This month I'm the hosting the Stash busting sew-a-long group theme which is "Facing your Fabric Fears." I guess this means I better pull the tricky fabric bin out of the back of the stash cave. At least froggie will get to sleep in silk all month.
For those of you who may not know the Stash busting sew-a-long group was created as a support group of sorts for those of us who felt overwhelmed by our stashes. We wanted a way to motivate ourselves to sew out of the stash instead of constantly buying new fabric. We have a monthly theme to get the creative juices flowing but you can sew whatever you want. Here's a link to our facebook group if you feel like joining the party.
To start off the month put together a list of tips and links to helpful tutorials for all the stereotypical tricky fabrics.
- Stiffen light weight silk fabrics, like chiffon and georgette, before cutting. My favorite method is soaking the fabric in gelatin solution as described in this Threads article. This does take a little pre-planning since the fabric will need time to dry before cutting. What I like to do is mix up my gelation solution and put it and the fabric into a rubbermaid dish pan. (A bucket or the kitchen sink would also work fine.) After letting the fabric soak for an hour, I take it out and roll it in a towel to get rid of the extra water. Then the fabric is put on a drying rack to dry overnight. After the fabric is dry it can be pressed on low heat if any wrinkles happened during drying. Then you're ready to cut
- Cut silk out in a "paper sandwich." You've probably heard this before and I'm here to tell you that it does make a BIG difference. Let's not talk about the time I decided to cut georgette without paper.....total disaster. Grainline Studios has a nice tutorial on how she cuts using this technique. I do it the same way other than using the floor and a roll of Kraft paper. Use the sharpest set of shears you have to make everything go as smooth as possible.
- Use a new sharp needle. You don't want to accidentally snag your fabric just because your needle's gone dull. Also make sure you're using the right size needle for your fabric weight.
- Empty out the water in your iron and use a pressing cloth. Don't take the chance of your ironing peeing all over your silk project. A press cloth is another great way of protecting your fabric. Silk organza is my personal favorite pressing clothing because you can see through it while pressing.
- Pre-wash, pre-wash, pre-wash because rayon will shrink like nobody's business.
- Give yourself some cutting help. Cutting rayon isn't as tricky as silk, but using some of the silk techniques can keep you from getting wonky pattern pieces. Personally I like to stiffen rayon up with some spray starch and then cut it laying on some paper.
- Let it hang before you hem it. I've had more wonky hemlines with rayon than anything else so let it drop before doing all your hand sewing work.
- Choose a plaid line for all your matching. When I start cutting a plaid project first I mark all my pattern pieces with a horizontal like in this Grainline Studio post. That way I know all my vertical plaid will match up as long as I place them on the same plaid line.
- When cutting pieces that are mirror images use the first to help line up the plaid on the second. For example my pattern has two back skirts to cut. When cutting the first pattern piece I use my plaid line mark and straight of grain to line up the pattern. Then when I cut the second piece I flip the first piece on top of the pattern and use that to help line up the plaid.
- Sew with a walking foot to help match plaid along the seams.
- Get yourself some clips to use instead of pins. You can go high end and buy some Clover Wonder Clips or be cheap like me and buy some small binder clips.
- Use a leather needle and 100% polyester thread. You don't want to worry about cotton thread deteriorating on your leather project.
- Teflon or roller feet are great for sewing leather because they don't stick to the hide. You can also put some scotch tape on the bottom of a regular foot to keep it from sticking.
- Use a hammer to help flatten any seams or darts that you don't want to topstitch flat.
- Double sided tape is helpful for positioning things like zippers on welt pockets.
- The By Hand London blog put together a very comprehensive post on working with sequined fabric. Thinking I should don some safety goggles and finally sew the black sequin yardage in the stash.
- We just finished up a knits themed month in the group and Heather D rounded up a lot of great tips. Here's a link to her blog posts.
- I think of my pal Gillian as "The queen of knits." Her Lazy tips for sewing knits series is great of any newbies out there.
- Get yourself a self healing mat and a rotary cutter to make cutting out knits a breeze.
- I also highly recommend buying yourself a serger if you really like working with knits. My personal machine is the fairly economical priced Brother 104D. I've been using mine for several years and it's probably the most dependable machine in my sewing room.
That's all the tips and tricks I've run across in my personal experience. How about you guys? Do you have any great tips you like to share? Leave them in the comments section and I will have Froggie collate them for everyone's benefit.