Friday, April 10, 2009

Denim Collars

I have been playing with sewing on a denim collar of a ready-made jacket. This was an incredibly rewarding experience in the learning phase. Even once I got it sewn out, I can say I learned a lot. I had a lot to show my friends about what to do and what not to do. Isn't this the heart of an artist...enjoying the process without having to count the final project!?

My first steps were to put the denim collar in a scanner. I scanned one half of the collar. I never knew that denim jacket collars are not straight across. This one has a wave in it. I imagine this is to accomodate for the bulk that happens when the collar turns in the back...whoa....what a great engineering detail by garment designers. One of my favorite alteration people taught me years ago how a hem may not be straight across on a hanger. That may seem incredibly obvious to those of you who are couture sewers, but it is real revelation to those of us who are novices. For me, this is a "WAY AWESOME" concept. How brilliant that a maternity dress would need a hem longer in the front than in the back. I am way past maternity-wear....but didn't think you wanted to hear me say, "my dress to cover my beer belly would need to be longer in the front."

Scan the collar, upload it to my Bernina Designer Plus software. I then drew a line that would be sewn FIRST onto Stabil-stick. The line would give me the placement for my denim collar. Next, when my sewing machine prodded me with "Color Finished. Attach New Thread," I took that nudge to tell me to add new medium...sticky glue to hold the collar in place. I love playing tricks like this on my sewing machine. She doesn't know I am now inserting a totally challenging project. Then I dampened the stabilizer to stick the collar down. The important part here is...LET IT DRY COMPLETELY. While I was working on this project, a friend showed me a project she had stitched on Stabil-stick. The thread gummed up on the back. She was confused until I asked her if she had let it dry completely. This stuff is like glue and if you won't let it dry completely, that glue is going to force through and catch thread or bobbin thread or (perish the thought) get into the mechanisms of the sewing machine. I am sure the technicians wouldn't be wild about that.

At this point (dry stabilizer and solidly placed collar), my sewing machine doesn't know it is stitching through a 3-D piece. And my Bernina doesn't care that she is stitching through several layers of denim. I used a denim needle on my project which may seem obvious but I was concerned about the density. Had I had thread breaking, I might has switched to a top-stitch needle as it has a larger eye on the needle. I didn't have that issue.

I did find that I would have had a better result if I'd have used a cut-away in the Stabil-stick rather than a tear-away. I always seem to forget that denim has a fair amount of stretch to it and would get better results on more dense stitch-outs if I used the cut-away rather than tear-away. Also, after watching Ashley's presentation at Embroidery Secrets, I would like to try changing the stitch density on designs that I stitch out on denim or other heavier fabrics.

When our friends come to Embroidery Secrets, it is always GREAT learning for everyone. I am so incredibly amazed at how much improvement I have seen in peoples' stitch outs. If you come to (or want to come to) Embroidery Secrets, it is always free to attend and is held monthly on the first Tuesday of the month and the same session is repeated on Wednesday morning. While we use Bernina machines, the designs and the teaching we provide are good for all machine embroidery.

This next month we are starting our Embroidery Challenge of the month. Just stitch out something with the circles that Roxanne has digitized for everyone. While she introduced hers for quilting, there are so very many things you can do with circles...embellish denim, sew with bobbin work, create trapunto, twin-needle, shadow applique, texture layers... Then everyone who brings their design work to May's Embroidery Secrets will be eligible for a drawing for a $50 gift card. This isn't a contest. You just have to stitch them out and bring them to E-Secrets. If you want to participate, email Roxanne at Be sure to tell her what format you need for your sewing machine and she will email it back to you.

Have a Happy Easter....Hope you get lots of happy eggs in your basket...jill

1 comment:

BrendaLou said...

what, no picture of the finished collar?