Heirloom is one of the oldest styles of specialty sewing. This precise and delicate type of stitching is said to have started in the late 1800s by French nuns who hand-stitched exquisite laces onto delicate fabrics for royal families. Their craftsmanship was so incredible, the resulting gowns and linens were painstakingly preserved and handed down from one generation to the next; hence an heirloom. You'll see the influence of heirloom stitching in a variety of high-end garments; most notably, special occasion finery, such as wedding dresses, christening gowns, and lingerie, as well as in the finest table linens. Today, with French nuns in short supply, we show you the basics of creating heirloom stitching with your sewing machine.
Don’t laugh. This next printable in our Cheat Card series is based on one of our most popular articles. Really! If you’ve been sewing forever, and work with fractions every day, it may seem crazy to you that someone wouldn’t know how to read a measuring tape. But if you step back for a moment, and look at that tape measure (or ruler for that matter) with the eyes of a new sewer, all those little unidentified marks might seem a bit intimidating. As one of our original commenters said, “Thank you so much for sharing this. I am definitely the kind of person who was too scared to ask a dumb question! You’ve made my life so much easier!”
Sometimes, you cross something off your "give-it-a-go" list simply because it looks too hard. But once you do finally try, maybe with someone’s help the first time out, you often discover it wasn’t as hard as you thought! Such is the case with the phobia many sewers have when it comes to inserting metal grommets. Since these are usually installed with large machines or grommet presses in commercial production, people think they can’t replicate the professional look at home. It's one of those sewing applications many simply refuse to attempt. Whether it’s the actual installation process, getting the spacing just right, cutting the holes in the fabric to the exact size, or all of the above; we're here to prove you can do this at home and get a professional result. We’ve installed a grommet or two (or 100) here in the Sew4Home studios and will share with you all we've learned. Besides... getting to use a hammer in the sewing process can be very therapeutic!
Did you ever have one of those cute little wind-up toys? It's so fun to watch as it tick-tock walks across the floor. But what happens when it comes to a wall? Can it turn left or right or even stop? No! It just keeps going, ka-wonking its little toy head against the wall over and over and over. It's a little like the decorative stitch. As long as you're going straight, all is well. The pattern is pretty, the thread is colorful, it's adding an amazing accent to your project. Then the corner approaches. If making a turn with a decorative stitch has you ka-wonking your own little head against the wall, we're here to help with three ways to take a turn for the better.
Adjusting stitch length isn't necessary for every project, but as you experiment with different types of fabrics and and start using stitches for embellishment as well as construction, a few quick tips will come in handy. When working with today's machines, which can zip along at up to 1000 stitches per minute, you can see how a little length goes a long way.
This is one article we like to bring back often because it's so important to be nice to your trusty sewing machine. Do you know the number one thing you can do to keep your sewing machine running smoothly? Clean out the lint! It's an unavoidable by-product of sewing. The more you sew, the more lint sifts into the guts of your machine. A little regular cleaning will keep your machine running smoothly. And a clean machine is also a quiet machine. Not only will periodic "care and feeding" help your machine to run better, it can also save you money in major repairs. Our thanks to Janome America for taking us through the important steps of regular maintenance you can do yourself in between trips to your dealer for more thorough cleaning and service.
I know I should be able to do math in my head; I also know I should eat more fruits and vegetables and actually use my gym membership. I could continue to pretend all these things are going to happen, or… I could find some little workarounds. Our Cheat Card is a handy reference table that converts common yardage amounts into inches and centimeters – no math-in-your-head required. It’s small enough to tuck into your wallet or tack up on the bulletin board in your sewing room.
Finishing the corners when you're making a narrow hem can be a challenge. Making a perfect 90˚ fold at each corner is one option, and often will work just fine. However, it can be tough to keep your raw edges tucked in, and bulky or slippery fabrics can cause you fits. Instead, our go-to finish option is the folded diagonal point corner: easy, tidy, and pretty from both sides.
There’s no research confirming a link between the classic yo-yo string toy and the fabric yo-yo, but they are both round, both peaked in popularity in the 1930s-40s in the United States, and both are pretty, dang fun! So, we’re happy to link them together as two points along a playful continuum. A fabric yo-yo is a small, ruched rosette. It’s most often associated with quilting, and antique yo-yo quilts can be quite stunning, but it’s a fun bit of dimensional embellishment that can be used on any number of projects. At it’s simplest, the yo-yo is just a small gathered circle. When cinched up tight it produces a smooth “button” effect on one side and a pretty rippled confection on the other. You can make them by hand, and we summarize those steps below, but we prefer to use the Clover Quick Yo-Yo Makers. These small plastic devices are incredibly affordable, and make the job of stitching yo-yos easier and more uniform.
Snaps are one of our favorite closures. They're small yet sturdy, like a cute little Corgi dog. But there's not always a lot of variety from which to choose. You can usually find nickel or brass, and the Western favorite: pretty pearl head snaps, every once in awhile, maybe a rhinestone alternative. But that's where the decorative options usually ended. So when Babyville snaps hit the market a few years ago, their bright colors and cute cover designs were an instant hit. They were immediately snapped up for their decorative flair. We've used them on several Sew4Home projects, and now we have a full tutorial dedicated to showing you just how easy they are to insert.