Monday, March 17, 2014

Hemming jeans

Hemming a pair of jeans/pants is a type of alteration that isn't difficult, but procrastination usually sets in. I bought these pre-Christmas, so yeah, 3 months sitting on the mending pile qualifies as loafing.

These jeans (Kut brand: Nicole--high rise bootcut) are 77% polyester, 21% cotton, and 2% spandex--that little spandex provides plenty of stretch to accommodate the waistline and also hugs the legs just right.

First, I took out the original hem by removing all the stitches. I measured it and saw the fabric edge was turned up 1/2", folded another 1/2" and sewn. That equals 1" of fabric in the hem. I pressed the fabric flat to remove the fold lines and tried them on. I put on my highest-rise shoes, which are my Dankso clogs, and used a safety pin to mark the desired length. I pinned up about 2 inches, so I needed to trim 1" off the fabric edge before folding & sewing a new hem.

When altering, I err on the side of a longer length. For example, if my measurements vary from 2" - 2-1/4" or 2-1/2", I will go with the 2" and start from there. In this case, it was perfect. If I went any shorter, the length would be too short. Better a bit long than a bit short. I find this is true with other alterations. Start with a slight taking-in and increase it as you go, if necessary. Leave yourself a little room to work with.

I used a white chalk marker to draw a line 1/2" from the bottom edge of the right side of the fabric. I turned the edge to the wrong side of the fabric and pressed in place. Then I folded 1/2" again and pressed in place. The spandex provides a nice crease so pinning might not be necessary. Just hold carefully as you sew because the spandex also stretches along the fabric here. Don't pull as you sew or the hem will look wonky.

I used a 90/14 topstitch needle (a size 100 would be better) to accommodate the Dual Duty XP Heavy style thread. I set the stitch length to the longest setting (on my Bernina that is 5.0). The long stitch helps ease in the stretch and also mimics the original stitch design on the jeans. All the stitching is triple stitched so I stitched around the hem 3 times. In these photos, the thread looks more purple than it actually is.The photo above (taken without flash), shows a more accurate match--it does blend well with the dark denim.

Use the cut off piece to test thread tension. Generally, the bobbin needs to be a bit looser and the top thread slightly tighter than normal, but you might find the exact opposite is true using your own machine, needle, and thread. Test it and then you'll know how to make adjustments.

Copyright ©2014, Sharon Baggs

Monday, March 3, 2014

Thread Color Cards

It's time to give a little perspective on threads and the value of color cards. There are three brands--Superior, Presencia, and Aurifil--which I have color cards for so I will speak to those here. I have pieced, quilted and serged with many brands over the years, for what it's worth. To me, it's invaluable!

My motivation came after ordering this small stack of color cards from Superior Threads Represented here is what I use for serging: Omni & ProLock; piecing/bobbin thread: Masterpiece; quilting: King Tut; and bobbin thread when using decorative threads: The Bottom Line.

For polyester and decorative threads, I thread the top of the machine and use a top stitch needle. This 60-wt. polyester thread is perfect for the bobbin.

The value of having color cards is they are made with a small sample of the actual thread so you can accurately color match. Printed sheets of color are helpful but slightly different than reality. I have a printed sheet of Masterpiece thread and the actual color card. Both lovely, but they are not the same. For accuracy, consult a color card.

Masterpiece is a 50 wt., 3-ply cotton thread. It used to be a 2-ply thread and the spools I have are representative of that. I realized after using it and other 2-ply brands that I prefer the strength of 3-ply for piecing & quilting. Now that Masterpiece is 3-ply, I'm looking at the color availability to compliment another brand I use for piecing and quilting: Presencia.

Presencia cotton threads are available in both 60 wt., 50 wt., and 40 wt. I use the 60 wt./ 3-ply to piece with and it's also great for small design quilting. The 50 wt./ 3-ply cotton thread I use for some piecing, but mainly quilting, comes in 180 colors, in a variety of spool/cone sizes.

Whereas Superior and Presencia threads are the 3-ply threads I prefer for piecing and quilting, Aurifil thread is a 2-ply cotton thread. I use it for satin stitching, machine applique, hand applique, and micro stippling a small area on a quilt. Because it is available in 252 colors (216 solids + 36 variegated) the selection is a big draw for quilters. We do love color! I'm tempted myself when I see an alluring collection endorsed by a big name quilter. It's kind of like eating a box of chocolates. I regret it later...

Beside the 50 wt. cotton, Aurifil offers a variety of threads (all 2-ply) available in 12-wt. for Sashiko and embellishment; 28 wt, for hand quilting, and 40 wt. for machine quilting. They are housed on different colored spindles according to their weight. They also offer Aurifloss, a 6-strand cotton floss wrapped on quaint wooden spools.

Back to Superior Threads! After quilting a denim quilt with an entire cone of Olde Golde (Color #976) King Tut 40 wt., cotton, I really appreciated the quality and look of this thread. The color cards include needle recommendations to use with this thread. Some of Superior's color cards, such as these, are 3-hole punched so you can store them in a notebook. Bonus!

Superior produces color cards at their own cost, so the purchase price is the same whether you are buying them retail or wholesale. I spent between $3-$14 for each card or booklet. This booklet for Omni thread has 172 color thread samples. This poly-wrapped poly core thread, available on 6,000 yd. cones, will keep me serging for days.

I have yet to try the Prolock thread for the serger, but I bought the color card so I can see what is available. Superior offers many "try me specials" which is a perfect way to make a small investment in a few spools of thread and see how they work for you. Check out the deals here:

The best way to learn about a thread is to get some and try it out! Any thread company worth their salt will give you information about thread weight, ply, needle recommendation, etc. You will soon get a feel for what you prefer to use. Happy quilting!

Copyright ©2014, Sharon Baggs