Monday, December 14, 2009

The semester in review, part 1: Sewing lessons

The semester is nearly over. All that remains for me to do is finish my shirt and take my final exam. To help prepare for the exam the class was given these 16 study questions. This is easy first semester stuff, but we all have to start somewhere. Perhaps some of you will find this useful too.

1. Define lengthwise and crosswise grain. I grew up in New York. So what does that have to do with grainlines? I have lived in flyover states for the past 15 years, but I still think of myself as a New Yorker, and view grainlines with a New York perspective. Avenues are on the lengthwise grain (wrap), streets are on the crosswise grain (weft), and, as my grandfather was wont to say, Broadway is on the bias. The Hudson and East Rivers are the selvage. I like working with bias cut pieces; they make me think of Grandpa.

2. How do you find the true bias on your fabric? The true bias is at a 45 degree angle to the the lengthwise and crosswise grains. Fabric stretches the most at this angle.

3. Define ease. Room for movement. A little extra measurement.

4. How do you correct bad tension on your sewing machine? Test your machine on a scrap piece of fabric. Turn the tension know one way or the other until the tension is good.

5. What is the purpose of darts? Darts add shape to garments. They fit a two dimensional piece of fabric to a three dimensional body.

6. How do you know a pattern piece is on the straight of grain? Measure from the edge of the fabric.

7. What are the most common seam allowances used in industry? 1/2", 1/4", and 3/8".

8. Why is accurate cutting important? If you do not cut your pieces accurately they may not line up right. Fabric is expensive and we do not want to waste it.

9. Why is it necessary to press after each sewing step? Seams must be pressed so that they will be flat.

10. Define the difference between a 4 and 5 thread serger. The 5 thread seam is stronger than the 4 thread one. The 4 thread seam is stretchier. Both machines can be used for a 3 thread seam which is weaker and stretchier than the others.

11. What is the difference between topstitching and edgestitching? Edgestitching is very close to a seam or edge of the fabric. Top stitching is (often) 1/4" from a seam or edge of the fabric. The distance from the needle to the edge of the presser foot is 1/4". both topstitching and edgestitching are on the right side of the fabric. They can be decorative, functional, or both.

12. What is the purpose of interfacing? It makes fabric firmer and less stretchy.

13. What factors influence the type of interfacing you use in garments? The type and weight of the fabric. How firm I want the fabric to be.

14. How do you recognize the front and back of sleeve patterns? The front has one notch, the back has two.

15. What is the most common setting for stitch length? 10-12 stitches per inch. The stitch length know on industrial machines is set between 2 and 3. At least that is the stitch length we used in class. The machines can be set for bigger and smaller stitches, but I have not yet learned about them. I do know that long stitches are used with leather. I do not know about the shorter stitches yet. I have a lot more learning to do.

16. Define Vicki's golden sewing rule. Vicki is my instructor. Her golden sewing rule is, "Right sides together when stitching a seam. OK, Vicki was not the the first one to say this, but it is an important rule. There are are a few occasions when we do not obey this rule, but they are rare.

I learned a lot more this semester than what is listed above. The main focus of the class was learning how to sew with industrial machines. I will address that along with some of the other things I learned in part 2 of my semester review.

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