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Topics

Articles & Comments Q&A
Leah's Notions - "Hand Stitching" Hem Markers
Leah's Notions - "Metal Rulers" Tapered Shorts Hem
  Button Knots
  Elf Princess Dress
  Henry Questions
  Bust Dart in Blouse
  Pant Hem Angles
  Sewing Glittered Fabric
  Working with Velvet
  Baggy Pant Legs
  Slipping Fabric
  Preshrinking Fabrics
  Belly Dance Costumes
  Pants Waist
  Fixing Mistakes
  Crease Removal
  Hem Pinning Gadget

Crease Removal

added Auguat 2005

I recently had 5 pair of pants hemmed with a cuff by a tailor. The original hem crease shows on my new cuffs. Is it possible to get this crease out? Or are my pants ruined? Help….

Try soaking a pressing cloth with water and white vinegar. Steam press the hem with the cloth. It will smell like salad for a bit but that will go away and so should the crease.


Hem Pinning Gadget

added January 2004

Hi there

I saw on your site that you use a pin type hem marker. I'm searching for one of those. Do you know of a source? I currently work as an alterations seamstress for a bridal shop and I'd like to expand my work to my home and take on private clients so this is definitly something I need to have. Thanks for any help you might be able to offer.

Linda

I got mine from the local JoAnn's. Dritz makes them and you should be able to find them anywhere.
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Fixing Mistakes

added June 2003

I made an off the shoulder dress and I cut the neckline down too low. Is there anyway to fix this without cutting the entire dress over and raising the neckline....

Thanks!

When you make a mistake like this it is best to make a bigger than you need fix. If you try to fix a small mistake like this with a little patch it will stick out like a sore thumb, but if you make a bigger fix it looks like you designed the fix to be there in the first place. For instance, can you cut the neckline even further until it reaches the bust and then add a piece of fabric (original or contracting) from the bust up to where you wanted the neckline to be? You can even carry it around the shoulders to the back. You could also add a portrait collar over a patch to bring the neckline up to normal.

Not seeing the dress design makes it hard for me to be more specific with suggestions. Hope this helps.
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Pants Waist

added March 2003

I would like to alter the waist from a pair of dress pants that have 3
pleats at the waist, taking the pleats away or mantening only one. The
pants have sliding pockets at side. I would appreciate a suggestion
'cause I dont know where to start...help!!!!
I dont need the pochets. Do I have to adjust the side seams also?
Thank you VERY much. Atena

Hi Atena, It's really hard to give you any advice not being able to see the pants. Why are there 3 pleats and not 4? I've never seen a pant with 3 and I don't think it will look good with only one. And what are sliding pockets? What is it that slides? Is there a waistband? Are you making this bigger or smaller? I really need to see the pants on your body to tell you how to alter them. There are so many different things that can be done it's hard to guess at what you need to do.

Hi, Leanna! Sorry I did a boo-boo. Better, I'll start again.:
I have a pair of pants with 3 front pleats in each side, 6 in total.
I would like to alter the pants, taking away 2 pleats from each side.( 4 in total )
The pants have 2 side pockets and a waistband. I would like to know what to do with the extra material from the 4 pleats. The waist doesnt need to be altered. Could I transform the pleats in darts or I have to move the entire front panels toward the hips and how.. I 'll appreciate very much your help.Hoping you understand my explanation I thank you.. Atena

There's a difference in altering clothing for fit and changing a design element. Changing design elements are sometimes not possible or so involved that it's not worth doing. That's where you are. I would not attempt to do what you are proposing. It involves taking almost every seam on the pant apart, recutting the front and part of the back pieces and then reassembling the pant. That's too much work in my opinion. For the time you spend, it's cheaper to buy a new pair of pants.
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Belly Dance Costumes

added November 2002

Your belly dance costumes are gorgeous. Did you us a pattern for the skirts? I need to make a skirt also and I am wondering which material to use and how to 'tune' it correctly by cutting it on the bias? Any input would be very appreciated!

Regards, Beth

The pictures on the site are mostly no pattern stuff. The white skirt is just a circle with a square overlay. The blue skirt is a circle base and 8, 45" square handkerchief like pieces attached to the band. The black skirt is 3 half circle pieces to make the skirt fuller.

If you really need a pattern try looking for the poodle skirt patterns in the Halloween section of the pattern books. That will give you a circle and you can be creative from there.

The only advise I can give is be sure to let the skirt hang for a few days after you put it together so the bias places will hangout, then trim and hem it.

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Preshrinking Fabrics

added November 2002

I am making a pair of pants/jeans out of 100% cotton canvas. How should I per-shrink the fabric? Will washing in hot and tumble drying do it?

It's recommended that you launder the fabric as you plan to launder the garment once it is made. It's more the way you dry that shrinks thing than the washing, so if you dry in hot, you will get more shrinkage than if you were to only wash in hot and hang to dry. The same advice goes for if you were to purchase the pants and only be hemming them.

Personally, I don't see that it's necessary to preshrink any fabric more than necessary, so if you don't plan on always washing and drying in hot than I wouldn't preshrink it that way. Some may differ with me, but it's worked for what I've needed so far. Cotton does normally have a big shrink factor, so you do need to preshrink to some degree. I would wash in warm and dry at medium.

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Slipping Fabric

added November 2001

HELP!!! I volunteered to make plain old panels for my cousin's new house before the material was purchased. Well, he bought lace and I have discovered - to my horror - that polyester lace and sewing machines don't go well together. Since I will be making 18 panels, I really don't want to tackle the project by hand. I tried to press a hem and it was impossible to make it even - and the weave is too loose to pin it. What can I do? Can you please tell me how to measure and sew the hems and rod pockets so they are nice and even without having the material slip and slide all over the place? I will appreciate any help you can give me - believe me, I'm desperate!

Well, I don't do curtain very often. Actually, I avoid them like the plague. But I would try using some spray sizing on the fabric. It will give it some substance so it won't slip around so bad. When you're done stitching you can wash out the sizing.

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Baggy Pant Legs

added November 2001

Is it possible to reduce the leg width of store bought pants without seriously distorting the line and drape of the pants? I have a couple of pairs of nice pants that for whatever reason hang too long in the crotch and are too wide. Whenever I have attempted these alterations in the past, the pants never hang correctly again.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,
LeAnn

I can't give you a real answer without seeing the pants, but most pants that are big in the leg are designed that way, and it's hard to take it out without destroying the drape. The most important trick is to do both inseam and outseam the same amount. That way you are not disturbing the grain. To fix a droopy crotch is a different operation - The leg is taken in on only the back panel of the inseam and tapered back to the original seam only to the knee.

Also, check your thread tension. A slightly tight tension will make a mess of the drape.

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Working with Velvet

added October 2001

I'm working with velvet for the first time(making draperies) and needed some tips for cutting and sewing. Thanks for any advice you can share.

Velvet can be a headache to work with. The biggest problem is that it's hard to sew a straight line on the stuff. My best advice is to practice on scraps to get the feel of how it acts while sewing. The pile seems to push stitching one way, then another. It's hard to describe. Hand basting often helps too. I baste EVERYTHING when working with velvet.
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Sewing Glittered Fabric

added October 2001

Question! We are working on bridesmaid dresses and the material they have chosen is glittered. We have worked with sequins and the seams were perfect but sewing with this material is a nightmare. When we sew the needle either gets stuck in the fabric where the glitter is, or the needle breaks going thru the glitter or the seam is not straight. Do you have any tips on how to sew with this type of fabric. We would appreciate it ASAP! Thanks bunches and waiting to hear from you.

Try using a leather needle. It has a special wedged point to cut through the leather skins. I use them to sew when there is sequins on the fabric and it sews right through with little difficulty. I'm not sure about your glitter though, but that's what I would try. I think your problem comes more from the glue used to attach the glitter, than the glitter. I think the leather needle should help in either reason.

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Pant Hem Angles

added October 2001

I recently had three pairs of pants hemmed. The bottoms of the legs were not sewn straight across but rather in a curve, so that the front and back were longer than the sides of the leg. Isn't is supposed to be sewn straight across?

In my opinion it should always be done straight across, but many will disagree with me. It is common to have the back dropped a little to be longer than the front, but I have never heard of it the way you describe. It sounds like a mistake to me.

They probably measured up from the old hemline to make the new one instead of drawing a straight line as I always do. Quite often hems from the factory end up crocked because the seam draws them up in the pressing process. One should never assume the factory hem is correct and use it as a guide for making the new hem.

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Bust Dart in Blouse

added May 2001

Hello! The problem I have in making a blouse is that a huge dart can be made from the neckline to the bust with the excess material there. But if I do that, it throws off the shoulder seams and grain lines.

OK, your dart is not a big problem. Take your pattern piece and lay it on your body in the position it would be if it were in the shirt. Pinch the paper to form the dart you need to make it right and pin it as if you were sewing it. Mark the sewing lines you pinned and lay the pattern out flat on another piece of paper big enough to make a copy of the pattern piece. Then put both papers on a surface you can pin into like one of those cardboard lay out boards. Here's the cool part. Put a pin at the bust point. Start tracing around the edge of the pattern piece starting at the right leg of that dart. When you get to the bottom area where you'd like the dart to be stop tracing. Pivot the pattern piece in that pin until the left leg of the shoulder dart meets the place you started tracing. This closes that dart and recreates it in the bottom where it is better. Now, continue tracing around the rest of the edge until you come back to the start leaving the open space for the new dart. Draw your new dart sewing lines.

I hope this makes sense. It's easier to show than to write down. Let me know if you have any questions. I'll try to explain better.

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Henry Questions

added May 2001 ( link to Henry VIII Picture)

What I really like is the shoes... *square toed* shoes! You really went for the details.

Chuck had to nag me into buying real suede for this. I've never made shoes before and had no idea how. I found a company that I could order them from for $350. That gave me the motive to try. I went to the neighborhood Tandy Leather and showed them the Xerox I was using form an old history book. They sold me some leather and tools (about $30) and gave me some pointers. I wrapped Chuck's foot with paper, cutting it to resemble the picture. It was kind of like creating a puzzle of pattern pieces. I cut the leather and sewed them in one night. After all that fretting, it was too easy.

I also like the "spots" on the white fur... but I noticed they weren't on the first picture, so I wonder what technique you used for the spots?

I cut small circles of black fox and tacked them in various places in the white fur. Nothing really technical.

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Elf Princess Dress

added September 2000

I really liked the elf princess dress. I am currently working on a water fairy dress and the elf princess is kinda what I need for a secondary costume. Can you give me any tips?

That one had to be draped to work. There's really no back. In order for the front to stay put it had to be draped so that the gathering at the shoulder was angled just right. The drape off the shoulder to the floor is important too for the balance, it actually trains if you can't see that in the pictures. I have danced in this dress and not had any problem with it slipping off the shoulder, it stays put like glue. Many folks have commented about it to me for it doesn't seem to have any reason why it should work, but it does. The fabric is that tissue Faille (not sure how to spell it). It's a type of taffeta that has a real nice drape, not stiff at all.

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Button Knots

added September 2000

I know how to sew the buttons on, but I can not seem to find a simple way to knot the thread. I tried putting my needle back through the threads in back and then forming a loop, and I thought that the knot would hold, looked like it would until you wear or wash. People have been sewing for decades, there has to be a simple answer to this, can you help? I'm cross stitching buttons on shirts

I generally do a French knot on the underside of the fabric. Then I repeat it. I've never had a knot come out in the wash.

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Tapered Shorts Hem

added September 2000

I am hemming some shorts for a friend of mine and I am having a lot of trouble with it. It seems that every time I go to sew the hem there is a lot of fabric on the outside of the shorts. Then that leaves a big bunch and it really looks bad. I do not have anyone here that can show me what to do so I thought that I would write to you and ask for your help. I would greatly appreciate anything that you can tell me.

It's really hard to determine what the trouble is without seeing it. If the leg of the shorts is tapered so that the part you are turning under is skinnier that the part it is being sewn to you will get a pucker unless you adjust one of them. Let out the seams on the under side only or take in the seams on the outer side only to make them match. Also ease sewing seam tape to the under side will give you some extra width to match the wider outside.

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Leah's Notions - "Hand Stitching"

An article written for the January 1997 issue of Tangled Threads

I used to hate hand work. If it couldn't be done on the machine I wasn't interested in doing it. I would go out of my way to figure out how to do hand operations on the machine whenever possible, like sewing on buttons. This also never made sense to me since I love needle point, cross stitch, knitting and crocheting.

But lately I find that I may be changing my attitude. I'm in the middle of a very tedious project that I decided needed to be done mostly by hand. I've always known that there are just some things that turn out better when done by hand, I simply avoided them. So here I am stuck in a mess of hand work.

During this project, I have discovered some things about hand work that I can appreciate. First off, I swear it lowers your blood pressure. It forces you to sit in a quiet way and concentrate. It works just like patting an animal.

Second, you can do it anywhere. You don't have to feel confined to the sewing room. Hopefully you can place yourself on a comfy couch in a well lit corner either in silence or with music or the TV. Try sitting on your front porch on a fine day, or maybe you'd prefer parking yourself in the center of a shopping mall quietly stitching in one of those nice rest areas while all the hustle and bustle of people go by. Or, my favorite, take it with you to the in-law's or any other evening you need to spend with people you have trouble conversing with. It will either give you an excuse for not joining in the conversation, or become a topic you can talk about freely.

Thirdly, it promotes family unity. Again, you don't have to be isolated in your sewing room when you have handwork you can do in the family room. And if you believe in monitoring you child's TV viewing, but don't care for the programs they (or your husband) watch, handwork will help you endure it.

I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year filled with new experiences that you will find merits in also.

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Leah's Notions - "Metal Rulers"

An article written for the May 1996 issue of Tangled Threads

Do you use those 6" metal sewing & knitting gauge with the little blue or red plastic slid ? I do and I do so much that they break often. Last time I busted one a thought occurred to me as I want to toss it out. I took off the plastic slide and put it into another gauge. It increases the usefulness of this already handy gadget. Like when your customer has sleeves that need to be shortened two lengths. You can now set the gauge for both. Or you can set the red slid for the amount to sew and the blue slide the amount to cut off. I'm finding more uses all the time.

At the moment I have only one of these double slide gauges. But it's become so valuable to me that I'm tempted to break another one so I can have two.

Nah, I'm too frugal for that.

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Hem Markers

I am looking at buying a chalk hem marker for marking skirts (give my husband a break!) and wondered if you have purchased the Deluxe hem marker from Nancy's Notions or the chalk hem marker made by Newey which is sold through A Great Sewing Notion. I had one years ago which wasn't very good and don't want to make the same mistake twice!

I have the marker that uses pins. I like it much more than the chalk one. But if you don't want to bother Hubby or friends try this:

Take a piece of string about 40 inches and rub chalk on it. Now thumb tack it across an open doorway at the level you want the hem to be and while wearing the skirt, stand in the doorway and turn around while rubbing against the string. Wala! you are marked.

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