Sewing… Hemming Pants by Hand While You Watch TV

If you can figure out how to do a backward stitch, by hand, they’re great for hemming pants. First, using your machine, run a zig-zag along the bottom of the pants. Next, fold and press where you want the hem. Next, start your hand stitching about a quarter inch below the zig zag. (Starting a quarter-inch down keeps shoes from getting caught and pulling the hem out.) You’ll be doing a backward stitch with your needle and thread. (Think of it like how Michael Jackson used to dance backward.)

I learned this backward stitch from an expert dressmaker in Reno, named Audrey. She hemmed men’s dress trousers like this. It makes a nice, flat hem.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

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Fashion and Sewing… Shopping for Fabric

One of the nicest things about sewing is shopping for fabric and notions. If you’ve got the sewing bug, you get really excited in a fabric store. Maybe even hyper-active. You’ll look at a bolt of fabric and know exactly what it would be good for. A dress, a pair of pants, a nightie. Something for your niece. Or you don’t know what you could possibly make out of it, but you want it, now.

Because seamstresses (dressmakers/tailors) like to have fabric on hand, we’re free to shop fabrics for any season. Spring fabrics to work with during the winter, heavier fabrics during the late summer for wearing in the cold weather. Sometimes our projects take several seasons to complete, sometimes they take years. It doesn’t matter what season it is. It will be a custom-made garment, fit to order. By us and for us. We get elated working on it and we may even get sick of working on it. But it’s a good idea to make a rule of finishing it before we start another sewing project. Starting a new project is our reward for finishing the current work-in-progress. That’s how I do it.

On Saturday, I’ll be exploring a new-to-me fabric store. I hope it has colorful cottons for blouses and colorful corduroy and stretch denims for pants. I hope they have big spools of strong thread and buttons so attractive they make my head spin with creativity. And most importantly, I hope they have good prices. The only thing better than getting a bargain on clothes, is getting a bargain on fabric to make clothes. As my grandmother used to say, “I’m not happier than when I’m sewing.”

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

There’s Nothing Wrong with Taking Shortcuts When Sewing

There’s nothing wrong with taking shortcuts in a sewing project. After all, sewing is a creative endeavor, so changing things up a bit, is where true creativity lies. Yes, you can buy a pattern and fabric and follow the directions exactly and still be creative. But everyone’s bodies are not the same and every person has different patience levels and variable hours to sew. If you lack patience and time and just want to whip something up, by all means do. Fabric stores are loaded with super simple patterns that make nice garments. (Retail stores are filled with clothes made from these patterns for the same reason. They are quick and easy.)

One thing that I do to speed things along is to forego the facings. Facings are used to give the garment shape, thickness and to finish the seams. If you’re inexperienced, sometimes the wide facings bubble up after they’re sewn down, making a beginner discouraged. That is a point where some people give up, thinking they do not have the talent to sew. Don’t give up. Not all garments need facings, especially, light summer clothing.

Using bias tape is fine. Follow the directions for sewing down the facings but substitute the bias tape. After sewing the bias tape to the dress body (right side of bias tape to right side of fabric) use a slip stitch to anchor the bias tape down. Iron it. Pressing makes things look much better. You can also make your own bias tape by cutting strips of fabric on the bias (the bias is the stretch of the fabric). Occasionally, you have enough fabric for the main pieces of the garment but not enough for facings. That’s when bias tape comes in handy. The thicker the bias tape, the more it supports the garment like a facing is intended. I do though, have many articles of clothing where I used thin bias tape. It turned out well.

In the photograph of the pink flowered blouse, you’ll see that I used bias tape instead of facings. I even got creative with it and allowed it to be exposed in the front. If you look closely, you’ll see that I also did not finish off the back seam. I left the raw edges. I figured that no one would see that part of my blouse. And the sleeves on this blouse are made from the flouncy cuffs off of a ready-made blouse. The sleeves on that blouse were too long. After I cut them off, I saved them, thinking that I could one day use them for something, and I did.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

Sewing Tips For Beginners

An old-fashioned tip for sewing is to do some hand stitching. When you use the sewing machine, your garment can get kinda hacked up, especially if you’re new to it. Hand stitching the facings down that go along a neckline and hand stitching the hems on the sleeves can give the garment a beautiful look. And believe it or not, hand stitching a zipper in place can be wonderful thing. I do that all the time because I think the machine doesn’t look so great. If you are experienced and/or have a fabulous machine, you may be successful but zippers can be problematic. If so, just get yourself some matching thread and needle and put your feet up and relax and enjoy while you secure the zipper in by hand. Go over and over it. Overkill actually, because you don’t want it popping out on you.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78