Monday, October 3, 2011

Basic Sewing Kit, Hand Sew, Easy Hand Sewing Projects, Hemming, Buttons

Today, we’ll address hand sewing basics.  One of the most frugal and green things a person can do is to repair or alter his or her own clothes when necessary.    I also find hand it very soothing to hand sew, and it keeps my hands busy during cooler months when I am listening to music or watching a program on TV  While hand sewing has its devotees, for most people living in the modern world hand sewing is a lost art.  I can’t tell you how often I have been able to employ hand sewing basics to make or repair clothes, or make or repair items to improve my home.

The first thing I recommend is to assemble a basic sewing kit.  A basic sewing box to hold your sewing kit will also be helpful, but even a small zipper or canvas bag will dol.  Often sewing boxes or old plastic storage boxes can be found at second hand stores very inexpensively.  A variety of thread can be obtained by purchasing a small sample kit of miniature spools, often contained in a plastic storage box themselves.  In your kit, there should be the following:

1. Needles
2. Needle Threader
3. Magnifying Glass
4. Seam Ripper
5. Thread
6. Snips, or Scissors
7. Thimble
8. Tape Measure
9. Fasteners, like hooks and eyes or buttons
10. Straight pins and baby pins, and a pin cushion.
11. Tailor’s chalk

Sewing kits can also be purchased online, or in stores.  Prices may vary, and quality of the items in the kit may vary, as well.  Buttons can be had from flea markets, fabric stores and also off of garments purchased.  Buttons are also often found, and can be removed from shirts and other clothes that are being recycled or repurposed.  I recommend 100% cotton thread for cotton items, 100% polyester thread or blends for polyester items.  Silk and linen can be repaired with cotton, or silk, thread which is more expensive, so I tend to use a brushed, shiny cotton thread on those.

Some additional items maybe be needed or acquired over time.  These may include fabric, patches, patterns and iron/ironing board for pressing.  A good sewing book for beginners is:  Sew With Confidence: A Beginner’s Guild to Basic Sewing by Nancy Zieman, published 2004.  It is available online in used or new condition.

Basic sewing stitiches to practice include a running (basting) stitch, which may either be tight or loose, and the back stitch – which is the strongest, and most commonly used, hand stitch.  The other common hand stitch is called over handing, and it is used to make a flat hem or seem that is virtually invisible at first glance.  It is important to practice even, straight stitching on a piece of scrap fabric until you get the hang of doing it, and then work on a small project.

The most common clothing repair is to replace a button that has come off.  It is also one of the simplest repairs, able to be completed by even novice hand sewers.  Thread your needle with a long length of thread that matches the fabric of the item to be repaired.  The length should be long enough to be doubled.  Knot the end.  With tailor’s chalk, mark the correct spot where the button should go.  Holding the button to the fabric with your non-sewing hand, put the thread through the fabric and once through put the need button holes back through the fabric in an opposing hole.  Repeat 6-8 times, running the thread through all available holes.  Tie off the thread and snip it, leaving a tiny tail to ensure no damage to your sewing work.
To make a hand sewn button hole, snip a small cut in the location you would like your button hole.  Ensure you have aligned this location with the location of the button to avoid gaping in the fabric closure.  Snip a small slit in the fabric.  Thread your needed with a long length of thread that matches the color of the item you are working with.  Double the thread and knot off the end.  Using a whip stitch, carefully sew around the edges of the slit, to keep the fabric from unraveling.  The stitches should be very close together, and even in length to appear neat and tidy.

The second most common repair is a ripped seam.  It is so easy to hand sew a ripped seam in few simple steps.  Turn the garment inside out.  Locate the ripped seam.  Using straight pins, pin the hole closed.  Thread your needle with a long length of thread that can be doubled and knot off.  Start just beyond the edge of the ripped seam and using a back stitch, sew in a direction moving towards the opposite end of the ripped seam.  Sew just beyond the other end, knot off your thread and snip it, leaving a small tail behind.  Be sure to use a thread that very closely matches the color of the fabric, or your repair will be obvious to the casual viewer.  If desired, press the seam down. 

Lastly, hemming pants or altering pant legs to a custom length is also something many people need or want to do.  This technique will also turn pants into shorts, if for some reason the knees of the pants cannot be patched.  This is also the only repair where you will probably need to use a measuring tape and get some assistance.  Put the pants on turned inside out.  Have someone help you fold the fabric up to the desired length, forming large cuffs.  With a bit of chalk, make a small mark on the leg  in a couple of places to show where the hem should be. (If making shorts, where you would like them to be on the thigh).  Using a  tape measure, draw an even line all the way around.  Extra fabric is fine as long as it isn’t too much.  It’s always easier to cut something down then expand it, so if you find you need to let the pants leg down later on, it will be nice to have the extra fabric.  Pin the pants and use a over hand stitch to secure it.  Press the pants leg for a nice final effect.

I have used hand sewing to make clothes, make cushions for a house, to repair clothes and alter them, too.  It is much more economical and green to fix something you all ready own than to toss it or buy a replacement.  Hand sewing basics c are easy to master with practice.  Once you have hand sewing down, look into purchasing a basic, economical sewing machine.  Your first sewing machine will probably only do basic stitching like zig zag, straight stitch, button holing and backstitching.  Many of them can be purchased second hand online or in shops.  It will enable you to make basic clothing items quickly, and to fix large household items like sheets, curtains, or to make toss cushions and slipcovers for furniture. 

1 comment:

Paul@Coupons and Couponing said...

Great post! Sewing seemed to go out of style, but I am sure it will be back now after this great frugal-living article! :-)