Here is the final part of the ruffle tutorial. In this part we will see another way to finish your ruffles, either on the hemline of a skirt, top or pants, or if you have a garment that has a front or back opening where you cannot use one continuous ruffle that connects end-to-end. This is actually the simplest way I have found to finish off a ruffled pant leg or hemline, because it does not require that you match up the ruffle ends to create a finished edge.
I have used this technique on capris, especially cute when making a curved hemline, as well as on a little crop top that buttons in the back. This would make a nice finishing ruffle even for pillows or pillow cases, totebags, aprons, or any other project you are working on that you want to embellish with ruffles.
Once you have your ruffle-strip made (see part 1 of this ruffle tutorial), mark the center point of the ruffle-strip and the center point of the garment or item where you want to stitch the ruffle. Match up the centers, raw edge to raw edge with the ruffle facing the OUTSIDE of the garment, and then pin the ruffle to the garment all the way around, or from one side to the other, leaving about 1" - 2" of ruffle-strip free.
At the center-back seam (or the inner side seam of capris or pants), curve the ruffle-strip DOWN, away from the garment and towards the seam allowance. Make sure the raw end of both sides of the ruffle are completely below the seam allowance, and match them up as closely as possible. This is where you have much more latitude in placement, which doesn't require perfectly matched ends. A little overlap is not a problem.
This technique works quite well for finishing a top that has a front or back button closure, simply by curving the ruffle ends into the fold of the button placket. In this case, I curved the ruffle ends in between the inner and outer layers of this reversible crop top.
One of my online friends has reminded me of the website Wardrobe Refashion, and I'm thinking it will be fun to jump into the challenge this winter and see what I can come up with. Seems it is all about taking something that you already have hanging in your closet, or something that you purchase from a thrift shop, and making it into something else . . . . or at least making it into something different than it's original condition. And since I love to do that kind of thing anyway, this should be lots of fun! I suppose this could work with shoes and purses, hats, coats, jackets, skirts, and sweaters as well as dresses and slacks. How about jeans? I have several pair of jeans that I've been wanting to rip up, shred, paint on, stitch on, and generally deconstruct and then recreate into something brand new and wonderful. Guess I better get started because this just might take me the rest of my life!
I'm also feeling very domestic these days - perhaps it is the limited opportunities I have for getting outside when the temperature is hovering close to zero. But I've got all kinds of plans for painting and fixing up the inside of our little cottage, and I want to do things like make some pretty pillows for the couch, maybe a coordinating tablecloth for the dining room, kitchen curtains, and perhaps do some fun decorating in the bedrooms. I know the girls want me to paint their bedroom, so we could find the color they want and then find some coordinating fabric to make curtains, a comforter, and pillows. Then we can find some fun and funky wallhangings, or maybe make something original, get their closet organized, clean out and sort the clothes in their dresser drawers, organize their books and toys. . . . they what will I do with myself? After all that I'll probably be too exhausted to do anything else for a while.
And who said that stay-at-home moms don't actually DO anything all day? Not this mama! And all of that is in between doing the laundry, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, cooking, and sweeping the kitchen. Oh, and keeping clean sheets on the beds. And homework. Well, you get the picture. Besides that, I have an online business to run, which seems to do much better when I actually pay attention to it once in a while. So much for wondering what I'm going to do with the rest of my life!
The "Mommy and Me" apron eBooks are on their way, so be sure to let me know if you want me to put you on the list and I"ll send one out to you, too. Next week I have a couple of other projects and tutorials in mind to share with you. It occurred to me that there might be some beginning seamstresses (I HATE the word "sewers") who want to try making button holes but perhaps don't have a button hole attachment. I used to make all of my button holes by hand, and it can still be done if you don't mind doing things the "old-fashioned" way! Have a wonderful Friday and a blessed weekend, and please be sure to send me pictures of any of your completed projects that you've made using any of my eBook patterns or tutorials. I would love to share them with the world! Chat soon, Nina
Back before the CPSA legislation went into effect, I used to make all kinds of ruffly, twirly, girly dresses, pants, jumpers, pinafores, tops, and even ruffled and appliqued jeans. That was great fun, especially since I had been doing that kind of sewing for many years, and I was also sewing for our two girls anyway. I discovered that there were lots of other moms and grandmas who liked to buy all that feminine stuff for their own little girls. Eventually I decided to write up my ideas and designs into eBook patterns so that instead of ME doing all the sewing, I could help other moms do the sewing themselves. That has been great fun and quite successful, with several of my eBook patterns available for purchase at YouCanMakeThis.com
Now that there are all of the legal hurdles and obstacles to overcome if one wants to continue to design / create / sew items for children under 12 years old, I just can't be bothered with all of that bureaucracy . . . . so, since I love to write my eBooks and apparently there are a few moms out here who want to learn how to make some of my designs, that will be the best way for me to pursue my love of designing and sewing - and of course, I LOVE to write and chat with anyone who wants to learn how to sew for their children! One of the questions that I have gotten fairly frequently is on the topic of making those yards and yards of ruffles that everyone seems to want to put on everything.
I have put together a simple ruffle tutorial, but of course, it will depend completely upon the type of sewing machine you have. If you have been a seamstress for very long, you probably either have a machine that has a specially fitted ruffler foot, or you have purchased a generic ruffler foot for your machine. Or, perhaps you have learned how to do ruffles without a ruffler foot . . . . so this tutorial is really for anyone who is a beginner at making ruffles and just doesn't quite know where to start.
The old-fashioned way that I have always made ruffles is to run a long, running stitch down the length of the fabric that I want to make into a ruffle. The easiest way to do this, I have found, is to cut a length of fabric TWICE as wide as you want the finished ruffle to be, plus 1/2" for seam allowances, and the length should be approximately 1 /2 - 2 times the length of the finished ruffle you want to create.
Now, for simplicity, I typically just cut a strip of fabric off of one end of my fabric . . . . . unless I need a REALLY long ruffle (which you will need if you are putting a ruffle all around the hemline of a dress or skirt, for instance) in which case I will cut two or three strips of fabric off of the end of my piece of fabric, DOUBLE the width I want for my finished ruffle, plus the seam allowance of 1/2". So, that would look like this: One strip of fabric, approximately 5" wide and 42" long (typically the distance ACROSS the end of a piece of fabric), would make a finished ruffle approximately 2" wide by 21" - 30" long (with 1/2" seam allowance taken from each side of the strip when folded in half lengthwise). OR, two or three strips of fabric, each 5" wide and 42" long, stitched together end-to-end to make one, long strip, approximately 4" wide and 84" - 126" long.
Then, fold the strip of fabric in half, lengthwise, so your strip is now 2 1/2" wide, and press. Of course, if you want a wider ruffle, just make your strip wider by the measurement you want added, just be sure to keep the 1/2" seam allowance for each side of the folded strip. Now, it depends on whether you want a finished edge ruffle or a raw edge ruffle when you decide where to begin your stitching!
If you want a finished edge ruffle, you will stitch along the RAW edges (folded together) of your strip, with a running, straight stitch (often called a "gathering" stitch), with the setting on your machine for the longest stitch available. On my machine, that is a length setting of 5.0 on a scale of 0.0 - 5.0, and "normal" being 2.5 - 3.0. Run this row of stitching all along the length of your strip of fabric, approximately 1/4" from the RAW edge, from beginning to the end of the strip.
It is helpful in the beginning if you run TWO rows of stitching along the edge of the strip of fabric, very close to each other but not touching, so that when you pull the gathering stitches up to create the ruffle, you will have a "back-up" thread to pull in case one of the threads breaks. Eventually, however, you should be able to do this technique with just one row of stitching . . . . when you get a feel for how firmly you can pull on the threads without breaking them! If you are doing a VERY long strip of fabric into a ruffle, you might want to start and stop the gathering stitch at the end of each section of your strip. That way, you are more likely to be able to pull the stitches into a ruffle without breaking them.
Or, if you want a raw edge ruffle, simply reverse the placement of the rows of the long, running, gathering stitch, and place the stitching 1/4" from the FOLDED edge of the strip of fabric. Then, once you have your row(s) of gathering stitches running all along one edge of your folded strip of fabric, be sure to leave a few inches of thread on either end for pulling to create the ruffled effect you are looking for. You can create ruffles that are just slightly gathered, to ruffles that are generously full, or you can create ruffles that are tight and almost "curly" simply by adjusting how closely and tightly you pull the threads.
It is helpful to tie the threads together on one end, then pull the threads from the other end until you get the look you want, and then adjust the fullness to accommodate the garment to which you will be stitching the ruffle. That is one major advantage to doing ruffles the "old-fashioned" way. You can adjust the length of the ruffle to fit whatever you are working with when you create ruffles this way.
Using a ruffler foot is so much easier and quicker, but you will get a uniform "gathering" on your ruffle (which is a good thing!) but the finished ruffle might not be exactly the length that you need for your garment, and then you will just need to finish the ends differently than you will when you gather your ruffles using this "old-fashioned" technique. Of course, this really isn't the OLD "old-fashioned" way to make ruffles . . . . you can also make them by running a long, gathering stitch all along the edge of your strip of fabric by hand-stitching, but using the machine for your gathering stitch really does work great!
You can also do a double-edge ruffle by using the same technique, but stitching your long, running, gathering stitch down the MIDDLE of a strip of fabric. You could even layer two or three strips of fabric, run the stitching down the middle of the layered strips for a really full double-edge ruffle. It really just depends on what you are making and the look you want to achieve. The finished edge, folded fabric ruffle is perfect for trimming the hemline of a skirt, jumper, or dress, or even the hemline of a t-top or blouse, and the hemlines of the legs of jeans.
The raw edge, folded fabric ruffle is cute for embellishing items along a seamline or down the front of a blouse, or perhaps even down the outer leg seam of a pair of jeans. Another way that I want to try the double-edge ruffle is on a hemline. I think it would be a fun addition to a skirt, instead of the more traditiional, finished edge ruffles. In this picture, I have used the double-edge ruffle along the neckline of a top and then brought it down the front. I then used the folded, raw edge ruffle (made from a lightweight polyester fabric so it will not ravel or fray) to make a double-rosette that I attached just below the double-edged ruffle at the neckline.
Now, if you want to use a ruffler foot, it is important to get one that is made for YOUR machine. My first ruffler foot was a generic make that was made to work on most any machine, and it did a great job. But I wore it out! The generic type is not very expensive, and can be purchased at a fabric store or online sewing store. When I got my Bernina machine, I purchased the ruffler foot that was made specifically for that particular machine and it was much sturdier and easier to attach than my first one. . . . . . but I have now worn that one out, too! So, I'm in the market for a new ruffler foot!
The ruffler foot is a little gadget that attaches in place of the regular presser foot on your sewing machine. The simple version (because I'm not a sewing machine expert or a mechanical genius) is that you run the your folded strip of fabric through the ruffler foot and a little lever pushes another little doo-dad at various intervals, causing a small fold of fabric to slide under the needle when it comes down, thus creating a tiny tuck in the fabric. This can be set to "tuck" every 12 stitches, every 6 stitches, every single stitch, and so on, depending on the type of ruffler foot you have.
The tucks, or little gathers, are very uniform and this process is very quick and easy . . . . until your ruffler foot breaks, and then you have to revert to the "old-fashioned" method, like I have been doing for the past two weeks since mine just kind of went on strike. Here are some links to places you can purchase a ruffler foot, but you might want to give the "old-fashioned" technique a try, just in case you ever have to use it!
So, there is a quick look at some ways to create all those ruffles. Later this week, I will post the tutorial for finishing off the ends of your ruffles, both for the ruffles you make with the ruffler foot as well as for the ruffles you create using the "old-fashioned" technique. Just remember, there are a million and one different ways that seamstresses have been doing these kinds of things over the centuries, and this is just what has worked for me. I'm sure the professional designers and those who create the couture designs for "Project Runway" might frown on my down-home, "I figured it out myself" techniques, but if you are wanting to sew for your family and don't have the time or the opportunity to go to college to learn how to make a dress for your 4 year old . . . . the simple little tricks that this Mama has been using for a long time really do work quite well!
Please email me if you have any questions, and I'll do my best to answer and help you figure out whatever it is that you are working on. I'm off to finish up the eBook on making those fun little aprons, so come on back later this week so you can make an apron for yourself and maybe one for the little one at your house. Chat soon, N
Monday Morning update: I'll be making a couple more of these "Mommy and Me" aprons this week, and then writing up the eBook . . . . . so if you are interested, please leave me a comment and I'll get it out to you as soon as it is finished. This project will also be included in my eBook, "Handcrafted Happiness," that I am currently working on. I'll keep you posted on the other projects that will be included in that eBook!
Later today I will be posting a short tutorial on ruffles. I've received a few requests for information about different techniques for making all those gorgeous ruffles that we all love so much. I know that there are probably as many different techniques as there are seamstresses out here in the big world of home sewing, but I always love to help beginners in any way that I can. Especially if you are just learning how to sew and want to make fun, simple, and beautiful clothing for your children or yourself, I am so inspired to offer a word of encouragement.
Off to the studio for the morning, but please check back for the ruffle tutorial, and let me know if you want me to send you the eBook on the "Mommy and Me" aprons later this week. Have a blessed and productive Monday, and we'll chat later ;o)
I am so ready to get back on a schedule, on a healthy eating plan, and get caught up on the simple things such as house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and bill paying. Well, not that those are my most favorite things to do with my time, but I always feel better when I know that those things are taken care of. The chaos and excitement of the holidays eventually just wear me out ;o) and I need "normal" - whatever that means!
One way that I want to try to be more productive this year is to set monthly, weekly, and daily goals. I know that I won't always accomplish everything that I strive for (I'm one of those mamas who typically put 20 things on my list, accomplish 19 of them, and then whine about the fact that I didn't finish that one, last thing on my list!) - so I am going to try to be realistic with my expectations. Reality tells me, however, that if I aim for nothing, I will always hit it!
So, with that in mind, I thought if I post my goals publicly, perhaps I will have more motivation for getting them accomplished. If you want to join me, post your weekly goals on your blog every Monday, and then stop back here and post your link. If we encourage and support one another, it might help us make great progress in 2010.
* Organize all of my business "stuff" - although I'm a pretty organized person, this is one area where I haven't been as orderly as I need to be. I have everything I need . . . . . somewhere here in this file cabinet! I'm going to get it sorted, organized, labeled, and easily accessible so I can keep accurate records.
* Update all of my online venues and get my shops stocked. This has also been kind of a mess while I was working away from home, but now that I am working full-time from my home office, I have the time, energy, and determination to get all of this up-to-date.
* Set up a new marketing plan. Nothing elaborate, but I'm thinking about a once a month newsletter to all of my past customers, or something like that.
* Establish a plan for my projects. I've been just creating whatever seems to strike my fancy at any given moment. Now I have to decide which projects are priority, such as writing the new eBook that I've been planning for the past six months!
That's just a beginning . . . . so for this week I need to work on stocking my Etsy shop and editing all of my listings. Start the eBook, and work on the refashion project that I have waiting for me in the sewing studio. Oh . . . . that reminds me . . . . that will be part of the "Wardrobe Refashion" project that I'm participating in. I'll tell you more about that tomorrow! In the meantime, if you want to join me in getting motivated for the new year, just post your link and I'll stop by and cheer you on! Chat soon, Nina
Am I the only one out here who really loves to make gifts, buy gifts, and give gifts . . . . but there just never seems to be enough time, energy, or money to do it all? This year I decided that it would be fun to make a little something to send to all the grandbabies. All 10 of them! So, in addition to trying to figure out all this new-fangled stuff that the girls want (DSI? What the heck is that? And just exactly HOW did we raise kids, who actually survived, before we had all these doo-dads to entertain our babies and keep them safe???) . . . . I am working on a little project that is fun, simple, and best of all it fits my budget. Which is pretty small this year, considering the months of unemployment around here.
So as I was staring at my stash of fabric, I suddenly remembered that I had a bag filled with plain white t-shirts that I bought last year when they were on sale. And then I remembered that I also had quite a bit of flannel that I had also bought last winter and just didn't have the time to work on. My little brain started thinking about the sweet jammies I made for the girls a couple of years ago. That's when I decided just what I was going to make for all the grandbabies. Well, they're not ALL babies. Two of them are 6 years old, two are 5 years old, two are 4 years old, one is 3 years old, one is one year old, and two of them are just a little over a month old. That does make 10, doesn't it? Four boys and six girls.
I pulled out all of the t-shirts and found just about all of the sizes. Just need to buy a couple more. And then I started going through the flannel and have just about enough different designs for both boys and girls of various ages. I think I'll be able to do this project without investing too much more money, but at least I'll be able to invest lots of love and time, and hopefully let them know that they are loved. And while I'm out in the studio working on each little pair of jammies, I can say a prayer for that baby that God will protect them as they grow up.
So I just wanted to share this idea with you, in case you are looking for a last-minute, quick and easy Christmas gift for a little one in your life. If you received the "Learn to Applique" ebook last week, just use that same technique to apply any design you cut out of some flannel fabric to the front of a plain white t-shirt.
Then, using any pattern you might have in your collection (or buy a basic pants pattern) to make a super-quick pair of jammie bottoms to match. I finished up a couple of pair of jammies yesterday afternoon out in the studio.Here's what you will need:
* 1 - 2 yds flannel fabric (depending on the size you are making)
* 1 plain white long-sleeve t-shirt in the size you need to make
* Sewing machine
* Matching thread for sewing and stitching on the applique design
Follow the directions in the applique eBook (or leave a comment here and I will send it out to you!) by cutting out a simple design from your flannel fabric. Iron on the fusible interfacing to the inside of the shirt, and iron on fusible web to the back of your design. Press securely in place on the front of the t-shirt, and using an applique stitch (wide, tight zig-zag stitch), stitch all around each of your designs.Super-dooper simple! Be sure to leave a comment here if you want me to send out the "Learn to Applique the Simple Way" eBook to you. And have fun making more holiday gifts from your home, your hands, and your heart!
PS you might want to put each child's initial on the jammie top, at least if you have as many to make as I do, so I can remember which pair of jammies is for each one of the little ones ;o)
PPS you might also want to consider making the pantlegs of the jammies a couple of inches longer than needed right now. That way the pantlegs can be rolled up a turn to make a cuff, and then as the child grows, they can unroll the cuffs and the jammies will still be long enough.
I've always known (kind of) about the Chinese culture, which holds great reverence for their ancestors and elderly relatives. So much so, that sons of Chinese families, traditionally, care for their aging parents, while daughters typically marry into another family and help care for the aging parents of their husbands. With this tradition in mind, I think often of my own daughters and what their lives would be like if they had remained in China. I am not suggesting that this Chinese tradition is not as good as our American traditions . . . . far from it! If our elderly relatives were treated with the same level of respect as is shown to the "senior citizens" of China, well we just might be having a different kind of discussion about health care, nursing homes, and the "sandwich generation."
So there is definitely something to be said in favor of the social and cultural value that is placed on older people in China. Of course the other side of that observation is that, when this tradition is followed closely, it severely limits options for the women of that country. On the other hand, sometimes all of the "opportunities" that are available to American young people are not always safe, healthy, or wise. But that is another discussion . . . . . all of this got me to thinking (again) about how we, as Americans, have for so long been pursuing the dream of having it all.
And the problems that it has created for people who have been fortunate to have ALMOST all (of whatever they are seeking), and now are faced with the reality of a struggling economy. Many of us simply can no longer spend our Saturday afternoons wandering around in a huge mall, with cheery music tempting us to feel all warm and fuzzy as we rack up those $$$$ on our charge cards. We can always pay it off later! Unfortunately, "later" has caught up with us, and it is not much fun for many Americans.
My girls will often ask me, "Mom, did you have M&Ms when you were a kid?" or "Was there TV around when you were a kid?" or other equally wise observations from their perspective. And I will tell them the truth . . . . . yep, those things "were around" but I didn't have nearly as much of it as they do. And I lived to tell about it! For some people, that overwhelming desire to have more stuff, new stuff, expensive stuff, and beautiful stuff becomes almost like a noose around the neck. It becomes all-consuming, to the point of destroying marriages and forcing people into bankruptcy.
Now, all of us have faced financial struggles at some point in our lives . . . . . and some end up needing to file bankruptcy for very legitimate reasons. That is not the point of this thought process. It is about the mindless consumption of material goods that has become such an accepted part of the "American Dream." So, when I chatted with one of my older daughters about how difficult it is to keep going when there is just never enough money to go around, we came to the conclusion that there are millions of people right now who are actually in more difficult circumstances than we are encountering, and that there are also millions of Americans who lived through the Great Depression . . . . . and they survived. Not only did they survive, many became stronger, more independent, more resourceful, and more joyful directly in proportion to their determination to be thankful for what they had. No matter how simple, they learned to appreciate the little things in life.
So, when one of our nieces posted a comment on my FB page about my ability to take "old stuff" and make it into something kind of cool (or something like that!), it reminded me of a conversation I had with my mother-in-law over 30 years ago. Even back then, she made the observation that I "could make a beautiful home out of just about nothing." My philosophy all of my life has been, a coat of paint doesn't cost much and it will make a whole room feel brand-new! As I carry that philosophy of "old stuff" over into my daily life, I am continually confronted with the ways in which we so often just "throw away" things that are no longer brand-new (well, actually some of it IS brand-new, as evidenced by the number of gorgeous items I find in thrift shops that still have the tags attached!) - but we've grown tired of it, or it is no longer the "latest fashion."
And that attitude carries over into our lives as we encounter people . . . . those who are older, or a bit slower, or perhaps can't "snap it up" to our level of expectation. I see it frequently when we are out with our daughter, Missy Stubborn-Pants. She WILL do it herself, even when it takes her a bit longer than most other kids because of her CP. Stubborn in that case is a good thing (of course, it sometimes makes me crazy, like when it is time for school and she somehow thinks that just because she is determined to zip her own coat, that will change what time the bell rings!). Anyway, I've been thinking about "old stuff," perhaps more so because I just had a birthday last week ;o) but I've recognized that one of the reasons that I love vintage stuff, and fixing up "old stuff" so much is because I see so much waste in our society.
I think it is time for us all to re-think our own "philosophy of old stuff" and begin to get a bit more comfortable with the treasures that can be discovered in all things "vintage." Including Grandma and Grandpa! Have a blessed Monday! I'm off to the studio to fix up some more "old stuff" because it seems that there are at least a few folks out there in the world who like my style!
Please visit my little Etsy shop at www.gossamerwingsstudio.etsy.com to see more of my "old stuff" that I have turned into beautiful "new stuff" - you won't be disappointed!