The only items that you might have difficulty getting hold of are a metal ruler and Pentel propelling pencils. Any ruler will do but a metal one particularly if you can get a 24inch/61cms one, is very useful. Because they are heavier than the plastic sort they don’t move about so easily when you’re marking out pattern pieces and you get a more accurate result.
Pentel pencils are really good for drawing up paper patterns and marking fabric up for cutting out. We use 0.5mm and 0.3mm sizes. They are quite expensive, particularly the spare leads, but we find them much better than ordinary pencils.
We use Fiskars scissors, the sort you can buy anywhere and to keep them nice and sharp, especially as we use them to cut paper which blunts them very quickly, we use a Fiskars sharpener.
It’s worth finding out a little bit about sewing needles. If you choose the right needle for the work you’re doing it makes a big difference. For example, we use milliners needles to stab through our miniature mattresses to make the characteristic dimples in them. We use quilting needles to stitch the mattress buttons into place because they’re straight and go through the buttons much more easily than needles with more prominent eyes.
Someone has asked us how she can tell what size hem the narrow hemmer in her accessories box will make because it isn’t in it’s original packaging.
If you turn the hemming foot over you’ll see a channel that runs up the foot from the back until about a third of the way from the front. If you measure the width of the channel, that will be the finished width of the hem it will make.
As I’ve already said that it doesn’t take much specialised equipment to make good fabric miniatures perhaps I ought to start by describing what we use at The Dolls House Bedding Co. to make our products. I’ll begin with our sewing machines and machine accessories.
We have two sewing machines – a Husqvarna and a Bernina. Both of them can produce embroidery, but since we only hand embroider at DHBC that isn’t important to us. Both machines were the cheapest in their respective ranges and we chose them because they give a good regular stitch. The Husqvarna is 10 years old and considering that it’s been used almost every working day in all that time, it’s been marvellous. The Bernina is the model most often bought by schools as it’s easy to use and hard to damage. In a later post I’ll be saying how you can customise machine embroidery to give it your own individual touch.
Here’s the Husqvarna
This is the Bernina
The Husqvarna came with a standard stitch plate. The one on our machine has metric guides and we bought another one that has inch markings. Using the measurements on a stitch plate will improve the accuracy of your seams without your having to do too much tacking.
Most sewing machines come with a box of accessories that nobody knows how to use. Narrow hemmers, which we find invaluable, seem to defeat a lot of people but there is a knack to using them which we’ll show you. We use two sizes of narrow hemmer – 2mm and 5mm. The 2mm is good for the edges of sheets and the 5mm is good for sheet ends and pillow cases. They work best with very light fabrics and we find that they really only give a reliable finish on lawn and batiste.
We also use edge stitch presser feet, we’ve got two of them for different widths. They’re particularly useful for making piping.
If you want to produce even stitches you’ll need to change your machine needles regularly. You won’t be able to see when they need changing but if you take them out of the machine and pass the points through a light fabric like silk habotai, you’ll be able to feel if the needle catches and needs replacing. We find size 70/10 and 80/12 suitable for most of the fabrics that we use.
Since we use lots of different coloured threads and have several spools on the go at any time, we find that a good way to stop the threads from unwinding and getting tangled is to cut up little pieces of foam and wedge them into the spools but they’ll spring out again unless you keep them in a spool case.
More about our workroom equipment next time.
I’m so pleased but a bit nervous that our blog is being read.
Our first real post will be about fabrics. I’ll be telling you what we look for in the fabrics that we choose for our bedding. At the moment I’m trying to take some good photos to upload and as soon as I’ve got something worth looking at I’ll be back online.
Thanks for joining us on our new blog.
This is an exciting time for The Dolls House Bedding Co. We’ve been making miniature bedding since 2000 and we’ve just designed and produced our first collection of miniature beds. We hope you’ll like them.
We’re always working on new designs and we’d love to show you how we go about it from the first drawings to choosing fabrics and making samples.
We know that lots of collectors would love to make their own miniatures and working with fabrics is the perfect way to do it. Most of us have the basics- scissors, pins and needles and possibly even a sewing machine at home, so it’s not too difficult to get started.
We’ll be discussing fabrics, designs and techniques and hopefully providing some inspiration for anyone who’d like to dress their own miniature bed.