I’ve always loved hand sewing, and, like most of us, it was some of the first sewing that I did. But I took my hand sewing to a new level when I was studying for a couture certificate.
Pin, baste, sew was the mantra. Where previously, I had only seen basting as an impatient step to machine sewing a seam, mostly to keep gathers in place, I now see basting as an art and the critical step that matches seams perfectly.
As I’ve written recently, I am creating a pillow from heirloom linens for a friend. Because I am layering the linens–an organza coaster on a table napkin and so forth–I am having to baste the items to keep them in place. I have spent a good amount of time on the basting, but once it’s done, I know that the rest of the hand sewing will go quickly.
Here are a couple of my favorite tips for basting that I picked up from my couture professor:
–Pin first: Before you start basting, take the time to pin accurately. It will make your basting and final stitches that much more accurate.
–Always keep the piece flat: By laying your work on a flat surface, you keep it secure and stable which enables you to accomplish the next step.
–Keep your basting stitches even: Whether you are taking small or large bites with the needle, you want to run your thread evenly through the fabric. Neat basting makes for a lovely finished product. Remember, you are moving the needle, not the fabric.
–Don’t knot your basting: This makes it that much easier to pull out the thread. Your even stitches will keep the thread in place until it’s not needed.
My hands-down favorite thread for basting is silk. It just slides through the fabric without argument. I found a stash of industrial grade silk thread on big wooden spools at the Brimfield Flea Market recently. What a find!
For the ultimate in luxury learn to sew couture with Kenneth D. King in his excellent course: Sewing Fundamentals With Kenneth D. King: The Dress.
Follow along as Kenneth cuts out and constructs a demi-couture day dress. He will demonstrate the successive stages of construction while explaining just how and, more importantly, why each of these steps is necessary for a fine garment. From laying out the fitted pattern to the finishing touches on the lining, Kenneth will teach you all of the steps necessary to execute a beautiful demi-couture dress, techniques that translate to formal garments as well.
What projects have demanded your hand sewing skills recently? I would love to know!