More Sewing Answers

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It’s 22 degrees outside and we have 10″ of snow, topped with a thick layer of ice on the ground. What better time to stay inside and answer a few sewing questions from blog readers. Keep in mind that I can’t answer all the questions I receive, as some require extensive how-to information and illustrations, which I’m not able to do in this format.

Can I use a woven fabric in place of a knit for a pattern calling for “stretch fabrics only?” In most instances, no, as the design and fit of the garment is dependent on the fabric’s flexibility. However, if the garment is loose fitting, you may be able to get away with the switch. Best idea–make a sample from some scrap fabric to test the fit. If you pursue the fabric switch, perhaps cut the garment one size larger than normal to account for the lack of stretch.

I don’t have any fabric store in my area–can you suggest some other resources? Even though you may not have a good fabric store nearby, you can shop the world online! Simply go to your favorite search engine and enter the type of fabric you’re looking for. For example, if you go to Google and type in “red velvet fabric,” you’ll find several hundred resources listed. It’s good to be as specific as possible when entering search criteria. In this example, if you forget “fabric” you’ll also find red velvet cake recipes. My favorite general fabric sites with searchable stock are, and some of the chains like Hancock and Joanns. You can order exactly what you need and have it delivered right to your door…can’t get much easier than that! If you don’t know what you want, check them out as well–just browse the various categories. Some sites specifically list what’s new, so you can keep up on the latest.

I want to make fabric napkins–what’s the easiest way to finish the edges? If you have a serger, the speediest way is to set it for a rolled hem, use Woolly Nylon thread in the loopers and matching thread in the needle, and go for it. Most napkins should be at least 18″ square, though if you’re making them from cotton, simply cut them two across the width (22″) and the same distance along the length for ample sizing. As you serge, trim off the selvage edges. Secure the corners with seam sealant before trimming the excess threads. If you don’t have a serger, just turn under the edges all around and stitch a narrow double hem. Or, for a faster finish, use a narrow strip of fusible web to hold the hems in place–this method is so easy, even kids can do it.