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Old 07-02-2004, 04:16 AM   #1
Mato Winyan
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Sewing tips and helps

There was a contest ran by Simplicity wanting to know your tips for sewing..... here are the winners. Most all of these can be adapted to native dance clothing. Please feel free to post your own tips! Maybe we all will perfect our style! ;)

Moving Darts for a Better Fit

I have been having trouble moving darts. They are always too high on the
pattern. I never knew that patterns were made for B cup women until I
checked out your web site. It seems that since I am a D cup, the darts
were too high. I tried moving them down free hand style, but I always
ended up not too symmetrical. So the other day, I had this idea. I traced
the dart on the pattern on to another piece of paper with my tracing wheel
and paper. I traced several of these on to one sheet of paper. Then, I
cut out the darts I had traced. I took one “new” dart and taped it on the
pattern where I needed it to be, and then was able to reshape the seam line
with ease. In the end I had the new dart equal and even on both sides of
the garment. Since I made several of these cut out darts, I can apply them
to other patterns and have perfectly symmetrical darts in the future.

Teresa McNeill

Ruffling Tip

If you make a lot of ruffles or gathered clothing by hand, try using
fishing line or that nylon invisible thread for the bobbin threads. It is
strong and slides freely, even through other seams where many poly/cotton
threads stick or bunch up. I LOVE ruffles for my little girl and this tip
sure helped me a lot!!! In fact, you have to be careful you don’t pull the
bobbin thread all the way through because of how smoothly it slides as it
ruffles. Make sure to leave some extra at the ends.

Michelle Nelson
Charleston, SC

Straight Seams

To keep seams straight when you are making drapes, table cloths or a
quantity of the same type item, as dresses for weddings, place a piece of
masking tape on the sewing machine where your seam should line up and sew
away! Much easier and can be removed easily. It’s also useful when sewing
curves, as it is not always easy to keep seams even. I have used this idea
for 50 years as a professional seamstress and needed to work fast but

Mary MacKay

Testing Pattern

When I use a new pattern, especially a pants pattern, I make the first pair
a little larger than my normal size and in “pajama type” material. That
way when I am done “testing” the pattern for fit and style, I have a new
pair of pajama bottoms and a very good idea if the pants need any further


Fitting Evening Dresses

For prom/evening style dresses, I always cut the bodice out of a stiff
Pellon and use that to ensure a good fit. Then I tape it to the pattern
with the modifications marked on it. This reduces the time fitting the
garment itself and wear and tear on seam lines.

Retta Rushworth

Sewing Thread Storage

To make it easy to mend, I have bought 30 bobbins and filled them with
different colors. This makes the job so much quicker, and is also a good
idea when gathering material on the sewing machine in a different color to
the stitching. I keep them in a box with separators, the same way my
husband keeps his screws, washers, nuts and bolts in!

Jacqueline Reader

Clothing Tags for Little Ones

When I sew a pair of shorts or pants for my son, I always sew a small piece
of ribbon in the back as I sew the elastic casing closed. This way he has
a “tag” to help him know which way to put on his pants.

shannon Ford

Straight Casings

When I am sewing curtains, or other projects that require casings, I place
a piece of electrical tape on the right hand side of my sewing machine to
use as a guide. Just keep your eye on the tape as you sew and you will
always have a straight seam or casing.

Cathy P. Holman
Huntsville, AL

Buttonhole Tip

When making buttonholes, I coat them with clear nail polish after cutting
them open. This prevents them from opening further after repeated usage,
and the polish fits perfectly in the tackle box that I use for my sewing

Susan Rice

Sewing Velcro
When sewing the hook side of Velcro to clothes, it tends to grab the thread
and break it. In order to avoid this problem, I am using little leftover
pieces of water-soluble plastic (the kind we put on top of the fabric when
embroidering on fleece fabric) and once the job is done I simply pull it
out or leave it until the item is laundered. You can also use tissue

Liette Vaudry
Blainville, Quebec

Using Doll Clothes Patterns

For small doll clothing patterns, I iron the entire pattern sheet to
fusible interfacing before cutting them out. This keeps them from slipping
off the fabric, and helps them last longer for more uses.



Buttons are SO expensive these days, and many aren’t made well or
attractive. I prefer old buttons.
My tip is that I scour garage sales, estate sales, church bazaars, etc. for
antique or vintage garments and buy items for the buttons.
If the garment is not my size or fits anyone I know, I use the material for
children’s or doll clothes.
Love your web site!

Frances Foley

Preserving Patterns

Here is a tip I found by accident in the military. If you have a favorite
pattern (or in my case patterns), you want to keep them and use them over
and over again:
First press your pattern and get it nice and smooth (don’t use the steam
setting it turns to mush real quickly). Then get a roll of white or brown
shipping paper. Spray the pattern piece with heavy starch and lay out
carefully on the paper and press. Finally, cut the pattern out, and spray
with a light coat of shellac. And to help identify my patterns (I am blind
as a bat), I write the number and what it is with a red Sharpie marker. It
saves the pattern for later use, can be folded and the tailors’ marks can
be transferred straight though. I have 5-10 patterns done this way, and
some are almost 10-60 years old or older.

Thomas A. Gold
I have always found that just ironing the pattern on low heat and folding
the pieces to fit back into the envelope will make the pattern last for
years. Also, if I pin the pattern in the same place each time I will put a
piece of clear tape over the spot. That way it reinforces the area so I
can use it many times.

Kathy Hrncir
Round Rock, TX

If you’re like me then you hoard patterns and like every single one of them
to be in pristine condition, which is why I don’t ever (ever!) cut out my
patterns. I used to trace them out onto tracing paper, but found this
wasn’t particularly durable and, after only a few uses, the patterns would
start to tear, become worn and generally become inaccurate. My solution
was simple and is one I use to this day with great success; it keeps my
original patterns in mint condition and gives me long-lasting copies that
stay accurate for many, many uses: I use the thinnest possible sew-in (non-
fusible) interfacing I can find instead of pattern tracing paper. It can
be ironed to remove the creases, and there is no waste, as even the
smallest of pieces can be sewn together to make a larger piece which can in
turn be used to trace off another pattern!

Jay Cadiramen
Queensland, Australia

Permanent Patterns

I purchase “insulation liner” at Home Depot (or any local hardware store).
It is used for lining insulation in your home and protecting the insulation
from coming out of your walls. It is a clear plastic material that is a
little stiff. I use it trace out the size I want from multi-sized
patterns. It is stiff enough and completely transparent, so the tracing
goes quickly; I use a Sharpie permanent pen to do the tracing. It is soft
enough that I can use my scissors to cut out my fabric and the “insulation
liner” at the same time. I can also use a rotary cutter to cut if I want.
The best part is that my pattern pieces are now permanent and in the exact
size that I want, and that encourages me to use the pattern again. The
second time, it goes even faster!

Vivian Kwan
Calgary, Alberta

New Ideas for Old Children’s Items, etc.

For all of us who have babies, inevitably, they outgrow all those wonderful
things we have sewn for them. They outgrow the crib bedding, the clothes,
etc. Now, sometimes we choose to give these away or get rid of them
through Goodwill, etc. But, if there are some items you don’t want to part
with, I have some ideas that I’ve used for my boys’ stuff:
So baby moves to a toddler bed; well, most of the bedding fits, but the
bumper pad is useless. Cut it apart and use the fabric to make pillow
cases and throw pillows. Use the batting to stuff the throw pillows.
You can use solid sheets from the crib/toddler bed and some old clothing to
make new quilts/comforters for the kids’ beds. Cut them apart, find a
quilt pattern you like, and sew your quilt top. Attach it to the batting
and backing, put trim around the edges, and you have a unique quilt for a
unique child (or children).
In a hurry to sew hems or seams in something such as curtains, valances,
etc. Skip pinning them. Go buy some stitch witch, or something similar,
and iron the hem or seam in; then run it through your machine…no pins
needed! And, they can wait in this condition until you have time to stitch
them too. This same technique works for applying trims and appliqués as

"We see it as a desecration not only of a mountain but of our way of life. This is a genocidal issue to us. If they kill this mountain, they kill our way of life." ~Debra White Plume

Last edited by Mato Winyan; 07-02-2004 at 04:25 AM..
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