Blind hem tutorial using your serger

To finish my newest maternity top, I want to try to make the most of my new serger.  I was pretty bummed to find out that the finish that I wanted to do for knits called the cover stitch needs special equipment.  This is the stitch you see on t-shirts (if you’re wearing one now, take a look) that has 2 parallel lines of top stitching on the right side and the zigzag/serged part on the back.  This is what I get for all the impulse buying and not reading through reviews.  Hehehe.  But I love my new serger and there are plenty of options to finish hems aside from that cover stitch.  The blind hem is one of them.  I pieced this simple tutorial together from some blind hem tutorials using a sewing machine and my book Serge with Confidence by Nancy Zieman.

First, turn your fabric over to the wrong side.  Using a seam gauge or a ruler, measure out (if you have the specifications from your pattern) or figure out what hem length and allowance you want.  I decided on a 1 inch hem for this with a 1/4 inch allowance that will eventually be trimmed by the serger.

Fold the fabric over onto itself according to the length you want for your hem (everything you see now is the wrong side).

I ended up with a Z-fold with a 1-inch (my hem length) overlap:

Press it down or pin in place and you’re ready to serge!  Of course, thread your serger – I used a three thread overlock stitch for this so I only needed to set the tensions for the first, third and fourth dials.  I used the following tension settings (It’s probably better if you practice on scrap cloth and tweak the settings until you get the stitch with the tension you want, but this worked for me on my lightweight jersey).

I used a blind hem foot that came with the 1034D overlocker.  Adjust the screw to get the guide to the right of the foot (that white part) to the correct part of your hem.  If the needle doesn’t catch the fold, move the guide to the left.  If the needle stitches too much on the fold, adjust to the right.  The needle should just bite into the edge of your fold.

Serge away and you’re almost done!  I had green thread in my serger since I’m sewing my top in green.  Open up the hem and this is what it looks like on the wrong side.

You can change the width between stitches for less noticeable stitches on the right side if you like.  Turn over your fabric and press (I didn’t press the hem yet here) and there you have your blind hem with only one run through on your serger!  🙂  I hope this helped any of you trying to figure out the blind hem with your overlocker.  🙂

Reversible Tote Bag

A lot of supermarkets and stores in Manila have stopped giving out plastic bags for free in an effort to be more environmentally responsible.  While that’s a good thing, I’ve made purchases lately where the paper bags fell apart even before I make the short walk to my car.  So in that light, here’s my newest sewing project, a reversible grocery bag for my beautiful mother-in-law.  🙂  I based this on the book Stitch by Stitch by Deborah Moebes but I made a few alterations here and there.

Reversible Tote Bag Tutorial

First, take two types of canvas and cut out 18 x 18 inch squares, 2 of each.  Here they are:

Pick a fabric that you want to designate as the outside, the other side will be the lining.  This won’t really be important since we’re going to make a fully reversible bag but it will make it easier to explain.  🙂  Pin the fabric with right sides together (very important!) and sew using the following diagram:

Clip your corners to remove the bulk then pull the lower corners together making sure that bottom and side seams are aligned and measure at the part where the fabric is 3 inches across, pin and sew down there:

If you want a bag with a bigger/flatter bottom, this is the step where you can control this by stitching across a bigger portion of the bag.

Next you have to make the straps.  You can use one type of fabric (outside or lining only) if you don’t mind that it’s not fully reversible.  Then all you have to do is make 2 straps by sewing down one side and turning it inside out.  I wanted something fully reversible so I first tried to sew fabric from the outside and lining together and turn it inside out but since the straps are relatively thin and canvas frays like crazy they sort of fell apart.  If you used cotton there should be absolutely no problem though.

I decided to make my own reversible straps, it requires a little more effort but it’s totally worth it!  I cut out two 18 x 2.5 inch straps for each of my types of fabric and carefully pressed them down so that they were almost the same size, around 1 inch across.  I pinned them wrong sides together then I topstitched them in place.  I went as slow as I needed to go to make sure that my lines were straight, they will come out looking like this:

Straps of reversible canvas tote

Pin your straps to the outside of the bag, right sides together.  Make sure the straps are the same distance from the side seams, I pinned them 4.5 inches from the side seams.  Next take your lining, and put the outside bag with the straps in your lining like so:

Match up the raw edges and pin the sides together then sew all the way across the bag (use the free arm of your sewing machine).  I sewed half an inch from the raw edges.  You will essentially be stitching through 3 layers (your lining, the handles and one side of the outside part).

Reach into the 5 inch gap you left in the lining and pull out the other bag, the straps will now be magically stitched between your layers.  🙂

Iron down the sides to smoothen everything out, then if you want, topstitch the edges like I did for more structure:

And there you have it, a useful and completely reversible tote bag that is very easy to customize.  I’m already thinking of making one with pockets or longer straps next time.  🙂

Pretty Patchwork Pincushion

I’ve just started teaching myself how to sew, so most of my supplies are as basic as you can get.  Right before I made my first project, I picked up a cheap pincushion at National Bookstore (a chain of stores here in the Philippines where you can get not only books and periodicals, but also basic arts and crafts materials), but every time I’ve used it I’ve been telling myself that I need to get a better (it’s hard to stick the pins in this one!) not to mention prettier one than this:

So I went online and saw tons, and I mean tons of free tutorials for cute pincushions, like this list here by Tipnut, and this list here by Tip Junkie.  There was also this adorable ruffled heart one by The Project Girl and a sweetheart one by Happy Together here.  I wanted to make the one by Happy Together but I didn’t have any iron on adhesive on hand, so I went with a tutorial by Paper String Cloth which I had everything on hand for and was just as cute.

First, cut out 8 squares measuring 3 1/2 inches, this already includes your seam allowance of half an inch.  Use contrasting or complementing fabric, you can use different patterns or fabric per side if you want, I just used the same cloth for both sides.  This cloth is from Cotton Depot (3/F Glorietta 5).  Mark seam allowances (1/2 inch per side) on each piece to make it easier to put together.

Sew them together on the seam allowances, making sure that right sides are facing each other.  This is how one side looked.  Don’t worry too much about getting them totally perfect, we’re going to camouflage any mistakes with a button later.  🙂  Press them if you want… obviously I didn’t since I figure I’m going to stuff it anyway!

Do this for the remaining 4 squares and pin the two pieces together, right sides facing each other.  Stitch on the outer seam allowances, making sure to leave an inch and a half or two inches open so you can stuff your pincushion with whatever material you want.  You can use fiberfill, some people use sand, but I used leftover scraps of cloth that I had on hand, and it worked fine.  Stuff it as tightly as you like and hand sew it closed.  This is what it will look like:

Then take a double thread and a thimble (if you have one, I didn’t and I wish I did) and sew your buttons into the middle of the pincushion.  You’ll need the double thread since you have to pull it really hard!  I had to use the end of my scissor to push in the needle the first few times, but it gets easier, I promise!

Before you know it, you’re done!  Here’s my finished pincushion, I really love it!  I threw the generic, old one out right when I transferred the pins.  Hehehe.

I used a white button for the other side!  🙂  It was such a fun, quick, useful project, I just might make more soon!