Most of the time, sewing is all about soft things, from beautiful fabrics to cushy pillow inserts. However, every so often, something hard comes along. It's not there to torment you; it's a way to inject an interesting new texture into the mix. We're here with a few tips to make working with these trims easier, as well as techniques to give you the most professional finish.
We get a lot of questions about zippers. They seem to live at the top of many people's lists of Sewing Phobias (ziphobia!). In an effort to calm these fears, we already have three step-by-step tutorials for inserting standard zippers, tackling invisible zippers, and putting in an inset zipper. We're adding to the zipper toolbox with the following zip-tips for how to put a conventional zipper into a circular opening.
For some sewing applications, there's nothing that works quite as well as a metal snap. They're easier to use than buttons and more durable than Velcro®. That's why they're used in everything from mountain climbing jackets, to yacht covers, to baby clothes. Just think how long it would take an NBA player to jump up from the bench and get into the game if he didn't have those "quick release" sweat pants with snaps running up both sides. He'd probably fall into the stands trying to pull his sweats off over his giant shoes. Installing snaps is pretty simple. You just take a series of tiny metal rings (which can be set up twenty wrong ways and only one right way) line them up within a millimeter of perfection, and then crush the whole assemblage together as hard as you can through several layers of fabric. What could possibly go wrong?
Mistakes happen to the best of us. Anyone who sews understands that some seams just weren't meant to be. The good news: ripping out a seam and starting over is something we all do. With a little care and patience, it's an easy fix and no one but you is ever likely to know it happened. The majority of woven fabrics, such as the popular quilting cottons, are very forgiving; a ripped-out and re-done seam is rarely noticeable on the finished project. It's better to start over if your first attempt fails. You'll always be happier in the end.
A blind hem is exactly what it sounds like: a hem with stitches you barely notice. It's perfect for window coverings, the hem at the bottom of a garment, or anywhere you want a clean finished edge. When I first started sewing, attaining a perfect blind hem was like finding the Holy Grail. And then a funny thing happened, I practiced it a few times, and realized it was really easy. It's sort of like learning to use chopsticks – at first it seems so awkward and difficult and then, suddenly, it's second nature. Try a blind hem and you'll never drop a wad of sticky rice in your lap again.
Most sewing projects require at least a small amount of hand stitching. If you've left an opening in a seam to turn an item right side out, you may need to hand stitch the opening closed. Hems are often hand stitched. Or, you might need to hand stitch a facing in place. Whatever the task, a bit of hand stitching comes in... well, "handy." We've outlined the tools needed along with seven of the most common stitches. Simple drawings and steps show how to do each one.
Whether you’re a novice or advanced sewer, you’ve likely heard the term "basting." And, we don't mean the yummy Thanksgiving turkey technique! In sewing, basting is a temporary straight stitch used to hold layers together until a final stitch is sewn. Since it’s a long, loose stitch, a basting stitch removes easily after sewing is complete. In this tutorial, we’ll explain 1) how to determine if your sewing machine has a basting stitch, 2) when to use a basting stitch in your sewing projects, and 3) why hand basting is sometimes needed as well.
Here's a common scenario: you buy a new garment, wear it once, wash it once, and... it is now two sizes too small! Some of us also use this phenomenon to explain why our once-favorite pants no longer fit. Although extra bowls of ice cream are the likely culprit in scenario #2, the guilty party behind scenario #1 is: improper preshrinking! Garment manufacturers often cut corners by skipping the preshrinking step in their construction process. You shouldn't make the same mistake. In the world of sewing and quilting, the ongoing great debate is: "Do you preshrink (or prewash) fabric before sewing with it or not?!" We’ve done our famous S4H research on the subject, and the resounding advice from professionals, and those who have learned the hard way (yes... we're in that bunch) is YES! Read on for the details, methods and some popular products to try.
No matter what kind of sewing you like to do, there are times you must use a hand needle and thread. It could be for something simple, such as sewing on a button, stitching an opening closed, or tacking a strap in place. Or, you can move up the hand-sewing food chain to beautifully intricate techniques, like hand embroidery or hand quilting. Learn our favorite tips to help eliminate knots and tangles, and keep those stitches flowing smoothly.
Appliqué is the process of stitching a small layer of fabric, usually in a unique shape, onto a larger base fabric. It's a great way to personalize your project while also adding unique color, texture, pattern... or all of the above. Would you like a bumblebee flying across your pillow? Does your little boy want a spaceship on his duvet cover? How about adding initials to the front of a pretty tote? If you can imagine it, chances are you can appliqué it! With appliqué, you're free to incorporate any kind of graphic into your project. There are a variety of different ways to execute the technique; read on to find the one that's right for you.