What sewing detail do you find the most difficult?

comments (28) September 1st, 2009     

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_nikki_ Nicole Smith, contributor
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We all have them: those tiny details that make sewing sometimes a frustrating task. What might seem easy to one sewer, might actually be the next sewer's kryptonite when it comes to completing a garment.

From setting sleeves to stitching a zipper, what gives you the most difficulty in the sewing room?

posted in: SewStylish, Sewstylish conversation

Comments (28)

79tarheel writes: Zippers, no matter how many I do!! I try to avoid them when possible as they never look professional for me, no matter which technique I use! Thanks, MessyONE, for the tip of using the Dritz product -- I will have to try that -- sounds like it would solve my problem of uneven/wavy stitching!
Posted: 6:32 pm on October 27th
jojoma writes: I have always had a hell of a time making notched collars. The process is simple enuf, the directions on a pattern easy to follow. But I invariably end up screwing up the bottom part of the collar. I just avoid them altogether.
Posted: 2:31 pm on October 23rd
bjkggt writes: I struggle trying to get my serger to make a nice narrow rolled hem on chiffon and other fine woven fabrics. Most of the time the easily raveling edges cause the thread to come off. That is really tough when you have already serged off the length of the hem and now to fix it you will have to make it shorter. it would be great if Threads could do an article on how to fix this problem. Maybe they have and I missed it.
Posted: 11:04 pm on October 22nd
plusfabricsss writes: Up until now I have been able to sew any fabrics and any thing. My daughter is getting married and she chose a lovely silk. I have bought the fine needles and thread recommended to me, but for the life of me the stitching underneath - bobbin I guess - all buckles and knots and even the top stitch skips????
Posted: 9:06 pm on October 20th
quiltsey writes: I can't seem to do the invisible zippers and any welt pocket or finished buttonhole. I try the directions over and over and can't seem to get the hang of it. I find some pockets frustrating, too.
Posted: 8:31 pm on October 20th
jeanfm writes: I agree with Samwtch that princess seams are the worst. I don't have a problem sewing them but the fitting never seems to come out right. I've even done muslins and still can't get it right. I guess it's not princess seams per se but fitting them that gives me the willies.
Posted: 4:33 pm on October 20th
MessyONE writes: Southernbug - Have you ever tried using a product from Dritz called "Washaway Wonder Tape? It's the easiest way to set a zipper up perfectly. Just apply it to the fabric and line up the zipper on it so it sits perfectly. You can stitch right through it, and it washes away completely.

tag21 - I use almost exclusively vintage patterns, and many of them were designed with two collar pieces labelled "under" and "upper" collars. It's exactly what you do now, but back then they made it easier. I'm guessing it's expensive to print extra pieces on the tissue so the pattern companies gave up doing it. Also with the "Easy" patterns, the companies try and keep the number of pieces down.

For both zippers and buttonholes, I've found that doing them completely by hand is the one and only guaranteed way to make them perfect. It's a little tedious, but if I do it by hand I know that I will NEVER have to take them apart and start again.

I've made three wool coats this year and sewn the linings in by hand. If you look at vintage pieces, all of the linings on the expensive coats are done this way. They lie perfectly flat and look gorgeous. If you take the time and do it well, there are no visible stitches. Very expensive garments are still made that way.
Posted: 3:15 pm on October 20th
gemmajann writes: karel-For very narrow hems on ruffles i hem and press the strip of fabric BEFORE i gather the material. The fabric lays flat and there are no puckers.:)
Posted: 12:34 pm on October 20th
gemmajann writes: karel-For very narrow hems on ruffles i hem and press the strip of fabric BEFORE i gather the material. The fabric lays flat and there are no puckers.:)
Posted: 12:30 pm on October 20th
Sewhopeful writes: Gussets anywhere in a garment.
Posted: 11:14 am on October 20th
Mike32 writes: Stitch in the Ditch is commonly used in quilting~ I use it when doing waist bands and similar seams--I hate hand work!

Some sewing machine makers have special feet for SID that are a great help. In the case of waist bands, to the prep before you take one stitch. I inter face the side to the outside of the garment, leaving the inside without. 1. When you iron on the interfacing, iron the top crease along the middle. Then press the seam allowance up on the non-interfaced side. Make the seam allowance slightly less than the pattern calls for. 2. Sew the waistband right sides together (the interfaced half) to the garment. Trim the seam to about 1/4". Press the band up, with the seam towards the band. 3. Place right sides of the band together and stitch the ends, with the lengthwise fold at the top--it will be to the outside. Invert to the inside. Make sure the back of the belt comes slightly below the first stitching line. 4. Work on the face of the garment, using pins directly in the ditch to carefully catch the back into the seam. Use lots of pins. 5. Slowly lower your needle into the ditch and make sure it is exactly where you want it. Then slowly stitch your seam. 6. One clever suggestion used by quilters is to use Elmer's white glue (washable) to hold the WB in place from the back. You won't have to worry about slipping and it is washable.
Posted: 10:59 am on October 20th
Samwtch writes: For me it's Princess Seams. I have bought many many books hoping that they would have the secret to this seam but I still can't find a good teaching. I remember being told how to do it in a sewing class in a former life but it escapes me now. There are serveral patterns waiting for me to try but that darn seam keeps holding me back. HELP!
Posted: 10:25 am on October 20th
Southernbug writes: I whimper and curl up into a ball when I have to put in zippers. Of any kind. Lapped ones especially drive me batty. The reason for this is I will follow (to the letter) the directions (after reading them and making a muslin model, no less), and I still can't get the lapped zipper to overlap at the top to sew in a hook and eye. I do *okay* on centered zippers, but have never done an invisible zipper.

Also bound buttonholes. I still haven't figured out the directions.
Posted: 10:17 am on October 20th
shaydaisy writes: for toy and heidi...when you ease stitch the cap of a sleeve, use a shorter stitch than a basting stitch. When you pull the stitching up, the gathers will be tighter and easier to adjust. To keep from having tucks and puckers, pin, pin, pin!
Then sew slowly, pulling pins as you go.

The tough thing for me is "stitching in the ditch." I am a perfectionist and this is never, ever perfect enough for me!
Posted: 10:09 am on October 20th
OneMorePage writes: Welt pockets!
Posted: 1:48 am on October 20th
Sewing2enjoying writes: When I must negotiate a curve with the serger. I usually get the knife into the fabric leaving a jagged, ugly area. UGH! The other day I discovered that if I can pull on the fabric in a certain way, causing the fabric to turn, it can work, but it is not a consistent result. I really must study my manual more. I imagine the answer is in there somewhere! Thanks for posing this question for us. I am not missing one answer! (Just in case I need help in other areas, too).
Posted: 10:21 pm on October 19th
iceni writes: I hate, I weep, I can not, sew on a waist band without it twisting or puckering. Consequently I always make (unatractive) elasticated waist bands. Wish I had the knack to do it. I have ruined lots of garments
Posted: 8:42 pm on October 19th
Clarasita writes: I have a 37 year old sewing machine without automatic button holer. No matter how careful I was, my buttonholes were never consistent. So my mom taught me how to make buttonholes using only a zigzag stitch. After carefully marking the buttonhole I zigzag first at the wide edges of the buttonhole with stitch set about 2 1/4 times wider than the stitch width of each planned row of buttonholes fabric edges. Then set stitch width of each buttonhole's edges and zigzag closely two lines of stitches, one on each edge between which you will later cut. Then for a finishing touch, go back to the wider stitch and re-tack each edge. However, I never realized how easy it is to make bound buttonholes, so I'll probably be doing this more instead of sending outfits to the dry cleaners to do this for me. And I can't wait to try hand-stitched, maybe on my Christmas outfit!
Posted: 1:23 pm on October 8th
NubianGoddess writes: jean zippers! I've fianlly perfected it but every now and then I crash and burn.
Posted: 7:28 pm on September 8th
MartensChr writes: I often have trouble getting the neckline edges to match when I have a center back zipper, like on a dress or top without a collar. The problem occurs when I apply the facing after the zipper is in. There is always a lump where the hook and eye should be placed, and the neck edges on left and right are not aligned. I've been sewing for a long time, think I know how to trim and clip, and have tried just about everything I can think of to mark stitching lines - but still, this plagues me every time. Any suggestions would be very welcome.
Posted: 12:53 pm on September 8th
heidilyn writes: I find that set-in sleeves still confound me when the pattern uses more than about an inch of ease for them. Anything more than that and my sleeve usually comes out with puckers. I have tried everything for more ease, but I usually have to change the sleeve pattern a bit so the ease is only an inch or less.
Posted: 7:23 pm on September 7th
BECohen653 writes: Definitely corded buttonholes or those pockets that have the set-in segments (what are those called again?). If I can get both pockets on a jacket to match, it's a miracle. Forget getting half a dozen corded button holes to come out identical for a suit jacket. I love how they look -- and how they give such a professional, polished finishing touch to home-made clothing. But I can never really get them to come out quite the way I envision them in my mind's eye!!
Posted: 6:17 pm on September 7th
toyin writes: Gee, you guys are good to have those sophistcated challenge. Me? the simplest things: i never get the armhole right talk less of the sleeve, then I get so confused on ease measurement (dont laugh) I am not a pro. So while we are at it, any help? I love messing about on my machine, but not bringing out wow stuff
Posted: 5:24 pm on September 7th
yad writes: Getting princess seams matched. I always end up with 2 different shaped seams on the bodice and it drives me crazy.
Posted: 5:19 pm on September 7th
McCorry writes: I have two different feet for turning small hems - bridesmaid/bridal dresses and napkins. Neither one of them work well for me and I end up going back to serge,fold,iron,stitch technique. I would love some hints on how to make these work better. At the store they can't do it either.
Posted: 4:34 pm on September 7th
tag21 writes: Hey, here's a simple trick to make your tailored notched collars lay flat every time... cut your undercollar a smidge smaller than your upper collar (e.g., 1/16" - 1/8" smaller), then stitch as usual with edges even. The slight shorter undercollar pulls so your finished collar lays flat. Of course, different fabrics can vary so test first (with all your inner-workings). Good luck & happy sewing!!
Posted: 4:30 pm on September 7th
Karel writes: Turning over and sewing a very tiny hem on a very curved piece of fabric (like a ruffle for example). I think in the future the way I would tackle it is this: cut the fabric wider than it would normally be. Fold over a wide enough first fold of the hem so I can manipulate the fabric and hold it in place while I iron it, prior to sewing very close to the fold. Now trim very close to the stitching. Fold the edge over one more time, creating a very narrow hem. The fact that the stitched-in-place first fold holds the raw edge and provides some more body to the edge should make it easier to do the second fold. Iron the second fold in place. It will still be somewhat difficult to manipulate such a narrow hem before ironing it in place. Probably pinning through the folded hem into the ironing board, in sections prior to ironing, might help. Finally, sew the hem in place, very close to the folded edge. It others have better or easier techniques, please let us all know.
Posted: 3:26 pm on September 7th
IggyJingles writes: Oh gosh - it's tailored notched collars on coats or jackets. I didn't even have to stop and think. Drive me nuts because they always seem to want to pull and fold over instead of sitting flat at the joining seam no matter how much snipping and notching I do. Aargghhh!
Posted: 10:55 pm on September 5th
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