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  • shlema7 1:50 pm on 03/20/2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , machine gather, sewing methods, sewing patterns,   

    How to Sew – Stage Two is Intermediate Skills 

    There are three stages to learning to sew. They are: 1) learning the basics, 2) garment construction skills and repairs and 3) sewing for fun and profit. Your goal is to reach the third stage, where you will enjoy sewing and find that even if you are not a professional seamstress, you are competent to achieve most of the sewing objectives you seek.

    This article will discuss what is needed to master the intermediate stage of learning to sew. A few skills go a long way. As with the beginner stage of learning to sew, it often takes time and patience, but no rocket science. Today you can access information on the internet to help you master these skills.

    1. Practice ripping seams.
    2. Practice finishing seams and pressing them open.
    3. Learn to machine baste.
    4. Learn to gather.
    5. Learn to use seam binding tape.
    6. Learn to read sewing patterns.


    Just get comfortable with these 6 skills, and you will be on your way to the advanced stage of learning to sew. Let’s discuss each skill and how you can most easily accomplish it so that you can move on to becoming an advanced sewing student.

    Ripping Seams:

    It’s inevitable, and if you’re good at ripping a seam without ripping apart the fabric, it will make your life easier and your garments more professional. You can use the scraps you sewed straight lines on for practice. Be sure to purchase a good seam ripper.

    If you have established the good habit of back stitching at the beginning and end of your seam, you will find that it is sometimes difficult to get started on ripping the seam at the ends. If this is the case, carefully use the seam ripper on one side of the fabric to cut the thread of the seam on that side. This will give you a hole in the seam where you can now more easily begin to remove the seam.

    The easiest way to rip the seam is to hold the two pieces of fabric apart and find the thread of the seam that holds them together. Carefully insert the seam ripper tip into that thread, not the fabric threads, and slide it in until the thread is cut. Gently pull the fabric pieces apart until they will not pull apart any more. Repeat the seam ripper action. Keep doing this until you have ripped the whole section.

    Practicing finishing seams and pressing them open:

    Pressing your seams as you go makes a world of difference in how well your garment fits and looks. Make this a habit.
    There are numerous ways to finish seams which include serging (not a beginner skill), french seam finishes, and zig zag finishing. Zig zag finishing is particularly easy and quick and looks almost as good at serging.
    To zig zag finish a seam, first press open the seam. Place the edge of the seam under the needle of your machine, and set your stitch width on the widest zig zag. Sew with the edge under the needle, so that the machine stitch closes over the edge of the fabric on one side. There is a video tutorial on this method.

    Learn to machine baste:

    See “How-To-Sew-1—Basic-Machine-Basting” for a full article on machine basting.
    First, locate your stitch length control for your sewing machine. Set the stitch length to the longest length available. Place the seam you want to baste under the needle of your sewing machine, raise the needle to its highest point and lower the presser foot. Do not back stitch when beginning or ending the seam to be basted, as basting is usually removed later. Sew the seam with the long stitch length, then remove the piece from your machine as usual by raising the needle to the highest point, lifting the presser foot, and cutting the threads. This is your basted seam, a temporary seam or the preparation for gathering.

    There is a video tutorial available on the internet for this important skill.

    Learn to machine gather:

    See “How to Sew 2 – Machine Gathering” for a full article on machine gathering.
    To machine baste, set your sewing machine to its longest available stitch length. Stitch this basting stitch along where your seam line will be, on most commercial patterns 5/8 inch from the fabric edge. Stitch again 1/4 of an inch inside the seam allowance. Two lines of stitching will keep your gathering more even, and hold your gather in case one thread breaks. This is especially important on long gathering lengths such as waistline areas. Gently pull up on one thread to gather the material. Evenly distribute the gathering, and finish sewing your seam according to directions. Again, there is a video tutorial for this valuable sewing skill.

    Learn to use seam binding tape:

    See “How to Sew With Seam Binding – A Quick Way to Finish Edges” for a full article on this skill.
    Most patterns tell you to cut a length of seam binding tape about 1/2 inch longer than the length of your edge. Then you sew wrong side of binding to wrong side of edge, press the tape over to the right side, and stitch down the middle of it on the right side.
    Another method is to slip the fabric in the crease of the seam binding like a sandwich and sew close to the edge. This is especially quick as you only sew the tape once, rather than twice as in the previous method.

    Learn to read sewing patterns:

    As with any skill, there is a whole vocabulary you need to know. You already know about basting (not like a turkey!) and gathering. If you search for sewing dictionary on the internet, you will find numerous sites with the terms defined for you.

    Searching for “reading a sewing pattern” will give you results that include videos and ebooks for a full range of help.

    Have no worries, there will always be a new pattern whose instructions stump you at first. Your skills in understanding pattern instructions will grow with time and experience. Don’t sweat it if it still takes you a long time to understand what’s in the pattern right now.

    If you’ve become comfortable with all the other steps in this article, you are ready to become and advanced sewing student.

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  • shlema7 4:11 pm on 03/17/2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lined tank top, neckline, sew lined, , sewing methods   

    How To Sew A Lined Tank Top 

    Sewing projects like this one can be so much fun and save you so much money. Here are two different sewing methods on how to sew a lined tank top.

    Reversible tank tops are so versatile. They are perfect to take when you travel. You get a 2 for 1 top if you use another color for the lining. You can even get 4 for 1 by using 4 different color fabrics. . . 2 colors for the 2 fronts and 2 colors for the 2 backs. This works great under suit jackets since only the front shows when you wear it.

    Test for show through first. It’s a great way to use up a lot of your stash!

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    The necklines can even be different front and back if you like. Try sewing a v-neck front and a scoop neck back. If you have no darts for the bust, you can wear the top backwards for a different look.

    Try both sewing techniques to see which one you like best.

    Method I – Sew a Binding on The Neckline and Armholes

    Directionally staystitch the necklines and armholes to help keep them from stretching.

    That is, stitch 1/2″ from the edge through a single layer of
    fabric from the shoulder to the center front and center back
    on the neckline.

    Staystitch from the shoulder to the underarm on the armholes.

    Staystitch the bottom edge of the tank 1/4″ from the edge front and back on both layers.

    Join Shoulder Seams

    Lay a front and a back with 2 right sides together.

    Stitch the shoulder seams from the neckline to the armhole.

    Repeat for the lining layer.

    Sandwich press the shoulder seams.

    Press the seams open.

    Trim the lining shoulder seams to 1/4″

    Stitch Side Seams

    Stitch the side seams from the bottom to the underarm on both layers.

    Sandwich press the seams.

    Press the seams open.

    Trim the lining side seams to 1/4″.

    Try On To Check Fit

    Before you sew the two layers together, try on the tank top to see if the neckline or the armholes gap. If they do, now is the time to fix it either with darts, easing or other neckline or armhole adjustments too involved to address here.

    Sewing Tip: Use a fusible stay tape on necklines and armholes to help eliminate the gaposis problem.

    Once you get the top to fit your body, make the same adjustments to the lining.

    Put Tank Top and Lining Together

    Lay the 2 wrong sides of the tank top and lining together.

    Pin the shoulder seams one on top of the other to hold in place at the neckline and the shoulder point.

    Line up and pin together at the underarms.

    Pin center fronts and center backs together at the neckline

    Pin the armholes together

    Beginning at a shoulder seam, stitch the neckline 5/8″ to 3/4″ from the edge.

    Trim off the seam allowance close to the stitching. This edge will be bound and will be the finished edge of the garment.

    Stitch the armhole seams 5/8″ to 3/4″. Trim off the seam allowance close to the stitching.

    Now the neckline and armhole edges are ready for binding.

    Sewing Tip: You might like to try serging the edges with a
    decorative thread or look for a decorative purchased trim to bind them. You are the designer.

    Cut Fabric Binding

    For a fabric binding, cut matching or contrasting bias binding to go around the neckline and both armholes 4 times wider than you want the finished binding to be.

    That is, if you want 3/8″ finished binding, cut the bias 1-1/2″ wide and the length you need it to be.

    Test the width of bias on scraps of your garment and lining fabric (double layer) to make sure you have enough width for the “turn of the cloth”.

    Sew Binding

    Sewing Tip: Use fusible thread in the bobbin of your sewing machine to sew the binding to the neckline and armholes.

    Lay the right side of the binding against the right side of
    the tank top with the raw edges together.

    At the beginning of the binding, fold back the raw end.

    Place this fold at one of the shoulder seams for the neckline. You may start the binding at the center back if you prefer, however, if you plan to wear the tank backwards, it may look better to have the binding end at one shoulder.

    Place the fold to start the binding at the underarm for the

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    Stitch the binding as deep as you want it to be when finished. Example: 3/8″. Slightly stretch the binding as you stitch a curve.

    Overlap where you started the binding and trim off the excess. The folded edge of the binding will show when the binding is finished.

    Turn the bias up over the garment edge, fold under and pin.

    Lightly press to fuse the binding to hold it in place.

    Either slipstitch the edge of the binding so the stitches won’t show from either side or “stitch in the ditch” or “well stitch” on the right side with the stitches showing on the lining side.

    Note: The fusible thread is not enough to hold the binding
    permanently. You must stitch it.

    If you aren’t going to wear the tank top inside out, just leave the raw edge of the binding on the inside and “stitch in the ditch”. It eliminates bulk. Since it is bias, it won’t fray.

    Hemming Options:

    Hem the two layers separately. Hem the outside layer first.

    Let it hang a while. Try on the garment and mark where the lining should be hemmed. Then hem the lining layer so that it doesn’t show.

    Note: If the garment is not reversible, hem the lining a little shorter than the garment. If the garment is reversible, you want both layers the same length.

    Hand sew a small “swing tack” at the bottom of the side seams to keep both layers together.

    Optional: You can stitch both layers together at the bottom and bind it, too.

    Another Option: Or, bring the 2 right sides of the bottom of the garment and lining together and stitch leaving about a 4″ opening near a side seam to turn the tank right side out.

    Slipstitch or fuse the opening closed.

    Method II – Create a Center Back Seam For More Choices

    This is another favorite sewing technique for sewing a lined
    tank top. This method requires either a center front or center back seam in the garment. It is the same technique often used for a reversible or lined vest.

    If you don’t want a plain seam line down the center of your tank, then turn it into a pleat or tucks or some other design element on the garment. Be sure to allow extra fabric for the center seam plus the pleat, pintucks, etc.

    How To Add For An Inverted Pleat

    Here is an example of how to add for an inverted pleat. This
    pleat folds toward the seam line and helps to hide it. You can add decorative or top stitching or trim, etc. to the pleat if desired. You are the designer. Do whatever suits your fancy. Get ideas from ready-to-wear.

    For a 1″ inverted pleat down the center back or center front of a tank top, you need to add double the pleat (2″) plus a seam allowance (5/8″). That adds up to 2-5/8″ total that you need to add to the center front or center back fold line in order to make a 5/8″ seam and have a 1″ pleat.

    You might also like the seam exposed as the focal point of a box pleat and run a row of trim or buttons down the seam line. Just fold the pleat to create a box pleat instead of an inverted pleat.

    How To Sew The Tank Top

    Directionally staystitch the necklines and armholes on both layers to prevent stretching as specified in Method I.

    Stitch the shoulder seams on both layers. Press and trim as in Method I.

    Do NOT make the center seam. For our example, we will use a center back seam.

    Put the 2 right sides together of the tank and the lining together

    Stitch the armholes, trim and understitch. Use short stitches (18-20 per inch); trim to 1/8″ and understitch.

    For the neckline, beginning on the back about 2″ before the
    shoulder seam, stitch around the neckline and stop 2″ beyond
    the other shoulder seam.

    Trim seam and understitch. Use short stitches to stitch a curve (18-20 per inch); trim to 1/8″ and understitch.

    Leave the back neckline unstitched until after you make the seam and pleat in the center back. It is fine for now.

    Turn Right Side Out

    Now, pull the split unstitched right and left backs through each shoulder to turn right side out.

    Press the stitched neckline and armholes well with understitching up at the board.

    Stitch Center Seam

    Stitch the center seam at 5/8″. Sandwich press. Press seam open.

    Mark Pleat

    With the face side up, mark fold lines 2″ away from either side of the seam line. Bring those lines over to the seam line and press the pleat in place.

    You can stitch 1″ from the marked fold if desired.

    Repeat for the lining.

    Finish Back Neckline

    Now, finish the back neckline. Stitch with short stitches, trim, understitch, press.

    Shoulders, neckline, and armholes are finished.

    Sew Side Seams

    Lay the right sides together for both the garment and the

    Pin the underarm seams one on top of the other matching exactly.

    Start at the bottom of the garment and stitch in a continuous seam up to the armhole, stop, walk your sewing machine over the pin, and keep stitching down the lining side seam.

    Sandwich press the seam.

    Press the seam open.

    Do not trim this lining seam in case you need to let the garment out.

    Turn the lining layer down inside the garment.

    Finish The Bottom

    Finish the bottom as described above with either separate hems, or. . .
    Stitch the two layers together leaving an opening near a side seam and turn right side out.

    Design Your Own Tank Style Garments

    Change your necklines, add slits to the side, or lengthen
    the tank top pattern for tunic, knee length, or floor length. Just make sure to allow room for hip width plus ease.

    Perfect the fit on your tank top sewing pattern. Use it to sew blouses, dresses, beach cover-ups, night gowns, vests and sleeveless jackets.

    Sew a whole wardrobe using different fabrics like silk, lace, fleece, leather, suede, denim, upholstery fabrics, sheers, cottons, knits, quilted fabric, whatever you want.

    Add decorative stitching, appliques, embroidery, fabric manipulation; try out all your sewing techniques, paints, etc.

    Have fun designing your own unique tank wardrobe. They are
    quick and easy sewing projects.

    It just makes sense!

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