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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Replacing a Button the Lazy (Ugly) Way

This is how the shirt came to me...with two globs of button thread still in the shirt!
I wrote once about paying attention to details. Today's post reiterates that. When you replace a button that has left threads behind, do not merely sew another one over top of the leftover threads! Take a moment to do this the right way. Remove all the old threads before you sew on a new button. See my page on how to sew a coat button if you need a little help!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Alteration Secrets I don't Like Tellin

Second Update: 4/20/12
A have this alteration now in video, available for purchase. Go to LearningAlterations to see the preview. It is on special until May 1 for $5.00. After that the price returns to $29.00.

Update: The full set of instructions for taking in the waist by splitting the waistband are now on my website, here at

And now, I no longer turn this alteration down. 
Thanks to two ladies who brought me several pairs of jeans and slacks needing this alteration, I am now quite comfortable taking on the work! Whew!

There aren't many alterations I don't like doing, but this is one job I usually turn down. It's not that I don't enjoy the work, well, ok, it's not my favorite, but it's just so involved. Taking in the waist of a pair of jeans is tedious and time-consuming and almost always leaves a scar.
I'll just summarize, here, because the steps are so numerous. Maybe someday I'll put the directions on the
the main part of my website.
1. I have to remove enough of the waistband stitching to take it in, then take in the back of the pants where the two will meet. This is usually in the form of a small dart.
2. Next I take in the waistband, slit the seam and press it open.
3. After putting it right sides out again, matching it with the darted part of the pants, I need to sew the top and bottom edges with jean thread.
If I'm lucky, I have removed a belt loop that can now be replaced, covering the new seam.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two New Alteration Pages are Live

As you can see by the Navigation Bar on the left, I have two new pages on the website. The first shows the steps to attaching a coat button. The second one gives instructions for hemming dress slacks. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment on the Contact Me page, or at the bottom of this post. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Putting the Jean a Ma Jig to Work

Edited 12/5/11. It's been brought to my attention that I've mislabeled this product. The correct name is Jean a ma Jig. My apologies.
Below is a series of pictures illustrating the jean a ma jig at work. As you can see, you simply put it under the presser foot as you approach the large side seam of a pair of jeans. This levels the foot as you sew through all those layers. As you get through the "fat" part, set the needle into the fabric (needle down position) and switch the jean a ma jig to the front of the needle. Continue sewing until you get level again, in a "flatter" part of the hem. Remove it and continue sewing.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Have You Tugged on Your Beltloop OneToo Many Times?

We all do it...
Those jeans start slipping down a bit, or they fit tightly at the hips. In order to get them up where they belong, we just pull up on the beltloop. How long do you think that beltloop can take such abuse?
Well, the stitching is mighty tough that the jeans will get a hole in them before the stitching will even budge. Now what?

First, remove gold stitching from beltloop and pants.

Next pick out all the loose threads.

Next, use a mending stitch to mend the hole. Sew back and forth numerous times to fill in the entire hole. You may even need to back it with a scrap of fabric. It's critical that you do this step correctly.

It should look like this when you are finished.

Finally, using your size 18 needle and gold jean thread, stitch the bottom of the loop to the jeans. You will be stitching right over top of the hole that you repaired. Now you see why it needs to be secure. If you've used a good thread match, you'll never see the repair, especially with a belt on.

Stayed tuned for the jean hemming photo tomorrow.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tools to Hem Jeans Professionally

Above you see two tools that I use when hemming jeans. The first one is optional, the second one is a must. The good news is, the first one can be pricey, the second one is dirt cheap!
If your machine came with a jeans foot, you should be using it if you're working on any heavy fabric. It has a spring action so it adjusts to heavy fabric as you sew.
This prevents skipped or uneven stitches.

The second picture show a notion that is available in your fabric store, or online. It is called  Jean a Ma Jig. You put it under the back-end of your presser foot as you approach a big hump, say the side seam of jeans when you are topstitching the hem. This enables the foot to level out, instead of running up hill. When you're almost through the thick part, you move it to the front so your foot remains level.
I would not be without this nifty tool and I use it almost daily. Tomorrow I will post pictures of the jean a ma jig in action.
By the way, you should always use a Size 18 needle. Your machine will behave better and the needle is less likely to break. As a matter of fact, I use an 18 for almost everything but formal wear.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Help! The Vacuum Chewed my Bedspread!

My client was having a bad morning. She's trying to get things done, in a hurry, as most of us are, and didn't bend down to lift the bedspread while running the sweeper. Oh, dang. Brand new spread, too. So here's what I did.

I carefully sectioned off a piece to remove, one edge along a seam line and bottom edge.

Next, I used a piece of fabric from the back of the pillow sham. This I replaced later with a piece of cotton lining fabric.

I cut this to fit the damaged area, then pinned it to the seam edge


I carefully topstitched this to the raw edge, mimicking the decorative stitching on the spread.

Then I stuck the raw edges under the binding, then stitched all layers together.

The tricky part here was matching that quilting stitch. I pin marked the curve, then stitched through all layers, to "machine quilt" the fabric together.

The finished product looks so much like the original, she could hardly tell what I had done. What do you think? Leave a comment if you like.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Add a Bra Strap Holder to Your Shoulder Strap

As summer approaches and warmer weather is just around the corner, you may want to get your wardrobe into shape. You'll be wearing a lot more sleeveless tops and dresses. Sometimes it's not the right setting to have your bra strap showing, so you may need a holder sewn inside.

The snap part can go at either side of the strap, closer to the armhole or closer to the neckline. The male end of the snap is shown here attaching to the strap with a chain stitch that is about 3/4" long. It is sewn into the seam, then attached to the snap. The female end of the snap is attached directly to the strap.

You can also buy ready made snap sets. They use ribbon in place of the chainstitched thread.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hem Pants with Matching Thread, Part Two

Sometimes the thread used in your jeans is not the gold thread I talked about last week. It is here that you have to get creative.
I took two spools of thread today and ran them both through my needle, using one of the same shade for the bobbin.

As you can see, the blend of the two was a really good match for the topstitching on these jeans. This last photo shows how it looks on both the inside and the outside.
Thanks again for stopping by.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I've Updated My Webpage Again

Hi all.
I've added a new page to my website. Click here to see it.
I'd love for you to let me know how you like it. I've written instructions about how to replace bra straps. It's quite easy and much cheaper than buying a new bra. Leave a comment here on the blog, or use the Contact Me
page on the website. As always, thanks for stopping by to take a look. Please let me know if there's an alteration you'd like to see me write about. I have no particular order for the ones I'm ready to publish.