Monthly Archives: May 2014

More Sewing Mistakes

Another 5 Common Sewing Mistakes

Following on from this post I’ve gone ahead and described five more ways you can improve your sewing. Many of these tips were originally basic sewing rules that have been forgotten over time.

Incorrect button attachment – Unless you’re attaching buttons as a decorative feature, the stitching in four-hole buttons always sits like a number 11, not a x. When using a two or four hole button you also need to allow the button to sit a bit above the fabric. Do this by winding the thread around the stitches to form a shank. Shank buttons already allow for the thickness of the fabric so this winding is not necessary.

button shank

Mismatching thread – It might not seem important and it’s certainly tempting to use what you have when you’re in a rush, but taking the time to match the thread to the fabric will make a big difference to the final look of your item. When you’re in the haberdashery section, unravel the thread from the spool to hold it against your fabric.

Overlocking thread is not as important to have matching perfectly, but investing in some larger spools of the basic colours is a good idea.

matching thread

Incorrect interfacing – There are many types of interfacing available and they all have their purposes. Iron on or sew in, woven, non woven or knitted and light, medium or heavy weight are all varieties of interfacing. Follow the pattern instructions and learn which one is best for your project. Bottom line – if your pattern calls for interfacing – use it!

Incorrect hem allowance – Hems can vary, but are generally between 2cm and 5cm. Sometimes a hem can be larger because it’s a design feature. Always aim to stitch along the center of the overlocking, or close to the edge if it’s a double neatened hem such as on jeans, shorts or children’s clothing. Curved hems will always sit better with a narrow hem. Once again, follow the pattern instructions as the designer has decided the hem for you.

hem sizeNot enough pressing – Best practice is to press seams as you go. Sometimes you can get away without it, but generally if you’re spending the time making something, pressing as you go can help keep the item neat.  It’s also an opportunity to double check a step before continuing with the next.  Pinstitching can help keep seams flat by holding seam allowance to one side.

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Fabricmade cover

Etsy Shop Spotlight – Fabricmade

Hello and welcome to another Etsy Shop Spotlight.  Today I’m sharing a fabric store based in China owned by Rao Wei called Fabricmade.  The shop has a wonderful range of cotton, linen and wool blend fabrics.

Fabricmade fabric5As well as offering fabric by the half yard, Fabricmade has a selection of printed panels ready for you to use in any crafting project you could think of. All perfect for bags, quilts, children’s clothing trims, tableware’s or cushions – imagine the possibilities!

fabricmade fabric1Fabricmade fabric3My husband is a fabric supplier in China. I love sewing at home. Just find there are so many artist and homemade fans in Etsy.Fabricmade fabric2

But my most favourite discovery in Rao’s shop has to be these scalloped lace zips which are 30cm/12inches long and come in 11 gorgeous colours.

Fabricmade zipsAnd if you’re looking for lace fabrics you might like to check out Rao’s second Etsy shop Lacecrafted where there’s a huge selection of lace fabrics, flowers and appliques.

Seen anything you like? Let me know so I can check it out 🙂

My Custom Order Workflow

My Workflow for Custom Orders

Building a business around made to measure work can be hugely satisfying as you help fulfill peoples dreams by creating their ideal outfit. This week I’ve been working on senior formal (prom) dress orders and thought I’d share some of the process.

Lisa has a formal to go to in 12 weeks and has been in to discuss her dress. She brought along a drawing and her iPad with all the photos she’d saved of dresses she likes. We went through the images talking about what parts she likes of each dress and what parts she specifically wants. Since the first meeting is all about getting the design down on paper I worked through the photos and drawings and produced a sketch of the final design.

Lisas sketch and design notesAt the meeting I took all the measurements I needed and calculated fabric. I sent her off with a list of recommended fabric stores and some fabric suggestions. Once Lisa bought and delivered her fabric we made an appointment for her first fitting.

My first step was to construct a toile – a mock-up model of the garment – usually done in calico or cotton. I prefer to use the lining that will be used in the final outfit as it saves wasting fabric and the customer gets to see the true colour. Referring to the sketches and measurements I chose a pattern block closest to the design and started marking out the pattern pieces on the lining. I sewed the pieces together with a large stitch so it will be easy to pull apart later. Once the lining was together I measured the lining and checked against the body measurements. The toile needs to be looser than the body to allow for movement.

working out the panel lines on the skirt

At the first fitting Lisa tried on the toile and I pinned it at the back and began fitting the garment. At this point I’m looking at

  • making the waist fit securely (Lisa is wearing a belt with this design and the waist needs to be firm)
  • fitting the skirt over the hips and shaping it close around the knees
  • checking the top/waist join for the right amount of blousing
  • making sure the straps sit comfortably
  • making sure the cut away back sits close to the body

So generally I’m fitting the garment close to the body and making sure the bust, waist and hips sit at the correct level. Since we’re fitting so closely around the legs I suggested having a back split to make it easier to sit and walk.

From here I unpicked the lining to use as a pattern to cut out the main fabric and make the dress all over again. At this point the zip is left out, the straps are only pinned at the back and the hem is just overlocked.

preparing the pieces to cutAt the second fitting we pinned it in a bit further down the side seams and I asked Lisa to try sitting. The back split has been a success! We marked where the straps will finish and tried on the belt. All good.

Because I need to wait for Lisa to come back with the shoes to do the final hem check, I can insert the zip, sew some hooks to the straps and run in the skirt a final time. At Lisa’s final fitting I’ll be pinning up the hem and making sure the hooks on the straps sit properly.

This formal dress has been a pleasure to make and the fittings have all gone well without any dramas or misunderstandings. Communication is crucial to making made to order customers happy and being able to understand their needs and expectations means there are no mistakes along the way.

Check back soon and I’ll be able to share with you the finished dress in all it’s glory.