Sew Like A Pro

I’ve been sewing for over 10 years now and have learned a lot “the hard way.” So to speed up a newbie seamstress’s learning curve and help you achieve professional results, let me tell you about a few of the most effective ways to take your sewing to the next level.

Here’s my top five best tips to get you started making couture pieces you’ll be proud to show off:

  1. If you are looking for a sewing machine or are ready to upgrade, then the best advice I have for you is to buy the best you can afford and only get the features you really need. I have a Bernina Activa 230 and it has the ability to go from sheer fabric to denim with a ton of features that I absolutely love and use a lot. Go “test-drive” machines at dealers before buying one. It’s an investment that will pay off huge when it’s a joy to use and can tackle every job you use it for.2016-02-06 21.05.56.jpg
  2. Get a really good iron! And use it religiously! Nothing like pressing your seams to take a garment from looking homemade to “Where did you buy that?” Pressing seams as you go is essential to professional looking sewing. My iron is a Euro Steam Evolution. I LOVE it! (and I’ve had some real crap irons in the past that leaked on my fabric or never got hot enough) Invest in the best you can afford.
  3. Sewing machine needles are cheap, but so very important, and need to be changed often because they go dull with use. I change mine with every project. It’s also in your best interest to choose the right needle for the fabric and weight. They are all labeled with the brand name/type of needle/size of needle. The two numbers that you want to recognize is the needle size and it’s listed by the European#/American# like this: 90/14. The Euro numbers range from 60-120 and American numbers go from 8-19. The larger the number the bigger the needle size and tougher the fabric it can handle. So silk charmeuse, which is light and airy, will require a needle size of 60/8 or 70/10 and for a heavy, thick leather you will use a needle size of 90/14 or 100/16. There are also needles specific to jersey fabrics with stretch. Those needles have a rounded tip to help stitch between those stretchy fibers and not break them.  Choose right and change often!2016-02-06 21.04.59.jpg
  4. Patterns can make or break you in time and materials, as well as make you lose your mind when they are so poorly drafted that you basically have to redraft the whole thing to get good fit or for all things to line up correctly. I started out using Simplicity patterns and felt there was something wrong with me, like why couldn’t my garments ever look like the picture on the pattern?! But it wasn’t me, it was the poorly written directions and the lack of quality control they use in their mass-produced patterns that was the problem. I have since learned to use Burda, Ottobre, and Japanese patterns which have such great fit and better directions or diagrams that you are destined to create a great looking version of the pattern with less waste of time, materials, and mental hardship.
  5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Those are “learning moments” and can actually speed up your experience level. Get a couple seam-rippers and keep them handy. Try it all; zippers, buttons, linings, sheer fabric to leather, dresses to curtains…just do it! Don’t worry if it doesn’t come out exactly as you pictured it in your head, you will get better with every project and before you know it you’re sewing like a pro!

*Sewing & Stitchery EXPO is February 25th-28th, 2016 at the WA State Fairgrounds*

Far From Perfect: except my curls-they are on fleek

Let me stop you right there. You may get the wrong impression about me, I’m not perfect or live a perfect life. Seems I have a habit of only sharing the good in my life and that paints a really off-balance picture of what it’s like to be me. And what I want to do with my writing is show people how much we are alike and how no one is alone in this human experience of ours.

So for every wonderfully perfect thing I post about, I promise to keep it real and give you the bigger picture. You may not like it when it gets too real…that moment you want to judge but know you can’t because you are just as guilty. That can make you squirm and think, “I can do better.” That’s a GOOD thing! If by showing my amazing failures and social awkwardness, along with a dose of the perfect moments, inspires you in some way or fashion then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do here.

So “Cheers!” to being average, but striving for more! We can do this!

In my first attempt at keeping it real and helping my fellow woman(and man), let me tell you about living with curly hair. Now mind you, It’s sort of new to me since I was born with straight blond hair, but over the course of my teen years I permed and colored my hair in the worst ways imaginable. (I wish someone would have either advised me to “keep it natural” or just taken me to a good stylist…I’ll be dedicating a blog post to my epic hair fails over the years. That is one you won’t want to miss!)

After shaving my head a few years ago it grew back curly and now I’m a smoking-hot brunette with silver highlights! (That’s an opinion, not a fact, so you must make up your own mind.)

With curly hair, I’ve learned it’s not good to go to bed with wet hair because you wake up looking like Kramer from ‘Seinfeld’. Funny thing, you actually act like Kramer when you look in the mirror, you instinctively jump back from your own refection.

Case in point: This morning.

Yes, I commited the ultimate curly hair sin...went to bed with wet hair. I paid a price for it and it serves to humble me when I'm feeling all kinds of powerful when my curls are at perfection. Balance, that's what life gives us.
Yes, I committed the ultimate curly hair sin…went to bed with wet hair. I paid a price for it and it serves to humble me when I’m feeling all kinds of powerful when my curls are at perfection. Balance, that’s what life gives us.

I used to be called “cute” in the morning, but now I hear, “Oh wow, look at your hair!”, followed by a hearty round of laughter. With straight hair, I woke up looking like I just had sex-messy, yet cute-and now I wake up with hair that is trying to get as far away from my head as possible. Hilarious.

I’ve tried many products to tame my curls into something to be admired and bring about curl-envy. Today I will change your life by sharing the two best products I’ve found thus far. You’re welcome.

First off, these are fairly inexpensive products and last a long time. Can I get a “Hallelujah!”

REDKEN: Curvaceous Ringlets is no joke! This stuff keeps your curls on fleek. You can thank me later...
REDKEN: Curvaceous Ringlets is no joke! This stuff keeps your curls on fleek. You can thank me later…
REGIS: Designline Curl Lock Cream will keep the frizz away while keeping your curls soft and bouncy.
REGIS: Designline Curl Lock Cream will keep the frizz away while keeping your curls soft and bouncy.
These two products are the bomb! I bought them at HairMasters on 176th and Meridian by Fred Meyer. Get you some!
These two products are the bomb! I bought them at HairMasters on 176th and Meridian by Fred Meyer. Get you some!

After brushing and towel-drying my hair, I apply a dime-size amount of REDKEN: Curvaceous Ringlets ($18.79) and follow that with a pea-size amount of REGIS: Designline Curl Lock Curl Cream ($12.99). I am a wash-and-go/airdry kind of girl, but sometimes for added volume I will follow this beauty regime with a little diffusing action with the hairdryer. I love my curly hair! (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for passing on that gene.) When my curls are on fleek, I feel badass and powerful-like my curls are somehow a superpower. It’s good. Real good.

In 2011 I shaved my head-total G.I. Jane move-and it grew back dark and curly.
In 2011 I shaved my head-total G.I. Jane move-and it grew back dark and curly.
See! I was a born a blondie with pin-straight hair. After five kids and shaving my head, I'm now living a life of bodacious curls and a sexy brunette. Who knew I would become my Mom when I grew up?!
See! I was a born a blondie with pin-straight hair. After five kids and shaving my head, I’m now living a life of bodacious curls and a sexy brunette. Who knew I would become my Mom when I grew up?!
Shu-wing! Look at them curls. I can't help it, it's all natural. It's a blessing and a curse to look this good.
Shu-wing! Look at them curls. I can’t help it, it’s all natural. It’s a blessing and a curse to look this good.

There you have it. My life with curly hair, It’s time I go shower and use my products so I don’t scare the neighbor kids.

Enjoy those curls. They are beautiful! And share any products you love. I’m still trying to get my hands on Carol’s Daughter: Hair Milk after seeing a write up in a magazine about products for curly hair.