Friday, May 22, 2009

The Care and Keeping of Feedsacks!

Hi Everyone! As you probably know, I'm still selling feedsacks and rickrack like a mad woman! And I remembered that I'd talk to you a bit about caring for feedsacks, so here I go!

First of all, if you ever find feedsacks that are "perfect", it'll be few and far between. I seldom find one that doesn't have at least some staining and a few peck or pull holes. What are those you say?

Remember that many of these sacks were taken to the coop or the barn and possibly thrown on the floor where the chickens could get to them and peck at them to get a nibble! Hence, you have a "peck hole". Or when the strings were being removed, they might be pulled a little too hard and you'll get a "pull hole". So there you are!

The good news is that I believe that they must have used steel in the manufacturing of these things! Not really, but they are VERY durable! I wash all my vintage fabric when it comes into my house for a couple of reasons. First, you never know what you're bringing in with it! And secondly, since I sell so much, I want to make sure that the fabrics are stable, both in color and strength. My stain remover of choice is OXYCLEAN. This stuff is fabulous! It takes those stains away and doesn't fade the color. I love it!

For feedsacks, I usually use a 5 gallon paint bucket. I fill it up with hot water and put 1 heaping big scoop full of Oxyclean in and swish it around till it's dissolved. Then I add 12-14 feedsacks. I let them soak 24 hours!! The biggest problem I find is when folks don't use enough product or they don't soak long enough. So don't be stingy with your Oxyclean OR time!!

When that's done, take out the sacks and wash them in your washer with your favorite detergent. No, don't put them on gentle, or be afraid to agitate them! I'm telling you, they are made with steel!! Run them through the full cycles and throw them in the dryer! Yes, the dryer! You will be amazed at how beautifully they come out. If, by chance, after all that, they still have some light staining, then soak 1 or 2 at a time in a plastic dishpan with a couple of heaping tablespoons of Oxyclean for another 24 hours. If the stain is still not out, you'll have to live with it. But hey, if you're cutting them up, no big deal, right??

I generally store them without ironing them because I'd just have to do it again later. You've seen my sewing room so you know that I keep my stuff on open shelves. That's partly because I don't have much natural light in there. I don't think feedsacks fade easily, but if I had lots of light coming in, I might consider covering my shelves. Not just for those, but all my fabrics.

So there you have it! The one thing I always stress to the audience when speaking about feedsacks is to USE them! I inevitably hear someone say "I have a whole stack of these, but I just can't cut them!" My response is "Well, then, sell them to me!" I'm just a believer in using what you have, but if you just want to look at them and fondle them, I guess that's OK, too. In any case, enjoy!


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fusing Rickrack Tutorial

Hi Everyone!

As most of you know, I put rickrack on almost EVERYTHING and really needed a faster and more accurate way to do it. Here's what I came up with and I want to share with you a tutorial on my technique of fusing it..

First of all, let's talk about fusible web. I have found that the best fusible web for any project is Vilene, now known as Soft Fuse. It's a Japanese product and not easy to find. I am planning to carry it in my web store soon. It is so light weight that you cannot even tell it's there.

You really need to use a teflon applique sheet for this. I cut my fusible in 1/4" pieces by the length I need. If I need a long piece of rickrack, as in a border, I still cut the fusible pieces fairly short (10"-12") and place them next to each other. It's much easier to handle and won't matter if you leave a little gap. Then I press the fusible web strip to the rickrack as shown in the picture below.
Then I peel off the paper strip and place the rickrack on my block where needed. This is where you really need the Soft Fuse. You'll notice in the picture above that you can see the fusible in the dips on the rickrack. When you iron on the rickrack with Soft Fuse, it simply melts into the fabric and disappears. I have tried it with Heat n Bond light and other brands and you can actually see the fusible sitting on top of the fabric. This is so much nicer!
Here's a picture of longer pieces for a border. One thing I really like to do is change colors under a flower!

I have to stress that fusing is simply a basting technique for me. It allows me to be more accurate than I can be with pins and is less of a hassle. It is not permanent and the rickrack still needs to be sewn down. I have 2 techniques that I especially like for doing this. I NEVER sew down the middle of the rickrack. That just leaves the edges to curl. Yuk! My most preferred method is to tack the rickrack at the inner and outer points by hand with a matching thread. I'm not talking fine hand applique here! I'm talking tacking! It really makes the rickrack smooth and has a fine finished look. I tend to use this method when I am hand finishing my applique pieces. This is how it looks:

The other technique I like is to sew it by machine following the curves of the rickrack. This elimates the curling that you get by sewing it down the middle. I tend to use this method when I'm finishing my applique by machine. I should tell you that this is particularly why I bought my new Pfaff! It has a way of automatically lifting the presser foot when you stop sewing so I can have both hands free to turn the fabric. If you had to do it by hand or knee lift, you'd be goofy by the time you're done on a long piece!! It's kind of hard to see here,but I think you get the idea.
So that's it for fusing rickrack! If you have any questions, just put them in the comment section or email me. Let me know how it works for you!
Have a great weekend! Blessings~