Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tips of the Trade

Part of the fun of sewing for me is figuring things out.
After doing things a certain way
for a long time
I notice I feel 'bored'
and like to change things around.
This can make things challenging
when I'm trying to write pattern directions
(for instance)
and have to commit
to just one way of doing something
and a certain order of doing it.

Hmm, maybe I don't like to be tied down...

Make rules,
break rules,
love rules,
hate rules. 
(Love does rule though...)

As I plan a pattern,
choose the fabrics,
cut the pieces out,
and stitch things together,
many ideas move through the mind.
Some stick and some don't;
some work and some don't.

I thought I would share a few of my favorite tricks
that you may or may not know about
that I've been using in my latest projects.

Some of these I learned from other sewers;
some I figured out myself (as I know you have);
all, I find helpful.

1. Press hems in place 
when the fabric pieces are still flat.
Sleeves especially, as they can be such a pain
when trying to turn them under evenly in the round.
Even if the press line doesn't match up perfectly
when you get the sleeve put together
it's easier to straighten it out 
than to try to do the whole job from scratch.
pressing hem while fabric is flat using a cardboard template

2. Use a cardboard template as a guide when pressing hems.
This simple 1" strip
cut from a file folder or cereal box
makes pressing hems so much easier.
Actually I've amassed a collection of different widths
but the 1" is what I seem to use most often.

3. When tucking a thick seam under,
trim a small concave curve from the thickest part on the edge.
This takes out just enough thickness
to allow the seam to sit flatter.
Works well when wrapping a thick seam 
in a neckband or folding a fat seam in a hem. 
(Note: I did check the internet to find a correct/understandable 
definition for a concave and a convex curve
and thanks to those who corrected me
when I still got it wrong...)
Essentially you are cutting a little curved piece
out of the top of the seam
in the seam allowance.
Curved Kai scissors are perfect for this.
trim out a 'fat' seam

4. Make an easy 'double' buttonhole for 2 small buttons
by first making one large buttonhole
and then putting a tack in the middle.
Measure the two buttons together 
with a small space in between to determine buttonhole length.
Stabilize with Fray Check 
and then cut each hole separately.
This works for three little buttons too.
tacking the center of a long buttonhole to make two

5. Finish a serged seam 
by tucking the 'tail' threads back into the end of the seam.
Use a big yarn needle
to work the serged tail back under the seam loops.
This holds everything in place for a neat seam finish
with no hanging or fraying tails.

tucking in a serger 'tail'

Feel free to share your favorite tips
in the comment section.

Click here to link to some cutting edge clothing happenings:

Gamers creating electronic clothing
(giving new meaning to 'play clothes')

Happy stitching!