Any endeavor that turns into a passion comes with its own set of terms, phrases, abbreviations, and secret handshakes. Well, maybe they don’t all have a secret handshake… maybe just a decoder ring. Sewing is no different, and although we do try to make sure we define the more unusual words we sometimes toss around, we can forget now and then. So, we pulled together our Top Twenty Terms that come into play on a regular basis. We’ve alphabetized them into a mini glossary. If you’re a pro, buzz through and see how many you know without peeking. If you’re just getting started, these are great vocabulary builders and awesome to throw into the conversation to startle any non-sewing friends who might be eavesdropping. “I was simply unable move forward without dropping my feed dogs.”
I love buttons. Always have. In fact, although I don't recall much about the two-year-old phase of my life, I do remember my white sweater with the little duckie buttons. I can close my eyes and see his chubby yellow body and orange feet. I can even remember the feel of the raised, painted surface under my sticky little fingers. I still love looking at all the available options there are in buttons, from vintage shell to vibrant molded plastic (much more elaborate than my old-school duckies). That said, sometimes the best look for a project is a fabric-covered button. Covered buttons are cool; there's just no two ways about it. They add the special touch that says, "Stand back... I'm a home décor professional." Making them with a kit is easy and inexpensive.
We all love little cheats and hacks! Our super popular S4H Cheat Cards cover important, need-to-know sewing tips and/or techniques in a handy business card size: 2” wide x 3½” high. That’s small enough to tuck into your wallet or tack up on the bulletin board in your sewing room. All the individual Cheat Cards are still available on the site, but we’d gotten numerous requests to offer a full set of six. So that’s just what we did. You can download your set instantly from the Sew4HomeShop on Etsy.
"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 reduce bulk on certain fabrics, such as fleece. And, finishing stitches always provide added strength to a seam and the fabric's edge. However, it's often only about the look, and most professionals recommend you finish fabrics that don’t even appear to require it.
In honor of the new year and the new decade, we've put together our list of the top twenty sewing misdemeanors we all try to get away with when we think no one is looking. But this year, we're resolving to kick these bad habits to the curb. True, the sewing police aren't going to haul us away for these minor infractions, but they are the little no-nos and uh-ohs that should go the way of last year's fake dirty jeans (really... you'd pay for that?!) Which of these are you guilty of? What other ones would you add?
Mistakes happen to the best of us. Anyone who sews understands that some seams just weren't meant to be. The good news: ripping out a seam and starting over is something we all do. With a little care and patience, it's an easy fix and no one but you is ever likely to know it happened. The majority of woven fabrics, such as the popular quilting cottons, are very forgiving; a ripped-out and re-done seam is rarely noticeable on the finished project. It's better to start over if your first attempt fails. You'll always be happier in the end.
By definition, topstitching is a seam that appears on the right side of a project, usually running ⅛" or more from, and parallel to, another seam. It can be done in a coordinating thread color for decoration or a matching thread color for stabilization. A cousin of topstitching is edgestitching, which is defined as a row of stitching on the very edge of a garment, normally ⅛” or less from the edge. It provides a crisp edge for facings, collars, pockets or any situation where you want a tight, professional finish along a seamed edge. Edgestitching is usually done in thread to match the fabric but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Whether for embellishment or assembly, stitching that is visible from the right side 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 and enviable edgestitching.
Do you ever watch those TV hospital shows and think, "I could do that"? Maybe not be an actual, real-life doctor. But you could wear a white coat, carry a stethoscope, and yell, "Get me a C-Spine, Chem 7, and a V-Fib!" I have no idea what any of those terms mean. They're just fun to shout. To get you just a little bit closer to your doctor daydreams, we're here to show you how one of the medical devices you saw Dr. Greene use every week can also be a big help in your sewing room. It's called a hemostat, and it's basically a locking clamp shaped like a long pair of scissors. (Probably what Dr. Greene wanted when he yelled, "Clamp!") A hemostat is extremely useful when you need to turn long, narrow tubes right side out.
The stars do not always align. The square peg does not fit the round hole. Sometimes the perfect webbing or strapping you’ve selected for a shoulder bag or similar project is simply too darn wide for the D-ring or Swivel Hook you really want/need to use. Try this quick trick to bring your wide webbing down to size.
We call this a "flat top" zipper. We've also heard it referred to as a set-in zipper and a recessed zipper. You can make up your very own name; the Penelope Zipper would be one option. You've undoubtedly seen this type of zipper on loads of handbags and totes. It sits below the top of the bag, running flat across the top (thus the vote for my name), featuring tabs at either end (to hold on to, making it easy to zip open and shut), and is secured to the bag's lining with a simple facing (which is what allows it to be recessed). When you want a professional look plus the security of a full closure, you can't go wrong with the inset-flat top-set-in-recessed-Penelope zipper. Read on to see how easy it can be.