Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ultimate Blog Party 2014

Thanks to Janice and Susan of 5 Minutes for mom, I am an official participant of their ingenious idea of a blog party. As a sometimes blogger, but most of the time seamstress, this is the first time I have been a part of this block party. So cool to meet other people who have some of the same interests that I do. My name says Tailormade Girl, but most of the time I just go by Vita. No, the "i" isn't long, which seems to be a general habit. It's a Latin word, and the "i" makes a long "e" sound.

Now that that's over with, it's so great to meet everybody, and I hope to be chatting with you soon!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Finishing Seams

So I'm kind of a nerd...I like to read. So what do I do before I make a pattern? I read through the entire guide sheet. Kind of weird, I guess, except I hate surprises. Don't want to get halfway through the garment and have to do something weird I wasn't expecting. Some patterns, like Butterick, are good for that. They kind of go all around the world to get back to the simple steps the other patternmakers went straight to in the first place.

But once you've been sewing for a while--forever if you're like me--do you really even need the guide? I mean seriously, all pants are made basically the same, whether they're pants, shorts, leggings, whatever. They all have side seams, a crotch and a waist.

Anyway, people like information they can actually use. I know I do. So I'm going to start adding free info and tutorials to this blog. No need for a guide sheet. Just think...all those people long ago didn't have guide sheets. (I always wondered what you did for clothes if you were no good at sewing!). Maybe instructions are like guide sheets... Just thinking out loud.

So let's start off talking about finishing seams.  In the beginning there were fig leaves... We've come a long way from Adam and Eve! We're even a long way from the invention of the first sewing machine. As sewists, we can do at home now...everything that the commercial clothiers can do. And for that, some silkworm somewhere is ecstatic that the cotton boll yielded itself in glorious abundance! So as we gather today to discuss the intricacies of the art of sewing, let's do first things first...seams! Seems weird, (forgive the pun!) but seams are one of those topics that many a seamstress has had to just agree to disagree.

To finish or not to finish--that is the question! Some seamstresses swear by the finished seam. Others not so much. It all comes down to personal preference, I guess, but maybe just for personal use.

The biggest concern with leaving seams to themselves is raveling. Without some way to secure the ends, separation is inevitable. If the edges of seams are not secured some kind of way, they will ravel up to, and eventually through the seam itself. While some fabrics may not ravel after a point, the hanging edges are numerous and unsightly. Even fabrics that do not ravel at all, like knit, make the inner look of a garment seem unfinished.

Personally, I feel that if you are sewing for profit, it's just professional to finish seams. Even if you don't personally see the point of doing so, it could be the difference in future sales, if nothing else. Even though the customer may not always be right, they do know what they want to pay for.

Like anything, there are several ways to finish a seam. Pinking shears are the easiest of all the methods. These heavy duty scissors have zigzag teeth so that they leave  triangle cuts in the edge of the seam. After sewing your seam together with a regular straight stitch, use a pair of pinking shears to trim the seam as close to the stitches as you can without cutting through them. The only downside to pinking shears is that when they get dull, and they will, they're useless until you figure out how to get them sharpened...or buy new ones.

A zigzag stitch is the second easiest method. It's the stitch I've taught my daughters, as beginners, so that they can wear their little creations for the life they can squeeze out of them. The more advanced your machine, the more zigzag stitch settings you have. I personally like a smaller zigzag to the bigger ones. Smaller stitches have a neater appearance, and tend to make the seam more durable because the stitches are closer together. A bigger, wider zigzag works best for knits and stretchy fabrics. After stitching the seam, trim it as close as possible without cutting through the stitches.

French seams are absolutely beautiful. The raw edges of the seam are enclosed, so you can't see them. To make them, you sew the seams of a garment with the wrong sides together, then fold over the garment with the right sides together and sew the seams again, enclosing the raw edge. You then stitch the seam to the garment. This method is very pretty, but also time consuming. Also, if you don't allow enough fabric, you could end up with a beautifully sewn garment that can't be worn!

Another machine method is the overedge stitch. A long time ago, before I could afford a serger, I used this stitch to make my seams neat and have a 'close to professional' look. The overedge stitch, coupled with the special overedge foot, allows you to sew a line of square stitching over the raw edge. The stitches resemble a zigzag stitch...only they're square.This stitch gives the consistency of a zigzag stitch with the mock look and durability of a serger stitch. The only downside is the amount of time it takes to completely sew over the edge of a seam you've already sewn together once. It's like sewing the same seam twice, and can really consume lots of time. Also, since you're using regular spools of thread to do the job of a serger, this method can use tons of thread. The final product is pretty neat and clean though.

Of course, the easiest, quickest method, and my personal favorite, is running your seams through the serger. A serger has three or four spools of thread that interlock over the edge of the seam. This is possible because as you sew, a moving blade cuts off the jagged edge of the seam, leaving it smooth for the machine needles and loopers to enclose them in an intricate pattern of durable thread. Sergers use a massive amount of thread, so you purchase cones of thread for this machine. Once you use a serger, there's no looking back! There have been times when I've been without my serger, and absolutely no sewing got done. I can't live without it!

As a seamstress reaching for professionalism, I believe finishing seams is paramount. It's a good habit to have, and a great finish to all your hard work. Trust me, your customers will thank you for it!