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Sewing Blog

Tips on how and why to pre wash fabric

should i pre wash fabric?
Should I Pre shrink and pre wash my fabrics before I sew with them?

The short answer is...Yes do it (most of the times). The long answer is bellow ;)

 

The main reasons why you should pre wash your fabric:

  • To pre shrink
  • To wash out dirt and chemicals from the production process

Most fabrics from natural fibers shrink when you wash them. Cotton fabrics often shrink around 5%. But a shrinkage between up to 10% is not uncommon in fabrics made from natural fibers. So if you don't wash your fabric before sewing, and then wash your final garment, your garment you might not fit correctly.

To prevent this you'll need to wash and dry the fabric like you'll wash and dry the final garment. So if you plan on doing a hand wash...give the fabric a hand wash. If you plan on washing it in the machine on 30c then do that.

Some of the shrinkage tends to ease as you wear a garment (like with jeans after washing) but lengthwise shrinkage not so much. So it's worth it to pre wash, if it's a garment that has a fitted style or if the fit and size really matters.

Another important reason is to wash out the dirt / remove chemical sizing / starch treatments / excess dye from the production process. The treatments make it easier to handle the fabric during production and strengthens the yarn for weaving, washing them out will soften your fabric.

 a guide tp pre washing fabrics

When not to pre wash fabric?

If it's an accessory that you wouldn't wash in a washing machine, like if I would sew a zippered pouch or shoulder bag where you would only do spot cleaning.

For fabrics that are dry clean only and garments that are more structured like a woolen, tailored jacket. In those cases I would simply steam the fabric prior to sewing and cutting by hovering the iron above (not on! ) the fabric. The steam helps to pre-shrink the fabric too.

When you pre wash raw indigo denim, creases and fold in the fabric might lead to white lines on your fabric, that's why some don't pre wash denim and use it right away.

100% synthetic fabrics might not need pre washing to prevent shrinkage, but it might still be a good idea so you can work with a clean material.

 tips how to pre wash fabric

How to pre wash fabric?

I've already mentioned you should wash and dry your fabric like you want to wash the finished garment, but there is another thing to consider...unfinished fabric frays and you could loose some of your length if you don't treat your raw fabric edges first.

How to prevent your fabric from fraying when you pre wash your fabric?

The selvedge does not fray, but the cut ends do. There are a few options to prevent and reduce fraying:

  • Use a serger to finish the fabric edges.
  • Use a zig zag stitch on the edge of the fabric.
  • Zig zag or serge the cut ends together to create a tube.
  • Use pinking shears to reduce fraying. I think this works best for fabrics that have a finer weave that don't easily fray.
  • Pre fray your fabric. Pull out the about a cm or 3/8"of the weft thread (that goes from left to right or selvedge to selvedge) this creates an almost decorative frayed edge that prevents further fraying. You'll see this on scarf ends and on linen place mats.
  • don't...let it fraaay, let it fraaay, and cut of the fray edge after drying.

To be honest I can only remember doing fray prevention once. I have a silky woven bamboo viscose that is an absolute tangled nightmare if you just throw it in the washing machine. I ended up serging the edges. And for cotton muslin rectangles that I used to print on, I pre frayed the edges to look decorative and prevent further fraying.

how to prevent fraying when pre washing fabric

A few more tips for pre washing your fabric

  • wash a test swatch. If you cut a 10cm or 4" square its easy to measure it after washing. If you finish the edge prior to washing, you can check how much it shrinks and how well it holds up in the wash.
  • Unfold your fabric before you put it in the washing machine.
  • Don't over crowd the washing machine.
  • Wash similar colours together since there might be excess dye in the new fabric that could stain other fabrics.
  • bonus points if you immediately iron your pre washed fabric, and catalogue it in your fabric swatch library

That was the long answer. It safe to say that for most garments it's a good idea to pre wash the fabric, but it depends on the project and the type of fabric. If you are unsure ask the shop where you bought the fabric for tips and if in doubt wash a test swatch first.

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How to : Sew a little sewing needle organizer or fabric gift tag

The last few weeks have been stressful to say the least and I hope you and your loved ones are all doing well. I thought this would be a fun, beginner friendly, sewing project that's not only fast, but a great project to use up scraps.


The materials you'll need:

  • An award ribbon shaped template, I'll explain the dimensions in the video. (Newsletter subscribers and customers can download the template from the resource library)
  • Scrap fabric. An A4 sized piece should be enough to make two
  • Matching thread ( I use Gutermann all purpose thread)
  • A marking pen or pencil
  • Scissors
  • A seam ripper or hole punch
  • 1 x 4mm per ribbon/organizer. I used a box from prym, that I had left over from old projects.
  • Pinking shears for a fancy zig zag edge

You can sew along with the video

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How to add boxed corners to your Tsuno Tie Bag

Adding boxed corners to your Tsuno Tie Bag adds a nice detail and adds a flat bottom to the bag making it sit upright more easily.

Because you are cutting of the the tips you do loose some room in the bag, and you are making the pointy handles a bit shorter.

You can use the excel sheet that comes with the Tsuno Tie bag to customize how much depth you create, and how it effects the other dimensions of the bag. This is a great way to customize the bag to fit a small rectangle sized gift like a small giftbox, a bar of soap or a book.

 

 

In the video tutorial I'm going to use a French seam to add the boxed corners which is easier than it sounds and makes for a fancy and clean finish on the inside.

I'll be using the Tsuno Tie bag in the video tutorial, but you could easily apply this technique to many bag bottoms. It's an easy but lovely technique to have in your sewing toolbox.

 Get the Tsuno tie bag pattern here

 or

Grab a free copy of the XXS here and sign up for the newsletter

 

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Online Embroidery Class: Ginkgo Brooch

 

 

free embroidery pattern ginkgo leaf and tutorial

I’ve just added a new embroidery class to the workshop collection. In this hand embroidery class, you’ll learn how to embroider a small ginkgo leaf using the chain stitch and turn it into a small brooch with a leather or cork-leather backing. It's an intermediate level class, but if you are a confident beginner you should give it a try. The class includes a free ginkgo leaf embroidery pattern in different shapes and sizes.

What we'll cover in this online embroidery class:

- Materials & tools

- How to transfer the embroidery design onto fabric light and dark fabrics

- Threading your embroidery needle & invisible ways to start your thread

- Chain stitch & reverse chain stitch

- Double Running Stitch or Holbein Stitch to outline the leaf

- How to turn your embroidered leaf into a brooch with textile glue and (cork)leather

Check out the details here

 PS:

Another option is to subscribe for a free 2-month trial to Skillshare to take the class (you'll need a credit card). If you’re not familiar, Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes on everything from business to graphic design to sashiko embroidery and sewing – it’s the Netflix of learning.

By using this link * to my class to sign up for a Skillshare Premium Membership, not only will you be able to enroll in my class, but you’ll also gain access to all other classes on Skillshare starting with a two-month free trial.

If you know of anyone else that’d be interested to learn ho to embroider a ginkgo leaf brooch  I’d appreciate if you’d share the link with them too.

Thanks and enjoy your weekend!

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​* Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Tutorial how to make an embroidered brooch ginkgo leaf

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How and why you should create a fabric swatch book

fabric swatch book free pdf template charlottekan

I've recently organized a large part of my fabric stash because I couldn't remember what fabric was pre-washed and what fabric wasn't. I've probably pre-washed some fabrics more than once and that's when I decided I needed a way to track some information, so I created a swatch library!

It took me a weekend of pre-washing all the unwashed fabrics + the ones I was unsure about and created a template to keep everything organized. I thought I'd share a bit about the process and notes on how and why you should create a swatch library. But let's start at the very beginning...

What is a swatch of fabric?

It's a small piece of fabric. That you get from:

  • Fabrics you already have in your stash.
  • (Online) fabric shops.
  • Wholesalers.

Why do you need fabric swatches?

If you haven't started a project yet, it's a great way to check if the fabric is a match for your project before you commit to buying several meters of the fabric. Especially if you are shopping online!

You never know how the fabric feels, what the color actually looks like, how the fabric drapes, washes or handles until you get your hands on it. For some projects, it's OK to take a gamble, but when you are working with expensive fabrics, that's not a risk I'm willing to take.

If you already own  a piece of fabric, or you've already used it up for a project, it's still smart to save a swatch of your fabric. You can use it as a reference for future projects or when you're looking for similar qualities online.

How do you obtain fabric swatches from (online)stores?

You can ask for fabric swatches in a fabric store and you can buy them from most online stores. You often have to pay a small fee and/or pay for shipping.

In my local fabric shop, I would be able to pick up a small strip of fabric for free and in other shops they made me buy 10 cm / 4 inches of the fabric. So just ask about your shop's policy on fabric swatches and visit at a quit time, not at peak shopping hours.

But once you have all these fabric swatches, how do you store and organize them? In a fabric swatch library or a fabric swatch book!

fabric swatch book free pdf template charlottekan

These pretty swatches all came from different (wholesale)suppliers, the swatches were simply stapled to a sheet of card stock.

What is a fabric swatch library or a fabric swatch book?

A swatch library or a fabric swatch book is where you catalogue your fabric swatches and write down the details of a certain fabric for future reference.

Why create a swatch book?

  • Easily see what you already have without rummaging through your neatly folded fabric stash.
  • Keep it near when you are shopping for fabrics online.
  • You can use it to log how many meters/yards you have left of a certain fabric.
  • Log if you've pre-washed fabric.
  • If you have multiple locations/boxes/drawers where you store fabric, you can track where it's stored.

fabric swatch book free pdf template charlottekan

How do you make a fabric swatch book?

It can be very basic. Use double-sided tape, pins, paperclips or staples to attach the swatches to a piece of paper and write down the specifics next to the fabric. Or you can make a nice page layout and work on that for hours whilst procrastinating and putting off ironing the pre-washed fabric, like me! ;)

To download the template I made, subscribe to the newsletter or log into your customer account, you'll find the template in the resource library as a free download.

You can use staples, double sided tape, pins or paperclip to attach the swatches to a piece of paper.

fabric swatch book free pdf template charlottekan

fabric swatch book free pdf template charlottekan

A handy tip to help against fraying and curling edges, add a strip of tape before you cut out your swatch.This is particularly helpful if you are working with knits.

Once you've attached the swatches to a piece of paper, you can store them in a binder. You can either punch holes directly into the paper or you can use clear plastic sleeves to hold the pages and store everything in a binder.

I prefer to use clear plastic sleeves. I can flip through the pages easily without ripping the paper and I have tons of them lying around from when I used them in college, so it's nice to re-purpose them.

Another option would be to use an accordion file folder / expanding file organizer to hold the paper with swatches.

Some shops will send you little swatch books with all your swatches combined and stapled to some cardboard. I tend to keep them that way and just stick the little booklet into a plastic sleeve or the accordion file folder.

fabric swatch book free pdf template charlottekan

What information can you include in your fabric swatch library:

The possibilities are off course endless, but it highly depends on your needs. here are a few ideas to inspire your own system.

  • Type of fabric (batiste, poplin, denim, gingham, tweed, jacquard, boucle, voile, double gauze, taffeta, etc.)
  • Name of the design ( prints often have a name )
  • Name of the designer ( prints can have the name of the designer in the description )
  • Where you bought it.
  • Fabric content ( 100% cotton, 97% cotton + 3% elastane, 100% linen, 100% tencel, etc. )
  • Care instructions.
  • Where you've stored it.
  • If you've pre-washed it.
  • How much you have or have left.
  • The price.
  • The weight of the fabric.

fabric swatch book free pdf template charlottekan

How do you organize your fabric swatches?

I just randomly stick my swatches in my library, but you can do whatever works for you. You could group them by:

  • color
  • fiber content
  • shop
  • type (stretch, non-stretch, knits, etc. )

What size is a swatch of fabric

It depends on the shop. Most fabrics watches I've bought online were around 5 x 5 cm / 2" x 2", But when I bought wholesale would often receive larger fabric swatches up to a4 / letter size. However, if I'm cutting into a new piece of fabric I mostly cut off a small sliver of fabric to avoid cutting into the fabric too much.


fabric swatch book free pdf template charlottekan

Sign up and download the free sewing planner page template

Sign to the newsletter here to access the free printable swatch library template or log into your customer account, you'll find the PDF template in the sewing resource library as a free download.

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Organizing sewing projects, sewing patterns and PDF sewing patterns.

How to organize sewing projects and sewing patterns 

How I store my sewing patterns & projects

I store my printed out PDF sewing patterns and pattern pieces in an A4 quick binder and use plastic sleeves. There is a sleeve for the original copy shop pattern, the traced pattern and the project planner / pattern card goes on top.

If I trace the pattern again to make alterations or if I decide to hack the pattern I simply add another plastic sleeve for the latest version.

I've done this for years, but I've recently created a PDF template to track project details and alterations on the cover page of the binder.

Sewing planner page template free pdf download


Sewing planner page template free pdf download

Sewing planner page template free pdf download

I still have lots of these plastic binders from college so I just reuse them over and over again, but if you don't have them lying around and want to avoid plastic,use a paper envelope and keep your pattern and pattern pieces inside. You could even add a piece of paper as a divider if you need to.

How to organize sewing projects and sewing patterns

When a project is still in process I keep the binder, notions and the project in a basket that I can easily put away for a while.

When the project is completed, I move the binder to a magazine holder.

For a project that is in progress I tend to use one of the many baskets I have around the house to keep everything together in one place.

Large zip lock bags have also come in handy, providing a dust free storage solution. It's not that I buy those anymore, but I do reuse the old ones I still have.

How to store sewing patterns and sewing projects

When the project is finished, the quick binder is moved to a magazine holder. I keep them in a series of uniform magazine holders on a metal shelving unit in my living room. I like them because they hold quite a few patterns, they are affordable and have a clean and organized look.

How to store sewing patterns

My magazine holders came from Ikea and are similar to the Fjälla magazine hoders they currently carry. But the binders (or envelopes) could easily be stored in shoe boxes, old cardboard boxes, drawers or whatever you have on hand.

how to organize sewing patterns

How I store my digital sewing patterns

My Digital patterns are stored using Dropbox* Once I purchase or create a new pattern, I save it directly to the Dropbox folder on my computer and the moment the folder is synced with my Dropbox account, the file has a back up in the cloud which gives me great peace of mind. It's one of my favorite sewing tools ;)

If you sign up for a basic account you get to store and access your files from multiple devices, computers, phones, and tablets, for free. You get 2 GB which is more than enough for a whole library of PDF sewing patterns. I've used the free account for years but recently switched to a paid account because I'm using it for everything but the kitchen sink ;)

My folder structure looks something like this:

The main folder

Then each designer gets their own folder

Folders for each pdf sewing pattern containig the actual pattern files and instruction booklets

Sewing Patterns -->  Charlotte Kan -->  Elskan Dress and Top
 Pocket_T
 Designer name -->  Tank Top
 Skinny Jeans

 

 

* Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

 

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How to track your sewing projects and alterations + a bujo layout and pdf template

Sewing planner bullet journal page template

Have you eve made changes to your sewing pattern, but forgot exactly what you did? *Raises hand*...I often put away a project for weeks, sometimes months and forget whether or not I've added those 2 extra centimeters to the sleeve, or I want to remake a wardrobe staple I made a year ago and can't find the edits I've made.

It's annoying because I could get out a measuring tape and figure most things out, but some edits are quite subtle and hard to backtrack from a garment that's been worn and washed.

So I decided to be more diligent and track my pattern edits in a pattern card/project planner / sewing journal mash-up. Something I used to do when I still designed and produced small collections. We would use a system to track pattern alterations, versions, construction order, material cost, production time and all the materials needed for the project.

I currently don't need to track each and every detail, but I do want to keep my sewing projects organized. My main wish was to be able to set a project aside for a while and confidently pick up where I left off.

There are so many details you could track, but in the end, only trial and error will lead you to a system that works for you.

Here are some of the possible sections you could add to your project planner.

  • Body measurements + the date you took those measurements because your sizes probably will fluctuate over time.
  • Hacks and alterations. How much length did you add to the sleeve? or how much you pinched out of the back panel?
  • Finished garment measurements and ease. Figure out how much ease the pattern has and compare it to garments you already own and love.
  • The size or sizes you've traced.
  • How much fabric you need.
  • The color number of the thread you used.
  • Name and designer of the sewing pattern.
  • The pattern #hashtag for sharing on Instagram.
  • The order of construction so you don't have to check the instruction booklet.
  • Future alterations.
  • Notions & sewing machine needles.
  • Material costs.
  • Stitch length or other sewing machine settings.
  • The date you started or when you finished.
  •  A sketch of the garment or details.
  • A link or website name where you found that super helpful tutorial you used.

I decided to create a sewing planner template that includes a few set categories and room for notes and details that fall outside these sections.

P a t t e r n  d e t a i l s
- this is where I can track the basics

name:
designer:
date:
pattern O printed O taped O traced O cut
fabric O washed O cut

f a b r i c / n o t i o n s / n o t e s
- where I can write down everything I need to actually sew the pattern

b o d y m e a s u r e m e n t s + d a t e
- to keep an eye on if my size changes since I last made the pattern

f i n i s h e d  g a r m e n t  m e a s u r e m e n t s
- to see how much ease the pattern has

s i z e  t r a c e d
- If I fall between sizes I can track which sizes I've traced

 
bullet journal layout for sewing, project planner

Sewing project planner printable vs a notebook or Bullet journal

You can simply write everything on a sheet of paper and add whatever you need, or write everything down in a notebook or bullet journal, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to create a printable for a streamlined look and ease of use.

I've been a bullet journal user for about 4 years now and I found my style to be super basic, I don't use colors or markers, just my trusted Lamy safari fountain pen. The bullet journal layout was a nice experiment for inspiration. I kept the layout very minimalist and I managed to keep it all on one page. the empty page could function as a way to jot down additional notes or a place to add inspiration for the project.

In the end, I will mainly use the printed template and only use the bullet journal for plans that require more planning and research like when I'm starting from scratch and making the actual pattern.

If you want to try the printable for yourself, it's available as a free download to newsletter subscribers and customers in the resource library.

Sewing planner page template free pdf download

How I use my sewing project planner for the Garçonne shirt

I used the sewing project planner template I created when I decided to hack my Garçonne shirt. I've already made two shirts with a regular button band, but I wanted to make another one with a partial placket and sleeve plackets and turn it into a popover shirt.

I created the pattern pieces and wrote down how long I wanted the front placket to be, after holding it in front of my chest and adjusting the length.

Another thing I added, was a sketch to remind me how the sleeve plackets should be attached to the sleeve since I have messed this up in the past. I was glad I had the simple sketch handy when sewing, it definitely sped up my process. 

All in all, it was a success and I will keep using it (and probably fine-tuning) in the future!

Now I would love to hear from you! Do you have a system in place to track your sewing projects and alterations? I would love to hear your tips and ideas.


Sewing planner pdf template, tracking alterations

Sign up and download the free sewing planner page template

Sign to the newsletter here to access the free printable sewing project planner or log into your customer account, you'll find the PDF template in the sewing resource library as a free download.

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Tie Dress: Wrap Dress Hack

Tie dress PDF sewing pattern hack and alterations

When I originally designed the Tie Dress, it was part of my small ready to wear collection and it was made in a small size range in my studio in Rotterdam. I have no idea how many we made and sold, but I still had this indigo/purple/Yves Klein blue version lying around, there is a small fault in the fabric, right on the boob but not that visible at all...maybe that's why it never got sold? Anyway, I love the colour (which is nearly impossible to photograph well) but the size was too big for me. And since it's #AlterItAugust I though I join in and alter this blue beauty from the archive.

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Tsuno Tie Bag - Tester round up

Tsuno tie bag - bento bag - project bag sewing pattern - easye to sew bag - azuma bukuro
Marilyn @create.anew

I'm so thankful of all these fabulous testers! They dedicated their time and fabric to give great feedback so I could finetune the pattern and get it as perfect as possible. They did a great job and it's inspiring to see the bag in so many different fabrics and colours.

 

During the testing I made changes to the instructions and it was clear that a video tutorial would be a great addition to the pattern. I've recently uploaded the video tutorial so you can sew along with your Tsuno Tie Bag.

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5 steps to pick the right sewing pattern size + get a better fit. Even if you are a beginner!

how to pick the right size sewing pattern

Yay! You decided to start sewing. You bought a sewing machine, did a few practice projects and now you are ready to sew your own handmade wardrobe. You want to create your own handmade wardrobe because fast fashion turns you off, you can't find what you are looking for or you simply don't fit the standard RTW (ready-to-wear) sizes.

You pick your first pattern put your blood, sweat, and tears into that first garment, only to find out it's too baggy or too tight and you start second guessing the whole plan of sewing your own wardrobe.

Or

You never start because you lack confidence and question everything...Which pattern size should I choose? What should I do if I don’t fit into any of the listed sizes? What if I fall into different sizes? How do I take my measurements?

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