How to Sew a Mother’s Day purse using my Singer Futura XL580

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I am making my mom a new purse for Mother’s Day. I looked at her current purse, which I made a few years ago, and it is sadly worn. She likes it so much I decided I would put the extra effort out to make her another special bag.  The purse is strip pieced on pre quilted fabric. Below are pictures of the machine lettering, stabilizer backing, strip piecing, and 2 older purses I created with the pattern for this purse.In the following few blogs I will show you how I constructed this project. In this blog I have included a video on how to do built-in sewn lettering.

I was lucky because I found some lovely patchwork pre quilted I had purchased in white and black patchwork from Joann Fabrics years ago. I have made bias to edge the purse in black and I also selected a few black and white strips of cotton fabric I had stashed away. I will use the strips for the front flap. I also needed to prepare a solid strip of decorative stitches for the front flap. On that strip I sewed her name. I thought it would be fun to document the construction. I am using my cell phone so be kind in your reviews. I plan to make a few video’s. Here is the first step…sewing the decorative lettering.

I used “Fuse N Tear” iron on stabilizer on the back side of the solid strip I am using to create the lettering and decorative stitches. I am also using “filtec” bobbin thread for a better decorative stitch tension and an “Open Toe” applique’ foot to help the fabric feed well and allow me to see where I am stitching.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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Jenny’s sewing history

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Here is a history lesson about Jenny and sewing! I thought it would be fun to look back.

I received my first sewing machine at age 7.  See my picture below with no front teeth. I remember I did not like the toy machine as it did not work well. I graduated to my mom’s featherweight pretty quickly.  Most of my sewing was doll clothing.  Sewing and embroidery were usually done by hand. I can still remember my uncle showing me how to design cross stitch on graph paper and I was making samplers with my own designs for a year or 2. It is a wonder I continued to sew. My mom  “made me” hem a gathered shirt by hand. I hated it. I guess I got over the trauma.

In Home economics class my first project was an apron. After that it was a jacket dress and a shirtwaist dress with pin tucks.  By the time I reached the 8th grade I was sewing with wool and made pleated shirts and jackets.  I took home economics all 4 years I was in high school. I made costumes for school musicals and even a bicentennial dress. I am a prolific sewer but most of my garment sewing was done when I learned to sew in junior high and senior high school and the first few years I worked for Singer. I bought most of my fabric from Dannemann’s, Butler’s sewing Center and Woolworth’s. I sewed everything I wore. I even sewed bathing suits because I needed a few. We lived on the water and believe it or not I water skied every day. Those were the days. I could not afford a wardrobe so I made it.

When I reached college my mother gave me her Singer featherweight to bring to school.  I was popular because I had one of the few sewing machines in the dorm.  I sewed for class or special occasions because the budget was small.  I made a Vogue designer tailored suit. The ensemble included a wide high waist lined slack with cuffs and a ¾ length tailored jacket with belt by Yves Saint Laurent.  If only I could wear that fashion statement now.  In one class we designed our own fabric.  I created a pair of bell bottoms with hand stamped butterflies. I wish I had a picture.  I also made a long peasant dress that was tie dyed and wore it for years.  Again you have to picture the fashion statement as cell phones were not around yet.  I guess I should be grateful.

Once I started to work for Singer I sewed complete wardrobes.  We had so many choices as sewers back then. When I moved to Atlanta, Ga I found the greatest place to buy fabric. It was called Cloth World. I loved that place. They had endless round tables displaying fashion fabric stories of colors and coordinating fabrics.  Singer was a close second in fabric display.  Now days you do not see that many fashion fabrics and a lot of times it is displayed like at Mood from Project Runway, in tubes that are stacked on top of each other and impossible to view. G Street had some great fabrics but again I was not thrilled with the display. I always had to fight the fabric to find something.  I was and am a bit spoiled.  I guess we should be grateful for the few stores that are left to service the sewing public. It is funny when you think about it. Retail is struggling today just to remain open, yet they still have such possibilities. Recently I went to Hobby Lobby to touch and feel the fabric there. They had a few nice pieces and the display was well maintained. I saw a lot of old friends in that fabric department. Thing is, it is a city block and ½ from the store entrance. I do not like to hike that far for interfacing. I will buy it on Amazon. See, I told you I am spoiled.

I remember driving to Clear brook, West Virginia to buy the wool to make a winter dress chesterfield coat and a double breasted pinstripe suit in wool and the black suit you see the pattern of.  I looked up the woolen mill and it is now a Grille. Times have changed a lot of things.

When I first went to work with Singer I traded in my featherweight complete with table and all accessories for the new Singer Futura II and then the Athena. I had one of the first electronic sewing machines. I also bought one for my mom. We had a lot of fun on that Singer machine model 2000.

The age of double knits appeared and I was in love with the techniques and the fashion.  I even free motion embroidered complete floral vine patterns on several suit jackets.  See the picture of the blue pantsuit I am wearing.  I made my own sweaters and had a coordinating jacket and pants for every look.  It is hard to explain how inspiring the fabrics were back then.

I was sorry to see our local Kmart close here in Salisbury, MD.  If I remember back to the 70’s and 80’s it was Kmart and Sears that introduced cheap clothing to the public. That started the end of fabric retail because it was now economically as cheap to buy your own clothing, rather than make them.  Now Kmart will soon be gone. Walmart hit us in the 90’s did a number on retail too. Walmart has tried to own and sell everything. Walmart started with fabric, then they took it out, now fabric is back in the store again. It goes against my small business sense to shop at Walmart although I know a few people that do.

When I opened Jenny’s Sewing Studio in 1982 we were on the start of the quilting and sewing craft craze. I offered about 2,000 bolts of colorful cottons. When we opened the cotton was 2.99 to 3.99 a yard. When we closed our quilt shop in 2008 the cotton was selling for 7.99 to over 10.00 a yard.  I have probably made over 100 quilts and wall hangings.  I also enjoyed making lots of quilted clothing, dolls and crafts.  I still have a few quilts I saved and display  for the different seasons.  Quilting really revived sewing for many years. Machine embroidery and quilting helped sell a lot of sewing machines .

I sold Singer, Janome, Bernina, Pfaff, BabyLock, Brother, Juki, and Simplicity sewing machines. I owned one of each top end model and used the machines to learn the features and create samples for my store.

Hancock Fabric came into Salisbury for a few years. Jo Ann fabrics and Mays fabrics also had fabric in Salisbury. I saw them come and then go. None of these fabric chains lasted over 10 to 15 years here. 

We had some really great customers and held some great classes and seminars on sewing, embroidery and quilting. I knew most of my regular customers by name and enjoyed their visits to the store. Life is about sharing and I think that is the number 1 thing I like about sewers, they share. I offered in store clubs for the sewing machine brands and software classes on machine embroidery. I still offer hands on classes on a “one on one” basis.  Hours I spend with these sewers is priceless to me. I try to capture the customer and project unless I get so busy time gets away from me.

Lately I have offered some custom sewing for customers. I am picky as to what I will sew but enjoy being creative.

We will see what the future of sewing brings.  I hope a new generation of sewing enthusiasts opens new markets for the creating fashion. Of all the sewing I have done,  I still liked sewing my own fashions the best.  I loved to make something out of a mistake or pull all my scraps together and create from them. It was the heart of my sewing. Today I enjoy teaching students how to sew and hope they will continue for years to come.

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Sew for Easter with Jenny’s Sewing Studio

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Want an easy project to make to help celebrate the Easter season? Here is an Easter Egg placemat. Purchase at least 5 or 6 -1/4 yard spring prints suitable to look like an Easter egg and cut into 2″ strips. I used a double faced white prequilted fabric as a base to form the egg. Using the rotary cutter and a walking foot you can do some strip piecing for the finished look. I have a PDF on my blog you can print off giving complete instruction, This is a great beginner project.

 

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Happy Spring Sewing from Jenny’s Sewing Studio

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Welcome Spring!  My mom keeps counting the days till spring. I try to tell her the weather might not improve on the 20th of March.  I think we are in for another Nor’easter.  I think that is 4 big storms in less than a month. Other than preparing for the storms I have been sewing to past the time inside.

I recently lost 62 pounds this year and am trying to take in all my spring clothing to fit. It is a huge task. I refuse to buy new clothing right now so I am trying to be creative. I have cut off at least 8 inches on the sides and tucked the necklines so they are no so large. The next step is to shorten sleeves and lengths.  I like my clothes and it would cost a fortune to replace all these clothes.  My goal is to lose 60 more pounds in the next year. I will be happy with working on a pound a week.  At some point I am sure I will need a new wardrobe, not now.  One thing I have to say is thanks for knits!

I started a Pinterest page on Creative Clothing and Vintage Clothing and I look at the ideas every so often to get inspired. The pictures remind me of what I would like my clothing to look like. The sewing market has changed so much in recent years.  The picture of the shirt waist dress will give you an idea of what I was sewing in junior high school. I made a dress identical to the blue dress and wore it a lot. Full shirted shirt waist dresses were also very comfortable. Today you might not find the Peter Pan collar but I think I could find a shirtwaist dress in a pattern book.

 In the early 1970’s I started sewing pantsuits with double knits. They were main stay in my wardrobe.  I fell in love with knits.  

There was nothing like going into a fashion fabric store and seeing the drape and feeling the fabrics. Locally all we have is Hobby Lobby and Walmart.   I miss the fashion fabrics that were coordinated to tell a fashion story and the fabrics would be mixed and matched to make pants, jackets, dresses and shirts.  I can remember spending hours buying fabrics to make entire fall or spring wardrobes with. I do not have the need for such wardrobes of clothing now but I still desire style and comfort.  I will probably never wear another dress, but you never know.  I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s when I think clothing nice fit and style. 

I look forward to sewing clothing again.  I have tried the shopping on-line approach but it takes much longer to research and find that special fabric. I do have a few fabrics in my stash and I think I will be able to embellish the fabric to make a special look for myself. One of my favorite embellishments is piping. The bag picture shows you some self-made piping. I think I can place the piping in the seams and on the edges and always used the piping foot to make it an easy insertion.  

Another embellishment is topstitching. The walking foot really helps keep the stitches even and straight. I have used 2 top threads placed through the same needle eye to get a defined stitching look. To help you get the best look on your topstitching I have a kit that is on clearance. Get the walking foot, guide ruler, a 1/4″ foot and a free motion foot all for the price of a walking foot. Kit fits all low shank sewing machines.

I have a student using this kimono pattern in a “Continue Sewing” class.  I like the garment, it is a great jacket and really dresses up the plain top and pants I already have. This garment gives the sewer plenty of challenge with facing, interfacing, border prints, and learning to under stitch.  The fabric for this kimono is also a challenge. If you are looking to advance your basic skills I suggest you plan 2 or 3 lessons on the jacket.

I hope you are planning your Spring sewing to include a new wardrobe garment. Have fun and enjoy the sewing till the warm weather comes!

 

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A great beginner sewing project for 2018

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Are you learning to sew? If you have taken a beginner sewing class from Jenny’s Sewing Studio I have a great pattern suggestion for you to make. This kimono jacket came be worn by everyone and is a great addition to your wardrobe. The pattern also offers easy fit. Try a nice cotton print to start with. You can then graduate to silks and slippery polyesters later. Here is a link to classes. You can find fabrics at JoAnn fabrics in Easton or Serendipity Quilts in Dagsboro, Delaware. I also like to shop on line at Mode, Fabric.com, and Fabric depot.com . Please email me if you have fabric questions and if you are in doubt of an on-line fabric, send me a link. See the email form attached.

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Christening Gown from a wedding dress

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Today I started a brand new project. A friend of mine asked me to remake her daughter’s wedding dress into a christening gown. She picked a Simplicity pattern. I set to work tearing the dress apart to harvest fabric and trim for the baby’s dress, slip, bonnet and shoes.

My mom thought I was crazy but I bought a large fancy box to store all the trim, fabric and scraps as I worked on the dress. I told her once I cut into the dress and pattern, I needed to stay organized so I would not loose anything. The next thing I am going to do is buy a padded hanger for the christening gown. The fabric wrinkles fast and I need to preserve the fresh pressed look .

I took pictures of the original gown before I took my scissors to the dress. The first cut was hard because the dress was beautiful. I cut off the bodice to work on the shirt sections. The main dress is an organza with lace appliques. There is a dress lining that I will make the slip, bonnet and slippers from. I cut the dress shirt along the seams to be able to see the open patches of usable fabric. I had to feel for the straight of grain when laying out the patterns. Each step of the way, I would study the construction and fabric grain to make sure I was making the best cutting decision. I steam pressed all the fabric before cutting any pattern pieces. It took me 4 hours to cut the 24 pattern pieces and the dress. I left the accessories to cut last, as they only take small amounts of fabric.

Cutting the front of the christening gown was easy. The wedding dress shirt is cut high in the wedding dress front and long in back for a train. That meant I had to cut off the satin trim from the hem on the train.  I will then reapply the satin trim and lace to the back bottom edge of the christening gown. The Christening gown will reveal the design of the wedding gown in the hem.

Once I was able to evaluate the project, the next step was to order the notions needed.  I ordered threads, elastic, ribbon and lace. Since we have very little in wedding dress supplies in Salisbury, MD I was forced to order on line.

I embroidered the grandmother’s and grandfather’s initials on the slip 1st.  The embroidery says, “All because 2 people fell in love” and includes the grandmother and grandfather’s initials.

My final sewing decision was to line the organza. It added to the shape of the bodice and the flow of the dress. I have included pictures of the whole sewing process for you to see. My mom helped me by holding the dress for pictures before I cut.  I think the dress is a masterpiece. See what you think?

If you have a special project you would like sewing help with you can send me an email using the form below.

Jenny

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