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Sewing & Embroidery

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Sewing 101 -- Just the Basics

It is always fun to learn a new skill or craft. In the case of sewing, it can
be both a household skill and a fun craft at the same time. The term "sewing"
can encompass anything from simple repairs to full-blown projects such as
clothing and household textiles. Whether you have ever sewed before, of if you
are "crafty" are not an issue if you can thread a needle. If you can thread the
needle then you can learn to sew; it really isn't hard to do with some basic
instruction and practice.

Whenever you are starting out to learn something new, it is always a challenge.
There is so much information online and in books that it can feel a bit
overwhelming at times. However, if you take the time to start with the very
basic information and build your knowledge from there, then your skills will
surely follow.

Sewing Lessons -- Formal or Informal

Learning to sew is really one of those "hands on" type things. You can easily
learn to sew but you have to take the time to try it out and see what works for
you. The easiest thing you can do is sign up for a sewing lesson at your local
craft, sewing machine or quilting store. Generally any store which sells the
more expensive sewing machines will offer lessons for free or at a very
reasonable cost. You do not have to buy their sewing machine simply to take a
class and try out sewing for yourself.

Another more formal lesson environment can be your local adult school or
community college. Many of these learning institutions offer low cost crafting
and sewing classes to members of the local community. This can be a great
option for learning a new skill and meeting people with a similar interest at
the same time.

If you have a friend or relative who knows how to sew, ask them to show you
how. Find an easy project to start on and ask them if they will give you a hand
at completing it and show you what you need to know. Most people are more than
happy to spend time teaching people what they know.

If no one in your area offers lessons, and you don't happen to know anyone who
sews, you can always find tutorials and lessons online. Simply go to any search
engine and type in the words "sewing lessons" and you will have thousands of
options to choose from!

Learn the Lingo

Sewing, just like many other crafts, has its own language. It is very helpful
to purchase a basic sewing book or look online to learn the most basic of
sewing terms. None of the terms are difficult to learn, they are just simply
different. And, by learning the sewing lingo you can much more easily follow
directions for completing projects.

Start Small and Easy

Your first sewing projects should be simple and aimed at teaching you one
specific skill. If you want to learn to make things for your home, for example,
start with easy projects such as pillows. You can start with a simple square
pillow and then move up to more complicated versions as you master sewing the
straight lines of the square. If your goal is to start sewing clothing, you
might want to start by making a skirt or something else which is forgiving of
any mistakes you might have.

Don't Spend a Lot of Money Until You Know What You Really Want from Sewing

It is always exciting to learn something new and go out and buy all of the
stuff you need to make whatever you want. However, rather than going out and
buying a top-of-the-line sewing machine and tons of other items, start with
things you have around your home and a very basic sewing machine. This will
ensure that when you purchase things they end up being what you really want.

Regardless of your sewing goals, be assured that you can absolutely learn how
to sew. It is not a hard skill to learn, but it takes a bit of patience and
practice to learn. Have fun with it and see where it takes you.

Sewing Tips for Every Beginner

Sewing can be a very rewarding hobby to take up. You can sew everything from
clothing to bedding and other household decorative items. By learning basic
sewing you can ensure that when your button pops off, or your hem comes out of
your pants, that you can quickly and easily fix it.

When we were growing up most of our mothers and grandmothers knew how to sew.
As clothing has become cheaper and cheaper, sewing has become almost a lost art
amongst the younger generations. Thankfully, the past few years has seen
resurgence in sewing and other handcrafts. This is leading to a new
availability of information on how to sew and supplies to learn to sew with.

Sewing requires a unique set of skills. These skills are not complicated to
learn, but there is a definite learning curve in learning to sew. If you jump
in with both feet without a few basics you are surely setting yourself up to
fail. The best way to develop your sewing skills is to start slow, learn, and
work your way up to more complex projects as time goes on and you learn what
you are doing.

The first step in starting to sew is to gather up all of the items you need to
complete your project. Get out your sewing machine booklet and thread your
machine. Make sure, before you ever even attempt a project, that your machine
is threaded correctly and working well. This will save you a ton of frustration.

If you will be sewing something from a pattern, take the time to read through
all of the instructions and make sure that you clearly understand them. Make
sure to read and understand everything before you start to cut out your fabric.
Remember that once you cut your fabric it will be in pieces and you can't just
re-cut it.

Before you work with your fabric, make sure you wash and dry it. This will
ensure that your finished project will not shrink when you first wash it. Once
it dries you will want to iron it out. Once your fabric is washed, dried, and
ironed, then you can pin your pieces to the fabric and cut them out. Cut all of
your pieces out using the sharpest pair of scissors you can find. Using sharp
scissors cuts down on frustration and keeps your fabric looking good at the
edges.

When you first start sewing you will want to baste your pattern pieces together
with long hand stitches. This allows you to see how your project will look once
you have sewn it together on your machine. And, it allows you to make
adjustments much more easily if you should happen to need to. One good tip here
is to use a bright colored thread for basting. This will allow you to easily
remove it once your project is sewn together.

The most important thing for you to remember when you first start sewing is
that "Rome was not built in a day." Start with a very simple project and take
your time. Then start a more complex project and take some time to learn a new
skill or two when completing it. As you progress through your various projects
you will feel more and more confident in your sewing abilities. After all, you
are learning to sew because it is functional and fun!

How to Choose the Right Sewing Machine

Ask anyone who sews, and they will tell you that the best utilitarian invention
of the last two hundred years, by far, is the sewing machine. The sewing machine
allows you to sew your garments and household decor items quickly and
skillfully. A sewing machine makes quick work of sewing even large pieces of
fabric together which in the past would have taken hours to do by hand.

As the sewing machine has evolved, it has taken on a whole new dimension in
crafting. What was once used simply to save time making useful items is now
able to do complex, colorful embroidery and do many other creative tasks much
more quickly than can be done by hand. The possibilities are literally endless
with today's modern sewing machines.

Because every sewer is an individual, it is impossible to say there is one
"best" sewing machine out there for everyone. Your sewing needs should
ultimately dictate the machine you purchase. For example, if you never plan on
doing machine embroidery, then you do not need a sewing machine capable of
doing it. You can save your money because embroidery sewing machines are much
more expensive than a more basic model which will meet your needs just fine.

The first thing you should do is sit down and make a list of all of the things
you want your sewing machine to be able to do for you. Do you want embroidery
capability? Do you want free-arm capability? Do you want to be able to quilt
with your sewing machine? Will you we sewing on very heavy fabrics such as
denim? By answering these questions you can form a good list of your sewing
machine expectations.

If you are new to sewing it is a great idea to get together with other people
you know who own sewing machines and see if you can try theirs out. Ask if they
will let you try sewing on their machine and will tell you all of the things
they like and dislike about their particular models. This can help you
determine a good machine brand versus a dud. If you bring along your list of
"wants" you can see if their machine will meet all of your needs or not as well.

Once you have some idea of what you might want in a sewing machine, hit the
Internet and do some serious research. Go to manufacture websites as well as
those which are owned by sewing experts. Read what is out on the web and see if
the machine you are interested in gets good reviews or bad. People like to
complain, so you might find complaints about every sewing machine out there.
Ignore the one or two complaints but listen to those where you start reading
the same criticism over and over again. One or two people can be a fluke, but
twenty people are probably not.

Once you have a good idea of what sewing machine you want to purchase for
yourself, then go out into the stores and look at them. Look at sewing machine
stores and even at your local craft stores as well. Go armed with your list and
with enough knowledge to not "over-buy" a machine. Stay steadfast at your goal
of getting what you want and need and not paying extra for features which you
will never use.

When you are in the stores ask to test out the machines and see if you can find
one that you really like that meets your needs. If you can then that is your
machine. If you cannot, then it is time to move on to another shop.

Purchasing a sewing machine is an investment in your craft so it is important
to take the time and make the right choice. Make sure you find just the right
machine for your needs and it will serve you well for many sewing years to come.

Your Very First Sewing Project

Congratulations on your decision to try sewing. Sewing really is much easier
than you probably think that it is. Sewing is very similar to putting the
pieces of a puzzle together and then sewing them to permanently attach them
together; it really isn't much more complicated that that to make a basic
project. Sewing can be a fun hobby and also can allow you to make your own
clothing and decorative items. Imagine being able to use whatever fabrics and
colors you want around your house or for your wardrobe!

The easiest project for a brand new sewer is to make a simple pillow or dress.
Pillows can be made from two squares of fabric simply sewn together and then
stuffed. To make a pillow you don't even need a pattern. If you can cut out a
square then you can make a great pillow.

If you want to make a clothing item for your first sewing project, I suggest
you start with a simple summer type dress. Having something useful and pretty
when you get done can give you an amazing sense of accomplishment. If you have
a young child to sew for you can make a child sized dress, otherwise try one
for an adult.

If you have never sewn before you will need to gather up all of the following
for your first project:

- A pattern 
- Fabric 
- Thread 
- Fusible Interfacing 
- Sharp scissors 
- Pins and a needle
- Anything else listed on the pattern 
- A basic sewing machine

The first thing you need to do is get your sewing machine threaded and working.
You should have a manual with instructions on how to do this correctly. No two
machines are the same so you will need to do this part on your own.

Once you have your machine threaded, and all of your items gather up together
on your sewing table, you will want to read over any instructions that came
with your pattern to make sure that you clearly understand them. On the back of
the pattern you will find measurements, fabric suggestions, and other
information you need to understand fully. You should always make sure you
completely understand your directions and have everything you need before you
ever start cutting your fabric.

Decide which "view" of the pattern you want to use (i.e. sleeveless, with
sleeves, short dress, long dress, etc: ) and see which letter corresponds to
it. This will tell you which pieces you need to cut through.

When you select your fabric try to stick to lightweight fabric without too many
designs or stripes on it. Do not attempt to work with plaid on your first try!
The last thing you want to have to deal with when you are fist starting out is
matching plaid or designs. Start simple, and work yourself up.

Wash your fabric and put it through the dryer. This will insure that if your
fabric is going to shrink, then it will do it before you make your dress. The
last thing you want to do is make a dress and have it shrink in the washer and
not be able to wear it.

Place your pattern pieces on your fabric and pin them in place. You will find a
map, of sorts, on the instruction page to show you how to lay out your pieces on
the fabric. Once you have them all placed and pinned you can start to cut out
your fabric with very sharp scissors.

The instructions will lead you through how to sew your pattern pieces together
to make your dress. Follow the instructions and take your time. Make sure you
understand completely what you are asked to do before you attempt to sew
anything. Once you understand then you can start to sew your pieces together.

Start with two pieces and work until you have your dress completed. If you hit
a snag you can always call someone who sews or go into your fabric store and
ask for help. They would be thrilled to help you!

Once you are finished, wear your new dress with the pride that comes with
knowing that you made it yourself!

Creative Couching Adds Pizzazz to Your Sewn Projects

An interesting way to add color, texture and dimension to your sewn items, is
to add couching. Couching is derived from the French word couchier and is the
art of embroidering by laying threads flat on a surface and sewing them down by
stitches sewn at regular intervals.

In centuries past, couching was a very popular form of decoration for the
upper-class clothing of the time. People of means would often wear items which
were covered in couched and embroidered designs.

The couching of today is generally done by laying a length of yarn, cord, or
ribbon down on a piece of fabric, and then sewing it in place with a zigzag or
other decorative stitch. Today, couching is used to sew on many of the more
decorative fibers and trims available to those who sew at their local craft
stores.

Applying any type of trim or embellishment to fabric can very drastically alter
its appearance. Couching can be used to embellish and it can also be used to
hide unsightly mistakes or damage on a fabric. If your garment has a stain on
it, you can apply something over the stain by couching and have a renewed
garment in no time.

Couching By Machine -- The Presser Feet, Needles and Thread Options

Couching by sewing machine can easily be accomplished with the help of the
correct presser foot, needles, and threads. There are five different types of
presser feet which are used with couching. They are:

A Cording Foot -- Has a small loop attached to the foot which you feed in a
small braid, yarn or ribbon. This can be used to help you position your trim so
that it is right-side facing up.

An Open-Toe Embroidery Presser Foot -- Is the basic presser foot used for
couching because it can handle all types of materials and allows you to see
them while they are guided and sewing into position on your project.

A Multi-Cord Presser Foot -- This presser foot allows you to couch with
multiple cords at the same time.

A Blind-Hem Presser Foot -- Allows you to sew on thicker trims and near the
edge of your fabric.

A Beading Presser Foot -- Allows you to easily apply strands of beads which can
be wider than normal couching materials.

In addition to using a special presser foot for couching you will want to use a
larger than normal sewing needle. This is especially true when you are couching
using denser fabrics or trims.

When you select the thread for your sewing machine and bobbin you need to take
into account if you want the thread to blend in or be visible. Using metallic
threads can give your couching a whole new dimension. You will want your bobbin
thread to match your sewing thread for couching.

In addition, if you are using a light weight fabric to couch on, you will want
to use a fabric stabilizer. You can stabilize your fabric by either sewing in a
light knit interfacing or by using a tear-away stabilizing product.

As you can see, by using a couple special items and your sewing machine you can
use couching to embellish you sewing projects. While couching is not difficult,
it does take a bit of time to learn how to do. By taking the time and using the
right items, your couching will be looking professional in no time.

A Guide to Your Sewing Basket Essentials

Every home should have a basic sewing basket at the ready for those times when
you need to sew on a quick button or fix a ripped seam. By having a sewing
basket will all of your basic sewing essentials in one place, you can be ready
for any small sewing emergency which might crop up at any time.

The first thing you will need to have is a sewing basket itself. You do not
need to go out and purchase a basket made especially for sewing; any box with
compartments will work great. Many people prefer to use a fishing tackle box
because they give you a lot of small compartments to store your various items
in. By having many compartments you can keep your sewing basket in order and
free from clutter.

Once you have your sewing basket or box, it is time to start acquiring the
necessary basics you will need to sew. There are a few things that every sewing
basket should have. They are:

Sharp Scissors

Using dull scissors is one of the most frustrating things you can do when you
are sewing. Dull scissors make your project much harder than it needs to be. A
good quality pair of very sharp scissors will save you a ton of frustration and
time.

Your projects will also turn out better and have cleaner lines to them. Having
a sharp pair of scissors available without having to hunt around the house for
them is a must for any sewing basket.

A Variety of Pins and Needles

What you will be sewing dictates which needles you will need. Needles come in a
variety of sizes and sharpness to be used with different fabric types. In your
sewing box you will want to have very sharp needles and some which are blunt
ended.

You will also want to have large needles and small ones. In addition to needles
you will want to have plenty of pins to use to hold things together while you
are sewing them.

Magnetic Pin Holder

Rather than a traditional fabric pin cushion, a magnetic pin holder can make
your use of pins and needles easier. Also, when you are finished for the day,
you can simply wave your magnetic pin holder over your work area and attract up
all of the stray pins before they end up on the floor and in someone's foot. A
magnetic pin holder is a staple for any sewing basket.

Threads

No sewing basket is complete without threads. You will want a selection of a
variety of colors and thread weights. The last thing you want to do is find
yourself needing to sew on a dark button and only having white thread to do it
with. Many stores sell a package of small spools of various thread colors. In
addition, there is some wonderful denim thread available if you will be sewing
on jeans.

Stitch Gage

A stitch gage looks like a small ruler with a sliding gage on it. The stitch
gage is used to help you measure and also to help you sew straight seams and
hems every single time.

Taylor's Chalk

Taylor's chalk is a must for making markings on your fabric and cutting out
patterns. The chalk is easily removed from your final product

Anti-Fray Solution

Anti-fraying solution can be applied to the edges of your fabric to keep it
from fraying while you work with it. The solution resembles super glue and can
safely be used on most fabrics.

Pinking Shears

Pinking shears are a special type of scissors which cut fabric so that the
edges are zigzagged. This zigzagging keeps fragile fabric edges from fraying.
If you will be working with a fabric with a tendency to fray, such as satin,
you will find that pinking shears make your life a whole lot easier.

Elastic Puller

Elastic pullers are used to pull elastic through casings in your projects. They
are very inexpensive and indispensable if you will be working with elastics.

If you take the time to stock your sewing basket with the above items, you will
be ready for any sewing emergency or project. And, you can be the hero of the
house when a button falls off ten minutes before your family leaves for a
special occasion.

The Must Have Sewing Gadgets

Sewing is a unique hobby because it can be both fun and practical all at the
same time. You can sew clothing items and decorative items for your home also
simply by learning the basics of sewing.

Ever since the day where man began walking upright, people have been sewing.
Sewing started out as a very primitive and simple stitch to make clothing and
utilitarian items. As time passed, people began to sew more advanced and
interesting clothing and decorative items. Today, people all over the face of
the globe sew, both men and women.

The majority of people today do not need to sew their own clothing. Clothing is
readily available in most of the world. However, many people enjoy sewing and
enjoy the fact that they can make something themselves. In order to be
successful at your own attempt to sew, there are some neat gadgets which can
help you out. Let's take a moment and look at some of them:

A Sewing Box

A sewing box is a must for all households, in my opinion. Whether you sew or
just simply mend things from time to time, a sewing box to keep your supplies
in will save you a lot of time and money. By having a dedicated sewing box for
your supplies, you will always know where things are when you have to sew back
on a button or hem a pair of pants.

Very Sharp Scissors

Using dull scissors is one of the most frustrating things you can do when you
are sewing. Dull scissors make your project much harder than it needs to be. A
good quality pair of very sharp scissors will save you a ton of frustration and
time.

Your projects will also turn out better and have cleaner lines to them.

Pinking Shears

Pinking shears are a special type of scissors which cut fabric so that the
edges are zigzagged. This zigzagging keeps fragile fabric edges from fraying.
If you will be working with a fabric with a tendency to fray, such as satin,
you will find that pinking shears make your life a whole lot easier.

Stitch Gage

A stitch gage looks like a small ruler with a sliding gage on it. The stitch
gage is used to help you measure and also to help you sew straight seams and
hems every single time.

Taylor's Chalk

Taylor's chalk is a must for making markings on your fabric and cutting out
patterns. The chalk is easily removed from your final product

Anti-Fray Solution

Anti-fraying solution can be applied to the edges of your fabric to keep it
from fraying while you work with it. The solution resembles super glue and can
safely be used on most fabrics.

Magnetic Pin Holder

Rather than a traditional fabric pin cushion, a magnetic pin holder can make
your use of pins and needles easier. Also, when you are finished for the day,
you can simply wave your magnetic pin holder over your work area and attract up
all of the stray pins before they end up on the floor and in someone's foot.

Elastic Puller

Elastic pullers are used to pull elastic through casings in your projects. They
are very inexpensive and indispensable if you will be working with elastics.

In addition to these gadgets, you should also consider a good cover for your
sewing machine to keep out dust and dirt. This will help your machine running
well for years to come without having to pay for costly maintenance.

Another good item to have in your sewing room is a comprehensive book on sewing
techniques. As you sew more, you want to try out new things and add extra
excitement to your items. With a good sewing book you will have a reference on
hand that you can use.

By purchasing the gadgets above, a sewing machine cover, and a good sewing
book, you will be well on your way to sewing amazing items. Sewing isn't really
that hard to master, and when you have all of the tools you will need, it is
just that much easier.

Teaching Sewing as a Viable Home Business

As the predictions continue about the economy of the world, and the
sustainability of our planet, many people are starting to look back at how our
forefathers chose to do things in their lives and are trying to learn from
their experiences. One of the things than many people today cannot do well, and
yet want to learn to do, is sewing.

Sewing allows you to make useful and decorative items; however, it also allows
you to reuse fabrics in a new way once an original item is not longer needed or
wanted. With some simple sewing skills people can take outgrown clothing and
make quilts for beds. They can take unwanted skirts and make pillow cases. The
sewing options are limitless once you know the basics of how to sew.

Because many young people of today were not taught sewing by their parents and
grandparents, there is a real need for those who know how to sew to teach
others. If you know how to sew, and can teach others, you have a very
marketable skill. You can every easily set-up your own home-based business of
teaching other people how to sew.

With your business teaching people to sew, you can teach small classes or
individuals. You can choose to teach adults or children, or even a combination
of the two.

To ensure that your business is the best it can possibly be, and has the best
shot at being successful for the long-haul, you will need to follow some
time-tested home business strategies. Let's take a moment to briefly look at
each of them:

The Business Plan

No matter what business you decide to start, you 100% have to have a solid
business plan. There is no way possible to have a successful business venture
without one. The best way to develop your business plan is to think about all
of the variables which go into your unique business, and what your ultimate
short-term and long-term goals are for the business. With all of this
information, you can sit down and formulate a business plan without it taking
you a lot of valuable time.

Licensing and Regulations

Depending on the city, county, and possibly state you live in, you may have to
get a business license to have a legal home-based business. The way to
determine what the local rules and regulations are is to call up your local
city and county government offices and ask them what you need to do. If you
live in a state with sales tax, you should call up your state Controller's
Office and ask about obtaining a seller's permit. You will most likely find
that most government offices are supportive and helpful in getting you situated
in a place where your business is legal.

Insurance

If you are conducting business out of your home, then you need to have a
business liability insurance policy. Your regular homeowner's policy will not
cover any aspects of your business in the case of disaster. Home business
liability insurance is fairly inexpensive and an absolute must have especially
if people are coming to your home to learn how to sew.

Financial Records

The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep good business records from
day one of your business. Start with the fees to get a business license, and
start recording every single business expense that you have. By doing this as
you go you will save both yourself and your tax preparer a ton of headaches
come tax time.

Congratulations on your decision to start your own business teaching other
people how to sew. This will be a very rewarding venture for both yourself and
your students!

Sewing Zippers: You Can Learn How

Imagine your life today if the zipper had never been invented. How would you
fasten your clothing? In truth, before the zipper was invented, clothing was
fastened by dozens of hooks and buttons. This task was arduous and garments
were much more uncomfortable to wear as well. Now days we just simply "zip up"
and are on our way out the door.

Sewing a zipper can seem like a very scary proposition for people new to
sewing. New sewers often avoid patterns with zippers, fearing that they will
not be able to successfully sew the zipper into place. The truth of the matter
is that it really isn't hard to sew in a zipper if you take the time to learn
to do it correctly. With a few simple tips and tricks of the trade, you can be
sewing zippers like a pro.

The Zipper Foot

The first thing you will need to do is insure that you have a zipper foot for
your sewing machine. A standard sewing machine foot will not allow you to sew
close enough to the zipper teeth to get the job done successfully. If you do
not have a zipper foot, then you will want to contact your local sewing machine
store or the manufacturer to purchase one.

The Lapped Zipper

Many zippers today are sewing in what is referred to as a "lapped closure." A
lapped closure hides the zipper's teeth from view and is generally used for
higher-end clothing or when a zipper doesn't match the fabric of a garment
closely. A lapped closure is also used when you have a garment made of pile or
delicate fabrics. By utilizing this type of closure you can help to assure the
fabric will not get trapped in the zipper teeth and ruined.

A lapped zipper is located under a single flap of fabric. There is only one
line of stitching you can see from the outside of the garment. Lapped zippers
can most commonly be found in dressy pants and skirts.

The Centered Zipper

The centered zipper is the most often used in sewing garments today. The
centered zipper is sewn into the back or front of a garment. Centered zippers
are perfect for everyday clothing, purses, and household decorative items as
well as those made from heavyweight fabrics such as denim. A centered zipper is
covered by two equal flaps of fabric.

Sewing around the Zipper Tab

One of the most complicated parts of sewing a zipper into your project is
usually sewing neatly around the zipper tab. The good news is that you can
purchase a zipper which is one or two inches longer than you need and not have
to sew around the zipper tab at all. When you take this route, you simply trim
the extra to the required length.

Does Your Zipper Pucker?

If you have problems with zippers puckering when you sew them in lightweight
fabrics, try interfacing the seam allowances before inserting your zipper. By
doing this you can create cleaner lines and a crisper look which is much less
likely to pucker.

Basting Tape Is Your Friend

Most people who sew hate to baste. Basting something into place is time
consuming and requires tedious hand sewing. Rather than basting your zippers
into place, use basting tape instead. Basting tape is a two-sided, wash-away
tape which will hold your zipper in place while you machine sew it into your
garment. Once your garment is made and washed, the tape will disappear.

By using the hints above you can confidently sew a zipper into your garments.
As with anything else, the more you practice the better you will be. So, get
sewing!

Sewing for Charity Causes

If you are like many people who enjoy sewing, after a while you develop a large
stash of extra fabric and embellishments and start to wonder what you can make
with all of it. We all do it; we go into the craft or fabric store and cannot
resist all of the amazing new fabrics. We buy all of it with the best of
intentions and then we put it in the sewing room never to be seen again. As the
years pass, those fabric pieces seem to grow and multiply and before you know
it, you have more fabric pieces than you know what to do with.

One of the best ways to use up those extra swatches of fabrics, fabric scraps,
and embellishments, cluttering up your sewing room, is to sew some items for a
charitable organization. There are many non-profit organizations all over the
world that would be thrilled to receive a gift of your sewn creations. Sewing
for charity allows you to spend time doing something you love and give to
others less fortunate than yourself at the same time. It is truly a win-win-win
situation for you, the charity, and the recipient as well.

No matter what you love to sew, there is a charitable project out there which
will fit your skills and which you can enjoy making. You might be a great
quilter, stuffed toy maker, clothing maker, or even someone who loves to sew
useful but simple items, like blankets or pillowcases, for use around the home.
Just about anything you might make for your friends and family you can make for
a charity organization. And, the items you sew will be greatly appreciated.

Quilts and Bedding

There are many organizations who accept quilts and other bedding items which
you can sew. These organizations range from your local peace officers, to the
homeless in the United States, to orphanages around the globe.

Scrap quilts or "crazy" quilts are made from a variety of fabric scraps and are
very easy to make. They can be made from virgin fabrics or from old clothing
items. And, the best thing about crazy quilts is that they do not require you
to have any special sewing skills. If you can simply sew two pieces of fabric
together then you can make a crazy quilt.

Another simple project is making pillows and pillowcases. Both only involve
being able to sew in a straight line. You can use existing pillows and
pillowcases as patterns.

Stuffed Toys, Fabric Books, and Character Pillows

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of neglected or abused children all over
the world. Thankfully, today there are many organizations that help to make
trying times for children a bit easier. Often, groups such as your local police
officers and fire fighters, will carry stuffed toys, fabric books, and character
pillows around in the trunk of their vehicles. These items are given to children
to comfort them when a tragedy happens and they need to be separated from their
parents. Many children's items are simple to make but will make such a huge
difference in the life of a child. Sewing for children's organization is a
wonderful opportunity to help others.

Clothing for Adults and Children

Many people have a need for various types of clothing items which are easy to
sew. Chemotherapy patients need head coverings, and premature babies often need
clothing or burial items which will fit their very small bodies. Both of these
are serious needs and ways in which your sewing can greatly help out other
people in their times of sorrow and need.

No matter what your sewing ability, or what your economic status, you can sew
for charity. Whether you make crazy quilts out of old cast-off clothing, or you
make chemotherapy caps for cancer patients, your items will be cherished and
appreciated for years to come. Today is the day to dig through your fabric
stash and see what you could use to help others.

Sewing Elastic Made Easy

One of the most challenging things for new sewers is sewing in elastic to their
craft projects and garments. Elastic is a bit tricky, because if you don't do it
correctly it can easily ruin your project by making it look horrible and bunchy.
Nothing is worse than sewing a great item and having your elastic turn into a
"lettuce edge" looking mess on you.

Because elastic comes in many forms, as do fabrics, it is very important to
know your basics about both of them before you attempt to sew elastic. By
learning about fabrics and elastics you can ensure that you use the right one
of both for your project for the best results.

To sew elastic, the best thing you can do is to use a stretch needle and a
longer stitch length than normal while sewing. Generally a long stitch length
of three or four is best for most fabrics and most elastic types. The best
elastic products to use are Ban-Rol, Stretch and Sew, and Stretch-Rite Sport
Elastic. Each of these three products can be found online or at your local
sewing or craft store. They are each of good quality, last a long time, and are
the easiest to sew with.

To sew in your elastic, start with a strip of elastic about four or five inches
smaller than the fabric opening you want to elasticize. Cut the two ends so that
they will meet-up with each other and not overlap. One of the best ways to do
this is cut them into triangular ends and have them meet up on a diagonal. If
you overlap your elastic you will have an unsightly and uncomfortable bump in
your finished project, which you definitely do not want.

Take your elastic and zigzag stitch it together by sewing back and forth over
it a few times where the two ends of the elastic meet up. The best sewing
machine setting to use for this is to use a wide, three-step zigzag. Once you
have completed sewing your elastic together, then pull on your elastic circle
to ensure that it is secured and will not come apart. Once you are sure that it
will not separate, you can then use it in your project and know it will last.

When you put in your elastic, make sure to pin it at even quarters in your
project. By dividing the fabric evenly in quarters, and the elastic itself, you
can make sure that your final project looks its best and will not bunch up in
one area and be loose in another.

The next thing you need to do is to vertically sew in your elastic at each of
these four points. Do these before you start sewing and you will not need to
deal with popping pins and diagonal pulls as you sew in the elastic.

Again, using a wide, long zigzag stitch, to allow for the elastic to move and
shape your project, and stretch your elastic and sew the top of it into place.
Continue to sew around the top of the elastic and then move on to sewing the
bottom of the elastic.

By using this technique to sew elastic, you should have perfectly elasticized
sewing projects which will last and stretch for years to come.

Sewing as a Business

Congratulations on your decision to start a home sewing business; before you is
a very exciting time in your life! To ensure that your business is the best it
can possibly be, and has the best shot at being successful for the long-haul,
you will need to follow some time-tested home business strategies. Let's take a
moment to briefly look at each of them:

The Business Plan

No matter what business you decide to start, you 100% have to have a solid
business plan. There is no way possible to have a successful business venture
without one. The best way to develop your business plan is to think about all
of the variables which go into your unique business, and what your ultimate
short-term and long-term goals are for the business. With all of this
information, you can sit down and formulate a business plan without it taking
you a lot of valuable time.

If you are attempting to obtain financing for your sewing business, you will
have to have a business plan in place to show your potential lenders. Your
business plan shows lenders that you are serious about your business, and also
how it will be profitable to allow you to pay them back. Do not attempt
financing without a good solid business plan because you are simply wasting
your time.

Licensing and Regulations

Depending on the city, county, and possibly state you live in, you may have to
get a business license to have a legal home-based business. The way to
determine what the local rules and regulations are is to call up your local
city and county government offices and ask them what you need to do. If you
live in a state with sales tax, you should call up your state Controller's
Office and ask about obtaining a seller's permit. You will most likely find
that most government offices are supportive and helpful in getting you situated
in a place where your business is legal.

Insurance

If you are conducting business out of your home, then you need to have a
business liability insurance policy. Your regular homeowner's policy will not
cover any aspects of your business in the case of disaster. Home business
liability insurance is fairly inexpensive and an absolute must have.

Financial Records

The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep good business records from
day one of your business. Start with the fees to get a business license, and
start recording every single business expense that you have. By doing this as
you go you will save both yourself and your tax preparer a ton of headaches
come tax time.

Setting Your Prices

The number one mistake many home-based sewing businesses make is to charge too
little for their services. You need to make a living, and you need to be
pricing your items and services accordingly. Whatever you do, do not sell
yourself short! Ask a going rate for your items and services and expect that
people will pay you what your time and product is worth. This allows you to
work smarter and not harder!

Marketing

Marketing is simply getting the word out and letting others know your business
exists. You can market online, through a press release sent to your local
newspaper, flyers, brochures, craft fair booths, etc: Anywhere you come into
contact with potential customers you can market your items and services. You
can even do simple things like always carry business cards, available these
days very inexpensively online, and hand them out to everyone you meet as you
go through your days.

The absolute best way to market your business is through word-of-mouth. Once
your business gets going, if you treat your customers well, then they will tell
their friends and family about you; this will bring you more customers without
having to pay a dime to advertise.

As you can see there are a lot of things for you to consider when you are
thinking about starting a home-based sewing business. However, your business
can be very successful and profitable if you take the time to make it so.

Matching Plaid and Designs for Your Sewing Projects

Plaid and patterned fabrics are all the rage once again. This means that if you
are going to sew with either plaid or a patterned fabric then you need to learn
how to match-up the fabric so your resulting project looks the best it possibly
can.
While matching up fabrics can take a bit more time, and a larger piece of
fabric, you can easily learn to deal with it and sew wonderful looking items.

Marking and Matching

When you are sewing with a plaid or pattern it is important that you match at
the seams. Plaid comes in two basic forms; balanced or unbalanced. Balanced
plaid is one which has a symmetrical repeat of the stripes and colors.
Unbalanced plaid is one which has an asymmetrical repeat of the stripes and
colors.

When you are working with balanced plaid you want to make sure that you have
some extra fabric to work with. However, when you are working with an
unbalanced plaid you will need much more fabric available for matching.
Similarly, a balanced or unbalanced plaid with a smaller design requires less
extra fabric; one with a larger design requires more. Also, if your pattern has
a lot of pieces you will use more fabric in the process of matching things up. A
good rule of thumb is to purchase at least two extra repeats of the fabric
design.

If you are relatively new to sewing, you should choose a pattern without too
many seams. This will keep you from having to match up a ton of seams. Also, if
your pattern is cut on the bias, this will result in a chevron seam. For a
chevron seam you need to be working with a balanced plaid as an unbalanced
plaid will not work.

Single Layer Layout and Cutting

When you are trying to match up plaids or patterns, you will want to always lay
out and cut out your patterns in a single layer. Single layer cutting will
insure that you have just the right design in the right place on the fabric.
You will need to remember to flip over your pattern pieces to get matching
seams on balanced plaids; and to cut with the nap on an unbalanced plaid (i.e.
the top of all pattern pieces should be facing the same direction).

To match up your fabric to your pattern, the first thing you want to do is
place you main pattern piece on the fabric. This will generally be the bodice
front or skirt front if you are making clothing.) Once this piece is in place,
you will then want to pin in place the other pattern pieces. As you are
matching up your pattern pieces you will want to take special notice to make
sure that the pattern at the top, bottom and sides all look like you want them
to on your finished project.

If your project has pockets you can cut those on the bias for an attractive
look, or you can match them up to the rest of your project.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

You will need to lay out all of your separate pattern pieces and lightly pin
them into place. Once you have done this, you will want to look everything over
to make sure the plaid or design is all matched and you are happy with the
placement of the design on your project. Once you have done this step, then you
can pin down your pieces and cut out your pattern.

By using these tips you will be sewing with plaids and patterns like a
professional in no time.




How to Choose the Right Fabric for Your Sewing Project

Sewing is one of the most practical, and fun, hobbies available to you today.
By learning to sew you can easily create items for around your home and even
make your own clothing. Sewing will allow you to save money and also have the
items you want, in the fabrics and colors you choose. However, choosing the
right fabric for your sewing project makes all the difference in whether or not
your project will be a success or a failure.

Here are some tips and tricks to get you on the road to choosing the
appropriate fabric for any sewing project:

Read Your Pattern

If you will be sewing from a pattern, read the back of the package the pattern
came in to see what fabric the pattern maker suggests. While you can ultimately
use any fabric you choose, the pattern maker gives you an idea of the fabric
choices the pattern was ideally made for. You will generally have the best end
result if you stick to fabric similar to that listed on the pattern.

Examine the Fabric

When you go to your local fabric or craft store to purchase your fabric, spend
some time touching and feeling the fabric. Look it over very well and look for
bad signs such as fraying. You can be assured that if the fabric is fraying on
the bolt, then it will be fraying when you try to make your project. Similarly,
if the fabric is rolling up onto itself on the bolt, then it will do the same to
you once you get it home and try to work with it.

Another thing to look for is wrinkles. Does the fabric wrinkle easily? You can
test this by scrunching it up in your hand and looking at the result. If the
result is a wrinkled mess, and you can't easily smooth it out with your hands,
then you can be assured it will wrinkle once your project is completed.

While you are examining the fabric take the time to look at the top of the bolt
and see if there are any special care instructions listed. For everyday items
and casual clothing, try to stick to fabrics which are machine washable and
dryable.

Working with Satin and T-Shirt Knit

Two of the hardest fabrics to work with are satin and t-shirt knit. The satin
is so slick that it wants to fall off of your sewing table while you are
cutting it. Then once it is cut, it doesn't want to stay together for you to
sew it. The best thing you can do to work with satin is to buy special, very
small, pins called "silk pins." These pins will help your fabric stay together
for sewing and will not leave holes in your finished product.

T-shirt knits tend to want to roll up constantly. This means that when you are
sewing with it you will have to be unrolling it and holding it in place to sew
your seams. While t-shirt knits can make some wonderful items, they are a bit
of a bear to sew with.

If you are new to sewing you might want to avoid satin and t-shirt knits until
you get a bit more sewing experience under your belt.

Cotton Fabrics

One of the easiest fabrics to sew with is cotton. Cotton is comfortable to wear
and looks great on. However, if you will be sewing with cotton, or a fabric such
as wool or linen, know that it will shrink when washed and dried. The first
thing you will need to do with cotton is to wash and dry it before you ever cut
out your pattern. This will help to ensure that your finished product will stay
the same size after laundering. If you will be working with wool or linen you
can both wash it and let it shrink or you can commit to only dry cleaning your
finished items.

The most important thing you will need to do is to find the right fabric for
your project. You can accomplish this by reading the pattern and really looking
well at any fabric you might want to use. Make sure when you get your fabric
home that you know how to care for it and prepare it for use. Once you have
done these things you can ensure a wonderful finished project which will last
for years to come.

2008 Fashion Trends for Sewing Projects

It's always fun to look at the latest issue of Vogue and other fashion and
decorating magazines, and see what the latest upcoming styles will be. This
helps us home sewers get good ideas for things we can make to wear and for
decorating our homes. Keeping up with fashion is a good idea for all sewers
because it insures that your sewing items are current to the times and will be
able to be used for the longest period of time possible.

The look coming in Spring 2008 appears to be a throw-back to the 1950's. Such
items as high heeled pumps, slim skirts, large belts, and loose blouses with
puffy collars and sleeves appear to be becoming all the rage once again. It
appears that the days of butts hanging out of low-rise jeans are ending and a
more sophisticated look is returning to the mainstream. For many of us, this
couldn't have come at a better time; unless you are a six foot tall pencil, the
fashions of 2007 just aren't that flattering.

Some of the latest staples of your wardrobe should be:

* A slim skirt 
* A wide belt 
* A great fitting pair of slacks 
* A fitted jacket
* Shaped t-shirts 
* Wrap blouses and dresses 
* Metallic accents including grey metals and gold 
* Denim items

This short list should give you a million and one ideas of items you can sew.
Wraps are simple to do as are straight skirts and belts. Another easy thing you
can do is purchase something ready to wear, or take something already in your
closet, and add some metallic embellishments to it. This is a great way to
recycle your older styles and make them current so you can get more wear out of
them.

The colors for the coming seasons appear to be shades of grey, black and red.
Use these colors to add to your classic wardrobe in unique ways. Belts make
great accent items as do simple wrap blouses.

As we all know, the best thing about being able to sew our clothing is that we
can make what we want, in our own colors and style, and have it fit our unique
body types exactly how we want them to. Use this advantage and create some
items for your wardrobe which will make you stick out from the crowd and have
the other ladies at work asking; "Where did you get that?"

I was shopping recently at the mall and found a wonderful, simple slim skirt
and the price tag blew me away at almost $200. If you can make one, and others
like it, you could easily pay for your sewing by making a couple extra to sell.
Or, you can simply delight in the fact that other people think you spend a
fortune on your outfit, but the truth is that you made it all for yourself!

No matter what your level of sewing experience is, you can sew yourself some
wonderful items which will be in fashion for Spring 2008. Take a bit of time
and look around to see what the new up-and-coming items will be and decide what
you can make for yourself. The hardest thing about sewing is getting started --
so do it today!

Embroidery 101 an Overview and History

The art of embroidery has been practiced in one form or another throughout the
ages. Embroidery is simply defined as thread embellishment on cloth.
Practically as long as there has existed cloth, there has existed embroidery.

Some of the most famous civilizations for creating brilliant embroidery
creations are the Japanese and the English. They both used embroidery to
decorate ceremonial garments as well as decorative home items. While the
Japanese are most known for their amazing kimonos, the English are well known
for their hand embroidered fabric furniture panels.

Unfortunately for collectors, many of the works of embroidery art of the past
have been lost to time and decay. The silk threads and fabrics are very prone
to damage by insects and light. It is very unlikely these days to find a work
made prior to the mid 1600's. Examples from earlier than this time only exist
in museums, and churches who have taken the care to restore and preserve them.

There are two major forms of embroidery from the past which are collected
today; they are: stump work and samplers.

Stump work was made in the mid-seventeenth century and consists of a highly
colored, embroidered design on white silk. Often the works are done of scenes
of people and carved wooden heads, hands and feet are added to these works of
art. Often found with stump work are padded areas which are used to make the
designs three dimensional and interesting to the eye.

Stump work was made to depict scenes of live at the time and was used to cover
mirror frames, and to cover trinket boxes. These trinket boxes were generally
made with many small drawers and with secret compartments for hiding valuables
such as tea and jewelry. Often the trinket boxes contained mirrors and were
lined with paper and metallic tapes. Serious collectors today are still
discovering wonderful stump work to add to their collections.

In the past, as part of the regular school curriculum of girls, embroidery was
taught. These very young students, sometimes as young as seven or eight years
old, would show their sewing skills by creating colorful samplers. The samplers
would showcase their sewing skills as well as their knowledge of the numbers and
alphabets. Many samplers were created which depict the children, their interests
and their school buildings as well. Samplers were generally stitched on wool or
silk fabrics with very colorful silk and metallic threads and can still be
found for purchase today. Very old or very decorative samplers today are worth
a lot of money to the collectors who are fortunate enough to own them.

Some of the most unusual embroidery throughout the times has been that of maps.
Maps were drawn on silk and then stitched. The names of countries and other
places of interest were stitched on the maps.

If you have ever tried any form of hand embroidery, you know it is a slow and
tedious process. The results are amazing, but it can take a very long time to
achieve even the simplest of designs. This makes all embroidered fabrics from
the past very collectable today by those who understand all of the hours and
patience which went into creating the works of art. While children around the
world no longer do embroidery as part of their school curriculum, the art is
still practiced by adults all over the globe.

Create Personalized Gifts with Simple Embroidery

No matter what the gift giving occasion, a personalized gift always shows the
recipient that you took the time to select a special gift just for them.
Whether you are attending a birthday party, baby shower, or wedding, a
personalized gift shows that you care and that you feel the gift recipient is
special. One of the easiest ways to present your recipient with a personalized
gift is through personalization with simple embroidery.

What is Embroidery?

Embroidery is the handicraft of decorating fabric with designs stitched with
thread or yarn. Embroidery can be done by hand or by a sewing machine. It can
also include the addition of beads, quills, pearls, metals, and other objects.
Embroidery can be done free-form or with the use of a pattern.

The art of embroidery has been around for thousands of years or longer. People
all over the world have been using it to personalize and decorate their
garments and home decor for ages. Embroidery is simple to do and allows you the
freedom to create some very beautiful works of art.

Personalized Gift Ideas Using Embroidery

Literally anything made of fabric or cloth can easily be embroidered on. You do
not have to possess any special skills or "craftiness" to be able to personalize
items using embroidery. All you really need is some colorful threads and a
needle. If you choose to you can also purchase iron-on transfers of designs or
you can free-hand your own design if you want to.

Some of the easiest things to embroider on are clothing and towels. If you will
be attending a baby shower, for example, embroidering the name or initials of
the new baby onto a towel, blanket, or small onesie makes a perfect gift. It is
simple to add blocks or a duck to the design for that extra added touch as well.

One of the best gifts to receive for your wedding is something personalized
with your name, your spouse's name, and the date of your wedding. This can be
in the form of a set of guest towels, a simple wall hanging, or even a fabric
picture frame to place a wedding photo in. Each of these ideas is easy to make
and shows your thoughtfulness to the recipient.

Children love to get gifts with their names on them. Remember back to when you
were a child and got a gift of personalized pencils or another item.
Personalized gifts are the ones you likely remember the most from your
childhood even though they were likely not the most expensive gifts you were
given by your loved ones. Fun items to personalize and give to a child include;
backpacks, lunch bags, sleeping bags, clothing or even a special beach towel
just for them. You can embroider their initials, their name, or even a small
motif of one of their interests as well.

The best thing about personalizing a gift with embroidery is that it is quick
and simple to do. There are many great books on the subject available for
purchase or from your local library. Craft books and magazines are generally
loaded with ideas you can adapt for the occasion you will be attending. You can
also find patterns online and in your local craft store for just about any
occasion or design. And, you can find embroidery threads and yarns anywhere
from a craft store to your local drugstore.

Don't be afraid to experiment with embroidery and come up with your own unique
designs. There are no mistakes in embroidery; it is as unique as you and your
gift recipients are! If you make a mistake you can easily cut your threads and
pull them out. This allows you to start your project again with a clean canvas.

Personalizing your gifts with a bit of embroidery will make your recipient
happy and at the same time show them that you went the extra mile to give a
gift which is personal and special.

Beginning Cross Stitch Embroidery Tips

Cross stitch is one of the most popular forms of embroidery today. Cross stitch
is embroidery which is stitched using small "X" stitches to form a design.

Generally cross stitch is done on weaved fabric which has small, even holes,
for your needle and thread to go through. This weaved cloth is called Aida
cloth. Some cross stitch is done on silks and other fabrics as well. What
fabric is used depends entirely on the stitcher themselves and the desired end
results.

Some cross stitch embroidery today is also done on plastic and paper canvases.
These other mediums produce their own unique results. Plastic and paper are
stiffer than traditional cross stitich fabrics and can be molded into
interesting shapes and used for projects where fabric simply isn't practical.

The threads used for cross stitch vary from cottons, wools, silks and metallic.
The threads are usually very colorful and come in a complete myriad of colors
and textures for any need.

If you are new to cross stitch it is always a good idea to learn a bit about
the craft before you begin on your first project. There are tons of books and
websites which are dedicated solely to cross stitch techniques and
instructions. Before you purchase your first project you should take the time
to read about cross stitch and understand how it is done. This will save you a
lot of frustration on your first project.

The next thing you should do is to choose a simple cross stitch project to
learn on. Find a project which is not too complicated, doesn't have too many
colors, and which uses a larger weave Aida fabric. The combination of these
three factors will ensure you the best results for your first cross stitch
project.

When you understand the basics of cross stitch then it is time to start on your
first project. Start by reading all of the instructions which came with your
first project kit. Read and understand how many threads to use and about any
special markings on the pattern.

When cross stitching you will take a traditional six strand embroidery thread
and separate it into individual threads. You will then cross stitch using one
to three of the threads at a time. Generally the larger the weave of your Aida
cloth, the more strands of thread you will work with at a time. The best thing
you can do for your end product is to separate each strand and then use the
recommended number of threads together. Do not rewind them together, keep them
separated. This helps for your thread to better cover the canvas and look flat
and even.

When you start your first stitch, do not knot your thread. You never want to
knot thread on any stitchery project because it will make lumps on the finished
project. Simply pull the thread through your fabric and leave a small tail of
thread at the back. Hold on to the small tail at the back of your project and
make your next few stitches so that they overlap that thread and secure it in
place. This takes a bit of practice but makes your projects look great.

When you are done stitching with one color and need to start a new one the
process is simple. You should take your needle and gently pull your thread
through the existing stitches on the back-side of your project. This will
secure your thread. Once you have done this then clip the thread off close to
your project surface but leave a bit extra, maybe a centimeter, so it does not
come undone. To start with a new thread color simply re-thread your needle and
start again just like before.

The biggest problem with cross stitch is that it is simply addictive. As soon
as you learn how to do it you start finding projects everywhere that you want
to complete. This is a good thing in moderation but try to keep to buying
projects only one or two ahead of the one you are currently working on. Cross
stitch projects can take up a lot of time and you should make sure that you
don't purchase projects which you will never actually complete.

Best of luck with your new craft!

Avoiding Hand and Wrist Injuries While Embroidering

One of the only dangers to sewing and embroidery work is something called
"repetitive stress injury" (RSI). Repetitive stress injury is believed to be
caused by someone performing the same tasks over and over. This repetition
causes strain on the muscles and tendons of the area where the tasks are
completed by the body. This stress causes inflammation and discomfort which can
only be relived by totally stopping the offending tasks until it heals.

Repetitive movements, such as those hand and wrist movements associated with
embroidery and hand sewing, can cause RSI. Generally, embroidery involves the
simple movements of passing a thread through fabric from the front to the back,
the back to the front and holding the fabric in place to do so. Both of these
actions can cause and exasperate RSI in the hands and wrist.

The good news is that RSI can be avoided if you take the time to make some
simple changes to the way you embroider and sew. And, if you find yourself
afflicted with RSI you should immediately stop your stitching and allow for
your tendons and muscles to heal. The best thing you can do for the pain is to
take an anti-inflammatory medication and rest the area. If the pain does not
subside on its own, then you should seek the help of a medical professional.

As you are embroidering you should take all of the precautions you can to avoid
RSI. The first is to adapt how you handle your needle and project. When you are
doing embroidery it is much easier on your non-dominant hand to use a frame to
secure your work in place. You can use a floor frame or a simple lap frame.
Both of these will allow you to work without having to sit and hold your fabric
taught between your fingers.

Using a very small weave fabric can add to RSI. Because the smaller weave
requires your stitch placement to be much more precise, to get the needle in
just the right place, you will likely find that you tense your muscles in your
hand and fingers to make the stitches. When you use a higher count, or larger
weave fabric, this issue is resolved naturally because the holes in the fabric
are larger and you do not have to be as precise to get your stitches made.

When you are stitching by hand it is important to limit the length of the
threads you are using. When you use a long thread you have to constantly
stretch out your arm to pull the thread through your fabric. By stitching with
shorter threads you will not have to stretch out your arm as much. You will
have to get new thread more often but you will save your arm and shoulder
muscles and tendons a lot of unnecessary work in the process.

When you stitch you should be resting your elbows on the arms of your chair or
on a pillow. By not moving the upper parts of your arm with every stitch you
can avoid shoulder and upper-arm repetitive stress injuries.

After you have been embroidering or sewing for about a half-hour you should
stop and move your arms and hands around. See if you feel any stress in your
muscles and know that this will most likely be the area in which you would
suffer from an RSI. Take the time to understand why you are seeing soreness and
how to avoid it in the future.

Once you have stopped for a quick break to move around, you should also work at
closing your eyes and releasing any stress you might have. Simple relaxation
techniques can do wonders for RSI.

If you are suffering from RSI it does not have to mean the end of your
stitching for good. You should take the time out to rest and recuperate. Then,
when you are ready to start stitching again, you can modify your movements to
avoid any flare-ups of RSI. If you then still experience pain it is time to
consult your doctor.

Add Beads to Your Cross Stitch Embroidery Projects

One of the most interesting ways you can embellish your embroidery projects is
by adding beads onto your stitches. Adding beads brings a three dimensional
look to your needlework and adds a unique form of beauty and visual interest.
With today's popularity of beadwork and jewelry making, there are some amazing
beads available for you to purchase and add onto your embroidery projects.

You can purchase beads at your local drugstore, craft stores, fabric stores and
even bead specialty shops. Bead shops can be found both online and through
mail-order catalogues. Beads today come in an amazing variety of shapes, colors
and sizes. Beads can be found made of many different materials and in just about
any shape imaginable.

Embellishing your embroidery projects with beads is simple to do if you follow
a few simple guidelines. Let's take a moment and look at three tips and tricks
which can help you to create amazing works of art with embroidery and beads,
without adding frustration to your project.

Keep a Consistent Color Scheme

When you are looking at adding beads as an embellishment, you want to decide
how you want them to look on your finished project. If you are after a
complementary addition, you might want to use beads which are similar in color
to your stitches. This will give your work a very elegant feel and at the same
time won't distract viewers away from your stitching.

If you are looking to add some extra visual interest to your embroidery, you
might want to add a more bold or opposite color to your work. An example would
be adding red beads onto a Christmas tree you have embroidered.

Another choice you have is to use clear thread, or thread which matches your
fabric exactly, and add beads into the empty spaces on your work. This allows
for the beads to be seen even if there is no embroidery under it; and the clear
thread will allow your eye to see the beads and not the thread itself.

Test Your Beads for Quality Before You Stitch Them On

Not all beads are created equal. You want to use higher quality beads for your
embroidery projects. You do not want the color to come off of them in the wash
or through regular wear. To test your beads you can simply rub them together in
your hands and see if they maintain their color without flaking. The best beads
to use to embellish embroidery will be made of colored glass.

Use the Right Needle Size

While the size of your needle doesn't matter too much when you are making your
embroidery projects, it does matter, a lot, when you are working with beads. If
you will be using glass seed beads, or other small-hole beads, you want to make
sure you use a small thin, long beading needle to affix your beads to your
project.

Beading needles work the best for two reasons. The first is that they will not
break your beads when you thread them on. The second is that they are usually
longer than embroidery needles and will allow you to string on beads all at one
time if you want to.

Adding bead embellishments to embroidery projects can really make your projects
"pop" and look like they were done by a professional. You really are only
limited by your imagination!

The Latest Trend in Embroidery -- Embroidery on Paper

Paper embroidery has been around for thousands of years; however it has found a
new resurgence with the popularity of scrapbooking. While most of us think of
embroidery as a thread or yarn embellishment on fabric, embroidery can also be
done on paper. To embroider on paper you use the same threads as you would on
fabric. By punching small holes in your paper you can easily pull your threads
through to make wonderful designs.

Embroidery on paper can allow you to be creative in many different ways. Paper
embroidery can allow you to personalize your scrapbooks or other items in an
entirely new and exciting way. You can make your own hand-sewn holiday cards
with paper embroidery. You can also make a masterpiece to frame with paper
embroidery as well. The options are literally only as endless as your
imagination is.

Paper embroidery can be a very easy and inexpensive hobby. All you will need to
get started is a sheet of stiff or fibrous paper, some embroidery threads, a
needle, and a pair of sharp scissors. You can find all of these items at your
local craft or drugstore. If you choose to work with very stiff or thick
papers, you will also need to purchase a paper piercing tool.

Choosing Your Paper

The best option for paper is to use a heavy cardstock. This will allow your
design to be worked easily and also help to keep the shape of the paper you are
using. To make pulling your threads through the paper a snap, you will want to
pierce the paper in your design first, and then thread the various threads
through the holes to make up your pattern.

Choosing Your Needles

The best needles for paper embroidery are those which are very fine and sharp.
Because they will pierce your paper the best, they make the cleanest and most
professional looking results. If you are having problems piercing the paper,
then your needles are not sharp enough.

Choosing Your Threads

In the case of paper embroidery, the threads you choose have a very direct
effect on your end results. Because paper is coarse, it will rub on your
threads as you insert them through the paper. For this reason, you want to
select threads which are smooth and not bulky. By choosing smooth threads they
will not fray as you pull them through the paper, and your final design will
look much crisper and cleaner.

Metallic embroidery threads are now readily available almost everywhere. You
can use the metallic threads to add some shimmer and elegance to your designs.

Easy Patterns

You can purchase books and individual patterns online if you need a guide for
your embroidery projects. However, if you are a bit more adventurous, you can
make your own patterns or use a rubber stamp design as your guide. Simply stamp
your paper in a complementary color and start sticking it.

Adding Embellishments

One of the most fun things you can do with paper embroidery is to add beads
onto your threads. With the popularity of jewelry making these days, beads can
be found in a wide array of styles and colors. By adding some beads to your
designs you can give them a three dimensional look.

Finishing Off Your Projects

When working with embroidery threads on paper, you do not ever want to knot
your threads. If you do, it will leave bumps on your project. The best way to
deal with thread ends on the back of your projects is to use a small amount of
clear tape to tape them in place. This will make your thread ends flat with the
back of the paper and will allow your finished project to be nice and smooth.

If you are looking for a new craft, give paper embroidery a try. It is
inexpensive to do, can be done with items available just about anywhere, and
produces beautiful results in very little time.

Starting Your Own Embroidery Business at Home

As more and more people become disenchanted with working for disloyal American
companies, many are finding themselves going out and starting their own small
home-based businesses. This is great for the U.S. economy, and it is also
wonderful if you are one of the people wanting to start your own business!
There is no better time than starting your own business than right now.

One of the most popular new businesses is custom embroidery services. Thanks to
the technology of today, doing custom embroidery no longer requires very
expensive machinery and can be done with simply a decent personal computer and
a sewing machine with embroidery capability. Your customer base for your
designs is literally limited only by your own imagination and marketing
ability. Everyone from dog owners to crafters are interested in having items
which reflect their interests and individuality.

Machine embroidery can be done on most fabrics and is the best way to customize
your clothing and decorative items. You can purchase designs which are already
made and you can also design your own through the latest in digitizing
software. Starting your own custom embroidery business is easy if you follow a
few standard small business guidelines. Here are just a few of them to consider:

The Business Plan

No matter what business you decide to start, you 100% have to have a solid
business plan. There is no way possible to have a successful business venture
without one. The best way to develop your business plan is to think about all
of the variables which go into your unique business, and what your ultimate
short-term and long-term goals are for the business. With all of this
information, you can sit down and formulate a business plan without it taking
you a lot of valuable time.

Licensing and Regulations

Depending on the city, county, and possibly state you live in, you may have to
get a business license to have a legal home-based embroidery business. The way
to determine what the local rules and regulations are is to call up your local
city and county government offices and ask them what you need to do. If you
live in a state with sales tax, you should call up your state Controller's
Office and ask about obtaining a seller's permit. You will most likely find
that most government offices are supportive and helpful in getting you situated
in a place where your business is legal.

Financial Records

The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep good business records from
day one of your business. Start with the fees to get a business license, and
start recording every single business expense that you have. By doing this as
you go you will save both yourself and your tax preparer a ton of headaches
come tax time.

Setting Your Prices

The number one mistake many home-based sewing businesses make is to charge too
little for their services. You need to make a living, and you need to be
pricing your items and services accordingly. Whatever you do, do not sell
yourself short! Ask a going rate for your items and services and expect that
people will pay you what your time and product is worth. This allows you to
work smarter and not harder!

Marketing

Marketing is simply getting the word out and letting others know your business
exists. You can market online, through a press release sent to your local
newspaper, flyers, brochures, craft fair booths, etc: Anywhere you come into
contact with potential customers you can market your items and services. You
can even do simple things like always carry business cards, available these
days very inexpensively online, and hand them out to everyone you meet as you
go through your days.

As you can see there are a lot of things for you to consider when you are
thinking about starting a home-based custom embroidery business. However, your
business can be very successful and profitable if you take the time to make it
so!

Embroidery Digitizing Basics

Machine embroidery has been around for many years. However, all of the machine
embroidery of the past was done by very large and expensive machines housed
within specialty businesses. In the past if you were a business and wanted your
logos sewn onto baseball hats or other promotional items, then you went to a
custom embroidery business and they did it for you. Thanks to the declining
costs of computers and technology advances, home sewers now have the capability
of doing custom machine embroidery in their own homes.

The art of creating custom machine embroidery is called embroidery digitizing.
Embroidery digitizing involves using a personal computer, an embroidery sewing
machine, and a special digitizing software application.

Using digitizing software install on your personal computer, you can transfer a
design into one which can be embroidered. However, this is not a simple
"click-of-the-mouse" conversion; it is done by hand and takes some time and
skills. To digitize a design you need to dissect the design into sections and
layers and design how each area will look with another.

Once you have your basic design digitized, you then have to spend time with the
special software tools tweaking out the design so that it will look good once
your embroidery machine embroiders it. Because thread embroidery designs are
three dimensional not all designs will look good once they have been digitized.
The software is very helpful in this area and in showing you which areas to
change.

To be successful with embroidery digitizing software you must be an experienced
sewer and knowledgeable of the various types of fabrics on the market. Fabric
moves differently when sewn and you will have to account for this in your
designs.

Embroidery digitizing software requires you to have a fairly powerful personal
computer. You will need one with a lot of system memory, a strong processor, a
USB port, and a lot of free disk space. The better the personal computer you
use, the easier it will be for you to design your embroidery projects and the
easier it will be for your computer to transfer them.

When you are looking to purchase digitizing software there are a few things you
should be looking for. The first is that the software itself should be easy to
install and use. You should be able to digitize on your computer screen by
being able to control scaling, match components to the onscreen grids, zoom in
and zoom out, and pan from one area of a design to another.

Many digitizers today can easily allow you to expand or shrink your designs and
they will automatically adjust your stitch count and density to meet the new
design size. This is very important and can save you a lot of time.

Another important thing you want to have in your digitizing software is the
ability to see the true thread colors both on your computer monitor and on your
color printer. This allows you to make sure you use just the right colors in
your designs and that the embroidered design meets any logo requirements as
well.

As you can see, computer digitized embroidery is not a simple process. However,
once you learn the basics it can be a very satisfying craft or business venture
for you. You will be truly amazed at your results after learning the software
and creating your first few designs.

Designing Your Own Cross Stitch Embroidery Patterns

As you learn to cross stitch embroider with more skill and precision, you often
find that you would like to cross stitch something unique or something which you
cannot find a pattern for. When faced with this challenge, you have one of two
choices -- you can give up or your can make your own pattern! Making your own
pattern is not that hard and can provide you with an amazing sense of
accomplishment once you have finished cross stitching your design.

Designing your own cross stitch pattern will allow you the freedom to create
just about any design you want. It will also allow you to be able to cross
stitch your favorite photos and other memorabilia.

Supplies You Will Need

To design your own cross stitch pattern you will need to gather up the
following items: graph paper, a sharp pencil, a good eraser, colored pencils
and possibly a floss color chart from your favorite embroidery thread maker.

You can find good pencils and erasers in the art supply store or even in the
office supply section of your local drugstore. You want to use a very sharp
pencil and a good eraser which will clearly remove any pencil marks and not
smear them on the paper. The gummy form of erasers used by drafts people are
perfect for this. Graph paper can also be found in the same places, or you can
print it out from your computer using Excel or an Internet website. You will
want your graph paper to have at least eight squares per inch.

Once you have drawn your design then you will want to shade it in using your
colored pencils and thread color guide. This will allow you to have a list of
thread colors to purchase from your craft store to stitch your design.

The easiest way to deal with the size of your final design is to use graph
paper which as the same number of squares in it that your cross stitch fabric
does. If you are using 16 count fabrics, then if you design on graph paper with
16 squares per inch, your design and your final stitched project will be the
exact same size. It is very, very important to keep the final size of your
project in mind while you do your designing.

Making Your Design

To make your first cross stitch chart you will want to start by drawing your
design and, for the most part, ignoring the lines of the graph paper. Once your
design is complete then you will need to take the time to make your design able
to be converted to cross stitch work. To do this, you will work to square off
round edges and mark the areas where you will need to do partial stitching and
all of your over-stitching for finalizing your project.

If you would like your design to have a three dimensional look to it you will
want to add some simple shading. Do this by imagining a light-source and where
the shadows on the page would be if the light source was shining on your
design. This takes some time to master, but it can really help your designs to
look more realistic.

Once your shading is complete, then you can color in your design with your
colored pencils. This will allow you to "see" your final design and decide
exactly which colors you want to use. This is where your thread guide comes in;
you will use it to match up to your design and create a list of threads to
purchase for your project.

Designing your own cross stitch embroidery patterns can be a really rewarding
thing to do. It is not simple, and it takes a bit of time to master, but it
allows you to be able to stitch anything you can imagine. You can create just
the right look on paper and then make it come to life on fabric. The only
limitation is that of your mind.

Using Embroidery to Enhance Your Scrapbook Pages

Do you know that you can easily stitch embroidery and other similar threads
onto paper? Yes, you absolutely can! Adding embroidery to your paper crafts and
scrapbooking pages gives them a new dimension and unique look. Embroidering on
your scrapbook pages also allows you to easily add elements to your pages while
you are adding the stitchery itself.

You can embroider on paper both by hand and with your sewing machine. While
each technique is different, they are both fairly easy to learn to do well.
Let's look at each method:

Hand Sewing and Embroidery on Paper

To stitch on paper you will need some heavy weight paper, a pin to make holes
in the paper, a needle, threads, a design to stitch, and scissors.

Using a pencil lightly draw your chosen design on a piece of cardstock. You can
use other forms of paper but you need to work with heavier papers and lighter
papers tend to tear and become misshapen during sewing. If you do not want to
draw on your project itself, you can draw your design on a piece of tracing
paper and then tape it onto your project to use as a guide while you punch your
holes.

If you are looking for a design to use, you can find them everywhere. You can
look online, in books, use your rubber stamps and even use your children's
color book pages. The one thing that is important about your design is that you
keep it fairly simple. Do not try to stitch a complicated design until you have
some experience embroidering on paper.

Place your paper on your mouse pad or some other fabric item with some "give"
to it. Start at one side of your design and work your way around it punching
holes about every 1/8th of an inch with your pin. Once you have your holes then
you need to erase any pencil marks still on your paper.

Now comes the fun part -- you get to stitch your design. Stitch your design
using whatever stitch and colors you want to use. When you are finished you can
fill in areas by using colored pencils or markers.

Machine Sewing and Embroidery on Paper

If you can sew on fabric with your sewing machine, then you can sew on paper.
The techniques are basically the same with a couple important adjustments.

Before you start to stitch on your paper with your sewing machine you will need
to ensure that your bobbin contains enough thread to complete your design. Why?
Because, if your bobbin runs out of thread then your project will have holes in
it without threads going through them.

Generally when you machine sew you knot the thread ends. On paper you will want
to use a dab of glue or a small amount of clear tape to adhere your threads on
the back of your work.

Sewing and embroidering on paper is a really fun and easy way to add another
dimension to your paper craft projects. You can use any type of paper and
threads or fibers to get just the look that you want. You can sew papers
together or simply embroider to embellish. The options are only as limited as
your own imagination is.






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