13 November 2011

To Pin or Not To Pin? Your Sewing Tips Unleashed

I loved reading all the sewing tricks submitted as entries to the Pattern Cutting book giveaway. I learnt loads of new ideas - so glad I asked! I also discovered some lovely new (to me) blogs through the process, which is always a bonus. I thought I'd pull together a Top Ten Tips list from your submissions.

I should qualify the term "top" by saying that, firstly, this list is more of a random selection than an official canon or indeed even my favourites - it would be impossible to favour ten of them over any others as they all had value. Secondly, if you're a regular reader you will know that something I particularly value in sewing culture - and the sewing blogs I choose to read - is the attitude that there is no single right way of doing things. So if you don't agree with any of these tips, that's fine! In fact, it was fun to read contradictory tips in the list. "Don't pin!" "Always pin!" "Get on with it!" "Slow it down!" You get the idea.

Right, onto your tips:

1) "Fasten two pens or pencils together with a rubber band when you're tracing patterns from burda magazine as it instantly adds seam allowance without having to draw it in afterwards, just measure the distance between the lines and use that when you stitch the seams - most are 1.0-1.5cm." (Lazystitching)

2) "Tissue paper is a must for the sewing kit. You can lay it down when cutting slippery fabric. Or sandwich it between fabric when sewing seams on slippery or stretchy fabric. It's helped me TONS!" (Jill)

3) "Whenever you have to ease a larger piece of fabric with a smaller one [like sleeves], put the gathered larger piece on the bottom while sewing on the machine. The feed dogs will pull the bottom layer a little bit more than the upper layer, and this will help ease in the fabric." (Heather)

4) "I use washable glue to install my zippers. I get better control when positioning and then I wait for it to dry before sewing." (Carmencita B)

5) "If you are using a serger to sew a seam, the left needle thread is the one that could show through on the right side of the garment. So if you just match the left needle thread to your fabric colour, you can get away with using white or black for the other three threads. This way you don't have to buy four spools of thread for every colour of fabric you sew." (Margiwarg)

6) "Write a review of the pattern (even if you don't want to put it on the internet), as you'll have a good record of what you did with a pattern and how it worked out. This helps to figure out what patterns work for you and your body type and will speed up the process of sewing a pattern a second time if you like it." (Hilde)

7) "When sewing several layers of fabric or an area of thicker fabric, you can use the wheel at the side of your machine instead of the pedal, so you are not making the motor work too hard. It is good for short sections of sewing when you know your machine might struggle." (Kestrel)

8) "When machine sewing oilcloth (right side), stick some masking tape to the bottom of your foot to enable it to glide easily across the surface." (Elisalex)

9) "If you have a overlocker/serger, keep a stock of thread in blendable colours (ivory, grey, rose etc NOT primary colours). You can use these blendable colours quite successfully instead of an exact shade." (Sarah)

And finally...

10) "Listen to other people's sewing experiences, but don't listen to their opinions. And by that I mean, learn from others as much as you can, but once they start saying things like 'slide-fasteners are a pain in the back', 'trousers and bras are the most difficult to sew' or 'knit fabrics are for professionals', it's time to let it go in one ear and out the other. For one thing, it's bound not to be true, and for another thing it's up to you, not other people, to decide your limitations." (Emma)

Too right.

Righto, so who won the Pattern Cutting book, then?

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zilredloh said...
Ooooh! What a wonderful book to be able to give away.

Hmmm... favorite sewing trick ehh. I've found that using strips of silk organza underneath invisible (and regular) zippers helps a ton with stability and to prevent warping. They're little strips of amazing. heh
9 November 2011 22:38

Another great tip! Thank you, Liz from zilredloh, and enjoy the book! Woooooooooooo!

Right, today is going to be a good day. I'm juggling so many different projects at the moment but today I'm going to focus on sewing and blogging only (I've glimpsed lots of interesting looking posts in my blog reader that I'm looking forward to reading) and I think I'll channel sewing queen Gertie by staying in my pyjamas as long as possible. Ah bliss! Anyone else got a similar Sunday planned?

[Soundtrack: 'Eternal Flame' by Joan As Police Woman]


  1. Some great tips, Tilly. I am about to climb into my decorating clothes and finish painting the woodwork and radiator in the bathroom. My bathroom has been waiting a whole year for me to get round to this tedious job. Then the new flooring can go down so that I no longer have to gaze at paint-splattered, cut up lino when I step out of the shower. I've put up with this situation for a year. That must be some record inertia going on, right there!

  2. congratulations, zilredloh! :) have so much to do: pics of finished & near finished projects, finish up some felt stockings, run interference with grandchildren......

  3. Once again I have to express what an inspired idea it was to have us leave tips in our comments! I've learnt a huge amount - I'll be rethreading my overlocker according to Margiwarg immediately! And thank you for including my tip in your top 10 too!! I did spend a quiet evening last night sewing up an adorable Jackie O style top, which I'll be writing up later on tonight...x

  4. The sewing community is a great way to gather experiency. Im also in my Pjs sewing my quilts and blogging.. later is reading a good book and having dinner made by my other half. I Love sundays !

  5. Ooh my tip got featured! Thank you :)

    Some great advice in your tip picks, it's really helpful to read about the little tricks that people have picked up along the way.

  6. YAY! I won?!

    Everyone had such great tips to share. I'm definitely going to be bookmarking this lovely post just for all of the comments. :)

    Thanks again so much for hosting this giveaway. I LOVE sewing books; I learn so much from them.

  7. 5 and 9 are my absolute faves! I can't afford that many spools of thread, handy handy cost saving tips! Thanks for compiling the tips Tilly, very useful. Congratulations to zilredloh, what a lovely prize :)

  8. congratulations, zilredloh :-) Tilly, I have been in pyjamas ALL DAY. Its all the rage you know. I too have been sewing a blogging and could not think of a better way to spend the day. I loved all the tips so thanks for that ! x

  9. Congratulations Zilredloh! It looks like a fantastic book. I think it will find it's way onto my ever expanding x-mas wish list.

    Tilly, I have been on my PJs all day too. Like you I was absolutely knackered after yesterday. Very intense and our tutor does speak very fast, doesn't she? See you next week! xx

  10. My responses:

    1) Unreliable method. So are the double tracing wheels. Use a ruler or a rotary cutter with a guide to add the SAs.

    2)Tissue paper works well. Freezer paper even better (lightly iron the paper to the fabric.)

    3) Correct. But if you baste, you can sew from any direction.

    4) I know people who use glue. I don't. I baste. I also don't pin. I hate pins.

    5) I don't usually like the look of serging, but if I used a serger I'd make sure that all the colors were the same. It looks unprofessional otherwise.

    6) Good advice. Notes help.

    7) I think control is more of an issue than wear on the motor in deciding to hand crank. Also, try using a teflon foot. There are times when you have to use both hands and lightly pull the fabric through machine.

    10) Not very helpful, in my view. Some garments are objectively harder to sew than others. Skirts are easier to sew than a shirt or pants. Pants are easier to sew than a tailored jacket. A cotton woven is easier to sew than silk or organza or velvet. An invisible zipper is trickier than a regular zipper. Patch pockets are easier than welt pockets. It's not a matter of opinion, it's fact.

  11. I'm not really surprised anonymous didn't like the tip about listening to people only up to a point... hehehe...

  12. I wish I could sew!!! A few months back I was putting money away for a cheap sewing machine, but then I needed the money. It's on the back burner for now!

    Mabel Time

  13. Wow, thank you for featuring my comment!! That may have been my favorite "contest" to enter, because I loved reading everyone's responses.
    I'm always looking for sewing tips, great call, Tilly!

  14. Great post and I'll make sure to go back to read everyone's tips! An inspired giveaway!! Hope you enjoyed your day sewing. Sunday's gorgeous weather grabbed me and drew me outside for a glorious autumn walk. Not much sewing therefore ! O well.

  15. What a great list! Love the suggestion about ease. Thanks for sharing :)

  16. Once again Tilly, you inspired me to write a post: http://3hourspast.com/2011/11/15/fear-and-sewing-in-brisvegas/


  17. nice post. Now you can use this sell offers directory to promote bulk clothes buttons import & export business.

  18. I know i'm a bit late to this post but thanks for the brilliant tips everyone, and thanks for hosting this Tilly. The tip about the pencils and seam allowance seems genius to me. Not many patterns to buy over here which means i use burda all the time and not having SA is a massive pain.


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