Kick Pleats What Kicked My Butt

After spending the entire weekend sewing – thank you DH! – I nearly have a princess seam dress. This was an assignment for the Dressmaking and Design course I’m taking, and I had to adjust the pattern to fit. After making a muslin and tweaking the pattern at the neckline, I scrounged for some fabric in my fabric bin. I discovered I have a good deal of velvet. (Also, several yards of denim! and some brocades). DH decided on the red velvet, and we purchased red lining for it.

The princess seams are not fun, but totally doable. The kick pleats what kicked my butt. I wanted a double pleat kick pleat, so I did some research to try to figure out how to do them. Then, during the process of sewing, I did them backwards (I wanted an inverted pleat). Sigh. So I messed up what coulda shoulda woulda been a very neat dress. What I learned: KEEP YOUR DESIGN SKETCHBOOK NEXT TO YOUR SEWING TABLE! If I had only referred to my sketch during the sewing process, the whole fiasco could have been avoided. The lining was also a challenge, and I think had I not been obsessing about how to line the kick pleats (the answer is to stop the lining at the edge of the kick pleat), I would not have reversed the pleats. I was over thinking it. Yup.

Last step is to let the dress (and myself) rest overnight. Then I’ll do the hems. I also plan to embroider a hair clip to go with it.



Alternative Zipper Stops

While moving the hem up on a pair of pants, I encountered a challenge. These track pants have a side zipper at the bottom. I could (and probably should) move the entire zipper up the seam, or I can cut off the zipper at the new hem edge. I did not want to have to reset the entire zipper, so I chose to cut it off. However, that meant I was without a zipper bottom stop. I attempted to salvage the existing zipper stops, but the metal became weak and broke. I didn’t have a ready supply of replacement zipper stops, so I began to look for something else to use. I found these in my jewelry supply stash: crimp bead covers. These easily fit over the zipper teeth and I simply clamped them around and flat against the zipper teeth with my flat nosed pliers. In my opinion, I think it looks much cleaner than standard replacement zipper stops!


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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