Yay you! I see you found the pattern you wanted and it's time to shop for the fabric. Let's review the back of the pattern for what you will need.
Wait, what? What's "medium weight woven" mean? What kind of Crepe or Satin? Stay with me and I'll point out which fabrics have similar qualities, such as the "hand", weight and blends. These days, so many fabrics are blends of natural and synthetic fibers - it can be quite confusing!
Sorting Out the Confusion
First, sort out what fabric construction is required -Knit, Woven, Non-Woven?
Fibers are natural source and foundation of fabric. Yarn is made from fibers, then either knit or woven into cloth (fabric).
Drape is how the fabric lays - stiff or soft? Think of curtains, this helps.
Hand is how the fabric feels on the skin - soft, smooth, rough, slippery, etc.
Woven fabrics are tight and form a strong cloth. They are interlaced by crossing yarns over one another. There are several types of weaves - I'll save those for another time.
Knits bring hundreds of yarns together either by twisting or looping together resulting in a loose, soft cloth with a generous stretch (some 4 way stretch). Again, there are several types of knit of which most will be covered in a different post.
Newer fabrics are non-woven. These have been made by bonding or felting fibers together. Examples of non-woven are surgical masks, gowns and gloves, sport wear, faux fabrics, packing materials, industrial fabrics and more.
Fabrics & Characteristics
Satin is a primary fabric used in wedding or other formal attire. Satin is named for the type of weave, not actually the name of the fabric. Satin is made from wool, polyester, cotton and silk. Not all satin has a shiny surface - it's common to confuse "Sateen" with Satin - Sateen is the result of weaving cotton to a dull sheen. There are several fabrics made in a satin weave: Charmeuse, Double Faced, Slipper, Sultan, Polyester, and more.
"Crepe" , commonly misused as the name for one type of fabric, correctly describes many kinds of fabrics-cotton, silk, rayon, synthetics and blends-that have a crinkle, crimped or grained surface. For example, Crepe de chine has a slightly crinkly surface created with highly twisted fibers. It comes in three weights: 2 ply: appropriate for blouses and lingerie; 3 ply: appropriate for fuller pants and dresses; and 4 ply: the highest quality and best for dress pants and jackets. Crepe back Satin is another that is suitable for blouses, dresses and curtains. This fabric has a matte shine on one side and rough, slub like on the other.
Tulle is confused with Netting. They are different, but not by much. Tulle is a hexagon shaped mesh, generally soft (unless starched). Tulle is used for bridal veils, overlays and inserts. Net is square, open mesh with a larger pattern. It is also known as "bobbinet" and ranges from sheer to heavy in weight. Net is used for millinery, petticoats, underlinings, costumes and more. *Images below are credited to Harrington Fabric & Lace Co, UK* http://www.harrington-fabric-and-lace.co.uk/prod/lace-net/plain-net-tulle.html
Three other fabrics confused with one another are Voile, Organdy and Organza. Each are a thin, lightweight plain weave fabric, made from cotton, silk, nylon and polyester (blends). Voile has a soft hand and is commonly used in curtains but used for apparel as well. Organdy and Organza are similar, however, they are stiff in hand and present a sheer appearance.
Bamboo, Hemp and Linen are mistakenly identified between each other. Each fabric is made from natural fibers, and create a strong, sustainable cloth. Hemp can be spun and woven to appear like Linen. Bamboo and Hemp have high wicking properties and are popular for use in cloth diapering.
Muslin and Gauze are frequently mistaken in name. Muslin is a medium weight, plain weave, opaque fabric, and Gauze is a sheer open weave. Both are woven from cotton and suitable for apparel.
Comfortable, stretch, breathes well, dressy and casual, wrinkle resistant - all describe knit fabrics. The favorite t-shirts we wear to the most comfortable of undergarments, knit fabrics are a giant in the fabric industry.
A slim few of the most commonly confused knits (the term knit is mistakenly used to describe all knits) are presented here. Of course, a knit fabric can be easy to identify, but knowing which type it is and the weight will save your dollars and stress level for ordering online. There are three types of knits most commonly used:
" Non-woven fabric is a fabric-like material made from long fibers, bonded together by chemical, mechanical, heat or solvent treatment. The term is used in the textile manufacturing industry to denote fabrics, such as felt, which are neither woven nor knitted."
Nylon, first produced in 1938, the first completely synthetic fiber developed. Known for its high strength and excellent resilience, nylon has superior abrasion resistance and high flexibility.
Polyester is a manufactured fiber introduced in the early 1950s, and is second only to cotton in worldwide use. Polyester has high strength (although somewhat lower than nylon), excellent resiliency, and high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly.
Spandex (now called Lycra or Lycra Spandex) was introduced in 1958. Spandex is a synthetic fiber made of at least 85% polymer polyurethane. Spandex is made from several chemicals that are known sensitizers.
Acetate a manufactured fiber formed by compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp, and acetic acid that has been extruded through a spinneret and then hardened.
Whew! That was alot of info in a short space, right? What fabrics confuse you in name or characteristics? What's your favorite to sew with? Whatever fabrics your projects bring you to, I wish you success and inspiration with them, and all you do - today and always!
To a seamstress or tailor, a helper is invaluable. Reaching, handing, holding, supporting are all the actions a helper can provide. What do you do if you don't have a shop helper? If you're into gadgets, it's fun to geek out with all the sewing gadgets that give you a third hand.
The grabber (reacher) is perfect for cleaning up pins and needles when dropped. It is strong enough to pick up scissors, and refined enough to grab beads out of the carpet. Sold at most online stores.
Load several spools of thread of the same color and drop into the Bob 'n Serge. Saves money on thread, blends threads easily, or stores extra bobbins for large projects. Available at most online stores.
Third Hand Sewing Clamp
The picture alone gives away how well this works as a third hand in sewing. Grab, pinch, hold while you work as though you are being assisted. These and vintage models are sold at most online stores.
A dress form is a valuable third hand. Use them for pattern making, shaping, fitting, and of course, draping when you need to accurately place hand sewn items.
One more invaluable gadget is a madnifier - light. One that clips on is handy, but the style you choose ultimately depends on your sewing set up
Other handy helpers include:
I could write and post so much more, but you get the idea by now. Look for helpers in the notions and gadgets to fit your sewing needs. Sewing is a pleasure; keep it that way with a few gadgets.
What gadgets or helpers do you have in your tool box? What ever you have or use, I wish you success and inspiration with all your creative projects - today and always.
Some argue clothing size doesn't matter. Personally, I agree with the doesn't matter side. However, it matters a great deal when measuring a body for custom sewing. If you choose a pattern based on your ready to wear (RTW) size, you will end up wth a garment of no use to you. Custom sewing demands that size matters.
There is a particularly sensitive issue that presents itself when I am measuring a person for custom sewing: How to address the large gap in numbers (sizes) between what size they are in RTW and pattern sizes? Some customers are aware of the difference, but others are genuinely dismayed that in RTW they are a size 6 - patterns say they are a size 12. Ouch!!
How to Find Your Pattern Size
Size It Up
Now that you have your basic measurements you can select the pattern in your size. Today, patterns are multi-sized (this has several advantages; more on that later) so your pattern will most likely have a range of three to four sizes.
Look to the left of the numbers. Do you see the short column that reads SIZES? There is where you will begin and follow the row across to the number that best represents your measurement. For example: Bust measured at 35, so you would select the next size up which is 36. That places you in the size 14 row. Chances are your waist will not be 28" as shown in that column, but it can be adjusted. Tip: If your hip measurement is larger than your bust measurement, go with the size of your hips. Why? It's easier and less expensive to have a garment taken in.
A few more tips on measurements and sizing:
Special Note: Patterns are now printed in several languages and are made in multi-sizing. The benefits are you only need one pattern for a variety of sizes; it's easy to adjust sizing; it saves on paper and keeps costs down. Patterns are expensive, so I find it a good thing I have a range of sizes in one pattern when working with making dresses for a group of ladies.
Are you shocked at the dramatic increase of your size of clothing? It's not only the pattern industry. Manufacturers nationwide size their clothing according to their measurements. This explains the phenomenon of the same maker, but different jeans you buy and they are different in size. As for patterns, if you buy a 12 in the pattern but you need a 20 or 22, prepare for immediate disappointment!
The charts below will help illustrate the gap in sizing, emphasizing the need of knowing your measurements before you purchase a pattern.
What have you noticed in the difference in sizes? Have you noticed a difference between pattern makers as well?
Whatever pattern(s) you choose for your custom sewing project, I wish for you success and inspiration in all you do, today and always!
I imagine the answer to this post title is subjective - or not. One can argue the sewing machine is most important; however, a good tailor (or seamstress) can sew without the machine. Hand sewing with a good needle takes substantiallly longer, but it is possible. Without the shears or scissors though, what would you sew together? I don't think I'd be interested in using a knife to cut fabric - that would be more like ripping it.
A couple of points before I continue with the various types of scissors and their importance. First, it's common knowledge in this household Sher's scissors are a DO NOT TOUCH. My husband has a few tools inside the house that are okay to use for any purpose (mostly); just as I have old scissors around for use on paper, twine, photos, ribbons, etc. Even trade, right?
Second, I try (sometimes I don't have them handy) to use the right tools for the job at hand. Snips for threads, my large heavy duty shears for the heavier fabrics (denims, leather, etc.), dressmaker shears for cutting fabric, etc.
Last, I take great care of my cutting tools. They are wiped frequently, blades checked for knicks and sharpness and when needed, they are professionally repaired and sharpened.
Shears vs. Scissors and Other Trivia
There is a difference between shears and scissors. I'm not talking about electric shears (razors). Shears are generally more more than 6" in length and have finger holes different in size. Scissors are usually less than 6" in length and have a squared off blade edge with same size finger holes.
An interesting item to note is shears have a screw that holds the blades together and scissors have a nut or rivet. The screw allows the scissors to be separated for sharpening and balanced when needed. Oh yes, they do need balancing (alignment) now and then. If you've dropped your shears several times, you will feel the blades wobbling and a bit loose while cutting.
Did you know Pinks can be sharpened? It's a long process but it is done by professional sharpening services.
Kids safety scissors are perfect for trimming close to seams without nicking the fabric above the seam.
Worn out shears and scissors are prize for cutting wire ribbon, plastic tags, zipper teeth, etc.
Yes, there are Left Hand shears and scissors. I am accustomed to using both comfortably (As a Lefty in a Right Hand world, I had to adapt.).
Use the Right Tool for the Job
Shown below are the tools for cutting I use daily and a short description of their use. Until I put this post together, I didn't realize I own more than ten pair; nine are used daily!
Quick Care Tips
Your shears and scissors are a vital tool to sewing. Protection and prevention of wear and tear of your cutting tools is not only recommended, but imperative. Below are a few care tips:
* Wipe your shears and scissors with a soft cloth, similar to what you would use for eye glasses.
* Never cut through sequins, beads or other hard surfaces. This will cause nicks in the blades, in turn creating runs or ruining the fabric.
* Try to avoid dropping the shears. Don't panic if you drop them, but try to make this infrequent.
* Do not store with tips up or pointed down. Always store them flat on the front or back and in the case if one is available.
* Avoid moisture!
* Watch for pins when cutting.
* Check daily for nicks, dullness, scratches and alignment.
* Avoid home style sharpening tools. Take your quality shears and scissors for professional repair.
That about wraps it up for this post. Are there other care tips or trivia you know about your sewing shears or scissors? Share them with us below in the comments :)
Whatever your favorite or most important sewing tool is, I wish you success and inspiration in sewing and all you do - today and always!