Book Review: Elementary Sewing Skills

by Cameron

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Elementary Sewing Skills, from Carolyn Denham of Merchant & Mills is a lovely little sewing book. If you've every sewn with a Merchant & Mills pattern, you know they are of the highest quality: well drafted with clever construction and top notch instructions. They are truly a treat to work with! And this book is no exception to that rule.

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It's a thoughtful reference book focusing on solid, basic construction methods. I think it would be equally useful for brand new garment sewists OR an experienced sewing nerd. It would make an excellent gift.

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Come in and take look! We also have copies of the equally excellent Workbook in stock, which is full of great patterns for this transitional season we're so gleefully entering.

Bias Tape Without a Bias Tape Maker

by Cameron

I had a wonderful sewing teacher when I was first learning to sew - Miss Veronica. She had been sewing for decades and had piles of wisdom to share. One of my favorite tricks she taught me is making bias tape in any size you need without a bias tape maker. While we were on our retreat last month, I shared this trick and it was a hit, so I thought I'd share it on the blog, too. Hope it's helpful!

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All you'll need are some basic sewing tools: pins, a tape measure or seam gauge, iron, ironing board with cloth cover, and of course your bias cut strip of fabric. I cut my fabric at 1.5" wide to make .75" wide single fold bias tape.

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To start you'll put a pin through your ironing board cover once. Starting from where the pin emerges from the ironing board, measure .75" (or whatever you want the finished size of your bias tape to be - you can use a large safety pin if making wider tape) and put the end of the pin through the ironing board cover at that point. (This part is a little bit tricky to explain, but I think the picture shows your end goal.)

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I like to get my bias tape strips started by folding them in half width-wise and pressing. Open the bias tape up again and fold each edge in towards the center and press again. You only need about 4" of pressed tape to get going.

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Feed the bias tape through the opening in the pin - this can take a little bit of finagling, just like with a bias tape maker. Trim your bias tape.

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Pull some more bias tape through the pin, place your iron over the bias tape just to the side of the pin, and keep pulling! Go slowly and use your other hand to manipulate the bias tape about to go through the pin. Some fabrics require more manhandling than others. Also be aware of how long your iron has been face down. I like to lift my iron every 20-30 seconds.

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Voila! Bias tape in almost any size with out burnt fingers or extra notions. This is a great way to use up scrap fabric. I like to use shot cottons (seen here in my current favorite color, moss) for bias tape because they're soft and come in a wide variety of colors.

Happy (bias tape) making!

Staff retreat check in

We had another great staff retreat at the end of February. This year we popped out to Hood River for a chance to sew, sew, sew and look out at snowy orchards. It was really lovely. We have some new samples in the store now for you to see, including a bold, modern coat from Lotta Jansdotter book, Everyday Style, a gorgeous Beatrix (Made by Rae pattern) in a piece from Anna Maria Horner's Loominous 2, the newly released Shift Dress by Indygo Junction, in perfect weight, classic yarn dyed linen. And, soon there will be a version of Tina Givens' Camillia top in light and airy Swiss dot. Such a fun assortment of projects. This time away gives us a chance to relax, connect, talk about the store, the projects we're working on and make. Thank you for supporting us in doing so, we appreciate it so much!  We hope you enjoy a little photo round up of our time.