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Ironing out my bad back…

Perhaps not an official tip, but still helped me. Been having a bad back week, but w/3 projects on the burners couldn’t really stop. None of my work tables is at a great height, being standard Ikea type desks. Especially with the huge amount of hand sewing I did last week (160 metres pick hem) I needed a work surface I could sit or stand with depending upon back. Not having the money for a fabulous hydraulic table (ah the table at Ballet, I miss you so) I fell upon my ironing board. SO simple, so obvious but such a back saver as can adjust to height and move easily about from room to room, plus I can pin into it, extra Useful points there. I love adapting things I have for more use ;)

So another free/no cost solution to a simple problem. Beyond partners slightly put upon expression at having sitting room invaded by an iron board. If I could somehow disguise it as a Mac computer, I’m sure he’d love it then…


Tricks of the day-A Nappy Issue-velvets, shaggy & fake fur

A friend had a question about dealing with sewing other fabrics onto velvet, running into problems with velvet nap/cushiness, shag and slipping, so here’s a few thoughts on dealing with velvet, fake furs and yarn shags. ( yes I know there is a bad joke in there about slippery shags in there somewhere ;)

1. SHAVE!- if you are sewing flat/appliqué onto these, a good trick especially on edges is to shave the fabric. (For yarn/big shag/long fake fur, clip down w/scissors instead). Then you can use good old fashioned men’s hairclippers, or for more delicate areas/silk velvets; a lady bikini clipper ;) to shave down the area you are sewing onto. This takes down the bulk in all seams whether top/flat or for standard face to face sewing. A cheap disposable razor works well on fine velvets, or if you are very steady of hand, a plain shaver razor/box cutter razor.

2. ZigZag- I like to go over long seam/edges with a tight wide zigzag stitch, this tamps/holds down the nap/yarn/shag and gives a better gripping surface for stitching onto.

3. Hairspray- Good old fashioned Elnet is one of my favorite tools, non marking, low tack, non staining on most materials. If I’m stitching on rightside of fabric I may spray just a bit on the edge to better hold the top fabric, or the underside of the top fabric. Hair spray doesn’t seem to gum up my needles overmuch, though I still recommend passing needle through the sand filled “strawberry” on most tomato pin holders, or changing the needle after.

I also use it if I am backing a slippery fabric or ribbon with cotton, much less sticky than a fusible to hold cotton to slippery fabric just long enough to sew.

4. iron on lace binding/interfacing fusible- on top/right side just at seams,/edges to hold down cushiness/excess. Not my favorite as is tacky/sticky & expensive.

Working from home/own studio-Traps & timekeeping help

Like many, I work from home when I don’t have access to a studio. Generally, I love working from home, the lack of commute, being able to wear Hello Kitty sweats w/out public embarassment (well, I am older than she is ;) playing my own music. There are the downsides; mainly lack of social contact, not having someone else to keep me on track/on time, too easy to be distracted by home life or use doing the laundry as a way to avoid my less preferred sewing tasks.

There are some tasks which I find myself preferring to do in front of the telly. A Dangerous trap indeed. When doing boring/repetitive things like large amount of handsewing/basting, or sorting beads, it’s lovely to have the noise and some stimulation in the background. A particularily engrossing programme though slows me down. So to keep from too much distraction, I like to watch films/tv series which I have watched before, enough to entertain, but not something I feel I have to actively watch. Also when doing so I actually subtract 20% off my time log to account for slowness.

Which leads to my next new big helper; time keeping. Up until recently I have been *horrid* about time keeping, but a recent commission has made me seriously face up to it. I have a project which, as I go along, I am finding I seriously misjudged how long it would take to complete. Oh, I was fine as far as basic timeframes for the quote; fittings, shopping time for materials, pattern draughting etc. but then some of the custom details on the dress suddenly skewed it enourmously. Enough so that I essentially am no longer “paid” from my original commission quote. (in this case it’s for a friend, it was my error/oversight, so happy to swallow the “cost”, plus she’s taken me to so many theatre shows I’ve been more than compensated in kind ;) The old quote about 90% of the job takes 10% of the time and 10% of the job takes 90% of the time is definatly true with craft/sewing projects ;)

So I needed to find a way to track SPECIFIC tasks. This is important for the future to be able to better give quotes and NOT undersell oneself! I thought to myself it would be lovely if I had a list of just how long it takes to do any given task.

I had been using a timesheet, and that’s good, especially if you have one nearby in all the places in the house you tend to do work. But  I need to use studio, sitting room, dining room ( for cutting big fabrics) and laundry. That’s a silly number of timesheets to try to collate, or drag a clipboard along w all the other things.

Time to turn to technology, I have an Android phone, and I have found a good application which lets me log in & out quickly, calculate cost of time, and label each login/out so I can see exactly how much time I spent sewing X’s pleats, or drawing a pattern. This info you can also email to yourself, or make into a CVS file to send to your computer, making it so much easier to create a final timeshet for a project and in my case, a database on how long it *REALLY* takes to do any aspect.

you can find it on Android Market here (it’s called Chronos timekeeper) : https://market.android.com/details?id=com.kopysoft.chronos&feature=search_result

iPhone seems to have a similar app named simply iTimesheet. I can’t rate it being an Android gal ;)

So if you have a smartphone, and hate filling in timesheets, I highly recommend using this, it’s a real help.

It may seem a silly thing to make a post about, but I know myself, and my colleagues all have a very bad habit of under quoting ourselves. I think it’s important to do this though, and it also makes it easier to show the client exactly what they are paying for and have them really cognizant of how much work truly goes into the beautiful project you are doing for them.

Link for Android Timekeeping Application

A good application for keeping track of individual projects time worked, calculating cost of time, and sends to your computer for easy collation on your phone :
Chronos timekeeper


Sewing Trick of the day- Gaping blouse/popped buttons

(This post is from a problem I have, and s friend has as well & was looking for solution)

Way back in the 80’s when I was a teenager & selfconscious of my shape I remember my Gran being horrified at the shapeless poet’s/men’s blouses I would wear. Yeah, I could claim it was the fashion, but that excuse doesn’t work so well these days.

Problem is I am VERY curvy, and most blouses (if anywhere *near* form fitting) have a nasty habit of gaping & showing peek-a-boo flesh between buttons, or embarrassing buttons popping free in the middle of interviews or wearing a rucksack on the tube.  So here is an easy fix.

NOTE: this only works if you can still get blouse on over your head buttoned up, if it is too fitted I have another suggestion at end of post. So button up and try before sewing. If it is a creased blouse, be sure to iron it before you start the fix.

1. decide how far down “unbuttoned” you want it to be from top, mark with chalk.

2. Mark bottom, I usually don’t sew all the way down, leaving the bottom button/s free for more casual days, or hip ease.

Continue reading

Finally settled into my page

Le *Sigh*, looks like I finally have this blog set up the way I pretty much want it now, with top tabbed pages/topics and links and … It’s a great template which lets one pile on masses of widgets onto side bars, create your own menus, divide a single blog into multiple pages, yadda yadda. My only grumble is at not being able to adjust the size of the columns and the “preview” function when tweaking doesn’t seem to work in html, only the Visual console.

So apologies to folks who have had to endure probably a zillion little edits/posts showing up on their feed/FB.

So, back to sewing tomorrow as hands have had a day break from a massive handstitching-a-thon. Ra! Been up 37 hours, dratted insomnia. Apparently fussing with new sites makes it worse, more so even than MassEffect2 ;) it’s like NRE (New Social Media Platform Energy?),  time for sleeep, bon nuit!

Born in London,England. Early childhood split between London & Northen Scotland (Aboyne, Deeside in the Cairngorm Mountains) Later wandered over the pond to America. Roamed around from kitchen to theatre with parents, a real backstage brat, until finally ran away with the Circus. Wardrobe Mistress and UnderGarment washer extraordinaire,able to match socks to artists by worn spots and loose thread pattern.
Toured  the world with Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria for 5 years & developed a fatal attraction to Japanese Cute tchotchkes and watching our artists perform amazing things with their bodies in warm-ups.

This journal is to keep track of projects and share tips and tricks of the trade.From Victorian/ Steampunk clothing, Asian inspired hair ornaments to simple alteration. Many things/tricks my hands seem to known, rather than my brain, so as they come up, I wanted to have a place to jot them down, as much for myself to recall as for others :)
Also to share my lists of resources for UK materials. You can also ask me about source lists for quite a few other countries, I may still recall some good places in So. America, No. America, Japan & Taiwan.
NOTE PLEASE: all photos and journal entries are proprietary. please please DO NOT re-print /distribute/randomly strew about these more than I am already. ( at least not without crediting me and linking ;)

Anyone featured IN any photo has implicit permission to copy/print/dist to friends. I try to credit other photographers of my work, and the persons wearing it if they wish to be known.

photo by Simon MacMullen

(Shameless plug:If you’d like to discuss a commission, need to hire a professional seamstress or wardrobe person, please feel free to contact me via email:
dreamsewing@gmail.com  )

Map of London Suppliers-at Miss C’s request ;)

If you copy this shorter URL and paste into Gmaps it brings it up with sidebar listings of all the shops, much easier way to find your way around:


But because I want a map on my site here’s the gsilly version.For some reason it starts you So. of Equator at a random place marker in the ocean, no really, I don’t recall a cloth shop there! So you need to grab and go North, then zoom in on London.

London Supply Shops (physical,not online) My Favorites

London Shops/ Suppliers UK

This is a list of my most used Real Live People/Shops in London. This version has *real working links* and is by material; Machines, fabrics, wigs, etc. I’m getting a bit better w/this WordPress editor now :)

Map to follow

Continue reading

UK Online materials sources Suppliers (in shorter,easier version)

(London physical shops to follow in separate post, & map, all to make life easier for you to read, and look, all the linkies work this time ;)

Online Suppliers UK

(fast, reliable delivery) this is a list of my most used online sites, besides eBay ;) click the link to see the list: Continue reading

adventures in WordPress

A quiet night at home, whilst partner worked on 100% complete acheivements on DeadSpace, I puttered about setting up this blog.

Is it sick and wrong I actually *enjoy* tweaking site templates to the way I want it? Trolling through  my fabric photos to find the background pics I want and fussing over background shades?

(note to self, make a gallery of fabrics looking for a project/home in case anyone wants something made)

Still in process of sorting through soon-to-be-defunct Other accounts to compile and migrate over here. Rar, I know how to have a good time.

So any questions or hints folks need answered/help?

Sewing tip of the Day- Pleats, securing them invisibly

Sewing Tip of the Day (and no, not going to Acronym it down to STD ;P)
here’s some pics of tip for securing pleats, such as for kilts or any large square pleats.
1.(pic 1) mark a lot! I tend to chalk (not wax, if you use wax marker or a rubadub the lines will disappear as you steam press, nooooo) every inch (or half inch, depending upon pleat size), alternating slash and solid lines. This makes it easier to keep track of folding points.

2.(pic 1)Pins! Lots! – for pleats you can’t pin enough, alternate placement in each row as in pic. if you pin always in the same place on rows, you endup with unsupported “bands” of pleats which will gape open when you move fabric around. Be sure to magnet sweep area for pins after so as not to abuse feet of partners or pets ;)

3. (pic 2) Secure back of pleats; you can do this all the way down, but if you do, you lose the “swing” of the pleats. I usually just secure from waist down over hips and top of bum area. So on the WRONG side of pleats (inside)
-whip stitch is fine
-try to only grab one to a few threads on the “flat” side and as much as you like right on edge of the actual pleat fold. Be sure needle passes through as right angles/perpendicular to pleat. it’s easy on whip stitch to let it go at an angle, but this lets the pleat drop. Don’t stress if you can’t pick up minimal threads, generally, if you pleated well, it will be hidden on the “right” side of fabric.

4. (pic 3) the result is invisibly secure pleats. They still have “play” the illusion of being not stitched down.If you don’t like the “flappiness” you can always top stitch them down as well. For traditional piece (pre-industrial/sewing machine age/kilts) generally don’t.

Hope this was of use :)

A new home for DreamSewing…

photo by Simon MacMullen

Hello old friends and new, so as so many rail against FaceBook, LJ and G+ issues, I thought I’d bring my DreamSewing stitch-witch blog over here to wordpress.Much of the content here is duplicated from G+, but I wanted to have it here as a backup in case that account becomes NymBanned ;p

The old Dreamsewingmiko Live journal is now also going to be abandoned in favor of this site. Thanks for your patience with the many crosspostings I’ll be doing to get folks reading over here, hopefully this will be the best way to streamline my media.

This blog is really just to keep tabs on projects, chat with others about tips & tricks and also I will be adding a list of resources and links on a sidebar (as soon as I figure out how to do so ;)

This blog is PUBLIC so please keep that in mind when commenting; oblique is fine, and any rudeness ought ought to be the sort that goes over the head of your average 13 year old.

Miss Miko

September 2011
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