I studied haute couture sewing techniques for several years at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, and I had brilliant teachers who were working professionals. I would love to say that I remember all the amazing techniques I learned, but the truth is that knowledge without works is pretty useless. In other words, I have probably forgotten much of what I learned (which is why I took meticulous notes)!
|Keep your basting stitches straight
and proportional to the project size.
But I will never forget the single most important thing that I learned from all those classes: Pin, baste, stitch!
It was an adage repeated endlessly by my professors. It was a sure bet that no matter what we were constructing, whether it was sewing together two side seams, installing a placket, or navigating a tricky collar, we would be told to "Pin, baste, stitch."
Having learned sewing from my mother and grandmother, and home ec classes, I had picked up home sewing techniques, which usually meant pinning and stitching, with little basting.
But the basting is the critical step and is about the only way that you can guarantee a really well-made project, whether it's a garment, accessory or home dec project. The pinning is really only a securing step that allows you to baste properly
I had always thought that basting was a quick sloppy hand stitch that you executed to tack a sleeve to an armhole or a gathered skirt to a bodice. But basting is really an art that should be done as carefully as any other stitching.
I remember so clearly the day a professor showed us the proper way to baste. Here are the steps:
1) Pin pieces together, then lay on a flat surface.
2) Keeping pieces flat, knot a single thread and sew a neat running stitch (see photo). The running stitch should be straight, and the stitch length should be proportional to the project. Smaller pieces require smaller stitches and so forth. Pieces should be secured enough to avoid any slipping of fabric.
3) You will want to run the basting stitch about 1/8 inch inside your final seamline so that the basted threads will not get caught in your final machine stitching and be difficult to remove.
4) Do not knot the other end of your thread when the basting is completed. This way you can remove the basting stitches quickly and easily by pulling the one knotted end. Remove pins.
5) When the basting is finished, you are ready to stitch!
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