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  1. #1
    Join Date
    11th September 14
    Owen Sound, ON, Canada
    1 Post(s)
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    So You are Just Starting a New Project...Sewing + Other Projects

    These suggestions started out as a notes for my grand daughter who is starting to sew independently. We talk and then I send her my follow up notes - sometimes she is a long distance learner. It is wonderful talking about her various projects. I felt that there are enough new sewers here who might benefit from them also. There is a lot of ground that she and I have covered which new sewers won't know, so I have tried to flesh it out where I felt it would be useful.
    Please feel free to comment, ask questions. There are no wrong questions or negative comments, because they will all become positive when we learn from them. I don't know everything, but I will find the answers for you.

    So you are just starting out.
    Once you have a few projects under your belt, you will forget earlier projects. If you want to copy, or avoid, a certain effect, you need to know how you got that effect in the first place. Each step is part of the journey. This will be your road map showing how you got there.

    You will also want to know how to clean your garment - everything you need to know will be right in your records.

    When you go shopping, take a notebook and/or a camera to record what you need. Wish cameras were as handy when I started sewing (too long ago to remember...)
    It is so easy to just take your phone, click, and then print out the picture at home later.


    Mine has grown to a filing cabinet so I call them files now.
    I file them by the name of the recipient of the garment. That is easiest for me. Pick what works for you.

    I started using a piece of paper and just stapled everything to the page - but they tore over time, and things did get misplaced. So I went to large brown envelopes for a while, then I used large zip lock bags, both with 3 holes punched on one side to fit into the binder. Now...

    My Project File is actually a plastic pocket which has a fold-over flap to keep everything inside - same idea as a brown mailing envelope only made of plastic - they don't tear.

    I have records going back over 40 yrs. I just amended one from 32 years ago - and made a new one, also.
    I just cut off the train of the wedding dress I made my sister. I used the fabric from the original dress and copied the gown that my niece purchased, to make a wedding dress for a china doll that was a gift for the flower girl (my grand daughter) in my niece's wedding. I had enough of the original lace in my Project File to add the extra details needed and of course it matched perfectly. Never would have anticipated this project 32 years ago!

    Everything starts when I buy the fabric
    - I always buy an extra ľ-Ĺ yard so that I have enough for test samples and for my Project File - I even have the original receipt in the sleeve for each piece of fabric.

    If you pre-shrink, record the method of washing - water temp, cycle, soap, fabric softener if used, how it was dried.

    Include both an unwashed and a pre-shrunk sample. Use the pre-shrunk fabric for your stitch samples etc.
    If you use a stabilizer, apply it before you pre-shrink the fabric, the same way you will do it for your garment - about a third to half coverage so you can feel how it will handle. You will know immediately if you need to change the method of application. i.e.: for fusible stabilizer - if you need more heat or steam, make sure you let it cool before moving, etc.

    Do a stitch sample with the thread you have chosen. I always do a final sample with single and double layers of fabric so that all details are covered. Then I put it into my project package. You could just attach it to your paper if you choose not to use an envelope.

    On paper - record anything that you think might come in handy:

    1. Everything about your fabric. How much fabric you have, and mark the amount allowed for your Project File. (Donít cut it off at this time, sometimes that extra bit that you allowed for your sample will make the difference between just enough and not enough fabric. Your sample can come from the leftover pieces after you cut out your project.) The SKU number. The manufacturer, the type of fabric, the fabric care instructions, (you can get all this info from the cardboard sleeve that the fabric is wrapped around. The salesperson can help you with this if you don't know the symbols. Take a picture.
    Repeat the above if there is a second fabric or a lining. You need everything about every piece of fabric in your garment.
    If it is not identifiable - sales tables are notorious for this - be careful.
    2. The stabilizer info - you can get this from the salesperson, too. SKU, Manufacturer, weight. Anything else that sets it apart from the other stabilizers. You will want to know everything so that you can get it again later if needed - the amount you used and the cost (OK to buy in bulk but you will want to know this to calculate what it cost to make your project.)
    3. The manufacturer and type of thread, the size of the thread and the colour number.
    4. The size and type of needle in your sewing machine. Choose the right needle for the fabric.
    You can get a guide to needles from you sewing store or here is a simple chart:


    {Needle 101: Always start with a new needle for each project and replace if you hear a clunk, clunk sound as the needle pierces the fabric - the point is damaged and will tear through, instead of separating, the threads of the fabric. If you hit anything with the needle, replace it. They are cheap. Your time and materials are not.}
    5. The tension, stitch settings for your sewing machine for the various parts of your project. Record every change and the circumstances that required the change.
    6. The type of presser foot used on your machine as you changed it. i.e.:Teflon, walking foot, rolled hemmer, etc.
    7. Anything you add, record. If you have buttons, for example, this is the perfect place to keep the extras. Record all the button card info - make, style, colour and even where you bought them, and the cost, of course.
    8. When using a pattern, I photocopy the pattern envelope (which I also have organized in binders).

    When I design and draft an outfit from scratch, I include a list of the pattern pieces that I have drafted w/ the persons name and date name on them.
    9. Include the measurements chart of the person, make sure the date is on it, and of course, the name of the person.
    10. Include a final collection of photos of the finished garment on the person it was made for.
    11. The last thing I put into my Project File is a summary about the project. Date. How long it took to make the garment (I started tracking this years ago when the Little Theatre needed to know how many volunteer hours we put in. It was an eye opener for everyone.) Final cost. What changes I made as I went along. What I would do differently next time.

    I can't tell you how many times that these Project Files have helped me later. I have made countless outfits for people with special interests, special needs, sizing problems, theatre costumes, children, even dolls, etc...My memory would never remember everything, and especially as I'm getting into the 'sometimers' era.

    It doesn't matter what project we start, we need to keep a record of everything from start to finish. This is just a jumping off point to get you started.

    It may sound daunting at first, but so was that kilt you just started !

    You just start at the beginning and trust that if you follow each step, it will turn out just fine.

    If you buy fabric without a specific project in mind, start your Project File with all the fabric info and store it with your fabric so that they wonít get separated. See how easy that is!
    Step 1. Done. Now to find a use for it...

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