6 Sewing How-Tos
How to Pin Properly
Taking the extra step to hold together a fallen hem or a rip with pins may seem tedious, but it’s worth the effort. “Otherwise one layer could start to bunch or slide as you sew,” says Beth Baumgartel, the author of Simple Sewing ($20, amazon.com). Position pins perpendicularly to the sewing line ½ to 1 inch apart. Remove each pin when a stitch reaches it.
How to Anchor Your Stitches
For a tough-to-unravel knot that lies flush against the fabric: Make one more tiny stitch by sliding the needle under a few threads of the fabric. (But don’t push the needle through the other side of the garment; work entirely on the wrong side of the fabric.) Pull the thread, but leave a small loop. Now insert the needle through the loop (see illustration) and pull to form a knot. Poke the needle through the knot to create a double knot.
How to Finish Your Sewing by Pressing
This is different from ironing. Pressing “gets rid of puckering and makes stitches less visible,” says Donna Darnall, a New York City–based tailor. First lay a pressing cloth on top of the fabric to avoid shine marks. Then lower and lift the iron along the line of stitches, holding it down on the fabric for only a few seconds. Don’t drag the iron or it will create creases.
How to Close a Ripped Seam
Start with a single-threaded needle. Turn the garment inside out. Trim any loose threads, align the seam, and pin in place. Starting 1 inch before the tear (working from right to left), use the backstitch.
(A) Pull the needle up through both pieces of fabric.
(B) Make a stitch at 1/16 inch to the right.
(C) Bring the needle about 1/8 inch to the left (bypassing point A) and pull the needle up and through.
(D) Reinsert the needle at 1/16 inch back to the right so that it pokes through next to the point where the needle entered at point A. Continue along the seam with this back-and-forth motion. Finish 1 inch beyond the tear.
How to Fix a Fallen Hem
Start with a single-threaded needle. Turn the garment inside out. Trim any loose threads. Refold the hem as shown, so that the raw edge of the fabric is completely encased within the fold. Press the edge of the fold with an iron to create a hard crease; pin in place. Starting about ½ inch before the torn stitches (working from right to left), use the slip stitch.
(A) Pull the needle through the inside of the hem fold (so the knot will be hidden in the fold).
(B) Bring the needle up and slip it into the main fabric of the garment so it picks up one or two threads; do not poke through to the right side of the fabric.
(C) Insert the needle about ¼ inch to the left through the crease of the hem fold.
(D) Bring the needle back up through the hem crease. Continue until you are ½ inch beyond the torn stitches.
How to Mend a Tear
Instead of using an obvious patch or stitches, “tape” the slit using unnoticeable fusible interfacing (such as Heat’n Bond Iron-On Adhesive; $10, walmart.com).
1. Turn the garment inside out and iron any wrinkles.
2. Cut a piece of fusible interfacing that’s 1 inch larger than the tear on all sides.
3. Place adhesive-side down over the tear, cover with a pressing cloth, and press for a few seconds (or as long as the interfacing’s instructions recommend for the fabric).