Monday, February 28, 2011

Ratatouille Sewing Mantra

I'm enough of a nerd to admit that I get inspiration from Disney movies all the time, even though they are designed to teach kids to build character, not folks in their 20s (but if you think about it, most people in their 20s still have a lot of character building needed!) One such inspiration comes from the movie Ratatouille. The famous chef Gusteau is always saying "Anyone can cook" and that attitude has always been one that I implemented for sewing--anyone can sew, but WAY too many folks think it's intimidating! Don't get me wrong. It take time and skill to fit and finish things properly, and there are many advanced techniques in addition to the simple ones, but I find that people are much more capable than they think they are, if and when they take the time to learn it!

I am, therefore, quite emphatic that everyone can and should learn to sew (and, trust me, there are plenty of simple projects one can do before things advanced techniques even need to be addressed). So I teach/lead a sewing group for several ladies in my church, and I never get over how great it feels to be empowering people with a new skill that is in our day becoming more and more rare! One of my friends came to my house with two skirts she planned on paying me to alter for her daughter, and we were able to not only fix them herself, but then coach her other daughter through making a three teired skirt without a pattern. Another friend came with 4 pair of pants more than 4 inches too long on average and hemmed all of them within the day, and I'm pretty sure the only help I gave was on pinning them at the proper length.

Since I loved doing that so much, I thought it would be fun to do a tutorial/explanation on here every once in a while, especially if I can remember to take pictures of the process! Recently, a friend needed some ties shortened because loved them but they were always too long.

There are several ways I could shorten them, but it's always a good rule of thumb to replace edges (usually hems) with whatever was there to begin with, so I didn't want to just chop off the extra length in a straight line and call it good.

After measuring (and pinning, so you don't lose your measurements!), de-construction is the first step of most projects, so I unstitched the back side to investigate how these ties were put together.

Since they each had a small lining (the dark material) holding the point of the tie in place, I removed the lining from each to use as my guide for cutting a new point, leaving just enough room for the fold and seam allowance, and then top-stitched the lining back into place on the newly created point.

Since I didn't get pictures of that process and can't show you, I won't go into detail on it, but my tip of the day comes with the top-stitching, which can be useful for many other projects.

When top-stitching, you can either choose a contrasting color to draw attention to the stitching as a design aspect (fun with decorative stitching) or try to match your thread exactly with your fabric. I wanted to blend in with the fabric of the ties, but didn't want to see bright pink thread next to the dark lining either, so the way to win on both sides is the thread the top of the machine with the coordinating color for the fabric, and then thread the bobbin (underneath) with the coordinating color for the lining. Since the machine loops the top thread through the bottom thread but actually keeps each thread on it's own side, you will only see the thread that matches! The stitching in the picture to the right is more prominent, so you can see what I'm talking about, and 90% of the time, you can't see the threads at all!

After completing the top-stitching, I just folded the ties back to the center and hand-stitched down the middle, hiding the threads inside, so now the only stitching showing is the coordinating threads! Now you have a basic understanding of a pretty rare alteration! These techniques can be used in a variety of other projects, so whether you are just starting to learn or have been sewing for years, this technique will come in handy soon! Leave a comment and tell me what you want to use it on, or what else you want to learn!