Thursday, February 28, 2013

Resource Library: Sewing Thread

As a sewer, we all use thread. Whether we're using it for hand-sewing or putting it into our machine, we are very familiar with thread. But when using it, we tend to not think about how it is made and what fibers it can come in. I've done a lot of research on thread and I would love to share it with you! 


Thread is a tightly twisted strand of two or more plys of yarn. It is used to sew together garments, accessories and more. A collection of yarns (or threads) is also used to weave together fabric, whether it is woven or knitted. 

Thread comes in a variety of materials. As a "common" sewer, many of us are used to polyester or polyester/cotton threads. But threads also come in wool, silk, and many other contents.

NATURAL FIBERS:
1. Animal: wool, silk, hair
2. Plant (vegetable): cotton, flax, jute, wool, bamboo, etc.


MAN-MADE FIBERS:
1. Regenerated Cellulose: rayon, acetate
2. Mineral: glass, metallic
3. Synthetic: polyester, nylon, acrylic, elastic, polypropylene, etc.



How is Thread Made?


Thread is made by twisting together fibers. When fibers are combined to make the thread, a reverse twist is applied to add strength. Without a reverse twist, the thread cannot be controlled during sewing. The individual yarns would separate as they pass through the needle and the tension discs of the sewing machine. 


The direction of the twist is really important. A thread with a z-twist (left twist) is made specifically for your sewing machine. The action of the sewing process tends to increase the twist of a z-twist thread, whereas the s-twist (right twist) can untwist when being used in the sewing machine. 





Thread Construction Methods:


Spun Thread:
Twisting together yarns made from short fibers (image to the right), produces all spun threads. However the lengths of the fibers used can have a major effect on the quality, strength, and performance of the thread produced. As a general rule of thumb, the longer the length of the fibers, the better the quality of thread produced. The highest quality spun polyester, such as Mettler and Gutermann, are produced from longer staple fibers.





Core Thread:
Spun cotton or polyester (short) fibers wrapped around a continuous filament of polyester fibers.




Texturized Thread:

Continuous filament polyester or nylon that has been mechanically texturized and heat set to make the thread fuzzy and stretchy.



Monofilament:
Single nylon or polyester filament. Long fiber that is spun by melting (see images above).




Thread Finishes
Before thread is wound onto the spool it is given an invisible helpmate. For example, serger threads get a finish that prevent it from breaking in high-speed sewing. Machine-quilting threads are treated to flow smoothly through the tension guides. All threads are lubricated with chemicals to some degree, but some (especially cotton varieties) have other finishes applied.


Bonded:
Polyester or nylon thread coated to keep it from shredding and to reduce abrasion.


Gassed:
Normally used on cotton thread. The thread is quickly passed through the flame to reduce fuzz. 


Glazed (glacé):
A glaze is put on some threads to help reduce knots and tangling. Commonly, a glaze is put on cotton thread that is used for hand-sewing. It is treated with starches, waxes or chemicals then polished to a luster for a smooth surface. This finish can gum up a sewing machine, so use only for hand-sewing. Many of you may have a beeswax bar in your sewing supply kit. This is the simple way to make any thread have a glaze.

Mercerized:

Mercerized cotton or cotton-covered polyester thread is put in a caustic soda bath that is then neutralized in an acid bath. This process adds strength, luster and dye-fastness. It also reduces lint. 

Soft:
Usually refers to a cotton thread that does not have any finishing processes applied. 


Kind of Threads and Use:

Different projects require different threads, so you may want to have a variety of different threads in your supply kit. Garment sewing projects could include a variety of threads - "regular" thread for seams, decorative ones for embroidery or decorative stitches and heavier threads for buttonholes, shirring and more. 



Cotton thread:
Made from spun staple cotton fibers. Cotton thread has little stretch, limited strength, and (in comparison to other fibers) can produce a lot of lint. It also has a low sheen. Use cotton thread for heirloom sewing, decorative stitching or embroidery, sewing lightweight natural fibers, patchwork, and quilting.


Cotton-wrapped polyester thread:
Made by wrapping a continuous polyester filament with staple cotton, this thread has the benefits of polyester and the look of cotton. This is the most common type of thread used for all-purpose sewing.


Monofilament Thread:
This type of thread has a single strand of nylon or polyester filament and comes in a wide range of weights. Polyester withstands higher heat than nylon, rot-resistant. Almost invisible, it comes clear, gray, or matte. It feels scratchy worn next to the skin. Use a lightweight version for invisible sewing and blind hems, or encase a heavier version inside a rolled stitch to support fluted or ruffled edges.


Texturized threads (such as woolly nylon or polyester, wool-look):
Texturized threads are continuous multi-filaments that stretch into a fine yet strong thread. When relaxed, it expands to a full, fluffy appearance. This type of thread fills in stitches on rolled hems and overlock stitches making soft, stretchy seams for swimwear and children's clothes. It is used mainly on a serger. 


Upholstery threads:
This thick, strong thread is often made of nylon. It comes in limited colors and withstands the elements pretty well. It is easy to sew with but the ends tend to unravel. It is also difficult to knot.


Bobbin thread:
This type of thread is very fine and used in machine embroidery. It comes in limited colors and sometimes available on pre-wound bobbins. 

Buttonhole twist, topstitching thread, or cordonnet:

These heavier threads are available in silk, polyester, cotton-covered polyester, and cotton. It can be used for heavy-duty utility sewing, open decorative machine stitching, bold topstitching, hand-stitched buttonholes on heavy fabrics, and cording machine buttonholes.

Polyester thread:

The garment industry often uses polyester thread because it is strong, colorfast, and resistant to UV rays, rot, mildew, and chemicals. It has some stretch, good recovery, and is heat-resistant. It can also be manufactured to mimic the appearance of natural fibers.


Spun polyester:
Polyester is cut into staples to spin it into thread. It is smoother and stronger than a spun natural fiber. Use it for all-purpose sewing.


Rayon thread:
Rayon thread is made from continuous fibers. It has no stretch, very little strength and not always colorfast. But is soft and beautiful! It is used almost exclusively for decorative stitching and machine embroidery. Because it is not durable, it is not recommended for construction. 


Silk Thread:
This thread is made from a natural continuous fiber that is strong, smooth, and has a lustrous sheen. It is wonderful for hand-sewing, tailoring, and basting. Use lightweight silk threads for sewing fragile fabrics. Use medium-weight silk thread for elegant construction on fine silk and wool fabrics. Use heavier-weight silk thread for buttonholes and hand or machine top-stitching.


Light-sensitive Thread:
Novelty threads that either change color in sunlight or glow in the dark. Use for top-stitching and embroidery.


Fusible thread:
Like fusible interfacing, fusible thread melts when ironed, forming a bond with fabric. Use it in the bobbin or lower looper on a serger to outline appliqués, pockets, etc. This will allow them to be temporarily fused in place instead of basted.


Water-soluble thread:
This is handy for temporarily basting hems and positioning pockets, pleats, etc. For general construction, thread your machine with the same thread on the top and in the bobbin because it’s practical and simplifies balancing the tension. Color suitability might be a reason for not matching the top thread to the bobbin thread in which case you would use the same type of thread in the bobbin and on top, but match the color of each to the corresponding fabric.


Metallic thread:
Metallic thread has a foil-like appearance and is used for decorative stitching and embroidery. It is known to separate, so stitch slowly, loosen the tension, use a larger needle, and pair with all-purpose thread in the bobbin. Some newer wrapped-core versions have a veneer-type finish that keeps them from separating.


Serger Thread:
Finer than all-purpose thread, has a special finish for high-speed sewing, and comes on cones or tubes.



Thread Size Measurement
The weight or size of thread is an important consideration for any sewing or quilting project. A thinner thread will blend in, whereas a heavier thread will show. Three primary methods of thread measurement are weight, denier, and tex.


Weight: This is the most commonly understood method. You may see thread marked "60/2". This means it is a 60-weight, 2-ply thread. The Weight is the "60" and is determined by the number of kilometers required by a specific thread to weigh 1 kilogram. The higher the number, the lighter and finer the thread is. The "ply" number tells you how many yarns are twisted together. 2-ply thread is usually used for machine embroidery and 3-ply threads are all-purpose threads. 

Denier: This method is intended for synthetic fibers. Denier is the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of thread. If 9,000 meters weighs 120 grams, it is a 120-denier thread. Most embroidery threads are 120d/2, which means two strands of 120-denier thread twisted together making 240 denier total. The larger the number, the heavier the thread. 


Tex: Weight in grams of 1,000 meters of thread. If 1,000 meters weighs 25 grams, it is a Tex 25. Larger numbers indicate heavier thread.


THREAD SIZE COMPARISON CHART


Weight/ply
Denier
Tex
Lightweight (fine) threads
50/2, 60/2, 70/2, 80/2
100s, 200s
10-24
Medium-weight threads
50/3, 30/2 300s
400s
27-45
Heavyweight (thick) threads
40/3
500s up
50 up





Now that you've learned ALL this information on thread, its time to learn what type of thread to use with what fabric. We've also included information on what needles to use with these threads. If you remember, we talked about needles in a previous post, Resource Library: Choosing the Right Needle


Fabric, Thread and Needle Chart:


Fabric Weight & Type
Thread
Machine Needles
Very Light: chiffon, georgette, organza, tulle, etc.
100% Cotton (extra fine)
Cotton-wrapped polyester (extra fine)
Silk
Universal 60/8 or 65/9
Light: cotton/polyester blend batiste, linen, lace, etc.
100% Cotton (extra fine)
Cotton-wrapped polyester
(extra fine)
Silk
Universal 65/9 or 70/10
Ballpoint or stretch 70/10 or 75/11
Medium Light: challis, knit, microfiber, polyester silky, seersucker, taffeta, etc.
 Cotton-wrapped polyester
100% Polyester
Silk
Universal 70/10 or 80/12
Ballpoint or stretch 75/11
Medium Heavy:  brocade, corduroy, denim, sequinned fabric, velvet, wool and wool blends, etc.
Cotton-wrapped polyester
100% Polyester
Silk
Universal 80/12 or 90/14
Jeans/ Denim 90/14
Ballpoint or stretch 80/12 or 90/14
Leather 90/14
Heavy: boiled wool, canvas, faux fur, leather, etc.
Cotton-wrapped polyester (Button & Carpet)
100% Polyester (extra strong)
Silk
100% Nylon (Upholstery & Home Dec)
Universal 90/14 or 100/16
Jeans/ Denim 90/14 or 100/16
Very Heavy:  Canvas, duck, upholstery fabrics
Cotton-wrapped polyester (Button & Carpet)
100% Polyester (extra strong)
100% Nylon (Upholstery & Home Dec)
Universal 100/16, 110/18, or 120/19
Jeans/ Denim 100/16 or 110/18
Leather 100/16 or 110/18

And one last thing that I just had to share-- Always clean your machine in between projects! A build-up of lint from the thread (and dust from your fabric) can cause problems that appear to be related to thread tension.



~ Gabby ~


The information in this post was taken and adapted from the following sources, pictures and images are courtesy from the same and other free internet sources:
Coats & Clark, North America. http://www.coats.com
Coats Viyella PLC, Thread Division. http://www.coats-viyella.co.uk .
Gütermann of America, Inc., and Gütermann AG, Germany. http://www.guetermann.com .
Saunders Thread Company. http://www.saunders-thread.com/sewing.html .
Synthetic Thread Company. http://www.syntheticthread.com
http://www.fabriclandwest.com/Notion_basics/MontlyNotionFeatures/tying_it_all_together.htm#conventional

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Resource Library: Tulle

Tulle is an open-construction fabric made using three kinds of yarns. In the following image (green) warp yarns running with the selvedge are looped by (blue) warp yarns that run diagonally.


At the same time another set of (purple) weft yarns loop the warp yarns and cross the opposite blue weft yarns.


A Hexagonal design is produced by (warp) yarns and the two kinds of (weft – filling) yarns running diagonally. The regular even tension given to the yarns produces a firm, stiff netting called tulle. When fabric is relaxed, a hexagonal shape is evident. The fabric is starched to help it hold it design and produces a wiry, crisp hand.


Tulle was first made as a foundation of laces in 1806 when John Heathcoat of Nottingham, United Kingdom (see Lace post)  was trying to adapt his machine for lace production. Tulle netting is still the foundation of many laces.

Tulle is still produced in Heathcoat’s Bobbinette machines which produces the highest quality of tulle. It holds its shape, and  provides beneficial properties of uniformity, strength and flexibility. Tulle can also be knitted. Adaptations to the Raschel machine (designed also to produce lace) have been made to give knitted tulle equal characteristics to bobbinette tulle. 

Tulle has many uses --embroidery, lingerie, bridal wear, haute couture, decorations, arts and crafts, gift packing, etc. It has also applications in technical areas where durability and flexibility of netting are important, like parachute netting and medicine.



What to make with Tulle: 


Tips and Tricks for Sewing Tulle: 

1.) When sewing tulle on a machine, place tissue paper under tulle to keep it stable and prevent the feed dogs from tearing the netting.

2.) Always place a towel on tulle before ironing and use a gentle setting. Tulle will melt easily if you are not careful!

3.) Remember when cutting tulle for garments: tulle has more stretch in the width than in length

4.) Place tape under your presser foot or use a roller foot to prevent snagging

5.) Stitch slowly! 

6.) Raw edges will not fray, so you don't have to finish them! 

7.) Use a water and fabric softener mix in a spray bottle to spray tulle before layering to keep it from collecting static.

~ Gabby

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sew Along: Sewing the muslin

Have you ever used a PDF pattern before?
This is my first time using one and I'm a little nervous about the instructions because they do not have picture diagrams. However, ohhh Lulu does and instructional blog posts on their website to help guide you through the process. I am sure I will be visiting those often! 

For those who are not familiar with PDF patterns I thought I would elaborate on the process. 
A PDF pattern is often bought online and you receive the pattern by email. You save the document to your computer and then print following the instructions written by the seller.
Independent pattern designers typically use this method. 



You will print the pattern out and cut off the margins if instructed to do so. 
From there you piece the pattern together following the grid system, placing matching letters and numbers side by side. (B1 is matched to B1, remember to check each side to make sure they match)

The pattern will start to come together and look like a regular tissue paper pattern. 
Once you have all the pieces taped together, you cut it out like normal. 

And ta-da!
You have a pattern! 

A few benefits to using PDF patterns are: 

  1. You can reprint the pattern. Messed up? Need a different size? Missing a piece? Don't worry!
  2. You print the pattern on printer paper, so you have sturdy patterns that you can use time and time again. 
  3. You can cut out your specific size without fear. On a regular tissue pattern, I cut for the largest size and fold down to my actual size, which I find to be rather annoying but in the long run beneficial because I can use that pattern for multiple sizes later. 

With PDF patterns, if I need a different size later, I can reprint and not have to repurchase!
I began sewing with first making the panties and bra from scraps.
Because I decided to make separates, I followed the cut lines on the pattern.
However when I cut them into seperates, I lost some information from the pattern that I discovered I would later need when pinning the garment together. So, now I know, write what pieces they are on the pattern before throwing the cut outs away!
Simple concept, but sometimes the excitement of a new project distracts me from obvious conclusions.
The panties were a breeze to pin together and stitch.
However I had more difficulty with the bra and felt confused on how to form the cup and piece the bra together, which is a part I have struggled with on other patterns. Luckily this pattern company has blog post instructionals on how to make this pattern. I visited and I'm ready to make another attempt at pieceing together the bra portion.

In the meantime, I think I am ready to cut out the pattern on the actual fabric I intend to use.
Wish me luck!
 



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Feature: Garnish Apparel

As wholesale manager, I have the opportunity to meet some really fun fashion designers. I grow a business and personal relationship with many and love to support their efforts! One of my (MANY) favorites is Erica Lurie, owner of Garnish Apparel. 


Erica has so graciously accepted the invitation to be featured on our blog. She just finished a new collection, entitled, "White Label Collection." This collection is quite different from her regular line of garments, but still oh so tempting! The best thing about her designs is that everything is Handmade in the USA! Along with a team of talented sewers, they sew the entire line in Portland, OR. The images scattered through this post are part of the White Label Collection. Enjoy and don't forget...support local and support indie design!


From the "White Label Collection" - Spring 2013
What is behind your business name?  
Garnish means to adorn or decorate.  One of the most immediate ways of expressing our personalities is by our choices in how we adorn ourselves.  So our dress has a powerful ability to shape our opinions about ourselves as well as other people's opinions about us.  I like for my customers to feel that when they "Garnish" themselves they put forth an image that makes them feel good about who they are. 
 
What is a typical work day like?  
There is no typical work day at Garnish!  That is what I love about it (and can at times be frustrating!).  When I arrive at work I can have an agenda and at the end of the day, what I accomplished often looks nothing like what I set out to do.   But that keeps things interesting as I hate repetition.  

What made you want to be a designer? 
I love working with my hands and creating things three-dimensionally.  And I LOVE fabric!  I find the challenge of fitting fabric to the body in just the way I want to be exhilarating. 

Did you go to school for fashion? Where?  
I was a Sculpture major and clothing and textiles minor at Montana State University in Bozeman.  Most of my sculptures were clothing in some medium... often metal. 

What do you use for inspiration? 
I find most of my inspiration from my fabrics.  I buy fabrics that I love and that work together and then from there decide if the fabric is most appropriate for a dress, a top, a bottom, etc.  I think I must find inspiration sub-consciously from nature as I love the outdoors and use it to rejuvenate me.

Who is your favorite designer?  
Oh, that's tough.  I'm going to go with Carolina Herrera.

Before you established your own line, did you work in the fashion field? Where? 
Yes, I worked at Adidas.  My boss gave me a 3 month leave of absence to work on my line... pretty amazing!

What is the best thing about being a designer? The hardest thing?
I love being able to come to work and be creative!  I also love working for myself but that can also be the hardest thing... ultimately it all falls on your shoulders. 

Nadira Dress - Designs from Past Seasons - Fabric is from Fabric Mart (No longer available)
Do you have any signature pieces you make every season?  
We have made our Amanda Dresses for many seasons and it's a great all around dress.  But we are feeling like we need to take a little break from it and re-introduce it down the road a bit.

What is your favorite fabric type? 
I can't answer that, I'd be excluding too many wonderful fabrics!  But I do love printed silks- they suck me in every time!

What colors do you gravitate to? 
I try to really vary my palette because different colors work on different people and all colors are so beautiful.  Right now I'm pining for the deep, deep indigo that is popular, especially in Europe.

From the "White Label Collection" - Spring 2013

Where do you go when you need to get away from it all? 
Into the woods...

What is your favorite food?  
All of them.  OK, if I must choose one I'd say lobster (sorry little guys).

Any advice for aspiring designers?  
Be ready to work your butt off if you want to get anywhere in this industry.  But it is so worth it.

What is one fashion trend you love? Hate? 
I'm loving the bold colors this season.  There are usually some trends that I hate, but this season I like most of them. 

From the "White Label Collection" - Spring 2013

How would you describe the type of woman that buys your clothes? 
Independent, confident (but not always when it comes to dressing themselves), often creative in some sense, knows what she wants from her life and goes out and gets it!


Are you are designer looking for larger quantities? The wholesale division of Fabric Mart may be the answer! Contact julie@fabricmartfabrics.com if you are interested in learning more.

Become a Fabric Mart Fabricista! 
Are you a designer or just love to sew for yourself?  If you've used a Fabric Mart fabric, we would love to feature you on our blog! Its a great way to show other customers what they can do with a fabric. For more information, contact fabricmartblog@gmail.com


~Julie

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Feature: Pamela's Patterns

Have you been working with commercial patterns and not getting the results you want? Well if you feel this way, you need to try Pamela's Patterns! Pamela Leggett, creator of Pamela's Patterns, has been teaching how to sew since 1981. She specializes is pattern fitting which is clearly seen in her line of patterns, which are made to fit more like ready-to-wear clothes.

In 2012, she was proud to bring the Palmer/Pletch Sewing School to the east coast. Along with Pati Palmer herself, she taught the classes at Steve's Sewing, Vacuum and Quilting in King of Prussia, PA. The main Palmer/ Pletch Sewing School is located at Fabric Depot in Portland, OR. 

In keeping with our theme of everything Valentine's, Love and Lace, we especially wanted to feature Pamela's pattern entitled, UnMentionables Worth Mentioning. This pattern is for the "unmentionables" aka undergarments! She includes a pattern for a cami-illusion, slip and panties.


The cami-illusion can be made from scraps in your stash. It attaches to your bra straps making it look like you're wearing a camisole.

The No "VPL" (visble panty lines) Undies are made from stretch laces and knits. These can be made from stretch lace trims, stretch  lace yardage, knits and even scraps of theses fabrics from your stash.

The Smoothing Slips are slips that smooth out anything you don't want to see under a dress or skirt. It is meant to be a fitted slip, not a full gathered slip. The slips can be made from tricot knits and charmeuses with stretch. 


Pamela has a number of videos highlighting her patterns. She has a really nice video for the Unmentionables Worth Mentioning pattern. She shares the type of fabrics and elastics you will need to use to create beautiful undergarments! The great thing is that most of the items in this pattern can be made from scraps! You can find a link to her other videos on her website.

Watching her video really inspired me to try my hand at making my own undergarments! It seemed a little intimidating to me in the past, but now that I know it is SO easy, I'll give it a try. In the meantime, keep following Kaitlin's progress on her Sew Along: Lingerie.

Pamela has a lot of new things coming out this year and I got the inside scoop directly from her! She will have a new pattern called, Pants....Perfected! This pattern features the Magic Pants and Grown Up Leggings. She will also be revamping some of her current patterns including the Versatile Twin Set with more options -- colorblocking and a duster-style cardi. And lastly, she just finished taping a Serger DVD with Threads Magazine and Taunton Press. This DVD should be available in fall 2013. To stay up-to-date on these and other updates, bookmark Pamela's website, Pamela's Patterns!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Inspiration: Valentine's Day Decorations

Valentine's Day is one of my personal favorites because I love the simple heart decorations, the flowers, the cake, and the shades of pink and red.
I especially love how all of the decorations can be made by hand.
Here are a few ideas you can make yourself:



Happy Valentine's Day!
Love, Fabric Mart


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Made by a Fabricista: Sewing a Men's Button-down Shirt

I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." Well this is very true with my husband. But I also think that making things for someone shows that you really care because you're taking time to do something for someone else. 

My husband needed some new button-down shirts for work, so I decided that I would make some for him. I had three different shirting fabrics and a pattern in my stash, I just needed to sit down and do it! So I made a vow that I was going to start and finish all three of these shirts before I worked on any other project. (Haha, how many of us say that?!) I used McCall #6044 and three different cotton shirtings I bought from Fabric Mart a few years ago.




The first shirt I cut out in size large because that's "what the pattern told me to do." I knew that when I make clothing for myself I never make my ready-to-wear size, so I was expecting the same thing here. When my husband tried the shirt on, I ended up having to take it in a whole size! So I stopped working on that shirt and cut out the next shirt in size medium.

There were just a few changes I made to the pattern. I cut out the collar in size large, because he has a larger neck circumference. On ready-to-wear shirts, he has to leave the button at the top open (when wearing a tie.) I also had to make the sleeves 1 1/4" shorter and the hem 2" shorter.


The pattern was quite simple as far as details go. I added a yoke to the back of the shirt to help make it more like a ready-to-wear shirt. I also added top-stitching to the shoulder seams, and armhole. I had a hard time finding a thread that matched the background color, so I selected a deep navy thread. It matches some of the pin-striping in the fabric.


I used Pellon Shir-Tailor Fusible Interfacing for the collar and cuffs. I used a lighter weight interfacing on the button yoke because the Shir-Tailor made it too stiff. 

Overall, I really enjoyed making these shirts! They were fairly easy and I whipped up two in one weekend. I don't think we're going to be buying button-down shirts anymore. I will be shopping for fabric instead!


We have a nice selection of cotton shirting right now. Here are a few shirting picks I think would be great for a men's shirt. 


         

CGE6316 - Wrinkle-free Shirting - Bright Kiwi/ White  
SNE6317 - Multi-Stripe Cotton Shirting - Bronze/Black/White



What will you be making for your significant other?