For the love of thread arts (sewing & such)

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For the love of thread arts (sewing & such)

Postby CielOnTap on Tue Oct 07, 2008 2:33 pm

Whether you sew for yourself, know someone who sews, or have a sewing repair to do now and then (frayed pant hems or shortening them, replacing a lost button), having a bit of ease with a hand-sewing needle, thread and a some stitches makes clothing care manageable.

Here's a tip for everyone to know: if you are wearing an item of clothing (and you are out at a restaurant or wedding reception) and your overcast and stitched sleeve seam suddenly drops some length of thread-DO NOT PULL the thread. Instead, use some Magic Transparent tape (3M brand) or other light-adhesive tape to tape the thread inside your sleeve. That way, you don't ruin the sleeve and may be able to use the loose thread to restitch the seam later. The tape can be removed up to two days after use with little tackiness or residue left behind on dress fabric or dress shirts.

I was a wedding reception about 10 years ago and saw a female guest pull on her loose sleeve seam thread-she could have unravelled more of her dress than she knew until I told her to tape the thread or tuck it inside the sleeve.

It is possible to buy tape in narrow widths and the roll dispenser can fit into a suit jacket or small purse.

My current sewing project: a suit jacket of lightweight British wool, purchased a decade ago. The current fall chilly weather is suddenly inspiring a sewing spree. First, though, the multiple jacket pattern pieces require some additional lengths to be inserted in the right spots.
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Re: For the love of thread arts (sewing & such)

Postby fishandchips on Sat Oct 11, 2008 9:12 pm

The tissue paper you sometimes get with clothing purchases has two good uses, if uncoated and of a plain white or natural colour (coloured tissue leaches colour when dampened, so avoid it for clothing use):
1) it makes excellent pattern tracing paper or can be use to add extra width or length to a commercial sewing pattern that is being altered
2) folding clothing with a sheet of tissue paper on the back of the garment minimizes wrinkling when garment is stored in drawer or in luggage on trips.
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Re: For the love of thread arts (sewing & such)

Postby CielOnTap on Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:30 pm

Buttons:

1) If a shirt or blouse you have purchased has buttons that make you wince, take the garment to the fabric shop to get similar-size buttons (important-as buttonholes are about 1/8 of an inch bigger than the buttons that go through them) in a matching colour, contrasting colour (if you want people to notice them) or novelty material (maybe you prefer artificial crystals to plastic). Buy thread too unless you have the right colour at home. Replace the buttons (snip off thread carefully and remove original thread) using a tailor's tack (stitch in place twice before sewing through holes in buttons) and sew a few times through the button to anchor button and finish with a tailor's tack.

I am not a fan of imitation tortoise-shell buttons in shades of taupe, so I look for a brighter button colour when replacing a garment button.

2) Save buttons from old garments that are too old to donate. You never know when your button stash will have the one button you need for a pants pocket or shirt. Sew an extra button to the inside shirt side seam, so if you lose a shirt button, you have a handy replacement button ready to use.
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Re: For the love of thread arts (sewing & such)

Postby CielOnTap on Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:39 pm

In the closing hour of the CreativFestival in Toronto yesterday, show attendees got to see four fashion school teams speak about their garments and the influences/time period used in the garments' designs. The clothes were modelled by a member from each team. Two designs really could be commercial successes: the modern medieval warrior dress in a metallic gray with horizontal pleating and a lighter gray hood; the Regency era 3 outfits-in-one dark gray tweed with pumpkin fabric accents-dress with stomacher enhanced by twinkling crystals (kind of effective), a long-sleeved short jacket with reversible flaps and a striped muff that converted into a 3/4 length sleeved shrug. The other two designs were more for the young adults with personal style: a watercolour satin-type robe coat with cream belt paired with an Empire-style dress with a fishtail type skirt and closely set buttons on the upper-back (outfit seems suited for spring); a fawn and coffee coloured archer's outfit paired with a ruched black miniskirt with a microsuede fabric skirt tail slashed into 5 strips (more like for clubware).

The crowd was eagerly awaiting the outcome of the prize draws at the same time, while vendors began to pack up their booths for the 5:00 p.m. closing. As one sewing machine company was celebrating 30 years of business, 30 sewing machines were given away, along with other sewing prizes and notions.

In two side sections by the runway seating were period costumes from different eras--while fascinating to observe for details, the clothing of historical times did not look very fun to wear if one was a woman. One men's outfit featured a butterscotch satin-striped pair of breeches teamed with a long navy jacket--the mannequin happened to have a lion's head wearing a hat!
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Re: For the love of thread arts (sewing & such)

Postby fishandchips on Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:34 pm

Twinkling crystals would be a great idea for outdoor jackets, if one did not like reflective tape on their garments. Little blinking lights would help make a pedestrian more visible at a bus stop or on a road at night. Even cyclists could use a few crystals to add a bit of light on their jackets or their helmets. Cycling gloves tend to be dark, so crystals on the backs of the gloves are another use.

I can see Halloween and general costume applications for the crystals too.
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Re: For the love of thread arts (sewing & such)

Postby CielOnTap on Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:56 pm

Marking tools for sewing:
-my tools are tailor's chalk (one white chalk, plus another in pink, which is great for sturdier and dark fabrics),
-one disappearing ink pen in a lovely purple (worth marking up a scrap to see how fast it fades out for the dressier fabrics, especially if pale-coloured),
-one white pencil-it looks like a pencil crayon with a little stiff brush on the top-useful for sweeping off markings from chalk or pencil
-3M brand Magic Transparent tape-it has light adhesive and it rarely leaves any residue if removed from fabric sections within 48 hours of application. Regular tape is too sticky for sewing. Unless you endeavour to make mashed up fabric an art form with tape all over it...
-unused thread from past projects or friends for making tailor's tacks on fabric sections
-Burda grid paper-for tracing out patterns from the sewing magazine or just to make strips to lengthen North American pattern pieces. Sometimes, tissue paper is tiresome to draw on for strips, so grid paper with its feltlike surface is a boon.

I did have some old carbon sheets in dark blue or red and a serrated tracing tool (pizza cutter with spiky edges) for my teen years in marking patterns. I did not like the holes made into the pattern tissue and I had to shift the cardboard under the fabric once in a while to protect the table from the tracing tool. But the carbon sheets provided some outlet for colour play when I made random designs with the tool on drawing paper.
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Re: For the love of thread arts (sewing & such)

Postby fishandchips on Wed Nov 12, 2008 3:51 pm

Fusible interfacing-there are different kinds on the retail shop shelves. Lightweight black knit fusible interfacing added a touch of support to sleeve caps I made up in Viyella (wool/cotton blend similar to rayon in drapability), as well as some sturdiness to the button band of the front-closing top. Always take a scrap of of your interfacing and fuse it to a scrap of the sewing fabric. Time well-invested when you determine how long to press on the two fabrics to yield a stong bond.

Sew-in interfacing-usually available in white, off-white, or sometimes black tones. This version of interfacing may tend to shred/fray at the cut edges, depending on how tightly or loosely woven it is. There are fray control drops to use for the loose threads. For the more economical sewers, just use a narrow zigzag stitch to contain the cut edges.

Interfacing guidelines: 1) use an interfacing that is about the same weight as the fashion or sewing fabric, 2) choose a colour of interfacing that is close to the colour of the fabric being sewn, & 3) always pre-treat or launder your interfacing length before cutting out pieces to use for your sewing (you don't want warping or shrinking to occur after sewing the interfacing or fusing the interfacing to your fabric pieces).

Skin-toned interfacing may be a consideration for lightweight white fabric used to make tops.
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Re: For the love of thread arts (sewing & such)

Postby sewanista on Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:41 am

Those are really good tips about interfacing. A couple more - never fuse up to a folded edge, always go a bit beyond. It supports the fold better so it won't wear as fast, and you can make a straighter fold. Use a strip of interfacing instead of staystitching around curved edges, like necklines, because that way the whole area is supported, and you can check against the pattern to make sure it's kept the correct shape. I also use it under patch pocket corners, and clipped ccorners, like shawl collars and set in plackets, and anywhere else that might be under stress. I also use it on the seam allowances of most zip openings. I don't generally use the cheapest non-woven fusible, but I don't go crazy with a different one for each fabric. I keep a medium weight, weft insertion in white and black handy, and that does me 90% of the time. If I want it firmer, I use two layers.

I can't always find a matching fusible for semi-sheer and sheer fabrics. I have thought of making my own with fusible webbing (vleisofix?) and a very lightweight woven cotton fabric like voile. I'm not sure if it will be too stiff, but it's on my to do list of "good ideas I'd like to test". If anyone beats me to it, don't forget to share the results :D

I just bought myself a whizbang industrial press, but only because the company was closing so it was cheap. Unfortunately, the first time I turned it on, it blew the fuses. I'll take it back when I have someone to help me get it in the car. (It weighs more than I can lift) It's a shame, I was looking forward to blockfusing. That is when you fuse a piece of interfacing to a piece of fabric and cut out the pattern shapes afterwards. I don't always blockfuse, because it's usually better to cut the interfacing smaller than the pattern piece to reduce bulk in the seam allowances.(And to avoid fusing the stuff to the table or your iron!) However, for small pieces or slippery fabric, it can be a lifesaver. You can blockfuse with a normal iron, it's just faster with a press.

I once found an Escada jacket second hand, (it had HUGE shoulder pads) so I opened the lining and turned it inside out to see what interfacing they used. Wow, did I get a surprise. There were bits all over the place. The whole of the front, across the back shoulder blade area, top of the sleeves, more around the neckline and armholes, under every pocket area. Even the entire hem was fused -beyond the fold, of course. The sleeve head was supported with a bulky woven bias stuff I've never seen before. The shoulder pads were gross though. They were just foam, covered in wadding, and were crumbling. And they were sewn by machine along the armscye seam. I hadn't expected that.
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Re: For the love of thread arts (sewing & such)

Postby CielOnTap on Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:59 pm

Re: Escada jacket and crumbling shoulder pads-those crumbs are tenacious to sweep off. Encountered such pads in garment I was taking apart and saw sorry state of shoulder pads.

Escada ads in fashion magazines in late 1980's and early 1990's featured mesmerizing graphic prints and nice button details. When I had a chance to visit an Escada outlet shop in Niagara Falls two years ago, I had sticker shock when viewing the price tags. Worthwhile find that you managed to score in the shop!

Re: block fusing-I have not tried that technique-sounds like an idea for a garment that is mostly structured and needing that interfacing support.

I am usually happy to find that a fusible interfacing in fact fuses. I have had some lousy fusible interfacing that peeled off with slight tug after it cooled down after fusing. Insert choice language at that discovery. My usual fabric shop is part of a chain, and interfacing can either be kept at counter ends on stacked bolts, or shelved at eye level and with tagged bolt ends with fibre content. If it has been a long time since I last purchased interfacing, I will spend 20 minutes handling the interfacings of interest and determining if I should purchase lengths of 2 or 3 types of interfacing.
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Re: For the love of thread arts (sewing & such)

Postby sewanista on Sun Nov 23, 2008 9:25 am

I helped out at a warehouse sale recently, for a clothing design and manufacturing company that has been going since 1924 - the current owner told me he only joined in 1949! They had stored stuff all the way back to the 1950's, including lots of vintage clothes, brand new with tags. I did get a nice maxi dress, but the landscape print velvet hotpants didn't come in my size - probably a wise decision by the original designer, although you'd have certainly got a lot more scenery for your money :lol:

I helped out by selling the buttons. They had vast numbers. I bought about 20kg, in mixed bags, and once they are all sorted and washed I'll sell them somehow. There are lots of really huge 60's ones. But I digress, I actually meant to mention the shoulder pads. They had lots of old notions including shoulder pads and rolls of elastic. (And 2 rolls of genuine whalebone corset boning, still with the original packaging. I nearly fainted, and then realised I should have kept my cool and casually offered them $10 for each. I wear my heart on my sleeve too much sometimes) Anyhow, the shoulder pads. I was rather surprised at how crazy people were going at the opportunity to buy dusty rolls of ancient elastic and "vintage" foam shoulder pads. I didn't say anything, but it was tough not to. It would be like when they open up old sarcophagi, and the mummy inside crumbles due to the first air it's encountered in 2000 years. Sometimes vintage really is just old junk.

Oh, and if the fusible doesn't stay stuck, it's probably because the iron wasn't hot enough to melt the glue properly. Just press it again, with a hotter iron and more time. It will probably be fine. I generally test on scraps, not to find out what makes something work, but to find out what really messes it up. If you work out how to deliberately mess it up, you also learn how not to.
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