Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Serpentine Stitch

Serpentine Stitch: a stitch that creates a curved snake-like pattern. Serpentine stitching is used for finishing seam edges, and decorative top stitching.

This picture demonstrates the finishing of a seam with a zig zag stitch. The stitching is right along the edge of the fabric, so the stitching catches the edge and keeps the fabric from fraying.

Note: You will need to change the settings on your machine to a slightly longer stitch length. Practice on a scrap first.

Pressing seams

To ensure a professional finish, press all the seams in the garment!

First, trim the seams, then press the seam to set the stitches. This set almost acts like a glue. The fibers from the thread and the fabric meld together.

After setting the stitches, press the seams open. This ensures a crisp looking seam. This is good to do on every seam even if the seam allowance will be folded back together.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Shirtail Hem

Shirttail Hem: a narrow hem that is usually placed along the bottom of dress shirts and some skirts or dresses. This is a good hem for subtle curves.

 How to:

Turn fabric under 1/4", then 1/4" again and edge stitch.


Staystitch 1/4" away from raw edge- this will help the fabric easily turn under. If a thread from the stitching is pulled slightly on outward curves, it will help the fabric compress or ever-so-slightly gather, for a smoothly turned hem. Note: do NOT staystitch on inward curves of hems.

Stay Stitch

Stay Stitch: a line of stitching that is meant to stabilize a piece of clothing. It prevents fabric from stretching or distorting in the process of sewing the piece. Stay stitching is the first step after cutting and marking the fabric. It is usually done 1/2" away from the edge. Stay stitching is done on the shoulders, along the neckline and on pieces that are cut on the bias.

Note: Stay stitching must be done directionally so that the fabric is not distorted even more.

Directional Stitching

Directional Stitching: the rule that all stitching must be stitched in a certain direction. The stitching must start from the widest point of the piece to the narrowest point.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Knit Elastic

Knit elastic: a stretchy band of yarns (usually polyester and rubber) that is created by knitting the materials together. Knit elastic is not as durable as woven elastic, but is lightweight. Knit elastic can also roll, so it is not ideal for waistbands, but works well for underwear, sleeves and necklines.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Woven Elastic

Woven elastic: a stretchy band of fiber (usually polyester) and rubber that is created by weaving the materials together. Woven elastic is the most durable elastic, although it can also be the most bulky. Woven elastic is an excellent choice in making stretchy/elastic waistbands in pants. It is also a great choice in jackets or coats.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pinking Shears

Pinking Shears: Scissors/shears that cut in a zig-zag pattern rather than a straight line. Pinking shears are perfect for trimming seams along outward curves like Peter Pan collars. They imitate cutting notches to reduce bulk on curved seams. Pinking shears are also great for finishing seams as it reduces fraying.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sewing Kit additions for the intermediate sewer


Once you get sewing more complex things, you may want more tools! Here are some things you may want to add to your sewing kit:
  • One pair of small shears with sharp points (great for clipping threads, and making snips)
  • Pinking shears

  •  Various sized and types start with  of machine sewing needles. Start with stretch, sharp and denim needles.

  • A rotary cutter
  • One gridded clear ruler (This is helpful when you get into pattern making.) 

  •  A large self healing cutting mat

  • You may want to invest in an iron that steams well. I love mine from T-fal.

For a printable list, click here.

Sewing Kit additions for the advanced sewer

If you're into sewing for the long haul, you will want more tools! Here are some things you may want to add to your sewing kit:

For the advanced sewer add:
  • One pair of five inch dressmaker shears

  • A needle board

For a printable list, click here.


Bobbin: A short metal or plastic spool that is placed under the sewing plate of a sewing machine. It holds the thread that is looped and caught from the bottom. A bobbin is placed in a bobbin case that can be either removable or not removable from the bobbin housing.


Thimble: a metal or plastic cap that is usually placed on the middle finger. A thimble protects the finger when hand sewing. It is most often used when tailoring suits or hand quilting.

Thimbles come in different sizes, so it is essential to try them on to check for fit. You're looking for a fit that is not to tight and not too loose. You should be able to feel the thimble wrap around your finger, but it should not feel uncomfortable.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

lapped zipper

Most beginner sewers learn how to put in a zipper by basting up the seam, pinning the zipper in and sewing a rectangle around the zipper. This type of zipper is called the center zipper. It sounds so simple, but is it? NO! It is so hard to get the two lines on each side of the zipper to be parallel. This type of zipper also doesn't look super awesome on your finished product because the zipper shows, and because of the "parallel" lines, everyone will know you made your skirt. ("SCREAMS homemade!" as my old professor used to say.) The ultimate compliment someone can give on something you've made is "Where did you get it?" That means it looks professional. Of course, if everyone knows you sew and you've made something semi unique, you'll get the other question too even if you've done a good job.

I guess I'll get off my soapbox now. The point of this post is to show you how to install a zipper using the lapped method. Although invisible zippers are the best ever, lapped zippers are far superior to center zippers. They may seem a bit more tricky, but practice a few and you'll get the hang of it.

Step 1
Stitch seam leaving top open for zipper. Press left side seam allowance (when wrong side is facing up) back to 5/8" wide. Press right side seam allowance back to 1/2" wide. Make sure the 1/2" pressing goes all the way down past the point where the seam ends. This step is key to making this look right!

Step 2
Turn piece so the right side of the fabric is facing up. Pin zipper right along the edge of opening that has been folded back 1/2". Match the pinked top of the zipper to the top of the fabric.

Info piece: All zippers are made to have about 3/4" extra tape at the top of the zipper. This makes it perfectly easy to install as most seam allowances are 5/8". It allows 1/8" give or take near the seam when the waistband is sewn in.

Step 3
Pin all the way down past the point where the seam ends. Again-- this part is key.

Step 4
Using a zipper foot, stitch very close to the edge of the zipper. Stitch past the point where the seam ends.

Note: This fabric is a knit, so that is why the stitching looks/is a not quite perfect. This part will end up being covered, so it doesn't exactly need to be perfect... unless you're doing it for a grade. :)

Step 5
Fold the other side of the seam over the zipper. Cover the stitching.

Step 6
Pin in place. Be sure to keep the pins on one side of the zipper as you may want to open the zipper while stitching.

Step 7
Beginning at the place where the seam ends, stitch across the bottom of the zipper.

Step 8
At about 3/8" from the folded edge, pivot and stitch along the zipper at 3/8". After stitching a couple inches, you may want to open the zipper so you can use the edge of the fabric as your guide in making a straight line.

Note: Now you only have to worry about one side being parallel instead of trying match everything perfectly!



Now you're ready for a waistband!