We love the extra verve that judicious use of top-stitching adds to garments. A line (or two) of top-stitching can empathize the tailored angles of a jacket collar lapel, add decorative contrast with a coordinating thread color, or spiff up the pockets of a cowboy shirt. Carolyn of TheDiaryofaSewingFanatic gives us instructions and hints on top-stitching, including advice on needle type, the importance of consistent stitching line direction, and the top-secret scotch tape stitching guide method!
Category Archive: Sewing Techniques
Kid Dandy, an Italian creative group, are in the process of finishing up a documentary on Neapolitan tailoring traditions. Here is a 5 minute trailer for their stunning documentary. This film is a must to watch for anyone who is enamored with the craft of traditional fine tailoring, hand-stitching, hand-made button-holes…..and the luscious beauty of Naples, Italy. I love watching the beautifully suited Claudio Attolini as he talks about the process of tailoring while making gracefully articulate hand gestures that mimic hand-stitching.
Peter at MalePatternBoldness has been busy! He is running a Men’s Shirt Sew-Along on his blog beginning on Tuesday, February 1st. Here is a chance to sew along with other folks, while learning how to meet the fitting and sewing challenges in making men’s bespoke shirts. Peter also is one of the featured sewers on BurdaStyle, with a shirt that he made using a vintage 1939 men’s pattern. This vintage-styled shirt has a removable collar and collar stand that fits over the band (which is sewn onto the shirt), and the top closes with a shirt stud. And as we all know, M. Du Jour adores detachable collars for the wonderfully practical and delightfully fussy accessory that they are!
2011 is the year of the pocket! I want pockets on everything right now; I want pockets to keep my mitts warm, pockets to store pieces of salted caramel wrapped tightly in waxed paper, and pockets to slip love notes into. Kathleen from Fashion-Incubator.com, and Sandra from TheSurlySeamstress posted these fabulous tutorials on how to stitch on bluff pockets, otherwise known as pockets with no visible outside stitching. Bluff pockets have a classic simplicity that we adore.
1. Measure yourself carefully and buy your pattern according to your measurements; pattern sizing and ready-to-wear sizing are radically different.
2. Read the pattern’s directions all the way through first, and then follow them as you construct the project.
3. Use a fresh needle for each larger project.
4. Don’t stint on thread, but buy matching, good quality thread.
5. Use fabric that you truly adore, not just because it is on sale or you kind of like it.
6. Iron your seams as you go.
Stacy and BurdaStyle have several suggestions for sewing machine maintenance, including change your needles often, clean and dust your machine after each project, oil your machine as recommended by your manual, and tighten loose screws. We have found that by following these simple hints, many machine issues are resolved.
Encourage youngster’s love of sewing and creativity! Children’s lace-up sewing cards are wonderful toys for preschoolers that teach little fingers fine motor skills by lacing the string or yarn through the holes. Here are several sets of free, downloadable and printable sewing cards. Kate has made up cheerful and simple flower, star and moon shapes;Tristan provides instruction for making banana, pear and apple fabric-covered lace-up shapes; and Alexandra has reproduced some amazingly cute vintage lace-up sewing cards on her blog and Flickr. I want to spend Sunday morning sipping hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows and stitching the perky little squirrel!
The end of the year is a perfect time to set aside an hour some evening, grab a pot of hot tea, and go through your fabric stash to identify the fiber content of any unknown pieces. Here to assist is the Fabric Burn Test. Grab a holiday candle or a lighter (matches smell of sulfur), a fireproof plate (such as glass or china) and swatches from your fabric stash, and get ready to play domestic scientist! You will need to carefully observe the following; how fast is the fabric burning, what does it smell like, is there a bead or after-flame, and what sort of ash is left behind? Keep the following in mind: burn actual fabric, as the selvedge edge may not be the same fiber as the main piece of cloth and could give a false content reading. Always hold your swatch with metal tweezers, not your delicate fingers. Hold the swatch over water before setting it on fire. Do not sniff burnt fiber until the smoke dissipates. Do not touch the fabric until bead cools. All synthetic fibers should be considered to be a serious drip danger and fume hazard. If you suffer a burn, submerge you skin in ice water immediately. A burn test may not distinguish between cotton and other cellulose fibers, some fabric may have finishes that affect burn results, and weighted silk (with added chemicals) may react more like synthetic fiber.
Acetate: burns quickly, sparking and sputtering. Melts into very hot bead with burning drip danger. The odor is very much like vinegar or burning pepper. No ash. There is black smoke. Fume hazard!
Cotton: Burns very quickly with a large yellow flame. The fire will creep along the threads. The odor is like burning paper. The ash is brown grey, feathery and floats away. There is grey or white smoke.
Linen: Burns slower than cotton. The odor is similar to paper or burning wood. The ash will be dark grey and can be heavier than cotton due to thicker yarn.
Nylon: Will melt , shrink or fuse to itself. Nylon smells like beans, celery or burning string. There are hard glassy beads that cannot be crushed, and hot drip danger. Fume hazard!
Polyester: Quick burning, shrinks away from flame and may flare. Forms a round hard bead. No ash. A slightly sweet chemical odor, and black smoke. Fume hazard!
Rayon: This fiber will burn very quickly with no flame and no melting. The smell of burning rayon is similar to paper or rags. There will be little ash; it will be powdery and blacker than cotton.
Silk: Will burn slowly, the burning stops if withdrawn from the flame. The odor is like burned hair or charred meat. The residue will form round hard beads which are easily crushed. There is little smoke.
Wool/cashmere/mohair/alpaca: Has a smaller slower flame and will not flare. Wool will sizzle and curl. The odor is like burnt hair or feathers. Ash will be crisp and dark. It will crumble if crushed. There is dark smoke and moderate fume.
Jim, the senior researcher at The Sewing Academy has posted numerous tutorials on tailoring reproduction historical garments. This set of photographed instructions documents the steps he took to sew a stunning silk brocade formal vest, from painstakingly making welted pockets, working with hair canvas and batting to give the garment body, attaching the collar, and bagging the lining. The Sewing Academy is E. S. Clark’s on-going living history project (1840 to 1865), and contains an online trove of information for seamstresses who are interested in historical clothing construction. Many of these construction techniques are also applicable to sewing modern garments, and we are proponents of the beauty and sturdiness hand-finishing.
Some of us have a long weekend over Thanksgiving, which is a perfect time to get caught up on sewing projects and learn new techniques. Terry at Threads Magazine wrote a wonderfully instructive tutorial on pattern grading. Grading enables you to proportionally increase or decrease the size of a pattern, while maintaining shape, fit, balance, and scale of style details. This means that you can adjust for your very specific body shape and size, or make several sizes of one pattern for special occasion attire such as bridesmaid’s dresses, or transform a too-small vintage pattern into one that is usable.
As Sherlock knows, we all need at least one Inverness cape in our wardrobe. Somewhat cobbled together but detailed none the less, here is a cutter’s guide for an Inverness cape, with instructions on drafting a quarter-scale paper version, and a vintage sizable pattern for an Inverness cape from Pumpkiny. Next is a photographic tutorial on tailoring an Inverness cape from Jim at The Sewing Academy at Home. I love the idea of making a model to test-drive the construction, and the antique Goodyear hard rubber buttons on his finished garment make me swoon. This cape would add a several cups of romantic dash to any gadabout’s attire during the upcoming chilly months.