Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tips to make you a quality sewer.

I was asked to be a contributor to the plus size blog, The Curvy Sewing Collective.
Here is my cross post.

Hello lovely people.

You know over the years I have primarily focused my skill set on vintage sewing and all the tips and tricks that sewing 'old school' can offer. Paying attention to detail, taking your time, and just feeling out the quality of your work is a given. Often we find ourselves so hyped up in finishing our projects that we don't take the time to, 'smell the roses' of the progress. It is often that progress, or journey, that lends itself to great discoveries in how you go about doing your sewing.

I'm going to lay out some tips that I have discovered over the years that really can help you develop your craft. If want to get better at sewing, it isn't simply sewing more, but finding a way to take something from each project and applying it to your overall sewing lifetime that will make your better in the long run.

*Tip one: Hand sew

Okay look, I know a lot of people hate to do this, but I said it once, and I'll say it again, there is nothing that can't be fixed with hand sewing. Hand finish that hem or the sleeve on a blouse or dress. Hand tack that facing down. Pick stitch that zipper into the back of your dress. Baste when needed. Yes it takes longer and yes if you don't have the patience for it you will get frustrated, but it's also a great way to build muscle memory and soon you will be whip stitching that hem with no thought.

Hand sewing is so often overlooked in modern sewing. It's the difference between artisan and manufactured. Not everything can be fixed by machine work, so I urge you to find more reasons to hand sew.

*Tip two: Hand sew with quilting needles.

(Compared to the other needles, the one on the left is way thinner.)

This is a tip that I recently fell into. Most hand needles are thick and can present problem when sewing some fabrics or multi layered fabrics. Quilting needles are like the ninjas of the needle world. They are so thin its almost like they are not there. I've used them through layers of wool and denim and they passed through like butter. So easy.

*Tip three: Don't hesitate to fix a 'good enough.'

We have all been there. That zipper stitch is a bit crooked, or that collar is a bit too long on the left. Fix those problems. Take the time and get out your seam ripper and fix them. The moment you suffer from 'good enough' in your sewing is the moment you won't improve. Whether making a pot holder or a wedding gown, never 'good enough' yourself.

*Tip four: Tend to your supplies.

(Good thread)

(Sharpened scissors)

This is a a more general rule but often we seem to negate the necessity of quality materials. Use good thread, keep your scissors sharpened, pre-wash and iron (yes, iron!) your fabric if needed (I'm still shocked at who won't do that). These small things are your tell: I just sew because, or I sew, because.

*Tip five: Restore a garment.

The key to learning about sewing is to see what someone else sewed. The more things you take apart the more you learn about construction, fit, and often tricks that you didn't think of yourself. There were many great sewers before you, so take a peek at what they left behind.

*Tip six: Make a project that is over your head.

Ever wanted to make a coat with facing and lining? A corset or a Regency dress? Do it! Do it and don't worry about failure. Or better yet, make one for practice out of scrap fabric just as well and with as much quality as you would one you would wear. Nothing says more about learning sewing than making something you won't wear.

*Tip seven: Invest in a serger and a dress form.

This tip is more for those who want to go to the next step. Having an overlock machine is key in that. You can get them for a few hundred dollars and they are worth every penny. Like with your sewing machine, have them serviced every year or so.

A dress form is key, and I don't mean one for someone else. If you sew for yourself, make one of your self. I did, and her name is Onda. She's my bestie! A duct tape dress form (which Onda is) is a cheap and accurate way to have your figure on hand.

*Tip eight: Do a project that will take over a year.

Hear me out. Patience is vital with sewing. Monotony, like with anything, is a way to learn and doing a substantial project not only announces commitment, but money and determination. Plus, it's satisfying to see all that work, done in off times in your life, come to fruition before you.

I hope these tips have helped. I think these are canon from couture sewing to crafting.
Thanks so much and have a great day!


bani said...

What a super post, thank you! :D

Ladan Ladanu said...

I do lots of "slow" in my making, mainly because that's just what I love to do -e.g hand sewing, taking time to get a good fit etc. I agree about not leaving things "good enough", doing that would just make me not want to wear that garment. I particularly love working with vintage fabrics, it's not for everyone, but for me working with something old brings a new dimension of interest. You kind of have to use the old techniques when you have old fabric, other wise it wouldn't look as good!

Shelley J said...

So true, Ladan! Sewing with vintage fabrics or making vintage gardens demands classic techniques.

inabook said...

What great suggestions, thank you! I've never posted here just had to respond. Going to get quilting needles for my sewing and I've decided to follow a sewalong for an advanced Ralph Rucci coat pattern over at Lladybird. Again great suggestions!

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails