I am starting a new, recurring series here at Sewing for Peanuts. Each Friday I’m going to be posting about five somethings. It could be patterns, fabrics, recipes, just whatever strikes my fancy.
This week I’ve been thinking about the things we don’t want to do. How hesitant we as seamstresses are to learn a new technique. I’ve heard so many people say, “Oh that pattern is lovely but I don’t know how to do X.”
So, no more excuses. 1. Gathering: I have sewn many, many dresses and I can count on my fingers the number that didn’t require some sort of gathering. There are all sorts of tips and tricks all over the internet for this but here are my favorites.
- Sew 2 rows of gathering stitches. Sometimes I get lazy or I’m in a hurry and I only sew one but my gathering always suffers. If I’m being really particular I sew 3.
- If the piece you are gathering is longer than about 18 inches or goes around a side seam, break it up and sew multiple sections of gathering stitches. The dress in the above picture only has 2 pieces, a front and a back but the ruffled piece around the bottom was about 90″ long! I divided the ruffle up into four sections, and then matched each section up with the side seams and front and back middles and then gathered from there. This meant I wasn’t trying to gather the entire piece on one LOOOOOONNNG gathering thread and reduced the chances that the thread might break.
- Pin, pin, pin. And when you’re finished, just for good measure, pin some more.
- Iron your ruffles before sewing. This flattens them and makes them less likely to shift.
- Sew with your ruffles down so that you can follow the straight line you are sewing to and so that the feed dogs move the gathered fabric.
- Ruffles are important. Do not put off this skill.
I put off so many dresses because of buttons. And then I got a new sewing machine that just require pushing a button which is lovely. But even before then I watched some tutorials and read some tips and figured it out and it has made my sewing so much better. Also, buttonholes are so much better than little loops. Believe me.
This goes along with buttons in that dresses are always better if they fasten. And while I haven’t made anything with a zipper in awhile it’s a good skill to have and not really as difficult as it seems. If you need practice can I recommend making a few zippered pouches. I made a tons of those a few summers ago and now attached a zipper to a dress seems easy.
This is not so much a skill as it is a plee from me. Please iron. Iron as you go. Iron when you’re done. Iron that beautiful dress you made and just pulled out of the dryer all wrinkled. Ironing makes all the difference.
Plackets are new to me. A year ago I could not have told you what a placket was. Plackets are when you have an overlap of fabric under buttons or zippers so that close can fir properly. Without plackets clothes do not fit over gigantic toddler heads. Or they do but once you’ve accomplished that you have a loose ill-fitting bodice. Plackets can be a pain to sew but the instructions in most patterns are very helpful and there are plenty of tutorials and videos online that can help.
My real hope is that you won’t put off sewing something out of fear. The best thing sewing teaches us is that failure is inevitable but not terminal. That’s why god made cheap muslin, seam rippers, and chocolate.