Simple Connections

In this post I wanted to share with you some resource information you may find helpful.  Most of us sewers and quilters have our own preferences for the tools and methods we use. Thank goodness for that because each of us can find our own way to be successful learners and makers.

Given the plethora of notions, stores, teachers, fabrics, and opinions, in today’s creative world, I have observed it takes a good amount of mindfulness to stay true to the value of Simplicity, especially when it comes to watching what we spend and consume.

Lately, many folks out there in Blog Land are promoting Little House Glass Head Pins, manufactured bya Japanese company Kinkome, as the best pins for piecing and patchwork because they are 4mm in diameter and 1 1/4 inches in length. Most everywhere I’ve checked the cost is roughly $9.95 for a tin of 100 pins. Now I am sure these pins glide effortlessly through fabric and make piecing a snap but should I purchase them just because my favorite blogger, teacher or store owner swears by them?

Clover, also a Japanese company, manufactures 4mm and 5 mm shaft Patchwork Pins, and for the same number of pins, these sell for half the price of the Little House pins. IBC and Clover Glass Head Silk Pins are also similar in price, around $5.50, and have a 5 mm shaft at 1 3/8 length. I use these for both piecing and garment construction. I like to keep life simple.

Another area of blogging bombardment is around quilting and sewing thread, with Aurifil being the most promoted it seems to me. So I decided to do a little research.

50 weight Cotton Threads

50 weight Cotton Threads

From left to right, you are seeing Gutterman, Mettler, Essential Threads, Aurifil and Thread Art brands I happen to have on hand. All are 50 weight 100% cotton thread.

The Gutterman thread is made in Greece and costs approximately $6.34 for a 110 yd spool.

Mettler is manufactured in Switzerland and for a spool of 547 yards the cost is $6.00.

Essential Threads is produced in India and for a 1,200 yd spool the price is $2.79. This is a special house brand of thread only available at Connecting Threads, an online family run fabric store.

Aurifil is made in Italy and costs on average $11.50 for a 1400 yd spool.

Thread Art also makes a spool of thread close to 1200 yds (1000 meters) for a price of $2.99. No manufacturer can be found on any of Thread Art’s information.

As it happens, I typically sew, piece and quilt with the Essential Threads brand. In touching and seeing this thread next to Aurifil and then sewing with both, I was pleasantly surprised that they are virtually identical and the top two performing threads out of the five. In comparing the other brands, they were perfectly okay, just not as smooth to the touch. Gutterman and Thread Art produced the most lint, and with Aurifil and Essential Threads the lint was very minimal. I will be sticking with Essential Threads, and save my money for some more “essential” fabric!

In our enthusiasm to support our fellow sewers, quilters, independent designers and pattern makers, we still need to think about who and what we are supporting. If you see new fabric, tools, machines and things, put them on a Wish List and leave them there for a while. You don’t have to purchase something immediately, but putting the item on a list somewhere takes care of that impulse to buy.

Once your items are on a list, spend some time in your sewing area looking at your books, fabric and supplies, and see if they actually match up to projects and patterns you have. How many of us have found out we already had several of  the very same “must haves” we put on that wish list?

For those of you who may actually be looking for 4mm and 5 mm pins for piecing, Connecting Threads does sell the Clover brand. I am not a relative or a paid sponsor of this company only a simple online shopper who found this site a few years ago. In my more mindless days of over consumption, I purchased so much thread from them I am only now in the position of needing some more, LOL, and will only buy what I really need.

All the best,

Mary

 

 

 

 

Make Your Own: Linen Bath Towels

This was not a project that I actually planned to make. A few weeks ago I found myself, once again, needing to mend the hems of towels and sheets before they completely unraveled. These items were purchased barely 6 months ago! When my linen goods from the high end stores frayed or came apart after a few washings, I decided that it wasn’t worth spending the money since they apparently hold up no better than the mid-level stores or the towels I purchased from Ikea. I think any bath linens should wear a heck of a lot longer than 6 months before needing repairs, even in this day of “the disposable economy!!”

In looking for a simple, and longer term, solution I decided to make my own bath towels out of linen fabric. These towels can be very expensive,  with the cost ranging between $30 to $60 depending on the size. However, for essentially the price of one towel, you can make an entire set from 4 yards of 58 inch wide fabric at under $9.00/yard!!!

Linen fabric wears like iron and absorbs moisture well. The more it is washed, the softer it gets, a great feature for me and other folks with sensitive skin. Also, I was really drawn to the idea that this fabric takes up less space to store than traditional terry cloth, and less time and energy to dry.  I try to be “green” wherever I can!

As luck would have it, I found a stash of a little over 4 yards of medium to heavy weight linen (6.8 oz-7.1 oz) that I picked up at the Western Market during a work trip to Hong Kong about 6 years ago. I was very happy to finally have a project for this pretty fabric.

If you would like to make your own, it’s simple!

1. Determine the finished size you want. These dimensions should give you a total of 4 Hand/Face Towels and 4 Bath Towels from 4 1/4 yards of fabric. Pre-wash your linen and dry with heat to make sure your fabric will shrink well and then no further! If you want to be on the safe side use 4 1/2 yards of fabric.

Hand Towel-  20 inches X 28 inches (Cut fabric 22 inches by 30 inches)

Bath Towel-   28 inches X 50 inches (Cut fabric 30 inches by 52 inches)

Bath Sheet-   40 inches X 60 inches (Cut fabric 42 inches by 62 inches)

2. Make sure you use a medium to heavy weight linen around 7 oz. Too heavy will be very rough to use and take longer to dry. My favorite online place for affordable linen fabric is Fabrics-Store.com The staff there are very knowledgeable about all things linen, and you can even order a “Doggie Bag” of sample fabrics to test out for your project. Iron your fabric before cutting!!!

3. Use a half inch width for your side hems and a one inch width or more for your top and bottom hems. The larger hems on the top and bottom will let your towels hang nicely and will also give you room for decorative stitching if you want. I used cotton thread to sew up my hems.

IMG_0975

 

Press up side seams 1 inch, then fold in 1/2 inch, press and pin if needed. Press up top and bottom hems 2 inches and fold in 1 inch.

 

IMG_0971

Use a number 80 Universal Needle and a 50 or 40 weight Cotton or Cotton/Poly Thread.

IMG_0968

Since this project was really an experiment for me, I decided to keep my sewing very simple, but definitely I look forward to using more decorative sewing techniques for the next time around.

IMG_0970

Linen nowadays comes in a variety of colors and patterns for Home Sewing, so don’t feel you have to go “neutral” with Bath Towels. If you would like to know more about this wonderfully renewable and sustainable fabric, please check out Linda Heinrich’s book Linen from Flaxseed to Woven Cloth (2010).

Thank you for stopping by today!

All the best,

Mary

 

Pillow Options

Recently, I made some pillows as a home dec project for my daughter’s home. She has a front room that is a very bright yellow which also needs some curtains. (I will post the curtain photos later on- they are wild!) I have a strong feeling that a pillow or two may have been adopted by her pets, LOL!!

Matchstick quilting inside flange offers more texture.

Matchstick quilting inside flange offers more texture.

IMG_0374

Pillow with ruched piping

Pillow with ruched piping

Traditional ruching for the piping

Traditional ruching for the piping

Ruched piping effect cutting dupioni silk on the straight of grain

Ruched piping effect cutting dupioni silk on the straight of grain

IMG_0814

Pillow delivered to Anna's house

Pillow delivered to Anna’s house

Guess who is keeping this pillow!!!

Guess who is keeping this pillow!!!

IMG_0120