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A Great Notion, Sewing Supply LTD.

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Vancouver Sewing Blog

Spring has Sprung. . . Sort of!

April 4, 2010

Filed under: Judi — admin @ 5:16 pm

It’s early Sunday morning – the house is quiet – and I’m sitting here writing with a cup of tea beside me. This is my favourite time of day – before the day really starts and I have a chance to just sit and think quietly without any interruptions!  Outside, everything is green and I can see the sun poking out of the clouds. I think maybe spring really is here. Doesn’t seem fair though that here on the west coast, we’ve been going through wind storms for the last couple of days and I see that further east some lucky people have been enjoying 20 degree and higher weather!  

Last week I heaved a sigh of relief as our new web site went live – and with only a few glitches! Thanks to everyone who gave us such positive feedback on it, and especially thanks to those who took the time to point out any glitches that they came across. In a project like this, they are inevitable and we’ve been trying to correct them as soon as they’ve popped up.  

Getting the web site completed meant that I was finally able to do something for myself, so I finished off sewing a T-Shirt I had started a while ago. Last fall, we brought in some great garment knits and I used our Brazil Knit (94% Polyester, 6% Spandex, 150 cm wide) to sew up a new Kwik Sew T-Shirt pattern (#3756). Since I love purple, I used the plum colour and it sewed up like a dream. I wore it to work yesterday and loved how comfortable it was. Now that I’ve made that one, I’m inspired to make more in all the colours! And the knit fabrics have been so popular that Pam and I have ordered more colours to add to what we brought in to start with. The Ponte de Roma knit is a bit heavier weight and is perfect for pants and skirts. They look great when they’re made up – not too casual to wear to work – but they’re so comfortable to wear you feel like you’re wearing your at-home comfy clothes! And, just in  case you didn’t know, we carry the full line of Kwik Sew patterns in both our stores. We don’t have them on our web site at present, but if you need one of their patterns, feel free to email or call us to order one! 

This is the Kwik Sew pattern I choose for my T-Shirt!


We’re busy at the shop getting ready for the Vancouver Sewing and Crafts Show to be held at the Tradex in Abbotsford on the 16th and 17th of April. If you are in the area, I hope you’ll come. This is always a great show to attend – the classes are well put together and there is always so much to see. You can download a show brochure at  – we had a few hundred in our stores and we’ve given them all away! As usual, we’ll have a big “A Great Notion” notions booth, another “A Great Notion QuiltWorks” booth, and you’ll find us this year in both the Husqvarna Viking and the Baby Lock sewing machine booths.  

Sewing Tip – Beautiful Decorative Stitching  

Earlier this week I was in our classroom watching someone attempt to do some decorative stitching at their machine and having problems, so I thought that I would pass on my tips to you for getting the best results for decorative stitching. Whether your sewing machine has only a few basic utility stitches, or has a few hundred fancy stitches, by using the right thread, needle, presser foot and stabilizer, you’ll probably be amazed at just how beautifully you can finish a project off by adding some decorative stitches. 

Let’s start by talking about threads. My favourite threads for doing any kind of decorative stitching are rayon embroidery threads. These threads have a beautiful sheen and a fantastic range of colours to choose from. You can get a variety of weights in rayon threads – I find the most useful is the 40 weight which is standard for any kind of machine embroidery, but 30 weight (a bit heavier) gives great results too. Metallic thread can be a bit trickier to work with, sometimes requiring special metallic needles to help stop them from fraying and breaking, but they give beautiful, elegant results. I’m finding that I love Jenny Haskins new metallic threads as they stitch as smoothly and flawlessly as her Rayon without any need to change your needle – it’s designed to run perfectly in your machine just as it is. Heavier weights of threads are available, but usually you’ll be using these in other techniques such as bobbin work or couching, so for most decorative machine stitching, 30 or 40 weight threads are the best to use. 

Once you’ve chosen your thread, you’ll want to make sure that you have a new needle in your machine – a dull needle or one that is slightly damaged can cause skipped stitches and frayed or broken threads. Usually, when I am working with embroidery threads, I like to use embroidery needles. These have a slightly larger eye made to accommodate decorative threads, however when stitching on knit fabrics or jerseys, I always use a stretch needle. You can also get some great effects with specialty needles – things like twin needles or wing needles. A twin needle is used for two parallel rows of stitching, but don’t forget that they’re not just for straight stitch – you can also use them for fancy stitches too. Just remember that you will have to limit the width of your stitch pattern so that the swing of the needle won’t cause the needle to hit your needle plate. Many newer computerized sewing machines have safety settings to prevent this from happening. If your sewing machine has this feature, don’t forget to use it! Wing needles are used on natural fibre woven fabrics to create the characteristic “holes” of hemstitching. When you’re using one of these, you’ll need to choose a stitch that goes back and forth into the same place more than once to emphasize the “hole” that the needle is creating. 

Good needle choices for Decorative Machine Stitching


The correct presser foot is crucial to getting good results when you are doing any kind of decorative machine stitching. If you look at the bottom of your normal zigzag foot, you’ll see that it is quite flat underneath so that it can do it’s job to feed the fabric through properly. When doing decorative stitching, often you’re doing some heavier or satin stitching and the normal foot doesn’t allow enough room underneath for the stitch build up to feed easily through. All sewing machines will come with a foot that is designed for decorative stitching, and there are optional feet available that make it even easier. I love to use an open toe foot to stitch with whenever I am adding a decorative stitch element to a project. Without a bar across the front of the foot, I can see what I am doing much more easily, and if you turn the foot over to look at the bottom of it, you’ll see that there is a much deeper groove or channel for the stitching to feed through.

Open Toe Foot for good visibility when decorative stitching.


 The final, probably most important, component for decorative stitching is to use stabilizer. Everyone know that to stitch at your machine you need thread, a needle and a presser foot. Stabilizer is that invisible component that makes all the difference between a beautiful finished result and a poor one. It doesn’t matter what you are stitching on, I haven’t seen a project yet that wouldn’t benefit from using a stabilizer. For decorative stitching, I usually use a tear-away stabilizer. These are non-wovens, that can feel sort of like papers, or sometimes like a stiff, non-woven interfacing. Place it underneath your work before you start stitching. You’ll find that it stops your stitching from puckering and prevents your project from pulling out of shape when you stitch. You’ll get better results from satin stitches and more open stitches. I can’t say enough to emphasize how important it is. Once your stitching is done, it will tear away easily from the back of your project. 

Well, those are my “secrets” to great decorative stitching, and here’s the end to my second blog! Now, if only I could figure out how to make the text wrap around the pictures the way I’d like it to, and to learn not to talk so much! Future goal – to keep these posts shorter! 

Now, it’s time for me to start making turkey stuffing for my family’s Easter turkey dinner! I grew up having a rice and sausage stuffing so that is what I’m good at making and what my children love. Keith grew up with the more traditional bread stuffing, so he always feels cheated if I don’t make that too. I have to admit that I’m far from an expert at making bread stuffing! Now that we have “in-law” children too, the requests for bread stuffing are getting stronger, so this year, I’ve googled to find a good bread stuffing recipe and I’ll be making both. I hope that it turns out for us. Feel free to share your own stuffing recipes with us as I think on this one, I need all the help I can get! 

Yum, yum - turkey dinner!


Happy Easter! 

Until next time, 


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