Not To Be Avoided

As I was finishing up my National Sewing Month contest entry, I realized that 99% of patterns have hand sewing. Even a simple pillow has to be hand sewn after turning and stuffing. When I was a lazy youth, I avoided hand sewing and finishing. I would do the least amount of work necessary to call a project “done”. Clearly, a bad choice – my garments were at the best ill fitting, and at the worst a hot mess. (That term was coined by the fashion industry, right?)

As  I matured, I begin to be more complete, almost meticulous with my hand sewing and finishing. Hems, slipstitching and closures such as buttons are not only necessary, they also add polish and finesse to a garment. They are not to be avoided. Yet, they still tend to be cumbersome, especially at the end of a project when I am losing steam with my enthusiasm about the thing I’m sewing.

Some of the tricks I’ve learned along the way that I love, and that help speed that final process of hand sewn details:

  • Buttons should be sewn on using two layers of thread. Run the thread through beeswax and then across a warm iron to prevent tangles and knots. This has made the button-sewing experience SO MUCH more pleasurable.
  • Slipstitch, when done correctly, is a wonderful thing. Pick up little bits with the needle, hide the stitch between layers of fabric, and come back up about 1/4″ later to secure again. I like to hold my project in a spread hand so that I can move along quickly with my slipstitch.
  • Blind hem is a must for skirts and dress pants. Topstitiching, rolled hem or other choices just doesn’t cut it. To get this hem perfect, I press press press beforehand, and use a bit of non-damaging adhesive to get the over fold just right. Because the little thread dots can sometimes be visible enough on the front, I work on making stitch lengths identical. Measure the space between each stitch with a ruler or a premade measure, like a piece of paper with the desired length. I place the paper strip down, take a stitch, then pull it out to tighten my threads. Repeat. A lot.
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