Sew. . . it is Tool Time Tuesday again. This week I am going to share with you a unique little tool that I am willing to bet you will never guess what it actually is, unless you are from a farming and livestock background, then you might have a chance at guessing what this unconventional sewing tool might be.
I really like this tool for seam ripping, taking out zippers, opening boxes, opening button holes, and other practical sewing uses. I like it first, because it is extremely sharp . . . surgically sharp (another clue). Second, it has this super sharp pointed tip that allows me to get into tightly sewn seams or zig-zag stitches. Finally, I like it because it is curved, which, for some reason or another makes it more flexible for ripping seams.
There are, however, some cautions that need to be taken when you use this tool. Like I said it is surgically sharp and will cut or jab your finger or hand in half a split second. The tiniest poke, jab, or cut will bleed profusely. So having steady, slow, and careful control of this tool is essential. Next, you need to keep these out of the reach and hidden from children. This is not an option, they are very sharp, and even older kids, (junior high boys) will do something dumb with it if they get a hold of it and say for example, out of boredom, make slices in the arm of a living room chair. (This is why I only have second hand furniture.) So don't leave them lying around.
When using this tool for seam ripping or taking out zippers you have to also be cautious. If you get in a big hurry you will slice the fabric very easily. Did I mention these were extremely sharp? Use the tip to cut a few stitches for about 1/2" to get a seam opening. Then you can push the tool in a little farther to the curved part and carefully continue ripping out the seam. You can't rush this tool, especially if stitching is super tight or the thread is heavy. If you have a brand new it works pretty fast but they dull quickly. When they dull I just set them aside to use for opening packages, cutting cardboard, foam core board or other paper types of crafts.
I buy them in bulk pretty inexpensively. Of course, I live in a rural community with many farming customers so my access to them is pretty easy. The last couple hundred I bought cost me about $22. Yes they are disposable, but so are most other seam rippers. These just simple have more uses than a traditional seam ripper. You are able to purchase them from the Annie's Catalog but they cost $4.28 each PLUS $4.95 shipping. Yikes!! I could never justify that, especially when they dull so quickly. It's nice to have friends in the agricultural industry.
Have you guessed what the tool is called yet?
It's actually a castration knife! Yes, you read that right. I am not going to say any more about it. That is what it is and that is why I call it an unconventional sewing tool. If you don't have a neighborhood livestock producer handy let me know. If I have enough interest for purchasing these tools I will take steps to supply them here on my website for a REASONABLE price.
Finally . . . I have a Saturday where I don't have to do stuff for anybody else and hubby is out hunting. SEW . . . you know what that means? It's Sew Fun Saturday.
I am dedicating this blog to all those gift sewing divas out there. First up is this quilt to the right. The pattern is called Olde Hickory. I used black and white prints with this cool looking blue blender for the center blocks.
I have been wanting to make a black and white quilt for a very long time. I found this pattern at a quilt shop a couple of years ago when shopping with my mom.
To be honest I cut it out two years ago and just put it together last month when mom was here visiting. I took my last two days of vacation and we had our little quilt retreat. I just finished it today because I had to find fabric for the borders. This will be a gift for my nephew and his wife. They were married two years ago so this is a very belated wedding gift in addition to a very nice Christmas gift. The blue was one of the colors in their wedding.
There is a story behind the fabric too. The major majority of the black and white prints are vintage and were given to me by my mother-in-law's cousin. She was a wonderful lady who shared her love of sewing with me. My nephew is big into family and has a nostalgic side so he will appreciate where the fabric came from a great deal.
I do have to tell you that the cutting instructions for the blocks and borders in this pattern were not very accurate. I had to trim the blocks as I built them. The border on the, other hand, was way off. It was an easy fix but still very frustrating. I still like the way it turned out. I am going to work on quilting it next Saturday.
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My other fun project for the day was making these pajama pants for my daughter. She picked the fabric out at a quilt store a couple of years ago with the intent of making a 4-H project. She decided she didn't want to do a sewing project that year so I went ahead and made them for her this year.
I didn't quite have enough of the print fabric but like all seamstresses everywhere, I compromised and added the black flannel to the bottom of the pants.
The pattern had that option anyway so it was an easy decision to make. The other thing I added to this project was top stitching all the seams. I used a gray thread to match the gray in the camo print. I didn't want the seams to pull apart after the first wear. On the hem I used a fancy stitch on the "new to me" embroidery machine that my mom gave me. Have I mentioned I have the greatest mom in the whole wide world? Anyway, it was a fun project and she'll love having some new pj's.
I didn't take a photo of the third project I made. It is really an experimental project of my own design. Not my original idea, but it is my take on an idea I saw on Pinterest. The following photo was the original inspiration and the company Swoop
was the second inspiration.
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My version was a combination, of sorts, of both of these versions. I made it for my middle child who LOVES building with Legos but HATES picking them up. Then he gets mad because our puppy, Bandit, carries them off and chews on them. Keep in mind my middle child is 14 years old. Yes, 14 and still plays with Legos, he wants to be a Lego designer when he grows up. It's a real job we looked it up. Just not sure what kind of education he needs for that. He really does design some awesome stuff with the limited amount of Legos he has on hand.
At any rate I didn't take a photo because it is a Christmas gift and I can't put the Legos in it yet. I'll update this post with a photo later. That was it for my Sew Fun Saturday. Check in next week to see more fun projects.
It's another Mending Monday here at Nelson Sewing & Crafts. Today I am going to attempt to show you my method for patching tears and holes in garments. MOSTLY. . . I patch jeans but in today's post I have this pair of heavier khaki pants handy. You can see it is a corner tear on the bottom edge of a cargo pocket. It's likely the customer caught the pocket on something causing it to tear.
One of my all time favorite products, Steam-A-Seam.
To make my patches I use a product called Steam-A-Seam. I LOVE this product and I will tell you why. First, it is a double stick fusible web that you can use with steam. Second, prior to ironing your patch down you can position it the way you want it and it will stay in place until you iron it. Although it sticks well on it's own it doesn't necessarily stand up to laundering on it's own. I prefer to sew my patches down in addition to ironing them. This brings me to the third reason I love this product. Sewing through it does not in any way shape or form ever gum up my sewing machine needle like other similar products do.
I should also note that when you apply the Steam-A-Seam to pay attention to the whether you are applying it to the right side or the wrong side of the fabric. I say this because most of the time I apply it to the right side of the fabric and place the patch underneath the tear or hole rather than on top. If any portion of the patch is going to show through you will want the right side showing.
On the other hand if you choose to put your patches on top then you will need to apply the Steam-A-Seam to the wrong side of fabric patch.
Top side view of completed patch. This is what the world sees.
I always stitch with the garment turned right side out. First I stitch around the outer edges of the patch I have ironed on. I can usually feel the patch underneath. I do this so the outer edges of the patch are secure. It adds to the stability of the patch and prevents a bunch of fraying and curling after the garment is laundered.
Patch view from underneath.
In this example I was not able to get to the all the outer edges because of the cargo pocket. I could have take the corner of the pocket up by taking out the top stitching on the pocket, patched the tear, then reattached the pocket. In this case I didn't do that and in most cases I don't take that extra step.
Most customers who are wanting patches are not that fussy and I want to keep my fees reasonable. If I think the customer wants that extra step taken then I will, but they also get charged a little more for the extra step.
If you want to purchase Steam-A-Seam it might be slightly difficult right now. CreateforLess.com is out of stock. I can't currently get it from my distributor because the Warm Company, who makes the product, is having production issues. My distributor representative has promised to contact me as soon as it becomes available again. I would sell my stock online, but I think I had better hang onto it until I can be assured of getting more from my supplier.
An annoying corner tear on a cargo pocket.
Since I do a great deal of patching and mending of all shapes, sizes, and colors I prefer to make my own patches from old jeans in various colors and again in this case khaki pants. I just so happen to have some khaki fabric that was left over from a pair of pants that I hemmed some other time. And just so you know, I do not keep every scrap of fabric I come across. I kept these for this very reason. I knew eventually I would need a khaki colored patch at some point.
Choose a matching or closely matching color of fabric.
To make the patch simply following the manufacturer's instructions for applying the Steam-A-Seam. Then I cut the patch to the size I want. I try to make it as small as possible with some extra around the whole area of the tear or hole.
Patch made with Steam-A-Seam cut to correct size.
To stitch down my patches I like to use the stitch shown in the picture below. I don't know what it is called exactly, I don't have my owner's manual handy. I usually call it a "smocking" stitch because it looks like a smocking stitch.
I like to use this "smocking stitch" when stitching on patches.
Next I continue stitching around the edges of the actual tear or hole. This part actually fixes the hole or tear itself. I follow this up with stitching up the center of the tear to catch any loose threads or edges, leaving a nice flat finished look. When it is a hole I don't try to stitch up the center.
I also use thread that is super close to the color of the garment I am patching, to make the patch look less obvious.
This is another example of how less obvious a patch is with a good color match of thread.
I patch a great of tears like this!
In the meantime I gave you some links from my Amazon affiliate below to what I could find currently available online. I wish you luck and when I can get some from my distributor I will have it available here on my website.
Good day to everybody. Today is Thursday and so today's blog is called Thurday's Technique. This is the day I share some of the techniques I use in my sewing business.
Today's post may become slightly photo intensive. I used my phone to take the photos. While that is super handy it is difficult to take a photo while trying to demonstrate something at the same time.
When my son is done with his Eagle Scout process I am going to recruit him to take videos for me. He'll like that since he is going into film making studies next fall.
Alas, for now you will be stuck with my phone photos, which by the way are actually better than the ones my actual camera may take. Pretty handy if you ask me.
"Sew" onto the technique. Today I am going to talk about how to replace the slider in a coat. First, you should know that nine times out of ten when a customer says they need a new zipper it is more likely they only need a slider. You can read more about that in my post "Are Your Teeth Missing
" and "All Zipped Up
The sliders tend to wear out and stop pulling the teeth together properly causing the zipper to split apart after it's zipped up. Other times the sliders lose the pull tab or just plain get broken. For today's example, the slider has lost the pull tab and is essentially broken.
The first step is to remove the top stop so you can slide the old slider off. I use a pair of side cutters to get in under the open edge of the top stop and gently squeeze the stop open. If you are careful and only open it enough to get it off the zipper tape you can reuse it after you put the new slider on. Otherwise you may have to replace the top stop as well.
After removing the top stop you can remove the old slider. Simply slide the slider up towards where the top stop was and pull it off the zipper tape. You might have to pull kind of hard or in this case even resort to using a pair of pliers to get the slider off. (Again difficult to demonstrate in photos)
Now we are going to take a little side trip. In order to replace the slider you have to get the right type and size of slider to replace it with. On the back of most sliders there are numbers stamped into the metal. Normally the sizes for coats are 5, 7, 8, or 10 and sometimes 3. The majority of the time they are size 5, whether they are plastic molded zippers, metal zippers, or nylon coil zippers. In this case we will need to find a Size 10 Metal Jacket Zipper Slide, which I always have on hand from my supplier over at WAWAK
. (Excellent customer service by the way.
Your next move is to put the new slider on. You will slide the new slider on from the top in the same place where you took the old slider off. Make sure you have it turned the right way. In the same way that taking the old slider off may have been a slight struggle so will putting the one on, except this time you won't be able to use the pliers. You may just have wiggle it onto the zipper tape. Once you have the new slider onto the zipper tape just slide it down to the zipper box. Now put the zipper together and zip it up most of the way to test it and make sure it is pulling the teeth together easily without splitting apart. This indicates you have the right zipper slider.
After you test the new slider you can put the top stop back on. This is as simple as setting it in place where it was before and squeezing it tight with a pair of pliers.
Now there you have it! A new slider in a coat. This whole process might take five minutes with practice. Most of the time, if a customer is willing to wait, I will do it for them right away because it is so simple. I charge my $5 minimum and they are happy not to have to spend the higher service price for replacing a whole zipper or worse buy an expensive brand new coat.
Feel free to make comments or ask questions. I hope this tutorial was helpful. See you again next time.
Welcome to Wise Wednesday. This is the day I share my wisdom of the sewing business with you. I've been in this business now for more than a few years. There are many things I have learned the hard way and I don't want anyone else to have to waste time learning the hard way. I would like to think that my mind is both creative and logical but others in my household may disagree, that's okay.
| |When you are in the business of sewing it's important for you to be a professional in all aspects of your business. This gives your customers confidence in your ability to work on their garments or other items they bring you. Part of that professionalism is organization. The more organized you are the more professional you will appear. An important part of that organization is not losing or misplacing a customers items. To help me not lose customer items I have developed a form for my customers to fill out. I call it a "Sewing Service Request" form.
Now since I am also a secretary my computer skills do come in handy at this point. I created the form in Microsoft Excel. I've designed it to print three forms on one 8-1/2" x 11" paper in landscape. I print mine from my Excel file but not all of us have the same Excel version so I am sharing the form with you all in a .pdf format. The reason I am sharing is because there is no reason to reinvent the wheel, right? We have to get the actual meat of our business which is sewing, not paperwork.
When you see the form you will notice several important items customers need to fill out. For example, their name, phone numbers, address, email address (optional), date they brought their items in, the number of items they brought you, plenty of room for service description, and finally the amount they owe you when services are completed.
I have developed a few different versions of this form but this one seems to work the best. I have information in a specific order for the way I use the information. I have the phone numbers at the top because I fold the form in half and clip it to a basket with their items so when I call the customer the number is readily visible. The same goes for the amount due. When the customer comes to pick up their items you can find the amount they owe you more quickly.
Since I live in a small town I don't necessarily collect addresses, especially if they are a regular customer. However, if they are a new customer and you are completely unfamiliar with the person I would collect an address AND a phone number. Don't let them leave the items without one or the other or both. I have had many occasions where people will drop off things and tell me they will be back on such and such a date only to have them never show up ... at all ... ever. So I am stuck with a garment I've fixed or altered and no way to collect payment. (That is a whole other post).
At any rate when the customer completes the form or you fill it out for the customer, be sure you can read it and double check the phone number with the customer verbally. Make sure the form stays with the customer's items from beginning to end either with a pin, or clipped to a container or box.. In the description be fairly detailed such as noting the brand, color, and size of the item along with what needs to be done with the item. That description will also help you track that person's item more clearly on the off chance it gets separated into someone else's pile.
I use these forms in conjunction with my Quickbooks Pro software. However, you do not have to have fancy software to keep your books. I am going add another version of this form later on that will help you. In the meantime I hope this form is helpful to you use or provides inspiration for creating your own.
See on Thursday for my Technique Thursday post where I share some of my favorite sewing techniques for various sewing and mending tasks.
Feel free to subscribe to the NanSews Blog and add any comments you would like to share.
Welcome to Tool Time Tuesday. This is the day I share all my favorite tools with you. Well not literally, more informative that actual physical tools. Anyway, you know what I mean.
This week I want to show you my favorite yet simplest and most often tool I use. That's them in the photo.
I know a small pair of scissors for snipping threads may seem like a no brainer, but man are they vital. I can't stand it when I can't find them and I have resort to using a giant pair of scissors just to snip threads.
The easiest solution I have come up with to keep those scissors handy is that strap and clip you see in the photo. Seriously, don't ask me where I got it, I can't remember. It may have been a left over thing from a name tag at some conference I went to. I just can't remember, it might be a do-dad for keeping a jump drive handy too, or, I know. . . I think I stole it from a whistle. Oh yeah, that's it, for some odd reason we had a whistle, like the ones coaches and referees use. We have no need of a whistle so I took the whistle off and used the strap.
All I know is that it is pretty handy. I wear like a necklace and sometimes if I am hand sewing I can weave my needle into the strap to keep it handy too. You can also slide a pen or mechanical pencil with a pocket clip onto the strap too. The only problem is that sometimes I forget to take them off when I go home then forget to bring them back the next day. Then I have hunt up another little pair that doesn't have a strap and then I have to chase them down every time I turn around.
You probably have some similar sort of strap thing laying around too that you could use in the same way. Otherwise, you can likely make one from scrap fabric, shoelaces, ribbon, or other types of materials. You can be pretty creative if you want to. I can see all kinds of cute straps in my head.
Let me know how you keep your snipping scissors handy and I'll see you again tomorrow for Wise Wednesday. Be sure to subscribe to my NanSews Blog for more fun and sharing.
TTFN (ta ta for now as Tigger would say),
When I first decided I wanted to get into the business of sewing I didn’t know where to start. I began by doing research and discovered there were only a handful of books on the topic of sewing as a business, which I purchased from one of my sewing catalogs. I wasn’t as internet savvy at the time and the world wide web was just beginning to take off, Google didn’t even exist at this point. (Looking back I am astounded at the progress of technology over the last 20 years).
Anyway, I used every resource about the sewing business and small business in general that I could find. When I decided to write this series of sewing business blogs I pulled out the books in my collection. I thought they would be a bit dated but I when dived in again I discovered that the information is practical. One of the better books to start with is “The Business of Sewing” by Barbara Wright Sykes
which I discovered you can still get and I have a link to the left of this page.
When thinking about starting any business you have to decide if you are truly ready to commit yourself to making your business successful. Knowing WHEN you are ready, on the other hand, can be a bit daunting but the first and most important trait you need to have is the desire to do what you love. If you have that then you have already taken the first step toward starting your own sewing business.
The next step is to be persistent and determined to achieve your goals. To be determined you will need to discover your motivation or reason for wanting to own and operate your own business.
Why do you want to go into business, sewing or otherwise?
When you answer this question you have to be honest with yourself because those answers will take a huge part in developing the goals of your business and it will play a part in the direction you decide to take your business.
Some of the common reasons for going into to business for yourself include:
- The opportunity to have control over your own time.
- Financial independence
- Some people simply have a passion for what they do and don’t mind adding the monetary reward that can go with owning your own business.
Regardless of what your motivation may be the third step is to have and acquire sufficient knowledge to achieve your goals. Basically you really need to do your “homework” and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. If you are honest then you can capitalize on your strengths and improve on your weaknesses.
Before I post the next blog about the business of sewing I have some “homework” for you.
List three reasons why you want to go into the business of sewing. What is your motivation?
I myself had many reasons but the top three were probably the following:
- The flexibility of time a business can offer (especially from your home). When I started my three children were very young and had some health issues that required many doctor visits and appointments. This tended to irritate my former employers. My husband works out of town during the week so all that stuff is left to me.
- The second reason I chose to do go into business was to save an immense about of money on childcare. Being employed outside the home and paying for childcare was a pointless task. I basically worked to pay the childcare provider. To add insult to injury we weren’t eligible for any type of childcare assistance because our income was just barely over the income guidelines.
- The third reason I wanted to go into the sewing business was because I know I am good at it. I also know that I am great at customer service and could effectively handle that part of it with my many years of retail experience and other office type skills.
I still had and do have a lot to learn about business, but I have gathered much knowledge and learned a ton of new skills (mostly the hard way
). The main thing is that I did and do, in fact, learn from my mistakes and I’ve adapted my business fit me and my lifestyle and place in this community.
Assignment #2a: Make a list of your top five strengths as it relates to your sewing business or the business of your choice. For each of those strengths identify specifically how those strengths can help you succeed with with your business.
Assignment #2b: Next make a list of your top five weaknesses as it relates to your business then identify how you specifically plan to turn them into strengths or how you are going to overcome those weaknesses.
Ideally I would like to see some of your answers in the comments or if you want you can email me. I will be happy to comment on what you share. Also please feel free to ask questions in the comments or by email. Let’s get a good discussion going.“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”
– Nolan Bushnell
Today I am going to share a minor mending project with you. When I say minor I mean it took me literally five minutes. I spent more time threading the machine than actually making the repair. There are three main reasons I am sharing this project. First, is to talk about the thread I am using, second, talk about the needle, and third, discuss having a minimum fee when offering sewing services.
The stitching came out of the zipper in this pair of jeans.
This project consisted of a pair of jeans where the stitching holding the zipper in place on the fly had come loose leaving the zipper hanging.
You can see what I am talking about in the photo at the left.
This repair simply consists of pinning the zipper back in place and stitching it back down with the same kind and color of thread.
The thread I use is a jean / top stitching thread TEX 80. It is a super strong thread specifically designed for jeans and top stitching. It is a extra heavy cotton-covered polyester.
I use jean / top stitching TEX 80 thread for projects like these.
This thread works in almost all machines but there is a trick to it. First, you need to use a jean / denim needle, preferably size 16. Second, you don’t use it in the bobbin. In the bobbin you use regular good quality thread in a matching or similar color. Third, you want to lengthen out your stitch to about 3.0. Since it is thicker thread it looks and works more smoothly when a longer stitch is used on heavy fabric.
I use normal good quality thread in the bobbin.
Next you will want to pin the zipper back in it’s rightful place and place on the sewing machine right side up and working from the top down. This makes sure that your heavy top stitching thread shows while your normal bobbin thread is underneath where it doesn’t show.
The stitching came out of the zipper in this pair of jeans.
I use jean / top stitching TEX 80 thread for projects like these.
I use normal good quality thread in the bobbin.
Stitch from the top to the bottom.
Then end result will look just like it did from the factory, only better
The underside where used regular good quality thread in the bobbin will look great too.
Stitch from the top to the bottom.
Now you stitch everything down using the original stitching line as your guide. Be sure to back tack at the beginning and the end. Typically the threading doesn’t come out clear to the bottom of the zipper so only stitch as far as you need to or as far as you can until you run out of room before the zipper slider gets in your way.
Then end result will look just like it did from the factory, only better.
If you look on the back you will see the bobbin thread is smooth and tight to hold the heavier top thread in place.
The underside where used regular good quality thread in the bobbin will look great too.
So there you have a simple fix under five minutes. For this project I will charge $5 because that is the minimum rate I charge for any sewing service. When I first started out I would only charge a couple of dollars but the time spent taking in the customers items then contacting them when it was done was not worth the couple dollars. So I decided to make a minimum rate of $5. When you are in the service business and trying to set up pricing there are a number of methods. In any method you must factor in the time you spend with the customer beyond the actual project itself. For me $5 works, for you it may be an entirely different number.
Hey, before I close this post I need to tell you something about this project which came to my attention as I was writing this post. This will truly show you that I am indeed only human. Are you ready? ….. Wait for it…… take a close look at the zipper in the first photo. Do you see it? If you don’t you may want to look at one of my posts about zippers. Yes, there it is . . . a missing tooth! How could I have missed that! Do you know what this means? This means my five minute project has just took a turn to a 30 minute project because I have to replace the whole zipper. If you want to know why read my post “Are your teeth missing?”
Then you will see why such drastic measures need to be taken.
Aside from that I hope this information was at least a little useful to you. Thanks for sharing your time with me.
Just Keep Sewing,
It is often very rare when members of a bridal party do not need alterations on the garments chosen for the “big day”. Sometimes the garment is too big or too small in certain areas and does not fit quite right. There are some things to consider when choosing garments for your bridal party to help the process go smoother.
First and probably foremost is to choose garments and designs that look good on a wide range of body shapes and styles. Choosing the right garment from the start will alleviate many problems with ill fitting garments for the bridal party. A dress that looks fantastic on the tall athletic well proportioned bridesmaid will likely not look nearly as good on the shorter possibly heavier bridesmaid. However, if you reverse the situation and choose dresses that look great on the shorter heavier bridesmaid there is a significantly good chance that it will look good on all your bridesmaids.
Second make sure the proper size for each person is purchased. If the exact size cannot be obtained, get as close as possible to the right size. By going up one size instead of going down one size you will find alterations will be much simpler for the seamstress. Taking garments in is much easier and nicer looking than letting garments out.
When up sizing try not to go up more than one size. A garment that is more than two inches bigger presents additional alteration challenges. Taking in more than two inches on a garment ultimately changes the cut and style of the garment. This is especially true for strapless gowns and men’s pants. Choosing the closest fitting garment comes from getting proper measurements needed by particular design companies. Every company has their own measurement charts because there is no standard sizing in the garment industry. By the same token you cannot go by the size you normally wear on everyday clothes. Formal wear often runs smaller than everyday wear sizes.
Letting garments out is possible, if necessary, however, it is a bit trickier and there has to be some elements included on the garment to make it possible. The most important element is having at least a 5/8-inch seam allowance on all seams. This allows a garment to be let out at least ½-inch on each seam. So if two side seams are let out, a dress or garment could potentially gain one inch in size. There are many garments on the market now that have no seam allowances at all. In those cases seams cannot be let out. Seam allowances are also a good indicator of a quality made garment because the designer kept alterations in mind when manufacturing the garment.
If the garment chosen has a lot of beads and sequins at the seams where alterations are most likely going to be needed be prepared to spend extra money on those alterations. Many times those beads and sequins have to be removed if taken in or additional beads and sequins added on if seams are let out to make the garment look right.
Finding a good seamstress for your alterations is also important. Many formal wear boutiques offer alterations on their garments for an additional fee as long as the garment is purchased from their store. Otherwise you will have to find a professional seamstress who can do formal wear alterations. It is a good idea to choose a seamstress who has a good reputation for quality work.
It is also important that your seamstress have experience with altering formal wear. The best experienced seamstresses are those who have constructed formal wear from scratch. They have the knowledge of how a formal wear garment is constructed. This gives them the added knowledge of the best places to do alterations on a garment and how best to do it.
Alteration rates vary greatly from one seamstress to another, but overall you can expect to pay a flat fee for each seam altered and each layer hemmed. So for example, if your dress has two side seams with a lining then you can expect to pay for four side seams. Same goes for layers on the skirt of a dress. A dress typically has two to four layers on the skirts of formal wear. For men’s pants expect to pay one fee for each pair of pants hemmed and an additional fee for waistband alterations. On jacket sleeves expect to pay a flat fee for both sleeves and additional fees for each seam alteration.
Finally, allow for plenty of time for alterations. Depending on how booked your seamstress is it is a good idea to get the garments in for alterations as soon as possible prior to the event. It is generally not a good idea to bring a garment to a seamstress the week of the event and expect to have it back in two days because the person wearing the garment is leaving for the event in the middle of the week. A good suggestion is a least one month in advance and no less than two weeks in advance of the event. Quality alterations take time and patience and should not be rushed.
For a long time I was mystified about what all the numbers on a sewing machine needle package meant. To complicate matters further there are more than several types of machine needles used for various purposes. First, I’ll tell you a little bit about what the numbers mean then I ‘ll tell you about the types of needles I use most often.
| |To keep explanations fairly simple let’s use the following photo of a package of Schmetz Universal Needles. I use Schmetz needles exclusively because over the last 30 years of my sewing experience they have continually proven to the be the most reliable and best quality needles on the market.
Schmetz machine needle products are probably the most trusted and highest quality of sewing machine needles on the market.
So let’s start at the top of the package with the Art. 1711 which is just an identifying number for this particular package of needles. Art. is the abbreviation for Article so this isSchmetz Article 1711
. Think of it as a part number or a manufacturer’s number.
The next set of numbers you will find under the word Universal 130/705 H 15x1H. This is called the needle system number and indicates on which kinds of machines these particular needles work the best. Unless you have a highly specialized machine this particular system works on most machines. If you are in doubt simply look up your machine’s needle system in your owner’s manual. It is more than likely that Schmetz will carry your machine’s needle system.
Now we are getting down to the heart of the matter. The final numbers you see on this particular package are 70 over an 11, 80 over a 12, and 90 over a 14. Sometimes you will see these in reverse such as 11 over the 70. It doesn’t matter which way they are listed. These numbers indicate the size of the needle and it is important to understand the sizes of needles so you can use the proper needle for your project.
We all understand metric and standard units of measurement, right? Metric is the European unit of measurement and standard is the American unit of measurement. Since Schmetz needles are made in Germany they list both units of measurements on their needle sizes. The increments of ten, such as the 70, 80, and 90 are the European or metric sizes of the needles. The numbers 11, 12, and 14 indicate the American or standard sizes of needles.
Here is the easy part. The smaller the number, the smaller or finer the needle. I have seen and used needles as small as 60/8 and as big as 110/18. For almost all sewing projects you can be pretty safe using an 80/12 or a 90/14 needle. The exceptions would be very fine fabrics or very heavy fabrics.
Universal needles are good for most sewing projects and are good all-purpose needles. However, there are occasions where a more specialized needle just simply makes sewing life much easier. Here is a list of needles I keep on hand for various purposes:
Those are needles that take care of most, if not all, of my sewing needs. If you want to learn more about sewing needles the Schmetz
website has excellent information to share and I recommend you take some time to learn more all about needles.