Lesson 1 – Introduction
Vanessa lets y0u know how to find some of her products, such as her book Make It Sew Modern, as well as her website www.vanessachristenson.com. She loves texture, and believes it can be added to any project no matter what it is. By adding texture it adds a bit more personality and detail, drawing in people to view it closer.
The aim of this class is to teach you how to make twists, pleats, ruffles, gathering and shirring.
For this class you will need:
- Thick needle – one that can handle thick materials such as denim as you will sew through a number of layers;
- Water soluble pen;
- Cutting tools – such as a pinking blade or shears;
- Seam ripper;
- Ruler; and
- Cutting mat (if it applies to you).
Some techniques will really benefit from the use of a hot glue gun. They can be done without hot glue, although it really honestly does make it a bit easier and faster.
Also for Lesson 10 Shirring you will need elastic thread.
Lesson 2 – Twisting Technique
If you love the look of flowers on your clothes, this lesson will teach you how to create lovely looking fabric flowers. You can create all sorts of items from this technique, such as bracelets, rings and home decorations.
Take a strip of fabric and fold it in half twice. You will quite literally want to twist the fabric.
Why fold it twice? Well as you know fabric can have a right and wrong side. By folding it in half you can have right sides pointing out on both sides of the fabric. It will naturally have a bit of wrong side of fabric poking out, but just enough that it gives a nice effect.
You will achieve different looks by how tight you twist the fabric and the width of the fabric that you choose to use, so experiment.
To create a flower, you can sew the twisted fabric to your fashion fabric. As you twist and fold the strips, create a large circular shape (the first ring will determine how big your flower will be), and sew on the very inside of the strip. Once you complete the first ring, just move inwards and keep building it up.
Narrower Strip, Tighter Twist
If you have extra fabric left over when you finish your flower, just cut the strip. If you run out of fabric, simply back stitch the edge, and then start with a fresh strip of fabric. It’s that easy!
Venessa shows you how to sew a flower for a second time. The purpose is to demonstrate how a narrower strip of fabric can impact upon how much the fabric “stands up” (i.e. the petal’s fullness) as well as how many twists there are.
Lesson 3 – Flower Pillow
If you haven’t got a project to practice the flower technique, Venessa has created a project that’s a quick way for you to practise.
She outlines how to cut your fabric, at what sizes they need to be, and why she has picked the colours that she has.
If you want your flower to overflow the edge of the pillow, lapsing into the side seams, then this part of the class is perfect for you.
If you don’t know how to sew a pillow case completely closed Venessa will also teach you how to hand sew a blind stitch – a useful and somewhat necessary skill for any sewer.
Lesson 4 – Faux Pleats Technique
You will need a backing material to anchor your faux pleats to, as well as fabric for your actual pleats. Determine the size of the pleat that you want to make, and double that. So a 6″ pleat will need 12″ strip of fabric. The size of your anchor will depend mostly on the width of your pleats and the number that you want.
To calculate the anchor Vanessa uses some basics maths. With the overlap, the 6″ pleat will have 5″ visible. Multiply that by the number of pleats you want (in this case 10). Add the extra one inch back that was for the first pleat. Then just add a little bit extra for mistakes. That’s a total of 51.5″ in that case.
Mark any necessary guide lines.
Press and Secure Pleats
Press your strips of material in half. Top stitch near the fold to secure the crisp pleat. If your pleat is smaller however, you may not need to top stitch.
Pin your fabric strip to the anchor, following the guidelines. Sew. Line up your next fabric strip and pin. It should overlap the previous strip by about 1″. Sew that strip. And repeat.
Lesson 5 – Pleated Baby Blanket
When you are doubling up your fabric for each pleat, it does add a fair bit of weight; Vanessa chose to do a baby blanket rather than a full blanket in order to avoid that excess weight. Vanessa has already pre-sewn the faux pleats for the majority of the blanket.
Cut out your batting for inside your blanket. Pin the batting to the front of your quilt, not just at the corners but progressing into the centre; this helps to stop the batting from walking during the sewing process. Sew all four sides, leaving one side open by about 8 to 10″ so that you can flip it right way out.
Press your seams. Top stitch the edges if you want to.
Lesson 6 – Ruffle Technique
Ruffles are a very popular feature to see on clothing, accessories and home decor. Ruffles can be quite versatile as well; by changing ruffle size and the way it drapes it’s quite easy to drastically change the appearance of a finished product.
Venessa has an interesting – and quite helpful – technique to create ruffles that I haven’t seen done before: she places tension on the spool thread so that the material gathers under the foot as she sews. In a sense she has no need for a specialty sewing machine foot such as a ruffle foot. The results are quite impressive.
She then goes on to show you that by folding the ruffle you can create decorative ruffled flowers.
Venessa shows you how using a wider strip of fabric to create ruffle can create a different look compared to thinner strips.
Creating the ruffle is all good and fine, until you want to add it to the rest of your project. Rest assured that Venessa shows you how to pin and stitch the ruffles to an anchor.
Lesson 7 – Ruffle Quilt Blocks
Cut out your material; the course materials has the recommended measurements and Venessa does mention them.
Venessa actually cuts the fabric anchor block at 5.5″x10″. She sews the ruffles along the entire block, and then cuts it in half into two squares. It’s just a bit quicker and easier to handle the larger piece of material.
Space and pin your ruffles to your quilt block. Sew them down onto the anchor as you were taught in the previous lesson. Clean the edges by trimming any extra bits of overhanging material.
Triangles and Pinwheels
On your white backing material draw a line to separate the square into two triangles. Stitch on either side of the line. You should now be able to cut right down the centre on your line. The white backing can now be folded out to the front to create the block.
Lay out your blocks in the ideal pattern. With right sides together you will start joining the squares together. If necessary trim any bulk.
Basically you’re told to finish the quilt however you want to, referring back to Lesson 5.
Secure your quilt and the internal batting by sewing a back stitch (three stitches back and three stitches forward) in the seams at preferably equal spread distances throughout the quilt; this helps to stop the batting from shift or bunching in one area.
Lesson 8 – Gathering Techniques
Since Venessa is using the jelly rolls, she joins several strips together first.
Depending upon how you plan to finish and use your gathered fabric you should finish your edges first; serging, pinking or leaving raw for example.
Sew a basting stitch along one edge. Grab one of the threads, such as the top thread, and pull the fabric down along the thread – essentially creating a gather. It is often encouraged that you sew two rows of basting stitches just incase one thread snaps part way through.
Remember how you created the ruffle earlier by applying a bit of extra tension to the thread? That’s exactly what you will do here.
Lesson 9 – Gathered Detail Bag
Create the straps for your bag: mark the centre of your fabric and then fold in the sides to meet this mark, press, and then fold in itself and press again. Your strap will be nice and neat with no raw edges showing.
Adjusting the Gather
Pin your gathered fabric to your bag, adjusting the gathers so that they are evenly spaced. Pin the gathers down and sew.
The Lining and Pocket
Sew your pocket with right sides together; leave an opening so that you can turn it out the right way. Topstitch.
Position your pocket onto the lining. Sew the three sides down; if you sew along the top stitch lines it will look slightly neater.
With right sides together, place your outer bag and the lining together. You will need to add the handles between these two pieces of fabric. Sew the sides with the handles first, then sew along the other two sides. Remember to leave a hole big enough for you to turn your bag out the right way.
Top stitch to finish the bag, especially over the hole.
Lesson 10 – Bonus: Shirring
What will you need to do shirring?
- Elastic thread, also known as shirring thread;
- Bobbin; and
- Fabric – lightweight fabric works best for this technique.
You will want to hand wind your bobbin with the elastic thread. When winding you don’t want your bobbin to be particularly tight, however you don’t want it too loose either; the tension is what will create the shirring effect in the product. Try to wind the bobbin in an even manner, so that you create rows of thread.
Using a basting stitch, all you need to do for this effect is to just sew. As you do so, the material will bunch behind the needle into the shirring. Repeat the process as many times as you want.
- Metric Conversion Chart PDF, which comes with all Craftsy classes.
- Instructions PDF which covers instruction/cutting techniques for each of the follow along project classes.
You can jump between lessons based on the techniques that you want to learn. Some Craftsy courses build upon material that was bought in the last few lessons – this is not one of those classes.
This class is great as you don’t need to be precise – which is absolutely perfect for a beginner. The imperfections actually create a lovely detail that draws the eye.
If you don’t have a ruffle or gathering foot for your machine then Lesson 6 might be of interest to you – Venessa shows a nice technique to very quickly sew ruffles in one step.
Venessa does have a very clear and precise teaching style that is easy to follow and replicate.
The biggest problem I had with this class is the price; US$29.99. I consider ruffles and gathers to be quite similar – in fact they are made using the same sewing technique. Counting those as both one technique, you will learn four techniques. That includes the bonus class of Shirring – and in my opinion if you call a class “bonus” it’s considered as a free add-on. You’re paying approximately $10 per technique.
And this is why I am so iffy about the class: they are simple techniques that can very easily and readily be found as free tutorials online via a quick google search. In fact the blog MyPatchWork by Teresa has a number of amazing in-depth tutorial of Textured Quilt Samplers with pictures on how to create multiple textures – a total of 25 amazing textures!!! Yes you read that right, 25 in depth tutorials. (Update: Teresa contacted me with another link to more amazing texture tutorials at the MyPatchWork blog: Textured 4 Patch Quilt Tutorials – thanks!).
The Sewing Texture by Vanessa Christenson class is definitely suited for beginners. If you wish to have a video guide that takes you step by step through prepping the material to construction of a bag and blanket, then the class Sewing Textures may be of interest to you. Vanessa teaches quite well, giving clear instructions and visuals.
Whilst a higher skill level may learn how to create the textures, you most likely won’t need to watch the technique several times and then follow along an entire 40 minute project class as well.
To be honest I am hesitant to recommend the class: I think it’s rather overpriced for the number of techniques taught; there are plenty of online resources that provide the same lessons – and more – for free.