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

Monday, 13 March 2017

Sewing tips - or I love YouTube videos!

Isn't YouTube fantastic for all kinds of things?  It most definitely is extremely useful for the many videos about sewing and dressmaking.  The trick is finding them.

Here is one on Ten Sewing Tips that I think is very good. One of the best 12 minutes you'll spend!

National Sewing Circle's '10 Sewing Tips from the Experts'

You may have come across some of these, but I bet that there is something here that is useful. I know that I had not heard of surgical seam rippers before (they sound kind of dangerous? But they could be quite good for the purposes described) and I thought the tip of how to test whether a sewing maching needle is the right size by threading the loose needle by hand and checking if the needle runs easily along the thread - that tip alone was worth the time watching the clip!

Some of the tips concern the sewing machine, others are general tips. All useful.

I really liked what Ellen March says about reading your sewing machine's manual.  Now if you're like me then your eyes glaze over at the thought of reading through the whole thing when you just bought your machine, or even later on (let's face it: none of us did that when we first got our machines. I know I didn't).  It takes a lot of focus and concentration to follow along - particularly when it is all theoretical at this stage, without an immediate practical use.

I would rather break this up into several sessions and avoid the long slog of a single sitting reading.

My problem is that I tend to forget things that I don't use soon after reading them. That's why my advice is to dip in and out of your manual and for that reason it is a really fantastic idea to designate a permenent place for it near your sewing machine. You'll want to know where it is at all times - it's beyond frustrating to start searching for the damn thing every single time you'll want it.

I learned how to do lapped zips from my manuel. The drawings are very useful and the description tells you what you're looking at. I don't do lapped zips all that often and therefore find it a very good idea to open my manual to remind myself how to place the fabric layers and which bit to fold over or under...

It saves time and energy that I prefer to use for actual sewing.

Having praised this video, I also have a book containing hundreds of sewing tips (by both experts and everyday seamstresses), called: "1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips", by Deepika Prakash from - it is very good. There is so much material in this book that I have not been able to even get through a tenth of it.  This blog post reminds me of the book. I'll think I'll go and put it with my machine manual!

What are your tips of something useful that you do all the time? Please share!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Sewing motivation in little steps

You know what sewing is like: you're really into it, making great progress, you're so looking forward to the finished garment... and then something happens that slows you down, interrupts your flow, gums up the works - you put your sewing aside, and despite your good intentions, you don't get round to pick it up again another day. 

Unfortunately it often happens that a short break from sewing results in a much longer period of not sewing at all.  Sewing is not like knitting that's easily put-downable and pick-upable, to coin a phrase.  You have to pull the sewing machine back out, free up the space for all the stuff you need, get all the bits back together, - and you generally need to plan things a lot more than just carrying on on impulse.

I have found it incredibly easy to lose my motivation to sew.  While the thought of my massive fabric stash, and all those lovely patterns, and all these exciting ideas what I could make (if only), and what design features I could incorporate... they seem to percolate away but not lead anywhere.

Tash has written a great post about sewing motivation, I very much enjoyed it.  My post is about  one technique that I use to overcome the not-sewing-but-I-really-want-to slump: do something, anything that comes to mind, even if it's just a little something.

Small steps, the itty-bitty tiny ones, are very useful to regain your motivation to sew again.

The sorts of things I like to do, just one at a time, - in no particular order:

  • Read through some of the sewing instructions to check how it deals with a particular part of the sewing process
  • Wind my bobbin - ready to sew whenever that might be ('bobbin mates' are great for keeping a bobbin spool and sewing thread together)
  • Look at my fabric and stroke it a bit (yes really. Though that works slightly better with wool when comtemplating a knitting project)
  • Clearing my cutting table. You never know it might make me spread the fabric out and maybe even cut out some of the pieces... or all of them once I get started and it's not as horrendously labourious as I expected...
  • If I am further along: pin something, measure something, baste or tack pieces together, do a little pressing with the iron, ...
  • Set up the ironing board, including iron, tailor ham, clapper or whatever else I like to use
  • Heck, even dust off my sewing machine.  It likes a bit of tender loving care occasionally
  • Write a bullet point list of steps needed from now to the end of the project, or just a couple of points of my next steps
  • Lay my dressmaking pattern envelope on my sewing table, or put it with my machine.  Adding the fabric to keep it company is good too
  • Cut out the pattern tissue pieces.  Even if I only start with the big ones, or the little ones, I can usually go on to do all of the ones I need (I have big freezer bags, with a ziplock top, that I put the tissue pieces, pattern envelope and other materials into ready to use)
  • Look at the pattern envelope to familiarise myself with the line drawing, what kinds of pieces there are, what shape they're in, where the seams are. That sort of thing
  • Take out the sewing instructions and circle all the numbers of the pattern pieces for my chosen view or option
  • Go out and buy or look for the other bits I'll need: check the zip colour and length against my fabric, pull out interfacing, set out pins, chose buttons (or pin different options to the fabric to see which I like), grab tape or ribbons, double-check that my sewing thread hasn't gone dry and brittle if I had it a while (been there, done that), double-check the pattern for anything I forgot
  • Check out the fabric in the mirror to see what it'll look like on me
  • Sew 'just' the one seam... which usually leads to a bit more... and this little bit here, and that one bit there...

Any of these things might be all I do at the time.  It gives me a feeling of satisfaction that I managed to successfully put a stop to my slump.  And strangely enough one small thing is often enough to do a second little something: either straight away, or a bit later in the day.

The best thing about the little step approach is that everything more is a bonus and you're not expecting that you'll complete your project in a few hours from the time you get up to do anything.  If you're literally only reminding yourself of the sewing instructions then that's enough to get you thinking about things in a practical manner again.

And that seems to losen the paralysis of "I really want to sew, so why don't I?"

What other small steps can you think of?  What do you do to get yourself over a long pause in sewing?  What gets your creative energy flowing?

Please let us know in the comments!