Starting to sew the chiffon

Yesterday I wrote about having bought some chiffon and shared a few cutting techniques that I found in various sewing books and online. Last night I actually started sewing it and I learnt a few things along the way, which I also thought I’d share.

Before putting my pattern pieces anywhere near the machine, I used a piece of scrap chiffon to try out a few different ways to sew. I started by lowering my machine into its table, which I think is something that quilters often do (?) I’d never done this before, despite having this amazing (second hand) sewing cabinet that I totally love.

Lowering the machine to the level of the table around it means that none of the fabric is pulling downwards and creating unevenness or stretching. Perhaps if you don’t have a sewing table that does this, it might be worth trimming up some poster board to fit around the machine and propping it up so that you create your own flat sewing surface.

The next thing I did was to use a brand new needle – imperative to prevent the fabric snagging and pulling.

The stitching in the photo below shows what the sewing looks like if I do nothing more than put the fabric through the machine. It’s puckered and tight and you can easily see that it’s not a nice flat row of stitching.

I read that sewing with a layer of tissue paper on the back of the fabric works well, so I tried that out. It gave me a beautiful straight and even row of stitching (compare the photo below to the one above).

You sew right through the fabric AND the tissue paper. Though the tissue paper looks rumpled in the photo below, the stitches were pretty perfect. You simply tear off the tissue paper when you’re finished sewing the seam. Pretty simple and effective.

The last thing I tried (which, if it worked, would mean I wouldn’t being using up so much tissue paper) was to remove the throat plate of the machine and (avoiding the holes for the feed dogs) put tape on the top and bottom of the space where the needle goes through.

Black tape this time. I couldn’t find my husband’s green tape in the garage last night. Perhaps he has hidden it from me? Or maybe I didn’t put it back from when I used it before….

Anyway, there’s a small strip of tape on the bottom of the throat plate too. I returned the throat plate to its place on the machine and let my needle pierce a hole through the tape and pulled up the bobbin thread through the tape.

This technique stops the fabric from getting pulled and caught in the large gap the needle goes through. The photo below shows the nice even stitching I got using this method. I was happy enough with this outcome, so I ditched the tissue paper and started sewing my pieces together this way.

Once last thing, I laid out of length of cotton fabric on my table and used that as my work surface when laying out the pattern pieces. The chiffon moves around so much less on the cotton than on the cutting mat, which makes it so much easier to line up pieces and pin evenly.

I’m making a blouse. Hopefully it’ll be wearable after all this. We’ll see. I’ll give you a progress report tomorrow. It’s definitely not something that can be rushed so, as usual, it’s a good lesson in patience and trying to do something properly.

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