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I am a mother, a new 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 first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A new year and some new techniques

I once had a very old Singer man tell me how he sat at a dealers' convention in the '50s and saw the first zig zag machine introduced.

"Well now they have thought about just about everything," he said then.

I think the point here is that no matter how much you think about sewing there is always something new to consider and, potentially, a new way to solve an old problem.

With just three days into the new year, here are some of my personal favourites:

1. Yoga band instead of an elastic waist. Obviously highly appropriate for yoga pants or leggings (make sure the band is sizeable, like say a cut width of at least 6 1/2" or a finished width of 3" for an adult). Would be perfect for maternity wear or those of us who have past maternity influenced waistlines.

I have mentioned in a previous post that I used this technique for Billy's jammies and can report that since the fabric I used is a good recovery cotton/lycra, they stay up very well and are super comfortable:

2. Sewing clips. I first saw these used in bag making to hold stiff and multiple layers together under the sewing machine needle when obviously mere pins wouldn't do the job. I really liked these little units when I tried them myself. I bought a ton of them for very little on Amazon and was surprised at how easy they were to remove as I sewed - I just pressed down on the top (coloured side) of the clip on the bed of the machine and kept a bowl beside me to toss them into.

In garment sewing I have found the clips super useful for sewing knits and holding them still with some strength. Elastic or neckbands (or yoga bands) for instance or just for seaming.

Here they are in action on the seam of a ponte skirt:

3. Finally, and I promised this a while ago, I tried and am sold on, Eloflex thread by Coats.

First here are my observations on this thread:

  • It really is stretchy. I was surprised how much so. As a result I was concerned that winding the bobbin action and high speed sewing could extend the thread before it got to the fabric and that once there it would relax and consequently pucker the seam. Anticipating this I wound the bobbin really slowly and sewed with a slow but steady pace to prevent that from happening. This seemed to work.
  • It is a slightly stiff thread, and a 2 ply that has a tendency to unwind. This made getting it into the eye of the needle a bit tricky - took 4 tries - and I was aware of a few loops as the thread approached the tension disks but these seemed to work themselves out before the seam. After much sewing I had the thread fray above the needle only once and this was after I did some start and stop sewing. Since it was only once after a lot of stitching I felt this did not outweigh the benefits of the thread, and that I could deal with this in future with some steady sewing. I am also wondering if this might be one of those threads that some machines might like more than others but really since I did my test sew on a 60 year old machine to fully test it I am not sure about this. Of course I used a knit needle for my sewing.
Here are some pictures to show how I used this thread:

Straight stitched knit hem from the outside. Kind of nice to have this as a hemming option as the straight stitch of course won't over work the fabric and produce wavy hems.

A seam in my laser cut ponte near the hem where it gets lacey. I didn't want to serge because I figured that would make the seam too obviously although I did stitch twice since I was trimming the seam allowance close.

The knit hem fully stretched out, not a stitch breaking or bubbling. A fully stretched knit hem done with a straight stitch on a vintage machine. I mean really. How cool is that?
So count me pretty impressed and on my way down to the fabric store to get more colours to take with me on my sewing travels in the rv. 

Would also be a good option I think in the needle when sewing active wear too. I am really happy to know that there is a practical option for me to sew those detail areas in knits, like a V neck, with a reliable straight stitch for precision.

So what's new to you so far this year?


Angela said...

I JUST purchased Eloflex thread, haven't tried it out yet. I know of some others that love it though, so I'm encouraged. Looking forward to the book!

Urs said...

“Yoga band cut width of at least 6 1/2" or a finished width of 3" for an adult”

How long should i cut the band?

Barbara said...

Urs I would say that depends on your body. Whatever fits you comfortably and securely I would say.

Carol in Denver said...

I use those little clips to hold lightly folded scarves on the rods of a skirt hanger. I love that my scarves are neatly stored, with no wrinkles, in a small space.

LinB said...

No new sewing so far this year, but am sampling some entrelac-in-the-round knitting. And using two circular needles to make two socks at once, but that technique means I spend far too much time untwisting yarn than actual knitting, so I transferred both socks to double point needles and have now finished the first pair of socks for 2018.

Started them on double points, too, since the cast-on for the circular needles was absolutely incomprehensible to my dried-up old brain. That should have given me a clue about this technique ... can still do two socks at once ... well, seriatim, anyway, on two sets of double points ... have tried the trick of doing two at once on the same set of double points, to laughable result. Not my sort of party trick.

My party trick is knitting back backwards. V. useful for heel flaps.

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Bunny said...

I, too, am a clip convert. Like you, I was inspired by other bag makers. No more pin puckers!