Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sewing Machine Diagram

As friends of mine start to dive more into sewing, and I refer them to my tutorials, I hear the helpful constructive criticism that I never started at the beginning, for novice sewers. So here it is. A diagram of a sewing machine to help you get to know your machine. This diagram may, and probably does, vary slightly from your machine, since this Singer of mine is older, but they're all pretty similar. The stitch selectors may be round knobs, the reverse in the center of one of them. The power switch is probably on the side. Bobbin may not be a drop down. Presser foot lever is probably on the side of the presser foot, while this machine's is on the back side. But you get the idea. 

Read the explanation below of all of the parts to help you get started...


Balance Wheel: the crank wheel on the side of the machine that moves the needle up and down. Also commonly refered to as the hand wheel.
Bobbin winder: this is where you make your bobbins. Place source thread on the spool pin, and feed the thread through a thread guide on the top and back to the empty bobbin. Push bobbin in towards winder until it clicks. *Usually* this will disengage your machine's needle from going up and down. If it doesn't, try pulling OUT on your balance wheel.
Spool Pin: This is where your spool of thread goes. Thread your machine starting here!
Tension Control: This is the control for the tension of your machine. Read your manual and adjust this only when necessary. Most machine have automatic tension settings. A good way to check your tension is to sew white fabric with a red bobbin and blue upper thread (or just difference color thread from the color of your bobbin). Sew the fabric. If you see the red come through to the top, your tension is too high, too tight, and if the blue thread show through the bottom, it is too low, too loose. 
Upper Tension Regulator: Your thread passes through this and this is how the tension control is applied to your thread. Thread your machine with your presser foot lever up. This opens the disks in the upper tension regulator. When your presser foot is down, you will notice the tension pulling back, when you tug on the thread.
Thread Guides: Thread passes through these when threaded through the machine.
Thread Take Up Lever: The take up lever coordinates with the timing of the needle, lever up, needle is up. Thread passes through this and prevents thread from wadding up when you are sewing. Older machine may require you to actually thread it through a hole, with newer machines having a slot.
Presser Foot: The presser foot exerts pressure on the fabric as it is pushed under the needle. You machine will have the option to change out the KIND of presser foot with special attachments for all kinds of sewing. i.e. zipper foot, rolled hem foot, button hole foot. There are all kinds of amazing and fun attachments. Don't just limit yourself to the one on your machine.
Presser Foot Lever: Lifts and lowers the presser foot. Lift up when threading machine.
Throat Plate: The metal plate beneath the presser foot. Will have useful thread guides for when you are sewing. It is removable for dusting and cleaning your machine, and also covers the bobbin and bobbin case.
Feed Dogs: The teeth that feed the fabric through your machine. These feed dogs also control the stitch length and how fast the fabric is fed through the machine. DO NOT pull or push your fabric when you are sewing, let the feed dogs do all the work to prevent breaking a needle.
Bobbin Case and Housing: This is where your bobbin and bobbin case are. Be sure to thread your bobbin case properly. This will vary by machine.
Stitch Length Regulator: The length of your stitch. The number of stitches per inch is generally what the numbers reflect.
Stitch Selectors: Switch between straight, zig zag, and other embroidery and stretch stitches depending on what you are sewing. 
Reverse: Lock your stitch in place by sewing a few stitches in reverse at the beginning and end of your seams. While pressing down on the pedal, push in reverse. Some newer machine may not require you to press down on the pedal.

More novice sewing lessons coming soon!

Monday, January 27, 2014

My night eating Twinkies with the Blue Man Group

It’s my first time seeing The Blue Man Group, and I’m not sure what to expect. Going in, I’m thinking there will just be three blue men, a light show, a lot of percussion, some awkward moves and blank stares at the audience. 
My date, Matt, and I find our seats about 20 rows back from the stage; I’m sitting along the aisle. The show begins with the Blue Men banging on drums with splashing paint. They’re throwing paint balls at each other, catching them in their mouths and spewing the paint back out of their mouths. OK, so pretty normal so far. 
In only 45 minutes, they’ve started throwing things at the audience, playing with giant iPhones and playing strange, industrial-looking instruments. Then, the Blue Men change it up. They’re walking through the crowd, literally, on the back of seats and atop arm rests, placing their hands on audience members’ heads to balance. And they’re heading my way. 
Two rows in front of me, a mother and toddler giggle when all three men stop to stare at them, perplexed and awkward. Suddenly, I look up and all three are staring at me. I am confused and unsure of their next move, but before I can think about it any further, they continue on, heading back a few rows and continuing with the awkward blue-eyed stares. 
I'm intrigued to see what happens next, and just when I think they’re headed back on stage to bang on some more PVC trombones, they grab my hand and pull me to my feet. Am I just going to stand here for a minute? Nope. As they lead me closer to the stage, I realize I'm in for a real treat. 
They sit me down at a table and strap me into a giant plastic chest guard with an apron below. Turning on a boom box, we all bob our heads, lights blaring down on me. I can't see anyone out there, but oh boy, I know they can see me! 
All of a sudden, a gelatin mold is catapulted into the audience, and the Blue Men are pulling out Twinkies, handing one to me, too. Oh no, are they going to make me eat this? When can I tell them I'm vegan, and I don't eat Twinkies?! 
I proceed to open all four packages and pass them down to each Blue Man, because apparently these alien men don't know how to open Twinkies. We all have forks and knives, and we cut up and eat little bites. We exchange strange googlie-eyed looks, their affirmation of what to do or waiting for me to figure it all out -- I'm not entirely sure. We feed each other; a Blue Man feeds me a bite of Twinkie. 
Then holes in their chest start to spew liquid Twinkie, as does mine, the plastic chest piece coming into play. It's squirting full force and I'm squealing and laughing. I lean back and squirt this projectile "goo" at the first few rows of the audience. 
A Blue Man scrapes up a bit of their 'vomit' and places it in a Chinese to-go box with a bow; how thoughtful, a present for me. The crowd applauds as they escort me to the stairs of the stage and snap a photo. 
Laughing, I return to my seat, still trying to figure out what just happened. The rest of the show is just as fun, with more audience interaction. Afterward, we leave the Times-Union Center with the best souvenir a girl could ask for, the Polaroid picture, while overhearing fellow audience members say, "Hey, that's the Twinkie Girl!" It was an unforgettable night for sure! 

Original post here written for the Florida Times Union.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Market Days at UNF

Shelby and I are back to work in full swing. With 2-3 pop up stops a week, sewing machine in tow, we're going to dominate this year! We started off with Winter RAM, like the normal Arts Market we do every Saturday, but considerably smaller because of the winter weather. Ha. Florida winter weather is so funny compared to my native Michigan. I worry about my seedlings in my Florida room when the overnight low hits 37, but my family is dealing with 10 degree highs and 12" of snow a few days a week. Wind chills in the -15 range. I count my lucky stars that I'm a Floridian now. 

No joke though, Florida cold is COLD! The humidity isn't just an excuse weak southerners use during the winter months, it is quite chilly. Like down to the bone chills. But once the sun hits, you can't complain about being able to wear a light cardigan and beanie. That's my wardrobe from now until spring. Skinny jeans, slip on ankle boots, a baggy top, and an infinity scarf made by yours truly.

I've been sewing like a maniac, with all kinds of new work up for sale in my shop. For the time being, small accessories that are $10 and under won't be available for sale in my online shop, just on location at University of North Florida Market Days, and Saturday RAM. I'm working on a spring festival tour, and will post the dates as soon as they are confirmed. If interested in headbands, hair bows, or other small things purchased from me in the past, email me for a custom order. 

My favorite part about Market Days at UNF, I sit and sew all day. Most vendors on college campuses stop the kids walking, hand them stuff, and try to grab their attention. I don't have time for that. I'd rather sit back and work, and let people peruse my wares and what not. Yesterday, I even had a little sewing lesson with a student, and let her make an infinity scarf from fabric I had in my tote bag. Such fun. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Surprise Kitten Handbag

The cat lady in me can't help but show off this new handbag to you all. Made from an old wall hanging that my sister, Rachael, bought for me years ago, this handbag is truly one-of-a-kind. 

This wall hanging was so big, I had a very difficult time wrapping my head around how I was going to make it into a useful handbag, not just a tote. I started by removing it from it's wood frame (see this post for an example) The wall hanging had a small hole next to the paws of the cat, so I clipped a small piece from the bottom of the print, and used stitch witch and zig zag stitching to patch it. 

I decided that I'd keep the wall hanging as is, and make a wrap around handbag, with a fold over design. It took some calculating to figure out the zipper and attachments for the straps, but I'm so happy with the way it turned out! Whatcha think?!

Using scraps, it even has a matching pouch that comes with it! Available for purchase here.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Behind the scenes: Cut Here Limited Edition Handbags

Available soon in our Etsy shop, this Cut Here collection is geared towards the handy ladies out there. The ones that make things with their hands. That have more calloused hands than their other half, that express themselves by creating things. Hair stylists, seamstresses, designers, crafters, and more. 

Something about fabric with printed scissors drew me in, and next thing I know, I have a stock pile of 6 different prints. Brown, black, blue, red and teal. Purses will be listed as they are completed, so keep checking back. Back to my work I go, with Doctor Who playing in the background, machine in front of me, that's where I'll be until further notice.

Custom orders available. Email me at sallyannfashion@gmail.com for details.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Cutest Kitten In The Basket

Meow meow. Here's a little behind the scenes look into the construction of a weekender tote I made this week. I found this cat rug/wall hanging at Goodwill a few weeks ago and almost jumped out of my shoes. Best score of the week! It was a little big, and I knew I didn't want to cut into the width of it at all, so the design wraps around to the back of the tote. I upcycled straps from a tote I cut up for faux leather, and the bag closes with a magnetic clasp.

For other bags like this, check out my Etsy shop.