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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

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

  • #2
    Using Fabric Scraps Creatively

    When I make a blouse or a top, I keep the scraps in a plastic container.
    Later, if I want a different look, I can cut a silhouette out a scrap and
    sew it onto a matching skirt, shorts, or slacks.

    Mary MacKay

    Nothing Goes to Waste

    My children enjoy it when I make all of their clothes, as they know that
    I’ll use those extra scraps of fabric to make matching doll outfits for
    their Barbie and Kelly dolls.
    Also, a beautiful collection of fabric samples makes a great gift for older
    children (and some adults!). Just include with the fabric some needles, a
    small thimble, sewing scissors, a pin cushion, a few spools of colored
    thread, and you have presented them with a sewing kit for the budding
    seamstress! Just having their own sewing kit gets them excited; this is
    also a great way for them to practice their hand stitches.

    Helen Cates

    Not Enough Fabric for Your Project?

    I just ran into this problem last week. I purchased a great piece of
    “ Finding Nemo” material to make my granddaughter a shorts set. As it
    turned out, the material was only a bit over 3⁄4 of a yard. In making a size
    5 set, I needed 1 1⁄4 yards. My next choice was to head for my stash and
    find a coordinating material. I had an orange variegated to match the
    goldfish in this material, and that is what I used to cut out all of the
    facings. With this little trick, a little over 3⁄4 yard was just enough for
    a beautiful shorts set.
    P. S. If the facing happens to show – it coordinates!

    Mary Stiefer

    Portable Storage

    I am a seamstress and a crafter. I have a sewing area; however, it is in
    the family room. I have a storage area where I utilize the clear plastic
    hanging shoe storage hangers with 12 to 18 pockets. My crafts are kept in
    the clear plastic envelopes and I have one for Halloween, Easter,
    Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, etc. and several for Christmas. I installed a
    spring-loaded shower curtain rod to hold the hanging storage units; when I
    want to work on a project and can transport and easily see my supplies. I
    can even transport to the living room, or to the patio when the weather is
    nice. This type of storage is also helpful when picking up items out of
    season. I can simply locate the appropriate storage unit and place the
    items in the clear plastic unit.

    Christine Elliott
    Dartmouth, NS

    Using Children’s Patterns

    When using patterns for growing children, cut the pattern to the largest
    size and just make a few cuts on the edge; when you need to enlarge the
    pattern, use tape to put it back together.
    Also, mix and match pattern pieces from different patterns to make new
    styles. If it’s the same size, the pieces will be interchangeable.
    Simplicity is the easiest patterns to do, even if it’s the night before the
    day you need it. I made pattern #5704 from 10 p.m. to midnight Easter Eve.
    Everyone loved the dress, and she also wore it for the Spring concert.
    Her teacher stopped me just to say how beautiful it was!

    H. C. Dooley
    I make a lot of children’s clothes for kids and have been since they were
    babies. Naturally, I have many multi-sized patterns and would not want to
    cut them because I wanted to use them later once the child grew. If you’re
    making A LOT of one pattern, I would recommend just making an entire copy
    of all the pattern pieces to preserve the pattern pieces, but forgive me, I
    was lazy…ha, ha. Rather than do all that, if the edges of the pattern were
    straight, I would fold them down to the size I wanted, and if they were
    curved, I would put my pins along the size line that I wanted and cut the
    fabric under the pattern along the pin line. Just be careful not to cut
    the pattern in the process. I therefore achieved what I wanted without
    cutting the actual “master” pattern. It has worked WONDERS and takes a lot
    less time than making an entire copy. It is worth it if you don’t plan on
    making too many of it, as repeated use will eventually cause the pattern to

    Michelle Nelson
    Charleston, SC

    Planning Projects for Cutting

    Recently, I found items for my children that I had cut out last year, but
    had never sewn. Now the recipients are older and too big for the items.
    Now I plan and cut projects this way:
    I look through the stack of patterns that I’d like to make. I choose one
    or two larger items, like shirts or pants. I also choose a couple of
    smaller gift items that would be quick to make. I only cut out the number
    of projects that I think I can complete in 2-3 weeks’ time. When I have
    those finished, I schedule another cutting day. I am then more motivated
    to finish what I’ve cut out so that I can cut new projects on the next
    cutting day.

    Kathy Gettig

    Projects from Concept to Completion

    This habit has helped me get more projects from concept to completion.
    I often buy my Simplicity patterns when on sale and may not use them for
    some time. Too often I’ve lost the inspiration I had to begin with, and
    the pattern will gather dust! Finally I came up with a way to hang onto
    those originally brilliant ideas.
    My fabric store will let me take swatches of the fabric I like; just tiny
    ones, but I can still tell what fabric it is. Then I gather whatever
    buttons, trims etc. I need and jot a few notes in a notepad I carry in my
    purse along with the pattern number. When I get home I put the pattern,
    its swatch(es), the notions and notes for that project into a quart-size
    Ziploc bag, into my project chest, ready for the next time I’m looking for
    something great to make.
    I am really enjoying the website! Thanks so much for many hours of happy

    Pat Chadwick
    Wichita, KS
    "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


    • #3
      Thanks Mato. I'm gonna check out the Simplicity site. is what it is...


      • #4
        Some good
        :p Your First and Last Love Is Self Love! :p


        • #5
          My personal and from experience tips:

          kEEP your fingers well away from the needle when it is in motion.

          Don't thread the needle while the foot is down (ruins the tension)

          Make sure the table your sewing machine is on is stable.. nothing like your sewing machine crashing to the floor onto your foot to never make that mistake again.

          careful of wearing loose clothing or your hair hanging loose. It's a pain in brain to remove your hair or sleeves from something else you've been sewing with a seam ripper.

          remain alert at all times when sewing...too much can go wrong
          Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


          • #6
            GOOD advice, Blackbear! (picturing you using a seam ripper to remove your hair from project)
   is what it is...


            • #7
              well when you do.. picture it with the sleeve and a pair of pant legs I was hemming LOL
              Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


              • #8
                Thanks for sharing this with us.
                There are some good tips.

                "A person who works with their hands is a laborer,
                A person who works with their hands & their brain is a craftsman,
                A person who works with their brain & their heart ... is an Artist".
                Join my on my face book fan page:


                • #9
                  some more tips

                  I found out that if I have a couple of ribbons that I want to sew together (3" or more wide), it helps out a lot if I measure out a strip of Wonder Under that's just slightly smaller width than the ribbon. Then I iron the ribbon onto the Wonder Under and voíla you now have ribbons that won't go astray as you sew.
                  Last edited by hutsibah; 07-17-2004, 03:46 PM.


                  • #10
                    ok that's one heck of a good tip.. thank you!
                    Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


                    • #11
                      gREAT SEWING TIPS:)


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