Needle anguish and machines shaken not stirred!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Oh for pity’s sake, not again. In the 12 months since getting my scooper-dooper computerised Brother sewing machine I must have dropped a needle into the works at least four times. When it first happened I panicked. Couldn’t see it, couldn’t get it with a magnetised pin (clever trick that, can’t remember where I got it from), couldn’t face lunch knowing it was still in there.
Mr Sassy had a simple fix…he sent me out of the room, picked up the machine and turned it upside down and shook it till the needle came out (he’s a drummer, he doesn’t know any better).
Anyway, since then I’ve always placed some fabric underneath the needle to stop it dropping in to the holes where the feed dogs sit, apart from the times when I forget. Today I did the fabric thing and then realised I’d put the wrong needle in.  I gaily unscrewed it to change it for a thinner one and dropped it before I remembered to put the fabric back. Cue a big, Sassy strop, cue also Mr Sassy and his patented upside down shake.
Anyone else have the same problem? ( the needles I mean, not the drummer thing).



All about interfacing

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

When to use interfacing

Need some extra stiffness in your garments? Interfacing is probably the answer. Whether it’s giving some strength to a buttonhole, reinforcing your jersey fabric to help keep its shape or adding stiffness to a collar, adding a little interfacing will always do the job. It can also be used to retain your garment’s shape if you don’t want to add weight or stiffness. Any fabric cut on the bias can stretch a little when you sew it, but adding a little interfacing helps give some definition.

How to choose interfacing

There are two main types; fusible and non-fusible. Fusible interfacing is applied using an iron to the ‘wrong’ side of the fabric, whereas non-fusible is sewn into heat-sensitive fabrics that can’t be ironed or fabrics with a loose weave where the adhesive in fusible interfacing would weep through to the other side.

Once you’ve decided on the type you then need to choose between woven, non-woven or knit interfacing. Non-woven is the most popular because it has no grain. Woven interfacing has a grain – similar to fabric – and so the interfacing should be cut according to the grain in line with the fabric. Knit interfacing has some built-in stretch and is used for interfacing knits and jersey fabrics.

The final decision is the interfacing weight. There are three choices; light, medium and heavyweight. The simple rule is that weight of the interfacing should be roughly equal to, or a bit lighter than, the fabric.

Working with fusible interfacing – easy peasy

Put your fabric on an ironing board with the right side facing down.

Place the fusible side of the interfacing on top of the fabric. The fusible side has a roughness to it, while the non-fusible side is smooth.

Put a damp cloth onto the interfacing (otherwise you’ll end up with the interfacing stuck to your iron) and then place a hot iron on it for 10-15 seconds (depending on the weight of your fabric). Don’t move the iron on the fabric or you’ll end up with a glue-ey mess.If your interfacing is bigger than the iron plate, lift up the iron and apply it to the rest of the interfacing separately.

Know this:

  • Adding an extra cloth underneath the fabric protects your ironing board cover should the interfacing move.
  • If you do get interfacing on your iron unplug it and allow to cool. You should be able to peel off most of the interfacing.

Inferfacing pic

inferfacing pic 2

Our pattern drafting workshop

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Last Sunday at Sassy Sewing, a gaggle of keen sewists and instructor, fashion designer and seamstress Kate Pinfold huddled over calculators, paper, rulers, measuring tapes, calico and a whole host of other essentials. This weekend we were pattern drafting for a woman’s shirt. Pattern drafting is the art of making a pattern from your own measurements – so it’s as good a fit as a pattern can ever be. Once you’ve got your basic pattern, you can then go on to design whatever shirt you want – even a Vivien Westwood copy if that’s your thing. It’s very addictive because it’s just so fabulous being able to design something from scratch. Now I love commercial patterns too, don’t get me wrong but pattern drafting is so exciting. Your design may start out as one idea, then a tweak and a twiddle here and there and your finished garment may be quite different to what you had in mind – it’s a very  creative process. All our workshop attendees went away with a pattern for a long sleeved shirt with front and back yokes with gathers at the yokes. Some had fashioned a collar with a neck stand (one or two very pointy collars amongst them) with a Peter Pan collar being an option for others. We learnt so much on this workshop but here are six things that stick in my mind the  most:

1 When drawing a curved line, its easier and more accurate to draw it in such a way that you are pulling the curve towards you, not pushing it away.

2 When making a shirt from your own pattern, ditch the usual 1.5 cm seam and use a 1cm one instead – less is more to avoid bulk.

3 When marking the right spot for your bust darts, remember it needs to point upwards towards the middle of your bust not downwards. It’s much more flattering this way and will make you look perkier than you are if you need that kind of help (many do).

4 It’s great to be excited by pattern drafting, but there are maths involved so be prepared to concentrate. My first attempt at a collar looked like something made especially for one of the Bagpuss mice!

5 The measuring tool called a pattern master is a very useful investment

6 Winifred Aldrich is the goddess of pattern drafting and her book Metric Pattern Cutting is a must have if you really want to get serious about this. Yes the illustrations look like something out of the fifties, but the advice is invaluable. It’s an oldie but a goodie – available from Amazon.

Here are some shots of the day. We were a messy lot!







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Here it's not just about 'how to' but also 'why not?' We're not experts, more like curious enthusiasts and this is the place where we can all learn to be successful at sewing together. Helpful (hopefully), inspiring (ditto) and we promise not to take ourselves too seriously. Let's put some fun into fabric.

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