Monday, September 28, 2009

New Classes at Bolt

Bolt's new class list is available at and there are a couple of classes I want to bring to your attention!

First, I am teaching a class in October called "Halloween Helper" to focus on the special project of your choice. Do you have a Halloween costume that you need help on? Bring all your materials and we'll figure out that hook and loop closure on the faux fur!

Or perhaps you are disappointed that a specific class didn't make it on the list this time around? Do you wish that we'd offered the Belle Skirt or the Cute Skirt class? Perhaps the Swing Bag or the Farmer's Market Tote Bag that you wanted to give as holiday gifts?

Bring the project(s) of your choice to class and get some great individualized attention. Class is limited to four students, so you will plenty of time to get all your questions answered!

I am also teaching another session of the Learn to Sew: Farmer's Market Tote Bag. I hear the class is already full, but don't hesitate to get on the waiting list!

Later this Winter I hope to get a Jalie coat class on the list, as well as the popular and flattering Belle Skirt and Jalie T-shirt that I've previously taught.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Well Woman Support Seat

I was commissioned by my midwife Ellie Legare to sew a cushion to be used by midwives in well-woman care and home births. It was a fantastic challenge!

Because of the cushions needed to be highly water resistant, I made them from 450 denier coated packcloth. Here I am putting in the zipper. I used a teflon coated zipper foot (and a seam guide). For some of the steps, I could have used the regular foot, but when sewing on the coated side, it was important that the foot not stick to the fabric and cause skipped stitches and the like.

Once a hole is in the fabric, it is a permanent hole in the coating, so I couldn't take out stitches and resew seams.

The waterproof zipper. I could have possibly used a regular zipper, but I didn't want to chance it. And frankly, I couldn't resist how cool this stuff is! It is made similarly to an invisible zipper, in that the coils are on the inside. The waterproof coating on the outside of the zipper is really thick and can probably be used in a lot of very wet applications!

The zipper is sold by the yard and the zipper pulls are sold separately. You have to be really careful when you put the pulls on to get them on straight. Here I've sewn across the top edge so I don't accidentally yank off the zipper pull.

I got all the materials at The Rain Shed in Corvallis. I shopped in person and ordered some things over the phone. The store is amazing and their service is excellent, which makes up for not being able to order online! It's like a DIY version of REI! You want to sew your own tent? You want to sew your own waterproof cycling gear? You need fireproof fabric? Reflective tape?
Buttons, gadgets, and gear? Check! They've got what you need!
The finished zipper.

These are two finished cushion covers, waiting for their foam inserts.
I cut the foam with an electric carving knife that I scored at Goodwill. The foam was 5" thick, so it was hard to cut straight.

One of the big challenges was sewing the gusset to the curve without pinning. Since pins poke holes, all the pins had to be within the seam allowances!
But the best part of the project was some hilarious patten testing with my mom, sitting on the cushions and pretending to have a baby. I had both my boys at home with Ellie and my mom had my brother at home with a midwife, so we had some great bonding and some really good laughs!

Technical Sewing

I was recently honored to be involved in the wedding of two of my dear friends. I've known the groom for more than 20 years and I've known the bride for over 7 years. They are such a perfect match! And being in their wedding was wonderful.

Slightly less wonderful was the bridesmaid dress. Chosen by bridesmaids who are, shall we say, more endowed than I, it was a challenge to fit. A challenge made much worse by me accidentally ordering way too big of a dress.

I ended up taking it to a wonderful alterations place in downtown Portland (picture me parallel parking the minivan and hauling the baby + stroller into the tiny store). It was so worth it! She brought the dress down to a very managable size and from there I was able to fine tune it even further.

It was my first experience sewing with boning and it wasn't nearly as hard as I originally thought. But holy cow, very time consuming! Between taking out the boning, re-sewing the boning, and trimming all the excess seam allowance, I spent a lot of time getting the dress to fit. But it eventually did!

And look! I even got my hair all done! It was so much fun getting all gussied up!

elna for sale


elna super

The machine has been impeccably maintained and serviced and sews beautifully.

This machine was bought by my grandmother in 1972, the final year that these wonderful machines were made. I have the same machine and will probably never sell mine.

Hard metal case fits snugly to the machine, protecting it from bumps on your car ride to class and sealing out dust when it is stored.

The case is made of two pieces, one of which goes all the way under the machine, so you don't have to worry about setting the machine on the ground as you unload from the car.

The foot pedal fits securely into the case.
This foot pedal is the "electronic" model which has speed control.

The case fits around the machine to give you a large work surface. Remove the case from the machine to use the free arm.

The accessories box comes with all the original pieces:
12 bobbins (one is in the machine)
needle threader, cleaning brush, seam ripper, screw driver, and 12 cams

The cams fit in the machine to expand the stitch selection. There are cams for stretch stitching and cams for decorative stitching. You can combine the built-in stitches with the cams for additional decorative stitches.

The machine comes with 10 presser feet

top row, from the top left:
1. button sewing foot (for sewing on buttons)
2. clear plastic foot (for embroidery and applique)
3. sliding zipper foot
4. darning plate and darning foot
(the plate covers the feed dogs, allowing you to sew in any direction!)
bottom row, from left to right:
5. no-turn buttonhole foot
6. manual buttonhole foot
7. vinyl or leather roller foot
8. quarter inch foot, also called a patchwork or piecing foot
9. gathering foot (feed the fabric through the foot while you sew and the fabric instantly gathers. No need to pull the threads!)
10. teflon foot (on the machine)

The machine comes with the original manuals, including clear photos and detailed descriptions about using the machine. Although the machine was made in 1972, the techniques are all still relevant!

The manual explains how to use each of the presser feet and how to sew the built-in stitches: zig-zag, stretch blind and edging stitch, scalloped edging stitch, overcasting stitch, multi-stretch stitch, and blind stitch.

This presser foot is a favorite of mine. You can use it to sew on just about any non-woven materials, such as leather, vinyl or coated cottons. When you use a regular presser foot with those materials, the foot can stick to the material, causing poor stitch quality.

Once you put a needle hole in leather or plastic, the hole is permanent, so you want it to look right the first time!

Think about making re-usable snack bags out of the newest coated cotton fabrics. Or a rain slicker for someone special in your life! Make bags out of leather or add small leather decoration and embellishment to a project.