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MaryMumsy
08-29-2014, 09:34 PM
So, after searching every on-line source and brick-and-mortar store I could think of, in the vain search for a simple black skirt *with pockets*, I went to the fabric store and got a pattern and yardage.

I have made my own clothes off and on for the better part of 50 years, but haven't done anything in about 15. So, I'm pulling up my big girl panties and jumping in.

MM

mirandashell
08-29-2014, 11:09 PM
Me too. I've been making clothes for about 8 months now. Mostly by taking nice clothes that doesn't fit me anymore apart and upscaling the pieces.

Maryn
08-29-2014, 11:13 PM
I have a lot of sewing experience, although I sew much less than I once did. When and if you get into trouble, the internet is a godsend. You can seek tutorials on how to do things (lapped zipper application, anyone?), usually with either a video or text with photographs for each step. At Craftster.org and other places online you can ask for clarification on pattern instructions which aren't clear, even post a photograph of your WIP and whatever issue it's posing.

Although if you need some help, I'm happy to give it a shot here.

Maryn, who buys fabric like they might stop making it

mirandashell
08-29-2014, 11:19 PM
I found some great tutorials on the internet when I started. Got loads of bookmarks.

MaryMumsy
08-30-2014, 01:59 AM
It should be pretty simple. A front panel, a back panel, tube with elastic waistband. I'm creating my own patch pockets to plop on the front. If it turns out well, I'll go back for more fabric and make an identical twin.

MM

GailD
08-30-2014, 02:24 PM
It should be pretty simple. A front panel, a back panel, tube with elastic waistband. I'm creating my own patch pockets to plop on the front. If it turns out well, I'll go back for more fabric and make an identical twin.

MM

:yessmiley I'm with Maryn! Fabric shopping is... *searches for adjectives*... almost better than cake. :D


I'm a self-taught dressmaker - got tossed out of needlework class in the 8th grade (it's a long story), but I'm sure it's like riding a bicycle, MM. You'll do great. :D

Maryn
08-30-2014, 06:26 PM
I don't know if it's cruel or kind to share Fabric.com here. Give them an email and they'll send you a link daily for what's on sale for the next 24 to 48 hours (usually 24). The sales range from pretty good to practically stealing, and the quality of what you can get is so much better thatn what JoAnn offers that I rarely go there anymore except for thread and notions.

My most recent fabric.com acquisitions are mostly rayon knits, including a luscious bamboo rayon, and a fabulous washable linen blend which beats the stuffing out of the ones available locally.

Maryn, who needs to prelaunder those puppies

mirandashell
08-30-2014, 06:43 PM
Do they only ship in America?

Maryn
08-30-2014, 10:01 PM
Hm, I have no idea. However, their customer service people are pretty good. If you contacted them over the weekend, I imagine you'd have your answer Monday or Tuesday. Edit: Tuesday or Wednesday, since Monday is a holiday in the US.

FWIW, when you become a "good customer" (however they define that) they start cutting their already-generous 37-inch "yard" even more generously. Over and over I've ordered, say, 3.5 yards and gotten 5, or ordered 4 and gotten 7. The order form from my last order is sitting here:
Ordered 4.0, received 4.67
Ordered 2.0, received 2.25
Ordered 4.0, received 5.0
Ordered 5.0, received 7.5

They're also eager to get rid of the end of a bolt, so if you come close, they just give it to you.

They're also good about quality control. I saw some color drop-out on a knit when I pre-laundered it, and they refunded me what I'd paid.

I hope they ship worldwide. If you find out, let us know. I can't say enough positive things about this business.

Maryn, huge fan

mirandashell
08-30-2014, 10:06 PM
Thanks Maryn, I shall check.

Filigree
08-31-2014, 10:10 AM
At least in the past, fabric.com has shipped internationally - I'm in a couple of sewing clubs, and one of the Aussie crowd has mentioned buying from there.

I haunt the site when I have money - they have gorgeous stuff. Scalamandre crimson silk velvet for only $20 a yard, anyone? Granted, this was a few years back, but it saved a project when my local places had to order out at $100 per yard.

frimble3
08-31-2014, 12:10 PM
I know, from experience, that they ship to Canada. I don't know about the U.K.

harmonyisarine
08-31-2014, 09:18 PM
I used to do almost entirely renfaire garb, then moved to cosplays and renfaire, and now I'm started to design my own original clothes (and cosplay and renfaire... my sewing life is getting pretty darn busy).

I tried fabric.com and I do still use their site, but my favorite online stores are Dharma Trading and Mood. Mood is usually pretty ridiculously priced, but if you sign up for their e-mail newsletter they have some amazing sales. 50% off two fabrics once or twice a week, with a big group of them at the end. I've lost count of the wonderful fabrics that I've been able to afford this way. My favorite, since turned into an A-line skirt with a sanded purple charmeuse lined underlayer, is a white plain weave cotton with a flocked paisley pattern on top, also in white. I also just got my order of this wonderful crinkled wool-silk blend, which was only 30% off but I can't resist wool and silk. Dharma is much better priced, but you have to be down for dyeing as they only sell white and some blacks. Luckily, I quite love dyeing.

My mom taught me to sew when I was a kid, and then I took to the internet with those basics and really raised my sewing level to a nearly professional one. I hate clothes shopping and fashion in stores doesn't really fit my style, and now I can do something about it.

Maryn
08-31-2014, 09:57 PM
Thanks for the tips on other fabric websites! I shall investigate. Although I'm not one for dyeing, I wear a lot of black, so I might find good things at Dharma.

I just saw online that our daughter bought herself a foot-treadle sewing machine older than her grandparents. Cool!

Maryn, jealous

Filigree
08-31-2014, 10:08 PM
Mmm, I love Dharma, but I haven't heard about Mood. (Goes off to look.)

mirandashell
08-31-2014, 11:34 PM
I know, from experience, that they ship to Canada. I don't know about the U.K.

If they ship to Canada and Australia, I imagine they would ship to the UK.

Haven't had time to check yet as I'm making baby chicken costumes at the moment.

frimble3
09-01-2014, 11:47 AM
If they ship to Canada and Australia, I imagine they would ship to the UK.

Haven't had time to check yet as I'm making baby chicken costumes at the moment.

You're making costumes to make humans look like baby chickens? Or make babies look like chickens? Although tiny little costumes for baby chickens would be absolutely adorable, I don't know if the chicks would enjoy dressing-up. :D

As you're obviously busy, I looked it up for you (short answer - yes, they ship to the U.K.):

Fabric.com International Shipping

Shipping charges for international orders are based on the estimated weight of the package.
The shipping charge is calculated after the Ship To: section of the order page is completed. You will be able to review the shipping charges before you place your order.
International shipping rates do not include customs or duty charges. Fabric.com has no control over those charges and they are the sole responsibility of the person placing the order.
Here is a list of all the some of the countries we ship to (it was a very long list):

Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan, Province of China
Turkey
United Kingdom
United States
United States, Minor Islands
Virgin Islands, British
Virgin Islands, U.S.

Maryn
09-01-2014, 04:52 PM
Thanks for taking the trouble to check that out for us, Frimble.

Small orders are sent in those tough plastic mailing envelopes, which weigh next to nothing. I've never had one arrive torn. Larger orders come in boxes, and inside the box, the cloth is in a plastic bag, so if the box gets wet the cloth won't.

How's the skirt coming along?

Maryn, who has sidetracked this quite enough

mirandashell
09-01-2014, 05:08 PM
Thanks Frimble! I will have to check the duty as that will probably make the difference as to whether it's cost effective or not.

And the costumes are to make small humans look like baby chickens. Hopefully!

Aleiarity
09-02-2014, 12:11 PM
I've never sewn from a pattern.

I don't have that kind of attention span.


I've made patterns so other people could sew what I made... but follow someone *else's* stuff??? That's like wearing a cardboard box over my head and trying to breathe.



/I clearly have issues...



Dharma trading tends to have good prices on silk and the like. Protein based fibers like silk and wool are really easy to dye using whatever and a bit of citric acid.

GailD
09-02-2014, 01:20 PM
Fabric.com International Shipping


Here is a list of all the some of the countries we ship to (it was a very long list):

Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan, Province of China
Turkey
United Kingdom
United States
United States, Minor Islands
Virgin Islands, British
Virgin Islands, U.S.



Oooooh! I know I shouldn't have - but I went there and looked. :e2faint:This one's going to totally blow my budget but...

They ship to S. Africa! :snoopy: And it's a sale.

MaryMumsy
09-02-2014, 08:40 PM
I haven't actually started yet. First I have to unbury my sewing machine, so I can stitch the raw edges for color setting and pre-shrinkage wash. Then I need to wash it. Set the black, and get rid of that "new cloth/dye" smell. Then I need to find the ironing board and iron, so I can iron it dry (also helps with pre-shrinkage). *Then* I can lay out the fabric and pattern and get started. The good news is, once I have found the sewing machine, the ironing board, and the iron, I won't need to find them the next time. :)

MM

harmonyisarine
09-04-2014, 03:57 AM
Thanks for the tips on other fabric websites! I shall investigate. Although I'm not one for dyeing, I wear a lot of black, so I might find good things at Dharma.

I just saw online that our daughter bought herself a foot-treadle sewing machine older than her grandparents. Cool!

Maryn, jealous

We've got a treadle from one of my great-grandparents. We've had it since we were kids, but it's never been used to sew. I might have to change that, if I can figure out the bobbin. Weirdest looking thing.

We also have... 8 or 9 other electric machines, from first gen electric through "made within the last decade," and 2 sergers. Something to be said for being the only people anyone knows who sew, I suppose.

And you're welcome on the other fabric! Dharma's only got a few blacks, but I've worked with some and they're amazing (the raw silk and silk charmeuse are my favorites in black, so far, for very different reasons and textures), and Mood is expensive, but I hope you find some things you like.



This weekend I'm going to a RenFaire, but I have to finish putting some crystals on my corset (she's a slightly insane pirate queen, she needs some flash), and putting together my brother's doublet, his shirt, his girlfriend's bodice, and then I'll be dyeing and sewing a skirt for her on Friday night and Saturday (Dharma's 75% rayon/25% silk blend for the skirt; dyes like a dream and with a slightly iridescent look from the two types of fiber). I don't know why I can't finish a project ahead of time...

GingerGunlock
09-04-2014, 04:35 AM
I also yearn for skirts (and dresses!) with pockets! I've never sewn my own clothes, though I do make a great drawstring bag ;)

I've thought about modeling skirts off of my favorites, with added pockets, but I haven't taken the plunge yet myself.

Maryn
09-04-2014, 05:15 AM
Ginger, depending on what styles suit you, it's entirely possible you could make yourself skirts with pockets.

If you don't tuck your top or shirt in, ever, and if your waist-hip ratio isn't huge, you can easily make an elastic-waist skirt and cover it with all the pockets you're missing.

I do tuck in some things, but I also wear elastic waists sometimes, too. The skirts come together very quickly.

And if you want to spend a little, people who sew for money--not tailors, but homemakers and students who sew for extra income--can make you a skirt and put pockets in. I used to sew for money in college, and there are still those who do.

Maryn, whose plans to cut something out today didn't happen

GingerGunlock
09-04-2014, 05:38 AM
Ginger, depending on what styles suit you, it's entirely possible you could make yourself skirts with pockets.

If you don't tuck your top or shirt in, ever, and if your waist-hip ratio isn't huge, you can easily make an elastic-waist skirt and cover it with all the pockets you're missing.

I do tuck in some things, but I also wear elastic waists sometimes, too. The skirts come together very quickly.

And if you want to spend a little, people who sew for money--not tailors, but homemakers and students who sew for extra income--can make you a skirt and put pockets in. I used to sew for money in college, and there are still those who do.

Maryn, whose plans to cut something out today didn't happen


I do not tuck things in, so thanks for the reassurance! :D

Orianna2000
09-07-2014, 07:39 AM
This thread reminds me of the skirts I made for a friend on the other side of the country. She wanted a simple A-line skirt, with an elastic waist and a pocket on the side. She wore these kinds of skirts a lot, so I made her three or four of them, and I still have the fabric for two more. Since the skirt itself was so easy, I went couture with the details . . . flat-felled seams, a mirror-faced hem, a slanted patch pocket, and stabilizing seams on the waistband. It's one of the rare times I made the same garment more than once.

DocMac
09-07-2014, 03:51 PM
All this talk about sewing is making me sad. I'm so busy already this fall that I may have to BUY my daughter's Halloween costume! Oh the horror!

I love making costumes and have thought about getting more involved with the local renfaire just to have an excuse to make and wear awesome costumes. But the way things are going this year, it looks like I'm not going to make it down to the big one for even 1 day. So sad.

harmonyisarine
09-13-2014, 11:25 PM
Made 2 new sets of renfaire garb last week for the brother and his girlfriend. Hardly slept, but got them both done and they were pretty good if I do say so myself. On the other hand, one of the commissionees I'd planned on keeping after being put to full time has since decided that this sewing thing doesn't look so hard after all, and he can make his own noble's doublets from here on out. Not even starting with pajamas to learn the shape of a pattern.

In better news, I've got jeans to make! My last purchased ones are falling apart and my denim is all pre-washed. Now just to figure out what sort of atypical seaming lines I want in the medium-wash pair. Something that evokes water, but I"m stuck on the specifics.

Maryn
09-14-2014, 01:16 AM
Uh, what's a mirror-faced hem? Maybe it goes by other names? Google wasn't much help, although I did learn where to buy both mirrors and hem tape.

I bow before those who make jeans that actually fit. If I can't dart, it's not ever going to fit.

Maryn, with ins and outs

Orianna2000
09-15-2014, 12:46 AM
A mirror-faced hem is where you cut a facing that's a mirror-image of the bottom of your hem. So if the hem curves, the facing curves exactly the same. It gives you a perfectly smooth hem, regardless of how curved your skirt is. It works really well for scalloped or shaped hems!

It might also be called a "faced hem," maybe? It's been awhile since I looked it up, but it was in one of my couture sewing books.

harmonyisarine
09-15-2014, 03:57 AM
Ah, I've seen that as faced hems and not mirror-faced. I always forget about that, I really need to use it more often.


And I use a site with drafting guides from a book from the 40s. It makes a great fit for pants, but I also alter the pattern to have no dart or pleat in the front. I need them in the back, but a lot of jeans put back darts in as a style detail. Mine are just more functional! (http://web.archive.org/web/20071011123401/http://vintagesewing.info/1940s/42-mpd/mpd-toc-long.html The site I use. Lots of math, but worth it if you want a really good fit and can't/don't want to drape)

Orianna2000
10-02-2014, 06:13 PM
I love sewing manuals from the old days, so I will definitely check out that 40s pattern drafting book. I have a vintage 1964 Singer dressmaking book, which is amazing. Lots of details that people today are ignorant of! But my favorite is a dressmaking book from 1911. I've learned things from it that I haven't found elsewhere. Like how to sew an overlapping placket facing for a skirt. Nobody does that anymore! We just add zippers, ugh.

Sunwords
10-02-2014, 06:50 PM
Orianna, your dressmaking books sound great - wish I had something like that.
I used to sew lots of my clothings, but did not have a machine for some years. Now I found one to buy, used brother, but I am still fighting with the thread that is too loose from down - and the machine came without manual. Wish I had my old one back ...

Fabric: I will have to check the stores, just now, to try out the machine, I started repairs and shortening. A lot of things turned up in need for repair.

Orianna2000
10-02-2014, 07:11 PM
A lot of sewing machine manuals are available online for download. Try Sewing Machine Manuals (http://www.sewingmanuals.com/), or Google "sewing machine manual download" and see what you find.

You might need to take your new machine in for a tuneup. Maybe the timing is off. Or it could be that you're using the wrong type of bobbin. There are two that are very similar-looking, #15 and #15J. One has slightly convex ends, while the other is totally flat, but it's very easy to confuse them. I even had Amazon send me the wrong kind when I ordered a 20-pack! If you use the wrong ones, it can cause snarled thread, and it can even damage your machine, so double check that. (The manual will tell you, if you can find it online.)

Sunwords
10-02-2014, 09:21 PM
Thank you - but I tried already. For this special model, no manual was to be found, nowhere. I got some information on a similiar model, which helped me alrady.
No, I don't think it is the bobbin, it is the small screw that is too tight - I am just trying to find out how much to turn it so it will work. I bought the machine from a tailor, he said he cleaned and oiled it - but I have some doubts. He seemed not to know it very well. Other place hard to find here, so I will stick to DIY.

harmonyisarine
10-05-2014, 05:00 AM
Orianna, what is the title of the 1911 book? I agree about the old books thing. I have another in hardcopy from the 50s or 60s, and I learned an absurd amount from it. Always in the market for old sewing books.

Sewing machine troubles suck, Sunwords. I have an old 1950s Capitol. Best machine I've ever used, but the manual was lost (since found) and no one knew the brand or model even a little. I ended up learning how to take it all apart and put back together on my own. Was a terrifying first try, but I could hardly break it more than it already was.

Though for issues with thread, I've found a lot are timing or a tension dial that needs internal adjustments. Both are a bit tricky to fix on your own. If you're good with machines, you can google the issue for a different model and extrapolate to yours. If not, find a good vaccuum/sewing machine repair place in your area.

Orianna2000
10-05-2014, 10:49 AM
The book is Butterick's The Dressmaker. They put out a "newer" edition in 1916, as well as a couple in the 1920s, and the 1940s, but they aren't as good. You want the first edition from 1911, which is a dark olive green color. I believe the 1916 edition is yellow; not sure about the others.

Looks like it's becoming harder to find. None to be found on eBay, which is a shame! However, it's available online for free at one of those sites that uploads antique books: Dressmaker, 1911 (https://archive.org/details/dressmaker00butt). Worth a look-see!

Sunwords
10-05-2014, 10:13 PM
Thank you, Orianna.

Harmony, I will start tomorrow, probably, and try until it works. It is this little screw on the threadholder, I think.

Maryn
10-05-2014, 11:22 PM
Sunwords, that little screw in the bobbin holder is how the user adjusts bobbin tension. Too tight, and the bobbin thread breaks. Too loose, and it sews stitches with way too much bobbin thread.

Ordinarily it's just a matter of noting where it is when you start, and turning it just a little, sewing on several different kinds of scrap cloth (thick and thin, tightly woven and not), turning it a little more (or less, whatever) and trying it again, until you get the setting that's working right, the amount of thread on the underside of what you are sewing the right amount. Then you write down or photograph the exact position of that little screw, so you won't have to do this again.

It may also be a matter of getting the upper thread's tension right at the same time, with a seemingly infinite number of combinations possible. Usually there's a dial of some kind to adjust the top tension.

There are some good YouTube instructions:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaH9yB7XUBk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApTBtyUCV6c

L M Ashton
10-06-2014, 09:34 AM
I don't know if it's cruel or kind to share Fabric.com here. Give them an email and they'll send you a link daily for what's on sale for the next 24 to 48 hours (usually 24).
Please don't hate me.

Granted, the last time I bought fabric was three years ago, but... in Sri Lanka, I can buy 100% cotton or rayon for the normal every day non-sale price of less than USD2 per yard. Silk was under USD3 per yard. Really worth a vacation if you need a lot. :D

Sunwords
10-06-2014, 09:39 AM
Ir know, Laurie ... I remember shopping in Pakistan - never saw more beautiful fabric to incredible prices - for me. Enough people could not afford these.
Here now, cotton is hard to find and too expensive for me - I will try out what I can find.

Mary, thank you for your advice, I know the procedure, but sometimes I am at a loss for words here, as english is not my mother language and this is rather specialized vocabulary.

L M Ashton
10-06-2014, 09:45 AM
I just saw online that our daughter bought herself a foot-treadle sewing machine older than her grandparents. Cool!

Maryn, jealous

The foot-treadle machines are still sold, brand new, in some countries. Sri Lanka is one such country. It's because power is not reliable and not everyone has electricity to their homes or business
(ie seamstress or tailor).

/odd factoid

L M Ashton
10-06-2014, 09:54 AM
Right. Caught up.

I need to sew some new clothes for me. I'm too fat for the clothes that are locally available, so it's a necessity. But there are problems... I have bilateral frozen shoulders, so my range of motion is limited. It's getting better, but it takes time and it's not something that can be forced for me due to my genetic collagen defect. My reaching has improved, so I might be able to manage this in another month or two.

And when I can, then it's time to buy a new machine. My old one is in Sri Lanka, and they don't fly well. I'll get a fairly cheap one since I don't really need it for more than zig zag and straight stitching. If it has built-in button holing, great, but really, even that isn't necessary.

There's apparently a fabric store here that's four stories. I haven't been since, well, no point in going if I can't sew, but when I can... I'm curious to find out what the pricing is like. I hear it's fairly cheap, but that's always relative.

Maryn
10-06-2014, 05:27 PM
(Nice to see you, BTW.) I've heard about fabric prices in other countries being crazy-low compared to the US and Europe, but wow, hearing specifics on rayons and silks makes me feel almost ill. Or crazy envious. Something unappealing.

Of course I don't need to buy any. My lord, I have ten or twelve bins of fabric waiting for me already. But that doesn't mean I don't want it...

If you don't mind my asking, what aspect of the sewing process is negatively affected by your physical problems? I would think layout and cutting could be issues, but sitting still and sewing for long periods can be difficult for some, too (or instead). In any case, we all wish you much improvement so you can sew some lovely new things.

Maryn, who can sew or write but not both

L M Ashton
10-07-2014, 05:46 AM
Maryn, one of the reasons fabric prices are so cheap in Sri Lanka is because they're made there. There are fabric factories all over the place. Lots of clothing lines are made in Sri Lanka as well, including Victoria's Secret and a whole bunch of other big names.

About my physical issues... Well... I can't lift my arms very high - can't raise my arms very high, can't use them to the side, can't reach very well. Reaching forward is getting easier - I can now hang laundry on my laundry rack without pain, and that's only just right in front of me. I can't lift much and any repetitive motion hurts.

I still can't reach into the back of my fridge, for example. If what I want isn't at the very front, I have to ask for help. (I can't dress myself either, but hey, that's what a spouse is for, right?)

So ironing the fabric would be a problem. Simply laying it out straight and aligned properly would be a problem. Laying out the pattern pieces, not so much, and cutting the fabric would be a bit of a problem if I have to reach. But if it came to that, I would ask the husband to move the table out from the wall so I can walk all the way around it.

Like I said, another month or two, and I ought to be able to manage. It's only now that I'm able to raise my right arm above parallel to the floor. It's getting better, but not quickly.

I have back, tailbone, hip problems as well - well, all my joints are horrid, but those are the main ones affected by sitting on a chair for sewing. I would do things in fits and spurts with long breaks in between, but that's what I have to do anyway because that's just how I have to do everything. It would likely take me a week to cut and sew a three hour dress.

harmonyisarine
10-08-2014, 02:33 AM
The book is Butterick's The Dressmaker. They put out a "newer" edition in 1916, as well as a couple in the 1920s, and the 1940s, but they aren't as good. You want the first edition from 1911, which is a dark olive green color. I believe the 1916 edition is yellow; not sure about the others.

Looks like it's becoming harder to find. None to be found on eBay, which is a shame! However, it's available online for free at one of those sites that uploads antique books: Dressmaker, 1911 (https://archive.org/details/dressmaker00butt). Worth a look-see!

Bookmarked! I'll certainly keep an eye out for the physical copy, but I love that it's saved online. I know what I'll be reading next...

MaryMumsy
10-08-2014, 05:49 AM
If you go to abebooks.com enter butterick as the author and the dressmaker as the title you will find it. It is item #4. The 1911 edition, hard cover, priced at $9 from the Green Valley AZ public library.

Be warned that items found on abe are not necessarily still available. I found a copy of a rare book I've been hunting for years on there, but when I contacted the seller it was already gone.

Item 5 is a reproduction of the 1911 version.

MM

harmonyisarine
10-11-2014, 05:32 AM
Thank you, MaryMumsy! I'd love the original, but would take a reproduction if it ends up not being available.

Orianna2000
10-19-2014, 08:53 AM
Be warned---there is a reproduction of Butterick's Dressmaker book available in many places, but it doesn't include everything that's in the original book. I don't know if it's the same book you guys were talking about, but I wanted to let you know. The reprinted one is called, "Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques" and it has a light pink cover. It's a good copy, except for the missing chapters. I don't know if it's from a later (revised) edition, or what, but I was quite annoyed to find that it isn't the same.

harmonyisarine
10-22-2014, 04:05 AM
Thanks for the warning, Orianna. I'll make sure to check if I do buy the hardcopy.

In other news, I was cleaning out two people's worth of sewing stuff I inherited, and I found three sewing books! All newer, but I've already learned a good deal. One is how to do tricksy things with your sewing machine, one is how to do tricksy things with your serger, and one is how to set up an efficient sewing area in even the smallest spaces (very relevant to my interests). I also sorted through all of the thread and have at least a year before I need to buy any more, and ended up getting rid of a full-size laundry basket worth of stuff that was either severely outdated (do not need giant shoulderpads anymore, actually...) or just things that don't work anymore. Lots and lots of old, dull, short pins. I've spoiled myself with the extra long Dritz ones with the giant pearlized head. I can never go back.

Orianna2000
10-22-2014, 04:55 PM
I learned that those short pins (at least the ones I had) are actually ballpoint pins, which are only meant for knit fabrics! I didn't realize that when I bought them, Now I have four different boxes of pins, for different purposes: ballpoints (for knits), long pearl-heads (for regular and thick fabrics), extra-fine glass-heads (for delicate fabrics and pinning while I press), and applique pins (extra short, for sewing doll clothes or baby clothes).

The extra fine glass-heads are my new favorite! They're very long and thin, so they don't leave marks in silk, or other delicate fabrics. They are surprisingly sturdy, too. I was always bending my ballpoint pins, ruining them, but in spite of their thinness, the glass-head pins don't get bent, unless you try pinning through several layers of denim. I highly recommend them.

Also, dull pins can be resurrected. You know the little strawberry that hangs off your pincushion? It's filled with emery, which will sharpen pins and needles. Just stab the dull pin into the strawberry a few times and it will sharpen it. (A lot of my students don't realize that's what the strawberry is for. They think it's just decorative!)

Maryn
10-22-2014, 06:05 PM
I thought of this thread yesterday when a woman shared a little story about sewing.

Her lifelong interest in the craft began when she was about eight. She asked her mother if she could have a particular piece of cloth from her mother's stash. (We all have a stash, right?) Mom said yes. The little girl laid the cloth flat on the floor and outlined her body with chalk as best she could, cut on the lines, and sewed herself a sunsuit which was, of course, way too tight since she's not added any seam allowance.

She was nevertheless terribly pleased with herself and her mother took her to a sewing store where they bought a few beginner patterns and some cloth that was just hers.

Maryn, who loved the visual of this little girl tracing herself

Orianna2000
10-22-2014, 09:25 PM
How funny!

When I first began sewing, I didn't realize you had to stitch the garment inside-out, so the seams would be hidden. All of my early doll clothes had the seam allowances flapping on the outside, which frustrated me to no end, because they didn't look like "real" clothes do. One day, Mom explained the secret of sewing with right-sides together, and it was such a huge light bulb moment! That's the day I fell in love with sewing.

harmonyisarine
10-27-2014, 07:47 AM
I always wondered how to resurrect dull pins! I'm still not sad about throwing the short ones away, they were all bent and weird, but I'll have to get some ballpoint pins and the longer glass headed ones. Do they sell those at JoAnns, or will I have to go online? I do a lot of silk sewing and it'd be nice to have pins that would hurt it less.

I actually hate sewing, a lot of times. But I really love designing and the results, so the effort of sewing is well worth it.

Orianna2000
10-27-2014, 08:07 AM
You can get most types of pins at any fabric store. JoAnn's should have them. If they're out, you can get them from Amazon for a reasonable price.

I have a love-hate relationship with sewing, too. Sometimes, it's my favorite thing in the world and I'll spend hours in my sewing room, drafting doll patterns, or sewing pincushions, or whatever. Other times, I get sick of sewing and I'll do everything I can to avoid it. It's bizarre! I always love buying fabrics and trims, though. I can plan a new project, and buy what I need, without any trouble, but when it's time to sit down and start sewing, sometimes I hesitate. It's why my portfolio isn't very full. My "to-do" list is huge, but my "finished" list . . . not so much.

If you're a designer, do you have Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers (http://www.amazon.com/Professional-Sewing-Techniques-Designers-Julie/dp/1609019253/ref=dp_ob_title_bk)? It's one of my favorite sewing books, because it details every technique you need to know to construct a garment from start to finish. It's written for designers, so it teaches you how to plan your garments out, and how to choose which techniques to use, as well as how to sew everything. I learned so much from it! It's expensive, but highly recommended.

Maryn
10-27-2014, 05:35 PM
I've hit a point where I struggle to fit the body I actually have, so while my fabric stash is mostly for apparel, I'm not making clothes these days. I do rock a pillow case, though.

I usually sew something for Christmas gifts. I'm thinking pajamas for our daughters, since they don't have to fit all that well. Or bathrobes? I dunno.

Maryn, with several incomplete-doesn't-fit projects strewn about

Orianna2000
10-27-2014, 06:15 PM
I usually have my students start with something very simple, like an elastic-waist skirt or pajama pants. They're easy to sew, and they don't usually require much fitting. That said, I did have one student make a mockup for pajama pants that ended up being very long in the crotch. The crotch seam was hanging halfway to her knees! So we shifted everything up, removed the excess from the waist and added it back to the legs. They ended up fitting perfectly after that!

So, even pajama pants can sometimes need adjusting. It's why I always insist on my students making mockups, so they can learn the sewing techniques involved and make sure the garment fits properly before using their "good" fabric.

Maryn
10-28-2014, 12:44 AM
Every once in a while fabric I buy online is not what I thought it was going to be--a knit with a cheap hand, a cotton that's hopelesslly wrinkley, a linen that isn't lavender but quite pink, like that. Sometimes I keep it rather than return because you need something to make your practice pieces.

Maryn, who should get busy

Orianna2000
10-28-2014, 06:34 AM
Most of the time, I use unbleached muslin (very cheap), or even old sheets that I cut up to use for mockups. But sometimes you need a specific kind of fabric, like a stretchy knit jersey for a sweater mockup, or a heavy upholstery fabric for a coat mockup---fabrics that muslin just can't replace. That's when having a huge stash comes in handy!

"Yes, dear . . . I really do need three dressers and eight bins full of fabric! Honest!"

I actually have one plastic bin and a cardboard box that are filled with fabric I'm trying to get rid of. But there's still more fabric in the bins I'm keeping than I'll ever sew in a lifetime! And yet, I can't get rid of it, because most of it was so hard to find. It took me years to build this stash! And more money than I care to admit. But if I ever feel like making an uncut corduroy coat with a charmeuse lining, I have exactly what I need. . . .

Maryn
10-28-2014, 06:06 PM
My medium-sized city has a place one can donate fabric, findings, and crafts materials, including incomplete sewing projects (as long as all the cut pieces are there). It benefits a senior community which accepts everyone, so I feel I'm doing good. And I never donate without also stopping in at their store and buying something.

Other potential places to unload fabric include community theatres and high school drama departments which make their own costumes.

Speaking of charmeuse, any tips on sewing with it? I have two lovely lengths, different black-and-white prints, which I intend to use for robes I leave out for guests, but I vividly remember the last time I worked with charmeuse. The damned stuff snagged as I machine stitched it, sometimes even from inserting a pin. Any particular needle and/or pin type I should be using?

Maryn, still lots to learn

Orianna2000
10-28-2014, 09:39 PM
I don't work with charmeuse a lot, but you definitely need silk pins--something like these (http://www.amazon.com/Dritz-150-Piece-Ultra-Glass-8-Inch/dp/B0055726S2/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1414517101&sr=8-7&keywords=glass+head+pins). They're much finer and less likely to snag your fabric. Try to only pin within the seam allowances, too, so if it does snag, it won't show. (This means placing your pins parallel to the edge of the fabric, not perpendicular.)

You also need a small needle (probably #9) and make sure it's brand new. Lots of people don't change their needles often, but you need a new needle for every new project--not only because every project will use different types and weights of fabrics, therefore requiring a different type of needle, but also because needles get dull. A dull needle will snag, and leave holes, and can lead to all kinds of problems, like thread tangling and snarling. The general guide is a new needle for every eight hours of sewing, or for every new project.

Also, when cutting, use mini clothespins or binder clips to hold the edges of the fabric together. Keeps the layers from shifting, so you can cut without all the aggravation. When sewing, you can use tissue or stabilizer to help keep it from sliding all over the place. This will help prevent the fabric from getting pulled into the feed dogs, too. (This happens to me a lot! If you can manage to remove the fabric without tearing it, chances are good it'll be stained with grease. The solution is to stabilize the fabric before trying to sew. And don't start sewing at the very edge of the seam, shift the fabric up, so the edge isn't right under the needle. That can help prevent it from getting eaten, too.)

Maryn
10-28-2014, 11:10 PM
Good tips all, and many new to me. I haven't yet dared to cut the robes, remembering my last outing with charmeuse. We shall see!

Maryn, with gratitude

harmonyisarine
10-29-2014, 03:29 AM
I've now got three or four large plastic totes of fabric. And I just bought more that was on a 50% off sale from Mood. Lovely wool blend with a green/teal diamond pattern. I definitely didn't need it. I have too much already.

Soon I get a sewing room! My brother's in the Navy and finally got his orders to go to OCS. He leaves in late November, and then that room is going to have the old carpet torn up and I'm going to move all the sewing stuff in there. I'll be much more productive, as the current arrangement is that my bedroom is half sewing room.

Orianna, I'm sort of a self-taught designer. I'm reading as much as I can, and have that as one of my creative "hobby with potential" back-ups in case getting back into graduate school for biology doesn't work out (right next to writing). I plan on designing stuff for me even if I do get into school. I'm a huge nerd and can never find clothes I like that are also nerdy, unless they involve a huge logo or are a costume. Don't get me wrong, I love costumes and I'm about to get started on dyeing fabric for a huge group cosplay, but I would prefer some daily wear clothes that hint at the nerd wearing them. As such, I've filled a sketchbook with designs. I've got a lot of the basics, but I'm still woefully uneducated in this. That book would be great. I think I'll put it on a wishlist for holidays....

Orianna2000
10-29-2014, 08:48 PM
I've got several fabrics in my Fabric.com shopping cart, but I keep putting off buying them, because I don't really need them. But they're so pretty. . . . And I could use them, someday. Maybe. I dunno. Fabric shopping is addictive!

I don't really design clothing. Well, I designed and sewed a custom Victorian ballgown, and I design couture doll clothing, and I'm hoping to start a business selling my doll patterns, but I just don't like sewing full-sized clothing. It feels like a lot more work, and it's hard to make things fit properly. (I have several fitting issues that make sewing more difficult.) But I try to make a few pieces each year, to keep my skills honed, since that's what I teach.

If you're creating a sewing room from scratch, you might find Dream Sewing Spaces (http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Sewing-Spaces-Design-Organization-ebook/dp/B005N1C3R4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1414601139&sr=8-2&keywords=sewing+room) useful. I have a copy that I loan to all my new students. It's filled with great advice for organizing your sewing space, whether you have a small nook or closet, or an entire studio. Very helpful!

Also, last year I wrote an article on how to organize your sewing area, which was published by an online magazine. I'd be happy to send it to you privately, if you're interested.

harmonyisarine
10-31-2014, 03:03 AM
I got my Mood fabric today. It's so lovely. Heavier weight. I'm going to make a very cozy slouchy coat out of it, with some kind of fun lapel detail. I also got 4 free swatches with my order and, against my better judgement, picked some from a fabric that is 46.00 a yard, a lovely wool/silk blend in a satin weave. It's perfect for a project I have in mind, but so expensive!


Also, last year I wrote an article on how to organize your sewing area, which was published by an online magazine. I'd be happy to send it to you privately, if you're interested.

That would be great. I found a little pamphlet in one of our sewing books, but more information is always better.

Yasaibatake
11-13-2014, 10:49 PM
*wanders into thread* Am I still allowed in here if I haven't made clothing in a long while? That's how I learned to sew though! When I was little, my mom would sew but refused to teach me how. My grandma showed me some related skills (cross-stitch, embroidery, etc.) but that was it. It wasn't until I was in college, wandering around trying to decide what to do with my life, that I decided to take a fashion design class. I like fashion and clothing, so why not?

My teacher hated me because it was so blatantly obvious I had no idea what I was doing and I had a bit of a "whatever, I'm still learning so back off" attitude about it - the first project I turned in was so atrocious, I'm embarrassed I let anyone else see it. It was this horribly misshapen box of a "shirt" made from the cheapest green broadcloth I could find...I kinda hope I still have it somewhere, actually, just so I can use it as the world's worst "before" example! But the girl across from me was very sweet and patient - and very, very skilled. We used to joke that if you put the two of us together, we'd make a great fashion designer. She sewed beautifully but really struggled understanding color, shape, or anything like that; my talent was stabbing myself with the straight pins but I had a portfolio of ideas half the class wanted to buy right then and there. With her help, my second project was an almost passable printed skirt, and my third project was a white halter dress that looked good enough I wore it to my then-boyfriend's college graduation :) I dropped out of the fashion design program after that but kept sewing on my own and I like to think I'm still getting better!

This last year or so, though, I've been mastering some basic quilting skills instead. There are two weddings in the family coming up in May, and my goal is to have a homemade quilt for both couples ready on their big days. I only started on the first one about two or three weeks ago though, and I don't have a lot of sewing time so it's going a bit slow. As in, this morning before work I finished block #12...for a queen sized quilt, there's a long way to go! But hopefully I'll have some more time coming up soon and if I really get the time, I'd love to make a dress to wear to the first wedding (I'm a bridesmaid in the second, so that'll probably be something I *have* to buy)...

Orianna2000
11-13-2014, 11:46 PM
You might enjoy the book I recommended earlier: Professional Sewing Techniques For Designers (http://www.amazon.com/Professional-Sewing-Techniques-Designers-Julie/dp/1609019253/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415907564&sr=8-1&keywords=sewing+techniques+designers). It's a sewing textbook written specifically for designers. So it isn't just "how to sew," but "how to sew if you want this kind of look." It's expensive, but worth it! I learned a TON from it.

I'm not a quilter, but I do sew doll clothes. One thing I learned is the necessity for a 1/4" quilter's foot. Do you have one of those? It has a little guide bar on the side, so you can sew straight seams that are extremely narrow, just 1/4" wide--which is the standard seam allowance for both quilts and doll clothes.

Also, when it's time for you to bind your quilts, consider making your own binding. Store-bought bias binding is AWFUL! It cheapens whatever it's put on. But you can make your own very easily, especially with a bias tape maker, which is just a little tool that you slide your bias strips through as you press them. It automatically folds the strip into the right proportions for bias tape. Brilliant invention!

I hope you're able to finish your quilts in time. If I have a deadline, I'm always rushing at the last minute to get things done. And the closer I get to my deadline, the slower my progress seems to be! It's so frustrating. Like, one time I made a replica of a Victorian theater costume and wore it to the show it was from. Only I didn't finish in time, even with the help of two other people, so I actually had to be sewn into the bodice as we drove to the theater! It was awful. Of course, then a torrential downpour began and my costume was completely ruined by wind and rain. . . .

At any rate, I know what it's like to rush against a deadline, so I hope you're able to find the time to finish the quilts.

mirandashell
11-14-2014, 12:06 AM
I always think that bias binding made from either the same material or a material of similar quality looks best.

MaryMumsy
11-14-2014, 01:01 AM
I'm glad to see the continued interest in this thread. I still have made no progress in the direction of cutting out my skirt. But the urgency was mitigated by finding one that was almost perfect on Land's End website.

One of my biggest issues with sewing clothes is frustration. If something goes together perfectly the first time, great. If it doesn't, it will lie there till the fabric rots before I pick the seams apart and do it over.

I laughed at the story of being sewn into your bodice. Mine isn't quite that bad. I was asked to be a bridesmaid for a friend. All us girls sewed, so we made our dresses. Mine was done except the hem. That was in with scotch tape and safety pins. :D The bride told me: I knew L (her sister, the maid of honor) would finish hers well ahead so I couldn't bitch; I knew H (other bridesmaid) would be done with time to spare; I knew if you got yours done you would be in the wedding, otherwise you'd be a guest. It didn't help that the fabric was a really ugly avocado green satin, or that she chose a Vogue pattern. This was 1969. And the hem was never finished. I donated the dress to a woman I knew years later who made high end doll clothes.

MM

Yasaibatake
11-14-2014, 02:03 AM
Orianna, thanks! That book looks awesome! Maybe I can convince my boyfriend that should be my Christmas gift :D Along with a bias tape maker...never knew such a thing existed, but that seems like it would be awesome. I actually don't own a 1/4" quilter's foot, though I keep saying one would make my life easier. I actually mark in my seams with tailor's chalk now. Yeah, inventing more work for myself is definitely going to help get those quilts done in time, right?

I'm getting fairly fast at this star block though; it's not the only one I need for this particular quilt, but still! My goal (which is, honestly, probably more than I can realistically get done) is to have 20 blocks done by the end of Saturday. There's not much else going on between now and then, so maybe...

Orianna2000
11-14-2014, 05:58 AM
I get frustrated if I have to do the same thing twice. Like sleeves. Or pant cuffs. Last year, I bought a pair of really nice flannel pajama pants, but they're too long. They had nice cuffs, so I didn't want to just cut them shorter and hem them, so I did this elaborate thing where I shortened them above the cuff. I got one leg done, but not the other. And guess what? Now I don't remember how I did this elaborate hemming technique, so they're sitting in my sewing closet, with one leg hemmed and the other not! It upsets me, because I need winter pajamas really bad. I may have to undo the one that's already hemmed, then just hack them both off and hem them normally. At least that way, I'll have something to wear, even if it's not pretty.

The story about the bridesmaids dresses reminded me. . . . When my best friend got married, back when I was a teenager, she had a friend's sister sew our dresses. This "dressmaker" didn't bother taking measurements in person, she asked us to send them to her. My dress ended up being rather short, because apparently her idea of "waist to hem" was considerably different from mine, and so when we went for our first (and only) fitting, my dress was a lot shorter than it was supposed to be! (And she had the nerve to scold me, as if it was my fault!) The dresses were pretty, but they didn't fit well.

I didn't know her, but I suspect she just sewed for a hobby and was making the dresses as a favor for my friend. I still have the dress around here somewhere. . . . Now I want to flip it inside-out and see how well it's actually sewn. (Maybe that's mean, but I am curious. You can learn an awful lot about a dressmaker by looking inside the clothes she's made!)

Yasaibatake, bias tape makers are just a few dollars! They come in different sizes, so you can get a variety, depending on what size bias binding you intend to make. I use the 1" size for regular clothes, and the 1/4" size for doll clothes. (Apparently, there's even a 1/8" bias tape maker, but I've had trouble finding it.)

Oh, and there is an automatic bias tape maker machine! It's expensive, but if you do a lot of quilting, it might be worth it. You feed the strips into it, and it automatically folds and presses them for you.

The 1/4" quilter's foot isn't expensive. I think I paid $10 for mine at Amazon. Really a lifesaver! Check your bag of presser feet that came with your sewing machine. Sometimes they include the 1/4" foot. If not, here's a trick you can try. Measure your standard zigzag presser foot, the one that came with your sewing machine. Some of them are exactly 1/4" from the outer edge to the middle, where the needle goes. If it is, and you line your fabric up along the outer edge of the presser foot, it will sew a quarter-inch seam. (If it's close, but not exact, you can try moving your needle over. Put the needle down and measure from the edge of the foot to the needle, then shift the needle over until it's in the right place for a 1/4" seam.)