Thursday, 13 March 2014

7 Things You can Learn From The Sewing Industry

Hello everyone! Today I thought I would share with you a few tips that I have picked up whilst sewing in an industrial setting. I am no true veteran, nor am I an expert, but these are a few things I have picked up along the way that you might find useful :)

1 - Don't use as many pins!
I know that setting in a sleeve is best done with careful pinning, but for the most part, us home sewers are used to pinning everything abundantly. At work I have 12 pins in my pincushion (four of them are being used to attach my secret T-Rex to the other side of my frilly pincushion ;) ), they get used very rarely and off the top of my head I can only think of 3 or 4 reasons I use them. Most of the time it is on knee pad pockets (I work with industrial workwear mostly), and second most often is to hold something out of the way that keeps flopping down into my sewing area. If you pin everything, I challenge you to have a go at doing some straight seams without pins, like the sides of a skirt, or a trouser leg. I made a pair of pj bottoms the other day and didn't pin them at all!

2 - Use a craft knife instead of a seam ripper.
It is scary to put a knife to fabric the first few times, and I urge you to exercise caution when you are getting used to it - I don't want the blame for sliced fingers or sliced garments! But when you are unpicking a whole hem, especially on heavier fabrics, a craft knife just glides straight through and makes small work of overlocking etc. (Maybe the Sewing Bee contestants could have done with this tip!) Just start off by gently "stroking" the stitching with the blade and gradually increase the pressure until you are comfortable with using a bit more gusto. Be careful, but give it a try! Saves so much time in the long run.

3 - Replacing a zip is not scary!
Seriously, don't throw away those favourite jeans, or that cute jacket because the zip has broken. Take your time and remove the broken one, look at how you are taking it apart, and put a new one in. Once you get the hang of it, it will be no more daunting that putting one in a garment made yourself.

4 - Likewise for taking in trousers!
If you want to extend the life span of a pair of trousers that are getting a little bit loose, or just improving the fit of a new pair, then taking them in is a must. The easiest way is to unpick the waistband 3-4 inches either side of the butt seam. Then taper from about 2 inches above the crotch seam all the way to the top of the waistband. Fold the excess waistband to the inside, sew a seam down it, and sew it back round the trousers, folding the flap of taken in fabric the opposite way to the excess waistband fabric to minimize bulk. If you are certain you won't be gaining a few pounds then by all means cut it off! This will only work to a maximum of 2 inches on the fold (4 inches out of the waistband) as it starts to look a bit weird after that.

5 - Mark your hems with chalk.
This goes along with the use less pins really, but when taking up sleeves or trouser legs, just mark the fold line with a few dashes of chalk. No stopping to take pins out, just fold over and go!

6 - Put your pedal to the metal...
If you ever get the chance to use an industrial machine then you will notice how much faster it is than a domestic. Scary, but once you're used to it, sewing at home just seems to go so slow! I would reccommend to anyone that they practise going a bit faster, even if it is just for straight lines, it will get your garment together so much quicker allowing you to be more productive in the long run.

7 - Have a ruler put on your sewing table.

If you're lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing space with a table not used to host dinner parties, I would recommend getting either a transfer of a tape measure put on the edge of your table, or have a meter ruler attached. It makes it so much easier to check inside leg measurements (I actually have mine sharpied onto my sewing table at home!), zipper lengths, button widths... you name it! It is a small thing that will make thing a bit easier in the long run. It also has the added advantage of not stretching out like a tape measure will after time.

Well that's all I can think of at the moment, I hope some of them are at least a little bit of use to somebody! Feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments :)

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