Mending Old Clothes with a Personal Touch: A Tutorial

by Judy Tucker in


Mending. It was something my mother did and a skill she taught me. But as the 1900s came to an end, clothing became “disposable” and folks stopped mending and started throwing worn or torn clothing away.

The pendulum as swung back with the Millennials who love to thrift! Japanese mending methods are being used to restore and accent old clothes. There are at least 3 books on mending that have been recently published. Imagine that! I’m intrigued. I’ve ordered two of them (the third, just published in the fall of 2018 is out of print but still available as an e-book).

But I wanted to try a patch before I read what others are doing. So here’s a short tutorial for the patch I made for this pair of much loved ( and no longer available) flannel-lined Chino pants. Photos of the steps are shown below the instructions.

Supplies:

  • Item to be mended

  • Some fabric, preferably the same fiber content as the item to be mended

  • #8 Perle Cotton thread

  • Embroidery thread if you wish to embellish the patch

  • Sharp large eye needle

  • Sewing pins and an iron

Instructions:

  1. Measure the hole you want to mend. Add at least 1/2 inch on all sides to allow for a 1/4 inch seam and a bit of extra fabric to be sure the hole is really covered.

  2. Cut out the patch, then turn under the edges 1/4 inch on all four sides and iron.

  3. Pin the patch over the hole

  4. Thread the needle and knot the end of the thread. Run the needle through the fabric from the wrong side to start sewing. Stitch around the four sides of the patch using a simple in-and-out running stitch.

  5. Your patch is now attached. You could stop here. Or you may keep sewing to make a patch that is stronger and more decorative. I chose to keep sewing, and decided to sew in parallel lines. I can make straight even stitches (I'm a quilter!) but I had problems with the double thick seams in the pant leg. The stitching was OK, but I didn’t love it. So I added the light blue embroidered flower which improved it.

I’m very happy with my newly mended pants! The patch is fun and utilitarian,. I know it’s not a work of beauty which is totally fine for a pair of knock-around-in old pants.

Back in action!

Back in action!

I’m looking forward to seeing the two books I ordered this week. I know from online previews that they do show how to do some truly beautiful mending. I can’t wait!


Tutorial: Quick Cloth Holiday Table Napkins

by Judy Tucker in


 

 

Quick-Sew Cloth Holiday Table Napkins,  17 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches, finished

Quick-Sew Cloth Holiday Table Napkins,  17 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches, finished

I love looking through my bin of Christmas/holiday fabrics at this time of year. There are usually several multi-yard cuts of fabric picked up at an end of season sales--just perfect for sewing up a quick present of table napkins.  The napkins pictured above are actually from THIS year's fabric sale!  Too pretty to wrap, all they need is a ribbon!

The napkins pictured above where sewn with a serger.  But it is just as easy to fold under the edges and sew them on a regular sewing machine.

Tutorial

Supplies

  • 1 yard of fabric (that has been carefully cut) for each 4 table napkins, cut as 18 x 18 inch squares. Quilters cotton is recommended but slightly heavier cotton fabric is great too.
  • Matching or contrasting color thread, whichever you prefer
  • Pins if you are hemming with a sewing machine
If using a printed fabric, pick one that has a wrong side that isn't too different from the right side. A fabric with dark printing on the right side, and white on the back won't look good. Woven plaids are great as there is little difference between right and wrong sides.

If using a printed fabric, pick one that has a wrong side that isn't too different from the right side. A fabric with dark printing on the right side, and white on the back won't look good. Woven plaids are great as there is little difference between right and wrong sides.

  • Cut the selvage off the fabric using a quilting ruler to make a straight edge.
  • Cut a straight line across the end of the folded fabric the full width of the fabric.
  • Using a 24 inch quilting ruler with a 12 1/2 inch or 16 1/2 inch square quilting ruler makes cutting an 18 inch square easy.
  • If the long ruler is 6 inches wide, put the square ruler on the cut selvage at the 12 inch mark. (12 + 6 = 18).  Put the 24 inch ruler on the fabric next to the square ruler, with the 18 inch mark on the cut end of the folded fabric.  The square isn't long enough but you can move it up and down along the 24 inch ruler to make check that the cut square will measure 18 inches.  Leave the square even with the TOP edge of the long ruler. This makes it possible to cut across and then down without moving the rulers.
24 inch ruler is on the left, with the quilting square on the right. The fabric cut will be 18 inches long and 18 inches wide.  Note the fabric at the lower right edge that isn't covered by the shorter square ruler.  That's fine because no cut is needed there.

24 inch ruler is on the left, with the quilting square on the right. The fabric cut will be 18 inches long and 18 inches wide.  Note the fabric at the lower right edge that isn't covered by the shorter square ruler.  That's fine because no cut is needed there.

  • Here is a photo of the cut table napkins.  Because the fabric is folded in half, 2 napkins are cut at the same time.  Note the long strip of fabric along the fold that can be used for another project.
The cut napkin with the left over strip along the FOLD of the fabric.

The cut napkin with the left over strip along the FOLD of the fabric.

Now you have a choice about how to proceed. The raw edges can be turned under with a rolled edge with serger OR they can be folded a quarter inch, and then folded again a quarter inch and secured with an edge stitch. 

Here is a photo of the napkin edge being rolled under by the serger.  Follow your machine's instructions to set the serger to sew a rolled hem.  If you have a serger, this is the fastest way to finish cloth napkins.

Using a rolled edge hem on a serger

Using a rolled edge hem on a serger

IF USING A FOLDED HEM, the corners can be mitered but the napkins will still look great if you choose not to miter them.

Hemming WITHOUT MITERED CORNERS:

  • Fold under the right raw edge 1/4 inch on the wrong side of the napkin, pressing the fold with an iron as you go. Turn under another 1/4 inch, enclosing the raw edge and pin. Repeat on the left side. Once both sides are pinned, turn under the top and bottom raw edges.
  • Sew the fold down stitching close to the loose edge of the fold.
  • At each corner put the sewing machine needle down to anchor the napkin, then pivot the fabric to sew the next side. 
  • That's it! One napkin done!

Hemming WITH MITERED CORNERS

  • Fold under the first side, turning the raw edge 1/4 inch toward the wrong side. Press. Turn it again 1/4 inch enclosing the raw edge. Pin.
  • At the corner, fold the corner inward forming a triangle approximately 3/4 inches long on each side. See below.
  • Then turn the new side 1/4 inch and then another 1/4 inch. It's fine if it gets a little wider.  The second fold in the photo below is 1/2 inch.
  • Press, pin.  Continue folding under all four sides.
  • Sew the loose edge closed with an edge stitch, right along the free edge of the fold.
  • That's it!  One napkin is done!

Once you have sewn all the napkins, fold each napkin in half, and then in half again. Press.  

Wrap the Quick Holiday Cloth Napkins up as a present or put them on the table enjoy them yourself!


Economy Block for 8 inch Square Potholder Tutorial

by Judy Tucker in


Economy Blocks are just so much fun to make and I really like the way this blocks showcases fussy cut fabrics.  The go-to

Economy Block Tutorial

 is on the Red Pepper Quilt blog.  Her blocks have 3 inch center blocks and finish at 5.5 inches.   I recommend you use her tutorial to make the block.

I wanted to make an Economy Block potholder, finishing at 8 inch square. It turns out that that is the perfect size to use a pre-cut 5" Charm square for the outer square!

To make the 8" Economy block you need:

    One  4 inch center square

    Two 4 inch squares cut on the diagonal to make 4 triangles

    Two 5 inch squares (Charms) cut on a diagonal to make 4 triangles.

    One 8 inch square for the back of the potholder

    Bias binding or make your own for the border (about 38-40 inches).  I used binding left over from a couple of quilts.

To insulate the potholder you need:

    One 8 inch square of Insul-Bright insulated lining made by The Warm Company.  This material reflects heat so you don't get burned when you pick up something hot. You'll find it with the quilting products in your fabric store.

    One 8 inch square of

cotton

batting. This is needed to absorb any moisture.

1.  Assemble the Economy Block.  The outer triangles just finish at 8 inches. You won't have much to trim so make sure to keep that 1/4 inch seam on the scant side.

2.  Make the sandwich for your potholder:

        Economy block

        Insul-Bright square

        Cotton batting square

        Backing square

It doesn't matter which way you pair the batting and Insul-Bright. It will work either way.

3. Quilt as desired.

4.   Fold under the raw edge of your bias tape.  

5.  Sew together the folded end and the first 4 inches of your bias tape. 

6.  Place the tape over the top edge of your potholder.  Start sewing about

1 inch from the corner.

 Continue sewing around the 4 sides of the potholder, mitering the corners as you go around the block.

7.  Trim the bias tape at the upper edge of the potholder.

8.   Now tuck the open tape from step 6 over the top edge of the potholder, covering the cut edge of the bias tape where you just finished sewing.  

9.  Make a loop out of the 4 inch of bias tape you sewed together in step 5.

10.   Sew all the layers together, closing the open tape and catching the loose edge of the bias tape loop on the back of the potholder.

That's it!   Time to head to the kitchen to bake something.