Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Things I have learned since I started sewing

I was thinking yesterday of sharing some of the things I've learned over the years!  So here goes...

~Use quality thread.  Cheap thread tends to break.

~Use the right needle for the job.  Thin fabrics require a different sized needle than thick fabrics.

~Change your needle more often than you think you should.  They get dull and that can affect the quality of your sewing.  In fact, keep several packets of machine needles.  You will break one at 2am the night before your event.

~If you are sewing along, and you hit a pin, and then suddenly your machine acts or sounds funny...don't keep sewing until you break the machine.  Stop immediately.  Change the needle, rethread the top and bottom threads.  Make sure there isn't a piece of pin lodged in or under the bobbin case or some thread wrapped up in there.  This can save you hundreds of dollars in repair bills.

~Speaking of pins...they are your friend when sewing.  Especially if you are sewing together wiggly fabric like silk velvet (or in my case...rayon velvet).  Do throw away pins that have been damaged or become dull because they will cause pulls or runs in your fabric.

~ Use the right fabric for the garment.  If the pattern shows draping, don't get something stiff.  If the pattern requires fabric that has "body," don't get something drape-y.  Wearing the garment in hot weather?  Avoid polyester and go for cotton or linen instead.

~Investigate the different "feet" available for your machine.  There are some helpful products out there that can help you insert a zipper or ruffle trim.  Hell, I still need a "walking" foot.

~If a pattern says to use interlining somewhere, do it.  They didn't write that step for kicks.

~Make a mock up.  Make a mock up.  Make a mock up.  (still learning this one!)

~Velvet has a nap and changes color when held up from different angles.  You need to remember this when laying out your pattern.

~Most Big 3 patterns (Butterick, Simplicity, McCalls) are not historically accurate.  This only matters if you care about being historically accurate.  It's ok if you don't care.

~Never say never.  Someone will find an example of what you claim was "never" worn or done in a museum somewhere.  Or you might suddenly fall in love with an era you hated 6 months ago.

~If your fabric is washable, wash, dry, and iron it before you begin.  Iron your seams as you go along.  Iron or steam your garment before you wear it.

~Research your project before you choose fabric.  Nothing like spending money on fabric only to realize it's wrong.

~You need one more day to finish your project than you think you do.

~Read the pattern before you begin and make sure you have all the fabric and notions needed.  No fun to realize you need and don't have interfacing when you begin your project at 9pm on a Sunday.

~Seam rippers, seam gauges, rulers, marking pens/chalk all disappear.  Buy two.

~Don't cut anything but fabric with your fabric scissors.  Keep a pair of separate scissors in your sewing room to cut patterns or fabric with heavy beading or sequins.

~Trim your seams before you turn the garment to the right side.  Especially at corners!

~If you have a cat, it will end up on your project at all stages.  There is nothing you can do, so just accept it.  Keep a lint roller handy.

That's all I have time for today.  I'm sure I'll think of more later :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Some notes on the Mill Farm Riding Habit Pattern

After consulting the sizing chart, I saw I was the size 12, so I bought the size 12/14 pattern.  I noticed when I cut it out that there isn't a choice to cut a 12 or 14.  There's just one set of cutting lines with a 1/2" seam allowance.  I scoured the pattern directions looking to see what seam allowance produced the size 12 measurements.

Finally I wrote to Burnley & Trowbridge to ask.  They wrote back the same day, and said that Sharon just made one size for the 12/14 and that the size 12 would fit "comfortably" and the size 14 "just".  She advised I make a mockup and see what works for me.  Sound advice!

I'm impatient and just want to jump into making the garment, so making a mock up is something I always avoid and always regret having avoided.  So this morning I made a mock up of the jacket, and then realized that without the corset, shirt, and vest on, I really have no idea if it fits.  Looks like I need a mock up of the vest, too.

Before I came to my senses and did a mock up, I admit I'd already cut out the fashion fabric and flatlined it with cotton canvas, but I haven't sewn any of it together yet, so I can still make adjustments to the pieces before I sew them together.  Hey, I'm getting better!  LOL!

*edit*  Well, I cut out the waistcoat, and it seems to be several inches too big.   I had this problem with the Wingeo #410 jacket pattern, too.  All the extra ease from a company producing historic patterns, not costumes, strikes me as odd.