Monday, October 21, 2013

Sewing 101: Ruffler Foot Guide

It's Monday! You know Monday's never meant anything to me until my kids started school. Now they are known as the day I No Longer Get To Sleep In. Huh ...? Have I digressed? I'm fairly certain I did my time. All 13 years of it.

On a blog related note, Ucreate posted a funny thing on Facebook this morning: determine your sewing name. Mine is Sassy Machine Master! I dig it. Why is this blog related? Because we're talking about sewing today. I'm sure the pinnable image was a dead giveaway. If you recall our Presser Feet Guide, you may remember discussing the Ruffler Foot, a presser foot designed to create perfectly pleated ruffles. It is hands down one of my favorite sewing attachments, and I thought it would be great to give you instructions on how to use it. 

I wanted to do a video tutorial, but it appears my camera bag, which contained my video camera, has gone missing. Err... At first I thought, No big deal, I can record on the laptop. Then the hard drive on that crashed. Well now! So ... we needed to settle for pictures. My apologies. But I will do my best to describe everything. The ruffler foot looks a little intimidating, but it's really not. In fact, it's fascinating to see it work. And I promise it will make your life so much easier.

Note, when purchasing a ruffler foot, it is best to buy one that is by the same brand as your sewing machine. Some say they're universal, but that is not always true.

Remove any current presser foot you may have in place and unscrew your shank.

Angle your foot so that the fork arm hooks under your needle holder, hook it around your shank holder, then screw it in. Be careful to hold it in place while you screw it in, as it will give a small amount. 

To ensure it is properly installed, slowly hand crank your needle. It should go directly down into the small hole designated for it. If it doesn't go smoothly, or feels like it sticks somewhat, unscrew it and readjust. If you try sewing immediately and it is off ever the slightest mm, your needle will snap. 

There are three main parts to this foot you are going to be working with in order to create your ruffles: the ratchet gear feed plate, the cloth guide, and the depth adjustment screw. You may also use your machine's stitch length.

In the picture to the left, we have the ratchet gear feed plate. This determines the number of ruffles you get. The star on the far left gives a straight stitch (no gather), the "12" gathers once every 12 stitches, the "6" every 6 stitches, and the "1" will gather with every stitch. For ruffles I like mine set at "6" and for gathering I use the "1" setting. 

In the right photo we have the cloth guide (the snake-like piece) and the depth adjustment screw. The cloth guide guides your fabric, holding it securely to create those perfect pleats. The adjustment screw works in sync with the ratchet gear feed plate to create custom pleats. The depth screw will determine the depth of your pleat, smaller taking small bits of fabric and larger taking bigger sections of fabric.

There are two cloth guides, one on the right and one in the front. We're going to work with the larger one on the front. This step is very important to ensuring your fabric is pulled properly through the ruffling blade. Place your fabric over the first part of the cloth guide as shown in the second photo, under the middle piece (photo 3), then up and through to the needle. You are basically just weaving it through the cloth guide, starting on top. It is a little difficult to get down at first. I use my screw driver to help guide and push it through.

As I mentioned before your stitch length will also determine the size of your ruffles. The shorter your stitch length is the tighter your ruffle will be  and vice versa. In this photo I have my stitch length set to "3" and am gathering every 6 stitches. (Before pressing your pedal, be sure your top and bobbin thread are pulled to the back. Also, do let the loose threads get caught in your sewing or they will cause the ruffles to curl considerably.) Begin sewing and watch the magic happen as that ruffling blade (the piece with the teeth on the front) pulls and tucks your fabric!

Now that we know how to use the ruffler foot, this Anthro-hack will be coming soon!
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oh, Martha, Let's talk

For those who haven't heard, Martha Stewart recently said in an interview on Bloomberg that bloggers are not experts. Sure, it's taboo to argue with Martha, nor is it "appropriate" to be argumentative or political on a blog, but today we're going to be real. For the past couple days I have been tweeting back and forth with some sweet folks on Twitter on the topic, and we reached a great point: that place where the line is drawn.

To an extent Martha is correct. But only to a small extent. Bloggers ought to blog with ethics. If you have not thoroughly studied chemical compounds and the like, it is not wise to share hair treatment advice. There are a lot of PH levels and other chemicals you must understand. I do not, so, no, I will not tell you how to best dye your hair and what conditioning treatment will work best for you. Everyone's hair is also different, so that will always play a big factor. I have consulted my stylist about hair advice, and she has animatedly insisted I not share it on my blog and ask me not to quote her. Why? Because if it doesn't work for your hair, it comes back to her and to me.

There are many other topics we could go through, but I think beauty bloggers tend to me my own biggest pet peeve, because this is your physical body we are talking about, applying ingredients and chemicals to your skin and hair, all directed by inexperienced bloggers. 

So, yes, Martha, there you have a point.

But I do not think it's fair to lump all bloggers into one single You're-Not-An-Expert category. I have readily admitted I am not an expert, but I shared my Mustard Greens Recipe anyway, because it was loved by many. Not just myself, but the southern community I have taken to. I did not "copy" anyone's. I stood in front of my fridge and thought, what do I have on hand that I can throw in here? I am sure there are many other recipes like it, as it is not an overly-complicated recipe. But it is mine. I am also learning Photoshop, and as someone who is self-taught, I have tried sharing little things I learn along the way for others who want to learn.

Martha, you quote in your interview, "They're not trained editors at Vogue Magazine. They're copies of what really good editors have created and done."

Okay, I'm going to jump on that right now, because I know for a fact that editors COPY WHAT BLOGGERS HAVE DONE. In case you don't follow Epbot, late last year Redbook Magazine took her Flip Flop Hanger tutorial, traced her pictures with colored pencil, then published the idea as their own in their January issue with no credit to Epbot whatsoever. When the editor of Redbook was alerted to this she immediately corrected the mistake, even quoting "Creative women like you are key contributors to our magazine." What sweet recognition!

Which brings me to my final point, Martha. How many bloggers have you had as guests on your show and your website? How many times have you stood there, beaming over their creations and recipes and know-how, and all the while you've been thinking, "You don't know what you're talking about, you're not an 'expert'?" This begs the question, why do you have them on your show then? Because your producer said so? Do you not truly support them and value their work? Are you not self-taught as well? Did you not leap into your own business adventures based on what you knew you had a knack for? You did not study culinary arts or interior design or any form of writing, yet you developed skills on your own, which you now share with the world. How does this make you any different than us bloggers? 

I must say, that was a little saddening to hear your lack of support for the creative community. After-all, we enjoy your products. We beam with sincerity at your creativity. I oohed and ahhed over your costume on the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living. You truly did give beauty to Halloween! We envy what you have done for yourself. And until that statement, you gave a small bit of hope to other creative individuals on the possibilities their creative genius could have.

I know you are entitled to your thoughts and opinions, and I would not dream of denying you them. I am sorry if you think us bloggers create a "popularity" of some kind. My personal opinion is that the statement sounded like one of inferiority. Please let me assure you, I personally do not mean to encroach on your empire in any way, or desire to create a "popularity" that would take away from your creative domain. My sole goal on my amateuristic blog is to encourage others to be the best version of themselves they can be. To give hope to other single mothers barely making it along that there is possibility. To ensure they know it only takes a little ingenuity and creativity. I want to uplift others and be sure they know they can be a self-made woman and be proud of that!

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Surprise Pinterest Dream Wedding

And people criticize those who aren't engaged for having wedding Pinterest boards!


After hearing his girlfriend say to a friend she wanted to get engaged and married on the same day, this groom surprised his bride by planning their entire wedding using her wedding Pinterest board as his inspiration. He proposed, then walked her into her dream wedding!

You're welcome!

Happy weekend, lovelies!
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

10 DIY Women's Sweaters to Keep you warm this fall

Whether you're a seamstress, a knitter, or a crocheter I've got you covered. I have been sewing for many years now and have recently decided to take up crochet. I'm also a mom on a small budget, so making my own clothes this cold winter season will delight me so!

Aidez Knit Sweater @ Berroco

Lenticel Knit Sweater @ Ravelry

Mmm Soft Sweater @ Pickles

Cozy sweater @ Burdastyle 

Boucle Crewneck Sweater @ Burdastyle 

Shimmer Sweater @ Ravelry

Owl Sweater @ Kate Davies Designs

Sweatshirt Sweater @ Laura's Loop 

Kate Spade-Inspired Fur Pullover @ The Selfish Seamstress

Aztec Cardigan @ Jada Grace

I hope this collection of sweater patterns keeps you warm and creative through the coming cold days. Just looking at many of these makes me want to snuggle up with a book and a hot cup of coffee. I think I need a cozy pair of knit socks too! What is your idea of comfort throughout winter?


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Monday, October 7, 2013

Life lately [in photos]

Most days life is so busy I look back and wonder how on earth I get through it. Many days blur together, one right into the next. With children back in school, germs are in full force, wreaking even more havoc. With strep throat, upper respiratory and ear infection terrorizing my home, last week I only had time for one blog post. Just one! That made me a little sad, although I was glad I got to sneak in a little Photoshop time. I really enjoy learning it.
Friday was my day off, however. I took a girls day and went thrifting with Logan's mother and one of our neighbors. I picked up this darling little picture frame. It came with that photo inside. I liked it so much, I decided to leave it.
I also did some rearranging around the house this weekend. I brought my dresser full of fabric out of my room, into the living room. I had purchased a wooden toddler bed for my youngest daughter not too long ago, and in no time my children destroyed it. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THEM. THEY ARE CHEAP. While I was thrifting I found a metal toddler bed (much better) and snagged it. I took that cheap wood sleigh one, disassembled it, and used the headboard as a scarf rack. I'm considering using the foot board in my studio space.
And exciting, exciting, I got a new/used vehicle! This was an honest blessing. I have not had a car since mine broke down last December. It has not bothered me much living here. Bus service is free, paid for by the college. It's wonderful. But the buses don't leave the town of Boone. Anything outside of town has been off limits to me and all my children. And there's the snow. While there is bus service, I walk to most places, such as the bus stop, grocery store, bank, etc. I have been praying, leaving it to the Lord, knowing when a vehicle was right for me, I would know it. Logan came to me and said, Go test drive this car for sale, I'll watch the kids. I was a little dumbfounded. The whole thing was just that abrupt. But I did when Logan told me it was a mutual friend selling it who honestly needed it sold. She is a single momma of four and needed it gone. I had my mechanic look it over it, he gave it a thumbs up, and when I told him how much I was paying his jaw dropped and he said, "Take it!" So thank you, Lord, for a cheap, sound vehicle that will keep me from walking in the freezing snow this winter.
And how about this view of an Appalachian Mountain sunset? Yeah, I thought so. Things like this make me happy I live here. What a blessing God has been to me and my children.

How have your lives been lately? 

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Photoshop editing and tutorials

I got a post in! It's terrible this is my only post for this week, but I'm happy I managed to squeeze at least one in. There have been bouts of strep, trips to the emergency room, and sleepless nights. I managed to squeeze in buying a new (used) vehicle, and, oh sweet joy, today is girls day. This momma needs girls day!

In what down time I have had, I've been learning Photoshop. I don't know if many of you follow Alex Beadon, but I adore her. Her site is so informative, her Chatty Tuesday videos exciting. And her dog ...! Oh dear, what a cutie!

If you're not familar with her, you should be. I've following for a number of months now. She recently began a FREE Photoshop workshop, the Express Yourself Collection. She goes through her video tutorials, and provides you with free actions, workbooks and textures to enhance your photography. I have been loving the videos so far. I have begun to learn just how creative I can be in my photo taking. 

I am not a professional photog and won't claim to be one. But I love gorgeous photos and I want to bring you readers the best I can. Not to mention, I'll take any excuse to get to play with my new present.
I took this photo as I was coming back from the bus stop Tuesday morning. What an amazing October sunrise, am I right? The sun rising beyond the trees, beams of lights bursting through. God was certainly making a beautiful sun that day. I thought this would be a great picture to practice on with Alex's latest (3rd) video, incorporating the serenity action and texture layers. I just adore how it came out. It's so cheerful, and that's how I felt when I saw this burst of sunshine behind my apartment building. I was overflowing with joy and awe. 

The editing on this was done with one action and two texture layers. The tree to the right is set at a different opacity than the rest with a slightly higher contrast. I was attempting to create a little depth in doing so. I'm still learning. Thankfully Alex's fourth video will be out soon and I can learn more. I can't wait. I highly recommend signing up. I mean, she was kind enough to offer this for free. And I promise, once you're there, you'll want to stay. She's just sort of one of those bloggers you love to love!

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