Linda Lee, our Q&A expert, welcomes your questions. Direct your e-mails to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there a trick to sewing bias tape around curves without it twisting and cupping?
There are some very fancy bias binder attachments available for most machines. These attach and stitch bias tape to an edge in one step, but there's a better way that doesn't require any special equipment. For the best finished look, choose a double or French bias tape or cut your own bias pieces to customize the color and vary the size.
Cut bias strips six times your preferred finished width, plus an additional 1/8*-1/4* depending on the fabric thickness. The thicker the fabric, the more you should add to the width. Fold the strip in half lengthwise before applying it to the edge. Pin the raw binding edges to the project raw edge. As you're working around the curve, give the binding a little shove, easing as much fullness into the application as you can without creating puckers. This will keep the binding flat when finished.
Stitch the binding to the project along the seamline. Trim the seam allowance to an even width that's slightly narrower than the finished binding width. Wrap the binding around the raw edges, keeping it as snug as possible against the edge. The outer folded edge should lie beyond the seamline on the project wrong side. Pin frequently in the seam well, parallel to the outer edge. Stitch in the ditch from the right side so that the stitches are both hidden in the seam well and catching the folded edge on the fabric wrong side.
Suited for Silk
What kind of lining should I use in a silk suit?
The best all-purpose lining for most projects and fabrics is Bemberg rayon. You can find this in most independent fabric stores or online. It's lightweight but durable. I also recommend using China silk for a very lightweight lining, although it's less durable and can shred at stress points over time. Avoid using polyester lining in a silk garment. It's too stiff and doesn't conform to the characteristics of a nice silk.
I'm covering seat cushions for my kitchen chairs. How do I calculate the amount of fabric needed for a ruffle around each cushion?
First, decide whether you want a single-layer ruffle that's hemmed on one edge or if you want a ruffled that's folded in half, so the fabric right side is visible on both sides. Either way, measure the circumference of the seam cushion. Multiply that measurement by at least two and add a few inches. Most ruffles are double the fullness. Next, calculate the desired width of the ruffle and decide whether the ruffle will be single or double-sided. Cut enough strips to stitch together and form one long piece.
For the Beads
Which presser foot should I use to attach beads?
Look for a presser foot that has a scooped out tunnel on the foot bottom that's large enough to travel over the beads. Manufacturers have different names for these feet but look for a "pearls and piping" or "beading" foot. You'll also want to purchase invisible tread to use on the
top of the machine with regular thread in the bobbin. If your beads are strung on poor quality cotton thread and you want durability, consider restringing the beads on nylon beading thread.
Place the string of beads on the fabric surface and fit the presser foot over the beads. Set your machine to a lengthened zigzag stitch, so it traverses over the beads easily. Stitch slowly and use the needle down capability on your machine so it's easy to adjust the beads and stitching frequently.