Category: Fashion

An Easy Introduction to the Beginner’s Sewing Machine

An Easy Introduction to the Beginner’s Sewing Machine

Thursday, May 10, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

An Easy Introduction to the Beginner’s Sewing Machine

Sewing with a sewing machine is one of those things that looks complicated and some of the terminology makes it sound complicated, but with many sewing machines it really isn’t all that hard to actually do. With that in mind, I’ve put together a tutorial for how to use a sewing machine using a simplified Singer model sewing machine.

The first thing you have to do is learn how to thread your bobbin. The top of your sewing machine should look something like this.

  1. Slide the thread onto the thread spindle.
  2. Slide the piece that keeps the thread on the spindle on next to the thread.
  3. Pull out a piece of thread and push it through the thread holder.
  4. Put one end of the thread through the bobbin.  Wrap the thread around the little circle.
  5. Slide the bobbin on the bobbin spindle.
  6. Flip the switch that allows the foot pedal to put thread on the bobbin.
  7. Press the foot pedal until the desired amount of thread is on the bobbin.
  8. Cut the thread and your bobbin is ready.

Next you need to thread your machine.  This model has a diagram on the front that shows the direction the thread should go.  Follow those instructions or the one that came with the manual for your sewing machine.

  1. Slide the threaded bobbin into the bobbin holder.
  2. Close the cover.
  3. Drop your needle by closing the cover (be sure you flipped the switch back after threading the bobbin).  When the needle comes back up it will have the bobbin thread with it.
  4. Pull the bobbin thread through and you are ready to sew.

To start sewing place your material underneath the foot, using the seam guide lines for the proper seam width. Lower the foot, drop your needle into the fabric, and press the pedal to start sewing.

Pretty simple?  Yes the right beginner’s sewing machine can be that easy.  With enough practice on these simpler machines, one can master the fundamentals of sewing and move on to better machines.

Another Spin on the tech wear table for Google – Project Jacquard

Another Spin on the tech wear table for Google – Project Jacquard

Thursday, May 3, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

 

Another Spin on the tech wear table for Google – Project Jacquard

I’ve been recently digging through various reviews on tech wearables and the future of tech clothing, and I found one item in particular that had some interesting facts about it.

This item in particular would be the Jacquard jacket by Google and Levi’s.

The Jacquard jacket is a version of Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket which has Google’s technology woven into the fabric.  This technology mixed with denim apparel allows the wearer to interact with their smartphone via the jacket by performing different touch patterns on the cuff of the jacket.

While this idea as well as many of the pioneering projects of smart wearable technology have the premises of heading into the futuristic crusade of conquest in the smart wearable technology market, the advancement of this technology appears to be evolving extremely slowly as well as not having anything new to offer the tech focused individual.  In many cases there are other devices currently on the market that provide the same functionality for cheaper.

The jacket itself is of very good quality.  It is mostly a top of the line pedigree of the Levi Commuter Trucker Jacket with a conventional “blue collar dark wash”, all-American color and style.  The Commuter Jacket, as its name suggests, is made with bicycle-riding city dwellers in mind.  It’s a nice fit too with a lot of flexibility in the arms and shoulders.  Jacquard comes in men’s and women’s sizes.  However, just like all Levi’s jackets of the past, it fits tight and snugly when closed and tends to be worn best open.  This may pose a problem for cyclists who prefer more loose clothing when riding.  Above all, it really just feels like you’re wearing a very well made, high-end Levi’s jacket.

There is one caveat: the smart cuff. This is where Levi’s has cleverly woven in the conductive threads, but it forms a flat surface that’s more rigid than the rest of the sleeve, something you do notice when moving your arms around. It also sticks out a little, one of only two giveaways that there’s any technology here at all.

The other is the Bluetooth tag that clips into the cuff. This is what transmits the information from the cuff to to your phone, and vice versa, but is also its ugliest feature. This tag needs to be kept charged up, and should you wash the jacket you’ll need to take it off first.

All of Jacquard’s commands happen in the sleeve, specifically the left-hand cuff, which works as a touchpad to communicate with the phone. But to get that working you’ll need to pair Jacquard with your smartphone; it works with iOS and Android, and both get the exact same experience.

Once paired through the Jacquard app you can start assigning your interactions to three different gestures: brush in, brush out and a double tap. Right now this list of commands is quite limited and centered mostly around music and navigation.  You can also answer calls and get notifications via phone speaker or headphones.  There is no sound that comes from the actual jacket itself, only blinking light on the cuff tag which lets you know if you have any notifications or calls.  There’s also a counter for keeping track of, well, whatever the hell you like, and a voice to tell you the time.

Oh, and you can customise the light and haptics too, so the jacket will ping you when select contacts (up to three at a time…so that you can keep you can keep your focus on the road) are trying to get hold of you.

So, what’s the big deal?  That’s the BIG question.  Unfortunately, we are handed an Apollo in the age of the Orion with a failure to launch into new and unknown intergalactic frontiers.  Jacquard just doesn’t do enough yet.  Especially for the asking price of a hefty $350.  Although, nowadays, $350 might not seem too ludicrously expensive in the market of high-end denim jackets.  And as for the dedicated techie, if you can go out and buy Levi’s non-smart equivalent for $200 less, you can start weighing up the value of this added technology.  Otherwise, you can probably buy a really nice jacket and several other items, including other individual accessories that do exactly the same things that you can place ergonomically on your body and bike for cheaper.

So, you may now ask me what did I find interesting about this particular item?

Well, here are the two kickers that drew me in to writing about this particular item in the first place.

#1: The jacket can only be washed 10 times in its entire lifespan.

WOW, did that really just make me crumple up that paycheck and throw it in the trash of mostly useless junk…..or what?  That’s a very good thing to reveal to your potential buyers ahead of time, I may add!  That is definitely the stuff I need to know before I buy.

#2: Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh said he’d never washed his jeans, and believes that’s the best way of maintaining quality.

Really?!?  A CEO of a HUGE name brand in fashion who never washes his clothes?  That’s not only really disgusting, but also not a good way to promote your clothing.  It doesn’t make it excusable that you can only wash the jacket 10 times, so you might as well be a grimy, smelly, scummy person and make no effort to better your appearance.  GROSS!!!!!

Interesting stuff, eh?  Come back again for other interesting facts about smart tech, fashion, and the figures who surround it.

A Designer Bag that Matches You

A Designer Bag that Matches You

Friday, April 6, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

A Designer Bag that Matches You

So you’ve made up your mind to step out in your best and be different. Or maybe its time for that long deserved gift. And it has to be a designer bag. The market is huge – designers are a dime a dozen, and if you consider that each designer has a range, your confusion may start right there. So come on now, pick up your bag and your coat, lets go out and I’ll show you how to choose a bag that’s right for you.

1. The first thing to think about is your body type. Some of us are petite while others are full figured. If your are a petite, a small bag suits you best because a big bag will pull so much emphasis onto itself that it will shrink you even further. If you’re full figured, a bigger bag will do best, because it will still get noticed.

2. While still on the subject of matching bag with body, your height will also come into consideration. If you’re slim and tall, choose a rounded bag to compliment your body shape. If you’re the shortish type, choose a bag that’s tall and rectangular, preferably with adjustable straps so that you can adjust according to occasions. If you are have a regular body shape (not too short, not too tall), then the world of bags is yours to choose from, just make sure not to choose one that’s too small or too big.

3. Next, consider your wardrobe. What do you mostly wear? Designer bags tend to be very versatile, but you still need to choose a bag that will go with most of the clothes in your wardrobe. And don’t forget shoes and belts too, they are part of your wardrobe.

4. Consider the occasion for which you need the bag. Is it an everyday bag or just a bag for special occasions? Or maybe it’s an evening clutch bag? An everyday bag needs to be sturdy and hardy – can take in all your carry-arounds and be comfortable and still look chic. An evening clutch may need to be beaded or sequined and maybe a bit showier.

5. Consider your budget. There’s a whole variety of designer bags out there that have a huge price range, but you can always get something good for the amount of money you have if you’ve saved up well (usually starting from $ 1000 is good enough). It may be tempting to buy the first thing you come across, but shop around a little.

6. Lastly, consider your style. Some of us are subtle people and some of us not so subtle. There’s a designer bag for every woman, so go for the one that best defines who you are. If you are a mama who is busy shuttling babies back and forth every day, you would probably look very interesting carrying a little clutch of a bag that has a beautiful flower on it. Get a big enough bag to handle all your business. Same for if you’re a hot 23 year old girl. A big plain tote won’t sell you enough, unless you like understated. There’s bags for everyone, just take your time to choose.

7. Okay, lastly, really lastly, choose a bag with adjustable straps and several compartments in it. You’ll discover how handy these come when your bag weight changes or you’re simply trying to get your bag organized. Best of all, designers constantly have offers on their bags, so looking around on the internet will be of great help.

Straight Line Sewing Skills

Straight Line Sewing Skills

Sunday, August 7, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Straight Line Sewing Skills

Hello everybody, I hope you have all read my previous post on purchasing a sewing machine for your cosplaying needs.  Today, we are going to learn our first fundamental lesson in sewing:  Sewing Straight Lines, and how to sew our first straight line!  So, let’s begin, shall we?

First, we need to get a piece of fabric ready to practice with…just a scrap of something will do. Preferably just a basic cotton piece of fabric, not anything knit or stretchy. It’s going to be easiest if you fold it so that you are sewing through 2 layers of fabric while you practice.

Next, you need to thread your machine (including the bobbin of course). Make sure you have your machine set to sew at an average stitch length (your manual will probably tell you what that is). You can take some time to play around with this-testing shorter stitches and longer stitches.

Now, take your piece of fabric and place it under the presser foot. For starters I want you to line your fabric up so that the right edge of your fabric matches up with the right edge of your presser foot as you look at it like I have done in this picture below. Lower the presser foot so that it is holding your fabric in place.

Before you start to sew, use your hand wheel (or up/down button if you have a computerized machine) to lower the needle so that it is all the way down into your fabric (always do this when you begin to sew).

Now, slowly press your foot pedal down to begin to sew. Stitch forward for 1 inch.

Then push the reverse button or lever to back stitch for 1 inch (sew backwards over what you just sewed).

After you have back stitched over that 1 inch, proceed with a forward stitch again. You have just created a knot so that your stitches won’t come loose. You will do this whenever you sew unless otherwise specified.

Continue to sew forward. As you do, try to keep the edge of the fabric lined up with the edge of your presser foot. This will help you maintain a straight line. Also, try to keep a nice steady pace. You can also put a piece of tape on your fabric to use as a guide to practice getting a straight line.

Once you reach the end of your fabric, knot it again. (Sew to the end, back stitch for about 1 inch, then sew forward again).

Raise your presser foot and gently remove your fabric. Snip the threads that are attached to your fabric. Guess what? You just sewed your first straight line!

But wait, there’s more to learn.

What if you are sewing a straight line and you come to a corner (like if you are sewing a rectangle or square) that you need to turn to continue sewing. What do you do?

Sew almost all the way to the corner, but leave yourself about 1/4″-1/2″ of space between your needle and the very edge of the fabric. Making sure to lower your needle all the way into the fabric (this is very important), then lift your presser foot. Your fabric will stay in place because the needle is holding it, but you can now pivot it so that it is positioned to keep sewing, now in the new direction. Lower your presser foot and continue to sew.

Sometimes you will be asked to baste. A baste is a long stitch that is much looser than a typical stitch. When you baste you do not knot at the beginning and the end. This is because you will probably be picking the baste stitch out (if it is just there to hold your fabric in place for the time being) or you will be using it to gather. I will teach you what that is later in another post.

A hem is when you fold under the fabric twice and sew it in place to create a nice finished edge (like at the bottom of your pants). To hem you will first fold the fabric under about 1/2″ and press or iron it into place. Then fold it the same amount again, press it again and then do a straight stitch along it.

Here’s an important thing to know when sewing a hem or at other times. If you are sewing a small area, like a pant leg, guess what? You can take off part of your machine to make it easier. See how I can sew that complete loop so easily because the fabric fits all the way around? Give it a try-that part of your machine will come right off and then go back on when you need it back on.

I told you to use the presser foot edge and match it up with your fabric edge to sew a straight line. This is what I do at least 90% of the time when I am sewing, because it creates such an easy guide. But occasionally you will be asked to sew a certain seam allowance. When that happens you need to use your seam guides to guide you instead of the presser foot. In that case you will line up the edge of your fabric with the seam guide you need and try to keep it steady with that line as you sew.

So, there you have it! Now, go and sew, sew, sew away! This is just your first step into an exciting world of creating your own cosplay costumes and so practice makes perfect! Of course, your friends may think of you as an old granny that sits in the corner of her house and never leaves, but hey, that never hurt anybody, right? And you are learning something fun, and will make you wonderful, unique costumes and maybe even pay off in the future. So, my fellow cosplayers, stop reading and get at it!

Sewing Machine Shopping

Sewing Machine Shopping

Sunday, June 26, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Sewing Machine Shopping

The fundamental tool for any dedicated cosplayer, is the sewing machine.  When you are looking to purchase your first machine, you will come to realize that there are many makes and models on the market, so it becomes difficult to decide on which machine you should purchase as your starter machine based on your sewing needs.  Finding the right sewing machine really depends on how you intend to use it, but before you give yourself a headache with all the possibilities out there, it’s worth asking some basic questions.  Here are 10 things to consider when purchasing a sewing machine:

  1. What can you afford? – Everyone has a budget and recognizing whether or not you can actually afford the machine that you want is the first step to choosing the one that’s right for you.  There is simply no point in looking at high-end machines if you have a limited budget.  Of course, there will always be a machine that offers much more if you spend more.  If you can only afford a $50 machine, then look around and see what quality second-hand machines are available, either at a dedicated retailer or on an auction site (but make sure any second-hand machine you buy has a warranty).  Remember that the cheaper the machine, the less likely it is going to last, so always but the best you can afford.
  2. How many stitches do you need? – Once you know your budget, you need to start thinking about what you really need.  What you need and what looks appealing are two very different things!  To sew successfully you only really need a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch.  These two stitches will allow you to do just about everything you want to do on a sewing machine.  Everything else depends on how you intend to use the machine.  Will you use other stitches on a regular basis?
  3. Can you adjust the stitch length? – While you may just use straight stitch and zigzag stitch, being able to adjust both the width and the length of these stitches can be invaluable.  Do you set your machine to the longest length and machine baste any new designs that you work on.  Do you set the stitch to its shortest length when you sew up wearable designs, to ensure small, tight stitches.  Do you constantly adjust the zigzag length and width for appliqué and finishing off edges.  While most machines offer variable stitch widths and lengths, some of the lower priced machines don’t, so it’s always worth checking.
  4. What attachments come with the machine? – Having a selection of presser feet can make all the difference to your sewing day, so it’s important to find out which attachments come as standard and which attachments are available to buy separately.  If you want to make clothing, then you should look for a machine that has a buttonhole foot, a zipper foot and a blind hem foot as standard attachments.  However, if you intend to make quilts, you will need a walking foot, a ¼” foot (the seam allowance for patchwork) and if you intend to freehand quilt then you’ll want a freehand embroidery foot.  For basic sewing, a selection of different width feet can be invaluable when switching between seam allowance widths, as well as for the zigzag stitch.  If the machine you’re thinking of buying doesn’t come with the feet you’d like, make sure they are available to purchase separately and that they don’t cost a fortune.  It’s also very useful to check how easily the feet can be changed.  A lot of machines just have feet that clip on and off, which really does save a lot of time if you find yourself switching back and forth between feet.
  5. How big is the motor? –  As a rule of thumb, the heavier the motor and the heavier the machine, the stronger the machine will be.  A strong, heavy motor will make it easier to cope with frequent use and heavier fabrics, such as upholstery-weight fabrics and denims.  A machine that is predominantly plastic will not withstand the kind of use that a machine with metal parts can.  Of course, if you know you’re going to need to transport your machine frequently, even if it’s just in and out of a cupboard, you need to decide if a heavy machine is impractical and whether you want to compromise with a machine that has a plastic body, but metal parts.  But the lighter the machine, the less it will be able to handle.
  6. What make is the machine and where is it being sold?  Brand really does make a difference with sewing machines.  All machines are not made equal and they don’t all have the same parts inside.  Back in the day, Singer made fantastic machines that lasted forever, but unfortunately these days, their machines are mainly made out of plastic, with smaller motors that just aren’t built to last.  So it’s not just about buying the name you recognize.  Always look at where the machine is being sold.  In a department store, you will be most likely to find brands like Singer, Brother and Janome.  These are all very successful brands, but they are more likely to be lightweight, hobby machines (Janome is the exception to this rule, as they’ve managed to produce both low-end hobby machines and high-end professional machines).  On the other hand, if you’re looking in a dedicated retailer, you’re much more likely to find brands such as Bernina, Pfaff, Huqsvarna and Juki.  These are all high-end machines that start off much pricier, but are aimed at and used by frequent stitchers.  These machines tend to be the ones mentioned by professional makers.  And they don’t tend to be available in the big department stores.  It’s always better to buy at the low-end of a good brand rather than the high-end of an average hobby brand.  And you should never buy anything with cartoon characters on it, because chances are it is not a good machine!
  7. How noisy is the machine? – This is something that very few people think about when looking at machines, but once you’re actually sewing it can really affect how and when you use it.  If you’re like most people and only have time to sew in the evening, (after work or when the kids are in bed), it can be a shock to get your lovely new machine home and discover that it sounds like a pneumatic drill and is keeping everyone in your household, including the neighbors, awake.  If you’re worried about the amount of noise you’re making when you sew, you are far less likely to use the machine.  So it pays to take your time when you’re choosing your machine, and research quieter machines.  Just keep in mind that if you’re testing the machine in a sewing shop, the ambient nose levels are likely to be quite high, so it can be really hard to judge just how quiet your machine really is.
  8. Mechanical vs. computerized? – Most of the high-end machines on the market are now fully computerized, with touch screens and programmable stitch sequences.  But they come at a price, and if budget is an issue then the question of whether to buy a mechanical machine or a computerized machine needs to be asked.  Modern mechanical machines tend to be lighter (even if they have a strong motor) because they have less parts, which makes them easier to carry around.  They are also easier to maintain, with covers that can be removed so that the motor can be oiled. Servicing is often cheaper as a result.  However, most of the good new machines are computerized or electronic, meaning that the machines have stronger motors and extra power, so they don’t struggle with heavyweight fabrics and constant use. Computerized machines also tend to have superior stitch lines, with more evenly spaced and therefore stronger, stitches.  They also have a lot more sewing options.  Computerized machines can be programmed, so that specific stitch sequences can be remembered, and they offer huge selections of decorative and embroidery stitches as well as automatic tie-offs, and thread cutting.  Which you buy really does depend on your budget, but if you’re going for a mechanical machine, it’s best to buy an older, high-end model, rather than a cheap, plastic model. It will last longer and even if it only offers the basics, it will withstand a lot more use.
  9. How often will you use your machine? – Everyone that sews wishes they had more time for it than they do.  If you recognize that you’re the sort of sewer that will probably only get the machine out every few months, to hem clothes or make some new cushions, then a high-end, all-singing, all-dancing machine may not be the best investment.  But a good quality electronic machine may enhance your sewing experience and encourage you to start sewing more often.  If you know that you’ve been bitten by the sewing bug and that the only thing standing between you and daily sewing is the lack of a good machine, then buying the best you can afford gives you plenty of scope for growth.  If money is an issue, recognizing your own sewing expectations is essential. If you rarely sew now, a new, expensive machine that requires a lot of learning is not necessarily going to make you sew more. But a solid mechanical machine that covers all the basics and only requires threading and plugging in will seem less daunting.
  10. What are your sewing expectations? – This is another question that will help you to recognize if your desire for that amazing, expensive machine is based on wishful thinking or a genuine need.  It’s also designed to find out whether you’re holding yourself back due to lack of confidence in learning something new.  If the thought of learning how to use a new machine fills you with excitement, then a machine with lots of options and exciting possibilities is the one for you.  But if the thought of all those buttons and programs makes you break out in a cold sweat,then there’s a chance that the huge instruction manual and all those symbols and patterns may put you off using your new machine.  Equally, if your ambition is to make heirloom quality quilts, then buying a machine that only has basic attachments will hinder you from achieving your goal and will most likely leave you feeling frustrated.  And if you want to get to the point where you can make your own clothes, then spending money on a machine that has variable stitch lengths, over-locking stitches and the ability to switch to a twin needle will be a good investment.
Understanding Avant-Garde Styles

Understanding Avant-Garde Styles

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Understanding Avant-Garde Styles

As someone who has a strong interest in various types of fashion, especially in modern and futuristic fashion, I like to learn and find out as much as I can about the new styles and types of clothing that come out and what types of people wear these styles before I become an advocate and a habitual wearer of the style, labels, or articles in question.  One style that interests me the most and I have been a wearer of since it’s vague and rare beginnings is avant-garde fashion.

Avant-garde is a French term which means “advance guard” or “vanguard”, or literally “fore-guard”.  These are people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.  Some view the concept of avant-garde as artists, writers, composers and thinkers whose work is opposed to mainstream cultural values and often has a trenchant social or political edge.  This is also true with avant-garde fashion as there really is no defined parameters as to what groups of people the fashion is connected with and there are many variations and looks that seem similar to one style, but may be specifically targeted for a certain type or culture of people to wear.

This is the case with a lot of avant-garde attire that comes from fashion developing countries overseas such as China and Japan.  Chinese avant-garde apparel is a favorite of mine, and although majority of their mainstream avant-garde attire is designated for edgy, street savvy subcultures such as punk rockers and gothic subcultures, I do not consider myself an affiliate of either of those subcultures.  But I tend to really like the new, futuristic-like styles that are created by Chinese avant-garde designers.

So, it is mostly safe to say that since their really are no defined parameters that encompass the artistry of avant-garde artists or designers, there is a lot that you can get away with when wearing avant-garde clothing.  There are, however, still some things you should and should not do, especially on a regular basis if you claim to be part of a culture or subculture and you want to fit in and not seem like an outcast oddball.  This is why the smartest moves are learning about the avant-garde attire and labels you are attracted to and wearing single avant-garde clothing articles along with a majority of clothing articles that you know have a solid representation of your affiliated culture or subculture.