The Mad Patcher

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To prewash or not to prewash fabric

SewingPosted by The Mad Patcher Dec 05, 2016 09:19PM

I have to admit that I am a bit lazy when it comes to doing laundry. I always push it until I cannot avoid it any longer. However, when I comes to new fabrics, I usually wash them right away, so they are ready just in case I think of a project to use them for.

There are a few guidelines to follow when washing new fabrics, since some fabrics tend to shrink more than others depending on the kind of fiber that is used. The general advice is to wash all fabrics to remove surplus color, dirt and chemicals and to shrink them.

Let me start out by saying that you should NEVER wash precut fabrics. Precuts like charmpacks and jelly rolls all have a consistent size. If you wash them they will shrink to various sizes, differ in shape and lose some of the fabric since the edges tend to unravel.

My second rule is to ALWAYS wash fabrics that are going to be used for garments. You would not want to sew a dress that fits perfectly and then wash it only to discover that it shrunk and you can no longer wear it. Also some garments require different types of fabric and they all shrink to different degrees.

Here is a list with different fabrics:

Broadcloth and quilting cotton: Washed and dry, I usually wash and dry on a medium setting.

Flannel: Likes to shrink a lot, which is why prewashing and drying at high temperatures is necessary to prevent future shrinkage. Use cooler settings for future washes.

Knits: Likes to shrink as well. I wash them at medium to high temperatures and dry them in dryer for pre-treatment. I do not put knits in the dryer after finishing a project.

Linen: Do pre-wash linen, since it will get softer and feel much nicer, but it won't shrink very much. Linen is usually very durable and can take relatively high temperatures.

Silk: Wash in the sink by hand with a mild shampoo and hang dry.

Wool: Only wash at very low temperatures. No dryer. Mild soap. Many people prefer handwashing or the dry cleaner.

Polyester: Fabrics like fleece, minky and faux leather do not need to be pre-washed, since they do not shrink. Only wash at medium temperatures. Dry on low to medium temperatures to avoid misshaping of the fabric.

Rayon: Likes to shrink. Wash in warm water on the handwashing setting and dry in medium temperatures. Keep out of the dryer after the project is finished.

For quilters: If you wash your quilt for the first time make sure to throw a color catcher, a special cloth that catches residual color, in the washing machine to prevent bleeding colors from ruining your lighter areas - this is advisable for quilts made with precuts.

Be sure to check which temperature your fabrics can be washed at. Most batting does not need prewashing since it either does not shrink at all or only shrinks minimally. If you are making a quilt that will never need washing, like a wall hanging, you do not need to think about prewashing and fabric type.

Protip: Sew the ends of your yardage with a zig zag stitch or serge it before throwing it in the washer to prevent it from unravelling.

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Appliqué sew easy

SewingPosted by The Mad Patcher Nov 16, 2016 02:40PM

Have you ever looked at one of those projects that had a super pretty appliqué design and thought that you would never be able to do this yourself? I felt the same way until i discovered how easy appliqué can be if you have the right tools - and it's really not that many.

I tried a bunch of different things before I found the easiest way to deal with almost any appliqué pattern. I discovered that Heat'n Bond is a big help when it comes to keeping your pattern in place before stitching it down. It's a light adhesive that you iron on the wrong side of your fabric before cutting out your pattern. I prefer the feather lite, since the stitching afterwards is going to provide the necessary durability.

First iron your fabric to the iron-on adhesive - do not pull off the paper yet. Then you draw the pattern - flower petals, hearts, you name it... - on the paper side of your fabric. Remember to draw it mirrored, since you are going to turn around the pattern after cutting it. Use sharp scissors, a rotary cutter or a cutting machine to cut out your pattern and pull off the paper.

Now you are ready to adhere the pattern. Place it on the fabric you want to adhere it to and iron it on with the right side up. Apply heat for about ten seconds and then let it cool down.

I prefer to use a blanket stitch to stitch down my patterns, but you can also use a tight zigzag or any other wide stitch that you like. Make sure that the stitches are close so your pattern does not fray. Just follow the edge of your pattern and you are done. Simple as that!

I especially love working with petals, because you can do so much with them by arranging them in different ways. I usually make my own templates with plastic sheets.

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Making a buttonhole

SewingPosted by The Mad Patcher Nov 16, 2016 02:30PM

For the longest time I was confused about this long white plastic thing that comes with most sewing machines. Turned out it was for making buttonholes. It sure looks silly, but it does its job. Now that I know how quick and easy it is I sometimes get the urge to make buttonholes where none belong. Here is an easy tutorial:

1. Mark the place on your fabric where you want your buttonhole to be. Be sure that is in the right spot, so that your button can go through it easily.

2. Take your buttonhole foot and place the button you want to use in it like shown in the picture above. Then attach it to your machine with the button in place.

3. Lower the buttonhole sensor. This step is very important, since the sensor measures the length of the button. If this device is not lowered your machine will not stop sewing and just create one endless buttonhole.

4. Set your machine to the buttonhole setting. (On my Singer it is a little rectangle, nr. 67/68).

5. Place your fabric under your buttonhole foot and lower it. Note that the machine is going to start sewing at the end of the buttonhole and therefore is going to sew backwards first. Place your fabric accordingly.

6. Let it sew! It will stop automatically when it is done.

7. Take up the fabric and place a pin right before the end of the buttonhole.

8. Use a seam-ripper to open the fabric towards the pin. Now take out the pin - done!

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