Friday, June 24, 2016

What a difference color makes

My latest sewing projects are good examples of how different use of color can totally change the look.

My first project is actually a redo. I made this top late last summer - so late that it turned cool before I could wear it, but it was looking like I was never going to wear it anyway. I wasn't pleased with how it turned out. It fit ok but the white binding - I used a cotton/linen blend - was too stiff and too bright. I couldn't help but think "hospital gown" when I looked at it. So I changed the binding.


It was a crazy amount of work to change the binding, but worth it because now I will wear the top. I used some rayon binding that is probably meant for finishing seam allowances but I think it works well as trim here, both for the color and because it's softer. I machine stitched the strip to the edges first and then hand sewed the other edge in place since it wanted to twist when I tried stitching in the ditch.

Much nicer, I think.

The second project is a top I made using two coordinating knit prints, one a print and one solid. The pattern I used is from the May 2016 issue of Knipmode - actually I used the German version "Fashion Style", but it's the same magazine.

I couldn't decide whether to use the print on top or bottom so I asked my sewing friends. They unanimously said "print on top" so that's what I did.

But look how different the shirt would look with the print on the bottom:

The use of color is ultimately a personal choice. There are no rules but there are color relationships that seem to be more or less favorable to the majority of people. When I was searching pictures on line to see other examples of two-tone shirts, I found more had the darker color on top and the lighter on the bottom, regardless of whether there were prints involved or not.

When I'm planning my sewing, knitting, or weaving projects I often get stuck on how to best use color. I have a book in my library that might help with this, and I should really take some time to read it!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Leather coin pouch - first time sewing leather

I've found that a coin pouch is almost a necessity in Europe because of the 1 and 2 Euro coins. Even if your wallet has a coin section, it quickly gets filled up - and gets heavy. 

I did not make this lovely pouch - I bought it in Buenos Aires.
My husband's coin pouch has nearly disintegrated after four years of constant use. I'd already repaired holes in it a few times but it's beyond repair now.

This was once a lovely tan pouch of soft leather.
So naturally I thought to sew a new pouch to replace the worn-out one. I never sewed leather before but always intended to, so I already had the necessary tools (of course!). I've included my pictures and process and lessons learned, in the event someone reading this would also like to make a little coin pouch.

I found the leather scrap in the remnant bin of a fabric store in Paris for 1 Euro. I bought a few pieces, but this one is perfectly sized for the small pouch. A Teflon foot is very useful for sewing leather, as are leather needles. I already had a zipper in my stash - longer is just fine. I thought I'd use heavy button thread, but it didn't work (more on that later). I drew up a paper pattern, using the old pouch as a guide. I used a pen to trace the pattern onto the wrong side of the leather.

One more useful tool for sewing leather is double sided, wash-away tape. Mine is by Dritz, but I'm sure there are other brands. The tape is useful for positioning the two pieces of the bag onto the zipper tape. You don't want to use pins because they'll put permanent holes in the leather.

Now about that buttonhole thread. I first did some sample stitching on a leftover scrap and just could not get my tension to work, despite fiddling with the tension on both the needle and the bobbin in various amounts. I tried regular thread in the bobbin only, but that didn't improve things, so I decided that either my machine, or the eye of the needle, couldn't adequately accommodate the thicker thread. Or perhaps the hole in the leather made by the needle was too small. I re-threaded my machine, a Pfaff 7570, with regular thread and got the tension set almost right away. But to me the regular machine sewing thread just seemed too skimpy for the heavy use this coin pouch will get. So I decided to increase the thread thickness by 50% by using two threads through the needle and one in the bobbin. This was easy to do because my machine has a second spindle for such a purpose. After a little adjusting I was happy with the tension and the sewing commenced.

It was actually quite easy to sew the leather. I used a 3.0 mm stitch length, and since my Teflon foot has a space for moving the needle side to side, I took advantage of that and used the edge of the foot as a guide and set the needle set the distance I wanted.

The next step was sewing the bag closed. Since my leather is very soft and not too thick, I decided to stitch it right sides together because I was pretty confident I could turn it inside out. With a thicker leather I'd sew it wrong-sides together.

I used binder clips to hold the leather together - the pin you see is only through the zipper tape. I trimmed the other end of the zipper tape so the stop wouldn't get in the way of the Teflon foot. Also, I started the stitching away from the top edge because I figured it would be next to impossible to start at the zipper edge due to the bulk. Then of course I just went back and sewed up the last bit, starting where I began the stitching. And don't forget to move that zipper pull before you sew, making sure that you can get into the bag to turn it inside out.

I did end up doing a little hand sewing at the zipper ends to secure them. I also trimmed the seam allowance so it would form a nicer curve. But then I feared that I'd trimmed it too close and envisioned coins wearing at the seam and eventually popping out the bottom, so I stitched another line of sewing in the seam allowance. I found it so easy to sew the leather, even in such a narrow space of the trimmed seam allowance (probably 1/8 inch) - there was no shifting at all.

And Voila! One new leather coin pouch.

If I make this pouch again - we'll see how long this one lasts - I would maybe line it. I noticed that the suede finish on the wrong side of the leather had made my hands a little black from handling it so much. I warned my husband about that. The pouch I bought in Buenos Aires has what looks like interfacing on the inside but I wondered if that was because they'd used a thinner leather. I noticed that the top edge where it's attached to the zipper is actually turned under (stitched right side to the zipper). If I'd done that, the seam would have been too bulky. Also, I might make the zipper end a bit neater, although the worn-out pouch was made pretty much the same way. On my Buenos Aires pouch the zipper ends are covered by the interfacing/lining.

All in all, I'd call it a successful first time sewing leather!