Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sewing Spoilers Part 1

Did you ever feel you just didn't get the sewing memo?  Somehow the bus stopped, but you neglected to get off?  I have, so today I'll share with you the first part of a two part post on 7 sewing tips that have helped me personally to accomplish better results. My hope is that these tips will be helpful for you.
Here I am measuring this pattern piece from the matching selvages 
1. Selvages, yes those little woven edges of the fabric, they seem innocent enough right? But if the selvages aren't lined up, then any pattern pieces cut from the fabric will be slightly off grain. Here's how to make sure your pattern is cut on grain.

1. Unfold and prepare your fabric, giving it a good ironing. Don't be deceived by the "natural" fold line, it's most likely not lined up exactly!

2. Next, lay out your fabric, folding it down the middle. Lining up the selvages as you go, keep working using your hands to smooth out any wrinkles as you line up the fabric.

3. When the edges are lined up together and the fold is smooth and flat, pin the raw edges (selvages) together so they don't shift on you. 

4. Lay your pattern pieces out, measure pieces until even and cut them out. Your garment should hang correctly with the grain.

2. Sewing Machine Maintenance and Tension- Is it time to take your machine in for a tune up and a cleaning? I knew it was time when the tension dial on my machine wouldn't adjusting the tension correctly. No amount of ironing will take out those horizontal lines and puckers that form from stitches being stitched too tightly. Having a tune up or using your sewing manual to tune it yourself, can help produce perfect stitches. Stitches should look smooth and lay flat. Don't let a machine tune up stand in the way of sewing great garments.

3. Darts- Dart aren't the most complicated sewing technique, but a good method goes a long way in making a professional garment. The tie off method is preferred by many sewers, I really like this video for sewing darts.

4. Underwear-  This is a bit personal, but I am going to share because it has helped me so much. I realized that I've been wearing the wrong underwear for my vintage fashions.  I am talking about panties, knickers, underwear.  After sewing a skirt, I had lines around my high hip area, thinking it was too tight I made it bigger but it wasn't too tight. This is where I got off the train, and realized it was time to change the underwear style I was wearing. Enough said, the devil is definitely in the details. Take a good look in a mirror, it maybe time for a change. Don't assume it's your sewing project in question, sometimes it's the foundation garments we are wearing under the sewing project that needs our attention.

Remember these are just tips I have found that have helped me. I only want to encourage you today to find the spoilers in your own sewing journey. If something isn't working, step back from it and ask yourself, what is the spoiler in this situation? What isn't working? Sewing often times is like finding clues. It's speaking loud and clear. The garment is pointing to the problems, asking you to solve it.  Anybody else solved any sewing spoilers in your projects? I would love to hear about them.

Here's to great sewing projects!



  1. Great suggestions! One thing that has helped me (and I know it's obvious to most) is pressing each seam after I sew. It's helped a lot with those little pesky puckers that sometimes creep into long side seams and such.

    1. Awesome Tasha! I have been doing this too and it makes a huge difference in the final garment, pesky puckers for sure. :)

    2. You are so right Tasha, I use to skip that part ,thinking it wasn't neccessary until the end.. But ..Oh it makes such a big difference in the end results.

  2. Gina, thankyou for a very good post. These tips are sooo helpful. Look forward to the next one..

  3. Hi Gina -- you are so right about all of the above, especially the underwear, because it makes such a difference as to whether your finished garments fit correctly. It's especially important for vintage clothes sewing. Good post.

  4. Fantastic tips Gina, thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Great tips! :) I think for me probably the biggest one to remember is to always lay out all your pattern pieces on your fabric before cutting. Especially if you're like me and tend to be a bit "daring" with the yardage requirements (read: I usually under-estimate and get less). ;) Better to be safe than with a half cut out project and run out of material!

  6. Yay! Someone else shares my obsession with appropriate underwear! In a former life I used to sew bridal dresses and my first request to the girls coming for measurements (and later fittings) was to WEAR PROPER UNDERWEAR, preferably the underwear you will be wearing with the dress. And nothing annoys me more than following a girl along the footpath and being treated to a full view of her underwear through her outfit. Get decent knickers and wear a slip!