Read an Excerpt
SEW FAST SEW EASY
Your Survival Sewing Kit:
WHAT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED
Tools of the Trade
With these suppliesor notions as they are frequently calledon hand, you'll be able to complete most sewing projects. You should be able to find all the items in any sewing or craft store.
Scissors, an 8- to 10-inch pair.
The best kind is all metal. They will cut fabric easily and will last much longer. Remember that scissors are an extension of your own hand and are a very important tool. They must remain sharpthere is nothing more frustrating than dull scissors (don't use them to cut paperjust fabric!). The handles of the scissors are designed for you to hold them a certain way. This will help you to cut better. The longer oblong opening is for you to insert the first three fingers of your hand and the circular hole is for your thumb.
Clear ruler, 18 inches by 2 inches. A see-through ruler makes it easy to lay a pattern out correctly and to make corrections while fitting.
Tape measure. This is always a good tool to have. You'll use it to measure your body, the width of your fabric, the length of your cut ...you get the idea. It will also help even your hems. Make sure you buy a good-quality one that will not stretch and has measurements clearly marked on both sides, starting at opposite ends. It could have centimeters if you go shopping in Europe.
Tailor's chalk, dry kind. Tailor's chalk comes in many forms. You want the dry powdery kind; the marks from the greasy type cannot be removed from the fabric.
Dressmaker's tracing wheel. Used with dressmaker's tracing paper, it transfers markings from the pattern to your fabric.
Dressmaker's tracing paper. Used with the wheel to transfer markings from the pattern or to draw new lines for alterations.
Magnetic seam guide. So simple, you'll wonder why you didn't invent it. Place this nonslip power-grip magnet on your sewing machine to sew even seams. Definitely a garment industry secret!
Dressmaker's pins (size 17). Pins come in all sizes and many varieties. Size 17 will go through most fabrics without leaving large holes.
It is best to get the nickel-plated stainless kind, so they can be picked up by a magnet.
Seam ripper. Even a good sewer can make a mistake. A seam ripper can be used in two ways: to remove a few stitches or seams, use the point to lift the loops of each stitch and pull out the thread end; to remove larger areas, cut the thread every few stitches (i.e., five), then on the back of the fabric pull the bobbin thread on that side. It should be easy to pull away. If not, cut more threads on the first side.
Hand sewing needles. Great for hand-sewn hems and small repairs. One package of "household assortment" multisized needles can take care of all your hand repairs.
Tailor's ham or dressmaker's ham. It really does looks like a ham. A hard pillow, the tailor's ham is an ironing tool, which will help you iron any curved surface, such as darts.
Fuse tape. Sold under such brand names as Stitch Witchery® and Jiffy Fuse®, this is a form of glue. You will use it to finish the envelope edges of the pillow and for the slit of the skirt. It's also useful for quick hem repairs. You iron it on. It is washable and dry cleanable.
Thread to match your fabric. When selecting thread for garments and crafts, always choose all-purpose thread. There are many different types of threads meant for different purposes. Button and carpet thread is for sewing on buttons or repairing carpets; rayon thread is used for decorative machine stitching, topstitching, monogramming, and embroidery. Always be sure to pick a color slightly darker than the predominant color of your garment.
A good sewing machine. There is nothing more frustrating than a sewing machine that does not work well. Clean your sewing machine with small brushes, cotton swabs, or a can of compressed air. Also, you can call your local sewing machine dealer to schedule a tune-up.
Once you have all of your basic supplies, you're ready to deal with patterns. There's no need to buy patterns to make the three projects detailed in this bookthey're conveniently glued to the back cover. But when you're ready to try something new, keep these things in mind:
1. In order to purchase the correct pattern (and make clothes that actually fit!), you must know how to correctly take your body measurements. To make skirts and pants, you'll need waist and hip sizes; for shirts and dresses, don't forget your bust.
Here's how to take your measurements:
Waist: Find your waist by tilting your body to the side as if you were exercising. Put your right hand on your hip and your left hand up over your shoulder, creating an arc. Start bending toward the right. You will feel your body form a crease on the right-hand side. Repeat on your left side. The creases are your waistline. Wrap the tape measure around yourself comfortably and take the measurement.
Hip: Finding your hips is much easier once you've found your waist. Take your tape measure and hold it at your waist, letting it drop to the floor. Your hip is usually about 7 to 9 inches down from your true waistline. Your hips are the fullest part between your waist and thigh. (You can find it when you look for where last night's cheesecake, pizza, or chocolate brownies landed.) Once you've found your hips, wrap the tape measure around them comfortably. Now read your hip measurement
Bust: Wrap the tape measure around your shoulder blades and across the highest point of your bust. Be especially careful to keep the tape at an even height. Don't let it slide down your back. Use a mirror to check that it's even.
2. Use the chart on the back of the pattern envelope to determine which size comes closest to your body measurements. Most patterns come with a range of sizes in the envelope. Make sure to buy a pattern that will be the same size or slightly bigger than your measurements. (Contrary to popular belief, patterns are not sized like clothes in the store. It will probably shock you to learn that in a sewing pattern your size will be at least two sizes bigger than your usual store-bought clothing size.)
3. Examine the pattern picture very carefully, especially the back views. You may think you have a skirt with an elastic waistband, but it may be another style.
4. Since you are a beginner, always start with a SIMPLE-TO-MAKE STYLE. Do not choose styles with collars, set-in sleeves, zippers, or close-to-the-body fit if you have never sewn before. To start, use the skirt pattern in this book.
5. Your fabric choice will be 75 percent of your sewing success. If you buy a commercial pattern, on the back of the envelope will be a list of the best fabrics for the style. There will also be a list of all the sewing notions you will need to make the garment.
6. Check to make sure that you are buying the amount of fabric needed for your project. The back of the pattern envelope has a yardage chart for each style. Note that fabric is measured in yards, not feet or meters.
7. All major American pattern companies include % of an inch seam allowance in their patterns. The skirt pattern in this book does too. Seam allowance is the distance between the edge of the fabric and the sewing line. European patterns sometimes do not have seam allowances, so you must add them or your garment will be smaller and may not fit properly.
8. Pull the instruction sheet out of the envelope. Look at the style you have chosen to sew and cut out only those pattern pieces.
SEW FAST EASY. Copyright © 2002 by Elissa K. Meyrich. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, adress St. Martin's Press. 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.