Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Holiday Projects: Part 1

Wow, I'm finally blogging again! Going home for the holidays was wonderful. I did miss my sewing machine while I was gone but I made sure to bring a bunch of yarn and needles so I could knit. Plus, I had to finish socks for Christmas. Needless to say, I'm still working on a sock mate for mom and a pair for the fiancé. I even had yarn sent to their house!
A few of the reasons I didn't get all my knitting done were all the holiday baking, the pajama pants project, the magnet blobs project, and the monkey. My dad got me a really cute how-to book for little felt critters. I LOVE the little creatures in it. I didn't have any felt so I decided to use the scarps of flannel from the pajama pants we had made earlier in the week. Unfortunately, flannel frays really easily so is not the best substitute for felt. I managed to make a silly blue monkey which I gave to my dad as a thank you for the awesome craft book. I also made a silly little sheep that now sits on my mom's desk. I can't wait to make more little creatures out of that book! First I need to finish that sock mate and dad's well over due birthday hat!
Cerise : )

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tension Trouble

I refuse to take my sewing machine to the shop for a little problem like tension. How hard could it be to turn a knob, tweak a screw? Really, ridiculously hard.

The trouble all started when I tried to sew several layers of denim, turning an old pair of jeans into a yoga mat bag. I was doing considerably well until I took the old waistband and refashioned it as the drawstring part of the bag. Too thick to even move forward and then the needle broke. No, actually it shattered. I had to pull a piece out with pliers. I apologized to my Singer, swearing I would never do that again. It wouldn't sew a stitch. The thread came out in big giant loops and tangled all over.

I got out the manual and promised to fix my little machine. According to the manual the problem could be loose bobbin tension and tight thread tension. I tightened and I loosened. The problem could now be tight bobbin, loose thread. I did the opposite. No avail. I decided to take apart my tension regulator. Yikes. Has the language changed so much that the 1955 manual made no sense (after I got it apart)? Eventually, days later, of tightening, resetting, loosening and starting over, I finally got a good stitch. I promise my machine never to sew like that again (very soon). I love you Featherweight!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Pilling vs. Anti-Pilling

Since I am wearing a lot of sweaters lately and picking off all the little balls that accumulate, I decided to find out what pilling actually is and what process is used for anti-pilling fabrics.

Pilling is associated with spun yarn fabrics that contain synthetics and protein fiber materials such as silk and animal hair (wool, mohair, cashmere, etc). With natural fibers, friction while wearing breaks microfibers from the threads, moves to the surface and forms balls. Synthetics more readily move to the surface due to their smoothness and higher tensile.

Anti-pilling finish cements fibers within the yarn so that their dragging becomes more difficult. There is a patent for an anti-pilling treating method for protein fiber material (US Patent 7108724) "comprising the step of subjecting protein fiber to intermolecular cross-linking reaction under weak alkaline conditions in a treating bathcomprising a cross-linking agent containing a pyrimidine compound which is dichloropyrimidine or trichloropyrimidine." Whoa. Chemistry big time!
Ommama, Theresa

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The New Grass Skirt: Bamboo fabric

Bamboo fabric is a natural textile made from the pulp of the bamboo grass, the fastest growing plant in the world, growing to maximum height in about three months. It spreads rapidly across large areas.

Bamboo fabric is growing in popularity because it has unique properties and is more "sustainable" than most textile fibers. As a grass, bamboo is cut instead of uprooted. Bamboo can grow on hill slopes where nothing else is viable. The yield from an acre of bamboo is ten times greater than the yield from cotton. Bamboo fabric is very soft and heavily absorbent.

This “miracle fiber” is purported to be “1-2 degrees cooler than normal apparels, "green" without “any pollution,” and retains “70% anti-bacterial properties” even after 50 washings.
While I think that it is possible that bamboo fabric has a wonderful feel and has a potential to be sustainable, I question all these claims by the manufacturers.

I suspect that an enormous amount of water is used in the fiber making process as the bamboo needs to be heavily pulped to separate it into thin fibers. Extensive bleaching is used unless the fiber is organic. And, I suspect land is being torn up (especially forests) to plant bamboo. Of course, cotton and other natural fabrics face the same dilemma. Most bamboo fabric is being grown and processed mostly in China (as are most fabrics). If you choose bamboo, perhaps of the best things to do is research the company before you buy to see if they are truly using sustainble practices.

Theresa, Ommama