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October 2015

Hello <<First Name>> 

How have you been?  Life has been at a steady clip here lately.  The anticipation of harvest coming and the smell of freshly cut hay is on the breeze.  I've really got to get back in the habit of watering the garden again too.

This month we are opening a sewing can of worms.... Should you pre-wash fabric? 

My usual answer is YES but there's a few exceptions to the rule that I'll explain below.  I also feel like I should look like a serious jurno standing in front of an angry mob - yup, all the hard hitting topics tackled here :)

In other news --- I've release a new kit, an I-Spy bag.  As always, a full set of photographed instructions are included as well as all fabrics, thread, the poly beads and 25 charm to stash inside.  Scroll down for photos and more details.  I'd love to find out what other projects you'd like as a kit... reply and let me know x

I'm going to bite the proverbial bullet and set a deadline for releasing my online sewing course - 1 March 2016.  I've been busy with all sorts of things - writing a PDF guide, planning out the lessons, working out how best to film videos of myself sewing and the tech of building a website to deliver the course to everyone - argh!!   The general idea is that we'll all sew the same thing - a giant beach bag - but the steps will be broken down into manageable chunks that highlight the foundation skills of sewing.  You'll source your own materials (I'll be giving you an equipment list) and at the end of a few weeks, you'll have a finished bag and butt loads of inspiration to make the next thing.  I'll release more information in the coming months and I'll post out a disc if your internet connection isn't up to streaming videos #ifeelyourpain.  If you're super keen to be first, sign up here - 

Happy Sewing, ♥ Sarah x

Should you pre-wash fabric?

My rule is always yes but there's a few 'buts' in my process.

Pre-washing fabric is important for woven fabrics.  The fibres will shrink with water and it can be unpredictable how much and in which direction.  It's much better do this before you spend time sewing it into something amazing.  Different fabrics will also shrink at different rates and a pre-wash will 'standardise' them as they shouldn't shrink any further after this first wetting.

Pre-washing also helps to remove any residues from the manufacturing process or greasy fingers from handling in the stores. Fabric is often made overseas and new does not necessarily mean clean.

A quick wash will also help to set any loose dye -- again, better now than in a finished project.  It will not remove the risk of colour bleed completely but will minimise it.  Many commercially manufactured prints nowadays don't bleed much but that sneaky one in the super special project will upset you.

When Not To Pre-Wash?
  • To produce a look and feel similar to that of antique quilts - if you don't pre-wash the fabrics and use an untreated cotton batting then your quilt will pucker and pillow around the sewing lines when washed upon completion. It looks glorious and worthwhile trying.
  • Your quilt will be hung on the wall - it will never be washed in the future so why bother with the extra step now.  The finishing chemical in the fabric will maintain that crisper feeling also.
  • You don't normally need to pre-wash knits.

How I Pre-Wash My Fabrics

When I first started sewing, I found it hard to keep track of what was pre-washed and what wasn't so now the first stop for any new fabric is the laundry.  I pre-wash all quilting cottons, voiles and any other woven fabrics I've been given.  All steps are completed with the fabric still folded in half down the centre line.

1.  Wash
I half-fill a bucket with warm water and a squirt of liquid laundry detergent.  I use liquid to prevent any undissolved powder residue sticking to the fabric. If you have multiple fabrics, start with the lightest print and move through to darks.  I sometimes need to change the water between blues/greens and reds/pinks.  Dunk it up and down in the water 3-4 times.  Rinse in a bucket of cold water to set any remaining dye and spin it out in a washing machine.

Some folks will overlock the cut edges and wash on a full machine cycle but that sounds like whole lot of hard work to me and I'm all for lazy sewing where I can get away with it.  I've never had an issue doing things this way except with very dark denim (which is notorious for running dye anyway).

2.  Line Dry
I live in Australia with plenty of sunshine and wind.  You can easily use a dryer too.

3.  Iron
Use the hottest setting.  You can spritz with water to remove stubborn creases.  I tend to iron with the fold on my left (no idea why!)

4.  Fold & Store
I found this fantastic tutorial years ago about how to best fold fabric of all widths and yardage amounts.  Still works a treat!




New Kit Released - I-Spy Bag

Hurrah!  After some gentle prompting from Kay, I've released a new kit, an I-Spy Bag.

As you can see from the picture, it's a fabric pouch with a clear window in the font. There are small toys 'hidden' in the beads which you move around to make different objects come to the window.  There's 25 different charms to find inside - which are all included as part of the kit.

It's a great quiet toy for in the car, restaurant or waiting room.  The toys are sewn into the bag so there's no parts to go missing (or in 300 different directions like toys do at our place).

Beginner friendly project - a great gift to sew a small someone for Christmas

I'm always happy to answer emails for help as you sew.

$29.95 including the postage to Australian addresses

See it in the shop... 

Other Things to Try

Jen over at One Thimble wrote a blog post about finding the name of a particuar fabric when you're not sure what it's called.  I tried he suggestion of using Google Image Search to track down the name of this particular fabric.You just upload an image (or URL) into the search bar and up come other examples of the same fabric. This is 12 Days of Christmas by Sherri Barry. Boom!
Time to get your thinking caps and stitchy fingers going on some Christmas projects.  Lots of great inspiration on my Sewing for Christmas Pinterest Board
Tiny Sparks WA are looking for some quilters to help with a very special project.  They would like to gift 200 Christmas quilts to neonatal nurseries right across Western Australia. They're a simple design so an easy sew and might be just the motivation you need to give quilting a try. Read More
These free Sewing Machine Practice Sheets are a great way to get a feel for your machine when you're learning.  Perhaps you need to shake a bit of rust off before tucking into that special fabric.  Either way, sewing with paper is an ideal way to start out and practice.  Just remember to insert a new needle when you're done. 
About Sarah

Hi!  I'm excited that you've subscribed to my newsletter and even more that you've made it all the way to the bottom.  

It's my goal to teach you how to sew, no matter where you live. To inspire others to drag out their sewing machines and make it come to life.  I want you to share that tingly feeling of pride in saying "thank you I made it myself". 

I live on a wheat and sheep farm in the Western Australian Wheatbelt region.  When I finally pull myself out from behind my sewing machine, you’ll find me tending a sadly neglected garden with a G&T in hand while the kids bounce on the trampoline. I may also be found occasionally in the sheep yards helping my farmer husband.
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