Most fun thing to ever happen to embroidery: that rat’s nest of tangly-tangly threads on the back of your work that manage to ensnare your…
Category: Hand Sewing
Pad stitching is awesome. It’s fantastic. It’s often replaced with fusible interfacings and spray-glue products, and that’s a darn shame. Because pad stitching is pretty nifty. It’s used to bond an infrastructure layer (traditionally hair canvas in tailoring) to the layer it’s stiffening (often the under-collar). And the great thing is, it provides MORE STRUCTURAL GLORY than the original infrastructure product can on its own. Beat that with a stick!
Sometimes, you need to hem something so it won’t show through from the front. In a perfect world, you’re working with two layers of fabric. But what happens if, oh, I dunno, you’ve got yourself a crazy corset that’s mostly lined, except for the gussets? Then you need to know how to blind-hem with only a single layer of fabric.
So, I took a few hours break from my current bout of insane workaholism the other day and did a little beading. This is what programming does to me: my mind goes from being a marvelous realm of creative joy to being a twisted up little thing that can only think in terms of methodology and function. Hurts my soul a little, not gonna lie, but it’s quite useful to those who employ me. Also, it makes me say hopelessly silly things like “How about a small scale mockup of Eleventh century German multi-needle beadwork on 1/4th inch wide organdy ribbon?” I’m fairly convinced I would not be doing this if I were in my right mind. Darn you, temporary left-brain dominance! Here’s the method I used…
Some people are really good at threading needles – thread, needle, stabby-thread-through-needle-eye, presto-change-o, needle threaded. Some people are maybe no so much and it goes more like, thread, needle, stabby, stabby, stabby, curse, stabby, CURSE, stabby, stabby, needle threaded. If that sounds familiar, great news! There’s a way to thread a needle without all the stabby-stabby business.
You know those mistakes you make over and over and over? One of my biggies is with hand-sewing. I’ll get everything laid out, with my fingers carefully positioned to start, and then realize that I’ve forgotten to thread the gosh-darned needle. I’m not even kidding! This has to be the most basic thing in the universe, and I’m completely resistant to learning it. That’s why I know how to thread a needle with one hand….
This is another of those “Duh!” tricks to speed up your sewing. I’ve been making silly little dolly chemises, and I keep running into areas where I need to sew 1/4″ by hand to close a band, or finish a sleeve vent. This happens in normal sewing, too, but you’re usually looking at 2″ or so. Normally, you have to grab a thread, thread a needle, knot the end of the thread, find someplace relatively hidden to lodge it, and then you get to actually start sewing. We can cut out at least two of those steps.
Felled seams are sturdy and utilitarian. We’re mostly familiar with them as the re-inforced seams on our jeans, but felling is a very old technique. It was a handworked finish for seams centuries before sewing machines were invented, and was often seen in traditionally home-made items like shirts and chemises. A seam allowance can be felled after the fact. It’s a good finish for both hand and machine sewn seams, and, properly done, is completely invisible from the outside of the garment.
According to my handy-dandy stitch dictionary, this is also called the “open chain stitch” or “Roman chain stitch”. This is a nice, relatively simple, geometric decoration. Because it has a straight edge, you can work it right on top of a machined hem to hide the machine stitches. (I believe in cheating.)
Sometimes, you have to finish a seam allowance so it won’t fray. (Or, possibly, you’re like me and compulsively finish seams, whether they need it or not.) There are times when you can’t use a french seam, or you are working in an area too tight for a felled seam, and you want something nicer than an overcast edge. This method of finishing a seam allowance by hand will prevent them from fraying, and lightly reinforce the seam.