The Sew Weekly Sewing Circle

Do you use pins to hold your fabric in place?…ever question 5/8" seam allowance?…how about when to use interfacing?


That Gertie…she has an answer for everything and if she doesn't, she knows someone who does. Check out this posting:


I kind of have an aversion to pins. I do see how they can buckle fabric and I can be lazy and sew over them and you know, break my needle…I think I need to try the pin-less technique but I wonder about curves…time to experiment! Let me know if you have any advice to share…

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Hehe, its so funny to see what you come up with :) it is what you USA girls call a period, some of these .............

 that is sooooo funny, I am about to roll in the floor laughing... Cathe and I were completely off on this one...

   Period verus full stop...ummmmph.. Well ,I think either or will DEFINITELY is a period [ending what ever your doing,ha] and It definitely brings you to a full stop.. hahahha.

Oh too funny! I knew someone that called it "flag day"!

Loving this! Full stop.



Pins - when I was taught by my mum to sew she always put the pins in perpendicular to the edge (90 degrees), rather than along the length of the cutting edge, because it seems to disturb the fabric less for cutting and when making up you are more likely to miss them when stitching over them.

These days, because I have worked in the sewing industry, when laying out a pattern I never use pins, I lay the pattern pieces out on the fabric, weight them down with various rulers &/or shears and draw around the pieces using tailors chalk (or pencil if a pale cotton fabric), remove the paper pattern, then cut out using my shears.  When sewing for long straight seams I don't use pins at all, but if I have any easing, gathers or pleats to put in I will use some pins to make sure that match points do.

As for seam allowances, I have always thought that 5/8" was a bit too generous, and I was always frustrated by 'sew 5/8" and then cut down to 1/4" ' instructions. Professional hand tailors will work with a generous 1/4" - 5/16" except for the specific areas  that  inlays (extra fabric) are added to give spare should you wish to let out the garment at a later date.   Now when I draw my own patterns I will do a 1/2" for most seams and 1/4"  if  it is for a collar or similar detail.   That said you should take the individual nature of the fabric into consideration, if it is a loose weave cloth that frays badly just by looking at it you definately need larger seam allowances than a nice tightly woven cotton!


As for a 'period', it certainly used to bring me to a 'full stop' every month, but I would sometimes use the old phrase of a 'pain under the pinny' instead.


This is really helpful information and I know you have extensive knowledge which I greatly appreciate. If you don't mind, could you give me insight on how to sew fabric that is delicate in nature due to fraying. I recently made a tunic out of a silky Rayon and was surprised at how easily the material frayed. If I had to pick any seams and disturb the weave it became very apparent as the color on the individual fiber shirted place. The easiest solution would be for me not to use that type of fabric, but what fun would that be!?

Thank you for any insight you can share!

With lightweight fraying fabric I would consider starching the fabric first, so that it is moderately stiff,  this 'glues' the weave together and makes cutting out much easier especially if it is for a bias cut.  In UK go to Lakeland for starch, which can be made up and used through a spray bottle (or follow packet instructions).  After spraying the fabric either lay it out flat, square and straight of grain to dry ( if you have the space!) or fold it up and leave to soak in for at least 1/2 - 1 hour or over night, then press it square & straight of grain - I find it best to use a woolen blanket either on a table or on the floor for this, an ironing board is just not big enough (you could use towels but cover with a sheet for a smooth finish, natural fibres are better than synthetic as they can go to hotter temperatures).  If you try to iron straight away you will get dried flakes of starch on the surface of the fabric and gunge up your iron, and lets face it, nobody wants a gunky iron! 


Once the garment is made up (french seams?) all you have to do is rinse it to remove the starch to get it slinky again.


If individual threads are shifting/pulling out of alignment during the machining, first off have you got  a new fine (70) needle in the machine?  Also instead of using a 'Univeral' needle which has a sharp point which pierces the threads, you could consider trying a 'Ball Point' needle, which 'pushes' the threads aside, again keeping to the fine size.  You would need to try both options to discover which your machine prefers.


Hope this covers your queries,




Thank you it certainly does. This is extremely helpful.



That is a very helpful post! Thanks for sharing your expertise!

Oh dear - two nations separated by a common language!


A full stop - in the UK- is the little dot at the end of a written sentence - which I think is called a period in the US.  These things - ..........


Nothing to do with monthly visits from the grumpy fairy, having the painters in or being that time of the month.


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