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Sewing Tip/Trick of the Day

Tip of the Day: Shop Rules I thought were silly, but have saved my sanity

Okay, I admit it, I have been accused of being a bit “anal” or “OCD” in the workroom. (though that can’t be applied to midway through a project when the enitre house becomes de facto “Miko’s workspace”. Apologies to my partner who has suffered through Toe-Catcher balls of thread in carpet, Tribbles made of machine fluff and zillions of tiny multi coloured triangles which point all over the house from dagging curves.)

Once upon a time when I was apprenticing/working in ballet I had a Costume shop manager who had many, many rules. At the time, I it drove me crazy, her always saying to Do or Not Do something, but as time rolls on, some of these she forced into habit have repeatedly saved my sanity and my projects. Most are old hat to most readers, and may seem Uptight, but they are great habits. So not to be preachy, but maybe to help, here are my top 10 Workshop Habits worth instilling in automatic…

1.Reset your work area. New project? Tidy area, helps cleaning but also can help make one think of all the tools/things will need on new project.

2. Machine sewing; when starting to sew, especially on home/non-industrial machines, crank needle down in place through fabric, always start sewing from needle down position. Keeps from fabric slipping, lets you check “bite”.

3. Machine sewing; again at start, always hold top/needle thread so you don’t have the “Aaaargh” of it pulling through and having to rethread. Plus maintains good tension on thread.

4.Trim dangley threads as you go. Yes, it’s kind of a pain, but less so than having to go and trim everything after piece is sewn. I know for myself when I am lazy and don’t do this, many is the time when a dangling thread got caught up somewhere else and either messed up stitching/pulled fabric off. Plus it’s good way to make sure haven’t accidentally caught up fabric in sewing.( though I will sometimes leave threads uncut on basting/ any areas I need to come back to, seeing them dangle is a reminder to finish something.)

5. Turning corners: before you lift presser foot to turn fabric on a corner, make sure again needle is down and play the crank a bit to be sure fabric isn’t pulled into feed dog.

6. On sewing table; keep all sharp things/scissors/pins/pens/markers on right side of machine and fabric/project on left. Because finding a scissors nipped your super expensive fabric or a pen leaked is so very *head-desk*. (This was probably the thing my boss used to Tsk me for the most, and the most saving grace habit to have learned.)On one table I use a cloth on right to toss things onto, so as not to have annoying clicks, plus peripherally gives me a “landing zone” to subliminally remind me. On another, I have my giant  Ofla mat under machine which delinates the “No sharp/mark-y crap” zone.

7. Fussing with a piece? Snipping a bit of excess or pulling a pin out of fabric? Take your foot off the Gas! (peddle) ( used to have a demonic industrial that somehow seemed to store power and would run on a bit on it’s own even if I thought I wasn’t applying any pressure to peddle.*sigh*) (also saves from stitching ones own fingers. Yep, I’ve done that.)

8. Changing your bobbin?  Take a few extra seconds and use machine brush or a nice stiff bristle paint brush to clear out bobbin case, bobbin seating in machine and feed dog every time. My, the lint builds up fast and can mire things up! ( I  think my Pfaff was a cat in a prior life, she likes to hack up fluff balls of always the most opposite colour into stitching if I don’t brush her first ;-)

9. New Project= fresh needle. The number of times my stitching/thread problems have been resolved by getting a fresh needle  (Usually after faffing about wasting a half hour on checking bobbin tension, rethreading etc.) is embarassing ;-/

10. Done for the day? Not coming back to the exact same point of stitching? Then reset your machine to “neutral” ( in my case, straight stitch at 2.5). So no zigzaggy surprises when blithely sitting down next time. Especially in shared machine workshops, not setting machine to neutral was a huge nono.

Anyhow, so that’s it so far. These wee snippets come to me sometimes when I catch myself trying to break them, and I always pay the price when I do ;-)


About dreamsewing

From Victorian/ Steampunk clothing, Asian inspired hair ornaments to simple alterations, I am an addict to learning new crafts. I've spent now 20 years traveling over the world and touring with various theatre companies, from Shakespearian, to ballet, to Cirque du Soleil. This blog is mainly for talking about current projects & sharing tips & tricks of the trade. Hoping to learn new things from from others and also sharing resource lists. If you have any sewing questions/quandaries, please do ask me, I may have an answer or a new way to fix. I love exchanging ideas on new ways/tricks of stitching! (Small self-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 )


One thought on “Tip of the Day: Shop Rules I thought were silly, but have saved my sanity

  1. Oh, man–I confess I’m guilty of some of these! I hardly ever remember to clean out my bobbin case, and why on earth don’t I start with needle down?? That would solve so many issues I have with starting seams. Thanks for the reminders!

    Posted by Jenny | October 17, 2012, 6:23 pm

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Miss Miko

October 2012
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