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A little help with some sewing tools and techniques

December 2, 2010

You probably got here because you are in Richmond, and looking for some help with sewing. Well, I offer classes and lessons and really enjoy helping folks learn to sew. I teach in my own studio, and various art centers, as well as after-school programs. If you look through the blog, you will see what the studio looks like. It has a great ‘feel’ and my students are such wonderful people.

Today, I’m going to show you the appropriate use of a seam ripper, proper placement of the hands for sewing on the machine, and going to talk about seam allowance.

Firstly, here is one of my students using a seam ripper.

Notice that she is using her thumb and little finger as Pinchers, to pull on the fabric in one direction, and her ring finger, opposing her index finger as another set of pinchers to pull the seam open in the other direction. This puts strain on the stitch she wants to rip, so she can slip the seam ripper under the stitch. Yes, under a single stitch! Like this:Because she is pulling with her “pinchers’, ripping a single stitch usually releases 3 stitches, or more. It’s not safe sewing technique to just rip right down a seam with the ripper, because that frequently results in you tearing the fabric, itself. That’s usually a non-repairable problem :0  Rip stitches one at a time.

Next, let’s look at seam allowance. In this picture, you can see that the student sewed a seam too close to the fabric edge: The seam allowance is sooo narrow, that she can’t even pink the edge, so when the garment is washed, the seam will just fray, and the stitching will not hold. She is going back, and re-sewing this seam. In my studio, to help students learn to sew a straight line, and to line their seams up for a good 5/8″ seam allowance (that’s for garments, not quilting) we use a bright duct tape on the machine as a guide. Like this: It teaches students to begin lining up the fabric well before it reaches the pressure foot. Thinking ahead is valuable in sewing.

Lastly, for today, we are going to talk about hand-placement on the sewing machine. You want to steer the fabric with your right hand, holding the fabric between your thumb and your fingers. At the same time, your left hand should be flat on the sewing table, with your ring and pinkie finger along the left face of the sewing table, using the straight edge to assist you in sewing a straight line.

For now, that’s all the time I have. Hope you will join us in the studio. We have December classes on Monday and Tuesday evenings. And intermediate lessons as students have concepts or projects they would like to sew.

There are some holiday gift sewing seminars, that are perfect beginner workshops. Oops, looks like we have passed the deadline for that this month. There is one for kids on the 18th from 10-4. Great opportunity for you to get your Christmas shopping done;0)

January, we have  Monday night and Tuesday night beginner classes. I am accepting registrations for those now, and yes, people are already booking. Gift certificates are available for the Jan, Feb, and March classes. Intermediate classes are available in Jan, FEb and March also, as well as private instruction.

Hope to see you in the studio.



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