I thought that I will start posting a series of sewing tip posts, hoping that some of the sewing techniques that I have developed over the last 30 years or so may be helpful someone who is just learning how to sew, or may be a reminder for those of you who have been sewing for some time. Some of the tips will only be a few lines, other times a story (lol!).
I am sure that you have heard the saying, “Measure twice, cut once.” Nothing can be more true when it comes to sewing, and saving yourself the possibility of many hours of frustration and tearing things apart.
I don’t use patterns too often to make most of the things that I sew. I have learned that in order to save myself a lot of frustration and time tearing apart seams, I measure, pin and measure again, and then cut.
These are the tools that I use the most. An extra long tape measure, my rulers for rotary cutting (I have many, many shapes and sizes. This one I use nearly daily), my water-soluble marker, pins, my small rotary cutter (again, I have several different sizes) and my cutting mat.
My example will be my table runners, since I am currently making quite a few. Depending upon the size of the runner, the cutting mat and the tape measure are both crucial for measuring. I use the mats to get a general idea of my length and width, and I generally add a couple of inches on my original cut. Because I know that ticking doesn’t always cut nice and even and can distort a slight bit, I’ll add on a couple of extra inches. Since I need to make sure that the stripes are even, this has saved me from having to abandon a piece of fabric and start over again. After my initial cut, I measure again with the tape measure. I sew one end, measure, then sew the other end.
It’s hard to measure a length very long without my extra long tape measure. Sometimes I also use two cutting mats, but I am always verifying the measurement with my long tape measure. This is where I also use my water-soluble marking pen. I only pin and sew one side at a time, always stopping to measure the width after sewing each side. This helps me keep the stripes straight and consistent. I use the same process when I am sewing each end.
When I am getting down to the basics, the small ruler with the sliding adjustment is indispensable for me. It really keeps me on track, making sure I am consistent and evenly hemming the sides.
And although I haven’t mentioned it yet, the plate on my sewing machine is also a valuable measuring tool, making sure that when I am hemming and doing topstitching, I am keeping my sewing lines even.
Using these tools, and double-checking my measurements before I sew, and during sewing, keeps me from having to start over or getting frustrated because my project isn’t coming out as planned. It make take a little longer to get my project sewn, but this process is a time saver in the long run.
I hope this helps you too.