Monday, January 31, 2011

Method Monday, a tutorial on Pleather/Vinyl straps.

I have discovered pleather/vinyl  (P/V) to be a less expensive and greener alternative to leather.   This tutorial will show you how to sew a leather looking strap with a tri-fold method that I developed myself.

Find the right materials that will work for sewing straps.  If the  is P/V semi-easy to fold, and the texture looks like leather, then it will work.  Always buy more than you think you will need.  Keep in mind the kind of pleather that is really thin.  This thin P/V is better suited to making handbag bodies, and not the straps.  Thin pleather/vinyl will simply stretch too much to work for a strap.  


110 needles and Teflon foot
Use a Teflon foot (so the p/v will not stick), and a 110/100 needle (topstitch, leather, or jean). Teflon feet are available for Viking and Pfaff.  Brother, White and Babylock use an Ultra Glide foot (It is a white plastic foot).  I recommend the roller foot for a Bernina machine, the roller foot number is #57.

Scotch Tape on bottom of presser foot
Another option if you do not have a Teflon foot is to stick a piece of matte Scotch tape on the bottom of your presser foot.  Trim off all excess tape not touching the foot.  This option works well when the Teflon or glide foot will not work for patent leather/pleather. 

When cutting p/v, it is necessary to start with a straight cut across the entire width.  I use 2 or 3 rulers lined up end to end to mark this straight line, and then cut off the uneven edge to have a clean start to measure and cut the strap pieces. Use an ink pen to mark your cutting lines as felt tip markers will bleed through some p/v.   Rotary blades work well to cut p/v evenly to ensure an accurate measurement for the straps. 

Measure strap 4.5" wide
Mark right folding line

I cut my straps in measurements of three.  So for a finished strap that is 1.5” wide, you need to cut a 4.5” wide piece.  After I cut the piece, I measure 1/3 of the total width and mark a straight line down the entire length of the p/v with the ink pen on the left side of the strap. (1.5” for a 4.5" wide strap).  This piece is now ready to sew into a strap.

I recommend using 100% cotton quilting thread for sewing on P/V.  It just looks really nice. Wonderfil, YLI, and King Tut thread are awesome to sew P/V with.  Use a bigger stitch too.  Stitching through P/V is thicker, and the strap will look more professional if a little longer stitch is used (3.5-4.0).  Always do sample sewing to get your tension right.  I have found that I sometimes need to tighten my tension a bit to get the stitching right on both sides of the strap. 



First fold of the tri-fold method

With the 1.5" marking on the left side, fold the right edge of the p/v over to the 1.5" line.  It is best not to pin the p/v, as the pin holes will show, so it is necessary to fold and sew.  If you feel like you need to pin it, use Getta Grip Clips instead of pins to hold in place.  I have to say that these clips are the best when it is hard to pin in any kind of sewing!!! 


Sewing the first row of stitches

Start to sew on the folded edge of the p/v with a 1/16” seam allowance (SA) for the first row of stitching.


After the first row of stitching is completed, clip your threads at the bottom of the strap, but do not clip the threads at the top where you are starting to stitch.  Always sew from top to bottom when sewing your straps to minimize the pleather from twisting.  Leaving your threads long at the top so you know which end to start stitching each new row of stitching.  

2ND ROW (& 3rd ROW if desired):
Go back to the top of the strap piece to start the next row.  Consider where you would like your stitch lines, and how far apart they are.  Keep in mind that the second row of stitching must be1/16"- 1/4" away from the first line of stitching so that the edge of the p/v is caught perfectly in the stitching as follows.   
Now, fold the other edge of the p/v up to the first row of stitching then use a 1/16"- 1/4" sa to stitch down and "catch" the other edge of the strap with this second row of stitching for this side of the strap.  Next add a third row of stitching if desired or needed.      

Stitching the 2nd row
2nd row completed

STITCH OTHER SIDE OF STRAP:Next, mimic the two or three rows of stitching on the opposite side of the strap starting with the 2nd row of stitching so that the rows of stitching are stitched in order across the strap. Remebering to start at the top of strap, the strap will be turned to the other side. Complete the 2-3 rows of stitching that mimic the first 2-3 rows. Keep in mind the SA for each row and repeat.

Stitching the other side

Finished strap on an Okashi Bag

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Sewing Obsession........Gotta Getta a Grip!

Do you see this lovely lady!!
The Getta Grip works just like a pin, but better!!

Check out this powerful little gal, because she is an essential tool in my sewing lounge.  I work with pleather/vinyl all the time, and the Getta Grip clips hold materials together like pins do, except they does not leave pin holes.
I used her and all of her identical looking sisters when I was deep into making custom drapes last week.  The clips are such a help when I need to measure long pieces of fabric...I just clip that measuring tape in place, and I end up getting accurate measurements!!  The clips are also great for fitting and alterations, and are a perfect replacement for straight pins.
The start of making a pleather/vinyl strap that looks like real leather!

Here the clips are holding the trim piece in place until I can sew it and secure it!

I was so lucky to meet the inventor of the Getta Grip Clips when I was in San Francisco filming two Power Sewing shows with the incredible Sandra Betzina in San Franciso.  Sandra is one of the nicest people I have met.  I am so lucky that I had the opportunity to work with her.   It was pretty exciting to film my first sewing show with her!  And I learned so much from Sandra and her team, and I taink them for being so gracious with such a beginner like me!
Paul Gallo was filming with Sandra's sewing partner in crime, Ron Collins. He was showing his fabulous clips to the entire sewing community that tunes into "Power Sewing" and to witness the latest and coolest stuff going on in sewing today!!  As I listened to Paul describe what his mighty clip could do and I turned to Sandra saying that I could really use these wonder clips.  It has been fun getting to know Paul, and to promote his clips.  I love watching Paul's business grow as magazines like Stitch and Threads promote Getta Grip Clips.     
So...I took the clips to The International Quilt Market and Festival with me, so that I could let my distributors know about this lady that really does hold on!  I personally think that they would be great for those quilters that have a hard time working with straight pins.  And clips do not prick you either!!

I am going to share these pictures with you just for fun!!
I keep the clips in this bowl by my sewing machine!!

This is what I find after my Kiddo's class on Mondays.  Riley is my resident should see how she organizes thread too!  Thank-you Riley!

so.....please check out the Getta Grip Clips for your pleather/vinyl/leather sewing, and so much more!!
Check in tomorrow for method monday!
Sew Rama,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sewist of the week ... and an introduction!

Okay, here I am again.  I wanna blog, gotta blog…must blog.  Must find the time to blog so that I can put out the word about what I would love to contribute to the world of sewing. I hope to show other sewists new sewing methods and tips that will help and allow them to make things that they never thought they could make!

I am up and running in this crazy, chaotic ride of an entrepreneur’s dream. Call me nutty, but I would not even think of trading this wild creative gig of what I am doing with my life for that lovely thought of a Monday through Friday thing called “a regular job”.

So…..I had an opportunity come my way.  It is the best gift for someone like me with not a lot of extra time, to suddenly have help that allows me to do more.  Her name is Melissa, and she is a major cool gal.  She will be helping me out with this blog among other things here at Paradiso Designs.  Let me introduce you to her because Melissa is also the Sewist of the week!!

I first met Melissa Monge five months ago when she took one of my sewing classes, and she has been sewing her heart out since then. As I got to know Melissa, she told me about her sweet love story. She looked up her long-ago high school sweetheart on Facebook. She cried when she saw his picture, he did the same. They got in touch, and now they are married. I need to launch a big shout out to Don…thank-uuuuuu Don. Thanks for being a cool dude, and bringing the magic of Melissa to the Pacific Northwest, and Paradiso Designs. You and I are very lucky people!

Melissa has been hanging out at the Sewing Lounge creating many a lovely thing. She has made dresses and fleece fingerless gloves for her beloved niece Ashley. Then Melissa made the Market Bag with denim (which I personally love) and with canvas too.

She totally surprised me and made the Okashi Bag with red sequin patent leather. Please keep in mind that Melissa has only been sewing for 7 months…not years, months!!!! The Okashi has never looked so sizzling hot….OMG…I love it. And that is why Melissa is the Sewist of the Week. She continues to fearlessly sew new and challenging projects, and I love that.

Check out the top she made from a Sew Liberated pattern.  I love this pattern by Meg of Sew Liberated.  I have seen this made by a few people, and it is just a great pattern!! Melissa tailored the pattern to fit herself on her own, and look at the way it fits her…perfectly. Currently Melissa is working on another of my patterns, the Carry-all. Check out her materials that she is using for the first installment of “Amazing Color Stories” this next Wednesday.

Thank-you Melissa!! I say this from the bottom of my heart for the friendship, the listening ear, and your time that you have given and continue to gift me with. I am going to turn it over to her….hey Melissa…are you there?

Hello to all you Sewing Divas in training, and those of you who are already at Diva status!  As previously stated by the Head Diva, I am new to sewing.  In my previous life, I was a Corporate Travel Agent for 15 years down in Phoenix.  That's right, I'm a transplant, and no, I'm not tired of the rain yet!  In March 2009, I found my high school sweetheart on Facebook.  By November we knew we wanted to be together, so on New Year's Eve 2009, I flew one-way, first class from Phoenix to Seattle.  We were married in March 2010, and I've been slowly adjusting to my new life in the Northwest.

I've sewn many things since going to Cheryl's Sewing Lounge, mostly for other people, but I'm trying to sew more stuff for myself.  I decided to start my own blog, Gemini Gypsy Girl, to show my full progression to full Sewing Diva status!  Who knows if I'll ever get there, but I'm having fun along the way.   

Please feel free to comment or make suggestions on our blog posts.  I'm gonna do my best to keep Cheryl on track with this blog so you all have fun and interesting things to see, read about and learn from.  Better yet, come to the Sewing Lounge and see for yourself! (we have cookies ... shhh)
Thanks, and happy sewing, Melissa!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

American Sewing Guild Presentation, Beaverton, Oregon

Pleather straps
 Hello to all you lovely ladies that will be joining me on Saturday February 5, 2011 for my take on sewing pleather among other more difficult fabrics to sew, and how to create something that will last!!  I will be showing you my own tutorial on how to sew a pleather strap that looks and acts like leather, meaning that it will be strong enough to hold that beloved handbag.

I will be talking about the different kinds of pleather.  For those of you taking the workshop, you will learn how to set up your machine to sew pleather.  A pleather sample kit will be given to each workshop attendee allowing you to test sew different kinds of pleather.

In the presentation I want to allow questions of all kinds, as it will allow everyone to get the information on sewing pleather that is not really written down anywhere!!

Inside pockets of Okashi Bag
 I will also be touching on the ways to pick colors for whatever you are sewing!!  That includes your fashion fabric, linings, and the one thing that I find people do not think has an impact on your project, though we absolutely need it….that being said, think outside of the box with your thread!! Let me help you make your project a little more zesty!!  You will be able to see how the same pattern can be made with different fabrications for different finished looks.

Please also remember that I will have my patterns, pleather kits , and hardware to make my bags for sale, and everything is 20% off for all of you taking time out of your weekend to come and join me for some sew chat, and then some sew time!! I have included a supply list for you to have on hand for the workshop. And please visit my website so that you can see the patterns that I have in my line for you to add to your own personal stash!! I will be posting a blog post for you ladies of this supply list, so that it is handy dandy for reference! Please check this two days before the presentation in case I have forgotten anything here. You can also email me before the presentation at Please email at least two days before so that I can get back to you before the presentation!!

Paradiso Designs Workshop Supply List:

*Your Sewing Machine
Okashi Bag made in Pleather
*Teflon Foot…..if you do not have one, I have another solution here
*110 needles, can be leather, topstitch, or denim needles, this is very important.
*Regular thread works fine here, but you can also use 100% cotton quilting thread!!
*Any fabric that you are struggling to sew on, or are not sure how to decide on fabric selections for any of my bag patterns, or of any project (bags, clothing, or whatever you have) for help, guidance, and   encouragement!
*Sewing markers…which for me include and ink pin, sharpies or other felt markers, and the hard chalk too!
*Sewing tools of scissors, thread nips, straight pins, and whatever else you think you will need.
*Rotary Cutter/board/ruler-3”x18”

Thanks everyone…and especially you Deb!!