Monday, February 14, 2011

Lauren's Questions Answered...

A couple of weeks ago, when I posted about my newly created iPad Case, I received an enthusiastic comment and questions from a reader. It looked like this:

Today I've decided to answer Lauren's questions. Hopefully, there are a few more out there besides Lauren that could benefit from this post. The first question Lauren asked was... 

"How long have you been sewing?" 

I had to get my abacus out to give Lauren the accurate answer of 42 (gasp!) years. It's true, I sewed my first item in my mother's womb. Actually, my mother enrolled me in a 6-week sewing class one summer when I was 12 years old. That was probably some of the best money my parents ever spent on me. I learned the basics in that class. A basic sewing class can make the difference between a well-used machine and one that collects dust from being tucked away in a closet. 

Tips for the Novice Sewer

Lauren then asked if I had any tips for a beginning sewer. I've come up with three tips that, in my opinion, can make the difference between a so-so project and one that pops! They are:

 1. An iron is your friend.
I remember back in the day being told by my sewing instructor how important it is to steam open all seams with a hot iron and press the project as it progresses through the steps to completion. At the time it seemed time consuming and unnecessary, but it is some of the best advice in regards to sewing I ever got. I can always tell the difference between a project that has been pressed along the way and one that has not. The pressed item will look fresh, crisp and professional -- the unpressed item will look tired, unkept and "homemade". That's all there is to it -- press those seams open and make friends with your iron! 

2. Double fabric when necessary.

This is a well-kept secret and I'm letting you in on it... For most of my projects, like the pillow above, where I use muslin I double my fabric to give it a smooth, polished look. All the panels on the pillow above are doubled in thickness. I love the natural, rustic look of muslin and I use it a lot. However, muslin can be lightweight and have very little "body." By doubling the thickness (cutting two pieces of the same fabric and using them as one piece) I create a much more professional look on my creations. When you use this technique you won't see a lumpy, bumpy pillow as the finished product. The double thickness hides the irregularity of the stuffing material and makes the pillow look more refined. 

3. Use a good quality interfacing. 
Often a beginner sewer will think that interfacing is "optional" and in reality it is. However, if you want a finished project that has body and will last, you'll want to include a good quality interfacing between the layers of fabric. It makes all the difference. I most often use fusible fleece. It is a thicker, more sturdy interfacing and when applied adds thickness and body to any project. I use it on all of my projects that call for interfacing and some that don't! I have used fusible fleece on all of my kid creations, all of my adult totes and cases, and many pillow tops. Again, it makes the end product look more professional and sturdy.   

Lauren, I hope this answered some of your questions and I hope this was helpful to others! 

Wishing you all a love-filled Valentine's Day...


Chris said...

Perfect tips, Suzanne. I absolutely agree. Happy Hearts Day. :)

Lauren @ YoungNester said...

Thank you for this amazing post, Suzanne! I am posting a new link with your button to let my readers know how amazing you are for taking the time to answer my questions! If you lived in Lexington, I would be at your doorstep with baked goods and money, hoping you would teach me first hand your amazing sewing skills! Thank you again!

Have a GREAT Valentine's day!

Lynn said...

Suzanne, I made a muslin pillow and thought after I should have doubled the fabric. Thanks for sharing!

Lois--Huckleberry Lady said...

Suzanne, Thanks for sharing your tips. I learned to sew in Home Ec. and when your a kid, you just do stuff to get a passing grade. Now, I wish I would have listened better!!!!! lol

Jan said...

Hi Suzanne,
I have been sewing for nearly 60 years and I learned from you today. I never gave it a thought to double the fabric, what a great tip. Thanks for sending me your flower pattern the other day. Have a great week. Happy Valentines to you.

Julie Harward said...

Great points here...I really need to remember the iron! ;D

Rissa @ Hazel and Honeysuckle said...

Great tips! I know I for one noticed the difference in my creations when I took to ironing throughout the process - and this is coming from someone who *never* irons her clothes - LOL! Thanks for sharing!