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Thread: Sewing help

  1. #1
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    Sewing help

    I sat down last night iwth a piece of cruddy old fabric & my wifes old sewing machine, just to see how I did. I got it threaded, ok, & I guess I did ok with the sewing... I think some of my bigger issues will be overcome just by practice, but I have a couple of questions.

    1) When you have a length of fabric that isextremely ragged, how do you even it up? Trimming it up is pretty easy when its a relatively short length, but how do YOU do it with a 10 or 12 foot chunk? Do you stretch it out on the floor, & draw a line, then cut the line? I know this might seem like a stupid question, but just wanted to hear from the pro's.

    2) When you FIRST STARTED... did you fold your rolled hem over once, pin, then go back & roll the 2nd time & repin it? Or did you just roll it over twice & pin it? Seems like the latter could result in a crappy roll, which means a crappy hem.

    3) When you first started, what did you do when you sewed the corners of the hem.

    4) What size needle would you recommend for the 1.9?

    5) Where do you send your children so they cant hear the cussing?

    6) An inch seems rather large for the hem... Do you all go smaller, or is less than an inch just too hard to work with? (minds out of the gutters)

    I am sure I will think of more. Thanks again for the help!

    Trav

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    1) others will disagree with me, but I cut along the ripstop lines to make a relatively straight edge. On a hammock I don't think being exact matters. On a cat tarp or quilt it is a little more important. It also helps you to get better at fixing your mistakes.

    2)When I first started I rolled twice and then pinned. Later on you will be able to do it without pinning.

    3) Sew like normal. You will get a sort of box pattern.

    4)whatever the standard needle in the machine is. I heard to use one just bigger than the thread. I think it being sharp is more important.

    5)Far Far away. Drinks help.

    6) I use 3/4 inch. I think I read that is some standard.

    The thing I like about sewing is that it doesn't matter if you are a little off. It is a lot easier to cover up mistakes in sewing that it is with woodworking. Just play around with cheap fabric and enjoy. I made a lot of worthless projects out of $1 cotton until I got good enough to mess up $1 ripstop. At some point it will click and everything will start working out. I recommend saving the harder projects until then.
    Is that too much to ask? Girls with frikkin' lasers on their heads?
    The hanger formly known as "hammock engineer".

  3. #3
    Mule's Avatar
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    1) When you have a length of fabric that isextremely ragged, how do you even it up? Trimming it up is pretty easy when its a relatively short length, but how do YOU do it with a 10 or 12 foot chunk? Do you stretch it out on the floor, & draw a line, then cut the line? I know this might seem like a stupid question, but just wanted to hear from the pro's.
    I FIND THE NARROWEST PART AND DRAW A LINE THE ENTIRE LENGTH TO THAT WORSE PLACE, or just guess that I am cutting the same amount off the whole length. I don't often mark long hems or sides.

    2) When you FIRST STARTED... did you fold your rolled hem over once, pin, then go back & roll the 2nd time & repin it? Or did you just roll it over twice & pin it? Seems like the latter could result in a crappy roll, which means a crappy hem.
    I SOMETIMES DOUBLE FOLD AS I GO AND SEW CLOSE TO THE LEFT SIDE OF THE HEM. THIS MAKES SURE YOU GOT BOTH THE LAYERS THAT ARE FOLDED SEWED. THEN I GO BACK AND SEW CLOSE TO THE INSIDE EDGE OF THE HEM TO HOLD THE FABRIC FLAT. But if I am doing something that is challenging to hem, I have found it take much less time to first sew a single fold then do the double then finally do the inside stitch than to try to save time by shuffling with the fabric and two left hands to boot. Very often when I try something that is critical all at once, I end up setting back with my hem ripper for a long time.

    3) When you first started, what did you do when you sewed the corners of the hem.
    WHEN I COME TO A CORNER, I STOP ABOUT SIX INCHED BEFORE GETTING THERE AND FOLD THE HEM THAT WILL BE AROUND THE TURN, PIN IT MAYBE, AND THEN GO ON DOUBLE FOLDING THE ORIGINAL HEM AND SEW RIGHT TO THE EDGE OVER THE DOUBLE LAYERS OF THE CORNER.
    4) What size needle would you recommend for the 1.9? MEDIUM

    5) Where do you send your children so they cant hear the cussing?
    TEACH THEM TO CUSS ALONG WITH THE REST OF THE FAMILY?

    6) An inch seems rather large for the hem... Do you all go smaller, or is less than an inch just too hard to work with? (minds out of the gutters)
    AN INCH IS ABOUT RIGHT FOR ME, THAT MEANS A HALF INCH HEM IS SHOWING AFTER YOUR DOUBLE ROLL.
    Hope this helps
    There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.
    Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army

  4. #4
    Senior Member Perkolady's Avatar
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    Hi Trav,
    Here's what works for me (but YMMV)...

    1)- I use a rotary cutter and a mat, along with a 24" clear plastic ruler.
    First thing I do is get one end evened up...
    I lay the fabric out on the floor, fold it in half and line up the selvage edges, then take the middle fold and bring that up to where the selvage edge is. So then the fabric would be folded into fourths.
    Then I even up the one end. From there, I measure the length (on both edges) and mark it with a dot. Then, I cut across, lining up the ruler with the dots. It's really helpful (but not necessary) to have the rotary cutter and mat. You can also just mark a line across the width, and then cut with scissors. I find the mat/cutter to give me much better accuracy though.

    2)- My grandma showed me how to sew when I was very young. For edges, she showed me how to "finger press". If you go along the first turn of your edge and press and slide your finger along the fold a little at a time, it will create a bit of a "crease" in the fabric, which helps you to see where the heck it's supposed to bend over AND it helps it to keep put while you are trying to get it all turned and put in place for the final turn for pinning.

    3)- When I first started? Bugger it up a lot! Now, I sort of "miter" the corners.

    4)- I generally use a size 14 needle, but you could go a bit smaller too.

    5)- It's pretty rare that I would cuss, but if I sense the need coming, I will usually suggest my daughters watch a movie and turn the sound up some so mom can "listen to the movie while I sew", LOL.

    6)- It really depends on what I'm working on... for something like a tarp, I will have a 1" hem (usually), but for other things, it might be as small as 1/2" or even smaller.
    For a hem smaller than 1/2", I switch to a zipper foot. For me, it keeps the edge from getting buggered up while I am sewing so close to it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member chezrad's Avatar
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    For bigger sewing projects like hammocks I DO NOT use the grid in the ripstop. Over a length the manufacturing process will skew the fabric. Cutting along the grids will give you something way out of square and be really frustrating. (Go ahead...ask me how I know this!) Anyhow, find a big, flat and preferably linoleum floor and spread the fabric out. Measure one side for length and mark it. Then make a 3x4x5 triangle (similar to wood working projects) to determine a line that is actually square to the side you just marked.

    Wally world ripstop is notorious for grids that are skewed. Before I figured this out I went through a lot of fabric trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.

    When I started sewing I pinned the snot out of everything. Then I pinned less. Now I use paper clips so I don't put extra holes in things.

    For corners I start with a back stitch and the sew the hem finishing up with a back stitch. That will do one side. I then do the same thing on the other side. The corner where these two hems join now has a nice boxed hem.

    I typically use 3/4 or 1/2 hems.

    Don't use cheap thread. Spend the extra cash to get some decent poly thread. Stay away from the cotton/poly stuff. You don't want it for any long term use project that will spend time outdoors as the cotton breaks down with exposure to moisture, dirt, ec..

    Your sewing projects will go much easier with good quality thread.

    Make sure your needles are installed correctly. Placing one in backwards will cause more frustration and swearing than you can imagine. Get a manual for your machine to help with this if you need to. (Go ahead and ask me how I know this one too!)

  6. #6
    Senior Member Just Jeff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by traviso71 View Post
    1) When you have a length of fabric that isextremely ragged, how do you even it up?
    If it's important, I lay it out along a tile floor and use a yardstick.

    For most things, I just get it "close enough." Once you get it put together you often can't see the blemish anyway. Every now and then I have a wrinkle in a rolled hem if there's an uneven spot on the edge...but it works and I'm going for functionality. If someone's inspecting my gear closely enough to notice it, then chooses to criticize it, well...more power to them and they can stop looking at my gear for new ideas.

    Just a time thing, I guess - I don't have much free time anymore so I'm most concerned with making it work than with making it impressive!

    For a few projects, exact edges are pretty important. I'd be more precise making a bridge hammock, for example. But quilts and stuff sacks? You're not gonna get hurt if a quilt has a wrinkle in the hem.

    Quote Originally Posted by traviso71 View Post
    2) When you FIRST STARTED... did you fold your rolled hem over once, pin, then go back & roll the 2nd time & repin it? Or did you just roll it over twice & pin it?
    I started without pinning. I just roll it and put it in the machine, then feed in the hem as I go. The actual sewing takes a little longer b/c I do 10" or so, then have to pause and roll the next 10", but I save the time of pinning.

    Again, for some projects this doesn't work. For standard rolled hems it's pretty easy, but for my insulated hammocks I pinned the undercover on as I rolled the hem. Case by case.

    Quote Originally Posted by traviso71 View Post
    3) When you first started, what did you do when you sewed the corners of the hem.
    I hem along one edge, then hem along the other edge. Second edge just folds over the first hem...works fine and looks good in most applications I use it for. I guess you could fold the corner down so you get two 45* angles coming together, but I don't think it's necessary for a normal hem on a hammock, stuff sack, etc. I do fold down 45* when making a drawstring coming out of a corner, though - like the pack cover gear hammock (super simple first project).

    Quote Originally Posted by traviso71 View Post
    4) What size needle would you recommend for the 1.9?
    Different brands use different needles, but you want small ones for light fabrics. It still has to fit the thread you're using, too. I use the orange (size 70, I think) for 1.1 and 1.9. Bigger needle for webbing if I'm doing a lot...size 70 has worked for a few x-boxes on webbing in the past, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by traviso71 View Post
    5) Where do you send your children so they cant hear the cussing?
    I don't cuss. (yeah, right)

    Quote Originally Posted by traviso71 View Post
    6) An inch seems rather large for the hem... Do you all go smaller, or is less than an inch just too hard to work with? (minds out of the gutters)
    Again, it's cloth carpentry. For most projects it doesn't really matter b/c it'll all fit together in the end, so in the beginning don't worry about having a 1" hem. With practice you'll be able to get smaller hems and things will start looking better.

    Just my thoughts - hope it helps. The biggest thing with sewing is patience and practice. It's easy to get frustrated when you're rushing. And things aren't going to look perfect until you get some practice - but as long as it works, I bet you'll be proud of it anyway. Besides, everything's a prototype and you can always improve it for the next version!
    “Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall when the wise are banished from the public councils because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.” ~Judge Joseph Story

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  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the info, all of you. I am just about to throw the wifes sewing machine through the wall. I threaded a bobbin with Eds poly thread, made the stand like he has on his page, cut some fabric (just cheapo cotton for a test run), threaded the machine & went to sew a test piece & it sewed a couple of stitches, then it got all gobbed up. The material wouldnt come out, & when I got it to, it seemed like a ton of thread (well alot) was gathered up under the material, where the bottom thread comes from the bobbin. Under the needle, not on the bobbin itself. So I cleared it out, & tried again. Same problem... Third times a charm right? Wrong... ARGH!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Just Jeff's Avatar
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    Check the bobbin tension.

    Pull out the bobbin and hold it by the thread. The bobbin should slide down very slowly. On mine, it's ok if it just hangs there and starts to slide when I shake my hand a bit. (The little screw is how you adjust the tension - righty tighty, lefty loosy.)

    When that's right, try again. Might have to adjust the top tension to match, but that's pretty easy...should be a knob labeled something like "Tension." Heh...
    “Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall when the wise are banished from the public councils because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.” ~Judge Joseph Story

    - My site: http://www.tothewoods.net/
    - Designer, Jeff's Gear Hammock / Pack Cover by JRB

    IMPOSSIBLE JUST TAKES LONGER

  9. #9
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    I dont know what was wrong with it... the wife came home & it ran fine... The thread was feeding from one of those giant spools from Ed... I wonder if the way I had it set may not have had enough tension on it. I sorta moved it around so that it wasnt feeding so loosely. Dunno if that did it or not.


    Anyhow... I sewed a couple of stuff sacks The first from cotton material, then the second from the 1.1 you sold me Jeff. I had a really hard time getting it square & even... esp with the nylon, because it is so slippery. The side seam was bunched up a little, & didnt line up with the bottom seam. The drawstring worked out ok. I did double roll the hems on the SS, just to do it for the practice. They looked fine until I sewed it shut, heh.

  10. #10
    GrizzlyAdams's Avatar
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    I made my first stuff sack to hold toiletries, for travel. 2nd night I used it the seam split from the WW fabric and I had pills and tubes and bottles and brushes all over the bathroom floor. Could have been worse...might have come apart in the hands of the ATA going through airport security

    practice, practice, and more practice. You get to understand the wiles of the machine and fabric. You scour these forums and the larger internet to learn tricks that help. It comes...really it does...

    Grizz

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