Speedy Sewing

>> Sunday, December 23, 2007

The tradition: Jo always gets a new pair of jammies on Solstice Eve.

The challenge: I forgot to make them before Jo's school vacation started.

The solution: Alan had a meeting in town on Wednesday. One other attendee was bringing her kids, so it was ok for him to bring Jo.

The problem: They would be gone for less than an hour.

So I did some power sewing. I did everything I could before they left. I made sure I had a bobbin wound. I threaded my machine. I altered last year's pattern to fit this year's body. A little tricky without matching the pattern up to an actual Jo, but I closed my eyes and visualized how snug her old pants are across the butt, and what depth water she could wade into without getting the bottom of the pants wet - and then I reminded myself that these are jammies and they don't have to fit like a dream (hee hee) - and I guessed on all the alterations. Jo likes to hang out with me in the sewing room, but only after I've gotten the fabric out so it wasn't hard to do this without answering tricky questions. Alan and Jo headed out the door and I headed to my sewing room. I was pressing the fabric by the time they were headed down the driveway.

Everything was going well. Too well. I got the pants put together (French seams and all - I really love French seams) and then - aaack! - where's my hem gauge? Where's my hem gauge? WHERE IS MY HEM GAUGE? I need it to hem the pants and do the elastic casing. I can guesstimate it, but I really like to make those even. I do NOT have time to turn my room upside down looking for this tool and I'm not about to use a yardstick. I was ready to wing it when inspiration struck. I dashed to my sewing machine and sewed a line of stitching at 1/2" and another line 1" from that. Guidelines! I did the same thing around the legs for the hems. This made it SO easy to press the hems down - and I burned my fingers less than I usually do with the hem gauge. Ha Ha! Ten minutes later and I was done.
I realize I've probably just reinvented the wheel and this is a little sewing trick that EVERYONE uses and I'm the only one who never heard of it - but still. It was so easy and I think it will make for really smooth turns on curved hems so I'm going to keep doing it. And I'm going to brag about it. I still haven't found my hem gauge but I don't even care anymore.

While I'm on sewing tricks, here's another little thing I do. Kids learn which way to put on store-bought clothes by putting the tags in the back. Well, most of Jo's clothes don't have any tags so I always put a little loop of ribbon in the back of pants and skirts. If I ever get around to putting some hooks up in her closet this will also make it easier to hang up clothes for future wear. You know - instead of leaving them in a pile on the floor. . .

I love French seams so much that I thought about writing a tutorial for them, but then I found an excellent one here. In case you don't know - French seams are an awesome (and super easy) way to get nice finished seams - no loose threads that feel like spiders crawling up your legs.
And while I'm on sewing tips and tricks - these are the best pattern weights ever.

They're exactly what they look like - little ziplock snack bags filled with aquarium gravel. Plop them down, shape them around curves - they're perfect.

And here are the finished jammies. For the top I just used a plain white T-shirt, cut out a motif from the pants fabric (with pinking shears) and appliqued it down.

Doesn't Jo look . . .super? Sorry - I couldn't resist.


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