Filed under: Article with tags: crafting, diy, sewing
I’ve learned a lot since I started sewing for dolls. Some things I kind of already knew, others I didn’t. I decided to compile a list of things that I’ve learned – whether I wanted to learn them or not.
Irons are your friends. Mini irons are your best friends.
I never used to iron a thing. Ever. I hated the idea of ironing and all I read online was ironing will change my life. Or something like that. And I didn’t believe it… until I had a seam that would not let me press it flat, no matter what I tried. So I pulled out the iron and then bang, like magic. It was perfect. I got a Clover Mini Iron last year for my birthday and while I don’t use it for everything (let’s face it, that little iron head is not large enough for doing an entire fat quarter at a time to get rid of the fold lines), it is fantastic for doing little things like collars, small seams, little hems.
Photo from sxc.hu user drniels.
Pinning is important, apparently. But plastic pin heads will melt under the iron.
I learned this very early on. Pinning is awesome! It keeps things in place, keeps all your gathers gathered until you’re ready to actually sew and make them permanent. But plastic pin heads. I used to only have pins that had plastic heads until I started becoming BFFs with my iron. And then I learned why glass pin heads exist. Because they won’t melt and deform if you press an iron down on them. Nothing makes me start sounding like a sailor than having plastic pressed and melted into my pretty fabric.
Tracing paper is a lot easier to pin to fabric than regular paper.
Oh tracing paper, I love you so much. I tried, at one point, to use regular letter paper as my pattern pieces. I’d cut them out, pin them, but it’d bunch or buckle and it just wouldn’t lay flat no matter how I pinned it. Cue tracing paper. It’s thin, light-weight, relatively inexpensive (even more so with a discount coupon to the Big Box Craft Store) and (best of all) it’s easy to transfer patterns to it and to pin it down flat onto the fabric.
My mother wasn’t lying when she said that there are fabric-only scissors and paper-only scissors.
When I was little, I totally thought it was weird that my mom had scissors labelled ‘general use’, ‘paper only’, ‘fabric only’. Because to me, they were all just scissors. Now that I engage in fabric-related crafting? I totally get it. I have a set of snips for threads, a pair for fabric, pinking shears and general paper scissors. And they’re all labelled and in their ‘home’. I totally get it now. Sorry mom, for doubting you and your scissor labelling. Of course, now that I understand why there are scissors for different things, I don’t lend them out to people. I’m likely to lend out the paper-only scissors. But my pinking shears? My fabric shears? Nope. Mine.
Photo from sxc.hu user lela1971.
You need to learn to pick your battles when it comes to knotted threads.
I hate knots. I really, really hate knots. But I know when I’m going to win (hopefully) and when I’m going to lose. If I’m hand sewing, I’m more likely to fix the knots because it’s a pain otherwise. If I’m machine sewing and there’s a knotted thread nest on the fabric…? Well, I’m slightly less likely to undo the knots. Especially if they won’t be seen. But then I’ll go and adjust tension and rethread the machine because it’s the right thing to do. But undoing the knots? Highly unlikely. It’s a design feature.
Seam rippers are fantastic. Except when they go under your fingernail.
I think seam rippers are awesome. They rip seams, which is great whenever I do a wonky line. However, seam rippers can be sharp. And they’re kind of annoying when I go and job myself underneath a finger nail and get blood on my project. So word from the wise (?) – be careful with sharp objects. That goes for pins, scissors and seam rippers. Getting sharp objects into your body is no good. Be careful, be aware of your surroundings. No hobby is worth permanent damage to yourself or others.
Photo from sxc.hu user mazwebs.
Sometimes it’s just easier to hand sew. Not faster, but easier. Sometimes.
Sometimes when I’m trying out a new or new-to-me pattern, I hand sew it because it’s just easier for me to ‘visualize’ it. It’s also easier for me to undo the stitches if I do something wrong. Also, I hand sew collars sometimes, if I can’t find any stabilizer, because my machine eats tiny bits of fabric like that for breakfast. It’s a nice way to get small seams when you hand sew, and you can also embroider details with hand sewing. Granted, you can do it with machine sewing as well, but some people like hand embroidery from time to time. Hand sewing is also useful for sewing tiny buttons, beads and snaps. And we all know how I feel about snaps…