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Sew Right for You

By Di, Mar 23 2016 02:50PM

I was lucky to be really well taught and I have much to thank my teachers for. Since then as a busy working mum sewing was my escape and I developed many time saving methods. With time on my hands I now enjoy slow sewing to create hand crafted garments. However, I can still spend a couple of hours running up a garment that I'm proud to wear.


Is one way better than the other, if I like what I make?


Fabric is the other thing that people seem to have widely varying opinions about, not just colour, pattern and cotton against jersey. Cost and quality. I'm not here to discuss the ethics of fabric production, but does it matter if you buy cheap fabric?


Personally, I am happy to buy cheap cloth, run up a garment in an afternoon and wear it every week, knowing I have an original garment. Quality, expensive cloth has to be used for something I will want to wear indefinitely.


Since the 2002 I have been a regular reader of the US magazine Threads. It was there that I found an interesting article that inspired me to write this post. It was by the mother of the magazine's editor.


Here are my thoughts based on the sentiments of sewing mother and daughter Ruth and Carol Fresia.


Love fabric,

"it's OK to use cheap yardage if it fits your needs". Treat it carefully as you cut, stitch and press.

My one piece of advice would be to wash it before you cut it out, sometimes it shrinks more than you might expect.


Follow the fabric's grain

Measure carefully from the selvedge edge to the straight grain line. Take a close look at cheap printed fabric. Printed fabric is usually a pale colour on the wrong side. Sometimes the reason it is cheap is because it wasn't printed straight, you'll be hard pushed to get a garment to look right.


Be kind to your sewing scissors

Teach everyone that these are yours! Keep them with your sewing things and buy a few general purpose scissors that are placed around the house for everyone else. I've found some good cheap scissors on offer at cut price supermarkets and even the local petrol station.


Marking shortcuts

Whilst transferring pattern markings is important there are some quick and easy ways to do this. Carbon paper, thread marking and tailor's tacks have their place, but clipping knotches, sticking pins through dots and pressing in folds can be just as effective. Don't remove the pattern piece until you need to use that piece of fabric, it will give you chance to look at the markings on the pattern again.


Always finish your seam allowances

Your garments will look better, last longer and be easier to care for. Use your overlocker if you have one, otherwise zig zag in the seam allowance. Line up the edge of your machine foot with the seam stitching and zig zag, trim off any extra fabric as close to the stitch as possible.

Reserve french seams and flat felled seams for lingerie and jeans!


Trim, grade and clip

When you attach a facing you must trim the fabric to about 6mm from the seam, clip into the curves so that they will lie flat. With bulky fabrics the seam allowances should be trimmed to slightly different widths to avoid a ridge. The main fabric should be the slightly wider one. Then I either top stitch the facings to the fabric or understitch. To understitch you machine through the facing and the seam allowances, keeping the main fabric free, this will stop the facing from rolling out.


Press, press ......

Press darts towards the centre of the garment, press a seam before you stitch another one across it. Press darts over a cushion if you don't have a tailors ham and roll up a towel and put inside sleeves if you don't have a sleeve board. I roll tea towels round my rolling pin instead of a seam roll.

Pressing is one of the most important things you can do to stop your garments looking home made.


Special feet

I use the standard foot my machine came with for almost all my sewing, except zips and piping. Line up the edge of your fabric with lines on the base of your machine or machine foot, this will help you stitch an even distance from the edge.


Know when to strive for perfection

A wedding dress will probably deserve all the finesse that you have, a dressing up costume probably doesn't. It's important to decide how much time you have to devote to a project and what its end use will be.


"We all have limited time to sew, so it's important to decide what will give us most satisfaction and to spend your time and energy there".


Enjoy your sewing ..... sew what's right for you.


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