Sewing Questions Answered

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We get lots of questions on the blog, and aren’t able to answer all of them individually. Some would require a full story-length answer. But here a few recent inquiries and resolutions:

Can I use stretch knit in a non-knit pattern? Yes, you can. Patterns that don’t specify knit fabric are made with standard amounts of ease for either woven or knits. If your knit is stretchy, you might need to take slighty deeper seams, but a test-fit should tell. On the other hand, if a pattern specifies knit fabric (and usually gives a certain amount of required stretch), then you may not substitute woven fabric or the garment will be too small. In this case, designers planned for the flexibility of the knit for a perfect fit.

Does a bias cut skirt hang differently than one cut on the straight grain? You bet it does. Bias-cut fabric has drape and flow and a skirt cut on the bias will reflect those traits in its fit. It may also show off curves underneath with its drape, so test-fit to be sure before sewing the side seams permanently. Remember to let the skirt hang at least 24 hrs. before evening the hemline or the lower edge may appear uneven.

How’s the best way to finish a line of stitching? Many machines offer a “fix” feature to automatically anchor seam ends. The machine simply stitches in one place for a few stitches. Another way to secure seam ends is to backtack for about 1/4″ over the stitching line. And yet a third way, though more time consuming, is to tie thread ends. This method is good for topstitching where thread ends can be pulled to the underside and backtacking could be unsightly. Remember, if you’re crossing a seam with another one, there’s no need to secure it.

What is a fat quarter? This is a term used by quilters to refer to a section of fabric that’s about 18″ x 22″, though the actual size will vary by the fabric width (a 60″ wide fabric would produce an 18″ x 30″ fat quarter).  As opposed to cutting a regular quarter of a yard (9″ x 45″), the fat quarter configuration allows for larger pieces to be cut from it. Fat quarters are often displayed pre-cut in the fabric or quilting store for easy pick-up.

Happy Easter to all—sew up some new napkins or placemats for Easter dinner!