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Sewing Tips Megathread

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Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By Mischa. 29/11/09, 04:58 am

I thought it would be awesome to have a thread where we post sewing tips and tricks we have found.

Since we have sewers of all levels from novice to advanced who post- I feel there will be something of value for everyone!

Here's some of mine (most are novice)


  • Got a garment with a lot of binding to cut? Use cheap cloth-tape, the stuff that's not very sticky with fiber woven into it- you can rip it to any width and use it as a template to cut along. This works really well with slippy difficult fabrics. Make sure to test a patch, or use on the wrong side to make sure it doesn't mark delicate fabrics first.


  • Keep a spray bottle of water by your ironing board, It is much better then the squirty function on your iron and you wont have to keep refilling it


  • When doing collar points use a very short stitch then clip right up close- scary but your points will be ruler sharp.


  • I know it's boring, but make a mock up in a crappy fabric first to check the fit if you are doing a unfamiliar type of garment or something in an expensive fabric. It will end up saving you time.


  • Always be polite to the staff at sewing shops, they know their stuff and are usually delighted when you tell them you are making a costume. (After the 4893 customer making baby clothes you would be too) If you come in at a time when they are not busy they will order odd stuff in for you.


  • Go to the library! Sewing info tends not to date (sure a book from 1956 won't have info on spandex, but the woven stuff it still great) There are a treasure trove of books on couture techniques, timesavers and inspiration in there. Also check out threads magazine- so good! http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4339/boning-not-just-for-corsets


Last edited by Mischa on 29/11/09, 05:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By Amura. 29/11/09, 05:35 am

USE THIS BOOK FOR PATTERN DRAFTING::::

Metric Pattern cutting for women's wear by Winifred Aldrich
ISBN: 978-1-4051-7567-8

Its ledgendry Very Happy, there are also mens and childrens versions avaliable.
It tells you how to draft patterns from the basic blocks, then how to alter all little details and turn the blocks into patterns. Some basic math skill is needed though....We used this in Fabric Tech last year, people couldnt understand the instructions, so you need focus sometimes XD

A sewing book thats real good:
Readers Digest Complete Guide To Sewing, yeah it is from the 1980's but i find it good (there might be more modern versions though). I got mine for $5 when I was in Wellington 3 or 4 months ago Very Happy
It has a whole pile of sewing methods and stuffs

When talking to Spotlight staff:
Often we are dead tired, and sick of rude customers yelling at us for THEIR MISTAKES! Though we love to help, and know the store/ products well. If you are kind, we don't mind seeing if we can get things in from the suppliers, but only if we aren't busy. Usually its good to become friends with the staff there Very Happy Also, I have found many usual staff (the ones in the plain shirts, not striped) will be nicer about things, but they dont usually know as much as the DM's (striped shirts), not saying we're dumb though...
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By Mischa. 30/11/09, 12:54 am

I have used this tip on sheers before and it works a treat:

Quote :
Approximately ten years ago Threads ran a small
article "Hems of Sheer Brilliance". I so liked this hem that I cut the
article out and use the technique whenever I need a hem on a sheer
garment.

Fold and press a 1/4 inch fold to the RIGHT side of the skirt. Yes, the
right side! Now fold and press 1/4 inch again to the right side. Stitch
this right down the middle of the fold. Turn the fold to the wrong
side. When you turn the stitched double fold to the wrong side it will
make a tiny mock piping on the edge of the skirt. Press well. I like to
use my clapper to get a hard press on the hem edge. The picture shows
the finished effect. It also helps the skirt stand out a very tiny bit
which I think is pretty on a sheer.
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By Duckeh. 30/11/09, 02:12 am

Please keep on topic.

>.>
<.<

A quite basic tip, but worth bringing up.
http://sewing.about.com/od/beginner1/bb/seamfinishes.htm
Seam finishes! Research them. They're lovely! <3 Finishing neatly is going to improve the overall look of the whole garment. Or hiding it away ninjahly somehow. {Damn you /cgl/ cheat threads.}

Though admittedly I generally fail at this because I'm doing it last minute~ It always makes me happy to see nice clean edges/seams~ <3
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By Static. 30/11/09, 09:02 am

Biggest tip I can think of: ALWAYS measure the actual pattern, don't just go by the measurements on the envelope. They are always wrong!
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By sakura_petals. 30/11/09, 09:24 am

How do you mean measure the pattern? I don't think I understand...
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By Guest. 30/11/09, 09:26 am

Measure the waistline mark to see if its half or what ever of your waist...I did that with Cookie Monster, and learnt the hard way to do it with Princess Saturn...lol

SS

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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By Static. 30/11/09, 09:30 am

Yup, like Jackie says: lay the pattern pieces out, and measure them (taking into account seam allowance and darts or whatever) at the waist, maybe bust and hip too. You can avoid a lot of horrors like this, lol...
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By Duckeh. 30/11/09, 09:31 am

ALSO: Making it bigger is always better then smaller! You can fit it later, but adding on is a beautiful and wonderful person. :3
Fitting is easier when you have someone with you and you wear the garment inside out and they help pin it in to shape~

//My noobyness is showing through my tips. ;-;
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By Static. 30/11/09, 09:37 am

Lol, Ducks speaks the truth! It's basic, but it was YEARS before it ocurred to me...it makes life easier Razz
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By sakura_petals. 30/11/09, 09:48 am

Cool! I will remember that! Keep these tips coming! nyahaha
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By JVCA. 30/11/09, 10:39 am

Clean up before you go to sleep! It's great to have a fresh start in the morning, and it helps to stop mess piling up when you've got a deadline. I'm not saying pack everything away so you have to get it all out in the morning - just throw out scraps of thread and fabric, put away off-cuts that you're finished with, get everything off the floor, and clear space on the table.

If you make a mistake in a small bit of a line of stitching (you 'miss', or your bobbin runs out), you don't have to unpick the whole thing - just unpick the accident, then backstitch over the stitching, 'bridge the gap' and keep going.

Get proper fabric scissors - paper scissors are designed for paper, and it is SO much easier to cut fabric with fabric scissors than it is with paper scissors that it's not funny! They're not expensive either - my titanium coated ones were about $15 from spotlight and are fantastic.

If you take your sewing with you to someone else's house, make sure you come home with everything you took with you - finding out you left your quick unpick at someone else's house REALLY SUCKS when you've just sewn a seam the wrong way out. I have a box I transport all my fabric in - it makes life much easier.

When you have a deadline, you need a carrot. We use chocolate Primo to motivate us into getting stuff done - simply put, when you finish something, you get a glass of Primo (and a half hour break, usually). 8D

...so half of these aren't really sewing tips, but uh. I guess they're helpful anyway? sweatdrop
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By 悪魔. 07/01/12, 07:38 am

...a thing I just learnt the hard way, when cutting an arm sleeve that's meant to be tight fitting do Not leave one side straight and curve the other. It doesn't turn out right at all :/
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By Mischa. 08/01/12, 01:11 pm

I got sick of my chalk markings rubbing off, so I started using crayola washable markers/crayons and they work like a charm.

(NOTE: do not use these on any expensive or/and dry clean only fabrics. If in doubt try a small patch first to make sure no colour is left behind after washing )
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By 80486. 09/01/12, 11:34 am

This may be a little technical:

Ever drafted/altered a sleeve, only to find you can't raise your arm? Perhaps you got a crappy pattern somewhere that has this problem. There are two reasons it happens:

1) The armhole may be too deep. One might expect that a larger armhole would give you more freedom of movement (I did). In fact the opposite is true for sleeved garments. The armhole can be no lower than about 3, maybe 4 centimetres below the armpit. The depth of the armhole determines the angle of the sleeve. A deep armhole, as in a shirt, causes the sleeve to point out horizontally. A small armhole results in a sleeve that hangs vertically, as in a jacket.

2) The ease in the sleeve cap may be wrong. I'm not talking about the ease in the top of the sleeve cap, between the notches. That's a red herring: its only purpose is to give the sleeve cap the desired shape.

See the diagram of a sleeve cap below. I have labelled the ease with green lines. [1] is design ease for shaping as discussed. The blue line is of course the circumference of the armhole plus [1]. [3] is so you can get your arm into the sleeve. [2] is the extra fabric that allows you to raise your arm. Here's the trick: [2] is derived mathematically from [3] and the length of the blue line.

Sewing Tips Megathread Sleeve10

Notice that if you hold the blue line constant (which corresponds to not changing the armhole), and increase [3], you will decrease [2]. Congratulations, you can no longer raise your arm. [2] and [3] need to be carefully balanced. If [3] is too little, it will be hard to get your arm through the sleeve; if [3] is too much, [2] will be too little and you won't be able to raise your arm.

When you deepen the armhole, the blue line gets longer so you have to increase [2] and [3] (or you'll end up with way too much ease at [1]). You'll discover that most of the increase has to happen at [3], and this is what changes the angle of the sleeve.

Finally, you can increase or decrease [1] as much as you like without affecting the functioning of the sleeve.

I learned all this the hard way.
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By neimhaille. 09/01/12, 02:38 pm

In regards to the sleeve ease issue, historical garments have it all wrapped up ;) Using the above diagram the vertical line is shortened and 2 and three widened (but also usually are cut with a seam going up the back of the arm not directly underneath).

The flat armscye approach worked brilliantly until patterns started being developed on the stand- ie a static form- and the underarm creases that are a natural product of this method were deemed unslightly. Also when the front of sleeves stopped being cut as a pronounced curve (which affects stretch of the fabric and so allows for a closer fit).

I wouldn't use this approach for modern garments, but for historical garments and for bodysuits most definitely.

By the way I could hang from monkey bars in all my historical costumes except my Mina (though I can still reach higher than you'd expect).
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By JVCA. 19/03/14, 03:08 am

I'm bringing this thread back because it's awesome & I'd love to see more people contribute!

Get yourself one of these, or similar. Mine was $15 from Spotlight, and they are SUPER handy. The curve edge is perfect for redrawing altered curves on patterns (and even includes a suggested measurement range to use for each type of curve), the corner makes a handy right angle, it's a decent length straight edge, and if you want you can even use the slots cut out of it for marking seam lines and button holes.
Sewing Tips Megathread French11

On the topic of marking seam lines, if you're patterning something from scratch and need to add seam lines, your measuring tape makes an easy, consistent width to add on just make sure you take note how wide your measuring tape is when you start sewing! (All my seam allowances are half an inch wide because that's how wide my measuring tape is)

If you're going to be doing a lot of patterning/alterations etc, having a full roll of paper is SUPER handy rather than having to tape a whole bunch of A3s or A4s together. You can buy them from OfficeMax (click here!) in all sorts of different width. (you want to get a plain or uncoated one, not a coated one coated will have a slightly shiny texture to it).

Prewash all your fabric before you cut it out. I've had so many costumes I've painstakingly made which have for one reason or another been botched because I didn't prewash them (my June dress shrank in the wash and made it too short for me, my Elizabeth dress's lining shrank but the shell didn't, so the bottom of it sits really funny now, etc).

When selecting a pattern size it's pretty common to be a mix of two (or even three!) different sizes. In this case it's easiest to choose the right size for your bust rather than for your hips/waist. The reason for this is alterations to the bust will usually require alterations to the armholes and sleeves, while alterations to the hips and waist will only require changes to those areas. The exception to this is if your measurements are two sizes apart (e.g. size 14 bust, size 10 waist & hips). In this case it's best to use the overall closest size and alter the bust with care.

Last tip for now someone earlier in the thread recommended the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. I bought the most recent addition a little while back and I absolutely agree with that recommendation! It's a little pricey but the book is a BRICK - 384 full colour pages of excellent advice. It's well worth it, even if you just borrow it from the library. I bought mine from Whitcoulls a couple of years ago but if you don't mind the wait you can get it cheaper on the Book Depository (click here!).
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Re: Sewing Tips Megathread
Post By Highlander. 20/04/14, 07:29 am

I tend to think of the rounded bit being the arm/shoulder end, and the flatter curve as running up your shoulder towards your neck. You can also get much longer hip curve rulers.
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