Author Archives: sewvacoutletblog

About sewvacoutletblog

Brad Porterfield is the owner of Humble Sewing Center. He's been in the sewing machine and vacuum business since the late 70’s. In the early days, Brad started from the ground up in sales, service, and repair as an employee of a sewing machine store in Arkansas. He eventually became a factory trained technician for all brands including: Elna, Viking, Brother, Singer, Bernina, Janome, and Babylock. Brad later decided to venture out into retail and has successfully owned and operated a number of prosperous sewing machine stores including Meyerland Sewing Center. He purchased Humble Sewing Center in 1997 from the original owner, Bob Crain. Brad remains committed to quality and premium customer service. Humble Sewing Center continues to serve the Houston, Humble, Kingwood, and Atascocita areas, and we look forward to seeing you soon.

What is a Serger & why would I want one???

I recently put up a blog post with some shopping tips for sewing machines, embroidery machines, and also sergers.  An old friend, new to sewing, asked me for some more information about sergers, so I decided to shed some light on these mystery machines here.

A few samples of decorative stitches done by serger.

Short Answer:

On the practical side, a serger is a machine that people use to finish seams with a professional looking stitch. (Look inside of what you’re wearing right now. The seam was probably done with a serger.)

The serger has a built in blade and lets you trim the seam allowance, stitch the seam, and overcast the raw edge simultaneously so you get done much quicker than with a conventional sewing machine.

They also do decorative stitches that sewing machines cannot do and they have special settings that make it easier to sew on knits and tricky fabrics. If you’re just getting started sewing, you probably won’t need one of these right away.

Video Clip Answer:

As you may have figured out, I’m a fan of Nancy Zieman’s show, “Sewing with Nancy,” and I like to post some of her video clips here.  In the clip below, Nancy does a great job of showcasing the “Queen of all Sergers,” the Babylock Evolution.  Even though I don’t have the Evolution, watching the clip just now, reminds me why I love my trusty serger so much!

Oh, and if you’re brand new to serging, a really good book to get is:  Ready, Set, Serge  by:  Georgie Melot

Ready,Set, Serge by: Georgie Melot

It’s full of easy projects that also make great gifts.

Humble Sewing Center carries this one and you can find it online as well.

http://www.nancysnotions.com/product/ready+set+serge+book.do#

Enjoy!
Let’s Get Sewing!
Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny

Tutorial: Personalized Mug w/ Embroidery

Personalized Mugs Make a great gift!

One of the very first things I learned to do with my embroidery machine was this quick and easy project when I attended an embroidery class at Humble Sewing Center with Instructor:  Marje Agostini.

FYI:  She’s pretty much an embroidery guru, so if you ever get the chance to attend one of her monthly Inspiration classes – you’ll have a good time, get more comfortable using your machine, and learn some neat tips & tricks for machine embroidery.

Ok, back to the mugs!  In the picture, the mug on the right was done using Marje’s instructions, except I decided to use fabric instead of kiwi paper.  If you decide to make one with fabric, just be sure to use a medium to heavy weight, fusible, cut-away permanent stabilizer.  Fuse it to the wrong side of your fabric before stitching and your fabric will behave just like the kiwi paper.

With permission, I’m posting Marje’s class instructions and a supply list for your review:

Supplies:  one 16oz. mug (available at Humble Sewing Center), one sheet of Kiwi Paper (at HSC), Peel ‘n Stick Stabilizer, Use a 4×4 or larger embroidery hoop,  16oz. Mug Template (attached to this blog post in a  link)

16oz.mug template

Note:  If you enjoyed this project and you want to order mugs in bulk, visit this link.  There is a $50 minimum order required.

http://www.discountembroideryblanks.com/1do16oztrtu.html

Let’s Get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny

Stabilizer Tips: Monogram Towels

Happy Monday everybody!  I’ve spent the last couple of days battling a cold and the cold has been winning.  But, today’s a new day and I’m glad to be on the mend!

I wanted to take a minute to post some tips for Monogramming Towels because, I find these make the perfect gift for a number of occasions.  I enjoy giving them to friends and family alike.  Especially at Christmas, weddings, housewarmings, to college kids who’ll be staying in a dorm, etc., etc.

First off, if you have an embroidery machine, it likely came with a number of lovely fonts built in, which you can use to create a design.  But, if you want to expand your options with a very user friendly software, I’m loving Monogram Works from Designer’s Gallery.  You can check it out here and you can buy it at Humble Sewing Center.  http://www.designersgallerysoftware.com/products/Lettering-Embellishment/MonogramWorks/

Whatever software you use, here are few “Rules” for monogramming:

1.  When the monogram is for an individual, follow this sequence:  the 1st letter of their first name, the 1st letter of their last name, then the 1st letter of their middle name.  For example, in the photo above, the person’s name could have been:  Arthur Ned Fuller.  In monograms, the letter for the last name is often larger than the other letters.

2.  When the monogram is for a married couple, follow this sequence:  the 1st letter of the groom’s first name, the 1st letter of the groom’s last name, then the 1st letter of the bride’s first name.  For example, in the photo above, the couple could be:  Arthur and Natalie Fuller.

Let’s talk about some recommended supplies and stabilizers:

When I give a set of monogrammed towels, I use “The Perfect Placement Kit” to help me make sure all the monograms are placed uniformly on each and every towel.

The kit contains 15 reusable plastic templates for embroidery on towels, napkins, shirts, burp cloths, and more.  It also comes with a fully illustrated booklet so you can jump right in and get busy with your projects.

Ok, on to the stabilizers.  You’ll need both of these:

  • Self-Adhesive Wash Away stabilizer – it’s a water soluble stabilizer w/ a paper backing.  When you peel the paper away, it reveals a sticky surface.
  • Water Soluble Stabilizer – this is a light weight, clear stabilizer that tears easily and dissolves with just a spritz of water.

Here’s what to do when you embroider on a towel:

  1. Fold the towel in half vertically to find center front.
  2. Use the placement template to determine design placement.
  3. Place a target sticker on the towel to mark the center of the design.
  4. Cut a piece of the self-adhesive wash away stabilizer that is big enough to give you about a 1/2 “lip” around your embroidery hoop.
  5. Peel the paper backing from the stabilizer.  Lay the stabilizer with its sticky side up.  Lay your inner hoop on top of the sticky stabilizer.  Wrap the sides of the stabilizer around the hoop, pulling and adjusting so that the stabilizer is stretched and taut like a drum.
  6. Place the inner hoop into your outer hoop and tighten the screw to secure. (The sticky surface should be face-up)
  7. Position your towel so that the area you want to embroider is over your hoop.  Lay the towel onto the sticky surface and press lightly to make sure it is securely attached.
  8. Attach your hoop to your embroidery machine and dial up the letters or design you plan to stitch.  Use the target sticker to make sure your needle is in the correct starting place.  Peel away the sticker.
  9. Cut a piece of the water soluble stabilizer that is a little larger than the design you want to stitch.  Lay this stabilizer on top of the towel.  (This topper prevents your stitches from sinking into the towel and disappearing.) You can either use a few pins to hold it in place, or you can use your hands to hold it steady until it gets tacked down by the first few stitches.
  10. Sew out your design.  When finished, you can gently tear away the water soluble topper you used and you can spritz to dissolve any unwanted traces.
  11. Remove your hoop from the machine and peel your towel away from the self-adhesive stabilizer.  You can cut the excess stabilizer away and rinse away any unwanted traces.  (I tend to just cut the excess stabilizer away, since the traces will dissolve in the first washing.)
Well, I hope you find this helpful.  Have fun!
Let’s Get Sewing!
Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

Holiday Home Decor: Christmas Tree Skirt

Last year sometime before Christmas, I found a really neat video of Nancy Zieman making a custom tree skirt using jumbo fusible piping.  I followed her tips, made my own, and took it on a photo shoot with my Sew Crafty Houston friends.   (I also made the banner with my embroidery machine and a fun applique font, but that’s for another post.)

    Crafty Holidays & Good Friends!

Photo By: Laura Burlton

Photo By: Laura Burlton

Here’s my tree skirt under our crafty stuff:

You can’t see much of it here, but watch Nancy’s video and you’ll get a better view of the skirt and some helpful how-to tips.  I’m also attaching a link at the bottom of this post so you can buy her tutorial and pattern if you want step by step instruction.

http://www.nancysnotions.com/product/how+to+sew+a+simple+christmas+tree+skirt+guide.do

Let’s Get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

Machine Shopping Tips fm Jenny Gabriel

Jenny Gabriel - alter ego: StitchinJenny

The Holidays are coming and some of you may be ready to buy your first sewing machine, embroidery machine, or even your very first serger.  If so, good for you!  You’re worth it!

Choosing the right machine can be an overwhelming task so I’m posting some shopping tips here for your review.  Keep in mind, the ideas expressed here are my personal opinions and do not necessarily represent SewVac Outlet’s staff or owner.

Embroidery Machines:

Here’s some info. about embroidery machines that you may find helpful:
  • Ask your dealer questions about how to transfer embroidery designs to the embroidery machine.
  • Ask about the maximum size for embroidery. The least expensive embroidery machine has a 4×4 hoop size. As you go up in hoop size the price goes up as well.
If you have your heart set on a sewing/embroidery machine combo, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the best deal I’ve seen lately is the BabyLock Ellure Plus.  BabyLock is a very good brand.  This model has a usb port and comes with 2 hoops:  5×7 & 5×12.  The 5×12 is awesome for sewing out larger designs.  I think it’s on sale at a reduced price right now at Humble Sewing Center.   I can’t quote prices here, but I can say that the sale price is a real steal.  Check out this link to find out more about the Ellure Plus:  http://www.babylock.com/embroidery/ellure-plus3/
If you’re looking for an Embroidery Only machine, I personally love the Janome 350E.  

Janome 350E

This machine is not a sewing/embroidery combo so it does not sew at all.  However, I own this model and love it!  It is very user friendly and has more on-screen embroidery editing abilities than most embroidery machines for the same price.  It definitely has more embroidery “muscle” for your money.   Check out this link to find out more:  http://content.janome.com/index.cfm/Machines/Embroidery/MC350E

Sewing Machines

My favorite Sewing Machine brand is Janome.  I own the MC6600.  This is one fully loaded workhorse of a machine!  However, most ladies don’t need so much sewing muscle, so the model I recommend the most often is the Janome DC2011.  When you start comparing features and prices, you’re going to find that, compared to other brands, Janome gives you a lot more bang for your buck.  Pretty much any Janome you get will be a good machine.
Here’s a link to check out the DC2011:
Here are some features to look for in a sewing machine:
  • drop in bobbin
  • speed control slider
  • one-step button hole
  • adjustable stitch width
  • adjustable stitch length
  • decorative stitches
  • 7mm widest stitch width
  • (I prefer the computerized machines that have an LCD screen.  They are going to include a lot more convenience features than a basic mechanical machine.)
  • Make sure the inside of the machine has metal parts and not plastic.  The computerized Brothers at Walmart have no metal frame inside and are full of cheap parts.  (Seen this first hand.)
Whatever brand you choose, avoid getting a machine at Walmart, Target, Sears, department stores etc.  The manufacturers do not support these models.  Only the models that are sold at sewing machine dealerships are supported by the manufacturers.
In other words, you won’t be able to get parts for a machine that you buy at Walmart etc.  If you are planning to buy your machine online, don’t purchase until you make sure that your local dealership will be able to get parts for it in case you need repairs in the future.  Also, dealerships are able to offer better warranties than online purchases, so be sure to do your homework before you buy!

Sergers:

Recommended Serger Features to look for: 
Any serger you buy should have:
  • at least 4 threads
  • differential feed (this is what helps you tame those stretchy knit fabrics with ease and it does other cool stuff, too)
  • it’s accessories:  long tweezers, screw driver for changing needles, etc.
  • If you get a Janome or a Babylock, both of these brands can usually do a pretty rolled hem stitch.  If possible, have the dealer demo the serger’s rolled hem before buying.
Recommended Serger Brands:
I consider myself a serger expert.  I teach a lot of serger classes each year.  I’ve seen almost every model and brand you can think of.  I’ve seen many a serger bite the dust in my Serger 101 class because of being a poor quality make & model.  In my opinion, any current model of Janome or BabyLock Serger will be a good machine that will serve you well.
My favorite Janome is the Janome 1110DX  and the Queen of all sergers is the Babylock Evolution.

Janome 1110DX

BabyLock Evolution

BabyLock Sergers:   http://www.babylock.com/sergers/
Janome
As far as price, there are some other Janome models for less than the one I’m discussing here, but this one’s a little easier to thread.  It’s the middle of the road machine.  Not the base model and not the top of the line either.  Many ladies have brought this with them to my classes and it’s always done great.
BabyLock
Another exceptional brand for sergers is Babylock.  They have jet air threading and automatic tension settings which makes them the easiest serger to use on the entire serger market.  Pricewise, lowest to highest is:  Imagine, Enlighten, Evolution (top of the line).
These machines typically cost more than other brands, but they are so easy to use that it’s worth every penny.
Well, I hope this helps you on your journey and machine hunt.
Happy Shopping!
Let’s Get Sewing!
Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny

Tips for Embroidery with Metallic Threads

Machine Embroidery Tips: Using Metallic Thread

Have you ever tried to use metallic thread for machine embroidery and it just keeps breaking over and over and OVER???  Me too!!!  Sooooo, I looked up some tips and I’m posting them here for your review.  I want to be sure to give credit where it’s due so, want to let you know I found this info on a site called:  http://www.annaboveembroidery.com

Let’s Get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny

Holiday Ruffled Apron – Lovely Hostess Gift!

Here’s a fun project that I adapted from a photograph that I saw in a magazine a while back.  This apron doesn’t take much fabric and from start to finish, only takes a few hours to make.  The color coordinating options are endless, so you could make it with a variety of fabric themes like:  Christmas, Thanksgiving, Birthday, and more!  Have fun!  And I would love to see a picture when you finish yours!

Here’s a PDF version of the tutorial I wrote for this Apron when I taught it as a class at Sew Crafty Houston (check out  my awesome illustrations!)

Holiday Ruffled Apron

Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

http://www.stitchinjenny.com