How To Sew: Lace, Embroidery And Other Notions

It's not difficult to add embellishments to simple garments once you know which materials to use and the basic steps for proceeding.

Adding lace, ribbon, bows and buttons to an outfit isn't all that hard, but some beginners are overwhelmed by the thought of such tasks. By beginning with something simple like attaching a button, you'll gain the confidence you need to try more difficult projects later. When sewing on a flat button, thread your needle, knotting both threads together on the end. Decide the destination of your button, then push needle up through the back side of the fabric. Slide the needle into one of the holes of the button, pushing the button down flat onto the fabric. Then, push the needle back down through another hole, holding button in place against the fabric. If the button only has two holes, continue going up through one, down through the other until button is well attached. After going down through the hole for the last time, push the needle back up through the fabric and pull it out underneath the button itself. Wrap the thread around the button twice, then push the needle back down through the fabric. Finish by taking a small stitch on the underside, then as the thread forms a loop, put the needle through the loop and pull the thread tight to form a knot. Repeat twice more. For buttons with 4 holes, perform basically the same operation. You have a choice of an "X" pattern on the top of the button, or a side-by-side pattern. Buttons which have the threading holes underneath are affixed by pushing the needle up through the underside of the fabric, then sliding the button onto the needle. Holding the button tight against the fabric, push the needle back through the fabric. Repeat this several times, until the button is tightly fastened. Finish by making small stitches on the underneath; looping to form a knot each time.

It's simple to sew lace onto cuffs or sleeves. If you're making the outfit yourself, it's easiest to sew the lace on before taking the final arm seam. To do this, simply cut your lace piece, allowing ½" of the lace to hang off the end. Align right side of lace to right side of fabric at the cuff or sleeve, with edges together. Sew a 1/4" stitch along the length of the fabric. Cut off excess lace, then remove outfit from under presser foot. Cut threads, then place the garment back under the foot, this time sewing the arm seam, including the lace. Backstitch: If your machine is not equipped with the backstitch mechanism, cut the threads and tie a knot, then another. Clip. If the lace is to be attached to the collar, start by folding the end of the lace piece under once, then again, approximately 1/4" each time. Place these folds behind the front neckline at the placket, so that only one layer of lace can be seen from the front. Tack the lace down by sewing from the bottom of the lace, up the width, stopping at the neckline edge. Raise presser foot and turn collar into position for sewing the lace around the neckline. Proceed by sewing the lace around the neckline, taking small tucks or pleats if desired. When reaching the end of the neckline, allow enough lace to fold 1/4" under, then another 1/4", tacking the lace down by sewing across the width, down the placket. A different option is to eliminate the tacking of the lace on the ends of the neckline for a collar that has a bouncier look.

Hand embroidering is a tedious and time consuming project, but the results are beautiful and unique. You might want to simply put a decorative stitch around the edge of a hem or you may feel daring and try for a butterfly on a pocket. Regardless of the pattern draw, stamp or stencil the design onto your outfit, unless the design is extremely simplistic. Choose a silky embroidery thread and slide through the needle, tying a knot in only one of the threads. From the underside of the fabric, push needle up so that it will arrive at the very edge of the design. Go directly across the pattern or the pattern section and push needle back through to the underneath of the cloth. Continue doing this, making sure each strand of thread is right beside the previous strand, without overlapping. Change colors by tying off and snipping previous color, then beginning again with the new color, exactly where you left off. If you have the advantage of a machine which embroiders, follow the instructions which come with the machine for basic operations. Usually, you'll start by removing most or all of the pressure from the presser foot and by dropping the feed dog down so it will no longer pull the fabric. Holding the fabric down with one hand on each side of the foot, you'll move the fabric around or back and forth to stitch the pattern. Since you will be moving your fabric without the assistance of the feed dog, you'll need to pay close attention to where each stitch will land. Do this by beginning slowly and utilizing a bright light source, shining directly onto your work. Modern machines do the work for you by allowing you to turn a knob and point at the desired pattern, then sewing like you normally would, allowing the machine to create the design for you. If you are using this method, you'll bring your feed dog back up and set your presser foot pressure according to the manufacturer's suggestions. Make sure you have a full bobbin before starting since machine embroidering usually requires a great length of thread. To prevent needle from breaking when embroidering across seams, press all seams open and flat.



If you want to skip all the fancy stuff and just get a particular garment to stay closed, cut a length of Velcro and separate the two pieces. Sew one piece onto one side of your project by stitching around the perimeter of the Velcro, then backstitching. Attach the other piece in the same manner. No matter how complicated or how simple each embellishment is, you can make it look professional by taking your time and paying close attention to detail.

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