Today I wanted to post something about SEWING FOR WINTER:
- YES! IT was cold outside the office when Debbie took these pics! Below zero which is unusual for Vancouver but something to do with an arctic ridge; no cloud cover & so the heat radiates out & temps plummet. Still I have NO complaints about the blue sky, the sunshine AND my cozy new scarf & mittens……..as well as hot cuppa!!
I was browsing in a fabric store with a friend a month or 2 back and almost tripped over giant bolts of what looked like “deliciously” soft fake fur. Actually is was minkee – but a long haired variety. I decided to buy some to make a scarf and mittens. Let me share my discoveries with you:
- I had no pattern for either the scarf or mittens. I just “winged” it and measured as I went. I made the scarf reasonably wide at 7 inches (to make it extra cuddly) so I cut it over 14 inches wide (allowing a good 1/2 – 3/4 inch extra for the seam down the one long side.) I cut mine quite long so I could wrap it around my neck & head if necessary. Mine was approx. 62 inches long x 15 inches wide. I figured I wanted it bigger to luxuriate in all that “fluff”!
- I did not interline the scarf with another fabric. But I’m thinking that perhaps that might have been a good idea. Yes, the fabric is luxuriously fluffy & soft, but is not actually all that warm. Go figure? If I did it again, I would line it with a layer of woolen fabric or something similar to “beef” up the warmth aspect for really cold weather. Or leave it as is for a West Coast fashion statement rather than a winter warmth necessity……your choice? Most winter days here in Vancouver, it is just fine. But not exactly warm enough for my travels to Alberta, Saskatchewan etc.
- I folded the fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together and then sewed around the 3 edges leaving a section open to turn out. Now was this a “walk in the park”? Sorry to say but thick, fluffy fabrics are not that easy to sew. They tend to slip & slide and you have all that “fur” to contend with – getting stuck in the seams as you sew. I decided to use a small zig-zag stitch instead of a straight stitch to ensure my seams did not “pop” when I use the scarf and mittens.
- I did use the regular ELNA IAF FOOT – THE DUAL FEED FOOT that comes with the EL740. Most of our ELNA models do have a dual feet foot or some sort: either standard with the machine or available as an optional extra – the type of walking foot depends on which ELNA model you have – Please ask your local ELNA dealer for assistance. So, I had feed dogs working for me along on the top and the bottom. This sure helped a lot but this was nonetheless one of those projects I was rather glad did not take long to do! If you are not lucky enough to have an ELNA sewing machine with the IAF Dual feed system, then I would recommend using a walking foot. Another issue was trying to see my black stitching in amongst all that fluff!
- Once it is sewed & turned to the right side, you may notice – as I did – that a good deal of the “fur” gets caught into the seams. This needs to be hooked out with a crochet hook or a large needle without damaging the “fur” and/or your seam. A friend of mine makes Teddy Bears & I remember her sharing that there is a whole technique of prepping & sewing fur fabric (trimming the fur away on the seam allowances). But I forgot what she said – sorry, Lynda, I guess I was not paying attention. So we will leave that up to the fur sewing experts!
- There is really not much escaping getting fluff and “fur” everywhere!! I did do the cutting at my kitchen table thinking the floor would be easier to sweep up afterwards. But I had not bargained on finding tufts of it ALL over my house weeks & weeks after sewing these. It was suggested by one of the ladies at SNIP AND STITCH in Nanaimo (Thank you, Dana) that you put the fabric in the freezer before cutting as this helps with the mess. I have not tried that yet but you could do so and then let us know how you make out with hopefully less mess than I had!
- For the mittens, I just laid my hand down on a piece of paper and drew around to get the size. I obviously cut the fabric larger than this to allow for ease + the seams. (maybe an inch bigger all round?) I cut 4 of the fur and 4 of a thickish black stretch fabric (thicker than t-shirt fabric but not fleece).
- Again, these mittens are wonderfully soft but not especially warm if the steering wheel of my car is ultra cold! I made them so that the minkee/fur is inside and then rolls over to the outside to form a cuff at the wrists. I think a layer of woolen fabric or fleece in between the layers would have been better for warmth but the mittens would have been bulkier – so options & decisions to make.
- Easy to sew? Not really – gotta be honest: it was pretty fiddly trying to keep FOUR layers of fabric from shifting and allowing for enough ease of movement around the thumb area. Plus I was sewing from the inside/the fur side so I could not see at all where I was sewing. It became a bit of a guessing game & then go back to fix the “misses”! I ended up zig-zagging the seams & then going back with a straight stitch to ensure everything was “caught” into the seams. Next time, I think I would make the lining and outer shell of the mittens separately & then put them together & catch at the wrists in a couple of spots to keep the layers together.