Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Works For Me: Sewing Shortcuts
I am not much of a sewer usually. When my oldest daughter was a baby, I made a series of cute little dresses complete with roses on hats, pinafores and pantaloons. Froo Froo stuff. I started when she was about 6 months and finished them when she was wearing size 2T. Luckily, I knew myself well enough to have made large sizes so they still fit her.
It kind of burned me out on the clothing making thing and in recent years I've focused more on curtains and cushions and such. I'm really a quick results kind of person. I have a hard time sticking to projects that take a lot of time, and I no longer have a lot of time.
Last spring, I realized that I had three little girls and had yet to do the matchy matchy thing. I could even match me with them. So, I decided to sew again. But, I decided I would try things a little differently and this is what I've learned:
1. Elastic is wonderful! I passed up any pattern that required zippers, gathering fabric, wide hems, buttons or interfacing. Simple styles are just as darling as frilly ones. Plus, I decided I'm not out to impress with my sewing skills. In fact, if you lift up one of my girl's hems to check the quality of my stitching I will no longer consider you my friend!
2. You don't need to make a casing for the elastic when inserting it in sleeves. Before sewing the sleeve's seam, just stretch the elastic along the casing line and stitch down the middle of it.
3. Use a pattern more than once. Patterns can be expensive, so I decided to use up some of my fabric stash to practice with the patterns. Bonus: more space in the sewing tubs and more clothes for the girls. And, each time I get faster at it because I now have the instructions practically memorized. It hasn't gotten boring because I have tried to make different variations using different fabrics and trims.
4.There is more than one way to sew the same thing. Take the easiest route. For example, the skirt I sewed for myself wanted me to make a tiny narrow drawstring with an elastic section in it's middle that would be threaded through a casing, coming out of buttonholes to be tied. Forget that! I just put elastic in a casing like I did my daughters and called it done!
5. When sewing multi-size patterns for myself, I cut off the larger sizes on the pattern. I figure when or if I do gain multiple sizes I'll be too depressed about it to sew myself clothes anyways.
6. When cutting out large pattern pieces, I used overturned, heavy cereal bowls instead of pins. Saves much time and keeps slippery fabric in place better.
7. Lace is wonderful! It hides uneven stitching and can give a nice detail without having to gather fabric. Just use gathered lace instead.
8. I adhered a piece of magnetic tape to my sewing machine to stick pins to. I now spend less time looking for my pin cushion. Also, I set up to sew where there is no carpet. Pins dropped on a hard floor are less likely to land pointing up and ready to stab your foot while you're looking for them. Ouch!
9. I completely made one of each outfit, before cutting out more, to better check sizes. The blouse I made for my oldest daughter, for example, ended up fitting everywhere but in length. I didn't want her showing off her belly button every time she raised her arms, so I sewed an eyelet trim around the bottom to make it more modest. The rest of the blouses I cut out for her, I made sure to add length.
So, what sewing shortcuts have you found?
And don't forget to check out more Works For Me Wednesday ideas over at Shannon's Rocks in My Dryer!