Picking out buttons for your sewing projects is fun! But, let's be frank... sewing on those buttons is not quite as fun. It's kind of the "cleaning toilets" of the sewing world – a dirty job, but one that is very worth it in the end. The up-side of button sewing is that it's relatively quick and easy, and there's no sponge involved. Our button sewing tutorial explains the basics.
As a writer and editor, I’m a bit of a “word geek.” I love all the crazy intricacies, like the subtle but important difference between further and farther, fewer and less or lie and lay. Yes, I am one of those annoying people… and a devastating opponent in Scrabble. There are a couple terms in sewing that get tossed about interchangeably: topstitching and edgestitching. They are similar but different animals, each with its own distinct purposes. The images above of our Five-Pocket Canvas Bag feature a variety of beautiful and precise topstitching and edgestitching.
There are a lot of home décor projects that require cutting large panels of fabrics, such as curtains, throws, and tablecloths. When you're short on space, this can be a bit of a challenge. So here's a little folding-and-cutting trick to make it easier, faster, more compact ... and actually, more precise. Remember making paper snowflakes as a kid? You fold, fold, fold, and then cut, cut, cut. Same basic concept, but without the swiss cheese effect. Grab your rotary cutter and mat and let's slice!
The square pillow – it's a decorating staple and a great way to freshen up a room. You pick your favorite fabric, measure carefully, and cut two perfect squares. You sew the seams, pivoting at each corner with precision, and insert the pillow form. You set the finished pillow on the sofa, and... Hey! That pillow doesn't look square! Instead of crisp straight edges, the sides curve in toward the center and the corners are floppy. Use this quick tip to learn how a slight curve can create a better square.
Rivets are everywhere. Airliners have rivets. The pockets of your Levis® have rivets. Frogs make the sound, "rrriiiiiivvvet." That last example probably isn't applicable, but it kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it? Not only are rivets ubiquitous, they look super professional when used on a sewing project. Rivets also have a very logical purpose: they hold lots of thick layers together at points where it would be impossible to stitch with a sewing machine.
Do you ever watch those TV hospital shows and think, "I could do that"? Maybe not be an actual, real-life doctor. But you could wear a white coat, carry a stethoscope, and yell, "Get me a C-Spine, Chem 7, and a V-Fib!" I have no idea what any of those terms mean. They're just fun to shout. To get you just a little bit closer to your doctor daydreams, we're here to show you how one of the medical devices you saw Dr. Greene use every week can also be a big help in your sewing room. It's called a hemostat, and it's basically a locking clamp shaped like a long pair of scissors. (Probably what Dr. Greene wanted when he yelled, "Clamp!") A hemostat is extremely useful when you need to turn long, narrow tubes right side out.
The sewing police aren't going to haul you away for these minor infractions, but they are the little things we all try to get away with when we think no one is looking. Kind of like convincing yourself chocolate is part of the dairy food group. But if you want the very best results, kicking your bad habits to the curb is important. Which of these are you guilty of? What other ones would you add?
Pleats are the origami of the sewing world. And although you don't usually need to fold one into the shape of a swan, there are a wide variety of pretty pleats that add distinct visual and textural embellishments for both home décor as well as garment sewing. Each type provides a different look based on how it's formed. You can make: knife pleats, knife pleats in two directions, box pleats, inverted box pleats, inverted box pleats with a separate underlay, accordion pleats, sunray pleats, and wave pleats. In this tutorial, we're focusing on a box pleat and its identical yet opposite cousin, the inverted box pleat.
If you've ever touched quality plush fabric, you've probably made this sound: "Ohhhhhh, ahhhhhh." You're also likely to have immediately stroked your cheek with this wonderfully soft fabric. Luxury plush goes by several names. Many people refer to it generically as Minky, but that is actually a brand name, much like Kleenex® is a brand name for facial tissue. For this article, we're referring to it as "Cuddle," which is the name given to the category by industry leader, Shannon Fabrics. The fabric gives a fabulous softness to a wide variety of projects, from toys to pillows to blankets and more (we loved using it for a soft fitted crib sheet). It's not a difficult fabric to sew with, but to create the very best results, it helps to have a few tips and tricks under your belt prior to jumping in. And doesn't jumping into a huge pile of Cuddle sound like a wonderful thing? "Ohhhhhh, ahhhhhhh!"
Seam grading is like stair-stepping. Don't worry, it's not the aerobic kind from the gym. It's the process of turning a standard seam allowance into layered tiers of fabric. The result is less bulk, which means a smoother finish from the right side. It's another one those very basic techniques that can make all the difference in the professional look of your project. It is done by hand, so it can be a bit time consuming based on the length of the seam being trimmed, but it makes a tremendous difference. Bulky, lumpy seams simply are not very pretty.