Excuse Me, While I Kiss the Sky – Jimi Hendrix

Hello Summer 2018!

This summer, we will be learning some more Sewing Operations for your Portfolio. We will also be making a long sleeve shirt.

Check out the syllabus in the right hand column. Download and read it. Enjoy the learning journey.

This spring, I demo’d draping for high school students.  If I would have known this was happening, I could not have done the following.  See me in action.



Be Safe.

















Fashion Designer Creates a Dress in a Few Minutes

View the video/article to see how Ugandan fashion designer Latif Madoi creates a dress in a few minutes!


The raved designer already dubbed “Afro-Fashion Magician” by the BBC is one of Uganda’s most revered designer known to have designed for the top late Reggae singer Lucky Dube, Latif Madoi shows his skill at his periodic “fast fashion” shows where he demonstrates live sewing, taking a piece of fabric and creating dresses out of them in a matter of minutes.

Fabric Basket Made from Jeans Leg

Joan told me that some of you wanted the instructions for creating a fabric basket using a leg from jeans (like the one I made for her). The instructions can be found at the Threading My Way blog. The fabric basket is very easy to make. I recommend using a new denim needle and turning the crank by hand when going over the thick seams.

Did Everyone Watch the Oscars????

Hello A-Team:

This is just going to be a short post to test the waters and make sure the posting works on the website.  I know, according to my Graphic Artist, there is STILL work to be done.  As I always say:  Good Work Takes Time.  Stay tuned !!!!

As to the Oscars:  Lady Gaga should have won.  Even her gown with the pants was a class act !!!!!

Notes from the Classes:  

Drafting:  come with your measurements.  We will be making our first bodice draft.  Even if you didn’t finish taking your measurements DON’T STRESS.  Bring what you have.  You will be able to finish up in class.

Tailoring:  We are finishing up our muslin toile fittings.  Make sure you have cut your Tailoring Operations Portfolio Pattern Pieces.   Besides the toile fittings, we will be fusing and and marking our fabric portfolio pattern pieces.  Remember to bring your press cloth.

Collections:  Continue to work on your garments for the Mesa Fashion Show.

Sew Like a Pro (NIGHT):  We will be burning fabrics for the purposes of identification.  We will also be fusing, overcasting, and marking our Advanced Portfolio Fabric Pattern pieces.   Remember to bring your press cloth.

Sew Like a Pro (DAY):  We already burned fabrics for identification purposes.  We will also be fusing, overcasting and marking our Advanced Portfolio Fabric Pattern pieces.   Remember to bring your press cloth.  We just didn’t have enough time to finish up last week.

Sewing Fundamentals 1:  We will be having guests in the classroom.  Central Sewing is coming to work on some of our machines.  Paula Rupley will be available to answer any questions you may have.  Perhaps she will talk about machine maintence.   I have a lecture demo on marking.  We will be marking our fabric patterns.  It will be a busy night.



The Week Before Halloween !!!!

Halloween 1Hello A-Team !!!!  

I hope you are all busy making Halloween Costumes !!!  And remember, Just because Halloween falls on a Saturday night, doesn’t mean that you can go crazy.  I want you all safe and back in class on Monday, November 2.

Sewing Fundamentals Portfolio:  Can you believe that this class has only 2 more weeks in it?????  This past week, we learned how to make and insert a collar in a jacket.  Last Thursday, we mastered closures, patches, sequins and beads.  Next week will practice sewing 3 different kinds of pockets and how to hem things, 5 different ways with 4 different stitches. 

This is the final week in room 209 for Computer Patternmaking.  By the end of the week, we will have completed and fit our slopers, tweaked our measurements, and designed our final garments on our croqui.  The first week in November, we are back in the computer classroom ready to design our final garment patterns in Patternmaker !!!!  (www.patternmakerusa.com)  

Great Links !!!!!!

 fa 15 ceramics fundraiser  If you get a chance, Go to ECC and support this fundraiser !!!!  For artisan holiday gifts, you just can’t beat this !!!!!!

Here is the link for the Donna Karen interview from Tracey !!!!  This is phenomenal !!!!!  You can hear and read the interview from NPR.  Thank you, Tracey !!!!!!  

http://www.marthapullen.com/?et_mid=626265&rid=241546762 This is a link to the Martha Pullen website.  There is an article on beginning smocking.  

http://leitesculinaria.com/90444/writings-breast-cancer-awareness-month.html The Pink TuTu project.  Thank you for sending this, Maureen !!!!!  This link has a button you click on, to make a donation to the Pink TuTu project to support Breast Cancer Research and Awareness.  

Rrom Threads Magazine online:  How to Achieve Ideal Sewing Machine Thread Tension

  The bobbin thread tension is too tight.  The upper thread tension is too loose.  Balanced thread tension.   Balanced thread tension.
Balanced thread tension.
Poor thread tension on a machine-sewn seam can result in an unstable seam, puckering, or just plain unattractive stitching. Perfect machine stitches interlock smoothly and look the same on both sides of the fabric. If you see small loops on the right or wrong side, the thread tension isn’t correct.

achieve ideal sewing machine tension

  The red stitching is the upper thread; the black is the bobbon thread. The tension is balanced.

 A tension precheck

A number of factors can throw off thread tension besides the machine’s tension settings. Before trying to adjust the machine settings, take a look at other issues than can throw off the tension:

Is the sewing machine needle bent or does it have a burr on the tip?

Is the needle the correct size for the fabric?

Is the machine threaded properly? Most machines have thread guides, tension disks, a tension regulator, and a bobbin case spring that controls the bobbin-thread tension. Be sure the machine is threaded correctly. Remember, most tension discs close when the presser foot is down, so be sure to thread the machine with a raised foot. A good habit is to put the spool on the machine, and pull out 18 inches of thread. Hold the thread firmly in your nonthreading hand, so you can “snap” the thread into the tension disks (much like flossing teeth). This ensures the thread is placed correctly in the tension disks.

achieve ideal sewing machine tension

Does the bobbin have the same weight of thread as on the top spool? Is the thread good quality?

Is the upper thread catching on the thread notch or on another rough spot on the edge of the thread spool?

Did you drop a metal bobbin on a hard floor? If so, nearly invisible damage to it might keep it from working properly.

Are the tension disks clean? Lint sometimes collects in the tension disks. Thread your machine as usual. Pull some thread off the spool in the machine and cut it close to the spool. Tie two or three overhand knots in the thread, and be sure they are tight. Unthread the needle, and pull the knotted thread through the tension disks down by the needle. The tiny knots often catch bits of lint in the tension discs. Remember to cover your machine between uses to prevent dust from collecting in the machine.

achieve ideal sewing machine tension   achieve ideal sewing machine tension

Diagnosing faulty thread tension

If you’ve eliminated all of the possibly causes listed above and the tension is still bad, try this diagnostic exercise.

Begin by making test swatches. Get some light-colored fabric. Thread the machine with different colors of thread in the needle and bobbin. Sew 6 inches or so, and look at the fabric’s right and wrong sides.

achieve ideal sewing machine tension   If there are loops on the right side (red thread with black loops), the upper thread tension is too tight.


achieve ideal sewing machine tension   If there are loops on the bottom side (black thread with red loops), the bobbin thread tension is too tight.

Most of the time, the upper tension needs to be adjusted.

Adjusting the upper thread tension

When you’re adjusting the upper thread tension on your machine, remember that higher numbers on the dial indicate higher (tighter) tension, and lower numbers indicate lower (looser) tension.

Try changing the tension dial up or down one unit. Sew another line of stitching on your sample to see if the tension is balanced. Continue to change the tension settings until the stitches are balanced and no loops are visible on the top side. Run your fingers over the stitches on both sides of the fabric; they should feel smooth.

Adjusting the bobbin thread tension

To check the bobbin thread tension: If you have a front-loading bobbin, remove the bobbin and its bobbin case from the machine. Be sure the bobbin thread is threaded through the bobbin spring. Holding the thread, release the bobbin case over a padded surface (bobbin cases should not be dropped on a hard surface, as the impact may change how they perform). If the bobbin case falls a couple of inches, the tension is correct. If the bobbin case falls several inches, the bobbin tension is too loose. If the bobbin doesn’t fall at all, the bobbin tension is too tight.

If your machine has a top-loading bobbin with a nonremovable bobbin case, you can’t adjust the bobbin thread tension. Always, balance the tension by adjusting the upper thread. Although you have less control, you can usually set the tension successfully by working with only the upper thread.

When to consult a professional

If you have tried all of these tips and your machine is still not making good stitches, it is time to take it to the shop.

Sometimes “bad” tension is a good thing. When basting a garment, change the tension so the stitches are loose. After the seams are permanently stitched, removing the basting stitches is fast and easy. Just remember to correct the tension before you sew more seams.  Contributor:  Ruth Ciemnoczolowski 

See you all in class !!!!!!!

Make Money with your Skills ! ©

Be Safe,

Joan McKenna

Associate Professor

San Diego Continuing Education

Hospitality & Consumer Science

Fashion Department


2 Weeks till the End of Summer School

Hello A-Team:

I am testing out another way to write to the blog.  I hope this goes through.  I am trying all different kinds of things.  Here is a picture from the night we turned in our Sewing Techniques Portfolio.   


Currently, we are working on our Apparel Construction Projects.  What fun !!!!!!

Interesting Links:

Check out this cool exhibit at the Racine Art Museum (Racine, Wisconsin).  Richard saw a piece about it on PBS.  Thank you for sending this to me !!!!!!


also check out:  http://kruktart.com/wearable_sculpture/ws_thumb.html


Welcome To The Embroidery Coach!   This is for all you entrepreneurs !!!!

I want to personally welcome you to the “Embroidery Coach Family” and give you your first of 3 embroidery tips that you will be receiving each week!

The #1 strategy that is holding you back is your mindset!  This was a huge struggle for me when I first started my embroidery business and it lasted for almost 15 years!  I was convinced that I had to be the lowest priced embroiderer to get the work and stay busy!  That mindset almost cost me my entire business! 

As a woman, I did not value my time!  It was hard for me to ask for the money and price my embroidery as it should have been priced.  I collected everyone else’s price list and priced my embroidery to match or just a little lower.  I almost lost my entire business as a result of it!  I was offering very high quality embroidery at a price that was as low or lower than the embroiderer that was offering low quality.  How stupid was that!

I did not realize that what I had to offer was a product that should have been priced much higher than the average local embroiderer because of my quality and service. It took my accountant practically batting me in the head to get this point across.  Either I price my embroidery as I should or close the doors!  I was not making any money and I was never going to make any money if I did not change my mindset and my prices.  I just knew in my own mind that people would not pay those high prices!

I was so wrong!  I created a whole new pricing structure that was much higher.  I did lose some of my customers but they were only the customers that wanted the lowest price. When I changed my total mindset and started promoting my quality product and excellent customer service I had plenty of the work!

The secret is not to project your thinking & feelings onto your customers!  My mindset held me back for 15 years!  Do not let that happen to you!

Joyce Jagger
The Embroidery Coach


Make Money with your Skills!©  See you all this week !!!!!!!!

Be Safe,

Joan McKenna
Associate Professor
San Diego Continuing Education
Hospitality & Consumer Science
Fashion Department
Office:  619-588-2244