Free Fabric Friday

on March 30 | in Contests & Giveaways | by | with 50 Comments

It is Friday, right?  My daughter has been on Spring Break for 2 weeks, and I’ve lost track of…well, just about everything.

 

Fat Quarters

 

This week we have a Surprise Bag for three people.  It will include 6 different fat quarters.  It’s all lovely, trust me. 

Please comment with a sewing tip that really helped you.  How to turn a tube, anchor a button or mend a tear.  It doesn’t matter if they are tried and true methods that your Grandma taught you, or if you just made it up yourself. 

We’ll take comments through the weekend and post the winners Monday.  Have a good one!

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50 Responses to Free Fabric Friday

  1. When you are sewing in oilcloth and the sewing machine doesn’t colaborate ou slipps, just put some baby powder on the oilcloth and you’ll see that the machine needle will sew in perfection.

  2. cathy says:

    My mum always taught me that to have a professional finish on your handmade clothes, you have to iron, iron and iron. I have never forgotten this piece of advice which she gave me when I first started sewing as a little one.

  3. Lulu says:

    This tip has saved me a lot of time at the sewing machine (albeit in tiny increments): When pin-basting, put the pins PARALLEL to the seam. That way you can keep stitching without removing the pins before you stitch over (or into) them. Since I use ball-headed pins, I put them about 3/8″ away from the seamline (on either or both sides of it) so that they won’t get in the way of the presser foot. Thanks everyone for all the great tips!

  4. Karyn says:

    I’m new to sewing clothes and following patterns. The lesson I’ve learned the hard way (trust me) sounds simple but it’s SO important…follow the directions!!!!!!!!!!! I tend to want to take shortcuts and they never never work. Take time to read through the directions and follow them exactly. (great blog by the way :) )

  5. Nicole says:

    Store supplies where you can see them easily. Shelves, drawers, or clear plastic boxes are great. Rummaging through an assortment of old cardboard boxes is frustrating.

  6. Nicole says:

    When sewing, always make sure your little ones aren’t playing under your sewing table…because it really does hurt when you’re threading your machine and they crawl over your pressure foot. Ouch! should say it all..Needless to say, I have since moved from the kitchen to the basement…

  7. Jo says:

    One tip that I was given that I love is in regards to sewing elastic waistbands, such as those that I sew in the pull on skirts I make for my daughters. Once upon a time, I would sew the casing leaving an opening, thread the elastic through, stitch the ends together and then stitch the opening in the casing closed by hand. Now I stitch the elastic together first to form a circle (ie. the waistband), iron the casing down in place, place the elastic inside the casing and sew it around using the zipper foot as a guide. The zipper foot guides you so as you don’t stitch over the elastic and lose the “movement” in your waistband. The benefit of doing it this way is that you have a really neat waistband witouth the little join. I hope this makes sense? Some great tips listed here too. Great idea Kristin.

  8. michal says:

    i was introduced to this great stuffing fork http://www.barbarawillisdesigns.com/supplies.html
    and it’s been amazing help in turning small and large pieces and stuffing corners and tight spots.

  9. Ellen says:

    Wow – lots of great sewing tips here so mine is pretty simple… keep and use your sewing machine manual. I found that I was expecting far too little from my machine when I finally read the manual and discovered all the wonderful possibilities! I keep my manual with me when I’m sewing and refer to it regularly to remind myself how to do something I don’t do all the time or to learn something new.

  10. Mothwoman says:

    Use your friends when you don’t know how to do something they usually have a good idea for something you would have never thought of.

  11. Mel says:

    Finish what sewing projects you start – otherwise the sit unfinished in the closet and when you find them again, you don’t know what you were making!

  12. Meggan says:

    Don’t sew when you are tired! You make silly mistakes that you will have to try and fix later. Better to wait and be able to do it right the first time.

  13. I’m really bad about this one but- Don’t sew over your pins! Remove them as you go. Every time I break a needle I remember why this rule is so important!

    Also- CLIP THE CURVES, makes a huge difference.

  14. Violet says:

    My tip would have to be… take the time to get a your sewing space/room organised. Knowing where everything is saves alot of time and gives you extra time for projects.

  15. Georgia says:

    This has not much to do with actual sewing but being able to find time to sew:) Years ago I had a friend who told me that she always allowed her 3 yr old to cut fabric along with her with small embroidery scissors. It is a little unorthodox, but I have found it is a great idea. I give my 4 year old small scraps and a small cutting mat. She cuts her fabric while I cut mine and I don’t have to wait until she’s asleep to get some sewing done! It also teaches her how to cut (you’d be surprised how many children get to kindergarten not knowing how to use scissors!) and how to respect fabric scissors. You do have to keep an eye on them though ;)

  16. sarah says:

    I’m new-ish to sewing and I’m sort of making up everything as I go along. One of the most helpful things for me has been to listen to my betters’ ideas and to complete all the extra steps that seem like a waste of time at first. Basting, ironing, pre-washing (something I still need help remembering); these are all tried and true steps needed for a nicely finished product!

  17. joyce says:

    Always re-fold patterns with the name, size and letter of the piece visible so you don’t have to unfold every piece to get the ones you need. This is especially useful when using patterns that contain more than one garment.

  18. Anita says:

    So many good tips, it’s hard to think of a new one! How about… use clean pizza boxes to store your finished quilt blocks in until they are all done? Or even the cut pieces before the blocks are sewn together…

  19. gyl says:

    Hmmm… Mine would be search your thrift shops (especially hospital auxiliary, or church related ones) for old sewing books, fabrics and notions.

    I find that the old traditions and techniques found in the older books are the best. Not to mention some of the great retro craft & clothing patterns in them! :)

    And I always allow myself to buy all the fabric and notions I want at these thrift shops, because not only am I helping a good cause, I am recycling and BOY there is some COOL vintage and retro stuff to be found!

    ~gyl

  20. Sarah N. says:

    My favorite quilting tip is chain piecing – sewing lots of the same pieces, one right after another. Saves a LOT of thread and saves a lot of time. Even if you can’t piece lots of things at one time, when you get to the end of a seam, just sew off onto a scrap piece and then stop sewing. You would be amazed at how much thread (and time) you waste stopping and clipping threads after each piece.

  21. Linda says:

    Amazing. I’ve read so many new ideas to try. So my hint is this. Take time to Read all of your favorite blogs and try all the hints and tips and ideas you can. I like to copy them to a Word file and print them off to keep handy. Thanks for a great blog.

  22. Sarah says:

    Use a retired pill bottle with a safety lid on it to corral bent pins and dull needles. This keeps them away from pets and children, who sometimes can’t be trusted to stay out of the trash. It also protects sanitation workers, who, in some places, can refuse to take your trash if they are ever hurt by something in it.

  23. Lisa says:

    Use clear stackable boxes for storing sewing supplies. Use pinking shears on raw edges. This next one I haven’t tried but it could come in handy… If you scorch wool fabric by using a too hot iron, rub a nickel on the scorch mark and it’s supposed to disappear. use a clean nickel on light colored fabrics!

  24. Julie says:

    Always clean your sewing machine — it’s amazing how much fuzz can get clogged up inside there and it can really do damage.

  25. carolyn says:

    I love using wonder under and other fusable iron on “glue” to anchor a piece f fabric I’m doing some top stitching with, Sometimes I use it to help tack a hem. Grat stuff even f I have to clean my iron at times :)

  26. Kelly says:

    Honestly, I don’t know that many tips because I feel like I am still learning different “tricks” I was going to say PRESS, PRESS, and PRESS some more… but yvette beat me to it! So thanks for all the other tips for this newbie :D

  27. kirsten says:

    in a quilting class we learned to ‘set the seam’ – pressing it before opening it up. (then pressing it open).

    it really makes a difference, and neater seams.

  28. Debbie says:

    Being a newbie, I was always pulling tangled messes out of the wash until I started just clipping the corners of the fabric before washing it, It won’t fray and it’s quick and painless.

    And when you run the rotary cutter over your finger? Apply lots of pressure and move your had away from the fabric so you won’t stain it.

    Don’t ask how I know that one…

  29. beki says:

    Measure, measure, measure! When sewing clothing, measure yourself and flat measure the pattern. Often times those charts on the back of the pattern evnelope are way off.

  30. Cassie says:

    Michelle :) thank you so much for that tip! I had no idea that a regular ol’ glue stick would work! Thank you! I just learned something new (and cheaper than sewing spray!)

  31. yvette says:

    My tip is iron everything, open out all the seams and iron flat as you go, it gives nice crisp outside seams.

  32. My favorite trick is for tying a knot at the end of your thread for hand sewing. Many of you may already have a great trick or know this one but this tip has saved me a ton of time and headaches. Once your needle is threaded take your needle in your right hand and your thread end in your left. Holding your thread onto your needle with your right hand, wrap (making 3 – 4 loops) your thread arond the middle of your needle. Then slide these loops off the right side (with needle eye) and to the end of the thread. Voila, a perfect little knot. Hope this was clear for everyone!

  33. Michelle says:

    I see Cassie posted the glue trick for zippers, which I learned from the Sew What! Skirts book. I have a slight variation. Since I never seem to have the official sewing glue around I tried a regular glue stick and it worked great. I put the glue on the zipper edges and then lay it down on the fabric in a rolling sort of way so that I can see that it aligns with the basted seam.

  34. Jessi says:

    My Grandma taught me to gather by using a zig zag stitch over a length of thin crochet thread (no. 10 works just great). Just zig zag right over the crochet thread being careful not to stitch into it. Then pull the crochet thread to gather – it never breaks!

  35. Ana says:

    I love cutting out the patterns! Unfortunately, I then misplace the cut pattern and end up spending way too much time looking for it. I now put the pattern package in a zip lock bag to protect it and easily find what I’m looking for. For patterns that I use often, I cut out a template from extra firm peltex to prevent damage. Thanks for all the great tips!

  36. Judy in Carefree says:

    Freezer paper is a wonderful tool when making things with multiple pieces using the same pattern piece. Trace your pattern piece onto the matte side of the paper, cut the paper larger than the pattern, place on fabric or felt and iron it on. There is wax on the freezer paper and it will stick to your felt or fabric and make it easy to cut out your pattern.

  37. Jennier says:

    My hera marker has been my best beside-the-sewing-machine friend. I use it to help me finger press small seams, mark straight quilting lines without leaving more than a light crease, and the pointed end works well for turning out corners. No Japanese sewing box is complete without a hera marker.

  38. Lori says:

    Regardless of what size garment you want to sew, cut your patterns out along the line for the largest size. Then, every 6″ or so along this edge of the pattern, cut in (perpendicular to the black pattern lines) just to the line indicating the size you actually want to sew. Then, fold the pattern edges back and proceed w/pinning and cutting as normal. This little trick permits you to retain ALL sizes…so that once you fall in the love with the pattern, you can then make it for others who may be different sizes to you!

  39. Amy says:

    I use to gather the old fashion way…sewing two different basting stitches about a half an inch apart, but now, after reading a tip in a random handout that a student in one of my sewing classes gave out, I have learned a new way that I love… Gathering Over Bobbin Thread…it reduces the likelihood of breaking gathering threads (which always use to happen to me) by using a stronger thread for gathering. This technique uses a double strand of sewing machine thread wound onto the machine bobbin..you will be amazed at how simple it is.. 1) Wind two threads onto the machine bobbin simultaneously. 2) Set the machine for a medium width, medium length Zigzag stitch. 3) Place the fabric to be gathered under the presser foot, wrong side up. Lower the presser foot. 4) Bring the bobbin thread to the top of the machine 5)Grab the top thread and turn the balance wheel by hand to complete one stitch. Raise the presser foot 6) Pull gently to draw up the bobbin thread loop and bring it to the top of the fabric 7) Grasp the double strand of the bobbin thread and pull it to the front of the machine, as long as the piece that needs to be gathered. 8) Place the bobbin thread approximately a half inch fromt the cut edge of the seam. Tuck the top thread underneath the presser foot, toward the back of the machine, and zigzag over the bobbin thread. Just make sure you don’t catch the bobbin thread in the zigzag stitch, the edges of the zigzag stitch should fall on both sides of the bobbin thread. Then gather…I know this is a bit wordy, and maybe you all are doing this already, but I was not and I followed these directions exactly and had a big Ah HA moment…and have never had a gather stitch break since…it is also great for long areas that need gathering. I just heard about a ruffle foot attachment, and am going to look into that as well… Happy Sewing !! Hope this tip helps…

  40. Harriet Gray says:

    When you’re sewing on buttons, put a toothpick between the button and the material. When you’re done sewing the button on, remove the toothpick and wind the thread around where you’ve sewn. The button is then out a ways from the fabric and doesn’t pull so much when you button it.

  41. meg says:

    If this even helps one person as much as it has helped me, I’ll be so happy: Try using your zipper foot when sewing Velcro onto fabric. I find that it makes it so much easier to sew along that narrow edge and results in far fewer snarled stitches, not to much mention the temper tantrums that accompanied them in the past. ;)

  42. anna says:

    Oh, Ros already said the one I had in mind. Darn you Ros! :) A tip I learned in Home Ec many years ago was to run thread for hand stitching through beeswax. It helps keep the thread from knotting.

  43. Janice says:

    I hate this tip, but it’s so true….keep your ripper handy and USE it so that you do it right the first time.:) The other tips that have been great, are actually the oilcloth tips on your blog…that kept me from screwing up my first oilcloth project!

  44. A lady in the fabric store when I was first learning to sew told me to sew a line across the edges of my fabric before washing it. This helps cut back on how much fabric you lose from fraying in the wash. Of all the tips I have received from people, this is one I stick to and actually use! :)

  45. Stefanie Lin says:

    Always, always ALWAYS (did I mention always) change your needles out after each project. I admit that I may go a few projects if they are smaller but taking care of your machine and using proper tools will save you SO many headaches in the long run!

  46. Megan says:

    I, too, wish I could think of some awesome tip, but the only ones I can come up with are the ones I’m sure everyone already knows. This is one that I often have trouble remembering, though, in all of my excitement to start a new project. Wash and iron your fabrics before you start sewing – it really does make a difference.

  47. Ros says:

    I do a lot of hand sewing and heard a tip about stitching with double thread. Never fold the thread back on itself, cut two separate threads and thread them through the needle together, you don’t have those pesky knots to deal with!

  48. KBG says:

    Ummmmm… I’m trying so hard to think of the ONE thing that I have learned. My mom always complained when we used her “sewing scissors” and now I finally understand why. I guess that’s my big tip I’ve learned – keep your sewing scissors hidden from your husband and children! That and keep a spray bottle full of water by your ironing board. Misting your seams before you iron helps make them really sharp.
    I feel like they are both no-brainers though, so I hope they count for something!

  49. Cassie says:

    I love spray adhesive. Especially for pesky zippers. You just spray a little on the wrong side/back side of the garment you’re putting the zipper in & wa-lah! it stays in place. And my machine doesnt eat my pins this way, either :)

  50. Oiyi says:

    Clipping the corners and cutting the excess fabric after sewing has helped me achieve crisp corners and straight sides. Not sure if this counts, but I am a beginner.

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