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Topic: A few questions (Regarding sewing terms, Fabric etc)  (Read 777 times)
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GhostyCat
« on: May 11, 2011 10:15:28 PM »

Heeeello everyone, I suppose I'm what you could call a sewing newbie. I'm really determined to learn everything that I can about the trade, because I really want to become a seamstress..but the thing is, there is no one in my city that I can find to teach me so I have to learn by doing, because I can't really learn by reading sewing books so I decided to come to you guys as far as my questions go, I'll post some here and as I get responses, or as I come up with them I'll post. Soo yeah

How come shirts, and other clothing that you buy from stores is always super soft, yet when you get fabric it seems stiff and...not feel like something you'd want to wear. Even the 100% cotton t-shirts from stores are super soft, yet 100% cotton material doesn't seem like something I'd feel comfortable in...is it because you have to wash it and use fabric softener or something?

What is selvege?
What is the 'Yoke'?
How do you make those perfect seams without a serger?
If I am close to running out of thread on my bobbin, if I wind more thread onto it- will the needle thread pick it up instantly? or could that jam the machine?
Is rayon thread better to use than polyester?
Is tailor's chalk better than fabric markers?
Do you personally use rotary cutters for cutting fabric, or patterns? They seem much easier to cut straight lines rather than using scissors, and I bought a 45mm cutter and a small cutting mat, but I don't really want to spend 30$ for something that I'm not going to use..

Thanks so much in advance!!
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Alexus1325
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2011 11:40:27 PM »

Hey, self-taught is fun! The going is slower, but you'll feel more accomplished and less frantic, me thinks. 5 years ago, I wouldn't have dared think of going to school for sewing, but now that I've had my machine for awhile, I'm genuinely considering applying to a pattern-makers course!

Anyways, I'll answer your questions as best I can Cheesy

How come shirts, and other clothing that you buy from stores is always super soft, yet when you get fabric it seems stiff and...not feel like something you'd want to wear. Even the 100% cotton t-shirts from stores are super soft, yet 100% cotton material doesn't seem like something I'd feel comfortable in...is it because you have to wash it and use fabric softener or something?

The fabric on a bolt often has what's called sizing on it. It makes it stiff, I guess so the fabric doesn't wrinkle during transit. It comes right out in the wash. ALWAYS prewash fabric, even if it's polyester and won't shrink on you like cotton, because polyester might still have sizing on it and will feel different once it's clean. If you'd like, you can get your cottons feeling extra-soft on the first wash by adding a few ounces of vinegar into the wash at the same time as the detergent.

What is selvege?
-That's the edge of the fabric where it was attached to the machine that made it. It's usually a different colour with information printed there, like the fabric company, the name of the pattern, the colour-chart showing what colours were used to print it, etc. On knits, the edge often has dots or slashes of harder fabric that are actually glue where the fabric was attached to the machine. Not sure exactly how that works out at the manufacturer, but trust me, it's glue!

What is the 'Yoke'?
-Look at the back of your jeans. Each small triangular piece of fabric above the pantleg is a yoke. They are designed to partially take up the strain the body would put on the garment. The yoke can also be one solid piece across the back of pants or a skirt, and you can also have a yoke in the front of pants or a skirt.

How do you make those perfect seams without a serger?
Perfect seams? I hate serged seams in ready-to-wear garments! Heaven forbid I snag or pop a seam, the whole darn thing is going to unravel into oblivion and I'll have to sew it up with a straight stitch to make it wearable again. Honestly, on knits, I don't do crap to my seams, except fold over and top-stitch my stress-taking seams (like side-seams and shoulder seams). On woven fabrics, I just overcast with a short zigzag stitch to keep the edges from fraying. Sometimes, depending on how nice I want it to look, I do a sorta-kinda baby-felled seam, where I just take both edges, fold them under towards eachother and then stitch down the length of it. The raw edges are then trapped within the seam allowances. Hope that kinda makes sense Tongue

If I am close to running out of thread on my bobbin, if I wind more thread onto it- will the needle thread pick it up instantly? or could that jam the machine?
-Uh, ya, don't do that. It's annoying as all heck to run out of bobbin thread in the middle of something, but if you REALLY think it might happen, better to just unwind what's on the bobbin and rewind it with fresh thread. I have only done what you suggested ONCE, and that was because I literally had no more thread to spare and couldn't just go out and buy more, AND had no other bobbins that were empty. I made sure to wrap the "old" thread really really tightly before overlapping it with the new thread. And no, the machine won't pick up the old thread. You'll have to open the casing, pull out a tail and make the needle pick it up.

Is rayon thread better to use than polyester?
-In my experience, rayon thread breaks constantly while sewing. Other people swear by it. Other people who can probably afford needles for sewing silk and super-fine rayon fabric. People who can afford silk and super-fine rayon fabric Tongue I personally prefer Gutermann polyester all-purpose thread. I only buy Coats and Clark dual duty polyester thread if it's on for half price. Otherwise, the superior quality of the Gutermann wins out.

Is tailor's chalk better than fabric markers?
-In short, yes. Fabric markers may wash out of one fabric perfectly fine, but will leave horrible marks on another. The cheap answer is sidewalk chalk. Learn to use tailor's tacks for places where it's awkward to mark with chalk, like the ends of darts.

Do you personally use rotary cutters for cutting fabric, or patterns? They seem much easier to cut straight lines rather than using scissors, and I bought a 45mm cutter and a small cutting mat, but I don't really want to spend 30$ for something that I'm not going to use..
-I'm so incredibly blessed with a boyfriend's mom who is also a sewing enthusiast, so she got me an Olfa cutter and mat (an 18 by 24 I think) for Christmas two years ago, and I LOVE IT. I was using a tiny, tiny scrapbooking cutter and mat before that Tongue With the larger mat, I can cut out a t-shirt in a matter of minutes once all the pattern pieces are pinned. Honestly, I wish the mat was BIGGER! Alas, I don't have $80 for the giant 60 by 60 or whatever ridiculous size it is...

More advice:

I got a curved rule for the most recent Christmas. I don't know how I lived without it (much like how I felt about the cutter and mat!). Adjusting patterns became waaaaaay easier. I didn't need to find the right sized tupperware to make a certain curved edge anymore!

Buy bedsheets from secondhand stores as practice fabric. Even if the sheet has cute fabric and you really want to succeed, at least you won't be wasting $12.99 x3 yards if you screw up that dress. (BTW, secondhand stores sometimes have REAL fabric, too!).

It'll take you days of reading, but I found I learned ALOT by refashioning, as well as sewing from scratch. It's no longer taking members, but Wardrobe Refashion was THE place to be for all the recon action you could want!
http://www.nikkishell.typepad.com/wardroberefashion/
Be sure to explore the blogs of anyone who's refashion you liked. Many of these people are still actively posting about their sewing adventures. I didn't realize that a new crew has taken up the baton, so I have to read the Refashion Co-Op, myself!
http://refashionco-op.blogspot.com/

Another of my favourite places is BurdaStyle, mainly for inspiration, although they do have a skills section full of tutorials on just about everything.
http://www.burdastyle.com

Then of course, there's here! Don't be afraid to use the search bar at the top-right to find specific topics. It's a bit finicky, but if you use the right keywords, you can usually find what you want.

Best of luck!
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GhostyCat
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011 06:47:50 PM »

Wow *o* talk about informative lol. Yes! I love refashioning/reconstruction, I'm been obsessed with cutting and cropping shirts I buy ever since I learned how, and I've made a tote bag from a showercurtain my mom was going to throw away and I was like "Ohhhhhh no you don't!!!"

But the reason I brought up Rayon thread is because I read somewhere that the quality of thread really makes  difference, because of loose fibers and when I was at Joann's I was looking at the thread and the Rayon thread I bought (Sulky) barely had any fibers that I could see, where as my thread I have at home I can see them when held up in the light.

And that Nikki site, oh lord amaaaaazing stuff on there!!
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Aislynn
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« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2011 06:40:50 AM »

Sulky thread is actually intended for machine embroidery, which is why it has the particular characteristics it does.

Also, WOW Alexus!  Thanks for all that info!
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Sewers are for ninja turtles--seamstresses are for sewing Wink

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oceanshell
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2011 04:18:47 AM »

If I am close to running out of thread on my bobbin, if I wind more thread onto it- will the needle thread pick it up instantly? or could that jam the machine?
-Uh, ya, don't do that. It's annoying as all heck to run out of bobbin thread in the middle of something, but if you REALLY think it might happen, better to just unwind what's on the bobbin and rewind it with fresh thread. I have only done what you suggested ONCE, and that was because I literally had no more thread to spare and couldn't just go out and buy more, AND had no other bobbins that were empty. I made sure to wrap the "old" thread really really tightly before overlapping it with the new thread. And no, the machine won't pick up the old thread. You'll have to open the casing, pull out a tail and make the needle pick it up.

Hi Smiley
If you rewind a bobbin, what do you do with the old thread? I've come across this situation, but I really don't want my thread to go to waste because there's not much left.
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N30Nb100d
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2011 01:35:54 PM »

oceanshell: You can wind the pieces that you take off the bobbin onto a piece of card or empty spool for storage then use them for hand basting, hand sewing buttons, etc., basically anything you'd have to cut a "short" piece of thread for anyways.
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oceanshell
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2011 02:24:33 PM »

Oh okay thanks Smiley
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fiddlegirl8
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« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2011 07:03:19 PM »

The problem of having too little thread on a bobbin - buy more bobbins, but make sure you get the size for your machine.  I usually wind two or three bobbins at a time.  I always have at least two of white thread, and two of black thread, because those are the threads I use most.  I have probably 30 bobbins at any given time, because I change colors when I change projects.  I run my bobbins out, and then use another one and pick up on the garment or project where I left off, with a new bobbin full of thread.  I do not wind more thread on top of a bobbin that already has thread - I do not want to run the risk of the little tail of the thread(s) getting jammed under my throat plate in my machine.  Just a little tip that will take you far - get a variety of sewing machine needles - be sure to use ball-point needles on knits (jersey, t-shirt knits, etc.) - regular sewing machine needles (not ball-pointed) will "cut" knit fabric when you sew and could cause runs in the fabric.  Not good!  Regular sewing machine needles are for woven fabrics, such as 100% cotton.  There are also jean needles and leather needles, and using these different needle types with different fabrics will bring you success in your sewing.  Usually on a package of sewing machine needles, there is a description of what types of fabrics to use with each different kind of needle.  And I know it's popular to sew with sheets, but bear in mind sheets and pillowcases (manufactured ones you want to recon) are hard on machines and needles.  Ready made sheets have a higher thread count than fabric bought on the bolt, so be sure to change your needle often (sharp needles for woven fabrics) if you do sew on store-bought sheets and pillowcases.  The higher thread count causes needles to break, or threads to break, and the last thing you want is a broken needle jammed down the bobbin case of your machine.  Pillow cases that you craft from 100% cotton fabrics are okay - and quilters (like me) love 100% cotton fabrics.  They always sew up nicely.  Good luck, and I really admire you teaching yourself to sew.  I took one semester of home-economics (sewing) in high school so I could learn to sew.  If you have a quilt shop or shops in your area, ladies there are almost always willing to help.  We have a couple of quilt shops in my town, and several within 30 miles, and they are always having beginner sewing classes for very little in the way of class fees, maybe $20.00 - and you do learn a lot from people who are so happy to help you learn.  They usually have all kinds of little shortcuts and tips to give you too.  Another thing to do regularly, is clean and oil your machine, or have someone who does that for a trade do it.  Your machine will last many, many years - just like a car, you have to oil it!  And clean it - keep the lint out of it.  Happy sewing!  Smiley  (hope that didn't sound too bossy - I've been sewing for 45 years)
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