Linda Lee is the owner of The Sewing Workshop Pattern Collection, a group of patterns for distinctive garments using innovative sewing techniques. As a licensed interior designer and member of ASID since 1974, Linda has written 13 books.Visit sewingworkshop.com for more information.
Making Ends Meet
I’ve been having lots of trouble joining elastic ends. Even when I use a ballpoint needle, the elastic still bunches What am I doing wrong?
This is an all-too-common problem no matter what needle or thread is used. So I've abandoned the technique of overlapping elastic ends and trying to sew them together. Instead, it works well to abut the elastic ends and straddle the connection with a small piece of fabric. Not only does this technique eliminate bunching, it's also less bulky and there's no longer a ridge in the back of the waistband.
Cut a scrap of muslin or other flat woven fabric that’s about 1" long and slightly wider than the elastic.
After threading the elastic through the casing, abut the elastic ends. Position the fabric scrap under the abutted ends. Zigzag each end to the fabric (1).
Straight & Narrow
What's the best way to make a narrow hem on chiffon?
Stitching a narrow hem, also called a baby hem, in chiffon is tricky but worth the effort.
Of course, there are presser feet that will automatically help you create a narrow hem. These feet are shaped to feed the fabric into a roll as it's stitched. They’re available in a choice of hem widths from extremely tiny to the widest of about ¼". While these feet are certainly worth trying, I've found them to be a little troublesome to use and they sometimes produce an inconsistent hem width. I prefer to start from scratch.
Determine the finished garment length. Mark a line using chalk, or better yet, thread-baste the line since chalk sometimes rubs off too easily from sheer fabrics.
Stabilize the fabric by staystitching through a single layer along the marked line (2).
Fold the fabric to the wrong side along the staystitching line. This line of stitching makes it easy to fold the fabric, so don’t eliminate this step.
Using an edgestitch presser foot, position the machine needle close to the fold. Stitch along the fold. Trim the hem allowance next to the stitching line using small trimming scissors. This is delicate work, so be careful not to cut the outer fabric (3).
Fold the fabric again, trying not to exceed a total fold width of ⅛". Stitch along this folded edge to create a second stitching line (4). On the garment right side, you’ll see only one stitching line.
What’s the best way to get a 100% cotton fabric to feel like a heavyweight decorator fabric to use for pillows?
Assuming you want to retain a soft look to the fabric since you’re making pillows, I recommend that you underline the fabric with a high quality cotton flannel. Use a top-grade flannel with a nap on both sides. Another option is a fabric called bump, which is sold in decorator fabric stores.
To underline the cotton, position the cotton pillow pieces wrong sides down on the flannel. Pin the two fabrics together around the pillow piece edges.
Cut the flannel around the pillow piece edges. Baste the two fabric layers together.
Make the pillow, treating the doublelayered fabric as one piece. The result will be a fabric that’s just right for making pillows and is much more luxurious than the original.