Readers…..Chime in!

Hi everyone,

I got a question from a reader yesterday that I thought would be great for you all to chime in and help answer.

I think we’ve all had to fix this problem at one time or another.

Here is her email:

Hi Linda,
Thank you for your blog!
I am working on my daughter’s bridal gown and will soon begin on the bridesmaid dresses.  My question deals with the invisible zippers in the dresses.  The bridesmaid dresses are strapless with simple a-line skirts in the back.  There are three layers: chiffon, charmeuse, and lining.  I have always struggled with getting a completely smooth transition to the seam at the bottom of the zipper, often getting a little bump.  Since these navy colored dresses have nothing to help hide an imperfect installation I would appreciate any tips to achieve a flawless look.
Thank you for any advice!
Have a great day,
Nancy

Should You Charge A Minimum Fee For Alterations?

I get asked this question alot.

So, let’s take an example.

This morning, I found a bag on my front porch.

Inside was a pair of workout pants:

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The customer said there was a hole in the seam at the knee and would I stitch it up?

Certainly!

Here is a photo of the small hole:

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Here’s what it looked like on the inside:

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So, I switched the thread to black and put in a stretch needle and sewed it up:

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When I have a small job like this, I like to see if there’s anything else that needs stitching up or reinforcing..

I noticed that the other knee seam was coming apart too:

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So, I stitched it up as well.

That way, the customer is happy you went the extra mile for them.

Did I charge this customer?

Actually, no.

This customer is my niece!

Personally, I don’t charge my family members.

And there are others I don’t charge.

Sometimes, I just want to bless them.

I may not want to charge a person for a small item if they are a first time customer.

They always come back with more alterations the next time.

So, when do you charge a minimum fee?

The bottom line is, you have to figure this one out for yourself.

You have to do what seems right and best for you.

I ask myself…”Do I feel comfortable charging for this?”

If the answer is “yes”, then I charge.

If it is “no”, then I don’t.

Now you’re wondering what amount to charge, right?

Ask yourself these questions…

What would you want to be charged for such an alteration?”

“What is your time worth?”

“How much work was it to get the job done?”

Answering these questions, and any others that pop into your head, should give you a pretty good idea on whether or not to charge a minimum fee.

How to Avoid Ruining a Garment

Here’s  another good question from a reader…

Judy wrote:  My question regards mistakes.  I’ve never destroyed anyone’s item (thank goodness!) but I’ve always been afraid of messing something up, especially an expensive item, like a prom or wedding dress.  Have any of you ever made an error like this?  If so, what did you do?

Here’s my answer:

Yes, I’ve made two errors in the last 13 years. First, I ruined a man’s shirt once when I accidentally serged part of the shirt in a seam and it got cut off by the serger blade. There was no way to fix it, so I gave him the money to buy him a new one, along with a huge apology, of course. I simply asked him how much he had spent on his shirt and gave him the money. He was thrilled that I would pay for a new one. By giving him the cash, I didn’t have to go shopping and find him a new one. Win-win. (The second error is explained below).

There are two things I do before I begin working on a garment.

First, I pray before I start each alteration asking that God would help me pay attention and do my best work and keep me from making any irretrievable mistakes. By His grace, that hasn’t happened since.  Now, I realize that that could have happened with a wedding gown or something else that was expensive, but I determined in my mind that if that were to ever happen, I would make it right. In other words, I would pay for a new garment or pay to have it fixed if it was possible.

Second, I always examine each garment well before the customer leaves my presence. That way, I can point out any flaw, defect, stain or problem the article of clothing has and that covers my back so that the customer knows it was not something I had done, while it was in my care.

Once, when I had finished a wedding gown and had my customer try it on, I noticed a pencil mark on the front of the gown. Knowing that I had checked the gown over very well before she left it in my care, I knew it had happened on my watch. So, I pointed it out to her and told her I would get the dress cleaned for her at the cleaner of her choice.

The pencil mark came out of the gown and it cost me $50, but it was a good lesson for me and I’m just so thankful it didn’t cost more than that to fix it.

I think the bottom line is to have confidence when you take a garment in. Have faith in your ability. Take your time (haste makes waste) and be careful. Mistakes happen when you’re tired, distracted, and/or in a hurry. You’re human. You will make mistakes, but the more alterations you do, the more confident you will feel sewing on different fabrics and garments. If you can, go to the fabric store and get a swatch of a fabric that is close to the one you’ll be working on and practice on that first. The more you do, the better you’ll get.

Now, let’s hear from you.

What do you do to minimize costly situations?

 

 

 

 

 

How to Choose Boning for Your Dress

Each day, I receive many emails with great questions and today I thought I’d post one I received yesterday as well as the answer to it.

Here’s the question:

Hi Linda,  I am making my daughter’s strapless wedding dress.  I used the fabric store feather weight boning for the muslin corset .  We got it fitted very well but I am wondering when the weight of the dress gets connected if this is the best boning choice.  I have been researching the topic but am still undecided.  Can you tell me what would be the best choice so she isn’t always pulling it up.  We will be using a waistline stay but I want to do it right the first time!  Ha!  Thanks!  Love your website.  It is so helpful and very interesting.  Mom with Question

First of all, kudos to this mom for making her daughter’s wedding dress! What a cherished memory for you both.

There are a couple of things I wanted to address in this question.

First, lets talk about the strapless dress in general and then we’ll address the boning issue.

Brides and their mothers often hope to find the perfect strapless dress that will not need to be “hiked up” at the bodice. Unfortunately, that is a rare find because gravity will always win in the end. Because the bust area is larger in circumference than the waist, it will always travel the road of least resistance and want to gravitate down towards the waist.  There are some dresses that need tugging less often, and that has to do with the design of the dress and how it fits the bride. First, those dresses are designed with a high bodice. In other words, the dress sits high above the largest part of the bust (think: no cleavage and sitting closer to the collar bone than not. Certainly, it is not up to the collar bone, but it sits higher above the bust than most dresses) and second, that high bust area should fit snugly around the chest and underarm area. When altering the dress you have, just make it fit as snugly as possible, without being uncomfortable, and go with that. The bride will still have to tug, but not as often. She can experiment using double stick tape to hold the dress to the skin and see if that will help the problem. To eliminate the tugging problem altogether, you’ll need to add straps to the dress, but many brides don’t like that look. That’s why they bought strapless to begin with.

Now let’s talk about boning. This mom asked about whether her featherweight boning would  be appropriate in her daughter’s gown. That depends. I would buy boning based on the weight of the fabric you are using. If you are using a heavy satin, you’d want a heavier boning. If you have a lightweight chiffon, a featherweight boning would be appropriate. The reason here is that you want it to function as much like the fashion fabric as possible.

But let’s look at another facet of the answer.

First, boning is inserted in a dress to give it rigidity through the vertical portion of the bodice. Without boning, the dress would have little support, much like a house needs walls to give it structure. However, thinking about the law of gravity again, boning only helps with the structure or the rigidity of the dress. It doesn’t keep the dress from falling down. With boning inserted, it just means that the dress moves with gravity all at the same time. It doesn’t slump down in one area and leave the rest smooth. Does that make sense?

Here is a link to my post on Fixing Boning Issues. It will give you a little more insight into some boning issues you might come across. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Thanks to all of you who have written in asking questions or leaving comments. I appreciate all your sweet words and I thank the Lord that this blog is such a wonderful resource to you!

Celebrate With Me…It’s Free!

Today is the 3rd  anniversary of this blog and I thought you might like to know how it all started.

About seven years ago, a customer came to my door needing his suit jacket altered. As I spoke to him about the changes that needed to be made on it, he asked me if I had written a book on how to alter clothing. That was the spark. After thinking through the details, I realized that with the incredible amount of photos it would take to do the job well, no publisher would touch the project. It would just be too expensive to print. So, I put the idea on the shelf of my mind.

It wasn’t long after that when my friend, Sharon, asked if I wanted to take a blogging class with her to learn how to start a blog. I thought it would be fun to learn something new, but really didn’t think I would ever really follow through with it. The instructor asked us to each create a blog designed around a passion of ours. He asked us to think of some subject that we were interested in or that we knew something about. He also said it would be beneficial if our blogs were on a unique subject that not everyone else was writing about.

That’s when it hit me that I could blog about all this information that I had stored in my head just waiting to come out. There were a lot of details to setting up the format and learning how to use WordPress, but it wasn’t too difficult. The next challenge was coming up with a unique name for the blog.  So, on April 27, 2009,  Sewfordough was born!

This site is the culmination of 45 years of sewing experience.  Most of the techniques you see here were learned from just doing what seemed to make sense. As you know, there are hardly any books on these subjects and the ones that are out there, don’t have enough pictures in them. So, the goal of this website was to make each step of every technique easy to follow and understand.

Many people ask me why I don’t charge for all this information and instruction. When I was setting up the blog, my husband helped me process through that. He is great at that. And great at helping me to set goals, looking at the motives behind what I do.

If you’ve been on this blog for any length of time you know about my faith. Well, one of the things I want to do is serve others with the gifts God has given me. I feel pretty blessed that He has given me so many incredible people and things in my life and I just wanted to say “thank you” to Him for that. My hope is that you have received great benefit from all you’ve learned and it is my prayer that your sewing business (or hobby) is thriving.  So, that is my free gift to you.

But there is a free gift available to you that is much more important than this blog. It is the free gift of eternal life that Jesus offers to anyone who asks. Many people have heard of Jesus but they don’t know why He came to earth. He came to save us from our sin and give us the free gift of eternal life. But He doesn’t force His gift on us and we can’t pay for that gift by living a good life. And, we can’t earn our way to heaven because of our sin. But by the grace of God, Jesus came to earth to die in our place for our sins. Not everyone gets to go to heaven automatically. We have to receive His gift by placing our faith in what Jesus did on the cross and not on being a good person or doing good things. If getting to heaven had anything to do with us, then Jesus wouldn’t have had to come.  The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is a gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast.” If you’d like to know more about this free gift and how Jesus can be personal to you in your life, just send me an email.  It would be my privilege to talk about these things with you.

You can reach me at 

How To Alter Tulle or Netting on Your Dress

This dress had two layers of satin and two outer layers of netting:

so I folded up the amount needed and pinned it in place:

as you can see, the amount that needs to be taken up is not even all the way around:

So, I couldn’t  just cut off 2 inches.

I had to find a way to mark the new line.

If your netting (or tulle) is made of polyester, you can just use the iron and press the folded edge like this:

However, if the content is acrylic or acetate or some other heat sensitive fiber, I wouldn’t iron on it.

In fact, always test the iron on a section of the netting that you’ll cut off anyway to make sure your iron is set at the right temp before going on.

If you have a heat sensitive netting, I would hand baste a long running stitch to mark the line.

Once you have marked the line, slowly and carefully, cut the edge with a sharp pair of scissors:

On this hem, I decided to keep the hem folded because I was concerned that if I opened it up, the two pieces might move apart and then it would have been difficult to get it lined up again exactly where I had it.

If you are a little uneasy about this, just practice on a scrap first.

Just as I was getting ready to cut the netting, I got an e-mail from Christy.

You remember Christy. She owns an alteration shop in North Carolina.

She gave us the great tip on using rings when making a French Bustle.

Well, she told me that she now cuts her netting with her serger!

Yeah!

Just take the thread out of the serger and use the blade to cut the tulle:

She said it may dull the blade a little, but a new blade is worth the time it saves her from having to use scissors.

Give it a try.

(Of course, you’ll want to test it on a scrap first.)

Whether you use the serger or scissors, your hem will be just as straight as the satin hem below it:

If you are creating a gown from scratch, you can always use the rolled hem foot on your serger to stitch a decorative edge to the netting if you wish.

I have done that when making bridal veils and it is very pretty.

You can experiment with the tension, stitch width and stitch length to get just the right look.

Have fun with it.

Thanks Christy!

Rolled Hems…..Another Method

This is a fast and easy way to make a professional looking rolled hem on your wedding gown, formal dress, blouse or on an accessory like a scarf.

In my first post on how to make a rolled hem, I used a rolled hem foot.

This method doesn’t use a rolled hem foot.

In fact, you don’t need any extra gadgets on this one.

First, fold up your hem and press it:

Stitch close to that folded edge.

I like to stitch 1/8″ away from the fold:

Then, as careful as you can, trim close to the stitched edge, on the wrong side of the dress, taking great care not to cut the dress:

 Now, turn up the edge 1/8″ more and press:

Turn to the right side and stitch close to the edge, about 1/8″ away from the edge:

Once you are finished, you can look on the back side of the hem and see that there are the two lines of stitching:

Because there are two lines of stitching, I don’t typically like to use this method on see through fabrics that are sheer.

But it works great on satins, crepes, silks, cottons, most polyesters, etc.

But on the right side of the dress, you’ll see only one row of stitching:

I like to press the dress from the wrong side to ensure that there isn’t a “shine” from the iron.

That’s all there is to it.

See, I told you it was easy!

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