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Notes to help get your project started!

Take Note! Is designed to help you keep a record of your project and brings together three main ideas: the fabric and haberdashery (or notions) needed to make your garment, the sewing machine accessories and your sewing machine settings.

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You will soon notice that it is based on the right choice of fabric for the project  - it's the first step to success. Different fabrics have different requirements in terms of handling, needles and threads.


The first section


Take notes 1


The first section helps you to consider the fabric and haberdashery that you will need to create your garment. Begin with the fabric suggested on the pattern envelope. We will guide you in terms of material and its weight, its movement or it's drape. The notion of 'drape' may seem a little vague for anyone new to sewing but generally, in woven fabrics it refers to the tightness or looseness of the weave (in knit fabrics, think of the thickness or bulk of the yarn). The tighter the weave of a fabric, the more threads it has and the stiffer it becomes, compared with a loosely woven fabric which has fewer threads and so is more “fluid”.  A needle passes easily through a loosely woven fabric and gathers and loose folds are created effortlessly giving garments a more casual look.  A stronger needle is necessary to pass through a tightly woven fabric and it is difficult to gather so this type of fabric is best suited for pleats and more formal lines.  For example: our trouser pattern  “Bambou” is designed for comfort and ample movement so we recommend a light to medium-weight fabric. A densely woven fabric would alter the characteristic of the design and result in a more balloon effect or clown pants – which is fine if that is the effect you intend to create.  This example also shows that with one and the same sewing pattern you can find yourself with a garment in a wide range of styles. 

So here we go! Fabric(s): Describe your fabric in terms of fabric content, width (between the selvedge edges), its weight or drape (lightweight, fluid, medium weight...), pattern design (ethnic, flowers, plain...) and colour. Don't forget to include lining fabrics if they are required.


Thread(s): You will not only need to consider the fabric here but also the construction process. So, for example, when sewing the main seams together, a matching thread (or slightly darker) is called for. However, you may choose a contrasting colour for top stitching, in which case, will you want a spool of top-stitching thread or would you prefer to simply double your thread? Will you need an elastic thread for shirring? Would you like to add a little decorative touch to a collar with a beautiful embroidery thread. We would advise you not to overload your  work with too many details – it can look fussy and confusing. Remember the adage “Less is More”!


Support: Interfacing is used to permanently reinforce and support areas in a garment. The most common form is fusible interfacing and your choice depends on the weight of your fabric. So, a medium weight interfacing is not appropriate for a very lightweight fabric. Stabilisers are used to temporarily support your fabric for appliqué work or embroidery. There is a wide variety of forms available: tear away, soluble, cut away and sprays.


Elastic: Make a note of the type (braided, woven, knit…) and width. Both are usually specified on the pattern. Note: Transparent tape and rubber elastic are also used to reinforce areas such as  shoulders in knit fabrics.


Other haberdashery: zip fastener – separating or closed? What length?  Buttons, how many? Are they age appropriate?  Ribbon – matching or contrasting? How long?  Bias …. You get the idea.


Keep a separate note (in a book) of all your ideas which surface from this section, especially the ones you didn't choose for this particular project - it's a fascinating record of your creative process at work and a great source for inspiration for later projects!




The second part


Take notes 2


The second part deals with the accessories for your sewing machine: needles, presser feet and  bobbins.

Needles: The size and the type of needle required is determined by the fabric type or its use (Universal, Jeans, Stretch, leather, Top stitching, Embroidery and so on). As a general rule, the heavier the fabric, the higher the needle size. There is nothing preventing you from adding different elements to your creation (leather patches, lace insert …) but remember to take these into account when you are thinking about the needles.


Presser feet: It is the construction process that determines which presser feet you will need (zip fastener insertion, buttonholes binding, rolled hem …) The market for sewing machine accessories, particularly presser feet, has exploded in recent years (due to the interest and revival in home sewing). We can now find an enormous selection of presser feet designed for specific tasks which give a highly professional finish (not to mention, increased sewing pleasure ;) ).


Bobbins: For sewing with elastic sewing thread if you intend shirring the fabric. For top stitching with a contrasting colour. It is much easier and less wasteful to have a couple of empty bobbins available.

This section forces you to think about the practicalities of the construction process. It's also a great opportunity to review and practice any techniques you feel less than confident about before you begin,  which nicely leads us to



The last section


Take notes 3


The last section, Sewing Machine Settings. Here we have listed the stitches and techniques you will be using in this project.  Complete the table based on the results of your test samples: Test your needle(s) and thread(s) on the off cuts from the fabric.  Begin with finding the settings for the straight stitch. Then practice each of the different stitches you are going to use and note the machine settings for each of them in turn. If you should need to loosen the bobbin tension use the image of a clock face to show the screw head position before and after (a quarter to, ten past …) 

If you wish, you can also add any other settings, depending on the options of your sewing machine and your own capabilities, of course!


By taking some time to consider and note down these different aspects you'll have done all the ground work, removed any guesswork and probably saved yourself a lot of time and heartache!



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