Thursday, April 30, 2015

Guest Blog: Spring Clean Your Sewing Room in 7 Easy Steps

As you are storing your winter jackets, scarves, and boots, now’s the time to turn your attention to your sewing room. There’s no avoiding it, spring cleaning is in full swing.

If you’ve been quilting up a storm, it probably looks like a hurricane recently blew through. If you’ve been meaning to get back to your projects now that the holidays are over and the weather is warmer, you are most likely dreading the Christmas mess that you left behind.

We feel your pain. And, we think we can help you recover the creativity you feel from a well stocked and organized sewing room. We’ve scoured Pinterest to bring you seven tips that should perk up your favorite room.

Your Sewing Room: Organized

1.    Buttons look cool inside an old jar but you can never find what you need. Solution? Sort your buttons and use paper clips to keep the same types and colors together. You’ll have to bend the paper clips open and twist them shut. This might feel a little tedious but you will always be able to grab exactly what you need.
2.    Embroidery floss becomes a tangled mess when left unattended. You know what would be fun? Wrapping each color around a wooden clothespin, writing the color number on the clothespin itself with a sharpie. If you are really inspired by all the fun colors in your collection, display them in a pretty bowl or vintage tool box.
3.    Fabric Scraps are the one area that quilters lose all organizational skills. There are always an overwhelming amount of scraps that we can never seem to part with. Have you tried using those fun little mail sorters? This keeps the fabric within sight so that they get used while keeping them off the floor or the table or every square inch of your sewing room.
4.    Winter quilts don’t need to be packed away in dusty basements. You can install towel racks on the backs of closet doors and keep them accessible year round.
5.    Bobbins like to roll around and unravel, but if you attach a magnetic strip to the bottom of a drawer or on the wall near your sewing machine, you can keep your bobbins locked and loaded for use at any moment. Make sure your bobbins are metal before installing magnetic strips.
6.    Tools, like scissors or glue sticks or seam rippers, work best when you can actually reach them. Try storing like things together in mason jars. There always seem to be extra mason jars around the house, right?
7.    Pressed fabric for your next quilt project. Be honest, even if we are spring cleaning, we can’t possibly put every single thing in our sewing rooms away, because we are always in the middle of some fantastic project.

Let’s Get Started

Spring cleaning is usually just an excuse to pick up pretty storage things.

Like any great project, the idea of it seems amazing, and it’s even better if it involves a trip to the fabric store for supplies. So, just because these tips require very little in the way of purchases, it shouldn’t deter you from your goal: a happy and organized sewing room!

You see, it’s totally possible to organize your sewing room without breaking the bank or weeks of planning and building a complete remodel. Sometimes, it’s best to work with what you’ve got!

Author Biography:
The Jones Sew & Vac family has been bringing south Idaho together by sewing for over fifty years! Over that time, they’ve gained immense knowledge and love sharing it whether it be about sewing, embroidery, or quilting!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Choosing a prom dress

…can be as easy as A, B, C.


The most obvious thing to think about when choosing a dress to wear to prom is how the dress looks, but there’s more to it than just loving a beautiful dress you see on the internet or on a store mannequin.

Consider the appropriateness of the dress(es) you like. Not only will the dress you choose have to conform to any guidelines set by your school or by the venue the prom is being held in, but it should also be in line with the level of formality you expect at your particular event. Some proms are “fancier” than others, and you don’t want to over or under dress.

Once you know the dress code and how formal the event is, begin to narrow the search.

It’s easy to find out what types of dresses are on trend for prom during any given year; check out styles worn on the red carpet during awards season, flip through a couple of fashion magazines aimed at a teen audience, Google “prom trends 20xx”. You can use these sources as inspiration and as a rough guideline for your dress shopping, be careful not to lock yourself into imitating a celebrity, or wearing a certain shape of dress because that’s what friends are planning to wear. Above all fashion considerations, you want your dress to make you look great, and the best way to look fabulous in a dress is to choose a dress that reflects your personal style and is flattering to your skin, shape and features.

Just because you love a color doesn’t mean it’s a good color on you. The best colors for you are colors that occur naturally on your body. Try on dresses in your eye color, lip color (sans lipstick), and hair color. Broaden your search by trying colors that are roughly the same saturation level and tone as those that occur in your eyes and hair, and also try and stay in the same “temperature” range. You’ve likely heard skin tones described as “warm” and “cool”. There is an immense amount of information about colors and color temperature, but to (over) simplify…warm complexions have a more yellow undertone and cool complexions have a pinker undertone. Those with warm complexions look best in colors found in fire and in the front ½ of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, brown. Cool complexions look best in colors from the back ½ of the rainbow – green, blue, purple, pink, black.

Don’t stop at color when considering what dress looks best. Take into account the texture of the fabric, the scale of the print or details, and the level of contrast in the piece. Just like with color, textures and shapes that appear on your body are flattering. If your hair is straight and smooth, a fabric with a silky finish might be a nice choice. If you have angular features, they’ll be well-complimented by something geometric rather than flowing. Think about your scale as it relates to the scale of details in the dress. Are you petite? Do you have small, delicate features? If so, large, bold prints or embellishments will probably look overwhelming and draw too much focus. But if you’re tall or broad, larger patterns balance with you better. Again, tomes have been written on these topics, and if you’re interested in further information, check out Nancy Nix Rice’s blog and books.

Finally, choose a silhouette that flatters your figure. Select a shape that highlights features you like, and causes features you’re not that thrilled about to recede into the background. The best dresses lead viewers’ eyes down and up the figure and draw the focus to land at your face. If there’s a portion of your body that’s short, avoid lines that cross the area horizontally. For instance, if you have a short torso, a contrasting band or horizontal seam at the waistline might not be the best look. The belt or seam visually cuts the body and makes the torso look shorter and wider than it is. If you have an hourglass figure, a drop waist won’t be optimal since the narrowness of your waist will be obscured while the width of your hips will be highlighted. Be mindful of adding extra volume in places you don’t want attention drawn to. 


Not only should you consider the sticker price on the dress, but also what will need to be invested in it, like for alterations and accessories.

Alterations are almost always needed, and vary wildly in complexity and cost. Most alterations shops, including sewBoise, set their prices according to how long an alteration takes, how skilled the sewist needs to be to complete the alteration, and if there are any notions needed for the adjustment (zippers, extra boning, etc. ). The more time-consuming a task is, the more expensive, even if the dress isn’t. Take a look at this alterations price list. You can see that hemming a dress can cost as little as $15 for a plain straight hem, or over $100 if there are multiple layers, beading, or other complications.

Consider as well what shoes, undergarments, jewelry, handbag, and outerwear you are going to wear with the dress. Do you already own these items? Or is there a special bra, slip, or wrap you’ll need to purchase? Add those to the cost of the dress.

Awareness in the dressing room can help you avoid busting your budget with unanticipated costs.


The prom isn’t ALL about the dress. It’s about having a great time, and it’s difficult to enjoy yourself if you’re tugging at or tripping over your clothes all night.

 Fit is paramount. Your dress should be neither too loose nor too tight. You should be able to easily breathe, eat and sit without discomfort and without worrying your dress will tear. If it’s strapless or has spaghetti straps, ideally it will be anchored at the waist and supported with boning. If the bodice of your dress fits correctly, there should be no need to keep hiking it up all night. A good alterationist (hint, hint) will be able to modify a dress to stay put on your body. Another thing an alterationist can help you with is the length of your dress. Be sure your dress hits at a flattering part of the leg if it’s a short dress, and that it’s not a tripping hazard if it’s a long dress. Also, try walking backward in your dress. You should not be able to step on it. Trains on dresses are not appropriate for anyplace that people other than the train wearer are standing up and/or walking. A dress with a train will get soiled, torn or jerked off of its wearer when it’s inevitably stepped on at prom.  

Check the mobility of your limbs in the dress. Can you take a full stride, or must you penguin-walk? Can you hug or dance with your date without cutting off the circulation in your arms? Some movement restrictions can be reduced with alterations, but changes requiring extra fabric are time consuming (read expensive) and a perfect fabric match can rarely be found.

Be aware of the fabric and texture of your dress. Sometimes beads, sequins and trims can be scratchy against bare skin. Identify areas of discomfort and decide whether the removal of beads or trim in that area will compromise the beauty of the dress. It’s easy for a professional to remove a few offending beads from the armpit of a gown without any negative impact to the aesthetics. Be sure the fabric itself doesn’t irritate your skin. You don’t want an itchy ruffle bugging you all night. See if the irritation can be removed by adding a slip or removing a tag, or if it’s better just to find a more comfortable dress.

Think about what the temperature will be like on the way to the prom and once you arrive. A long dress with multiple layers and long sleeves won’t be a good choice at a venue without air conditioning. Likewise, a flimsy short strapless won’t do if it’s cold out, though layering a long warm coat over your dress can help in this scenario.