Making New Rules – Sewing Edgings, Zippers and Borders

In many ways I'm very grateful for my more traditional sewing background. Having inserted hundreds (seems impossible, but is probably true!) of zippers over my lifetime, I can comfortably adjust almost any part of the process and still be confident about it being functionally successful.

The ruffles are bias-pieced solids–a bold
finish for these bold colors.

A much smaller ruffle carried the print
of the Empire State building right to the edge.
>The more modern colors and construction
made me return to a piped-edge finish.

And yet these days, I'm experimenting with zipper treatments on the backs of the pillows. Having seen some designers use topstitched zippers, I'm rethinking my traditional zipper installations.

It's always an adventure, isn't it?

I admire new sewists who courageously "just try things" because they aren't juggling in their heads all the pros and cons of the "right way" to do things. I'm hoping to adopt more freethinking processes in the months to come–in my garment construction, machine quilting, and home dec sewing.

As an example, this past spring I gave up my traditional piped-edge pillow techniques and went through a "ruffled pillow" phase. Adding ruffles instead of piping to my pillow edges became my new favorite sewing technique. Nothing got between me and the ruffler attachment for my sewing machine.

And yet having my traditional technique came in handy with my latest modern pillow.  This pillow was a test project. I'm working on my machine quilting and pillow tops are a manageable size for me–big enough to do some planning, yet small enough that I can have a measure of success when I'm done. Traditional piping seemed a better solution for this pillow. I pulled the various black and white prints into the binding which gave a clean finish to the more modern design of the pillow.

As sewists, we need a good dose of the functional and the fun. For more tips and techniques turn Sewing Solutions: Tips and Techniques for the Savvy Sewist by Nicole Vasbinder. It's organized so that it is easy to find the answers to sewing processes which allows your imagination to roam free. And I personally love the illustrations.)

Now I have a question for both sides of the learning curve. If you learned to sew in a more traditional manner, are you experimenting with any new techniques? And for those of you who just sat down at your sewing machines and "got going", how do you fill in your knowledge gaps? Let's learn from each other!

Other sewing topics you may enjoy:

Categories

Closures, Edging & Borders, Zippers

4 thoughts on “Making New Rules – Sewing Edgings, Zippers and Borders

  1. I had to have my sewing machine worked on recently. And I have been having trouble with the thread gumming up as I start to sew. I asked him about it and he said to pull the 2 threads to the left or right of the needle when I start to sew. Believe it or not it works. I realize my mother, my High School home making teacher taught us to pull the threads to the back when you start to sew. FORGET IT!!!!!! Try it, you might like it as I do. Have a fun day. arb in Kansas

  2. Your article about the “rules” made me smile. I learned to sew when I was 6 yrs old – on the old Singer treadle machine – I didn’t make doll clothes however. I went right to making my own clothes. I was fortunate enough to have a mother who encouraged my creative talents and allowed me to buy all the fabric I wanted to sew. I was one of those kids who hated coloring inside the lines so needless to say I didn’t use patterns and when I did, I did my fitting by measuring my main parts (bust, waist, and hips) and cutting the pieces accordingly. Somehow they always worked. When I got into high school and took a home economics class my older, somewhat staid, teacher was appalled by my techniques. We had numerous confrontations on the right way and wrong way to do things. I worked tediously trying to insert a zipper in a pleated jumper (I swear that thing must have been 50 inches long!) that I was going to wear in the end of the semester fashion show. When I appeared on stage in my plaid bermuda shorts and a matching, lined, and hooded jacket, riding a skateboard, she almost fell off of her chair. Upon later inspection she was also amazed that all of the lines in the plaid matched perfectly. I got an A in the class. I often wonder what she would think today if she saw the way designers are making clothing with the seams on the outside, frayed edges and all!

  3. I learned to sew about 50 years ago, but I never (I don’t know why for sure) locked myself into doing things the “right way.” I experimented and if it worked then that was the right way for that project. Once I sewed a blouse with the fabric’s “wrong” side showing in certain areas, because I liked the muted effect.

    I paid attention to changes in how things were done by published sewers and picked up on the flat construction method. I used this for sewing in many types of sleeves, as well as underarm seams, side seams, etc. If I thought about it and it worked, I could change how I used to do it, in many cases.

    I listened up and learned how to sew zippers without a zipper foot, but by just moving my needle position to the left or right as needed. It came out neater than with the foot (at least the one that came with my machine.) So I do that now.

    The way I see it – there is never just one “right way.” There are better ways and not so better ways, but the only way anything advances is with experimentation and disemination of new knowledge. It is good to know the “standard” ways, but to know that these change, and can be changed by anyone who has other ways to do things, Otherwise, all we sewers would still be attaching our animal skins and furs together with sinew.

    The attitude ” the right way” comes from an era of strictly enforced, narrow-path thinking on many subjects, and in modern times, thankfully, that has changed. The “right way” is the one that works, and there are many “right ways.” Don’t be afraid to branch out.

  4. I learned to sew about 50 years ago, but I never (I don’t know why for sure) locked myself into doing things the “right way.” I experimented and if it worked then that was the right way for that project. Once I sewed a blouse with the fabric’s “wrong” side showing in certain areas, because I liked the muted effect.

    I paid attention to changes in how things were done by published sewers and picked up on the flat construction method. I used this for sewing in many types of sleeves, as well as underarm seams, side seams, etc. If I thought about it and it worked, I could change how I used to do it, in many cases.

    I listened up and learned how to sew zippers without a zipper foot, but by just moving my needle position to the left or right as needed. It came out neater than with the foot (at least the one that came with my machine.) So I do that now.

    The way I see it – there is never just one “right way.” There are better ways and not so better ways, but the only way anything advances is with experimentation and disemination of new knowledge. It is good to know the “standard” ways, but to know that these change, and can be changed by anyone who has other ways to do things, Otherwise, all we sewers would still be attaching our animal skins and furs together with sinew.

    The attitude ” the right way” comes from an era of strictly enforced, narrow-path thinking on many subjects, and in modern times, thankfully, that has changed. The “right way” is the one that works, and there are many “right ways.” Don’t be afraid to branch out.

Comment