Thursday, December 22, 2011

How I measure.

I sell in various venues at various times and I understand how difficult it can be to buy online when sizes are vague or not standard. I do my best to represent garments as accurately as possible.

My first suggestion is to get something out of your closet that has similar attributes. For example, a sweater with set in sleeves for a sweater with set in sleeves. You don't have to know exactly what set in sleeves are, just look for similarities. Don't measure something of yours that is sleeveless if you are looking at a sleeved garment.

You will need a tape measure.
Dritz Tape Measure- 5/8''x60''

Dritz Tape Measure- 5/8''x60''

First I lay the garment flat and neat on the table.
nice and neat

Measuring underarm to underarm.

Measuring length. Starts where the neck edge meets the collar.
neck to hem

Ends at the hem (this style has an open front, so the length is approximate))

Measure sleeve.
sleeve length

From where the top of the sleeve meets the shoulder,
at shoulder seam

to the hem.
sleeve hem

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Beginner sewing tips

I've recently had the opportunity to see some of the mistakes that beginners to operating sewing machines often make. So, I've got some suggestions to make your sewing machine work better. I don't want newbies to become frustrated before they can even start sewing.

First make sure the tension dial is in the factory setting. If you don't remember where that is, put in it in the middle of the range, usually about 4. Now forget how to move this dial.

Set the machine to a 2 1/2 - 3 in the stitch length. It is easier to pick out.

Use muslin or a quilting cotton for your sewing practice. That means a quilting needle or a universal or a sharp 11. I like Schmetz and have had good success with Organ. Other brands are good, I just haven't used them. Buy a couple packs with different sizes, plus ball points.

Make sure the bobbin is wound properly. Even, not crooked, and nice and tight, not squishy to the touch. Make sure there are no tails sticking out of the top.

Make sure the bobbin is placed into the bobbin case properly, or placed into the drop bobbin properly. See your manual or these pics for examples of bobbins. There is no one size fits all answer, it depends on your machine.

Pfaff 6091, thread goes off to the right.
blog2011 012

Bernina 950, thread goes to the left.
blog2011 003

If your only thread stand option is like this buy one of these or these.

blog2011 006

See your manual for proper threading. If you don't have the manual, try to find your machine here. I will try to do some more threading tutorials soon. The rules are pretty much the same, machines just look different.

Place your foot all the way up on the foot pedal, not just your toes. Use even pressure, less for slower or more to go faster.

Situate the fabric under the presser foot, needle down, then presser foot down. ONLY TURN THE HANDWHEEL TOWARD YOU! NEVER (NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER!) TURN THE HANDWHEEL AWAY FROM YOU! Even if it means the wheel has to go all the way around.

Let the machine do what it is designed to do. Don't "steer" the fabric, guide it. Its OK to be a little off starting out, keep your corrections gradual and it won't be as noticeable.

If you want to slow down, use less pressure with your foot, don't hold back the fabric. I can't stand the sound of working against the feed dogs.

Backstitching should be limited to about 3 stitches.

Change your needle often, this is not a place where you should be skimping and saving money. If the stitch isn't right and you are positive the threading and bobbin are correct, try a different needle, you can use this chart. Make sure the needle matches your fabric and you are using a compatible thread.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A seamstress is not a patternmaker.

A seamstress is not a patternmaker. If you are looking for someone to make patterns, do not ask a seamstress. A patternmaker can sew, but if I call myself a seamstress, I am not implying that I can make patterns. If a patternmaker says he/she can't sew then find yourself another patternmaker.

I was asked many years ago to sew samples for a self-described patternmaker who lamented that she could only draft patterns but could not sew to save her life. After contracting to sew 10 designs, already cut out, for $50.00 apiece I discovered the problem. Nothing fit together. She couldn't sew because she couldn't draft. I was inexperienced at the time and brought the garments to a experienced patternmaker. She confirmed my discovery. I gave it all back and didn't charge her anything because she had spent $5000.00 for a booth at a show.

If you don't know this basic truth, its time to stop. You aren't ready for production. Go here, buy her book.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Great things are happening!

Things have been busy around here! Along with an expanding family and some ongoing piece work, I've been offered a sewing educator position at the Richmond Aud. The Aud building is located in Richmond, MI and is run by the Regional Youth Complex, Inc.

I am thrilled with the opportunity to introduce and refine sewing skills in young people. There are MANY creative opportunities at the Aud building and the classroom setup is very open. Kids can drop in as long as I'm there and sew something of mine or make one of their own ideas. It is my job to help them be successful and keep the creative juices flowing. My duties will also include some costumes and alterations for the theatre program.

I started about 6 months ago after volunteering to sew costumes for a play. I had the opportunity to help with the selection of sewing machines (in spite of a limited budget we were able to purchase 4 excellent Janome Sewing Machines) and will be an important part of designing the program. This August after a brief closure of the building for new bathrooms, we will start up the program again. I enjoyed meeting and teaching the kids who came in to see me and I look forward to the new season with some new faces, ideas and enthusiasm.