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Quick Tip: Deciphering The Marks on a Measuring Tape

Thursday, 06 January 2011 9:00

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A few weeks back, we got an interesting email that kind of knocked us for a loop. It was someone needing help figuring out what all those tiny marks are on a standard tape measure. What?!?! We deal in fractions every day and are forever measuring quarters and eighths and sixteenths and whatnot. It's completely second nature to me, but when I stepped back and looked at my trusty tape with the eyes of someone brand new to sewing, I saw she was right... there are a lot of marks with no identification. So, we came up with a handy chart to help decipher those little black lines, and thought it would be a good tip to share with everyone.

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Quick Tip: Bias Tape Cheat Sheet

Thursday, 11 November 2010 9:00

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There you stand in the fabric store, that giant display of bias tapes and bindings in front of you, its shiny cellophane packages glinting in their neat, color coordinated rows. Single fold, double fold, blanket, quilt. Geeze! What's what? Do you just throw a dart and hope for the best? No! You bring your Sew4Home Cheat Sheet with you and get exactly what you really need.

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Quick Tip: Hanging A Large Picture

Thursday, 04 November 2010 9:00

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Remember back in the day, when hanging a picture meant sticking a thumb tack in each corner of your favorite poster and calling it good? Although still a valid method if you prefer walls like swiss cheese, most of us have graduated to framing our favorite works of art, and so need a better way to hang a large picture. We're not worrying here about the random collages of small framed photos. We're talking about the big stuff that needs to be placed with care. How high should it hang? How do I place the hook at the right height? Do I need to hang in a stud? All valid questions for which we have easy answers.

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Quick Tip: Tiny Tube Turning With A Hemostat

Wednesday, 18 August 2010 9:00

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I used to watch the TV show, ER and think, "I could do that." Not be an actual, real-life doctor. But I could wear a white coat and stethoscope and yell, "Get me a C-Spine, Chem 7, and a V-Fib!" I have no idea what any of those terms mean. They're just fun to say. Well, now I've discovered one of the medical devices I saw Dr. Greene use every week can be a big help in my sewing room. It's called a hemostat, and it's basically a locking clamp shaped like a long pair of scissors. (Probably what Dr. Greene wanted when he yelled, "Clamp!") A hemostat is extremely useful when you need to turn long, narrow tubes right side out.

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Quick Tip: Working With PUL (Polyurethane Laminate)

Tuesday, 20 July 2010 9:00

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What is soft, pliable, and waterproof; can withstand fairly high temperatures; and holds up to a lot of use? Like me, your first guess might have been those dang swimming pool noodles you always buy too many of and then never know what to do with once summer is over. But... the real answer is: PUL, polyurethane laminate if you wish to be formal. The broad category refers to any fabric with a polyurethane laminated to a base fabric. Most common is a polyester knit fabric laminated to a thin waterproof, non-breathable polyurethane backing. Originally developed for use in the medical industry, it's very durable and very popular right now for folks making diapers, diaper covers, changing pads, bibs, training pants, and outside the world of babies, it's often used to create reusable sandwich, snack and lunch bags. As with most man-made fabrics, there are some tips and techniques that make sewing with PUL easier.

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Donna Babylon: Quick Tip – How To Find & Work With Design Repeats

Tuesday, 29 June 2010 9:00

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Your project calls for a panel of fabric two or even three times wider than the fabric you bought at the store. No problem. You're going to sew multiple widths together to get the bigger width you need. But you can't just start cutting widths of your fabric. The pattern isn't going to match up and/or your beautiful design motif is going to end up in the wrong place on your project. Instead of wasting expensive fabric through trial and error, you need to figure out your cuts based on the fabric's design repeat.

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Donna Babylon: Quick Tip – Make A Perfect Match When A Seam Goes Through A Design

Tuesday, 22 June 2010 9:00

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'Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match,' the girls sang in Fiddler On The Roof . They wanted husbands. But they could just as well have been singing about matching up both sides of a seam when goes through the middle of a design. Both kinds of matches can be tricky to pull off. And even worse, they're obvious to everybody when not done correctly.

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Donna Babylon: Quick Tip – Joining Fabric Widths to Make an Extra Wide Panel

Wednesday, 09 June 2010 9:00

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I call it, 'The Great Divide.' Your window valance needs to be 82" wide, but your home decor fabric is only 54" wide. If you just sew an additional 28" onto one side, that'll make the fabric's design repeat look totally wacky. So... do you put off sewing the valance until they come out with 82" wide fabric? No, because then you'd also have to give up sewing duvet covers, curtains, slip covers and anything else requiring fabric wider than what comes off the bolt. It's time to ask our friend, and home décor expert, Donna Babylon. She explains that when you join fabric widths to make an extra wide panel, you need to make sure it's added to either side of the center fabric piece and it's done symmetrically – the same on both sides of the center point.

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Donna Babylon: Quick Tip – How To Tell If Your Fabric Is "On Grain"

Tuesday, 01 June 2010 9:00

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It's something you might not have noticed until you started sewing. The pattern on a printed fabric is not always lined up with the grain of the fabric (the up-and-down and side-to-side direction of the thread -- the warp and weft). Back when all patterns were woven into fabrics this wasn't a problem because the weave was the pattern. But now with most patterns being printed onto the fabric after it's woven, the 'registration' can be off a little. Or a lot. And that can wreak havoc with your sewing.

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