Sewing… Hemming Pants by Hand While You Watch TV

If you can figure out how to do a backward stitch, by hand, they’re great for hemming pants. First, using your machine, run a zig-zag along the bottom of the pants. Next, fold and press where you want the hem. Next, start your hand stitching about a quarter inch below the zig zag. (Starting a quarter-inch down keeps shoes from getting caught and pulling the hem out.) You’ll be doing a backward stitch with your needle and thread. (Think of it like how Michael Jackson used to dance backward.)

I learned this backward stitch from an expert dressmaker in Reno, named Audrey. She hemmed men’s dress trousers like this. It makes a nice, flat hem.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

Advertisements

Fashion and Sewing… Shopping for Fabric

One of the nicest things about sewing is shopping for fabric and notions. If you’ve got the sewing bug, you get really excited in a fabric store. Maybe even hyper-active. You’ll look at a bolt of fabric and know exactly what it would be good for. A dress, a pair of pants, a nightie. Something for your niece. Or you don’t know what you could possibly make out of it, but you want it, now.

Because seamstresses (dressmakers/tailors) like to have fabric on hand, we’re free to shop fabrics for any season. Spring fabrics to work with during the winter, heavier fabrics during the late summer for wearing in the cold weather. Sometimes our projects take several seasons to complete, sometimes they take years. It doesn’t matter what season it is. It will be a custom-made garment, fit to order. By us and for us. We get elated working on it and we may even get sick of working on it. But it’s a good idea to make a rule of finishing it before we start another sewing project. Starting a new project is our reward for finishing the current work-in-progress. That’s how I do it.

On Saturday, I’ll be exploring a new-to-me fabric store. I hope it has colorful cottons for blouses and colorful corduroy and stretch denims for pants. I hope they have big spools of strong thread and buttons so attractive they make my head spin with creativity. And most importantly, I hope they have good prices. The only thing better than getting a bargain on clothes, is getting a bargain on fabric to make clothes. As my grandmother used to say, “I’m not happier than when I’m sewing.”

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

Are Blue Jeans a Good Gauge of How Trim We Are?

Old blue jeans that we’ve had for years will have shrunk. So if we can fit into them decades later, we should feel pretty good about that, right? Yes. Maintaining the same weight through the years is desirable but not always easy. It’s a struggle for most of us.

I started wearing tight blue denim so long ago, I hate to admit the year. But let’s just say that I loved denim then and I love it now. Especially the new stretchy denim that’s been popular these past few years. With that fabric, we can all look good in blue jeans, right? Right.

Tight jeans are like corsets for the lower half of our body. And if we can squeeze into them, they fit, right? It’s not good for us to wear clothes so tight it cuts off our blood circulation but in my book, if I can wiggle myself into an old pair of “jeans” life is good.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

There’s Nothing Wrong with Taking Shortcuts When Sewing

There’s nothing wrong with taking shortcuts in a sewing project. After all, sewing is a creative endeavor, so changing things up a bit, is where true creativity lies. Yes, you can buy a pattern and fabric and follow the directions exactly and still be creative. But everyone’s bodies are not the same and every person has different patience levels and variable hours to sew. If you lack patience and time and just want to whip something up, by all means do. Fabric stores are loaded with super simple patterns that make nice garments. (Retail stores are filled with clothes made from these patterns for the same reason. They are quick and easy.)

One thing that I do to speed things along is to forego the facings. Facings are used to give the garment shape, thickness and to finish the seams. If you’re inexperienced, sometimes the wide facings bubble up after they’re sewn down, making a beginner discouraged. That is a point where some people give up, thinking they do not have the talent to sew. Don’t give up. Not all garments need facings, especially, light summer clothing.

Using bias tape is fine. Follow the directions for sewing down the facings but substitute the bias tape. After sewing the bias tape to the dress body (right side of bias tape to right side of fabric) use a slip stitch to anchor the bias tape down. Iron it. Pressing makes things look much better. You can also make your own bias tape by cutting strips of fabric on the bias (the bias is the stretch of the fabric). Occasionally, you have enough fabric for the main pieces of the garment but not enough for facings. That’s when bias tape comes in handy. The thicker the bias tape, the more it supports the garment like a facing is intended. I do though, have many articles of clothing where I used thin bias tape. It turned out well.

In the photograph of the pink flowered blouse, you’ll see that I used bias tape instead of facings. I even got creative with it and allowed it to be exposed in the front. If you look closely, you’ll see that I also did not finish off the back seam. I left the raw edges. I figured that no one would see that part of my blouse. And the sleeves on this blouse are made from the flouncy cuffs off of a ready-made blouse. The sleeves on that blouse were too long. After I cut them off, I saved them, thinking that I could one day use them for something, and I did.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

Sewing Tips For Beginners

An old-fashioned tip for sewing is to do some hand stitching. When you use the sewing machine, your garment can get kinda hacked up, especially if you’re new to it. Hand stitching the facings down that go along a neckline and hand stitching the hems on the sleeves can give the garment a beautiful look. And believe it or not, hand stitching a zipper in place can be wonderful thing. I do that all the time because I think the machine doesn’t look so great. If you are experienced and/or have a fabulous machine, you may be successful but zippers can be problematic. If so, just get yourself some matching thread and needle and put your feet up and relax and enjoy while you secure the zipper in by hand. Go over and over it. Overkill actually, because you don’t want it popping out on you.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

Anxious to Try Eating Acorns? Time to Think About It

Leaching Acorns

People tell me all the time that when they see acorns on the ground, they think of me. So now, when I see acorns on the ground, I think of the people who are thinking of me when they see acorns. Sometimes there are acorns… everywhere. I’ve had people tell me that they rake up bags and bags of acorns in the fall and… sigh… put them in the garbage.

Some areas have prolific acorns. In other areas, when a few acorns fall to the ground, there will be fifteen different wildlife creatures fighting over them. Vultures love to hang out near the road where cars drive over them and crack them. Squirrels fight for their share. Deer eat them. Horses will eat them too but I’m not so sure that they should. Field mice come running in for their share and then the tiniest of creatures, the acorn worms, well, sometimes they are the first to get at it. That’s why it’s important that you get there first, with the intention of analyzing your area so that you leave enough for the critters.

What do you do, once you’ve gathered the acorns? I’ll tell you what you shouldn’t do and that’s leave them lying around. If there are any worms in there, they will devour them. It’s best to… get cracking. Once you’ve cracked them and removed the shells, put them in Ziplocs and freeze them until you’re ready to use them. My husband Jon, made a video of my acorn leaching process. Watch the how-to video, Acorns and Eat’em www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG-5EDrHDhM

And I wrote a book and created lots of delicious recipes, Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Have fun! You’ve no excuse. Unless of course, you live in an area where the acorns are sparse and you know the animals depend on them.

A House, a Hound, a Horse and a Husband… Not Necessarily in That Order

Anyone who has owned a horse knows that they are a lot of work. Ditto with the hound and the house. Anyone who has ever had a significant other knows that relationships take a lot of time and caring. The more time and care you put into it, the better the relationship usually is.  This post has no intention other than to acknowledge those who sweep, shovel, sew, iron, rake, mow, boil or bake. Which is most everybody. We all have chores. Whoever you are, guy or gal, today I acknowledge you. I just spent a good hour raking horse manure in 92 degrees. Yes, in the hot sun. I don’t like doing it but I like it that I can. Even the worst of chores have something for which we can be thankful.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

And For Your Summer Romance Reading There’s Always… Dandelion Lane

I just finished book seven of my Civil War Era Romance series. Although book four springs off of book three, it’s not necessary to read this series in order. My stories get a little risque at times, this one is no exception. The difference between this one and the others is well… ahem… I guess you’ll have to read it and see. I will say, it’s about the repercussions of getting carried away on Dandelion Lane…

View it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073WPHMWG

Why Don’t Women Sew Anymore? Tips From a Long-Time Seamstress

When I see that people come to my blog because they want to know why women don’t sew anymore, I wish I could flag them down and that we could sit and have tea and discuss this. I would tell them how much I enjoy sewing and that if I didn’t have such a compulsion to write romance novels, I would be spending even more time in my little sewing room.

My favorite thing about sewing is that I can get my clothes to fit perfectly. My next favorite thing is that I can make clothes out of real fabric, like cotton. The next favorite is that I can keep making clothes in the styles that I like. Let’s face it, the designers keep changing styles on us so that we’ll buy new clothes. The clothes I make last forever and they are my favorites. My son teases me because I still like bell-bottoms. (Flair? Boot cut? What’s not to like? I find them slimming.) I have a box of old patterns from the sixties and seventies and I use them again and again.

What I don’t like is that there are not fabric stores any more. Not like there used to be. There are quilt making stores and there are a few fabric stores but much of the fabric is synthetic and I much prefer working with cotton. And I don’t like paying high prices for fabric that I don’t like anyway. I live in rural America so it’s harder for me. You should see the look on my face when I walk into a “real” fabric store. Wow. You too?

If you are new to sewing, let me give you one tip. If you work with cotton it “gives.” You have to pull it a little bit and kinda stretch it to fit. You have to make it work for you. For example, if you are sewing a sleeve to the main front and back of a blouse, you need to manipulate the sleeve to fit correctly with the notches. Even if it requires you to “gather” it a little, it still needs to be manipulated in place and that is done by kinda stretching. If you don’t feel like you’re cheating a little, you’re not doing it right. LOL. Cotton will let you do that. And last but not least, don’t be so hard on yourself and start simple.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Mississippi Wild Blue, a Civil War Era Romance. Available here: Mississippi Wild Blue: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072L2WWMR

Problems? We All Have Them…

Problems… there are no shortages. Everyone has them. It’s not unusual for friends and family to come to us with problems that need to be solved. Usually, adults find ways to solve their own problems, they just want someone to listen to them while they talk through them. It makes them feel that we care. Some of us have open arms and lend an ear, others find it rude that anyone would think of dumping their problems onto them. Don’t we have enough of our own? The former may adore her friend, the latter may find her friend “toxic.” Whichever personality type you are; venter, dumper, compassionate listener, irritated unable enabler, the reality remains the same. We all have problems.

What are problems? Webster’s dictionary defines a problem as a perplexing question, situation, or person. It’s an ancient Latin word, problema meaning to “throw forward.” So true. Problems present themselves, over and over again. Over time, we should become pros at solving them and in a sense, we do. But growing older oftentimes means our patience grows thinner, hence a double quandary.

Sometimes problems get so out of hand, spinning our life out of control, that we become frozen and petrified, which only makes things worse. And when multiple persons are involved (as is often the case in family matters) one feels that their once pleasant life may never return. This is the time that we turn to the garden (or nature in the form of a park, the local strip of woods, the backyard or if none of these are available, the local nursery). For it is in nature that we find peace and rejuvenation that give us the best chance of answering the questions that life’s problems present.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78