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New to sewing, have a few questions!

Posted by michelle_phxaz (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 21, 09 at 7:46

My husband bought me a Babylock machine about 9 years ago for Christmas (at my request, not one of those gifts where the husband gets his wife a vacuum cleaner!!!) and has teased me mercilessly because I hadn't so much as taken it out of the box until a few weeks ago.

I found a beautiful bedding set at Macy's but had no plan to spend $415 for a duvet, $185 for sheets, $90 for pillowcases, $145 for decorative shams, etc. so I bought the sheets on eBay for about $40 each and my size (king) duvet cover for $100 and a queen one for $85.

I cut up the ones I didn't plan on using as my sheet set and made pillowcases out of them (I can get about 12 pillowcases from one sheet for $40, another 8 king size pillowcases for about $40 and about 20 shams for $85 from the duvet. I am going to sell them on eBay.

Sorry for the ramble, my question is this: how should I do the back? I will sell the shams flat with no pillow (the cost to ship is much more than if they go to a fabric store and pick one up) but I need a good fabric for the back, I want it different from the front, perhaps a sateen type in the same shade. The material I have is Calvin Klein and is 100% cotton (I prewashed it) and I am thinking of making it with a slit across the middle of the back, envelope style, and perhaps a button to stuff the pillow in.

Another question is what can I use to mark where I want to cut the fabric so I get an even line? I have been using a tape measure and marking every few inches or so and cutting to each point, but there has to be something to draw a line to keep the cuts straighter, or even a cutter like an exacto knife which I am very familiar with.

Also, any hints, tips, ANYTHING would be helpful to me! What gadgets and must-haves do I need for my sewing basket? I love to sew, haven't since I was a kid and am super excited to rejoin. We have a JoAnn Fabric and crafts near us, so that is probably where I will do most of my shopping.

I hope to become a regular here!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: New to sewing, have a few questions!

if the fabric is tearable you can tear it and it will result in a straight line from the grain of the fabric. if tha fabric has a printed pattern off grain you are out of luck and must proceed the way you are doing.


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RE: New to sewing, have a few questions!

Sounds like you need a rotary cutter, matt and quilting ruler. Makes all the difference in the cutting!
Once you have one you will never go back. Splurge and buy the large matt (a good one, like Olfa), I started small, and had to go out and get the larger one, mine is 24" x 36". Love it, love it, love it!
Kathy G in MI


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RE: New to sewing, have a few questions!

Sounds to me like you need to buy tailor's chalk to make your lines. It comes in several types. I've posted a link to Joann's site showing several that would work.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tailor's chalk


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RE: New to sewing, have a few questions!

Have you tried a yardstick yet?

A metal 1 is even better than a wooden 1, coz the edges stay true.I also have a metal L-square, bought many years ago for pattern drafting, & which I use often - approx. 24"X 21"

Tailors' chalk is definitely a must-have for me - but you can (& I often do) use a very sharp pencil for many fabrics.

You can also pull a thread out & use the that empty line as your cutting guide.


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RE: New to sewing, have a few questions!

For the life of me I can't see how you are getting 12 double sized 20 x 30 pillow cases ( if they are high end they are usually 21 x 32) out of a 102x108 sheet and allow for seams and hems. Are you backing them with another material too? I have never seen pillow cases made with 2 different materials. Have you taken into consideration how much the backing is going to cost. It will cost about as much as you paid for the sheet You can only get 2 backs out of a yard of 45 inch wide material with a little left over.

Are you putting a border or trim on the shams. Most shams have something besides just the plain pillow covering. A trim sewn like an envelop flap from the corners to the center frontwith a decorative button is nice.

I wish you luck


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How to cut

Do not pull a thread to get cut unless you are sure that the fabric is or can be straightened so it's perfectly straight. Cutting out pillow cases it is not really necessary to have the material threads perfectly straight and your sheet may not be to start with.

If you don't have a metal yardstick you can borrow your husbands framing square. For some things where I want a crisp cutting line and the edges will be covered I often use a sharp pencil and mark on the back.

Often I make a paper pattern too if I'm goimg to be cutting several things the same--like the chair pads I'm making now.

If I were cutting pillow cases from a sheet like you are doing, I use the iron for marking. I fold over the length--in your case 33--30 for the case-- 2 inch hem and 1/2 inch to fold under for hem and 1/2 inch seam allowance. Then I'd measure and press a crease along my cut line and when I was satisfied everything was even I'd cut that piece off along the crease.

Then fold accordion style for the width 21 inches--20 for the case and 1 inch for the 2 side seams, and cut. This way you only have to measure for the first one and make all the creases the same.

I'd make french seams all around too. To make a french seam you sew on the right side close to the cut edge. cut off diagonally the points on your corners, then flip to the wrong side and sew using a 1/4 inch seam. This puts the cut edge inside the seam for a neat look.

My list of haves to sew--lots of bobbins, tailors chalk, seam ripper, tape measure, good sharp scissors that are used for nothing but material, good quality thread--the cheap stuff gives you nothing but trouble and plenty ov different sized sewing machine needles. I use mostly the ball point ones and I change them often.

Nice things to have--a rotory cutter and cutting mat, a metal yardstick, a hemming ruler, a small scissors for threads and clipping. I'm sure there's more but I can't think of them right now.

A good thing to have to store your sewing tools in is a fishing tackle box like the ones they use for fishing flies. It has neat little compartments that lets you organize things


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RE: New to sewing, have a few questions!

Wonderful! Thank you for all the tips. The tailor's chalk and a metal yardstick were two things I know would be useful, and the rotary cutter and mat I think will be perfect.

Oilpainter, I may have mistaken my numbers for pillows, but what I mean for the shams is very common: the front is patterned with the bedding pattern and the back is a plain fabric, nothing expensive. A few of the shams I already own have a button in the middle to keep the sham together on the back. I will be adding a border on the shams as well.

I have already made the pillowcases for my own set, two King cases and three regular. They came out perfect, but I can definitely see that it would have been easier with your tool suggestions! I have some Snapware containers to keep my sewing stuff in, but I like the tackle box idea better!


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RE: New to sewing, have a few questions!

Other than what others have suggested I would purchase any of their suggestions with the cash you make on your ebay selling, it's from sewing after all. Once you get all your tool wants then you can have a little kitty going for any fabric purchases without raiding the family budget.


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RE: New to sewing, have a few questions!

You're Welcome!!

I understand that for the shams. I have made many of them myself and did the same as you are thinking of doing. If you overlap the back by 3 or 3 1/2 inches you don't even need the button or sew on a little piece of velcro in the center--much easier than making buttonholes and sewing on buttons. Poly cotton is better for this than 100% cotton and you can often get it for 3 or 4 dollars a yard

One more thing I think you will find useful is a ruffler for your machine. Get it soon because if you wait too long you may not be able to get one to fit your machine.

They are great for adding a ruffled edge to curtains, chair pads, little girls clothes and anyplace else you want a ruffle. Better than sewing and pulling threads that break


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