. . . . . . A place to contribute, exchange tips and ideas and find further info on the LDC group on Meetup.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Press, press and press again

A good press with the iron makes sewing so much better! 

One of the most valuable sewing tips I can give is about pressing your work as you go along.  One caveat: I sew mainly with woven fabric, the need to press may or may not apply to jersey fabrics.

I used to underestimate the difference it would make.  I dismissed the need for pressing and felt it was just a bit too over-the-top, too fussy and pernickety - I wanted to sew!  Which meant that anything that was not about sitting at the sewing machine and putting my foot down (literally, on the foot pedal) didn't feel like 'proper sewing' - it just didn't count in my book.

I used to get incredibly impatient with the need to cut out the fabric, mark it, overlock, baste or pin and when I finally got to the sewing stage I just didn't want to stop for anything.  Getting the iron out?  What for?!

Well, I learned from experience that sewing over unpressed seams produces an end result that I am not happy with. Fabric has this habit of not creasing by itself: it will hold a certain rolled shape at the seam until you press it flat.  If you are really stuck without an iron you could try to use your thumb nail to crease a seam flat enough to be able to sew over it, but it is not ideal.

You will need the iron anyway for attaching interfacing but keep the ironing board out, or you could get an ironing mat you can spread out on a table - quilters use this a lot but their projects start smaller than full-size garments. It is so very much worth the time to set this up because you can wander on over whenever needed. Use it often: if in doubt, press!  Except, perhaps:

...there are areas where pressing is not wanted at some stages of construction: when you make welt button holes or pocket openings you don't want press the welt lips flat because it would distort them before you carry on with further steps. A skirt waist edge that will be understitched to stop the facing or lining rolling up into view should also only be pressed once the understitching is done.  There might be other occasions, let me know if you can think of other elements.

But most of the time a quick press is hugely important for a good result that brings joy as opposed to the frustration of a bodged project: it feels very demotivating to have put all this time and energy into a sewing job and then it doesn't turn out very well.  You're not quite sure what went wrong so you don't even know how to fix it next time.

Pressing seams flat might just make the difference.  Try it!

What are your experiences of using an iron while sewing?  Any mishaps, any tips?

Thursday, 21 July 2016

"It's got to be perfect...Now I'm determined, I'm gonna get it right" *

I unpicked a seam for the fourth time in order to stitch it again.  Despite this I still did not get the perfection for which I was striving, I think, partly, because so much handling and resewing had distorted the fabric a bit, so I settled for that fourth attempt at sewing the seam  I know it isn't exactly  right but will anyone else notice when I am wearing the garment unless I draw attention to it?
Recently I admired a sewer's polka-dotted skirt and immediately she pointed out where the pattern did not match completely.  A couple of days later another sewer, when I commented on how great her dress looked, replied that the belt ought to be a bit lower.  I know, when in the same situation,  I  hasten to point faults out with my sewing.  Do you do this also?  I would bet that many of you do.  Do you point out slip-ups only to other sewers or does it extend to whoever makes a comment on your garment?   If we were complimented on a ready-to-wear garment would we behave in the same way?
Why do we do it?  Is it due to a form of "impostor syndrome", the frame of mind where one feels that one does not deserve to be praised. Does a confession of a fault help expiate the perceived "sin" of not being "perfect"?  Has the proliferation of helpful bloggers and pattern reviews, writing about problems that arose in their sewing and fitting of a garment, made us feel that we need to point out our own complications and mishaps?
If I look at all the me-made garments that I have now (and some of these can be categorised as vintage! due to the length of time since I made them) only two seem to me to be without mishaps of sewing or fit- the zip perfectly inserted, the buttonholes exactly matching and evenly spaced, the pattern matching, the hem stitching invisible, the inside neatly finished, the collar points sharp and no bodging or tweaking.  Unfortunately they are not my favourite garments, they are very boring, and they are not the ones that get compliments.  Usually the favourable remarks arise due, not to the perfection of their construction, but to a striking fabric or unusual detail (sometimes this later has been created by me to cover up a sewing deficency- there you are, the urge to confess surfaces).
Etiquette says that you should accept a compliment gracefully.  Telling someone that the dress they have just admired is faulty is tantamount to casting aspersions on their judgement.  So, in future, if a non-sewer  gives me a bit of praise I shall try just to smile and respond with something nice about them.  However if it is a sewer and they ask me what the pattern was like to sew I shall probably regale them with stories of what hell the fabric was to stitch without puckering, how I misread the instructions twice and how I sewed the left sleeve to the right side of the bodice.  What about you?  How do you react  when someone congratulates you on something you have made?  What do people most remark upon?  I'd love to hear.
* Taken from the lyrics of the song "Perfect" by Mark Nevin