Friday, January 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Nifty Tips Edition

Usually, when I do "7 Quick Takes," I'm posting on my book blog, Catholic Bibliophagist. But this time I'm sharing seven sewing tips here at Quilting Bibliophagist. 

1.  I've just discovered a nifty tool to remove the little wire fasteners that hold new buttons onto their cards -- an ordinary staple remover.

2.  When fusing interfacing to pattern pieces, trim off 1/8 - 1/4 inch off all of the edges. That way you'll never get fusible gunk on your ironing board. You don't have to be precise about this because the seam allowances are probably going to be graded (trimmed) anyway.
3.  I like to serge the cut edges of my fabric before I preshrink  it so that I don't end up with tangled shredded clumps in the washing machine. I usually serge right along the edge because I'm trying not to cut off any of my precious fabric. One day I was doing this while strong sunlight was pouring through the window and noticed that a very fine fabric dust was rising from the serger blade. And I realized that I was breathing in this stuff. So now I practice "safe serging" and wear one of these inexpensive painter's dust masks whenever I prepare a lot of fabric for the washer.

4.  I used to hate ripping out seams -- "hate" as in I'd rather have my tonsils taken out with a rusty spoon. But now I know the magic method. Using a seam ripper, cut every fourth stitch. Then flip the seam over and pull the long end of the thread. It will pull out in one long piece.  Then I flip the seam over again and use blue painter's tape to pull out all of the little cut bits of thread remaining on that side.

5.  When I reorganized my sewing room I came across a stray pattern piece that had been floating around for years. It was a facing from Simplicity 7184 -- but I had no idea which pattern that might be. I've got so many patterns that it would be very tedious to search through them all -- especially since they're not filed by number. Suddenly it occurred to me to run a Google search on the pattern brand and number.  In almost no time I was able to find a photo of the pattern envelope which I recognized as one in my collection. (N.B. The major pattern companies reuse their pattern numbers at widely spaced intervals, but by including "Girls" as a search term, I was able to narrow things down a bit.  (Yes, you're probably rolling your eyes and saying, "Duh!" But I'm still not a fully fledged citizen of the Internet Age.)

6.  Okay, this is only a tip if you're as dumb as I am. I've had trouble with my polyester bobbins getting mixed up with my cotton bobbins. (I like to use cotton on my quilts and polyester for garment sewing.) I've been sewing for decades, but it only just now ocurred to me that I can burn test thread just as I do for fabric. Cotton leaves a soft ash; polyester kind of melts into a hard bead.

7.  If you have to alter the length or width of a stitch, for heaven's sake write down the new setting if your machine is a computerized one which reverts to the default option whenever you turn it off. Because you will surely get interrupted and have to go away for a bit, and you will probably have forgotten your altered setting by the time you return. (Now that I'm middle-aged, I definitely consider Post-it notes to be a sewing notion.)

For more Quick Takes please visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary.