Let's admit it- our pets are our children and we would do (and spend!) anything for them. That also includes delving into the world of DIY to make that special family member something they love to play with or sleep on. If you've explored other craft projects or you love to sew, chances are, you always have some decent-length remnant fabrics laying around that you might not have the heart to recycle yet. Perhaps, you put your remnants in the I'll need it for something one day pile? When the idea finally comes, it is always nice to have those extra pieces of fabric to put to good use.
A month or so ago, I was on a mission to organize my studio. The fabrics and sewing patterns were piling up to the ceiling so naturally, it was time for the difficult task of sorting through what gets recycled and what stays. Many of the fabric remnants I've collected over the years had to go (painfully). As I was rummaging through remnants of old projects, I came across one fabric piece that was so soft and plushy I simply couldn't let it go. The fabric in question? A plushy, knit fleece I purchased a while ago when I was testing materials for a new project. The remnant piece itself was maybe about 30 x 40 inches but so soft and comfortable against the skin, I simply did not have the heart to throw in the recycle pile. The solution? Why not use the entire length to sew a pet bed for my kitty (and a future puppy, of course!).
It may look a little intimidating, or even like a weapon, but fear not! The tracing wheel is a basic sewing tool that will become one of the most useful items in your sewing basket when it comes to pattern making.
A tracing wheel is a pattern making tool with little spikes or teeth, that allows you to transfer information from one surface to the next by tracing and making perforations (I’ll explain more below!).
The tracing wheel is a must have tool if you are learning how to pattern and make your own clothes.
Types of Tracing Wheels:
There are basically 2 types of tracing wheels out there: A needle point tracing wheel and a smooth serrated tracing wheel.
Personally, I prefer the needle point style because the markings are more dense and go through layers of fabric and paper with ease. It has a sturdy, wooden handle (conventionally) while the spikes on the wheels make deep indentations which really help when transferring information. The needle point version is built for durability. For me, it’s certainly well worth the investment, being only a few more dollars than the next option.
More commonly found at fabric shops is the soft serrated tracing wheel. This usually has a plastic handle and is available in two blade options: smooth or soft serrated. If you aren’t ready to commit to the needle point tracing wheel, the soft serrated version is still a great option to get your feet wet.
What Are Knits Fabrics:
It is common for sewing beginners to confuse all stretchy fabrics as being knit. The word knit however is not used to characterize the stretch of a garment but is rather a type of knitting process that creates stretch through the way the threads are interlocked and looped. A knit fabric is the opposite of a woven fabric in the sense that knits have a completely different construction process than wovens do. Knits are specifically knitted, whether by hand or on a machine, such that the different levels of stretch are achieved due to how the threads are intermingled in the knitting process used.
Most woven fabrics on the other hand, are build using a weaving process that doesn't necessarily promote stretch. That is not to say that woven fabrics cannot be stretchy, but there is a big difference: If a woven fabric is stretchy, it is most likely due to the addition of spandex (or Lycra) and not necessarily the structure of the weave itself. Knits however, are designed to be flexible, with varying degrees of stretch based on the knitting technique used and not necessarily the addition of spandex.
So if you are a newcomer to textiles, keep this in mind: Not all stretchy fabrics are knits. A knit is a fabric type that is created using a knitting process constructed such that it provides stretch. Knit fabrics, just like woven fabrics, can be made of any fiber content including bamboo, silk, cotton, polyester, linen and a variety of blends. Additionally, knits, just like wovens, are available in a range of weights, draping capabilities and softness levels. The difference is in the process used to build each one.
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Today, allow yourself a few moments to explore and feel inspired and don't forget that everyday is an opportunity to learn something new. Never stop searching for what makes you truly happy.
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