Designing can be challenging, but an arsenal of helpful tricks can make the process more efficient. In this post, we are going to share a few sewing and pattern drafting hacks we use regularly in studio. Feel free to share yours in the comments!
What is a life hack? Google defines it as "a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one's time and daily activities in a more efficient way". So, let's get efficient!
Hack 1: Fabric Prep
Traditionally, fabric is oriented with its selvage edges on top of each other to yield one fold in the fabric. Oftentimes, patterns require many pieces to be placed on the fold of fabric, or, ON FOLD. If we orient our fabric as shown below you can make use of your fabric and get more ON FOLD real estate.
To guarantee both layers of fabric are on grain, you must make sure each selvage is parallel to its corresponding fold. To check this, measure from selvage to fold at 3-4 points minimum along the length (see image below). Each measurement should be the same.
The width of your chosen fabric and pattern pieces will determine if this layout is possible.
Hack 2: Sewing
Why is there never an empty bobbin when you need one?! De-threading a bobbin to fill with another colour just seems so counter productive.
Do this instead! Fill your bobbin with the new colour on top of the old one. Just ensure the thread tail of the original colour is tucked away before filling your bobbin with the next colour.
If you must take out the thread on a bobbin, designate a thread jar so you can use them in the future for hand sewing.
Hack 3: Sewing
Lining up seams while sewing can be hit or miss...is what we used to say. When pinning your seam, ensure your pin enters and exits along the seam you wish to align. While sewing DO NOT take out that pin! Hand wheel your needle over the pin. This will guarantee perfectly aligned seams in your garments by reducing the movement of fabric layers.
Safety warning: do not sew over pins while your foot pedal is controlling the speed. The needle is going too fast and will not have enough time to go around the pin, increasing the chances that your needle will probably break. Only use the hand wheel to sew manually over the seam pin.
Hack 4: Pattern Drafting
Most of us have cutting mats on our cutting tables. You can use them to your advantage when pattern drafting to draw in your grain-lines. When drafting a design with numerous panels or seams, the grain-line needs to be drawn in before separating pattern pieces. Simply line up your CF or CB along one of the mat lines, then place your ruler within the required pattern that needs a grain-line and draw.
Hack 5: Pattern Drafting
When adding seam allowance manually to a paper pattern, place a piece of masking or washi tape along your desired seam allowance on the grid ruler. Now you have a clear line to follow.
You can also use washi tape as a seam allowance guide on your sewing machine.
We hope you enjoyed these little life hacks. Let us know in the comments which ones you cannot live without. Follow us on Instagram for more design tips!
Written and photographed by Sheila Wong
Technical drawing by Deanna Kadota
Edited by Samantha Quon
Sheila Wong Sewing Team