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!)
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.
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.
If you are reading this tutorial, you are probably in the midst of a struggle with sewing a beaded or sequined fabric. A couple of years ago, I was wearing those shoes when I took on the enormous (yet exciting) task of designing and making my sister's wedding dress. When it comes to a project as such, lets just say the pressure is always on. Everything had to be prefect and that includes, of course, the dress fabric. As we browsed store after store, no fabric was off limits. I was ready to take on any textile regardless of how ornate or potentially difficult to work with it was. Eventually, we found the one- a luxurious lace hand beaded with two different styles of beads which beautifully blended onto the fabric surface providing a tasteful sparkle. I'll be honest, I don't recall the exact lace print itself (it was definitely floral), I do however vividly recall having to remove each minuscule bead along the fabric's cut edges in order to physically stitch the seams together. Lesson number 1? Sewing with heavily beaded and sequined fabrics requires a lot of patience. The end result however, is incredibly rewarding.
Precautions For Sewing With Beaded And Sequined Fabrics
As you might have already guessed, sewing with beaded or sequined fabrics will take a bit more energy than working with regular fabrics. There a few aspects of taking on these unique fabrics that require a different construction (and sometimes design) process than that conventionally used with non-ornamental fabrics.
When it comes to clothing, whether it is women's or menswear, we've all experienced fit issues and size discrepancies at one point or another. For women in particular, these fit issues are a bit more common and complex due the uniqueness of the shapes and curves we all share. The most common of these fit problems often occur at the bust area where some clothing items may often feel too tight or vise versa, unnaturally large. In this week's tutorial we'll address the latter with a tutorial on how to tighten a sleeveless garment at the sides thus decreasing its size at the bust area.
The example below addresses how to tighten a blouse under each armhole area while keeping the bottom of the blouse intact. This sort of alteration is common when you want to achieve an individualized proportion not offered by the garment at hand.
How To Measure The Side Seam Excess That Needs To Be Removed
To start with, you'll have to find approximately how much you'd like to take the garment in on the sides.
How To Alter The Side Seams To Make A Blouse (Or Dress) Smaller
So let's say you have a blouse or dress that is a bit loose around the bust area (under the armhole) yet the waist and hip area fit just fine. There is actually an easy way to tighten the underarm area on both sides using a stitch blending techniques that wont affect the bottom fit of the garment. Keep in mind that when altering the size of a garment, whether adding or taking in excess, you should always work with the existing seams. Side seams and center back seams in particular are the most convenient and commonly used in the size alteration process. Unless you are a a seasoned dressmaker or there's no appropriate seam to work with, never cut directly through the fabric to make a blouse smaller. In doing so, you risk causing more complex fit issues and difficulty re-finishing the new cut edges.
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