Thursday, February 27, 2014

Create a Whimsical Zigzag Trim

Zigzag trim featured on skirt of a sundress.

We are always amazed by what Kari Mecca can make with a Whimsy Stick. Her beautiful flower clusters rival those in nature and her ribbon and rickrack trim variations can turn an ordinary hem, neckline, bodice or sleeve into something truly unique.

Kari's newest book, Whimsy Flowers & Trims, walks you step-by-step through a glorious field of creativity and features trims and flowers that can be applied to garments and accessories for any age. Below, we'd like to share a preview of the fantastic inspiration held within the pages of this book.

Kari Mecca's Zigzag Trim:
This easy-to-make zigzag trim is a refreshing new approach to using Kari's single loop trim. NOTE: You can find a tutorial for the single loop trim on our Sew Beautiful blog. Make trim using a two-sided ribbon as both sides show equally. Finished zigzag trim is twice as wide as looped trim.

1. Make single loop trim using a short (L=1.4 to 1.6) stitch length and a small seam allowance.

Photo 1

2. Insert blade of seam ripper between loops (photo 1). Carefully cut sewing threads between every loop.

Photo 2

3. Untwist trim to create zigzag pattern (photo 2).

To learn more of Kari's fabulous techniques, be sure to check out Whimsy Flowers & Trims! Inside you will find step-by-step instructions for creating various trims, medallions and flowers, with unlimited variations and arrangements in all types and sizes of ribbons. Add stems and leaves to complete your creations or add beads and buttons before attaching them to dresses, bags, pillows or whatever you desire to embellish.

This book also includes three different sizes of Whimsy Stick punchouts made of durable cardboard, so readers can start creating their embellishments immediately!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Online Licensing from Martha Pullen Company

Have you always wanted to attend a Martha Pullen Licensing Event but didn't have the time or money?


Teaching Beginning Sewing: Online Licensing Course

We've brought this course online so that you, too, can get your certification to become a Martha Pullen licensed teacher but for less than the live event.

Here's what you get...

With this course you will be certified to teach a beginning sewing class with the curriculum provided.

We know you have great sewing skills, now learn how to apply them in a classroom setting, but not just any classroom, YOUR own classroom.

7 Required Projects to Become a Martha Pullen Licensed Teacher...
Complete, Photograph and Upload By June 30:
  • Martha’s Blouse – with darts
  • Martha’s A-Line Skirt –with darts
  • Martha’s Rag Quilt
  • Martha’s Tote or Martha’s Purse
  • Martha’s Crazy Patch Pillow
  • Martha’s Quilted Pillow Sham
  • Martha’s Madeira and Bias Shaped Table Runner


Objectives You Will Learn:

  • How to improve your teaching skills
  • Teaching methods for all student types
  • Dart tricks and zipper installations
  • Quilting basics
Licensing is a unique experience that blends the love of sewing with skill-building and business opportunity. Whether you want to teach or not, this online course just might be for you. With over 20 projects to download and videos to support the project instructions, you can hone your beginning sewing and teaching skills - in the comfort of your own home. The projects range from quilting and home decorating to garment construction and bag making.This 2-week course will prepare you to teach beginning sewing while giving you a tried-and-true curriculum. You will have licensing privileges from the day you receive your license. This means that you can either make the projects for sale without limit or, if you are teaching, you can make as many copies of the project instructions as you need for your students.

Great Bonuses and Perks!

  • Receive over 17 projects that you can use for teaching
  • Learn about special notions that make even the most difficult beginning sewing techniques easier
  • Get instructions for sewing totes, purses, curtains, garments, placemats, napkins, quilts and more that you can turnaround and teach
Projects in each licensing collection are unique to that particular licensing, so no one else will have your projects other than the students who are licensed in the same curriculum. If you choose to teach, holding a Martha Pullen License will open teaching doors that might not otherwise be available to you.

During the 2-week course you will correspond with the Martha Pullen Licensing faculty, who will be available to answer any question you might have about projects, patterns and teaching methods. You will then have three months to purchase your kit supplies and complete the required projects.

Do you have to teach if you become a Martha Pullen Licensed Teacher? No! We have many licensed teachers who never plan on teaching or do not plan on teaching at this time. Everyone is welcome!

What Do You Have to Do to Receive Your License?

Create, photograph, and post the required projects by June 30th to the Teacher Licensing Blackboard System. Projects will be evaluated by the Martha Pullen Licensing Staff. Once your evaluation is complete you will then receive your Martha Pullen Teacher Licensing Certificate. Remember, being certified does not mean that you are required to teach.

How the course works:

When you register you will get a confirmation email along with the required supply list and important rules about the course.

When the course starts on 3/3 you will get access to the online education software Blackboard, instructions for accessing this will be in your confirmation email.

Upon signing in you will see a welcome letter that will further instruct you on what to do. You will have several high-quality videos to watch before completing the required projects. These videos have beneficial information to help you on your path to becoming a teacher.
  • Project Handouts and Pattern Downloads - You have two weeks to download the project handouts and patterns (March 3-16). 
  • Watching the Videos - You can watch the videos anytime  - you just login to the licensing site anytime – night or day.  Watch Videos until June 30. 
  • Kits - You provide your own kits. This is teaching beginning sewing so the kit supplies can easily be found online or at your local fabric store. You can probably use fabrics from your fabric stash if you have one

Other features of the course:

  • Message board - you can ask other students questions, post pictures of your progress to share, and more
  • Ask the Instructor - have something you want to discuss privately? This message board is a place that only the yourself and the instructor have access to
  • Extra resources for teaching - get some Notebooks from Martha Pullen that you can download and print that are full of helpful information to share with your students
PLEASE NOTE >> you have until 6/30 to complete the 7 required projects.


Course Start Date:
March 3, 2014

Course End Date:
March 16, 2014

Projects are due by
June 30, 2014

Tuition: $500.00

Course Instructors:
Kathy McMakin
Connie Palmer
Patty Smith
Alicia Welcher
Plus special welcome message from Martha Pullen!

So what else are you waiting for?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Basic Tips for Embroidering Baby Knits

Peter Rabbit designs are pictured here on a onesie, bib and blanket.

Stitching out storybook classics in watercolor pastel threads is an adorable way to whip up a one-of-a-kind baby ensemble. I (Amelia) have a special place in my heart for the Beatrix Potter characters. Whenever I see the classic artwork or the charming tales, I think of my first son Noah. Has it really been 22 years since I papered one of his nursery walls with Jeremy Fisher scenes and embroidered the imaginative world of Beatrix Potter characters on pillowcases, blankies, crib sheets, a dust ruffle and more?

Recently, I downloaded a small, affordable collection of Beatrix Potter bunnies and stitched them on baby blanks to create the onesies, bibs and blanket pictured here. Below are a few general tips I shared in our February/March 2014 edition that you can use when embroidering your own favorite storybook characters on baby knits:

An online search for Beatrix Potter designs yields options for any embroidery machine model.

• Dampen and dry each piece to avoid shrinkage that can distort the fabric around the embroidered area after stitching.

• For bibs and other smaller blanks, consider reducing the embroidery size.

• If you'd like to test thread colors and embroidery placement first, stitch out your chosen design on hooped muslin, cut out and move around on your blank until you're happy with the positioning. NOTE: Baby knits don't take well to extremely dense designs. If you're questioning the density, stitch out your test piece on a similar weight of knit yardage. NOTE:There is no rule that you have to use the thread colors that are provided with the embroideries. Compare your threads with actual Beatrix Potter art, and substitute accordingly, if you'd like a more authentic look.

• Once you've determine your placement, mark the vertical and horizontal center (plus sign) with an air-soluble or wash-away marking pen.

• Do not hoop the knit. Instead hoop a sticky wash-away stabilizer and adhere the knit blank to the stabilizer.

• Top your embroidery with Sulky Heat-Away Stabilizer. Spray lightly with KK2000 to adhere the stabilizer to your knit surface.

• Use your "fix" option to baste a frame first; this will ensure you've positioned your embroidery properly and secures your Heat-Away layer. The center of the embroidery should correspond to the marked center on your knit piece. Use your positioning arrows to reposition the embroidery if necessary.

• Once the embroidery is complete, remove your piece from the hoop, carefully trim away any excess stabilizer. Iron around the edges of the embroidery design to remove the Heat-Away stabilizer. Soak to remove Sticky stabilizer. Launder, let dry and press.

For more sewing tips, patterns, technique tutorials and inspiration, sign up to receive a free trial issue of Sew Beautiful. Click here to learn more about this special offer!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mary Ann Nickerson's Christening Dress

Saving treasured baby clothes and other beautifully embellished garments is a special tradition for many of today's heirloom sewists, just as it was for our ancestors centuries ago. Our DAR Museum book, which is part of the "Martha Pullen's Favorite Places" series, explores heirlooms the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution have entrusted to the DAR Museum in Washington D.C. By saving and recording the history of these garments and the families that wore them, these women have preserved pieces of early American history and provided for the education of future generations.

DAR Museum includes the stories of heirlooms ranging from baby dresses to wedding gowns, everyday and fancy wear. Below, read more about one of the garments featured in the book, Mary Ann Nickerson's Christening Dress (1831, gift of Irmah W. Kerrigan):

Mary Ann Nickerson's Christening Dress

This lovely little Ayrshire dress is said to be Mary Ann Nickerson's christening dress worn in Chatham on Cape Cod in Massachusetts in 1831. The Ayrshire infant gowns were introduced in the 1820s, and the 1830s would have been the height of their popularity. The slightly raised waist would fit this date. Even though babies' bodies lack a defined waist, clothes for infants echoed women's styles in the placement of the waistlines. 

The bodice and bottom of the skirt are embroidered with matching stylized flowers, some with two rows of "petals" surrounding the needle-lace-filled openwork, and other flowers slightly simpler with openwork petals. Two rows of leafy sprigs march along the edges of the bodice center panel. At the hem, the flowers are surrounded with additional floral and foliate sprays, and a single row of leaves and eyelets wends its way up toward the waist. Overall, the hem's main area of decoration is only 5 inches high. This would have allowed Mary Ann's mother to convert the baby dress into a toddler's by only using the embroidered lower part of the skirt, had she desired to do so. A skirt with more elaborate embroidery in the upper area would be too much of a shame to cut down! The skirt is made in two pieces, seamed at the sides, and is gauged into a waistband, which features an abstract leaf design embroidered in satin stitch.

Christening dress bodice

Machine embroidery reproduction available on DAR Museum disk 1

The edges of the bodice, the skirt flanges and the skirt hem have pointed scalloped edging finished in buttonhole stitch. The neckline trim has an eyelet in each scallop. These pointed scallops were common in whitework embroidery done for women's accessories of the 1820s and 1830s such as the elaborate pelerine collars; they were called "Vandyke" edgings, or simply "vandyking," after the pointed lace edgings seen in Anthony Van Dyck's 17th century portraits of English royalty and nobility. The neckline has a similar vandyked scallop with single eyelets in each scallop. 

The raglan sleeves have three rows of self-fabric trim with eyelets above scalloped-edged (rounded, not vandyked) trim, applied on the top side of the sleeve only, beneath embroidery at the shoulder. The lowest of the three rows of trim has satin-stitch, teardrop-shaped motifs above the eyelets. The sleeves end with an eyelet and scalloped edge with satin-stitched leafy sprigs. The dress has no visible method of fastening at center back, but the two-layer waistband may have served as a casing for a ribbon. The back of the neckline has a drawstring casing, but no surviving tape or cord.

For more inspiration from the "Martha Pullen's Favorite Places" series, check out our new Kent State Museum Vol. 1 and Kent State Museum Vol. 2 bundles! Each bundle comes with a book and two machine embroidery CDs featuring numerous designs.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Create a Scalloped Skirt Hem

Interlocking Scallops by Kathy Barnard

Scallops can be used in many ways to add interesting lines to garments. One of our favorite uses for this unique design element is the scalloped hem. There are a number of commercial dress patterns around that feature scalloped hemlines, but have no fear if you don't have one handy! This tutorial by Kathy Barnard from our May/June 2011 edition will show you how to easily add a scalloped hem to any basic skirt pattern.

1. Cut a skirt to desired finished hem with no hem allowance.

2. On wrong side, draw a line 2 inches from bottom edge across skirt.

Figure 1

3. Make a template using a large 7-inch circle. Mark a line 3/4 inch from circle center and draw a line across it to establish scallop height at 3/4 inch (fig. 1). Cut off top of circle to use for a wave template (should be approximately 5-3/4 inches long).

Figure 2

4. On wrong side of skirt, starting at side seam line (1/2 inch from edge), draw a half scallop above the line, then flip the template and draw a whole scallop bellow the line. Continue drawing nine whole scallops across front, alternating them above and below the 2-inch line. End with a half scallop facing up. Leave a 1/2-inch seam allowance and trim off side of skirt to fit if necessary to keep scallops even and math easy (fig. 2). Repeat for back skirt. Do not cut out scallops.

5. Tear two hem facing strips from skirt fabric or from a solid lining fabric 4-1/4 inches by width of fabric. Cut to exact measurement of skirt front and back.

6. Sew side seams of skirt together and sides seams of facing together.

7. If applying trim, draw a line 1 inch above wavy line on right side of skirt and glue baste trim in place. Stitch trim in place before adding facing (a double needle is great for applying spaghetti bias, or use clear thread and a buttonhole stitch on your machine and stitch both sides).

8. Place facing to bottom of skirt with right sides together and pin all around in a tube.

Figure 3

9. Stitch following the traced wavy line on the wrong side of the skirt (fig. 3).

10. Trim 1/4 inch from stitching and clip inner curves and notch outer curves. Turn facing to inside and press wavy seam edge.

11. For contrast peek-a-boo band, tear contrast fabric 10-1/2 inches by width of fabric. Cut to match bottom width of skirt and sew side seams together to form a tube. Fold tube in half with wrong sides together, matching raw edges and press fold.

12. Separate hem facing from skirt and pin raw edges of contrast band to raw edge of facing with right sides together. Stitch with a serger, or straight stitch and overcast edge with a zigzag.

13. Pin facing and contrast band seam to inside of skirt and blind stitch or pick stitch catching just a thread of the skirt fabric to hold facing and band in place.

For more sewing ideas, don't miss our new 2011 Sew Beautiful Collection CD. This CD includes all six issues of Sew Beautiful magazine from 2011, complete with printable patterns, project templates, sewing tips, technique tutorials and endless inspiration!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia