Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
My newest sewing book

Sewing with less stress back cover

Sewing with less stress back cover
What my new book is about

Clothesmaking mavens

Clothesmaking mavens
Listen to me on the clothes making mavens podcasts

About me

My photo
I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



Follow me on Instagram

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Handy sewing hint of the day #19 and pattern review

It is interesting to me that many Indie patterns are reviving an edge finishing technique that might of being more familiar to sewers of the 1950's than those who have stitched their way through the Big Four patterns in the decades since.

I am referring of course to bias binding.

At one stage, pre-serger, binding raw edges was a sturdy way to finish seam allowances, and for budget minded home sewers, a fabric thrifty way to make simple garments without facings.

Think of all those traditional aprons, single layer, finished with miles of seam bound edges:

On the finer side of dressmaking nicer garments have also used bias binding instead of facings, neck and armhole for instance, with the effect of finishing these edges elegantly with less bulk.

I have to detour here a bit too with my own statement of self-disclosure.

I hate many forms of facings, and never use them in my own sewing.

Too many, I feel are in the category of strange home sewing inventions that you just don't often see in well- made purchased clothing.

The top of the hit list for me are of course the notorious back neck facings that IMO plague so many home sewn garments, particularly blouses and shirts.

The thing to think about is what is the function of a back neck facing in these garments?

Basically to cover the raw edge of the back neck.

For this do you really need a kidney shaped piece of interfaced fabric that, because of turn of cloth, hardly ever fits to the shoulder seams you are told to tack it to?

Myself I never use them, either looking for shirts with yokes (the Negroni by Colette has a brilliant yoked treatment for a convertible collar shirt that totally dispenses with the need for back neck facings) or serging or binding the collar/neck edge along the back.

IMO yet again, this is a wonderful use of bias binding.

I also prefer to use binding in many necklines and armholes of sleeveless tops and dresses for the summer because eliminating all that extra fabric in facings just makes for a lighter, more comfortable garment.

And of course binding the seams around the armhole of an unlined jacket, or along the edge of a hem or the outer edge of a front facing adds a nice touch that will make you smile to yourself when you see them - a small and reoccurring pleasure that is worth the initial effort. I have just finished, almost, a mohair coat where I have done this and will post that soon.

I like binding. 

However there are a few things you should know that make applying it easier:

  1. Forget the stuff you buy in those little packets. I know it is tempting to have the stuff all thin and folded and easy but my best comparison is that this stuff is to sewing what instant mashed potatoes are to cooking (apologies in advance to anyone who was going to make those up for dinner tonight). Near enough is not good enough. The fabric in purchased binding tends to be a cheaper fabric than you would use to sew a garment, and is full of sizing (starch). 
  2. I always make my own bias from fabric (you can use strips of masking tape or painters tape laid on the fabric for a bias cutting guide) and use bias tape makers to help pressing the edges under.
  3. Take advantage of the curvability of bias fabric. If your binding is going to be attached to a curved edge get it to your ironing board and press it into that curved shape before you apply it to the garment. It will then go in so easily and you won't have any weird pulling, puckering or diagonal wrinkles to deal with when you are done.
  4. One of my rules is I never, never attach the binding, as most patterns say, by attaching the binding on the right side, wrapping it around to the back and topstitching from the right side and hopefully catching the unsewn edge of the binding on the wrong side. Instead I sew the binding, one raw edge right side of the binding to the wrong side of the fabric, then wrap it to the right side and edge stitch it in place. So much less stressful (and no turning it over and seeing you missed a spot) always nice and neat on the right side. Make sense?

A bias tape maker:

So I do use binding a lot and am interested in the number of new patterns that require it.

Patterns like this, the Lakeside pyjamas by Grainline that I made for my daughter-in-law's birthday.

I really like the shape of these for summer, and made them out of seersucker because it is the coolest fabric for hot weather because the ridges keep the fabric from sticking from to your body.

Here is my version:

The front, I had to shorten the straps about 3 inches, not sure what that was about, but I figured it should sit above and not below the boobs.
The back, overlapped for breeziness - these would be good menopausal nightwear but since DIL is about 20 years away from that I won't mention it
These seemed so tiny when I was making them, I felt I was making doll clothes, but they fit. To match the overlapped back these have sort of overlapped side seams like gym shorts.
Now a few of my own technical notes:

  1. Lovely pattern style wise and easy to sew, with one exception.
  2. Personally I would throw the binding instructions out the window (there is over seven yards of bound edges here). I was annoyed to no end to see this pattern described as for beginners with complicated instructions for applying narrow 1/4" seam binding. Listen by the time you wrap a 1/4" around to the wrong side there is not going to be much left and you certainly will have a tough time catching the wrong side from the right side. I suggest you use the technique described above and make your own 1 1/2 " binding so there is actually something to work with. All those poor beginners working quickly during nap time in tears.
  3. The instructions for putting the shorts together with a series of complicated start and stops of the binding at various stages should be thrown out the window and way past the driveway, IMO of course. Best bet is to just bind all the pieces and then overlap the side seam sections where they should go and top stitch them down. Easy and you will have all your nerves left at the end of the process.
Final verdict, great pattern but there are much easier ways to put them together than the instructions suggest.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Taking orders

Scarlett did her sewing presentation for her grade one class. It went well and afterwards kids approached her with orders.

She has yet to learn how sewing for other people can get annoying. But then again she is only six, still time. In the meantime she is pretty pleased with herself:

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Scarlett sewing

My granddaughter Scarlett was given an assignment to do a presentation to the class of something she is really good at.

She chose sewing, and made this video at home tonight.

My own little Nancy Zeiman: