Seams Great by Dritz

Seams Great is a product for encasing raw edges of fabric to prevent fraying.  It has sadly been discontinued, but there are some alternatives:

  1. You can make your own.  I’ve got some 15 denier nylon tricot fabric on order to do this.  All you have to do is make a continuous bias tape the width you want.  The original was 5/8 inch.  You’ll want to determine the direction of the curl so you can place seam allowances of the joins on the side you prefer.  The nylon curls so that the right (public) side is on the outside. There are many tutorials online describing how to make continuous bias tape.
  2. Buy a similar product from Farmhouse Fabrics, which is selling it as “Seam Finish.”  They are still offering it as of February 2023.
  3. Try to buy some on Etsy or Ebay, but as of February 2023, there was none available.
  4. Use an alternative seam binding product like rayon seam tape.  Not as easy to apply, but very pretty.  Wawak offers it in a slew of colors.

What makes the original stuff so great is that curl I mentioned in option 1.  As you apply it, you stretch it just a bit and it wants to curl right around the raw edge you are finishing.  It’s also extremely lightweight and doesn’t add bulk to the raw edge and is a very sheer light gray color so it doesn’t visually stand out. I could not find that gray color in 15 denier nylon anywhere so I settled for natural/cream.  It’s always so sad when a favorite crafting product or sewing notion is discontinued.

Plan ahead, or…

You’ll have to be really creative to solve the problems you create for yourself. Many, many moons ago I started this oak and berries appliqué quilt top. I did the appliqué on the center of the medallion style design. It’s easy to cut your fabric a little larger than you need it to be, then do your appliqué and after it’s done trim and true everything on a small block like this center piece.

So far, so good.

But then come the borders. And the design for the large appliqué border that comes next after the flying geese and solid borders cannot be done in pieces because the design travels across the corner miters. Without pausing to think beyond that insight, I sewed on those borders with mitered corners, traced the design on and started doing the appliqué. Then this started happening:

Hmmm, that’ll eat up a 1/4 inch seam allowance in a hurry and I’m only about 1/4 of the way through the appliqué work on this border.

Well now, this border pretty much has to be done this way. I suppose you could do it in pieces all except for the corners, then construct it, then finish off the corners, but that method has no appeal and I’m sure it would have presented equally thorny issues. So since we’re on this path, let’s go to the Internet and see what quilters recommend for stabilizing the raw edges of hand appliqué projects…

  • Starch: too messy and can discolor over time and attract pests.
  • Making the background bigger and trimming later is the standard advice but we already rejected that because of the design.
  • Folding the raw edges and basting them down; that idea has merit, but the raw edge is still somewhat exposed plus that fold is going to get abraded and dirty and will never press back out.

Well, the Internet wasn’t much help but, wait, wait, could I baste bias tape over the edges? Yes, now I’m thinking: do I have enough purchased bias tape on hand? It would be a little bulky on that edge. Hand basting it on would be a pain. But while I’m mulling this over, I may as well go look for bias tape. On the way to the bank of drawers that houses bias tape…Hah! Light bulb moment! I have a product in there designed to stop raw edges from fraying that is 100% reversible and can be quickly applied by machine. It’s called Seams Great. And it is!!!

This stuff is the ticket. I’m using the longest stitch my machine has and I’ve loosened the top tension a bit for easier removal later.

That problem is solved. Now how to stay motivated and finish this aged UFO. I’m in a finishing mood now, but tomorrow, who knows?

Spring anyone?

It’s quite cold here for our usually temperate climate, but then it IS winter and so many folks across the country are really suffering from the effects of winter weather that I can’t really complain.  But I do know that spring comes early and I’ve been focused on making some things that have 3-season wearability.  Here’s a recent combo.  I believe I may have gotten both of these fabrics at JoAnn’s, proving once again that you can find decent fabrics there for garments if you really slow down and look.  The pants are linen and the top is a brushed poly or maybe poly/lycra knit that is butter-soft and quite stretchy.  Once I took the pictures, I switched to some deep dark olive wool pants and a red wool jacket because it’s it’s in the 30’s outside right now and not expected to get above 54 at the highest today.  I know that’s a balmy day in Minnesota but it sure feels chilly to this California Girl.  I do love the versatility of this top.  Because of the many colors in the print, it can go with all the red, navy and olive green solid coordinates in my closet.

I don’t generally pay much attention to where design motifs fall when I sew because I don’t care for the “fussy cut” look you get if you plan where everything lands and match motifs over seams and so forth, but maybe I should plan ahead a little more when a design has perfect circles in it like this one.  I just got lucky that the prominent blue circle medallion in the design fell in mostly inocuous places and the secondary circles in the design did the same.  Lucky is often better than good.  Here are side and back views of this outfit below.  Incidentally, I can see that I need better makeup and better lighting for these photos and a fresh shorter haircut for spring.  Warning, I might go REALLY short again with the hair.  Will my electronic devices still recognize me if I do?

 

Sketching Right Along

During the holidays it has been a challenge to keep moving on the sketchbook project, but deadlines are motivating.  Here are images from the December and January sketchbooks:

 

December in the garden doesn’t give much inspiration at first look, and Nandina is one of my least favorite shrubs, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed for this book.
And this shows how my image fits in with the ethos of this particular book. As the project has moved along, I’ve noticed that the books really develop personalities and each book needs something different to carry it forward. Often it’s NOT what I’ve planned to do for the month, but when the book speaks, the artist must listen.
Who knew that something labeled as “Christmas Cactus” at the nursery or big box store could really be “Thanksgiving” or “Easter” Cactus masquerading as Christmas Cactus? This one definitely has all the characteristics of truncata and not bridgesii, which is the traditional Christmas Cactus. This image is on cold press watercolor paper and it shows the difficulties encountered when using colored pencil on highly textured paper. You get paper texture showing through and it’s harder to make smooth transitions. Hot Press Watercolor paper is the current standard for colored pencil drawings, but I still like the Stonehenge in my homemade journals best of all for mixed media sketches like this.
And finally, this is the full book. We are officially half-way through the project. I’ve over-emphasized the fleshy raised area at the center of each leaf, well, because I can in this project and I think it’s one of the things that makes these leaves interesting. Also, I rather like the pointy projections from the leaf body.

So that brings us up to date with the Sketchbook Exchange Project. What will February bring? Ellen Blonder, who comes before me in these books, said it’s like Christmas when you get a new book every month and then it’s like finals week when you are approaching your mailing deadline and don’t have your sketch done. That describes the project very well.

Ukulele Joy to the World

Who remembers the classic Steve Martin riff about no one being able to be sad while playing the banjo? Well I think that goes for the ukulele as well, and even more so when you’re playing along with a great leader (Andy Doub) and with a group of friends (Sounds of the Heart Ukulele Group). And it’s Christmas Songs you’re playing! Merry, merry! Truly, the weather outside was frightful, but the fire was so delightful. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.

Testing 1, 2, 3

This is only a test of my WordPress App from my phone. If this were an actual blog post, you might expect to finding something amazing or amusing or faintly interesting. Sorry to disappoint.

Lab lab, blah

After seeing an enchanting spray of this plant, previously unknown to me, at a garden club meeting several years ago, I immediately determined I needed to grow it for myself and draw it. Research revealed that the name of the plant, which had sounded at the time like a direction in the back court from a tennis partner: “Lob! lob!” was in actuality Lablab, or Hyacinth Bean Plant. Fast forward several failed horticultural attempts later and finally this season I managed to get the dratted thing to bloom but it’s a pale imitation of what I remember as a gently downward arcing blossom spray with several deep pink blossoms measuring 2 inches across set against deep green heart shaped leaves. All of the blossoms I have are borne on upright stems as you see and they are quite small, barely an inch across, with the admittedly heart-shaped leaves being a bit of a sickly looking green. Hm. Well, I am still going to draw this in my journal after all that work, but if I ever attempt to grow this again I will need to rethink the requirements of this plant and check to see if there are some cultivars with showier flowers. I’ll update this post when the journal drawing is done.

It’s a lucky day when…

You are attempting to put your hair in a tidy pony tail with an elastic band and the cheeky, bouncy band pops out of your hand and carves a perfect arc toward the bowl of the commode next to the bathroom counter and you watch with bated breath as it misses the bowl and lands innocently on the ground.  It really is the little things in life that you most appreciate, especially after a week spent fighting a beastly head cold.

November sketch 2022

The sketchbook exchange project proceeds apace. Each book as it comes along with more sketches in it seems to develop a personality of its own. It can be a bit of a challenge to find specimens that fit on the small pages of these little accordion books but this month I knew when I saw these seed pods littering the ground on my morning walk that I’d easily find one just the shape and size for this journal page and I also knew that they’d be perfect subjects for the ink drawing I wanted to do this month. Then I couldn’t help myself and added just a little colored pencil to highlight those fascinating wispy crispy structures curling about in the empty pods. I never had noticed those before.

Here’s an image showing the whole book to date:

I wonder what my book looks like now?