Sewing Tips To Make Your Life Easier

Besides the obvious sewing items like scissors and pin cushion, there are two items I keep on  hand at all times. They are masking tape and tracing paper. Here are some ways they can make your sewing process easier.

Tracing Paper

I use it when I sew clear elastic band (to avoid fabric from over stretching) , laminated fabrics or leather. For clear elastic (pictured above), I layered the strip of tracing paper on top of clear elastic so the clear elastic does not stick to the sewing foot. I sewed lace, clear elastic and tracing paper together. Once you are done with the seam, just rip the paper to remove it. 

Masking Tape

1. Use it to mark the right side of fabric.

Some fabrics are hard to tell which side is right and which side is wrong. In order to avoid mistakes, I cut a piece of masking tape and put it on the right side of the fabric as I cut the pattern pieces. 

2. Write down the needle size

I often get confused with what needle I’m currently using. I change the needle and keep using it, completely forgetting if it’s 11, 9, or a ball point needle. Sewing needle sizes are hard to tell from just looking at the needle. Now I have a solution. Whenever I change a needle, I write down the needle size on a masking tape and stick it right above the needle so I know exactly what I’m using.

3. Cover the edge side of bones

Instead of creating a bone channel, I use a plain white masking tape to cover the edges of bones and sew it directly on fabric. This only works for plastic bones like the ones shown in the picture, not the steel bones. 

More tips? 
Tips on Sewing Tulle Dress
Tips on Sewing with Kimono Fabric
How to Attach Facings with an Invisible Zipper(No Hand Sewing Involved!)



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Why I Make Tablecloths in My Down Time

One of the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur is to have consistent work coming in every month. Some months might be great and some months might not be so good in terms of the amount of incoming work. When you’re in busy season, you have to manage your work and triage it to get everything done on time. On the other hand when you know it’s not your busiest month, you have to work hard to create more work.

In my recent downtime, I made tablecloths. Many of them. It was commissioned by one company I work with. I pressed the fabric hem and sewed straight lines over and over again. It is not sexy nor Instagram worthy but I take on work like this for several reasons.

One is to keep the client happy and build a trusting relationship. They might not give you the work you absolutely love at all times, but work is work. When you are starting up, you cannot be too picky.

Two, it was surprisingly relaxing to do this simple task. It was a good break from creative work. It felt similar to knitting, where you repeat the simple pattern over and over again. Knit, purl, knit purl….

Lastly, it helps me keep going with my business. The money I earned from making tablecloths can be put elsewhere to grow my actual business. So regardless of its sexiness, I take on work like this sometimes to have healthy finance for my business.

P.S. Other small business tips here and here.

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Tips on Sewing with Kimono Fabric

Tips on sewing with kimono fabric

Tips on sewing with kimono fabric

As you might have seen on past blog posts or instagram photos, I had some opportunities to sew dresses using kimono fabric. I wanted to share a few tips I picked up while sewing modern style clothes using this kind of fabric.

Kimono roll fabric(1) Consider the fabric width and choose the pattern accordingly.
If you buy a roll of kimono fabric, the fabric width comes in 36-38cm, which is quite narrow considering regular fabric width being between 90cm to 150cm. Usually the length of the roll of kimono fabric comes in 13 meters. For obvious reasons, some dress designs don’t fit. Dresses with princess seams, fitted dresses, and I-line skirts do fit the bill. If you want to use a top pattern with darts as opposed to princess seams like this, you might have to modify the pattern to fit the fabric width.

Matching patterns on kimonozipper insertion kimono dress(2) Pattern placement
It would be very difficult to match every single pattern perfectly, but you should try to match the pattern as much as possible. Before starting to cut out the fabric, I usually take a look at the whole 13 meters of fabric, and take a note of patterns and colors. Does the same pattern show up in a roll? If not, is there a similar one? What about the color? Sometimes a kimono pattern has color gradation as you can see below, from green to lavender to white. Even if you cannot match the floral motif, if you match the general color scheme, the mismatch of the floral motif will be less noticeable.
Once you decide generally which fabric part you will use for each pattern piece, cut out one piece (if it’s center front piece, cut center front), serge the seam allowances and press the seam allowances. Then, place the particular piece beside what you are going to cut out next (in this case, side front piece). That way, you take the seam allowances in consideration when you cut out the next piece.

cream mermaid kimono dresskimono dress in cream kimono dress in emerald(3) Decide on focus point
When you consider tip (2), you might want to consider where the focus will go on the dress. I usually decide where the best motif will go first, and then try to see the overall balance of the pattern placement. If I put a focus on front hem with a floral pattern, I go the top and sleeve light with solid color part of the fabric.

(4) Where to source kimono fabric
I found this site, Ichiroya with great selection of antique kimono fabric. The price is very reasonable considering you get the whole roll! Etsy is also another great place, although the price is higher since most stores sell by the yard or meter. I think this crane print is beautiful.

Hope these tips will help you in working with Kimono fabric! Overall, I do enjoy sewing this kind of fabric. Although it is silk (most of them are anyway), it is easy to handle having no stretch and weaved in twill. Pattern matching is the most challenging part, but also the fun of working with this kind of textile. If you plan well ahead, I’m sure you will end up with a gorgeous piece.
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