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Juggling balls and Nail Varnish - sewing kit on a budget

By Di, Jul 12 2016 05:57PM

I have to begin by saying that I have my favourite gadgets, 2 sewing machines that do hundreds of stitches and an overlocker.

However, I'd rather spend money on fabric than on loads of tools that are supposed to make my sewing easier and more accurate. I also want everyone, regardless of their budget to be able to enjoy sewing their own clothes, not being put off because they lack funds.

Take a look around your house and you'll find loads of things you already own that can be used to help with your sewing. Let's face it, before all these modern gadgets came along beautiful clothes were being made in almost every home. If we could glance in to the atelier of Paris couture houses and Savile Row tailors, would we find loads of modern gadgets? You can make anything with a machine that has a straight stitch, zig zag and buttonhole.


Pattern Weights

More people are using weights to hold down patterns for cutting out. You can make your own filled fabric bags, however ……weights from traditional kitchen scales, ornaments, pebbles can all be used ….does anyone in your house have discarded juggling balls? Tailors use long lengths of metal with a handle, I've used a metre rule with doorstops at each end.

Pegs and clips


If you have ever stitched real or fake leather, plastic covered table cloth and even some tightly woven fabrics, you'll have found that pins put holes in the cloth that can't be removed. You need to find things that will hold the layers of fabric together without leaving a mark ….soft faced pegs that are sold for hanging lingerie on the washing line, stationary items like bulldog clips - there are many really cheap new clips often sold as stationary at discount stores.

Thin, Slippy and Sticky Fabrics


Save tissue paper if you are lucky enough to gets presents wrapped in it. If it's crinkled you can iron it with a dry iron, steam might pull the dye out onto your ironing board cover. Place strips of it under delicate fabrics like chiffon it'll help stop the fine fabric disappearing down into the bottom of your machine. Tissue paper can also stop fabrics like faux suede sticking to the base of your machine.

I seem to remember that a long time ago I had a Teflon coated machine foot. It was great for fabrics that seem to drag under the foot. Scotch tape sell Magic Tape, stick a piece to the bottom of your machine foot works and it works brilliantly. As a word of warning I'd never leave something sticky attached to your machine for long, the residue can be difficult to remove.


Mouse Mat Saved My Machine Foot


My sewing machine foot always slips along the wood that it's placed on, I'm always dragging it back. I've tried the stuff that's sold to stop carpets from slipping or for lining draws at a famous Scandinavian furniture store, but I didn't find it worked. A £3.00 recycled mouse mat has worked brilliantly.

I was also amazed recently that when I'd cleaned my machine with the little brush that comes with it (which I've only just realised has a pointed end that I think is designed for pushing out corners on collars and cuffs) I then got into a few crevices with an interdental brush and loads more fluff escaped from the clutches of my machines spool area.

Learn to Love Your Ironing Board


Your ironing board can be a really useful thing. It's one of the few items most of us has that can be adjusted to different heights. I'm sitting at mine typing this on my iPad, which is propped up on a roll of kitchen towel! I use mine as a work table for many sewing processes, you can pin to it to stop things moving around. If I'm tacking something I place a cutting mat on it to give a firm surface that the needle can slide along. If you don't have a cutting mat a piece of card works just as well, it may be from packaging, a large cereal box or the back of a calendar. These can also protect your dining table from getting scratched when pinning things. Cereal box card is brilliant for templates as well.


Silicone Saves Your Ironing Board


How often have you stuck interfacing to your ironing board? Place a silicone baking mat down first, it can take the heat and the glue just won't stick to it!

Free 'Freezer Paper'


Many of you will use Freezer paper, a waxed paper that can be temporarily ironed on to fabric, in the UK we have to buy it from craft stores at a high price. However this is the paper that is used to package our printer paper that I imagine most of us throw away! I discovered this because the big piece is A4 sized and I realised I could use it to print onto calico through my inkjet printer, some inks are now waterproof ..............................However I take no responsibility if you give this a try.


Nail Varnish to The Rescue

Recently I've been working with an extremely loosely woven cloth and my jacket cries out for hand worked buttonholes. I was really concerned about the fabric just falling apart. One solution to stop the cut edges from disintegrating was white glue, but it will wash out. Clear nail varnish to the rescue! It works like Fray Check and has a brush to help get it in the right place. Just be aware that nail varnish remover will melt acetate, so check on a scrap of fabric if you're tempted to try to remove nail varnish from your clothes.



Pressing sewing is really important, in part 2 I'll look at things we have in the house so you don't need to buy specialised equipment.






2 comments
Jul 13 2016 06:39AM by sonja

Thank you so much for sharing all these great tips. It's always good to have a look around in the house to find am alternative for sewing tools.

Sep 27 2016 07:11PM by Linda Holden

Wonderful tips. Thank you.
Re glue residue, hairspray is your friend here. Spray and rub off with cloth . Just had to undo a mistake using seam a tape which I had ironed on and prayed hairspray would work on that - it did.

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