You Asked For It – Piping Part 2

Now that you have your piping made and sewn on, what do you do when need to join piping to itself? The primary concern if you’d like your piping to look neat, tidy, and professionally done is to choose a method that eliminates as much bulk from the seam allowances as you can.

When the piping meets at a seam line-

One of the situations where this happens is when you’re using piping between two pieces of fabric that will be joined in a circle. You could just sew across the piping when you sew the seam. The problem is a lot of sewing machines will push one piece of piping to the side, and when you look at the seam from the outside, your piping won’t line up.

Piping won't line up

Piping won’t line up

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Zippers (Cont.) Regular Zipper with a Lining

I had planned to do a fly front zipper today, but I got an urgent request for a zipper with a lining.

Zipper with lining fashion fabric

Zipper with lining fashion fabric

This is one I do much differently from the way I was originally taught. Mom and Nana taught me how to insert a zipper with a lining, and there was a fair amount of hand sewing involved. But for them that was a split task so neither one of them minded. Somewhere along the way I learned how to do this with no hand sewing involved, which made me very happy. When I learned about using wash away basting tape or a glue stick, this method got even better.

 

 

 

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You Asked For It – Piping

Piping a curve

Piping a curve

Oh. my, there aren’t too many things that confound beginners like piping. Done right, piping can take a project from bland to Wow! On the other hand, nothing screams “loving hands at home” quite like poorly sewn piping. The important thing is, though, piping is another one of things that are so sew easy when you have the right tools and know how to do it. Piping is used in lots of places – children’s clothing, bags, and home dec projects are the most common.

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More Zippers – Invisible zippers with no lining

invisible zipper

invisible zipper

Given a choice of what kind of zipper I put in a garment, I will always reach for an invisible one.  I like the way they disappear into the seam. Whether it’s in the back, on the side, or up the front, only the zipper pull gives any indication there’s a zipper. I learned how to insert them in 1973 when I was making my honeymoon clothes. My zippers got worn in a hospital, at a church picnic, in district and superior court, and at the birth of twin polar bears. Not the honeymoon we had planned, but my zippers looked good.

I also choose invisible zippers because they are so easy to sew in. You do need an invisible zipper foot to do it easily and well. It’s not an expensive foot, and if you don’t want to buy one especially made for your machine, the generic ones work quite well. An invisible zipper foot has a channel in the bottom for the zipper teeth to slide through, and most have a piece on the front that holds the teeth down flat as you sew. Mine looks like this –

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You Asked For It – Skirt Plackets

Completed skirt placket

Completed skirt placket

There’s no one right way to make a skirt placket, but there are things we can look for when we decide if a method will work for us.  The first thing seamstresses look for when we check out a skirt placket is how much pucker is at the bottom of it. It’s the part of putting in a skirt placket that frustrates beginners, and choosing a method that makes eliminating all or at least 99% of the pucker is important. But the second thing is actually more important, and that’s making sure the method we choose provides full coverage of the body underneath. A skirt shouldn’t provide a “peeky hole”. A good method for making a skirt placket should give us the option of snapping or buttoning the placket closed invisibly if the skirt isn’t full enough to give us confidence our modesty is safe.

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Zippers – Part One

DSC_0298

Centered, No Lining

Zippers are a wonderful invention. Think about all of the buttonholes you have to make to replace an 18″ zipper.  My 1881 White treadle sewing machine has a zipper foot. Without a doubt your sewing machine has one, too. There are several variations on how a zipper  foot looks, but they all function the same way. They are designed so you can get your stitches very close to the teeth of your zipper. While you can insert a zipper with an all-purpose foot, unless your dog ate yours, why not use the right tool for the right job?

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You Asked For It – Boning

 

Vogue 2810

Vogue 2810

My youngest son was getting ready to go to kindergarten, and I knew when he entered first grade, I was going to attempt to return to work full time. To get me and the family accustomed to my going to work everyday, I took a part time job in a local fabric store. The owner used to say “The customer is always right unless she’s Roberta’s customer. Then she’ll be right because Roberta will convince her to do it her way.” He always steered the people who wanted to make elaborate things but who had never sewn before to me because I would convince them they couldn’t do it. He would rather not have a customer than have a very dissatisfied one. Hi, Barry! I’m still at it.

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Seam Finishes – Hong Kong Seams (Bonus – How to Make Continuous Bias Strips)

 

Fall Wardrobe fabric collection

Fall Wardrobe fabric collection

If you’re making a jacket or a coat for yourself or your little one, you don’t want to line it, but you want the inside to be as lovely as the outside, a Hong Kong seam finish may be the way to go. Even if you’re making a garment no one but you will ever see the inside of, a Hong Kong seam finish will make your seams fray-proof and make you feel pretty. Most couture garments are underlined, not lined, so the seams show. A lot of designers use Hong Kong seams as one of the ultimate finishing details. A Hong Kong seam is basically a seam where all of the seam allowances are bound in bias strips. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. Once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty quickly. You can use packaged bias tape to bind your seams, but it’s almost just as easy to cut your own.  You can choose to bind the seams in a matching color for a more subdued look, or you can choose a contrasting color or print to give the inside of your garment a color pop. If the person you sew for has sensory issues, you can choose a soft fabric they can tolerate to bind the seams. The garment I’m going to be demonstrating this technique on is a navy blue linen jacket. Linen frays easily so a Hong Kong finish is a good choice. The jacket is part of a coordinated ensemble I’m making for a vacation trip. One of the other wardrobe pieces is a navy, green, and white soft cotton print dress I will sometimes be wearing with the jacket. I’m going to be using leftover fabric from the dress to make the bias strips for the seams. To complete the inside look of the jacket, I’m also going to bind the hem and the facings with them.

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You Asked For It – Cutting Out a Pattern

Pattern cutting tools, scissors, rotary cutter, pins, pattern weights, and a ruler

Pattern cutting tools, scissors, rotary cutter, pins, pattern weights, and a ruler

Learning to cut out your pattern is where it all begins. Good fabric is expensive, and it’s important to know how to cut it to minimize how much you use. But it’s also important to cut it so the very best features of the fabric are shown off in your finished garment. Before you start, there are some vocabulary words that let us talk about fabric.

All woven fabrics have two finished edges called the selvages. (Sometimes selvedges) The selvages are indicated in a pattern cutting layout and help you orient your pattern pieces. You shouldn’t include the selvages in your garment. They are more tightly woven and sometimes have little holes in them where they were hooked onto a frame.

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Seam Finishes – Flat-felled Seams

Flat-Felled Seam

Flat-Felled Seam

If you want your jeans to look like, well jeans, then you need to be able to do a flat-felled seam. It’s a seam you see in a lot of menswear and children’s clothes because it’s really strong. It’s not something you’ll likely see in silk dupioni, at least nowhere except on Project Runway. It’s not delicate looking, but it looks good from both the inside and the outside of a garment. You decide which side is going to be seen from the outside. Either one is “correct”.  There is a special sewing machine foot called a felling foot that makes the task easier, but it’s not made for my machine. You know I’d have it if I could. 🙂

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