Thursday, November 30, 2017

What the heck is Differential Feed???

Sergers are scary, they just are. Even after you get the threading process down there is still more to it than your standard sewing machine.
Lets talk about DIFFERENTIAL FEED.
What in the world is it?
Lets see what Craftsy has to say...

The differential feed system

Looking at your serger needle plate, you'll notice two independent sets of feed dogs: one front, the other one rear.
Serger Pepper - Differential feed dogs - Craftsy Each one has an individual feed mechanism: they will be able to feed the fabric at a different ratio (but you can also make them move at the same speed, if that's what you need!).
The differential feed knob/lever has a numbered scale, usually going from 0.6 (or 0.7, like mine) to 2, where:
  • From 0.6 to 1 (negative differential feed) the front feed dog doesn't move as much as the rear feed dog, causing the fabric to stretch under the presser foot to offset the puckering;
  • 1 (sometimes labeled as N - neutral differential feed) both feed dogs walks at the same speed;
  • From 1 to 2 (positive differential feed) the front feed dog moves more than the rear feed dog, amassing fabric under the presser foot (when set at 2 it actually makes twice as many rotations of the rear one!)
Differential feed lever- Craftsy To help visual people like me, most sergers comes with two little graphics next to the numbered scale, meaning stretched (0.6) and gathered (2) fabric.


If you're sewing a medium weight woven fabric, 99% of the times your differential feed will work just fine set on 1.
If you sew other kinds of fabric, you may need to adjust the differential feed to achieve a pucker-free or waver-free seam, laying flat.
Note: Always try on scraps to decide the ideal settings, paying attention to keep grains, bias and stretch directions consistent with your project!
  1. If you're sewing a sheer, lightweight or slippery fabric, you may experience puckering.
Differential feed on lightweight woven - Craftsy

How to fix it:

Decrease your differential feed ratio until you get a flat seam.
  1. If you're sewing knit, stretch, or even woven fabric cut on bias, you may stumble upon a stretched wavering seam.
Differential feed on knits - Craftsy

How to fix it:

Increase your differential feed ratio until you get a flat seam.

Differential feed: Creative uses

Differential feed >1


Since using settings above 1 will cause your front feed dog going faster than the rear one, you can easily create gathering with a 4 thread overlock, just increasing needles' tension.
Experiment on scraps to see how much you are able to gather your fabric:
  • If it's not enough ruffled, pull the right needle thread to increase gathering;
  • If it's too full, just pull the fabric to make it looser.
Gathering with the serger differential feed - Craftsy


Another practical way to use positive differential feed, is using it to ease in: think to fit a sleeve head into an armscye or sewing a rounded hem.
Remember you need to put the fabric to be eased in against the feed (to learn more good tips like this one, check Janet Pray's "Sew Better, Sew Faster" classes!)

Differential feed <1

Lettuce edge

Since using settings below 1 will cause your front feed dog going slower than the rear one, you can easily create a lettuce edge on a stretch knit (use narrow hem settings and learn more with Angela Wolf's "Creative Serging Class"), creating that fun wavy look!
serger differential feed If you're in the market for a serger, I would suggest you buy one with this feature, but what if your old/inherited/second-hand one doesn't have a differential feed and you're experiencing unwanted wavering on knits (or puckering on sheers)?
You can mimic the differential feed with your right hand in front of the presser foot, gently pushing (positive differential feed) or holding (negative differential feed) the fabric while it feeds through the needle, just as you would do with a regular sewing machine.
If all else fails: the stitch length and the foot pressure can influence the waviness/puckering of the fabric.
Play with those settings until you get the best result, while you're testing your settings!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Happy Birthday to Sew Hip!!!

In just 2 days we will be celebrating our one year! I can't believe how fast it went by and how much the shop has changed since opening day 4/8/16. Obviously, we have added more fabric, notion's and samples, but best of all we have met and taught so many awesome people; Some from right here in Miramonte and others from faraway places like Australia!! 

Each day Kristin and I talk about how to better serve you with new fun fabrics and classes but we know that you guys have awesome ideas too! We love hearing about your favorite pattern companies and Pinterest pages. Don't hesitate to email us about a pattern or notion you just have to have and we can get it for you. Get 3 or 4 of your girlfriends together and have a night out at Sew Hip with some wine, gab and stitching. Request a class and we can normally find a spot for you on the schedule. 

If you've been in at all the past few months you know we are really focusing on adding more garment fabrics. Of course we can't resist the cute cotton's that come out but our focus is to fill the garment gap in the Tucson area. Currently, we have knits, chambray, sateen, cotton lawn, rayon, brushed cotton and double gauze. 

For the kids, our camps and after school program have been crazy fun. We love to see how excited they get after creating a shirt or backpack. It's even better when the kids come in months later still carrying that backpack or wearing that shirt! We do have space in Kids Can Sew! and we will have 6 weeks of camp this summer as opposed to the 4 weeks we had last year. 

One big change was closing on Sundays. It was great being able to have full classes on the weekends but we had so many requests for evening classes. Each month we will try to have 2-4 classes starting around 5pm. Don't forget Open Studio. We love to be able to assist the sewist that wants to create in a more social setting or maybe they don't have their machine while visiting. Each hour you get a stamp and can earn free hours! 

Well, that about wraps it up. Don't forget to stop by tomorrow and Saturday for WHOLESALE quilters cotton's. $6.50/yd!!!

Thank you for all the kind words this past year, for welcoming us into the neighborhood and telling your friends. We look forward to year 2!

-Brittany & Kristin

Thursday, December 1, 2016

12 days of Christmas

Weekdays in December from 11-1 and 1-3pm we will host workshops to create fun, easy, and thoughtful handmade gifts.  $25 includes materials, instruction, and machine use.  Space is limited, so make your reservation as soon as possible!  Basic sewing instructions will not be covered - consider taking our Sewing Machine Basics class if you are a new sewist.  Students receive a 10% discount on materials purchased during class, so stock up to make extras!

Thursday December 1: Pillowcases:  Learn to make a standard-sized pillow case using the “hot dog” method.  

Friday December 2:  Pot holder Set.  Who doesn’t love a fun and funky oven mitt and potholder?

Tuesday December 6:  2-sided zipper pouch.  This fun spin on the classic zippered pouch has too many uses to count!

Wednesday December 7:  Lanyards are a great way to keep track of your keys, display a work badge, or even keep lip balm handy in the dry weather.  Teachers especially love our reversible version.

Thursday December 8:  The ruffley Key Fob is a fun and oh-so-functional way to wrangle your keys.  I’d never be able to find them at the bottom of my purse without it!

Friday December 9:  Cloth Napkins:  Learn to put a beautifully finished mitered corner on these earth-friendly reusable napkins.  Stock up on different prints for an everyday look or to spice up the holiday table. These make a great hostess gift!

Tuesday December 13:  Sleep masks are a necessity for the traveler or sleep-diva in your life.

Wednesday December 14:  (1-3pm session only). Speaking of gifts for the traveler, why not give a one-of-a-kind luggage tag and bag-flag set to help the jet-setter identify their suitcase?

Thursday December 15:  You’ll be bringing a bottle of wine to your neighbors and coworkers anyway, why not make it extra thoughtful and unique with a handmade wine tote?  You’ll definitely want a few of these on hand as last minute gifts.

Friday December 16:  And for the beer enthusiast?  Koozies!  Keep your bottled beverage cold with style. We haven't forgotten the coffee or tea lover.  Make a mug sleeve to keep the heat in the drink and off of your hand.  They’re unique, they’re Eco-friendly, and they’re functional.  Pair it with a mug and you’ve got a great gift!

Tuesday December 20:  Microwavable bowl pot holder

Wednesday December 21:  All of your gift shopping is done by now, right? (Wink, Wink).  Let's make a reusable fabric gift bag.  I always reuse gift bags - this will be the gift that keeps on giving, year after year.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Is Your Machine Causing "Tension"?

One of the most common questions I get asked in our Sewing Machine Basics class is "What is tension and how do I know when it's wrong?"

Most machines have a little wheel or dial that adjusts the tensions discs which adds or releases pressure on the needle thread. On our Pfaff 160s machines the tension dial goes from 0-9, where 3-5 is average. We keep it on setting 4 and don't run into too much trouble, but what does trouble look like?

Depending on the fabric your using, the quality of the thread and how new your needle is can also affect how the thread looks in your project but if everything else has checked out you might need to make minor adjustments to your tension.

In this post I am only talking about your sewing machine tension, not your serger. Serger issues are a whole other beast which I will address in a future blog.

Back to your lovely machine tension.

I found a great article on Craftsy about correct tension and how it looks. The top photo is how the stitches look from the top, the bottom photo is how the stitches look from the bottom. The article also shows serger photos is your are curious.

When adjusting tension you should only need to make small adjustments. If you feel like you are having to move your tension dial multiple numbers up or down you should change your needle and rethread your machine. If that doesn't take care of it you might be in need of a service.

Needles should be changed every 6 hours of sewing time and you should have your machine serviced every year:)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Travel Pillow Case Tutorial

If you have taken our Sewing Machine Basics class, chances are, you’ve created a travel-sized pillowcase.  With french seams and an accent band, it looks professional and difficult, but a beginner can easily make it!  Our students often want the instructions so they can make extras for themselves or as gifts, but until now they’ve been done from memory.  The long-awaited tutorial has arrived!  We use the popular “hot dog” method of construction, and reduced dimensions to create a handy travel size.  So here goes!

3 fabrics: 1 for the main body, 1 for the accent strip, and 1 for the band.

Cut your fabric to the following dimensions for a travel size pillow case:
Body: 15”x30”
Accent:  2”x30”
Band:  9”x30”

(MEASUREMENTS FOR A FULL SIZE PILLOW CASE ARE body 24" x width, band 2" x width, cuff 12"x width)


I was making a pillowcase as a gift for a 4 year-old boy, so don’t mind the Transformers fabric!  My fabric is directional, but I think on the pillowcase it’s okay to have the print running “sideways” relative to the band.  If you prefer to be looking at a directional print right side up as the pillow would lay on a bed (with the band to one side), then you’ll want it running with the top as the 15” side.  

We first press the accent strip in half, wrong sides together, with the long sides lined up.  

We first press the accent strip in half, wrong sides together, with the long sides lined up.

Now you’re ready to start pinning!  We like to pin in three steps to keep everything lined up, but with some practice you can pin the fabrics together all at once.

Begin by laying the accent strip at the top edge of the band fabric, right sides together, with the raw edges aligned.  Pin across the raw edge every 5-6”.
Next, lay the body fabric right side down on the band/accent piece.  Notice that I have the print direction upright.

Moving from one end of the fabric to the other, remove each pin and replace it, pinning through all three fabrics.

Beginning at the bottom edge of the main body fabric, roll the fabric up toward the pinned edge.

Stop with the roll about half-way up the band fabric.

I pieced my red band fabric from scraps to save materials, so you can ignore the seam down the middle you see here.

Take the bottom edge of the band fabric and fold it up and over the rolled fabric to meet the pinned edges.

Again working from one end to the other, remove each pin and repin through all of the layers of fabric.  You’ll now be pinning through the band fabric, body, two layers of accent strip, and the other side of the band.  Try to keep them as well lined up as possible, and be sure you don’t catch the rolled portion with the pins.

Now you’re ready for the first sewing step.  Sew along just the pinned edge using a ⅜” seam allowance.  Time to turn!
The pillowcase is in the form of a tube right now - begin by rolling the edges at one short end back on themselves.  Slowly pull the body fabric roll out of the middle, while continuing to roll the band fabric tube back on itself.  

When you have turned the case completely right-side out, smooth it out and admire your work!

Press the seams flat, checking that the band fabric is pushed back from the accent fabric all the way, both on the front and back of the case. Now you’re ready to start constructing the side and bottom seams.  
Fold the case in half, wrong sides together. Pin along the open side and bottom, paying special attention to lining up the seams between the band and accent strip.  I find that this is easiest to do by looking between the fabrics to ensure everything is lined up (see second picture below).
You can now sew along the two pinned sides, again using a ⅜” seam allowance.

Clip the bottom corners close to, but not through, the seam line.

Turn the pillowcase wrong side out, and press the seams flat, again making sure that they are fully extended.  You can use a handy point turner to make sure the corners and seams are pushed all the way out. 

Now, return to the sewing machine and sew along the same two seams - down the side and across the bottom, this time using a ⅝” seam allowance.  
You’ve created your french seam - this time don’t trim the corners.  Turn the case right side out and again use your point turner to push the corners out as much as possible.  The french seams are bulky in the corners so you won’t get a really crisp point, but you will have a very sturdy and clean looking seam.  And you’re done!

A 12”x16” pillow form fits nicely.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

I Heart Scraps!

We had the last of our kids beginner camps this week and were so blessed to be able to work with all of them! Our final project for "Back to School" Week was a scrap skirt. The girls were so funny throughout the process because they couldn't imagine getting a wearable skirt out of a pile of scrap fabric! But they did it! and we were super impressed with their final products, as were we.

We are excited to add the Kids Can Sew! curriculum to our schedule as well. The kids will meet once a week throughout the school year and make all sorts of garments and really solidify the techniques they learned in camp. There are some spaces available but we decided to limit the class to 4 spaces on Wednesdays and 4 spaces on Thursdays. Check out our website to get more info and register.