Does Your Back Hurt After an Hour of Sewing?

I belong to a few sewing groups on Facebook. They are useful for a lot of things, but some of the members ask questions that they could easily solve by consulting their sewing machine manuals.

Some are just about common sense. This morning a woman asked if she should get a new chair, given that her back hurts after an hour of sewing. This question comes up all the time. 

The surprise would be if your back didn’t hurt after sitting and sewing for an hour! I can’t help it, I tell them to get up and stretch their back, shoulders and neck, and stretch their legs, every 20 minutes or so. 

I'm always the only one making this suggestion. Members send photos and links for their own chairs, suggest adding cushions, and so on, and commiserating about their own backaches.

Here's a routine I found without really looking:


Christmas - in August!

 Yesterday was, in fact, better than any recent Xmas. Judge for yourself:

AM: went to Purolator depot to pick up this item:

Yes, that's a whole bolt of unbleached cotton for making muslins (aka "toiles"), doll bodies, etc. 

20 metres, 60 inches wide. (Pardon the mixed systems!) Enough for a year, maybe more.

PM: Went to mailbox and found this:

This is a rare, out-of-print book that I had to work very hard to get at the publication price and not at the inflated (3-4 times the value) that unscrupulous used book sellers are listing it at.

My copy is new and if I have it it's thanks to an independent librarian in Sherbrooke (QC) who went to the trouble of hunting it down.

The book is everything I was hoping for, and then some.

No doubt you will see some of what I make from it and this will be very soon, so stay tuned!


Several Decades of Irons

What is it about irons that no matter how much you pay their lifetime is infuriatingly limited? I like this new Chi so-called Professional Iron that I just paid $75 for, but I have no illusions about its lasting longer than its 2-year warranty period. 

It may have 1700 wats, 300 steam holes and a 12-foot cord, but I will bet that my old Black and Decker travel iron will outlive it as it has outlived at least 6 others.

And that's not for lack of use. In-between all those others, B&D has always been there - sometimes for months and months while I tried to find the perfect iron - at least one that was within this regular person's budget.

Here is my beloved travel iron:

Yes, it only has 21 steam holes and the water tank only holds about half a cup of water, but the handle folds down for packing,  the cord is the longest I've ever seen, at 15 feet, and if you wonder why that's important, try using your regular iron in a hotel room.

I wouldn't make such a fuss if ironing wasn't such an important part of sewing. It's impossible to produce a high quality article without constant trips to the ironing board, and that's why professional tailors and seamstresses pay multiples of a thousand dollars for ironing equipment of this type:

I wish I could afford that!


Design Your Own Hat Patterns

I have made several hats since I posted that last tutorial  - mostly prototypes using unbleached cotton (muslin).

All that practise has led to this very satisfactory model:

You can't tell but this hat has a lot of professional features, including a headband inside that can be used to make the crown adjustable. Or simply to hide the seam joining the brim to the crown.

The crown itself is made up of six triangles: three of one fabric and three of another. I did this for fun but it would be a nice way of using up fabric scraps.

Altogether I have used three different fabrics: two for the crown, one of which is the top of the brim and the other the underside, and a third fabric for the lining, the inner band and the ties.

I need to sew ties on all my hats because I live in a windy area. I will add a toggle stopper later.

Here is the inside view: 

These are the tutorials I'm using for learning how to design my own hat patterns.

(1) This one is in English:

(2) And this one is in Spanish:

And in case you're wondering, this is the hat that inspired me to make this kind of crown.

Copyright Lorenna Buck

There are lots of hat tutorials online, but very few with such professional lessons.

Thanks to these tutorials I have progressed in leaps and bounds in my hatmaking project.


The Best Hatmaking Tutorial Ever

There is no talking and you don't need it because it's all so clear.

There are two hat styles, both fully reversible.

Note the difference: the one on the left is a true bucket, while the one on the right has a wider brim which is shorter on one side.

Printing the pattern didn't work for me - too small in spite of selection "actual size"; the reason I'm posting this is because of the excellent explanation - as free lessons go, it's the best, and I will use it for future hats.


From Bag to Hats, An Easy Transition

My Afternoon Bucket Hat For Windy Walks

May 2020: I am posting this as a destination for those looking for the pattern that I used for this hat.

The hat is called The Afternpon Bucket Hat, and I got the FREE pattern from a generous lady. Jennifer Jacobs, who lives in Scotland. She publishes it on her blog - well worth visiting by the way.

This is the link for the pattern AND her very excellent photo tutorial.

Mine is made of 100% cotton, and I used woven, fusible interfacing on all but the inner cap (the lining). I wanted a hat that was not so casual as hers. The interfacing gave it just the body I wanted.

The interfacing is Pellon SF 101 Shape-Flex. I love that stuff and buy it in quantity because I never want to run out.

Here is a link to the product, with a video.

The ties are my own addition. It's very windy where I live! I happened to have some narrow bias binding in my ribbon drawer, so I used that.

In my Facebook post to the Craft Passion Mask group, I posted a link to another FREE bucket hat pattern, the Sorrento Bucket Hat. This is it:

Not me! The model from Elbe Textiles
 (c) Elbe Textiles.

The "bucket" shape is more pronounced. It's easy to make and the result is a very nice hat.

This is the link for the free download. It looks like you have to pay but it really is free.

The blog belongs to Lauren, a designer who lives in Perth, Australia.

I encourage you to try making hats. They take very little skill, you can really be creative with them, and the result is great for the ego because everyone will compliment you on your hat!


February Bag of the Month

My February FrouFrou Bag

When I saw the name of the February bag (Windowshopper, by Mrs. H.), I knew exactly which of the fabrics in my stash I would use! What a perfect excuse.

No pocket on the front, just a large one on the back and the two interior ones.

I made the interior zipped pocket extra wide and deep so I could drop my (overstuffed) wallet in there, eliminating the need for a separate handbag. To keep it from pulling on the pocket, I stitched it all around to the lining.  

For the strap, I use cotton twill whenever I can, so I did this time. It's so sturdy that with the four layers obtained normally it doesn't need interfacing, but just to be safe I usually top stitch it up to five times - depending on the width. I also like the effect you get with that.

I used both Fray Chek and glue for the grommets - fingers crossed!

The fabric is part of the “Frou Frou” series, by Kathleen Francour for SPX Fabrics. This one consists of a large panel in the center, surrounded by several smaller panels. It's sold by the panel, and it's my understanding that this sort of design is normally used for quilts.

I have two others fabric from the same series, both with allover designs on the same theme; I used one of them for the back of the bag. I think I’ll make a large shopping bag out of one of the matching fabrics, then I’ll be all set when I go to town.