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Marking Fabric and Debunking Misinformation

I learned most of what I know about crafting through books that I picked up from thrift stores, usually published in the 70s and 80s. That probably makes me a major weirdo for my age group, but since I was living in a vehicle at the time I started, I didn’t have constant access to a computer or money … so yeah, major weirdo.

In 2017, I bought a book that had been freshly published, mostly out of morbid curiosity, and I found it to be a major disappointment. For starters, the title was grossly misleading. Secondly, the author left out a huge amount of relevant information, but went into an excessive description about how a-may-zing the purple disappearing pens are for marking fabric, followed up with demonizing the blue water-soluble pens as the most useless invention ever.

Everything the author said was accurate enough for where she lived in the deep South, where it’s humid. But where I live in the arid West, it was thoroughly horrible advice. On dry days, I have used the purple pens then watched the marks disappear in a matter of minutes. I only use them when I need to mark something immediately before cutting or sewing it, because the marks aren’t guaranteed to be there ten minutes later. Blue pens are by far the better option for the climate I live in. So far, I haven’t seen any modern creators mention that local weather patterns can have an effect on tools and fabric.

Books from the 70s are a priceless resource for learning how to accurately mark fabrics when neither pen is an option, especially because they don’t assume that you’re too lazy to spend five minutes on doing a good job.

The sewing and embroidery community has since decided that “heat erase” pens are the greatest thing ever, but I strongly recommend against them — on the grounds that they don’t actually erase. It’s color changing technology, and heat makes the ink turn from dark to white. The ink is permanent, you run the risk of bleaching the marks into fabric that isn’t white, and if there’s any chance of the project being exposed to cold (mailing a Christmas gift?), those marks are going to come right back in all their hideous glory and make a bad first impression. So please, save the heat erase pens for design sketches and notes, and don’t use them on your fabric.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because of the growing popularity of debunking videos. I know that crafting is a little too niche and nowhere near as dramatic as, “THIS WILL EXPLODE ALL OVER YOUR FACE AND KILL YOU!”, so the chances of it getting the same analysis are fairly null. But frankly, it was the misinformation spreading through blogs that killed my interest in using the internet and contemporary books as a learning resource years ago. I still preferentially turn to decades-old books to figure out what the heck I’m doing (and don’t get me started on youtube; slogging through a 20-minute video to get five seconds of clarification is a painful waste of time, and I don’t like your personality enough to want to simply watch you exist).

So, here are my two cents on marking fabric:
Purple air erase pens – good for humid climates
Blue water soluble pens – good for dry climates; rinse thoroughly with cold water before washing with soap to prevent residue
Chalk pencils – good for dark fabrics, may stain pale shades
Heat-erase pens – pls don’t go there

I recommend Sewline products, and heavily use the pens, mechanical pencils, and glue sticks myself.

I can’t help but wonder, are people are ever going to get sick of exploitative clickbait, and cry out to know reality instead? The debunking videos still don’t get anywhere near as much attention as the “hacks” do.

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Christmas Stockings

You ever have those moments where you type up an introductory paragraph, then decide that it sounds too formulated and generic?

Probably just me.

I’ve been wanting to make personalized Christmas stockings for my babies for *awhile*, but never got around to it. I realized that this is the last Christmas that all of my children are going to have single-digit ages, so I decided that this year is THE year.

And yes, I am aware that I’m not using Christmas-themed fabric.

Highlights include: using batting for the first time ever.

For some weird reason, most people are oblivious to the fact that not all sewing is equal. I specialize in making everyday dresses for women and girls, which has completely different criteria from, say, evening wear or lingerie. I have never done quilting before … and I’m not feeling remotely converted, lol.

Piecing the fabric together is simple enough (with squares, anyway), but OMG THAT BATTING. I purchased the “low loft” stuff, but it still seemed excessively thick, and it wanted to stick instead of letting me position it neatly.

At least I knew enough to use the walking foot that came with my sewing machine, which probably saved me a lot of grief with getting the layers sewn into place. I get the feeling that otherwise the batting would have instantly stretched out of shape, and turned the whole thing into a mess.

Next, the cuff, which is the personalized bit, so no sharing online.

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Merino Wool

I kettle dyed 1.5lbs of merino roving, which is very soft but still easy to spin into yarn.

My pan was big enough to hold about 4oz of wool, so I ended up doing it in six batches. I measured out the dye and water to keep the colors consistent, but I varied the way I applied it to keep things unique and interesting.

Next, spinning it into a 3-ply yarn.

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Elastic

After spending an hour at my sewing machine, trying to figure out how to use my time-saving elastic presser foot, I gave up and decided to sew it by hand.

One of my books has instructions on how to do this properly, but I wasn’t in the mood to go digging through them all to find it, so I went off memory (aka making it up). I’m using silk thread, so it will hopefully be strong enough to take the wear and tear of use.

I know it doesn’t look like it in the photo, but the gingham pattern is enabling me to be very precise and even with my stitching, so the end product will be much neater than if I had done it by machine. Besides, handsewing isn’t as slow as everything thinks it is.

I secretly like that no one blogs about sewing anymore. The “sewists” got on my nerves. I never really understood why modeling a garment so frequently involved pressing yourself against a wall while sticking your butt out like you expected to be mounted at any moment … just kidding, I understood exactly why they did that, and I’m sure they’re still doing it over on instagram.

So

Me: I’m going to use elastic so I can be lazy about drafting the pattern!
Also me: I’m sewing the elastic on by hand.