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Construction & Sewing Basics

This page is for those of us that LOVE to analyze everything before making a decision. It details all the steps I put into the Premium and Shorty neck coolers. You will find I am VERY thorough through-out the entire process of creating cool ties. Normally, I make 10 ties at once...and I always seem to have batches of ties in various degrees of completion lying around my work area.

Please note that other products that I create may not use all the steps listed below. I will always inspect the fabric and use quality products, sew durable, flexible seams, and do quality checks through-out the entire process. I take great pride in making quality products, and hope that you will enjoy using them.

Step 1-Fabric Inspection: I use only 100% cotton fabric for all Cool Threads Shop products primarily because of its 'wicking' ability and it will not stretch out of shape. Also, the colors tend to be brighter and there is always a wide variety of colors and pattern designs to choose from. While shopping for fabric, I can quickly select the designs I want. However, once I pick a fabric, I take a lot of time to look the fabric over. I am checking the evenness of the ink and pattern, and looking for any other possible defects. I run my hands over it to feel for tiny imperfections, sometimes called slubs. (A slub is created when cotton is spun into the fiber that is used for weaving the fabric. It can create a slight uneven thickness or, sometimes, a knot in the fabric.) For my use, I consider a slub to be a flaw; although some fabrics are purposely made this way to give the fabric a 'nubby' texture. While I don't always see ALL fabric flaws, I have a trained eye and find most of them. Usually, the manufacturers do a great quality check; but they create tons of fabric. Thus, an occasional blemish slips past their inspections. However, I don't purchase or cut fabric randomly to save money.

Step 2-Laundering: After I've purchased the fabric, the next step is laundering it in warm water using a small amount of dye-free, perfume-free laundry detergent. This does several things. Cotton, by nature, will shrink when you wash it the first time. A single yard of fabric (36") can easily become 34"...while some others will not shrink as much. If this step is not done, the fabric will pucker at the seams when you wash the finished product-not to mention the size of your tie possibly being a little smaller than it was originally.

Another reason is to remove the 'sizing' that is used by the fabric manufacturers. Sizing gives the fabric that stiff, crisp feeling which looks great, but is not very practical. I want my ties to be soft to the touch. If the fabric is made using a courser thread and still stiff to the touch after I launder the fabric, I will not use it for my products.

Then I will check for fabric flaws again. Sometimes, flaws are 'smoothed over' with sizing and a wash will reveal the flaws...not too often, but it happens. I don't think the flaws are hidden with malice; I think it is due to the manufacturers creating such a huge volume of fabric, and the nature of how cotton is spun and woven.

Step 3-Checking the bias (or 'checking for crooked'): If the fabric has a design, this is the next step. Ever have a tee shirt or pillow case that folds 'funny' or crooked? Here is why it does that: Imagine a big rectangle of fabric. Now picture an outline (or sewing pattern) of a tee-shirt lying on top of the big rectangle of fabric. If your tee-shirt (or pattern) is perfectly parallel to the fabric, and the fabric is cut out-the "new" tee-shirt made from the fabric will not twist. BUT if your tee shirt pattern is crooked on the big rectangle and the fabric is cut out like that, your new shirt will twist no matter how hard you try to fold it...that is known as being cut "on the bias."

Also, did you ever cut gift wrap thinking you cut it straight, only to find that you cut on an angle. Sometimes fabric cuts are made the same way-looks straight, but it's actually cut on an angle. It is a very easy mistake to make; the fabric is usually cut off a very large, cumbersome bolt. In order to avoid future bias cuts (and the resulting fabric twisting), I must find a true, straight edge for my starting point. The easiest way for me to find that straight edge is to actually tear the fabric. After I wash the fabric, I will measure in about 1" from one end of the fabric, make a 'starter cut', and then actually do a controlled tear all the way across to the opposite side. This step, commonly called 'ripping' provides a true, straight line; it lines my future cuts up with how the fabric was originally woven. While it 'wastes' a little bit of fabric, it allows me to provide a product that will not twist when you wash it or wear it.

Note: Sometimes the printing is done "on the bias" too. The pattern will be printed 'crooked' on the fabric. Imagine a big rectangular table to represent plain white fabric. Now put a checkerboard game on the table; it represents the dye pattern. If the checkerboard (or dye) is put on the table cockeyed, or skewed, it is printed on the bias. Usually you won't notice it...and sometimes it is even done that way on purpose. If I have fabric like that, I use my judgement and will make one tie as a sample. Then I'll look the sample over and decide if I am going to use the fabric-or not. It depends on how crooked the design is-sometimes it actually adds to the appearance.

Step 4-Seams and Serging: My products are diversified; however, I always do my best to create quality products. In addition to sewing regular seams, I also serge the raw (cut) edges.

The 3-thread serger that I use will create a secondary seam as well as a zig zag-type stitch that finishes the edge of the seam. A serged seam is like seams commonly found in work pants. Serging helps the seams from failing if the fabric is stretched a bit too far. The serged edge has more 'give' than the regular seam. (NOTE: Corn Hole bags have additional seam stitching for durability.)

Step 5-Details: At this point, I make sure that 'loose threads' are taken care of--that is a pet peeve of mine...buying a shirt (or anything) and finding a 10" thread trailing out of it. I trim off loose ends, take the time to do a quality check on all stitching, and review the general appearance of each piece. I make sure that my machines (sewing machine & serger) didn't drop any stitches, and that all the stitching is nice and even.

Step 6-FILLING (as needed): Again, my products vary and the sewing and fillings (if applicable) vary also. For cooling ties, I sew compartments and fill with polymer beads. The compartments keep the beads evenly spaced in the tie. Corn Hole Bags are simply filled with whole feed corn.

Step 8-Final Seam: The last sewing task I do is stitching the remaining end shut. This is the only visible seam you will see on the ties and corn hole bags. (Sometimes, due to the bulk of the turned edge, the stitching will look slightly uneven.) Then, a final, thorough quality check is done. I carefully iron the loose ends making sure that I DON'T iron the compartments holding the crystals. While the ties are designed for utilitarian purposes, I still want them to look good! Then it is time to tag and package them for you.

Step 9-Quality Check/Packaging: Quality control is a constant for me throughout the entire process. However, I always give each item a final quality check. I am my own worst critic; and only when the product looks great is when it gets packaged.

Whew! It is a rather involved and time consuming process, but I truly believe I offer terrific, quality products that are sewn to be durable. While I can't offer a "lifetime warranty", I would like to know if you have a problem with any product purchased from me. I will work with you for a solution we are both happy with. Thank you.

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