What I’m working on and some new tools

A floral blouse for spring. Such a print literally makes me weak at the knees. Behold its tiny, delicate prettiness:

Finally cracking on with my tartan kilt. I got the whole thing assembled ok and tacked down all of the pleats. I started to topstitch the pleats when I realised that this is not going to work. The pleating is slightly curved and despite my tacking, was impossible to keep aligned exactly as I machined it. I let it sit for a while and then yesterday, decided to look up a youtube video to see if anybody else had the same problem. Whilst searching, I came across a very simple video of someone hand-stitching kilt pleats in place. It gave a totally clean finish so I decided to start again and do it this way. So far, so good. I can stitch two pleats in one quarter of NBA basketball so two games will see me to the end.

So, the new tools. I wouldn’t describe myself as a gadget person. I’m lucky that I often get very useful presents for Christmas and my birthday and consequently, rarely go on the hunt for those little things. However, recently, I have felt in want for some things to help me in my sewing.

On the top is a large clear ruler. I think it is 18″ x 3″ with marks throughout in both directions at 1/4″ intervals. There are also markings for 30, 45 and 60 degrees. I find it difficult to align pattern pieces absolutely along the grainline. I use a combination of a measuring tape and short ruler with varying degrees of frustration. This new ruler has a good weight which means I can move the piece very slightly underneath it.

The blue tin on the left is a tin of silk pins. Pins are funny things. I have two sets of pins – the long dressmaking pins I bought before starting the drafting class I took about five years ago, and the quilting pins that I use when sewing knitting together. When working with fine fabrics, I find that even my dressmaking pins leave holes. Sometimes they press out but sometimes they don’t. I suppose it doesn’t really matter but if I’m going to shell out for an awesome fabric, I’d like my finished garment to look as good as possible.

The weird pliers-like implement to the right of the silk pins is a pattern notcher. I noticed when making my spring pants that where I had cut my pattern notches, it significantly weakened the seam and caused a lot of fraying. I read up about this gadget and figured it would be worth it considering that I am sooo slow at cutting out notches and very bad about tidying up the million triangles that result. So far, so good.

Second from the right is a gauge. I think it’s more of a quilting tool but I am abysmal at marking hems. This gadget has a little red notch that you can move as a visual aid. It only cost me about £2 and was worth every penny. No more wonky hems! Then on the right is a little box of glass headed pins. I have a huge problem with my regular dressmaking pins – I have no nails because of the piano and it takes me ages to pick one up or take out of fabric. As my sewing has increased, so has my frustration. These pins were about £2.50 and I thought I would try them out. Verdict? I’ll never go back. The glass heads aren’t affected by iron heat and are easy to grasp. The body of the pin is just like my old pins so there is no compromise.

Nerdy, no?! The rulers and pins I got from an English shop called Cotton Patch. The notcher I found on Amazon.

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