(Orange, Texas)


September 18, 2012

Unique sewing ideas to try at home


September is National Sewing Month, a time for sewing enthusiasts to celebrate and personalize their craft.

One of the newest trends is the use of nontraditional fabrics for traditional projects. Sewers are thinking beyond cotton and wool for their creations, and turning to utility fabrics instead -- for everything from innovative tops and skirts to unique accessories.

“Let the world around you be your source of design inspiration,” says Christopher Straub from season 6 of “Project Runway.” “Materials you encounter in your daily life can be repurposed to create something truly unique.”

Straub is hosting “Sew Unique” a National Sewing Month contest presented by Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores and is encouraging participants to creatively use materials such as burlap, ripstop and vinyl in their next sewing project.

Not only do many of these alternatives tend to be relatively inexpensive, they are durable and widely accessible.

Straub, a lover of all things nontraditional, is offering some great tips for those looking to use utility fabrics in their next creation:

• For smaller, or more structured projects, use a heavier and more rigid utility fabric, such as duck cloth.

• For a cloth-like feel, use utility fabrics that are similar to traditional fabrics. A fabric like waffle weave will add an extra layer of interest.

• It can be difficult to guide the heaviest nontraditional fabrics like vinyl through a sewing machine. A heavy-duty needle and Teflon-coated presser foot will make sliding the material through the machine much easier.

• Just because you’re using utility fabrics, doesn’t mean you need to settle for the most common colors, like black, white and brown. For more colorful alternatives, get inspired by hot air balloons, kites and flags and turn to ripstop fabrics or use nylon.

• Don't be afraid to mix several different kinds of utility fabrics in the same project. Variety will lend your product a unique competitive edge.

You can kick off your love affair with non-traditional fabrics by entering the Jo-Ann National Sewing Month contest. To do so, visit and upload a photo of your project by September 30th.

With a bit of innovation, you can sew something no one has ever seen before. You may not be following in Grandma’s footsteps exactly, but you can forge a new path, right alongside hers.

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