Saturday, January 1, 2011

Top Five Techniques

Wow, 2011. Shouldn't we have flying cars by now? Or robotic maids? It's hard to believe another year has gone by. 2010 seemed to go by exceptionally fast. I've only been blogging for the past six months but I have been sewing the entire year and this year I feel like I really, truly, started learning how to sew. Looking back on where I started in 2009 to the end of this year, I can see growth in my projects and the techniques used to make them.

I thought you may enjoy seeing the first thing I ever made. My husband came home with an old sewing machine in the spring of 2009 with plans for his infamous tipi and I decided to have a go at making something for myself. I went to the fabric store and picked up a super easy one hour skirt pattern and this pretty batik and spent almost a week making this. Seriously, a week. I initially sewed all the seams with a 1 mm stitch before I realized that something wasn't right. It made sense at the time to start at the number one :) I had to rip out that tiny stitch and start over. I actually wear this skirt quite a bit in the summer and I'm sure I'll always cherish it.

Flash forward to my Lady Grey and I realize just how much I've learned since that first project. And, I've learned it all from this wonderful online sewing community! (And tips from my grandmother, of course.) I've enjoyed this sewing blog experience so much. I've found many kindred souls around here who love sewing as much as I do (and more!) and who I get incredibly useful advice from. I know that without this online resource at my fingertips I would not be as far along as I am now. I wanted to list my top five sewing techniques and tricks I learned this year that I found through the online sewing community. These were all things that made me think aha, that's how you do it! Some are basic knowledge that I just didn't know how to do properly and some are nifty little tricks that make me feel like I'm cheating. I hope some of them will be useful for you, too.

1. French seams (ooh la la!). I have a very basic sewing machine that goes forwards and backwards and that's about it. Learning to do french seams from this Colette tutorial enabled me to keep the inside of my garments looking neat. I use french seams whenever I can.

2. Catch stitching. I learned so much during Gertie's sew along, but I think catch stitching may have been the coolest. I used to avoid hand sewing like the plague but I now I turn to hand finishing above all else to make something look extra nice.

3. Hand picked zipper. I hated putting in zippers because I found it nearly impossible to line everything up and feed it through the machine while keeping the stitching straight and even. My zippers always came out messy. I found this tutorial from Sewaholic and it's only hand picked zippers for me from now on. I don't think I will ever put one in by machine again.

4. Removing sleeve ease. I've always struggled with set in sleeves. The easing and pinning can be very tedious and there are many times that I find there is too much ease. I love this tutorial from Casey that explains exactly how to remove the excess.

5. Turning a button loop. This one may seem a little silly, but I use this trick more often than anything else. I could never quite figure out how to use a needle and thread to turn the loop. I use this bobby pin technique all the time to turn all kinds of narrow loops and straps.

I'm looking forward to more sewing adventures and learning this year. My main sewing goal is to make pants/trousers that fit. That could possibly take me the entire year ;) Thanks to everyone for being so generous and kind with your knowledge and comments. Wishing you all a happy new year!


  1. From 1mm seams to an absolutely gorgeous Lady Grey - good work! These are great tutorials, thanks for the links.

  2. Thanks for the tutorials, i'm going to have a read through them now. Happy New Year!

  3. I love this! This first thing I ever made was a drawstring skirt for 4H,and now I get to design bridesmaids dresses freelance-style. So fun. Love, love, love the great work you did for your Lady Gray. Just beautiful.