I recently decided to try my hand at baking bread. I really want to bake 100% whole grain bread, but apparently baking bread is harder than I thought! I don’t have anyone to teach me about baking bread, so I bought a craftsy class to get some hands on training. I bought Secrets to Whole-Grain Bread Baking.
So far I am very happy with my bread baking class! It provides clear instructions on mixing and timing, which is exactly what I need. I have started out with the Honey Whole Wheat Sandwich bread. This class is about whole grain breads, but the recipes are not 100% whole grain. Apparently you are supposed to build a baking foundation of working with a blend of whole grain flours and regular white (bread flour or I suppose all purpose four) flours. Then you can move on to baking more substantial whole grain ancient and sprouted breads.
I’m trying to find time to sew more, and in particular I want to try sewing patterns from independent pattern companies. I’ve just ordered a few sewing patterns from Style Arc, an Australian sewing pattern company focused on current fashion trends and styles. I purchased:
I concentrated on simple styles suitable for a beginner. You can download most of the patterns to print from a PDF on the Etsy Style Arc site or order a printed pattern to be sent to you directly from the Style Arc sewing patterns website. Make sure you select the correct country currency when you visit their website, as they are an international pattern company.
It has been a loooong time, but I recently finished my latest quilting project! I made another one of Amy Gibson’s quilt patterns in the Learn to Quilt Series on Craftsy, the Cozy Throw Quilt. I couldn’t be more happy with the online video class or with my finished throw quilt.
This Craftsy class teaches you how to strip quilt. Strip quilting allows you to build you quilt blocks in a quick and efficient way. Although the individual blocks themselves look complicated to make but because they are actually cut from strips of fabric sewn together, the process is easier and faster than you might guess. It took me a long time to finish this throw quilt, but only because various family emergencies and baby sleep regressions made this easy quilt pattern into a rather drawn out process. It was hard to find a block of time to actually sew, and whenever I tried to, someone wandered over to unplug my sewing machine or push all the buttons on my sewing machine.
Amy Gibson gives very clear instructions and is a very good teacher. She teaches you how to accurately measure and cut strips of fabric for strip quilting. Then she teaches you how to make quilt blocks from those strips. My quilt is far from perfect but I love it.
Craftsy offers a pre made quilting kit for this class. It is a beautiful set of bright, feminine quilting cotton solids. I chose to make my own mix of muted colors in kona cotton quilting solids from fabric.com. If you don’t want to cut fabric strips then you can buy pre-cut jelly roll quilting fabric.
My latest beginner sewing project is the fantastic and easy Custom Table Runner Quilt by Craftsy. This simple quilting project uses half square triangles in a compact quilt. I got practice making pinwheel quilt blocks and machine quilting the top of the quilt, but because this is a small scale projct I did not feel overwhelmed or frustrated. In fact, this class would help a beginner quilter learn new skills and increase their sewing confidence!
Since I don’t often use a table runner, I opted for a holiday quilted table runner. I decided to use Christmas fabric and challenge myself to make a pinwheel quilt design. I am thrilled with my Christmas table runner quilt. Its not perfect, but I never thought I would be able to make a half-square triangle or a pinwheel design. The Craftsy sewing class instructor, Amy Gibson, made the quilt chain piecing process clear and straightforward. I know can now easily apply the skills taught in this class to another table runner or even a bigger quilting project.
One thing I need to do differently next time is be more exact with my binding. I have to make sure my quarter inch seam is accurate when machine binding the quilt. I had to pull the binding quite tight on the other side of my quilt to try to cover my stitching seam,so there is some rippling on the edge of the quilt binding. I decided to finish the quilt by machine binding it, because the hand stitched binding was too painful and frustrating for me.
Now that my baby is a year old, he is starting to sleep through the night. Sometimes when he doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night, I have been able to wake up early. This change has given me the opportunity to start sewing again.
For my return to sewing, I wanted a simple but useful project. I felt like I barely remembered how to thread my machine! The first class in the Craftsy Learn to Quilt series was a perfect fit for me. This “charming baby quilt” online sewing class featured a simple baby receiving blanket quilt using square charm packs of fabric. No risky measuring and cutting for those unsure of their sewing skills! The quilt is even self bound, so there is no need to worry about binding the quilt.
I loved this quick and easy quilting project. The instructor, Amy Gibson, did a great job of answering all the basic and common sense questions I had while sewing. The instructions were clear and perfectly detailed. This class was a great foundation for moving on to any other sewing projects.
I used Cool L’s Modern Basics by Lecien for my fabrics. I wish I would have realized that Craftsy has a super cute baby quilt kit that coordinates with this class. It would have taken all the guess work and waste out of buying my own fabric.
Since I am going to have another baby in a month and a half, I have to get some baby supplies together. Most of my old stuff is still perfectly good, but I need more burp cloths! I decided to sew myself a little stash of soft, absorbent burp cloths for the new baby. This turned out to be a quick and easy sewing project for a baby! Plus it is very cost effective considering the cost of burp cloths from a store.
I used flannel fabric for the backing and chenille fabric for the absorbent layer of fabric. Of course the minor problems I ran into were related to the burp cloth fabrics. The flannel shrunk and the edges shredded when I pre-washed it more than I expected. The soft chenille stretched a lot when I was sewing it AND it made an unholy fluffly mess all over when I cut into it.
As a result the sizes of my burp cloths are a little inconsistent. In the end I decided that the burp cloths might not be perfect, but they are good enough to be puked on.
Let’s face it, one of the negative aspects of sewing as a hobby is the ironing. I hate ironing. Especially ironing entire yards of fabric on a tiny postage stamp-like ironing board. Its hard to get started on a project knowing that I will have to spend an hour moving and repositioning fabric on the ironing board before I can start to actually sew anything.
Recently my ironing board broke and I had to throw it out. Instead of just buying a new one I decided to make a large ironing mat. I also decided to fully commit and make a huge one. I followed the ironing mat tutorial on Little Birdie Secrets.
The ironing mat has four layers:
Therma-Flec Fabric: The silver (sometimes tan) surface that you actually iron on. AKA ironing board fabric.
100% Cotton Batting:Cotton to protect what ever you choose to lay your ironing mat on top of (i.e., the table, floor, or bed).
Backing fabric: Hopefully cute fabric to hold it all together. Sometimes 100% cotton home decorating fabric is recommended for extra heat protection.
The four layers are quilted together and bound at the edges (I used double fold bias tape). I also added ribbon at the edges so the ironing mat can be rolled up and tied to stay shut for storage.
You are not supposed to pin the Therma-Flec to the Insul-Bright or or other layers because the pins will damage the ironing material. Use basting spray to hold it in place for the quilting. I used Basting Spray for the first time, and I have been converted to a believer. Basting spray is the way to go for any quilting project.
The #1 thing I would do differently is sew on the Therma-Flec/ silver Ironing Board fabric last. Each time I attached a fabric layer to the therma-flec, it bubbled up and is no longer flat. Of course you want a flat surface for ironing on, so ugh. I think it will still work just fine but this is kind of disappointing.
I will say that sewing on the binding through so many layers of thick fabric was very difficult! There were a lot of broken needles and broken thread! Is this what quilting machines are for?
Now there is nothing stopping me from starting a new sewing or quilting project, except the tedious process of ironing itself.
My poor dog has very sparse, short hair and next to no body fat. We don’t live in a very cold climate, but she definitely needs something to keep her warm on cold morning walks. But, in my area, stores only stock clothes for toy breeds. Time to break out the sewing machine and make my dog a coat!
Sew Everything Workshop has instructions for a self-drafted “Canine Couture Coat”. The pattern is very simple and is based on your dog’s measurements, plus added ease. The most difficult part was deciding on the dimensions for the chest and neck area- I went with wide and shallow, since this seemed to fit her best based on her muslins. My dog is very deep-chested, so I placed the belt a bit higher than the middle so that it would go around the thickest part of her body, not her skinny belly.
The pattern features decorative buttons at the chest and side. Cute! I used silver metal ones. I used my French curve to round the ends of the jacket instead of making them rectangular.
The coat I made is fastened with hooks and eyes because I was worried about my dog undoing the fastenings; you could also use snaps or Velcro. I plan to use Velcro next time.
I made one major change to the pattern; Diane Rupp drafted the pattern with a two-piece belt that meets underneath the dog’s body in the middle of her belly. This seemed like too much trouble to me, so I just made a one-piece belt that attaches to the side of the coat instead. Much easier to get on and off the dog!
This pattern is great- simple and easy. I like my single-piece belt idea, but don’t have any other complaints, As long as you make a muslin or two to tweak the pattern so that it fits your dog properly, it shouldn’t be too hard to make a good dog coat.
The Style Arc Susan shirt is a simple knit t-shirt pattern to sew up quickly. I chose this t-shirt pattern because Style Arc sewing patterns are apparently supposed to come in sizes that fit a real person better than the patterns from the big-4 pattern companies. So that’s a big plus for this independent sewing pattern company. Although I am a novice, I have made enough failed muslins to know that so far the big-4 patterns do not fit me AT ALL. I suspect this t-shirt pattern has to be one of the simplest designs that Style Arc makes– just what I was looking for.
I am happy to say that this pattern actually fits me. Of course since I used a stretch jersey knit fabric, the odds were in my favor. I used the cheapest knit jersey fabric I could get my hands on.
The pattern itself was great. It was printed on very nice paper, which is so much better than the awful tissue paper that regular patterns are printed on. The instructions are minimal at best. You will need some experience sewing to understand these patterns. It was a single size pattern, so don’t plan on grading between different sizes. You will need to make custom fitting adjustments on Style Arc patterns to make the sewing pattern match your measurements.
Everything would have been fine, but I faced a lot of technical difficulties that ultimately make this project a FAIL. Big surprise there! My problem was sewing this thin jersey fabric with my sewing machine. The thin jersey fabric kept getting sucked into my sewing machine despite my use of lower tension settings, my walking food, tissue paper as stabilizer, wash away stabilizer, and jersey needles. Ultimately, the fabric was beyond saving and this turned into a practice project.
Next time I suppose I will just try my serger first, and skip the sewing machine as much as possible for knit fabric. But that entails 2 hours of testing serger tension settings– boring! And then I will need a way to cleanly hem knit fabric in the future. Ugh, now I want a Coverstitch Machine. 3 Hours Past (which is affiliated with Cake Patterns) has a post all about stabilizers and sewing on knits which will hopefully help me since I don’t have a coverstitch machine!
I switched to using my serger midway through the project. Even though the tension was not perfectly balanced, it was a million times better than my sewing machine. Actually I am very happy to find a starting point for my tension settings for serging knit jersey.
Starting point tension settings for Brother 1034d Serger (Thin Knit Jersey): 3 thread overlock, 4, –, 5.5, 4.3 and a stitch width of 4.7.
I found the neckline a bit wide for my taste, which made me feel a little over exposed. I will bring it up and in next time
Oops, I forgot to cut the sleeves as mirror images, so one of them is sewn wrong side out. Learning experience.
I plan on making this t shirt AGAIN with a different fabric or possibly trying a fusible interfacing for the neckline, hem and wrists. Sew There Tammy made a couple of Style Arc Susan tops that she was happy with. Hopefully I will too someday soon!
Craftsy Class Sale up to 66% off from 11/29-12/2!
Craftsy has brilliant savings for a limited time only! All their online classes are on sale for $19.99 or less. With classes priced up to 66% off, now is a great time to get the classes you’ve been eyeing all year! Craftsy classes also make a great gift, so do some holiday shopping for the crafter in your life.
I plan on ordering a couple of classes. First I want to get the class on lining, interfacings and facings for garment construcion, “Underneath It All with Linda Lee”. I have no clue how to sew a lining!