Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to Sew with a Twin / Double Needle. I hope.

Confession: I have felt like a bit of a phony for a couple of weeks now, after releasing the Sterling Shorties and Leggings pattern, the first Tie Dye Diva pattern for knit fabrics. You see, right there in the section titled "Tips for Sewing with Knit Fabric", alongside zigzag, triple stitch, stretch stitch and coverstitch, I glibly throw in "twin needle" as an option for a nice stitch to use on knits that will stretch along with the fabric.

I have never used a twin needle.

I know!! I have excuses of course. I have a coverstitch machine and I love it. Also, I have only recently started to really enjoy sewing with knit fabric. And ... OK, the 17 steps in my sewing machine manual, the forked needle, and that big prongy plastic thing kind of scared me.

No more excuses. Here I go, real time, as real time as possible on a blog, with actual photos of my actual first time using a twin needle (also known as a double needle). Fingers crossed!

I am doing this on my Brother because they are widely used, and because with 17 steps in the manual before getting to "Start sewing", how could I go wrong?

The pre-manual step 1 for me was find the twin needle and prongy thing, which now I know is also known as the extra spool pin.

In the spirit of keeping it real, here is the bin where I throw store things like extra serger cones and sewing machine accessories that scare me a little.

Don't judge.
Step 1, install the needle. Easy! If you look at the top portion you can see it's just like any regular needle, with one shank and a flat side. Insert, flat side in back. Thread the machine with the top thread going through the left side like any other needle. I'm not even going to post a picture because you know what a threaded machine looks like. Steps one and two, I conquer you!

Now, put the no-longer-scary extra spool pin on the bobbin winder shaft and swing the pin around so the spool will be parallel to your top thread spool. This part varies by machine, some machines just have you stand the second thread upright on a pin. Put the spool on - important part coming up - with the thread coming from the top of the spool. This is because your regular top thread spool unwinds from the bottom, and you want them unwinding in different directions. Put the spool cap on.

My two gray threads don't match, and that bothers me. If I had planned ahead, I might have wound a matching bobbin and put it on the extra spool pin. But I promised real time, so my threads don't match.

Step 7 already! Thread the machine with your extra spool thread just as you did the regular top thread EXCEPT, skip the needle bar thread hook (not sure why, going to just follow this one like a sheep though. Baa.) and thread the end through the right needle. You can see the needle bar hook just above the green part of the double needle, with left thread beneath it and right thread bypassing it. On some machines (the Brother manual does not mention it) you'll want to be sure the two threads go one to the left and one to the right of the tension disk.

Already had the correct ("J") foot on the machine so onward to Step 10: Turn the machine on.

nailed it!
Computerized machines will vary, but I followed the instructions in the manual for scrolling through options and finding the machine's twin needle setting, which looks like two little needles, and you can see it in the lower left of my screen. For a non-computerized machine, you'd just use center needle position, and stitch width and length as recommended by your machine's manual and pattern.

Momentary panic set in when I looked at the stitches shown in the manual and they were all decorative and though lovely, I just wanted straight stitch.

Then in dawned on me.

Just sew a straight stitch.

I chose my sweet and familiar friend straight stitch, lengthened it just a little, and  - deep breath - began to sew on my real and actual project.

A little wavy but not too bad.

 After pressing, much better (left). And a great little stretchy lightning bolt on the reverse (right).

For the next row of twin stitches (horizontal in the photo), I troubleshot the waviness by reducing the pressure of the presser foot just a touch, and I also used a little piece of stabilizer when I started the row of stitching.

Zee's Tee, pattern releasing Friday!
I might like to tinker with it a bit more, but the point of all of this is, it's ridiculously easy and nothing to be afraid of. Get out your own prongy thing and give it a try! I have long said, if you can sew a straight line, you can shir; now I will add, and you can use a twin needle.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bundle Up - Sewing for Boys style!

Have you seen the 12 fabulous NEW designs coming in the Bundle UP Boy's Sale? Tie Dye Diva is excited to be a part of this great collective once again, and I had so much fun designing my pattern, Zee's Tee!

It's an easy to sew knit tee shirt pattern styled just for boys - with a loose but never sloppy fit, little bit of a dropped shoulder, and pocket, contrast yoke, or colorblocked design option. I have caught the 'upcycle' fever myself and have been cutting up all of our outgrown tees into brand new ones in the next size up. Such quick sews, and so gratifying!

The Zee's Tee pattern includes tips for sewing with knit, and a page of helpful hints for upcycling existing tees. With long and short sleeve options, you can keep it at the top of your stack all year. 

We Bundle Up designers listened well to boy mamas and their requests for fashionable patterns with lots of options. They will be available for sale next week HERE, but until then you have the opportunity to win them before you can buy them. Sweet! Enter at the bottom of this post.

Coming Aug 22-29 at

Coming Aug 22-29 at

Coming Aug 22-29 at

 Coming Aug 22-29 at

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Friday, August 15, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Baby's Party Dress

Okay, you've caught me!  It's true I didn't actually sew this dress this week..., but I'm on vacation.  So instead of missing a week in A Year of  Dresses I pulled out a dress I made this spring but hadn't shown you.  Without further ado, I bring you Baby's Party Dress,

Did you know Tie Dye Diva is on Instagram?  Come follow  us and we will follow you back!  We share lots of current projects and some fun behind the scenes pictures as well as some non sewing related family fun.

Okay, now really, without further ado.... Baby's Party Dress is, well, for babies  in sizes 0 - 24 months.  It features vintage styled, short puffed sleeves; a gathered skirt; classic button back bodice; and sash with decorative bow.  This dress is one of those classic beauties that never gets old!  Do you get yet that I love it?

A quick disclaimer: because I made this dress last spring, it is actually getting quite short on Sweet Pea (that makes it even more vintage looking right?).  The dress really is designed to fall at the knee.

What can I say about this dress other than that it is a classic beauty!  I love the 60's style sleeves.  Don't let those adorable sleeves intimidate you.  Though they are small, you can trust that Jen's excellent instructions and color photos walk you through each step of the way, and you can count on a professional looking outcome.

I changed the bow just a touch on this dress from that given in the pattern just to change it up a bit (though I really like the one in the pattern better).  I made this bow using the faux bow method described in Jen's Removable Fabric Bow post.  To do this I cut the bow tail piece from Baby's Party Dress 4-6" longer than instructed and tied following Jen's instructions in the bow post.

I finished this dress with KAM Snaps instead of buttons also.  While I think buttons are better suited on this dress most of the time.  I am happy with the results.  In reality, I didn't have any appropriate buttons on hand so I pulled out the snaps instead.  I like the look of classic white with the navy pin-dot print though.  And really, does it get any easier than snaps?  I love how fast and easy they are, definitely a time saver!

While this dress is obviously suited to so many baby dress up occasions, weddings, holiday, baptisms, etc., I love seeing Sweet Pea play hard in her dresses wear them for everyday as well.  With that, I'm going to let the cuteness take you away (as the ship is taking me...)!

This face!
"How about pictures over here Mom.  |Let me move the chair for you."
Please do pin your favorite picture to Pinterest for all to see and follow Tie Dye Diva too.  It is a super easy way to have quick links to all your favorite blog posts (like this one!).

Here's your quick pattern rundown:

  • Five sizes covering 0-24 months
  • Intermediate sewing level due to sleeve 
  • Optional fully enclosed waist seam for a smooth inside finish
  • Knee length skirt is easily lenghtened or shortened as needed

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Fair and Square Top with Sterling Leggings

Are you still reveling in fun of summer, or are you in full back to school mode?  I am somewhere in the middle.  I homeschool my oldest; he will be in first grade this year, so I am getting our curriculum in order for the year.  But, I am also getting ready for our first no kids trip with hubby (thank you Grandma!), and that most definitely puts me in the reveling in summer category as well. And not to forget about our Southern Hemisphere readers.... Are you ready for Spring to come?  I am always more than ready for spring by the time it arrives!

Regardless of which category you fall into, you will love this week's A Year of Dresses. And, it's a bit of a double feature!  The Fair and Square Top (or dress) makes a great summer top, but has wide enough straps that it is also a great back to school sew for many.  It is also cute layered for cooler weather.  And, don't overlook those ADORABLE leggings!  Sterling Leggings are the second pattern in the Diva Collection and perfect for all year long.

The Fair and Square Top and Dress is available in both baby sizes 0-24 months as well as girls sizes 2-8.  Both patterns include both top and dress lengths.  I love the versatility of this pattern.  It is great as a layered jumper in the fall and winter.  Leave the tee and leggings (or tights) off for a summer dress in warmer weather.  Fair and Square for baby and girls is identical except for the addition of a placket in baby sizes to help fit over baby's proportionately bigger head.

Sterling Leggings will be a staple in every girls closet!  The pattern includes NINE sizes from 12 months through girls 9/10.  Jen worked tirelessly on this pattern and the fit is just perfect.  Make ruffled shorties, leggings with single or double ruffles, or plain leggings all with this one pattern.  They are perfect for pairing with your Coral Top, Easy Peasy Peasant, Butterfly Baby Top, Big Bow Top, Pat-A-Cake Dress, Fair and Square Top...the list could go on....

Take a look at the beautiful border print on my Fair and Square top!  I had the privilege of using another beautiful fabric from Vandana of The Delhi Store. I fell in love with this border print when I first saw in in Vandana's shop and love it even more now that I have finished my top using it.  It is light and airy, perfect for summer!  The vivid red and pink flowers are so bright and cheery on the white background!  This fabric is very lightweight, giving the top beautiful drape.  My Fair and Square skirt is a little sheer.  If being sewn for an older girl or adult I might have lined the skirt, but it was not necessary for a young girl.

Be sure to read the A Year of Dresses post featuring the Belle Peasant Dress to see more beautiful fabrics from The Delhi Store.  When looking at Vandana's shop, remember that you can save 15% off your total purchase by using the coupon code TIEDYEDIVA15 at the checkout.  I was just browsing the store again and saw many new and beautiful prints!

To make my Fair and Square top with a border print I simply added 2.5" to the length of the top panel and hemmed with a narrow hem instead of adding the hem band.  Remember that when using border prints you have to cut on the lengthwise grain instead of the crosswise grain.  Because of the sheerness of this beautiful fabric I added a lightweight interfacing to the main fabric on the yolk for stability and to prevent seeing the seems through the fabric.  Instead of a button on the back I used a KAM Snap.  I love how quick and easy they are!

This outfit is even more adorable all together than I pictured in my head.  I used a narrow white rolled hem on the ruffles of my Sterling leggings to pull the outfit together.

I love outfits that are adorable, yet easy for play, and this one definitely wins!  I really can't express enough just how much I love the outcome.  I had a vision for this top: simple, understated beauty.  Because of that I decided to leave the flower embellishment off the bodice.  I think it worked beautifully.

Speaking of great for playing: Sweet Pea had a great time cooking up a storm in this outfit.  One day I'll have to teach her about aprons!

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Here's your weekly pattern rundown: 

  • Extended sizes includes 12 months through girls 9/10 in one pattern
  • Ruffled shorties, single or double ruffled leggings, and plain leggings options included
  • Knit guide included for those new to sewing knits
  • No serger necessary!
Fabric for my Fair and Square top was generously provided to me by The Delhi Store, but all opinions are my own.