Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Not Exactly Like RTW

Some of the techniques I use regularly, I've been using for so long that I'm not completely sure where I learned them. Some are from a singular instructor and some are a hybrid of tips learned from several instructors. The method I use for the hems on knit garments is - I think - a combination of learning from Sandra Betzina and Marcy Tilton.




I start by cutting - from yardage - 1" strips of fusible knit with the stretch going the long way. This allows the hem to move with the garment. The strips are fused to the hemline. I serge the edge simply to be neat. It's not a necessary step. If you don't have a serger, you can still use this technique. If you wanted to finish the edge in some way, you could zigzag over it.




The hem is stitched from the front with a twin needle and a walking foot. Because of the interfacing underneath, the surface is firmer, the threads don't dig in, and the walking foot moves the fabric along without bunching under the needle. On the front, I get a nice, even stitch... with no tunnel... using a regular machine. I've used this technique for a long time with great success. The secret is the interfacing.




When sergers came out on the market, I got one right away and LOVED it. When coverstitch machines came out, I waited a while, finally bought one, and then returned it. At some point in the future, I may get another one if I can be convinced that they are worth the space they take up but not right now. Right now, it is too much bother to pull the machine out of the cupboard for what I see as a singular function. I know others disagree with me and that's okay. For me, it's a lot easier to simply put in a double needle, re-thread the machine, and sew but I am aware that my background in textile art makes changing thread no big deal. I did it constantly.

I like the techniques that I use on knit garments. They look neat and professionally done even though they're not exactly like RTW. Years ago, I remember someone asking me if I had sewn what I was wearing because it looked better than anything they could have bought. THAT is a fabulous compliment. I hate when people say you'd never know as if I was trying to hide the fact that I sewed this garment or am ashamed that I couldn't afford RTW. Occasionally I buy RTW if it fits, if it's the right color, if I actually like it, but that's really REALLY rare. For me, it's the other way around. I feel sorry for people who can't sew.

In her column Ramblings from the Goddess of the Last Minute in the June 2006 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, Robbi Joy Eklow writes:  I have a tendency to pet people on the arm if their sweater seems nice and fuzzy, too. The only things I don't go for in a tactile way are earrings, because that would seem too intimate and often the earrings are above my reach anyway. People who make art understand the compliment. I guess that I assume if someone is adorning themselves with art, they expect you to admire it close up, or at the very least, they won't mind if you do. People who don't make art on the other hand, sometimes find my comments alarming. I must admit, I have frightened a few people - like that woman in line at the airport ticket counter who was not happy when I practically shouted across the room, "That purse is fabulous! Did you make it." I keep forgetting that some people think if it looks handmade, it looks homemade and that somehow implies they can't afford store-bought or something like that. I don't quite get it. In my world, someone who can make something of beauty is truly gifted, and we are lucky if they share it with us by parading it around.

Making something of beauty takes time. It takes developing a solid skill set and the tools to do the job - especially well functioning, quality tools. Good scissors. Smooth pins. Quality needles. A well functioning sewing machine. A serger. And so on. Building skills and buying quality tools takes time and commitment and desire BUT... if you have a plan to learn, acquire the right tools, and practice, the results will show up.  You'll get better and better.

Sewing is a life long activity. There is always something to learn, always some way in which to improve. Right now, I'm fine tuning fit, upping the quality of my fabric, and looking for opportunities to be more creative. What are you working on?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the time and ability to sew and the never ending learning curve

16 comments:

  1. LOVED the quote, I can really relate. Thanks for the tip about hemming with knits

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  2. I second what Carla said! :-)

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    1. I loved that quote. It's so true. I don't want things that look like everybody else's or things that look mass produced. Something unique and original please.

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  3. Here's a minor twist on the fusible-interfacing-knit-hem technique: Serge the interfacing to the lower edge with the glue-side of the interfacing facing up (i.e. not facing the fabric to which it is being serged). Turn up the hem & press. Now the hem is affixed to the garment and less likely to shift during hemming. Hem as usual (cover stitch or twin needle or whatever)

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    1. Thanks. I can see how this would work. I'll experiment with it. Do you think the hem shows more or less on the front with this technique? That would be my main concern.

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  4. That is a great quote - I can totally relate. I am still working on the exercises in The Triumph of Individual Style; I have three more chapters to go and then to put it all together in a 6-PAC plan.

    When you fold up your hem, do you fold along the edge of the interfacing? Or does the interfacing extend past the fold to reinforce it? My coverstitch machine's timing is off so I'm looking for an alternative and I really like the look of your double-needle stitching.

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    1. I'm looking forward to seeing how you pull all the information in the book together into a wardrobe. It's a great book. I've been enjoying the posts.

      The interfacing doesn't extend past the fold. Typically, I sew a 1" hem so I cut 1" strips. If the hem is more or less than an inch, the strip is also cut more or less to be equal. This way, the hem turns up and presses very nicely.

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    2. Thank you, I'll give your method a try soon. I'm glad you're enjoying the posts and that you said that. They hardly get any comments so it's hard to know how they're received. (Not complaining, just an observation.)

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    3. Let me know what you think.

      I know what you mean about that observation. I've been blogging and reading blogs for a long time and it's curious which blogs and which postings get comments while others don't. Not sure what makes the difference.

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  5. Myrna, thanks for the tip. I've been sewing A LOT of knits lately, and will be giving this a try. Regarding how others feel about "home-sewn" garments: Just yesterday a young woman I've worked with for a while (she's 33, I'm 60) asked me if I'd ever do sewing for someone else (her!) because she always likes the things I make for myself. I was so flattered because I consider her to be a very stylish (almost trendy) dresser herself, but I had to tell her no, I don't do custom sewing. I already work a job and a half, and my creative time is precious to me. I guess I'm just "selfish" that way! But I think younger people, including my daughter-in-law, are getting more open-minded about home sewing vs. RTW, maybe it's a "Project Runway" effect? What do you think?

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    1. Excellent. Let me know what you think.

      What a compliment to be asked to sew. Thanks and no thanks is a great answer. I don't think it's at all selfish to want to sew just for yourself. That's definitely my choice. If I sewed for others, all the energy and joy would go out of it. Been there, done that, no thanks.

      I agree that Project Runway has had an impact on sewing. I also think people are tired of homogenized fashions where everyone is wearing exactly the same thing. So boring. To me, that's one of the great advantages of sewing - fit and individuality.

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  6. Thank you for the tip. I have yet to sew anything in a knit because I do not have a serger. Someday, I will get the Baby Lock I am coveting. I will definitely save this tip for that day. Re Bunny's tip above, I do think Project Runway has made it "cool" to sew and could be responsible for leading the younger ones to it. Whatever the cause, I think it is wonderful. I went to our new JoAnn's store last night and was amazed at the # of Project Runway patterns. I did give in and buy one Burda pattern - my first ever - for slacks with a faced waist. (As much as I detest lapels on jackets -on me- , I feel the same way about waistbands on slacks and skirts. I think it has to do with being a teenager in the time of "Ladybug" and "Villager" shops and a-line skirts without a waistband were a big thing then and I still love them. I never wear anything tucked in, so don't need the waistband which rolls anyway.

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    1. You're welcome. Don't let the lack of a serger stop you from sewing knits. I use mine more with wovens than knits and their easy to sew on a regular machine.

      Burda has some great style. I think they're worth looking at and since they're drafted for a C cup and a more European body type like mine, they tend to fit me well.

      Are you short waisted? I think you mentioned it once before but I can't remember exactly. With a shorter waist, facings are especially fabulous. I never wear anything tucked in either.

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  7. Myrna - I've been using a variation of your tip for years too! Every time people talk about purchasing a coverstitch machine, I too wonder if I need one but always end up saying no. Maybe because I don't sew as many knits but also because I feel like my finishing techniques work well without needing the machine. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I use the same technique when doing hems on my knit garments.

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    1. Someone gave me some advice a few weeks back - when in doubt, don't - and I find it applies to all kinds of scenarios. When we figure out that we actually need one, perhaps we'll both buy one but for now, as is is good and enough. It's wonderful to have company. I definitely think your finishing works well.

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Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.