Pleats are the origami of the sewing world. And although you don't usually need to fold one into the shape of a swan, there are a wide variety of pretty pleats that add distinct visual and textural embellishments for both home décor as well as garment sewing. Each type provides a different look based on how it's formed. You can make: knife pleats, knife pleats in two directions, box pleats, inverted box pleats, inverted box pleats with a separate underlay, accordion pleats, sunray pleats, and wave pleats. In this tutorial, we're focusing on a box pleat and its identical yet opposite cousin, the inverted box pleat.
If you've ever touched quality plush fabric, you've probably made this sound: "Ohhhhhh, ahhhhhh." You're also likely to have immediately stroked your cheek with this wonderfully soft fabric. Luxury plush goes by several names. Many people refer to it generically as Minky, but that is actually a brand name, much like Kleenex® is a brand name for facial tissue. For this article, we're referring to it as "Cuddle," which is the name given to the category by industry leader, Shannon Fabrics. The fabric gives a fabulous softness to a wide variety of projects, from toys to pillows to blankets and more (we loved using it for a soft fitted crib sheet). It's not a difficult fabric to sew with, but to create the very best results, it helps to have a few tips and tricks under your belt prior to jumping in. And doesn't jumping into a huge pile of Cuddle sound like a wonderful thing? "Ohhhhhh, ahhhhhhh!"
Seam grading is like stair-stepping. Don't worry, it's not the aerobic kind from the gym. It's the process of turning a standard seam allowance into layered tiers of fabric. The result is less bulk, which means a smoother finish from the right side. It's another one those very basic techniques that can make all the difference in the professional look of your project. It is done by hand, so it can be a bit time consuming based on the length of the seam being trimmed, but it makes a tremendous difference. Bulky, lumpy seams simply are not very pretty.
Here at Sew4home, we're all about helping you learn techniques to make your sewing faster, easier, and more fun. But we certainly can't cover all the tools and tricks. So we're always on the lookout for additional resources to send your way. The recently updated Video Tutorial Library from our friends at Dritz® has over 30 short videos that teach you how to use a variety of their products. We've watched them all, and have a review of some of our favorites. You'll want to bookmark this handy YouTube channel to increase your notions know-how!
Little pieces of fabric sewn together. That's truly quilting at its most basic, but its just as crazy as describing cooking as: tasty bits of food mixed together. The creativity (and the love) is in the who, what, when, where, and why of how it all happens. Our Quilting Basics series is designed to help beginning quilters get rollin'. We explain the fundamentals of quilting, including the various tools you’ll need (and may already have), cutting techniques, how to create quilt blocks from basic shapes, piecing tips and techniques, and actual quilt stitching. One disclaimer: enter at your own risk; quilting can be addictive.
"Give us the tools and we will finish the job." Winston Churchill. One of the signs of a truly well-made project is that it looks nearly as good on the inside as it does on the outside. Finishing a project's inside raw edges will not only elevate the final appearance, it will also elevate your sewing skills to a new level. In general, the purpose of any seam finish is to prevent fray-prone fabrics from raveling beyond the seam, which would then leave a hole in your sewn project. It also helps to reduce bulk on certain fabrics, like fleece. And, finishing stitches always provide added strength to a seam and the fabric edge. However, it's often just about the look, and most professionals recommend you even finish fabrics that don’t appear to require it.
A cover hem is a professional-style "serged" hem that traditionally has two to three lines of parallel stitching on the right side and a looper stitch which covers the raw edge of the fabric on the back side. It's the type of hem commonly found on most ready-to-wear knit garments (and many woven RTW items as well) as it has plenty of stretch and so will not distort the hem. It's also very fast and clean! We have a short lesson showing how easy it is to make a cover hem as well as our thoughts as to why a specialty cover hem machine may just be the additional machine to add in your sewing room.
Sewing is a continually evolving art. Learning new and interesting techniques is one of the best ways to build upon your current knowledge. It keeps your skills fresh and your ideas lively. We have two great how-to articles on binding in general: Bias Binding: Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making and Attaching and A Complete Step-by-Step for Binding Quilts & Throws. In this article, we're continuing our journey down the binding path to a "sub-set" technique called: continuous bias binding. It's a little bit like the ancient art of origami. You start out with a flat square (or rectangle), and after a few folds and flips here and there, you have something completely different, very dimensional, and quite useful.
By definition, topstitching is seam that appears on the right side of a project, usually running ¼" from another seam or along a folded edge. It can be done in a coordinating thread color for decoration or a matching thread color for construction and/or stabilization. A sub-set of topstitching is edgestitching. The technique is the same, but edgestitching is generally ⅛" or less from another seam or an edge. Whether for embellishment or assembly, topstitching is an important detail and its precision can make or break the final outcome of your project. We've collected our favorite tools and techniques to help you achieve tip-top topstitching.
Sometimes, you cross something off your "give-it-a-go" list simply because it looks too hard. But once you do finally try, maybe with someone’s help the first time out, you often discover it wasn’t at all as hard as you thought! Such is the case with the phobia many sewers have when it comes to inserting metal grommets. Since these are usually installed with large machines or grommet presses in commercial production, people think they can’t replicate the professional look at home. It's one of those sewing applications many simply refuse to attempt. Whether it’s the actual installation process, getting the spacing just right, cutting the holes in the fabric to the exact size, or all of the above, we're here to prove you can do this at home and get a professional result. We’ve installed a grommet or two (or 100) here in the Sew4Home studios and will share with you all we've learned. Besides... getting to use a hammer in the sewing process can be very therapeutic!