I love buttons. Always have. In fact, although I don't recall much about the two-year-old phase of my life, I do remember my white sweater with the little duckie buttons. I can close my eyes and see his chubby yellow body and orange feet. I can even remember the feel of the raised, painted surface under my sticky little fingers. I still love looking at the all the available options, from vintage shell buttons to vibrant molded plastic (much more elaborate than my old-school duckies). That said, sometimes the best look for a project is a fabric-covered button. Covered buttons are cool; there's just no two ways about it. They add the special touch that says, "Stand back... I'm a home décor professional". Making them with a kit is easy and inexpensive.
The majority of projects you encounter require at least a bit of hand stitching. Often, it’s the final seam closure after turning a project right side out. The goal is to make your hand stitching as invisible as possible. Although it’s tempting to rush through this last bit of stitching, the Pro Secret is to take a little extra time to create a clean finish. The most common (and quick) hand stitching choice is usually the Whip Stitch, but it doesn’t yield the best look. We recommend the Ladder or Slip Stitch.
"Give us the tools and we will finish the job." Winston Churchill. One of the signs of a truly well-made project is that it looks nearly as good on the inside as it does on the outside. Finishing a project's inside raw edges will not only elevate the final appearance, it will also elevate your sewing skills to a new level. In general, the purpose of any seam finish is to prevent fray-prone fabrics from raveling beyond the seam, which would then leave a hole in your sewn project. It also helps reduce bulk on certain fabrics, such as fleece. And, finishing stitches always provide added strength to a seam and the fabric's edge. However, it's often only about the look, and most professionals recommend you finish fabrics that don’t even appear to require it.
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.
One of the common areas of sewing frustration, especially if you're new, is the corner. Those pesky four corners create any square or rectangular item, like the home décor standard: the pillow! In reality, any time you sew two pieces together then turn them right side out, that turned-out seam becomes the clean, finished edge you (and everyone else) will see. The number one goal when sewing a corner is to be precise. You must stop and pivot at the exact point where the seam allowances on the two sides intersect. This precision stitching, when combined with proper trimming of the excess fabric from the seam allowance, will create a beautiful sharp point and smooth edge every time.
One of top rules of sewing success: Start each new project with a new needle! When a needle is piercing your fabric at 600 to 1,000 stitches per minute, small things like a dulled point or an eye that's beginning to wear can make a big difference in the quality of your stitches, which means a big difference in the quality of your finished project. Our latest sewing Cheat Card summarizes some of the important basics behind selecting the right needle for the job.
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 are not very pretty. Crisp, flat seams are best!
There is a lot of sitting involved in sewing, which can lead to aches and pains not to mention a few extra pounds due to inactivity. It’s a widespread problem and a hot topic on many fronts since anyone who works at a computer for long periods of time is also likely to suffer. Obviously, investing in ergonomic chairs and amazing sewing stations can work wonders, but that isn’t in everyone’s budget. Instead, we took a look at 10 ways to Stay Fit While You Sit, using what you already have… most importantly – your own body!
A straight line. It seems like the most basic thing you can do when sewing. But we’re amazed by the number of comments and questions we get from S4H visitors who want to know how to do it better, easier, and more consistently. We don’t have any magical powers to make our seams and topstitching look great. What we do know is using the right foot for the job is the real secret to a beautifully straight line. Because we’re an exclusive Janome studio, our specialty presser feet suggestions are from the Janome selection of accessories. Your machine manufacturer may have similar options for your make and model. In either situation, the recommendation is the same: investing in a specifically designed presser foot is well worth it. It makes the process less frustrating, you can finish a task quicker, and the results are more professional.
Heirloom is one of the oldest styles of specialty sewing. This precise and delicate type of stitching is said to have started in the late 1800s by French nuns who hand-stitched exquisite laces onto delicate fabrics for royal families. Their craftsmanship was so incredible, the resulting gowns and linens were painstakingly preserved and handed down from one generation to the next; hence an heirloom. You'll see the influence of heirloom stitching in a variety of high-end garments; most notably, special occasion finery, such as wedding dresses, christening gowns, and lingerie, as well as in the finest table linens. Today, with French nuns in short supply, we show you the basics of creating heirloom stitching with your sewing machine.