Friday, January 31, 2014

Tailor Tacking: What is it? and why should you use it?

There are several different ways to mark the tailoring marks on a garment when cutting out.  The one I always go back to is the one I learned first:  tailor tacking.  It's simple.  It's quick. It uses items I always have on hand.  And frankly, you tend to go back to the things you know.

Tailor tacking uses items that every single seamstress has.   No matter how simply stocked your sewing stash, you always, always have a needle and thread.   That's all you need.  I prefer to use bobbins that were wound for other sewing projects.  It gets those bobbins emptied off and ready for a new project and I didn't have to throw out the thread or take the time to unwind it just to empty the bobbin.  Your needle choice depends on what you have on hand and your fabric choice.

A tailor tack is just a single stitch in the fabric.  You leave several inches of thread on either side of the stitch.  Leave it longer if you are going through several thicknesses of fabric (I like to leave four inches for two layers.)  If you are marking an area you will handle a lot during sewing, it's best to leave a little extra as insurance against pulling out the thread.

  After marking all the spots needed on the piece, remove the pattern and gently pull the fabric pieces apart.  When you have about 2-3" of thread between the fabric pieces, clip the threads.   Now it's ready to sew with.  You can remove the thread as soon as you are done sewing that piece (just be sure you won't need that mark again before you pull) or just pull all the tacks out when completely done with the garment.

Tailor tacking works for most tailoring marks.  All those little circles your supposed to match up, center line, fold lines, pleats, etc. are all great uses of tailor tacking.   This technique does not work as well, however, with things like stitching lines, i.e. zipper flies and scalloped necklines.  It's best to use transfer paper to mark those.  You also need to keep your fabric in mind.  If you are sewing with fabric that is easily snagged, it might be best to not be putting an extra needle near it.  Heavyweight fabric like extra thick canvas or leather isn't great for this either.  Leather just doesn't need the extra holes and you can hurt yourself trying to run a needle through thick fabrics.  Transfer paper or pens are useful with these fabrics as well.

If you are new to tailor tacking, you might want to leave your pattern pieces around so you can double check which marks are which.  The thread is just thread so it's up to you to keep track.  It may seem confusing at first, but you catch on pretty quickly and the marks are seldom complicated anyway.  I almost never have to refer to my pattern piece to interpret a mark.  If I do, 99% of the time it's because I'm working on a UFO without the factory instructions and I've forgotten what the mark was for.

I hope you learned a new technique and you find it helpful in your future sewing.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Leather trim houndstooth skirt

I took these pictures back in November, but I wasn't happy with them, so I delayed posting.  I have now admitted to myself that I will not be getting great pictures of this skirt.  This is it.  Sorry.  It is a great skirt though.

 It features a faux leather yoke and wool houndstooth skirt.  The skirt has five deep box pleats across the back.  And it's very fitted.  I finished it up after she left for college so I didn't have her to test the size for me.  If she were home when I sewed it, I would have let out the pleats a bit so it wasn't quite so tight.  But then that's how a lot of women's pencil skirts are being made these days, so whatever.  (by the way, the boots do look great with the skirt in real life.  The black and tan of the houndtooth blend more in photos than they do in person so the undertones in the colors are different.)

We used the same basic technique to build this skirt as I did for her wild print deep yoke skirt.   I did use a light fabric for the facing on the faux leather and I sewed down the facing at the top of the waist.  I also sewed down the seam allowance on either side of the seam as well as the darts at the waist.  

For the skirt, we decided on length, subtracted the length of the yoke and added in hem and seam allowance to get the fabric length.  Two pieces were cut.  One the width of the front yoke piece (including seam allowance) and one the width of the back yoke plus ten inches.    

The back skirt has five box pleats.  One in the center and two on either side spaced two inches away.  You could easily do fewer pleats or no pleats altogether.  Just adjust the width of the back skirt piece accordingly.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year Gifts

So I had a stressful, busy December and I didn't get gifts done for my close friends.  I have just a few I like to do gifts for, but it was still a few too many to fit into the end of the year.   Instead I decided to do "New Year Gifts."   Mostly because I saw an adorable free printable calendar from Skip To My Lou that looked perfect to gift.   At first I just printed out four sets and got them trimmed and cut.  That lovely stack of calendars inspired me to create this:

A stack of calendar hangers!  

You'll need a 1x6 board, small cup hooks, and sawtooth hangers to make your own.

These were really easy to make.  I cut a 1x6 into 12 inch pieces.   I have a miter saw, but it's a narrow board so a circular saw or even a hand saw would work fine.    I sanded, stained, and polyurethaned the boards doing all the proper steps the experts recommend (ok, so I skipped a step or two, but they still came out fine.)  I thought stained wood worked best with this calendar, but paint would be pretty too.

The calendars are hanging from a simple hole I punched with a standard office supply hole punch.  Make sure you don't punch farther than 3/8" from the top edge so they fit in the hook.  It's easiest if you mark and punch the first calendar page and then mark all the others from that one.  Just lay it exactly over the other sheets one at a time and trace the inside of the punched hole.    Punch that pencil circle out on each sheet.  They should all be lined up perfectly.

To place the cup hook, measure down 1" plus the distance the hole is from the top edge of the paper.   Mine was 2.5" over and 1.25" down.   If you have a hard time getting the cup hooks into the wood, you can pre-drill holes with a very fine drill bit.  check your cup hook packaging to find the right size.

To hang them on the wall, I put sawtooth hangers on the back 1" down.

This was a super fun project and it only cost me a few cents for paper and ink because I already had all the supplies for the hanger boards on hand.  Shockingly, I even had the sawtooth hangers.   I would say that cutting, sanding, staining, etc. all together took maybe an hour for all four boards.  It's a super quick project and I can't wait to give them to my friends.

(PS.  I've joined a link party at Remodelaholic to show off my calendars.)