Sew Straight

I am not sure what to title this.. Sew Straight or how to sew straight lines or what if I need a 3 inch hem? for now.. sew straight is it.

Most sewing machines (and sergers) have markers for sewing a 5/8″ seam allowance on the needle plate. Usually there are several lines with numbers etched into the needle plate.

What is a needle plate? it is the metal plate the needle goes down into.

Here is my Singer 401 needle plate with numbers and a grooved line representing 5/8″.
Needle Plate
You can see numbers 3,4,5,6 which represent the distance between the needle and the edge of the fabric.

When I need a 5/8 inch seam allowance which is called for in a pattern (5/8″ is the industry standard in sewing patterns unless otherwise stated). I lay the edge of the fabric on the 5/8″ line and sew.

But what happens when I need 1″ or 2-1/4″? often times a childs hem will be 3″ when sewing vintage patterns. I have marked my machine!
finished NP markers

You can see I have taken out to 4-1/4 inches.

This is how I mark my sewing machine Needle Plate and on to the bed of the machine. I mark to the edge of the bed of the machine.

I need to gather a tape measure, a seam gauge or ruler, scotch tape, a pencil or pen, an exacto knife or straight edge razor.

Place scotch tape – I prefer the magic tape (green label) because it can easily be removed – on the bed of the machine. Don’t worry about covering the slide plate or bobbin cover.

I have used an exacto knife and “CAREFULLY” sliced the tape where the needle plate slides, where the needle plate comes off, opening up the holes for oiling and screwing in the fabric guide.

Place the tape measure under your pressure foot and bring the needle down right on the 1″ line. I bypass the edge of the tape measure because it has a metal end. Do not go through the tape measure, just to the line, drop the pressure foot to secure the tape measure.
step 1

with a pencil… mark with a dot the edge of the presser foot. Make a note at the measurement. On my machine, the point where the needle goes down and the edge of my presser foot is 1/4″

If you have lines and numbers on your needle plate, note the distance from the needle to the etched line/number. Mark 1″, and how ever far you want to go. I use 1/4″ markers.

I use the seam guide to make straight lines making sure the lines don’t go off at an angle. Once I am done, I write the measurements on the tape. I now place another layer of scotch tape over the first layer. This will keep the pencil marks from rubbing off. Once again you need to trim all of the tape.
needing to be trimmed

second trim

so there you have it… how I mark my machine for sewing straight lines well beyond 3/4 of an inch.
the end


Flex Ruler

Flex Rulers can be used for many things, especially when it comes to sewing. Flex Rulers can show the shape of things.

If you need a flex ruler and don’t have one…use foil!

flex ruler basic shape

flex ruler more complex shape

pretty cool eh?

I am using the foil flex ruler on my Glider Project to make a pattern

The Glider Project 2

To Wash or Not Wash Your Fabric, that is the ?

I always recommend pre-washing fabric. There are several problems with not washing fabric…

[links provided for those interested]

For those sewing for a customer base… I do not recommend pre-washing fabric unless other wise stated on the hang tag.

Most textiles shrink between 2-3% though I have used Monks Cloth (100% cotton for Huck weaving) and found 1 yard shrank 25%!

Sizing is used in fabric to give it that nice crisp look, it will wash out but can be put back into the fabric at the ironing/pressing stage.

And for those wanting the technical stuff… sizing information

More then the two mentioned above, there is dyes in the fabric! some are Alkaline or acid dyed and do you really want that next to your or your child’s skin? which fabrics? that depends on the fabric, the colors, manufactures. This is just one company providing chemicals to dye fabric to the textile industries.

fabric dye chemicals

Most of our fabric is manufactured in over seas (as with the manufacturing of clothing) and is also coated in
Formaldehyde! talk about not wanting to wear fabric treated with this stuff! it off-gases and causes serious health problems.

Formaldehyde is used to keep the textiles from molding in the ocean air as it is being shipped from China and other countries to America.

Information on Formaldehyde In Textiles

Of course it is a choice to wash or not to wash, I wash and if the fabric says Dry Clean only, as with a previous poster… mine too goes right to the cleaners.

Professionals do not launder their fabric .. professionals don’t have the time or money to wash fabric before manufacturing a garment. I wouldn’t wash either!!! but for my family… putting that sweet little outfit I just made for my babies or grand babies, it is going to be washed!!!

Often times I wash several times to remove the dyes. I prefer to wash most of my fabric in my stainless steel stock pots using water I boiled first. I am able to get most of my fabric in a pot and usually that is a 10 yard piece… I have large stock pots. If I notice the dye has turned the water.. I will empty the pot into the sink and then use hot tap water, repeating the process until the water is almost clear! I don’t want any bleeding of dyes in my washer with other clothing. I do wash my fabric in the washer using laundry soap (which I make), and then into a hot dryer.

Cover Your Machines!!!

Be sure to keep your machine covered so that dirt and dust don’t find its way in.

If you don’t have time to make a cover then lay a towel or sheet over your machine or make or buy a machine cover! but keep it covered!

here are some directions on how to make a cover! perhaps you can measure your machines and start looking for fabric you would like to use.

machine cover

machine cover

machine cover

machine cover

machine cover

machine cover

each machine cover is different, all are great! or make up your own.

Sewing Weights

Sewing Weights —

I love my sewing weights which are used instead of pins. This makes
things go much faster. Now I do pin depending on what I am doing, but
I always use the sewing weights to hold down my paper when copying a
pattern or if I am using silk or other fine fabrics that pin marks
will show.

I have two kinds of weights that are produced. One is Wonder Weights which I have had for years and my husband made me stainless steel weights. I have seen the new ‘wiggle weights’ that are long and skinny and move into any shape.

Go to your cupboard and get out cans! tuna cans, cat food cans, small fruit cans work just fine.

I have seen fishing weights that have been covered with felt and a little ribbon attached so I can pick them up.


Sleeves —

One notch goes in the front — two notches are in the back! it
doesn’t matter which pattern company you use, it is one of those
industry standards. One in front, two in back!

If you notice on a sleeve, there is a notch or a black dot at the
center top (cap) of the sleeve. this tells you where to match up the
sleeve at the shoulder.

There are usually two black dots on a sleeve. These dots tell you where to gather to ease the excess fabric in. But these two dots tell me something else….

When putting in a sleeve, you want some extra stitching in the sleeve where we put stress when reaching forward. Ever notice that a sleeve comes apart at the same place? right in the back!

To fix this problem…. we go back to those black dots showing us where to ease in the sleeve into the armhole… side note.. an armhole is actually called an armscye – when sewing in a sleeve…

start at the Front dot, sew down to the side seam, continue around and when you come back to the front dot you started at.. go around and stop at the back dot!

and now you have it!

Cutting Out Notches – Patterns

Cutting Out Notches on a Pattern

Cutting out Notches on a pattern are a pain in the neck! Many have just cut them off and forgot about them, but many more actually take the time to cut them out.

Let me give you a quick tip when dealing with notches.

When working with Woven fabric —

IF you are using a standard 5/8″ seam allowance, go ahead and cut the
notches off and then clip in to the fabric 1/4″ –> | snip if there
are two notches then –> || snip snip or three –> ||| snip snip snip!

this will save you so much time and energy!

This will NOT work with Knit fabric!!!!!!! we all know what happens
when a sweater gets a hole in it.. it runs.. so does knit fabric. Knit
fabric is knitted just like a sweater. With knit fabric you MUST cut
out the notches!!

Are notches important? you be they are! they tell you where to match
up the fabric, which is front or back and where you need to ease or
turn the fabric.

I can’t tell you how many times I have witnessed the sleeves being put
in backwards.

One Notch.. front of the sleeve, two notches, the back!