Archive for April, 2009

IMG_3561, originally uploaded by Shear Delight.


The first quilt I ever made came with the bias tape premade, after that I was on my own. Which really is okay with me because, while you can buy premade bias tape, the selection is limited to say the least. And between you and me making it really isn’t that hard. It took me about an hour and that’s stopping to take photos, watch some TV, have some coffee etc. So I have trouble staying on task, what can I say.

These instructions seem to be the best available on the web, the only problem is there are drawing not pictures. Well we all know how I feel about that so here are my photos.

You will need:

  • Fabric- The instructions include a mathematical equation to determine how much fabric you will need but I just used a yard of fabric. I buy fabric with the intention of making bias tape out of it so it makes more sense for me to do it all at once.
  • Rotary cutter and/or scissors
  • Pencil or other means to mark the fabric
  • Straight Pins
  • Sewing machine (1/4 in foot guide makes things a bit easier but isn’t necessary)

Step 1- Lay your fabric out on the table.


The line drawing in the instructions is a little misleading here is “dotted” line shown on a real piece of fabric


Step 2- Now here is the fabric folded over


I didn’t use scissor to cut along the folded edges as instructed. Instead I pressed the edge, opened it and used a rotary cutter so that I would have a much cleaner edge.


Cut apart it will look like this.


Step 3- Reposition the piece you just cut off to the other side of fabric you cut it from placing them selvedge edge to selvedge edge like this.


Keeping the selvedge edges together place them right sides together.


Pin together before sewing together using a 1/4 in seam. Afterwards press open the seam.


And it comes out looking like this.


Step 4- Draw your seam lines on the wrong side of the fabric.


I used a regular pencil and clear ruler but could have skipped this step and simply used the edge and the 1/4 in foot on my sewing machine.

Step 5- Drawing parallel lines using the angled edge as your guide,


Here are the lines crossing your 1/4 in seam allowance lines.


When you get to the other side of the fabric you will most likely end up with a strip of fabric that is not wide enough, simply cut this piece off.


You will end up with lines evenly spaced all the way across your fabric.

Step 6- The confusing part… You are going to number the lines you just drew. You will start with zero on the bottom.


That same line on the top will be labeled 1 and you will number the lines up from there like this.


Flip the fabric over so that the right side is up and bring the numbered edges together.


Step 7- Ignoring the line marked zero bring the two lines labeled 1 together.


Pin the intersection together. Now this is tricky too. Bring the edges of the fabric together and then using the 1/4 in seam line fold the fabric over to line up the two lines.


This is the only way to make sure the you will have a continuous line once the raw edges are sewn together.


I can’t stress how important this is, trust me I made this mistake. You will end up with lines that are no where near to one another once the seam is sewn and you will have to do it all again.

Done correctly you will end up with this.


Step 9- Sew the 1/4 in seam you just pinned.

Mine didn’t end up twisted at all but it does look a little weird as your try to sew along the edge you just created.


Generally I like to take pins out as I sew but in this case I left them in place to ensure the fabric didn’t move around.

Step 10- Press open.


Step 11- Here is your tail.


Step 12- Cutting time.


Just keep following your line around and around and around. If the fabric is puddled in your lap make sure you aren’t cutting any of the fabric accidentally as you work your way around.

At this point I suggest moving to the couch as this can take awhile. Eventually though you will get to the end.


This is what you get for your hard work.


At first glance it may not appear like a lot of fabric but trust me it is.


I fold my bias tape in half and press but how you treat it depends on what you plan on doing with it.

I always use bias tape so I make sure to keep in mind how a pattern will look on the bias (which can be dramatically different from how it looks up and down) when choosing binding fabrics.

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Coin Quilt GIveaway!

vintage memory, originally uploaded by realgranola.

There really isn’t anything better than a giveaway except a giveaway that contains something you’ve been really hoping for like the Heather Ross Bicycle Fabric. I had a chance to get a whole yard for $6 and passed it up, I hang my head in shame!

But thanks to A La Mode I (and you) have the chance to win that fabric and a bunch of others. So head on over and check it out. But if you win you’ll share right? 🙂

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If you are just getting into sewing for the first time ever or for the first time since high school home ec you are probably wondering what kind of tools you are going to need and what its going to cost to buy all that stuff. To help you out I’ve compiled a list of 15 “must have” tools. You don’t always need to buy the most expensive option but you probably don’t want to go with the cheapest option either.

1. Bent handle shears- the more expensive the better, and they can get really spendy!

My sick new Gingher shears, originally uploaded by Trunkbutt.

I got mine during a 50% off sale at Jo-Ann’s for $20. You want shears with a good amount of heft, a nice shape for your hands and a sharp cutting blade. Scissors need to be sharpened yearly, I’ve seen Jo-Ann’s offer to do this for free once a year but you could probably get it done any time for a couple dollars. Never use these for anything other than fabric or you will dull your blade and curse yourself for ruining expensive fabric with a bad blade.

2. Regular Straight Scissors. Quality isn’t as important here since you will be using this to cut patterns and tracing paper but you will still want to keep it sharpened and using it to cut things like plastic is really a no-no as you will dull the blade prematurely.

3. Embriodery Scissors. These little scissors are the best at cutting all those pesky threads that are left over whenever you start or finish a line of stitching. You can also use them to cut off the thread ends when sewing on a machine if your machine doesn’t automatically do that for you. These can be very ornate-

Stork Embroidery Scissors, originally uploaded by the workroom.

Or simple and inexpensive like my basic black ones that cost about $5.

4. Pinking Shears- In case you aren’t familiar with pinking shears, the scissor blades are notched and mesh together to cut fabric in a crisp zigzag pattern. Pinking shears are commonly used to help prevent fabric from fraying. It’s a good idea to use pinking shears on the cut edges of fabric before you wash them to prevent the tangle of fraying threads that would happen otherwise.

Pinking Shears, originally uploaded by quaint handmade.

Cutting with pinking shears requires a slightly different technique than using regular scissors. Hold the pinking shears straight when cutting fabric. If the pinking shears are held at an angle, they will not cleanly cut the fabric. Instead, they will chew the fabric and can even rip it. Hold the scissors straight and steady as you bring the blades together. Begin cutting from the second rear tooth or else the cloth could catch. After the cut is made, release the scissors, move them along the fabric, lining the last “notched cut” with the teeth in the pinking shears blade. Cut the fabric and continue in this fashion. To achieve best results, always completely close the scissors blades together in a full cut.

5. Straight Pins- Pretty self explanatory these sewing room workhorses will keep things in place as you cut, sew or fiddle with your garments to get them to fit just right.

straight pins, originally uploaded by ophis.

6. Pincushion- You wouldn’t want those sharp little pins floating around, to easy to step on them and stick yourself. A pincushion keeps them in one place for easy use and organization. These can be simple or ornate. I’ve been thinking about making this one-

Pin Cushion, originally uploaded by melingo wagamama.

7. Needles- You will need needles for your sewing machine and hand sewing needles for finish work that cannot be completed on your machine. Universal needles are the most versatile and most, regardless, of brand will fit any machine. If you are going to use thicker/tougher fabrics like denim you’ll want to invest in the appropriate needles. You don’t necessarily have to know or understand the sizing as most will say on the package what they are designed for. Hand sewing needles are usually sold in variety packs of 20 or so needles. There are people that swear by certain brands of needles but most of us buy what’s available locally. Just make sure that you don’t overuse your needles. After 8 hours of use you should switch to a new one. I usually switch out mine after each project.

Needle Case, originally uploaded by tina.i.

8. Tape Measure- not your typical hardware store tape measure but a soft one designed for wrapping around your body and taking measurements. You can still get retractable ones but those are often twice as much as the regular ones. Accurate measurements are the key to getting a good fit out of your garments so you want a tape measure that is easy to read.

Tape Measure, originally uploaded by Darren Hester.

9. Seam Gauge- Also known as a sewing gauge or hem gauge, is basically a ruler. It includes a special slider which can be used to mark a desired measurement. When using a seam gauge, sewers can set the marker to a specific point and use it as a quick visual point of reference while pressing, pinning, or sewing a seam. A seam gauge can also be used to keep darts even. The hollow design in the middle allows you to use the seam gauge as a guide for your tailor’s chalk.

Hem Gauge, originally uploaded by Vincent Ma.

While these are designed to be flexible if your ruler gets bent out of shape you’ll want to go ahead and purchase a new one.

10. Clear Ruler- clear acrylic rulers and tools reduce the preparation time for your sewing projects while ensuring accurate cutting. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with the largest selection being found in the quilting section. The clear design allows you to sew any areas that you have already marked or sewn and reference them as you make your other measurements and cuts.

Quilt Rulers Anyone?, originally uploaded by SimplyThisAndThat.

11. Tailor’s Chalk- There are a number of marking tools on the market but tailor’s chalk is the classic choice. It’s easy to use, easy to see, and easily removed. You will want at least two colors, the most common are white and blue, to be used on light and dark fabric. The ones below are a solid waxy version ideal for marking on textured fabric. I use a powdered chalk applicator for my regular light to midweight cottons because the applicator creates a finer line. Other choices are water and air soluble pencils and pens. Keep in mind you always want to test these out on your fabric to make sure the marks can be removed.

tailors chalk, originally uploaded by louisemakesstuff.

12. Thread- a total necessity you’ll want a variety of colors for use in your various projects. I recommend getting large spools of black and white and then purchase the rest as needed. Never underestimate the amount of thread you will need, it’s amazing how fast you can go through a spool. Coats and Clark seem to be the most readily available thread and it comes in a variety of types and colors. Thread is clearly labeled for use- hand sewing, machine sewing, embroidery etc and you will want to follow these guidelines. I started using Gutermann (often viewed as a top of the line thread) only to find out my not so top of line sewing machine didn’t handle the tall, thin spools well.

Threads, originally uploaded by djspyhunter.

13. Seam Ripper- Seam ripping is a fact of life when sewing so you will want to have one of these handy. The goods news is that they are cheap and your sewing machine (if purchased new) will most likely come with one.

tool seam ripper, originally uploaded by alsokaizen.

14. Iron and Ironing Board- This is not a case where cost equals quality. There are people that swear by $500 machines and people that swear by $20 machines. Mine cost $10 and while it’s not great it does the job for the amount of sewing I do just fine. Just make sure you get a machine that can do steam and that has a variety of settings for different fabrics. You will also need a large ironing board. One of those table top models is not going to be big enough for most garment construction and crafting.

Herb ironing board cover, originally uploaded by howaboutorange.

15. Muslin- This is a cheap way to test out a pattern and make any neccessary alterations and adjusting before cutting into your expensive fabric. At the low end muslin is about $1.50 a yard and at the high end it can be $12 or $14. Price varies based on the quality of the muslin and the width. Certain fabrics are labeled “muslin” but you don’t have to use those, any fabric can be a muslin. The idea is that this is a test fabric so if it’s a total disaster you haven’t lost a lot of money in fabric. I have yards of a couple baby prints I purchased at a going out of business sales (I have no idea what I was thinking as I have no kids or friends with kids) so I’m going to use those until they run out.

muslin, originally uploaded by Yorktown Road.

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Tissue Holder, originally uploaded by milkyrobot.

There are a ton of tissue holder tutorials out there in blogland so I won’t add another. I will, however, offer you a link to one I like here.

I think these are a great way to use all those fabulously tiny japanese prints. If you want to make it a more eco-friendly gift you could stuff it with a hankie instead of paper tissues. How cool are these owls?

owls in love on a hankie, originally uploaded by bookwormbethie.

I’m not much on embroidery myself but you can get custom embroidery done Etsy. The tissue holder and custom hankie would make a great Mother’s Day gift too.

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Alexander Henry Fabric, originally uploaded by Shear Delight.

Originally I bought both of these to give to my sister as a birthday present. I knew she would like them but I wasn’t sure what to do with them. Then as I thought about it giving her 1 1/4 yards of fabric as a birthday gift seemed kind of lame regardless of how cool the fabric.

I purchased another yard of the Inked along with some Michael Miller Disco Dots and made a very modern quilt. Now I’m going to keep Midnight Snack and possibly make some kitchen stuff with it.

What do you think?

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IMG_3379, originally uploaded by Shear Delight.

I finished this quilt top yesterday (see those beautifully square corners! I’m so proud) and now it’s on to basting and quilting.

My first quilt was done entirely by hand from a kit and the instructions that came with it said to thread baste it. So naturally when I moved to my second and third quilts (done on a machine) I thread basted those as well. Bad idea! They were both pucker city! Thread basting didn’t keep things from slipping and sliding as they moved quickly through the machine and the basting thread often got caught in my machine, gumming things up anymore. I made it through both quilts but this time I vowed to do things differently!

Pin basting is usually recommended as the method of choice when machine quilting, just remember to take the pins out before quilting over them.

You will need:

  • Curved quilting pins
  • A knitting needle, crochet hook or similar device (to help pin everything in place)
  • Painter’s Tape (or other low tack tape)

Step 1:

Lay your quilt back wrong side up on a large flat surface


Step 2:

Starting at one end start taping your quilt down, making sure to smooth out the wrinkles as you go.


You want the fabric to be taunt but not stretched.


I didn’t tape all the way around this time because I was skeptical and wanted to be able to reach under the quilt if need be to get a safety pin through. This wasn’t ever necessary and next time I will tape around the entire perimeter of my quilt.


Step 3:

Lay out your batting (I used Warm and Natural, I got 10 yards of it using a 40% off coupon at Jo-Ann’s).


As you can see my batting isn’t large enough to cover the quilt. I was using two pieces left over from my previous quilts. It’s not a big deal. You can easily whip stitch two pieces of batting together to complete your quilt.


Make sure you when you join the two pieces you butt them up next to one another without any gaps. But, don’t stitch too tightly or you will create a ridge in the middle of your quilt.

Step 4:

Lay your quilt top right side up on top of your batting.


Smooth out any wrinkles, moving from the center outward.

Step 5:

Go grab these


I recommend opening all of your safety pins before you start and then storing them open you when are done. This relieves some strain on your wrists during the project and shortens the amount of time it would take to baste your quilt. Plus those things are a pain, the less you deal with them the better.

The knitting needle is used to assist in closing the pin. This video demonstrates the idea. I don’t have the special tool that she does but after attempting to close exactly one pin on my own I immediately started searching for a substitute.


Once the pointy end of your safety pin comes up through the fabric you want to slide your knitting needle underneath to hold it in place.


Then it’s much easier to close your pin.


Step 6:

Start basting in the middle of your quilt and work outwards.


The general consensus is that you want to pin every 4-6 inches. Ensuring that you smooth out any remaining wrinkles as you go.


The more pins you use the more secure everything will be but remember you will have to unpin these as you quilt, so sometimes less is more.

If you, like me, were a little skeptical that the pins would slide all the way through, here is a picture of the backside.


Step 7:

Remove the tape and move on to quilting. Most people recommend having four more inches of batting and backing around the entire quilt but if you are sending this out to be quilted on a long arm machine you should see what they require/recommend.

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IMG_3371, originally uploaded by Shear Delight.

Have you heard about the 1st Annual Blogger’s Quilt Festival yet? In case you haven’t I thought I should let you know it’s kind of a big deal 😉

I wasn’t going to enter at first thinking that the quilt I did for my husband was my favorite (of the two I’ve completed) and I just blogged about that one. But I realize that this quilt (still unfinished as you can see) is actually my favorite. Binding it got put off when my husband informed me a couple weeks before his birthday that he wanted his own quilt. I managed to finish quilting this one before switching gears, unfortunately immediately after finishing my husband’s quilt I didn’t switch back! I started on a birthday quilt for my sister (it needs to be finished by May 9th) and started and finished the Amy Butler Birdie Sling for myself. But this quilt, in my two favorite colors, is patiently waiting to be finished. I made it to be used but I’m thinking about hanging it up in my home office to cheer me up in the middle of a gloomy day of work.

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