Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How to sew a sash - Ten essential sewing tools you must have

Planning to sew a sash for a dress or to gift to someone. If you are learning how to sew a sash or any other project and do not have an inkling of where to start, begin from getting the right tools for your project. There are ten essential tools you must have before you start sewing.

1) Measuring Tape: Tape Measure or Measuring tape as the name suggests is used for measuring items with shape and dimensions, taking your own measurements and measurements on a pattern. E.g. If you are making a wine bottle gift sachet then the tape measure will help you take the measurements of the length of the wine bottle and the breadth so you can cut the fabric accordingly. It is recommended to select a tape of plastic coated fabric as this will not stretch.

Transparent or Clear Ruler: To take measurements of the fabric or pattern. This will allow you to see the measurements through the fabric and mark accurately.

2) Dressmaker’s shears: These are a pair of scissors with one large finger hole and one small hole. These are the best tool for cutting most fabrics. Shears have one straight and one bent-angle blade. The angle of the lower blade lets fabric lie flat on the cutting surface. Blade lengths of 7” or “(18 or 20.5 cm) of up to 12” (30.5cm) are available in the market. Select a blade length appropriate for the size of your hand, shorter lengths for smaller hands. The 8 inch is the most popular. The bent-angle blade gives your index finger a place to rest and the oblong finger hole leads to a comfortable and accurate cutting. Left handed models are also available. Steel scissors and shears are heavier and hence cut easily through heavier fabrics. Plus as they are made of steel you can resharpen your scissors more times than the lightweight plastic ones. If you intend to sew a great deal, invest in a pair of all steel, chrome plated shears for heavy cutting. Lighter models with stainless steel blades and plastic handles are fine for less frequent sewing or lightweight fabrics.

3) Trimming Scissors or Sewing Scissors: These are more like the normal scissors available. They have straight blades and two same size holes for you to hold. They are used for trimming and clipping seam allowances and other smaller areas on your fabric and for cutting threads etc.

4) Fabric Markers: Fabric chalk or tailor’s chalk is easily removable from the fabric. They are available as a pencil or a flat slice. Fabric Marking Pens are available in the form of air erasable and water erasable forms. Air erasable ones stay for about two days and hence it is important to finish your fabric the same day or you may have to take the measurements again. For water erasable ones the marks disappear when you apply a small amount of water on the fabric.
Invisible or removable transparent tape: These tapes have a blur appearance that can be seen on fabrics when marked. These tapes are removable after the project is done but do not pull off the fabric.

5) Hand Needles: Needles come in sizes from 1 to 10. 1 for heavy stitching and 10 for fine stitching. You can use any needle that penetrates the fabric easily although using a specific one for a different project will enable you to have a better looking project. Sharp needles are all purpose needles used for general sewing. They have a sharp point, a round eye and are generally of medium length. The difference between sharps and other sewing needles can be seen in their length.

6) Pins: Pins are of two types Straight Pins and Quilting Pins. Straight Pins are used for general sewing and are smaller in size and strength compared to the Quilting Pins. Long Pins with glass colored ball heads are the best. The colored ball heads are easier to see and can be contrasted with the colour of the fabric. Also the glass heads do not melt away in case you accidentally iron the fabric with the pins.

7) Pin Cushions: Just like your needles you need to keep your pins readily available especially when you want the most. There are different types of Pin cushions available. The classic tabletop ones can be bought or made at home and placed somewhere readily available. The wrist pin cushions can be worn on your wrist and are with you wherever you go when you are doing your project. The magnetic pin cushion is available in a wrist or table top model. These attract and hold pins, needles, and small scissors or even seam rippers. They are wonderful especially when you have lost your pins and or to pick up needles or stray metal objects fallen in the sewing room However, if you are using a computerized machine it is not advisable to place it near them as magnets interfere with the machine’s memory.

8) Seam Ripper: is used for removing stitches and for opening buttonholes. It has a point that lifts the stitch off the fabric while the blade just below the point cuts the thread.

9) Sewing Machine: To sew the edges of the sash together. Invest in a good sewing machine depending on what you require and your level of sewing. However, if you are new to a sewing machine and would like to hand sew you could hand sew the edges as well. Just remember to have fine stitches in a straight line close to each other to secure the edges.

10) Fabric and Matching Thread: Depending on why you need the sash, you could use satin or light weight woven fabric . You will need at least 2 yards of fabric for a nice long sash with a big bow. For making homecoming sash you will need more depending on the size of the person you will be using it for example whether you are using it for a small kid, teenager or an adult as the sash needs to go all around the shoulder and meet below the waist.

As far as thread is concerned there are different types of thread available, Quilting thread, embroidery thread, sewing machine thread. In the beginning you need to buy simple Coats & Clark Dual duty sewing machine thread. You can use them both for hand sewing and machine sewing.

If you need more information and advice on how to sew a sash or how to make a homecoming sash, how to sew a tea cozy, sew beauty pageant sashes and the like visit my website at

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