Saturday, December 26, 2009

What I've learned about sewing in 2009

Sea Girt 12/26/2009
It was cold, rainy and wet at Sea Girt today.
(The black thing? That's my umbrella.)
So I couldn't take a walk. Maybe tomorrow.

So by now you've read my posts about my Epic Fails and Epic Wins. There might be even an "Epic Lukewarm" post coming up. But for now I'd like to share what I learned about sewing this year.

1. Use a cutting mat on a table to cut out fabric. I had to change my cutting style due to my back issues. The mat, which was a Giftmas gift from Pete's parents, is in three section and fits almost exactly on my dining room table. It's really fantastic. Great for measuring and cutting straight lines, and of course my back thanks me too whenever I cut out anything. My previous style was to cut things out hunched over on the floor.

2. Keep those scissors sharp! I never did learn how to use the rotary blade, but I did get my sewing scissors sharpened for the first time in probably 15 years, which makes cutting a lot easier!

3. When sewing with knits, base shirt sizing on the finished pattern measurements at the bust. Pretty much I match my bust measurement to the finished pattern measurement. Antoinette taught me that. I'm still trying to figure out the right measurement for wovens.

4. Mary Nanna blogged about a technique for sewing in sleeves without using gathering stitches. I've only made one woven shirt with set in sleeves since reading that post. I used the technique, and it worked!

5. Speaking of gathering stitches, I had become lazy and was only using one row of gathers instead of two (for things like gathers at the front of a nightgown). Using two rows of gathers really makes a difference--the gathers are much more evenly distributed and easier to handle. I even hear some folks use three rows, but I'm not about to get all crazy.

6. Before I start sewing a garment, I figure out the correct sewing tension on my sewing machine using scraps from the garment fabric. That saves me so much frustration!

7. While reading comments on the Selfish Seamstress blog, I learned that ironing hems really does seem to fix any inherent wonkiness, especially on knit fabric.

8. Mary Nanna also taught me that, to eliminate puckering on collars, collars should be sewn from the center back seam to the front, instead of one continuous line from front to front.

9. I now really consider the fabric I'm using before I start working with it. I've said it before, but I hate wrinkling so I really shouldn't use 100% cotton wovens!

10. No more side zippers (never look flattering, never install properly), no more stand collars (OK, I learned that in 2008), and no more cheapy scratchy knit fabric. I also don't think I should buy any more flannel for a long, long time--I've got plenty in my stash.

So, what did you learn sewing this year??


  1. In 2009 I learnt to make Full Bust adjustments (which I need) and to make a muslin before cutting into your precious, sometimes expensive fabrics!
    And I also learnt that it's important to know what suits you so you don't waste precious time making a beautiful garment only to hate it when you put it on. So know your body type and the colours and type of pattern that suit you.
    All learned from personal experience!!

  2. You are so gracious! I've learned so much... when mixing fabrics in one garment, pick two wovens of similar weight and two knits of similar stretch. When mixing a woven and a knit I am way out of my league. I think the most important thing I learned is that sewing your own undies is easy and fast and the result is much better than anything I can buy at the store. And this knowledge will help me sew my first swimsuit!!!


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