECTIVE LININGS

This is a wonderful post I know I am going to reference many times. Great info!

Bag'n-telle

quilted lining_incase
Credit: photo by Incase

Designing a protective bag collection needs to be produced with three things in mind – conveyance, organization and co-ordination. Begin with a super durable fashion fabric for the exterior so that the bag will take you through your travels and beyond. It should be spacious and the perfect size for urban commutes and easy air travel. Remember some airlines have weight and size restrictions for carry-on baggage. Leather, suede, vinyls, waxed canvas are ideal choices as they are rugged and durable.

For the inside of the bag, the interior layer should be a soft-textured, moisture-resistant bonded fabric for easy sliding and ensures good protection against water and dust. Waterproof fabric make it suitable for swimwear, sun creams and conventional shopping. While, a padded interior made with a soft-textured quilted lining fabric or reinforced middle padded layer will provide superior protection against impact and leakage. Typically…

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Original Sewing and Quilting Expo – Minnesota

I don’t know why I keep going to the Expo. It guess it is hopeful optimism. I attended one in Kansas City in 2004, one in Atlanta in 2011, and just this past weekend I attended in Minneapolis. My experience was the same each time, and my overall feeling has always been one of disappointment.

The exhibit hall is always great, to some degree or another. Lots of creativity, new notions and patterns, and show special buys. There are a few exhibit hall demos, but this expo most of those were the companies that had long arm machines for you to try and to see the computerized long arm programs at work. I bought some Marathon stabilizer, which is a brand I am acquainted with but have never tried, and now I can hardly wait to get home and try it out.

One of the things you can learn at the Expo and not many other places is how to use the Seam Allowance Method of pattern alteration. Lorraine Henry, the Sewing Hen, teaches terrific classes on how to modify and alter patterns based on your particular body variations. She is a fabulous teacher, incredibly patient and giving, and she knows her stuff! If you ever go to an expo and you sew clothing, Lorraine’s classes are a must take!

I said I was disappointed and that is because most of the classes I have paid for and attended at the various expos have been a waste of my time. Sometimes they have not lived up to the description, other times there was nothing new to learn, and other times the teaching was just lousy. I have had this experience more often than not. So terribly frustrating.

So, I want to let you know which teachers are worth seeing.
Lorraine Henry is definitely one.

I did not get a chance to take a Cynthia Guffey class this time, and I as sorry I couldn’t. She is a character with a strong personality, but I have learned so much from her. I love her classes, both hands-on and lecture.

Linda Lee of The Sewing Workshop has not taught at the expo for several years, but she is at several of them this year. I took two of her classes and they were both great, both lecture and hands-on. Her material is informative and her project is one I will make again and again at home. I also found her to be gracious and generous.

Finally, I loved Cindy Losecamp’s Fractured Landscape class at this expo. She was exhausted, yet she still taught this evening class with a friendly smile and oodles of patience. Her project was creative and well-designed.

So, if you are considering attending one of these expos, which take place around the country, be ready to see all kinds of tempting materials, machines, and notions in the exhibit hall, and choose your classes carefully. There are also free lectures on the “stage” and for your first expo going to these free sessions might be a good way to go for the most part while you figure out which classes are worth going to and which maybe not so much. If there is a class with a “famous” person, sign up for it early, since they do fill up.

I hope you enjoy your time if you attend. And yes, my optimism tells me I will probably go again and hope for a better experience. I love sewing (could you tell?) and want to learn as much as I can.

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