So, it’s time to start talking about sewing. I’ve been doing more and more of this lately because I can only weave so many dishtowels and scarves and I really love having the ability to make clothes that fit and flatter. Even better that they’re made from cloth I’ve woven myself. As my friends have watched my progress, some have also gotten the sewing bug and I wanted to pass on some of the help that a good friend has given me. A “sew-along” seemed like a good way to do this both for accessibility (not everyone is on Ravelry) and also to ensure the information would be around for anyone not wanting to start at the same time. And here we are. On with the show!
The first thing I want to talk about is tools – or what’s often thought of as “notions”. Sewing machines are a whole different beast, and I’m not going to cover that at all (either you already have one or you can simply hand sew your pieces) but there are some small things to get that will make your life easier when it comes to cutting, assembling, and sewing your project.
Pictured above are (clockwise, starting from upper right) a clapper, 8″ angled dress shears, seam ripper, point turner, tailor’s chalk (two kinds), pins, sleeve pressing roll, and a tailor’s ham. Underneath is a see-through ruler that has both a grid and standard measurements. You can find most of these things at your local fabric store, like a JoAnn’s, or you can get them from mail-order places like Sew True Supply (no affiliation, just a super happy customer). The shears, pins and seam-ripper are mandatory – all the others are “nice to have” but you’ll quickly find that the ability to properly press your garment makes a HUGE difference when seaming or finishing. They’re not expensive and they’ll also help improve your everyday pressing. Two things that didn’t make the picture are pattern weights and a sewing gauge – again, both readily available at JoAnn’s or other fabric store.
Dress shears longer than 8″ can be difficult to get around corners – for long straight cuts, you may want to go with a rotary cutter/mat set (often used for quilting). But, regardless of size, make sure the shears you buy have an angled handle so that the blades run parallel with your cutting surface. As for pins vs. pattern weights – I prefer the latter. I find that it’s easier to cut out pieces and I get less distortion. Whatever works best for you is what you should use. But, if you are going the weight route, you’ll want at least eight of them if you’re cutting out garment-sized pieces.
Finally, the other thing you need is a good iron. It should have multiple temperature settings so that it can deal with multiple fabric types and also the ability to both work as a dry or steam iron. And, that steam should not only be hot, but there should be a lot of it. Heavy irons mean less effort for you when pressing, so don’t think “lightweight.” I finally got my dream iron – a Consew from AllBrands. This thing makes me look like a hero. I took some flack when I got it (you bought a WHAT?!?) but, the first time my husband needed to iron a dress shirt, he was a convert. The downside of this iron is that I needed to put hooks in the ceiling to hang the reservoir, but there are ironing boards that include a mounting point for the tank. Regardless, sewing is as much about pressing as it is about making stitches – so don’t skimp.
Ok, first post done. The next one will cover looking at and navigating a pattern.