Ask the Expert: My Tips and Tricks
June 20, 2012
I have been asked countless times for my own tips and tricks to make my sewing easier or how I keep it all sane in the sewing room. It is time to share a few of my favorites since there is no way I can remember or document them all.
1) Pattern weights- I have made my own, several of different shapes and sizes and I use them all the time, everyday. Mine have beans on the bottom and stuffing on top so they also serve as pin cushions. But I don't just use them to keep from pinning my patterns but also to keep my fabric from falling off the table when I have a huge piece and only need to cut a bit. They also keep my fabric, papers and patterns in place since I have a tendency of bumping everything just a bit to knock my perfect alignments out of whack if I didn't have the weights.
2) I can't keep my tools in drawers; I have to have them out in sight in cups, vases, bowls or plates. I collect these open storage areas from thrift stores and home stores. If I can't see them, I will send half my time looking all over or forget about some really handy tools. My goal with the open storage is to make my tools (scissors, pens, markers, chalk, seam rippers, tape, clips, rulers, etc) easy to see but still pretty to look at.
3) I start sewing every seam ¾ in. away from the edge to prevent snags and the inevitable bottom fabric getting sucked into the bobbin casing. I take 1-2 forward stitches, then reverse to the edge and then get going forward again. It may seem like a lot of reverse stitches but it is my sure-fire way of avoiding the sucked in fabric (AND I HATE THAT!)
4) I don't cut my patterns, ever! I copy them onto freezer paper for several reasons. It is easier to fold up and store uncut patterns. If I lose a pattern piece it is not the original and I can trace another. I hate coming up with folding methods and storing cut tissue paper patterns. I also hate tissue paper patterns because they are so delicate and I paid big bucks for this pattern and it just ripped/my dog sat on it/ my kid drew on it/ it blew out the window. I can iron freezer paper. I have more but I should stop before I lose you.
5) I clip my pattern instruction onto the wall right in front of my work space. Before I did this, I had to use table space to lay out my instructions and they usually were buried under fabric and pattern pieces about 15 min in. No longer. With my instruction hanging, they cannot be buried and no longer take up valuable table real estate.
6) I don't use soluble markers. They don't last long enough for me and I have had issue with accidentally spraying them away while ironing or leaving an air soluble out overnight when called away to other duties. I use tailors chalk, chalk pencils, ballpoint pens and when no other mark will work sharpies (only for emergencies).
7) Replace your seam rippers often and I mean often. They dull and you might not realize it. I have had some for years and never put 2+2 together and realized some of my mistakes were from a dull ripper. A sharp seam ripper will work faster and better every time. Once you start to feel resistance or slipping, it is time to change your seam ripper. Stock up with every order. They don't cost much and 2-3 might just be what you need to get free shipping. Plus you can keep them all over so you won't have to look under every bit of fabric to find one ripper. You can collect them all later when you dutifully clean your sewing room!
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