How to Find the Contrast Color

If you’ve ever wondered what color to use for a contrast on a particular fabric you’ve bought, here is a process I use.

  • First get an image of your fabric saved to your computer.
  • Open a browser window on your computer and goto the URL: http://www.pixlr.com then choose to launch the web app (choice on the left and you may have to scroll a bit to get to it). This is a free online editor.
  • Choose to open from your computer and find the fabric image on your computer.
  • Find the ink dropper in the left hand menu (near bottom on the far left) and click it.
  • Take the dropper over to your fabric, place it on the color you want to find the contrast for and click.
  • Now you will see that color in the left hand menu at the very bottom. Go click that color. A box pops up with a color wheel and you want the 6 digit number/letter combination next to the pound (#) sign on the bottom far right.
  • Now copy this number.

Open a new browser window.

    • Now head to http://www.colorhexa.com/.
    • Paste into the search box and click search or hit enter.Voila, you have not only the contrast color to your fabric, but you have 5 other options of color combinations that go with your fabric color.

Tip: You can open an image from a URL in pixlr.com if you’ve purchased this fabric online.  This will save you from taking the picture and getting it saved to your computer.  If this is the case you can obviously skip those steps.

Tip: I have colorhexa.com saved on my phone desktop so when I’m at the store, I can readily find fun colors to go with my fabric if I’m having a brain fart. So you can have it on your phone too – launch colorhexa from your phone. Below the search bar there is a menu item titled: “216 web safe colors”. Click it. It will show you colors in groups of colors making it easy to scroll through quickly in a store. If you match a fabric to one of the colors and tap the color with your finger it will then take you to the same type of page with the contrasting colors. Save that link to your phones desktop or bookmark in your phones browser for easy access next time you’re in the store.

Hope this helps you save a bit of time every now and then!

Until next time…Sew Jam On!

Tutorial: The Continuous Thread Dart

The continuous thread dart is a technique that is used when you do not want to backstitch or knot at the top of a dart.  This would be useful in a dart that is sewn onto sheer fabric or fabric that will show a knot such as silk.  So let’s show you how to get this done.

First you’ll want to pull your bobbin thread up and remove your presser foot:

Continuous Thread Dart 1

Then you’ll want to pull out the top thread from your needle (only from the needle, leave threaded in the machine) and thread the bobbin backwards through the needle eye.  This is why I’m using a needle threader (aside from the fact that I’m blind ha ha!) is to show you it’s being pulled from back to front.  This is crucial:

Continuous Thread Dart 2

See?  Back to front with the bobbin thread:

Continuous Thread Dart 3

Now tie the top thread to the bobbin thread with a tight small knot, clip extras:

Continuous Thread Dart 4

Pull a good amount of thread up from the bobbin.  See the tension on the right hand of the photo below?  This is because I’m yankin’ on that to get a good foot or so:

Continuous Thread Dart 5

Now go up to the top of your machine and wind the spool to pull the bobbin thread backwards towards the spool. Directly to the left of the Sew Jam text you can see the knot as it has come backwards through the machine:

Continuous Thread Dart 6

Now put your foot back on slipping the bobbin thread into the slot of your foot:

Continuous Thread Dart 7

Now turn the upper thread spool again so the bobbin thread becomes taut:

Continuous Thread Dart 8

Slip your fabric in and lower your needle into the fabric and sew your dart:

Continuous Thread Dart 9

Done with extra bobbin thread (which is ok, best to have too much than not enough!):

Continuous Thread Dart 10

Sewn topside of dart:

Continuous Thread Dart 11

Sewn Bottomside:

Continuous Thread Dart 12

Opened dart:

Continuous Thread Dart 13

And there you have it!  I hope this tutorial has added to your arsenal of sewing techniques.  Until next time…

Sew Jam On!

WTT!! (What The Thread!) Part 2

Here is the second part and as promised, I’ll be writing about topstitch thread, rayon, fusible thread, metallic and other threads you may have heard of such as darning cotton. Before we get into that, I did want to mention one thing I had not mentioned in the previous article found here.

There are two very basic types of thread: Natural and Synthetic.  Natural thread comes from nature and include cotton, silk, wool, linen, rayon and hemp.  Synthetic threads are polyester and nylon.  It is worth noting here that natural fibers act differently in different climates, just like your clothes.  High UV can discolor dyed cotton, etc. Keep these in mind as I go through some of the more unusual thread below.

Types of Thread Part 2

Rayon: Think embroidery.  Because this fiber is not very strong and has no stretch, it is not useful for constructing much of anything really.  It is, however very soft, shiny and holds up to very high heat well.  Keep in mind this fiber doesn’t hold color very well. Uses: Embroidery floss and machine stitching.

Topstitch: Think visual wow.  This term is used for a heavier thread that can be made from any of the previously mentioned types of thread.  It’s also handy to use for hand stitching buttonholes on thick or heavy fabric. Uses: Bold statement topstitching on heavier fabric such as leather and vinyl, decorative topstitching and heavy duty utility stitching.

Fusible: Think basting.  This is a great thread that has come along recently that can eliminate basting is some projects.  It’s not stiff like some other fusible products and fuses with iron heat just like any other.  It is typically used in the bobbin and once heated will release the top thread, so make sure that top thread is a slippery thread (i.e. NOT cotton…use some sort of synthetic monofilament). Uses: Applique fusing, patchwork fusing, pocket fusing, or anything you need to hold temporarily in place to top stitch on or adjust for final stitching.

Water Soluble: Think ruffles. So this is another recent addition to the thread family and quite honestly it’s pretty ingenious.  Can you imagine no longer pulling basting stitches?  Baste. Sew. Wash. Done.  It can also be used for many of the same things that the fusible can be used for such as positioning applique’s, patchworks, and outer pockets.  Uses: basting and temporary placements prior to final stitching of anything.  Washes out.

metallic threadMetallic: Think decorative.  Who doesn’t like shiny?  It’s like the nail polish glitter of fabric!  The possibilities are endless for decorative stitching.  This can be used in a sewing or serger machine. A larger needle should be used and tension adjusted, so make sure you use a test piece of fabric to get it right before final stitching.  This thread can be used in all areas of a serger – upper looper, lower looper and any needle. Uses: Any decorative element you can think of from applique, shirring, flatlock, etc.

Darning Cotton: This is a very fine thread used for mending and darning.  This thread is used to recreate the weave of the hole that has been created.  This can also separate for even finer stitching. For darning socks and the like, you’ll want to use a darning egg or any household item that has the shape of a heel and will resist the poke of a needle.  For mending, flat surfaces work fine. Uses: hand stitching method of repairing holes or rips in any fabric.

Elastic: This thread is as it sounds.  Meant to be hand wound on the bobbin only.  It is used nearly exclusively for shirring or any place you want a good stretch. Uses: Professional look shirring.

That’s a wrap for today.  I’ll get part three in a few days.  I encourage you to stick with the basics if you’re just starting out.  Get comfortable with that and then move on to these.  Although, the water soluble thread I would encourage anyone to use.  I hope this has helped in your journey to thread usability.  The next and final section will clear up the rest.  Until next time….

Sew Jam On!

 

To Pin or Not to Pin

…. that is the question.

As I learned to sew years ago, pinning was a MUST.  I couldn’t stitch a thing w/o pinning.  As I advanced I’ve noticed I rarely use pins anymore.  The following is nothing scientific or researched.  This is my personal journey, thoughts and common sense.

Let’s talk about common sewing.  In general, you have two pieces of material that will go under the needle.  Assuming all sewing machines have a feed dog, presser foot and needle, your machine will be stitching through both layers (or multiple if that is the case).  It’s important that the fabric is where it needs to be when it hits the needle.  Which is why we pin, so they keep that rascally thing in place!

My journey may be different, the same or have similar qualities as yours.  For me, I just want to get to that point of actually sewing.  Which brought me to my first change: ditching the rotary (and that is another article all together found here).  The second change: ditching the pins.  And this brings us to why.  This is not something I put much thought into until I joined a few Facebook pages and the questions began about this and that causing me to stop and think about the answer.  One of them was about pins.  I admit I did not post a reply, but it still left me with the question: Why did I stop using pins for the most part?

So here it is.  When using a paper or PDF pattern there are all kind of elements put into place to ensure you don’t foil the whole thing.  The instruction page obviously, but I’m talking about the famous markings on the pattern itself, i.e. notches, fold lines, ease dashes, etc.  Patterns are designed with the home sewer in mind and they are perfect!  Once I’ve cut the pattern the fabric lines up… yup…perfectly!  To save time – because I’m all about speed – I had started ditching the pins at the shoulder seams, side seams (on shirts, skirts and pants), and other seams that matched up…perfectly!

My left hand holds the fabric as it guides it through the needle and my right hand holds the bottom fabric guiding the fabric to the needle.  If you have a knee foot drop that is handy I’m sure, but I don’t.  I get the fabric under the needle and drop the needle.  My machine will allow me to do that.  In other words, I do not have to drop the presser foot to drop the needle.  When the needle is in the initial little bit of fabric, I get the fabric at the presser foot situated and voila, I drop the presser foot.  Once that is done, then I use my foot peddle to run the machine, using my hands to keep the fabric lined up.

This is a Set-In Sleeve with knit fabric.  Here I have matched up seams under the arm and at the top of the shoulder.  I manipulate the fabric as I go and that's it!

This is a Set-In Sleeve with knit fabric. Here I have matched up seams under the arm and at the top of the shoulder. I manipulate the fabric as I go and that’s it!

I was once told years ago by a highly successful seamstress that the farther out (or towards YOU) the seam is lined up with the machine, it will be on track to sew the seam at the proper seam width when it hits the needle.  Which in essence means that my left is holding it directly to the left of the needle and right hands are working the fabric about a foot out from the needle, getting it lined up (notches matched up, etc) and ready to hit the needle.  This may or may not require stops and starts with the foot peddle.  Fabric type has a lot to do with whether or not I start/stop along the way.

Before I thought about writing this, I to really think about why I do and don’t pin and how I maneuver fabric since I don’t put much thought into why I’m doing what I’m doing, I just do it! I know that I haven’t used pins for a long time on those straight perfectly matching seams and it’s just been recently that I’ve found myself ditching the pins for the more ‘complicated’ areas such as arm curves, necklines, and patterns I’ve hand drawn out.   I manipulate the fabric much closer to the presser foot for these types of situations, but doing so w/o the pins.  I think beyond the straight/matching seams the next phase of ditching the pins is all about you willing to giving it a try.

It’s important to note on closing that I DO pin squirrelly fabrics.  You know the ones…silk, satin, chiffon, etc.  Another item that I use when getting several layers of fabric together for sewing is clips.  I started with those office-style black clips with the silver ‘wings’ and then discovered the Wonder Clip.  I encourage you to find what works for you and have confidence in your abilities.  Practice makes perfect when starting something new (like ditching the pins).

I hope as you proceed farther into your journey as a successful seamstress that you’ll find this information useful to help with your speed as well.  I’m certain there are those who live and die by the pin and that is great!  Every seamstress has their thing for sure, but perhaps this will help someone along their journey to try something new and different which provides the opportunity to eliminate a bit of time until the fabric hits the needle.

Until next time, get your Sew Jam On!