Sew, Serge and Press: Introduction

In this guide I describe tailoring and other couture touches possible on all types of sewing machines. I have included information on the proper uses of fusible interfacings to achieve hand-tailored results in half the time it takes to pad-stitch a lapel. You will also find new product tips and tricks, a speedy welt pocket application, handpicked zipper application by machine, topstitching variations, and much more. Basic serger techniques are also included, so that you can sew as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Until recently, we’ve been spoiled by easy-care fabrics. When natural fibers regained popularity, some of us had forgotten how to use pressing equipment properly on ready-to- wear clothes and for home sewing.

The pressing information in this guide is collected from dry cleaning and pressing professionals and covers both the hand iron and commercial or home press. There are tips for using other pressing tools, such as a puff iron, professional steam iron, tailor’s ham, point turner, and tailor board—all of which can help beautify your handmade originals. For those who have forgotten the proper way to press a shirt, skirt, or slacks, Section 12 is a re fresher course on using the press or hand iron.

Sprinkled throughout this guide are profiles of well-known sewing celebrities, who tell how they got started on their sewing careers and offer tips on how they organize workspace. I think you’ll find its stories fun and interesting.

Sew, Serge, Press is designed to supplement your pattern instructions. For example, when you read a section in the pattern instructions that explains how to complete a welt pocket, look up “welt pocket” in the index of this guide and go to the appropriate page. Regardless of the age or brand of your sewing machine, this guide can show you a better way to sew a welt pocket. The machine settings, including the best stitch to use, the presser foot, and stitch length and width, are listed, and step by-step instructions are written in an easy-to understand way. You can write in your own machine settings, too, in the spaces provided.

I’ve found the best way to learn anything is to do it myself. As you read through the guide, I’ll show you how to construct and speed- tailor a blazer with me, so you can try each technique for yourself. If you work steadily as you read, you’ll finish the guide and have a new blazer, too.

To perfect the techniques presented here, try the suggested stitches and settings, record them for your machine in the space provided, then make a sample of each. I keep notes and swatches from sewing seminars and fashion shows and sketch ideas from ready-to-wear in a stenographer’s notebook (it fits well in my purse). This way, if I’m looking for something special to put on a suit pocket or an interesting way of topstitching, or if I’m making a blouse and want a particular collar treatment, I simply look in my notebook for ideas. Once I’ve decided on a treatment, I test it, fine-tune it, make a sample, and write any special instructions to myself. The perfected sample and notes go into a large three-ring binder with plastic pocket pages for my permanent record. Even though I think I’ll never forget the settings, I find this record saves a lot of time when I use the technique again. You may want to make a similar notebook as you practice these techniques.

If you own a serger, you probably know some of the virtues of professionally finishing your projects. In this guide, you will also find serging shortcuts, with suggested tension set tings. Again, record settings for your serger next to mine, and make a swatch for your notebook.

When your pattern instructions tell you to press a particular area, turn to the appropriate page in this guide and refresh your memory on the proper method and preferred equipment to use.

When you become proficient in using your sewing machine, serger, and pressing equipment, you’ll see your fabric stockpile begin to dwindle, and your wardrobe take on a sophisticated new look.

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Wednesday, 2010-05-19 23:23