So you've gathered all supplies, trims, and fabrics for your garment-to-be but there is just one thing missing… You’ve scoured fabric store after fabric store and still can’t find that perfect length zipper in the right color. Let’s face it, if your garment calls for a zipper, it is most likely essential to its functionality. Needless to say, you won’t be able to skip this one.
What if the opposite happens- you found the right color in the right style but not the right length? Should you forgo color for length and just get the next best thing in a mismatched color? While you may think that’s your best option, the good news is, there’s a better way. If the style and color of the longer zipper matches the clothing item you are sewing, buy it and shorten it at home using the simple technique described below. After all, if you are striving for a professional finish, a mismatched zipper color can be a dead giveaway that things didn’t go quite well in the construction process (unless done intentionally, of course).
Do you remember the very first clothing item you made? I vividly remember mine: an A-line blouse with long sleeves that extended into an exaggerated bell silhouette (oh early 2000's fashion...). Here I am, years later, thinking about some of the sewing elements that still intimidate me to this day. Regardless of how much you love this craft, there are always things you love to sew more than others. That's just a very natural aspect of dressmaking, regardless of your skill level. One of the things I used to dread, but have actually come to enjoy, is sewing lining and facings to the zipper area.
I used to be terrified of anything remotely related to zippers. From sewing them evenly to navigating around the zipper coils during machine stitching, needless to say, all were highly dreaded. Along the way, I've learned that the key to getting past the fear is not only to keep practicing, but also to embrace the possibility of making mistakes. In the process, it is also a good idea to adhere to some basic sewing rules. I know, nobody likes rules, and quite frankly, they can overwhelm a sewing beginner to the point of giving up way too early in the game. Nonetheless, they are designed to be helpful in the long run and save you time in the sewing process. This concept is especially applicable to sewing zippers and clean finishing lining. If you follow some basic techniques correctly, you'll minimize stress and make the process a lot more enjoyable.
That being said, when it comes to finishing lining edges against that dreaded zipper, there are a few main sewing factors (or basic sewing rules) that come into play:
1. Fabric pieces should be sewn face to face, with their right sides touching (in most cases).
2. Sewing clean finished corners at the top of the zipper opening should be done correctly, at a 90 degree angle.
3. Learning how to use a regular zipper presser foot for different sewing applications (you'll fall in love with the convenience of this one!)
Today's Sewing Tip: When Making A Garment Smaller At The Seams, Cut The Old Seam AFTER The New Seam Has Been Stitched.
If you are taking in a clothing item at the seams, use the existing stitch line as a guide to sew the new seam. Cut the old seam and excess fabric after the new seam stitch has been applied.
Taking in certain areas of a garment to make it smaller is a one of the most common alterations that can be performed by just about anyone who owns a sewing machine, regardless of sewing skill level. It is easy to do, without the need for complex sewing techniques, or tools, for that matter. To make things even easier, there are some tricks you can use to maintain the balance of the garment while also simplifying the measuring and sewing process. Today's sewing tip covers a simple seam alteration method that should hopefully take the headache out of some of your future projects!
The best way to keep fabric layers together before and during machine stitching is to pin perpendicular to the fabric edge instead of parallel (when possible).
How To Pin Fabric Edges:
Place the fabric pieces together, aligning the corresponding edges to be stitched. Insert pins horizontally, perpendicular to these edges such that the pin ball/bead corresponds to their (edges) right, and the needle is pointing inward, to the left of the fabric edges.
Why Pin In Perpendicular Direction?
Easy Pin Removal. If you think about the fabric edges to be sewn in relation to the sewing machine needle, you'll come to the realization that having the pins placed in perpendicular relation to these edges provides much easier removal during machine stitching. As you stitch down, removing the pins from left to right feels more natural, comfortable and intuitive than in downwards or upwards motion. Sliding pins out from left to right also provides more pin containment on the table surface, avoiding less dropped pins on the floor.
The idea of drafting your own patterns can feel pretty intimidating. After all, it takes some acquired technical skill and understanding. It is true that there is a greater learning curve associated with learning pattern making. However, if you start the right way, learning just a few important principles, you can actually start making your own sewing patterns in no time!
The whole idea of patternmaking is based on altering basic patterns. Every dressmaker/patternmaker should have a basic set of patterns they work from. These basic sewing patterns are called slopers or blocks in the fashion industry. If your goal is to make patterns for yourself, then all you really need is a good basic dress pattern with a simple curved neckline. When it comes to a basic dress pattern, keep in mind that it should include all appropriate darts (bust and waist darts) and form a well fitted garment for your body type.
I personally like to work from a good dress pattern (form fitted to my body type) because it allows me to see the transition from waist to hip, providing a way to make longer tops and outerwear without having to physically piece together a bodice pattern and skirt pattern. A basic dress pattern keeps things simple and can be separated to create both tops and bottoms.
Adding trim to a garment is a great way to elevate it's design both aesthetically and functionally. These days, there are so many different styles to choose from, ranging from conventional embroidery to specialized beaded, chain and leather trims. What they all have in common however, are the techniques used to sew them and the variety of ways they are incorporated into a garment.
Based on sewing technique, you can group all trims into two large categories: Trims that can be machine stitched and trims that require hand sewing. You will certainly be able to tell the two apart based on their construction and materials used. You'll find that novelty trims featuring beaded accents, metal chains, leather cording, sequins, etc. do not offer an appropriate machine stitching "path". When you can't find an effective stitching area on a trim, it should be hand sewn to the garment instead. To permanently attach a more complex trim by hand, you can use either a blind slip stitch or a simple blanket stitch.
In some cases, even if a trim can be physically machine stitched, it doesn't mean you should necessarily machine stitch it. Take a close look at the garment you are sewing and make sure the stitch applied on top of the trim will not damage or affect it aesthetically or functionally. This is often true when sewing bridal. Most wedding dresses/bridal gowns require the addition of trims along lace edges serving both an aesthetic purpose as well as a way to clean finish raw edges. In many cases, even when a machine sticthable trim is used, you may still have to hand sew it to prevent damaging the rest of the gown's lace fabric (which needs to be handled very gently).
As far as trim design and style, there are a few large groups that each can be classified to. These larger groups break down into smaller ones (of course), but for the purpose of this sewing beginner tutorial, we'll just focus on the broad picture.
Decorative Edge Trims: This type of trim is distinguishable by the fact that one edge is usually straight, serving as the sewing edge, while the other features a non-straight extension for the purpose of decorating a garment's hem or fabric's edge. In this tutorial, I used an embroidered edge trim that has V-shaped angular extensions along it's bottom lengthwise edge. This style is perhaps the most commonly manufactured and used in clothing design. Edge trims normally provide a distinct machine stitching edge along its top lengthwise portion making them easy to work with and convenient to attach using your sewing machine. They also come in a variety of different styles and widths. The trim used in the tutorial below is about 1.5" wide- you can choose yours based on desired look and project. While they are conventionally designed to be added to a clothing item's edge, you can add these decorative trims to the fabric surface or enclose them in a seam as desired.
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