Friday, August 12, 2011

Shirt Making Helpers

Kwik Sew 3422
It's been a beautiful summer day here, warm and sunny but low humidity.  Perfect for finishing Mr. Lucky's latest Kwik Sew shirt.  I thought I'd share a few tools that I use in the sewing room to make things a little easier and nicer along the way.  I sew on a Viking 770 machine which has a wonderful automatic buttonholer.  I had to make six simple buttonholes on this shirt and wouldn't you know it, on number three, my machine started malfunctioning.  What I like about the Viking buttonhole is that the first thing it does is straight stitch the length of the buttonhole left side, then zig zag back to the starting point, straight stitch the right side of the buttonhole, bar tack at the far end then zig zag once more to the starting point, bar tack at the end and it's done.  But on buttonhole number three my machine kept sewing straight....and sewing straight....long past the buttonhole size selection.  After two repeated attempts, I did what every computer owner knows to do....turn off the machine, wait 20 seconds, turn it on again and it reboots perfectly.  Guess it was just having a cranky moment since it wasn't allowed outside on such a lovely day.
I mentioned some tools I use to make them look nice.  One is this sewing gauge which spaces the buttonholes perfectly for me.

The other is Solvy stabilizer.  I use it on the top and bottom of my buttonholes and it stabilizes the stitches nicely.   I merely tear away the excess before cutting open the buttonhole.

Finished buttonhole with Solvy still in place

Speaking of cutting, I do use a small cutting device, this chisel and block that I believe I bought from Nancy's Notions.  It make a slim, neat cut and lessens the chance that I'll cut into those side buttonhole stitches.  

Before I cut the buttonholes open I usually use Fray Block on the back threads but I happen to be out of it right now.  It's on my Joann's buy list and I can always add it to the cut buttonhole later.  I find that the Fray Block really helps keep the buttonholes on Mr. Lucky's shirts stable and less likely to wear with use.

Parting shot is how I'm spending much of the next two weeks...canning.  We picked 1/2 bushel of peaches on Wednesday afternoon at our favorite Pennsylvania orchard.  Peaches need to be eaten and used rather quickly which is just what we've been doing.  Here's my first batch of preserves for 2011, low sugar chunky peach jam.  Our own garden has been terribly disappointing.  Two tomatoes for us, six for the squirrels despite chicken wire and netting.  And I must be the only person who can't get zucchini to grow.  My plants and flowers are wonderful but no squash.  Do you think the squirrels are taking those also?
Off to the Little Italy outdoor movies on this glorious summer night.  This evening it's Daniel Day Lewis and a terrific cast of women in "Nine."   I hope it's as sultry and spicy as I imagine.  Hope you are planning on some enjoyable times this weekend as well.  Thanks so much for reading and commenting or rating.   We may never meet in person but this is the next best thing to being there.


  1. Such good tips on doing buttonholes. I didn't know about any of those tools. Never would have thought to use the solvy and I have that, due to my embroidery machine and also the frey check is a great idea.

    Peach preserves they are lovely and look yummy! My Zucchini did the same thing, I got a few but not many for the number of plants I had. What was odd is my yellow squash just made and made and made. Last year my tomatoes didn't do squat this year I was covered up with them. Go figure?

  2. I love the tip to use Sulky stabilizer on buttonholes. Your buttonholes look great!

  3. Mmm! Peach jam!
    Your buttonholes look wonderful. I always find this (buttonholes) the scariest part of sewing. If anything goes wrong - they are such a chore to rip out.

  4. Thanks so much for your kind comments on my blog today. I'm rather envious of that peach jam and also reminded that I'd better get out picking blackberries to jam up and to fill my freezer. As for Daniel Day Lewis and 9 women, oh if only 1 of them were me. . . . (kidding, of course, I'm quite happy with my guy, truly)


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