Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Challenges, New Sewing Tips 

Its hard to believe a new year has begun. With its debut comes a big list of things I want to accomplish, with this blog, my teaching and sewing in general. 

At the top of the list is my desire to focus on perfecting my skills in garment sewing. I would like to incorporate more couture techniques - quite trendy these days - into the construction of all my garments.  

Mastering fit is my ultimate goal. Now older and more curvy it seems every pattern I buy requires multiple fitting alterations. Many more than I care to do with every project. Though I typically begin each project with a musling draft, I find I have to prepare several before I achieve the right fit adding considerably more time to the entire garment construction process than should be necessary. 

To further complicate matters, I seldom find a commercial pattern I like completely. Either the silhouette is too fitting for my thicker in the middle figure or the sleeves are not right, or the neckline is not to my liking, etc. etc. etc. As a result 2013 will be the year I prepare a full set of slopers so that I can create my own patterns with all the design features I want. No easy task I suspect, but hopefully it will be well worth the effort in the end.

Other goals this year will be to put more time into this blog.  Last year was a particularly good year for teaching others to sew. I learned a lot about how people grasp sewing techniques, how the details matters and how significant learning the fundamentals is to the mastering the craft. Since sewing blogs are a good way for new sewers to learn techniques and build skills, I want this blog to be a place for new sewers to help in those regards. 
 
To start, here are a few very simple sewing tips that all new as well as experienced sewers can use. 
Sewing Tip #1:  Threading Helpers
With age the task of threading needles either on my sewing machine or for hand sewing has become increasingly more difficult.  When teaching new sewers this is one of the biggest time wasters and has become one of my biggest pet peeves. I have found that a small piece  of very white plastic or cardboard placed behind the needle makes the task lightning fast. 



A 1/2 inch by 2 inch piece is all you need. Its almost as if the white backing amplifies the size of the needle hole. While clearly it does not, the hole is amazingly more visible and so much easier, and faster to thread. Now I keep several pieces of these threading helpers in my pockets when I teach, at my sewing machine and in my sewing cache at my worktable. 

Sewing Tip #2:  Pin Stablizer
I make a practice of removing my pins as I sew on my machine to prevent needle/pin breakage and seam distortion. I keep a dish of pins next to my machine but find having to stop and then move the pins to the dish disrupts of the speed and rhythm of my sewing. I prefer to just slide them off without having to stop the machine. The problem is that the bed of my machine, like most sewing machines, has a slippery surface and a slight curve,  that when I slide the pins onto the bed, they tend to slide off the machine. 


To remedy this I secured a piece of shelf liner to the bed of my machine using double stick tape. I cut a piece to fit the space exactly. I used the kind of shelf liner designed to keep glasses from chipping, nothing too thick or lofty. This provides just enough cushion and holding power to prevent the pins from sliding all over the place. So now when I sew I can easily slide the pins off onto the bed of my machine where they stay until I am ready to move them to the waiting dish. 

Sewing doesn't have to be hard. Whenever you can make a task faster and easier, do it. 


 

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