Sewing with Good Skills
Most of these posts are notes on links to good tutorials by other people, but some are tutorials written by me.
Whenever the list of links about a topic got more than screen length on my desktop, I’ve made the topic a separate post !
The techniques which take your projects from beginner to intermediate :
Facings – see below
Sleeves into armholes
(plus fabrics beyond stable plain weaves and double knit interlock – perhaps stripes, sheers, velvet, viscose jersey. . .)
There’s a huge amount of good sewing guidance from these free sites :
University of Kentucky – some line diagrams but not very visual.
photo tutorial :
Sure Fit Designs.
Sew Guide covers both sewing and pattern making (fun and encouraging but not the highest quality).
sew4home (search needed, no simple index)
Professor Pincushion (search needed, there is a long list of YouTube videos).
Sure Fit Designs.
My index pages mainly list clothes making techniques, but I’ve included a few ‘starter’ links to some other needlework/fibre crafts.
‘Slow Fashion’ . . . shifts the focus away from mass production, profit, and status, towards compassion, self expression, connection and craftsmanship. Blueprints for Sewing.
For links to some guides on self-expression, see the Tools page.
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Develop your skills with inserting sleeves by using a sequence of techniques.
Basting/ tacking – by hand, machine, basting tape
Cut and fold your own fabric, including special sewing machine feet.
Bias binding covers over an edge, and is visible from both front and back of that edge.
Bias binding, excellent photo tutorial from Brooks Ann Camper.
pdf on binding from The Sewing Place.
Corners in binding, brief instructions for every type of corner, with detailed instructions for pressing curves, in this tutorial from Wearing History.
A lengthy photo tutorial from Sew4Home has many tips on making and using bias strips, also instructions for ’quick and easy’ application of bias binding with a single line of machine stitching.
You can use zigzag or a decorative stitch such as ‘blanket’ (pin) stitch or feather stitch to attach binding (made by machine or hand).
I find this slightly easier than a bias facing made with single fold bias strip, but it has some of the same problems, so I’m working on a post about how to reduce them.
A bias strip applied as an edge finish but visible from only one side of the fabric. Most tutorials for this give very wrinkled results. I confess I find it easier to make a true facing to get a good result, but as so many beginner patterns use a bias facing neckline finish, I do need to give some suggestions for getting a better result. I’m working on a post about how to avoid all the causes of distortion.
Pattern Scissors Cloth has an invisible method which can be used on light fabrics which press well. It doesn’t include the final line of stitching which causes so many problems in most bias facing methods.
Blazer jacket – see links in Intermediate Classics post.
Examples of using it for lined yokes, lined sleeveless dresses, finishing a shawl collar.
Buttons – many machine brands have a button presser foot which holds a button in place while you sew it on by machine.
It’s a basic life skill to know how to sew on a button by hand. Here’s a tutorial from Wikihow in which the photos are all little videos (scroll down).
Machine sewn buttonholes
Hand sewn buttonholes for dressmaking and tailoring.
Sarah Veblen at Pattern Review has a video class on buttonholes and buttons (not free).
And at Craftsy there’s a video class on Creative Closures from Marsha McClintock (also not free).
Snap buttons : How to install snap buttons, photo tutorial from Closet Case patterns.
Collars and attachments, these don’t need to be a big challenge to attach.
basic instructions with videos from Annie’s Craft Store.
Hmm – beware how you interpret patterns, UK and US crochet terms are different, here’s a table from WoolCouture.
Needle sizes and yarn weight names are also different. Here are tables from Wool Warehouse.
Pivot round a curve
Matching curves – final section of post.
Madeira appliqué is a marvellous method for symmetrical curves on appliqué/patch pockets/visible facings, see this youtube video from Sew Easy Quilts.
Sewing inward (clip) and outward (notch) curves, from sew4home.
Outward curves – for some applications I get a smoother curve by trimming the seam allowances using pinking shears, instead of notching.
Curved hems : see the Hems post.
Many methods, so try them to find which you prefer.
I have shaky hands so can’t use a rotary cutter without a ruler. I can understand why they’re much loved by people who sew unstable fabrics, as they don’t move the fabric while you’re cutting. But I can only use a rotary cutter for cutting patchwork pieces.
And I find it very satisfying to use quality scissors.
For the same reason, I’m a pinner, I don’t just use pattern weights. I use pins about every 4″/10cm, more round a sharp curve.
But I do find it’s worth the extra work of drawing round the pattern onto the fabric and then cutting on the drawn line. I get a much better result than when trying to follow the edge of paper.
The ‘couture’ method uses a pattern without seam allowances. Draw round the pattern, so you have a marked stitching line. Then draw a second line outside that, to mark the cutting line.
Here’s a comprehensive guide from Threads magazine about fabric layout, including aids to cutting out slippery shifty fabrics.
Cutting folded fabric
Darts – photo tutorial from Sew Me Something.
I prefer to finish darts by changing to a short stitch about 1/2″-1.5cm from the end, and sewing off.
Elastic waist pants – links to some easy patterns with support videos, and some more stylish patterns without.
Piece and decorate (Sewingplums).
Hand embroidery stitches – clear videos for stitching, from Needle ‘n Thread.
Free motion stitching.
6 ways to insert lace, from Sew Historically.
Embellishment using special purpose presser feet and needles (not free) :
Embellishment techniques, from the Sewing Collection formerly Martha Pullen.
Stitching Cosmos, from Sewing Mastery.
Some Craftsy classes
Edge finishing techniques.
Start using an embroidery machine – basics.
Start using an embroidery machine – next steps.
Start using an embroidery machine – editing designs.
See also bias binding above, and pockets.
I haven’t added links about fabrics (except knits) – I just refer to Sandra Betzina’s Fabric Savvy.
For knit fabrics see Techniques Index H-Z.
Also many fabric sewing tips in the videos from Sewing Workshop.
Moth prevention from tailors Norton & Sons.
Fabric button loops – see Rouleaux
Faced slash-slit opening (Sewingplums)
Facings are another area of sewing technique where there are strong differences of opinion. Some people dislike facings. I think proper facings give a lovely high quality effect, much easier to get a good result than with a bias facing strip. But some people think a ‘proper’ facing is unfashionable, and facings do need to be sewn with care.
Sure Fit Designs
pattern making – 12 min.
sewing – 14 min.
Made to Sew
pattern making – 22 min.
sewing – 37 min.
Facings construction – from the University of Kentucky, click on pdf icon, with drawings.
Sarah Veblen’s facings class at Pattern Review (not free), with photos.
Fitting – we all have our own needs and technique preferences, this is my post on some of the options.
Circular sections, which have a special effect as the outer free edge is longer than the inner attached edge. Lovely for swirling (or flouncing 😀 ).
2 technical issues :
– attaching the flounce, often sewing 2 different curves together, so staystitch the inner edge of the flounce then clip so it can be straightened.
– hemming the flounce, see making a narrow hem on a bias edge in the Hems post.
Flounces are not the same as ruffles, which are straight gathered strips, see Technique Index H-Z.
Gathering stitches, gathering foot – by hand, machine, machine gathering foot, shirring with elastic bobbin thread.
Gusset, a solution when you need to add in fabric to allow for the depth of your body – but not quick and easy.
Well, the easier method is to add a square with on-grain sides, still needs care with stitching.
A ‘proper’ gusset is more tricky : a diamond shape – treat it with care as it distorts easily with all those bias edges.
Set in where 4 seams meet at underarm or crotch, written tutorial from The Sewing Garden.
Draw the stitching lines onto the gusset, and sew each side separately – stopping at the point where the lines cross, so there is no stitching in the seam allowances. Best to use ‘needle down’, and an open-toe foot so you can see exactly where the needle is stopping. The corners are 3-dimensional shapes, so use a pressing ham.
Vintage underarm gusset set into slash in fabric, photo tutorial from Gertie.
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The index for Techniques H – Z is here.
See also top of right side menu for links to sites with guidance for complete beginner sewers.
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Links on this page checked February 2019
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