Using Clover Wonder Clips when dressmaking

Today I’ve been sewing a jersey dress, and the fabric is a double-sided tubular jacquard which has very fine yarn loops that are easy to pull. When I was cutting it out I found that the pins points were catching the fine knit threads, even breaking one and making a hole so I had to move the whole pattern around – not much fun! I usually weight the pattern pieces and don’t pin, but this fabric is over stretchy for this, hence the pins.

So now I’m sewing-up the dress, I’m testing out using Clover Wonder Clips rather than pins to hold the seams together. These clips have made joining the seams very easy and seem to be a really good addition to my equipment. They have a flat back and a curved jaw with a ridge at the point that grips the fabric securely. The flat side makes it very easy to slide the clip under the fabric without disturbing it. On this flat side they also have measurement lines marked out to help keep a straight seam.

I’ve already used them to hold knitted pieces together when hand sewing them and they work extremely well for this, there are no pins drop out onto the floor for the dog to tread on!

I also used the little ones to clip long yarn tails (I keep them long to use for sewing-up), to both hand and machine knitting whilst I work. Yes I could use binder clips or bulldog clips or clothes pegs for this, and I still do, but I find the Wonder Clips grip more firmly and they look a lot nicer. They’re also not as heavy as the binder clip so don’t drag the knitting down.

Overall I’m really pleased with the way they work, and now have three sizes to work with. Their bright ‘jelly’ colours cheer me up on a grey day!

Sewing towards the Wonder Clips – I’m using a walking foot in my Bernina 1030 in this photo.

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Tailor tacking becomes such fun with this gadget

I found this little gadget in a market in Stoke-on-Trent. I guess it’s probably 50 years old or so it still has its instructions and even had a spool of thread in it.

It’s called the ‘Instant Tailor Marker’ and it has a hollow needle. The thread is wound onto a normal sewing machine bobbin (which sits in the round housing at the end of the tool), and is threaded through the hollow needle. To make the tailors tacks you poke the needle through the layers of fabric. The instructions say to use a piece of foam behind the fabric. You push the needle in and out of the fabric and the thread catches in the foam. When you pull the fabric away from the foam it releases the thread, and then when you open the layers of fabric you can snip the tacks between the fabric, et voila tailor tacks all done!

I don’t necessarily use a piece of foam because I don’t always have one to hand and I find if I put my hand behind the fabric and pinch the thread each time, it works just as well.

This afternoon I cut out a dress which needed quite a lot of tailor tacks, (its got a princess seamline and I find tailor tacks help get this sewn smoothly). So I used my Instant Tailor Marker – and I thought I’d share this little gadget with other sewers.

Where I would otherwise have had to hand tailor tack or use my sewing machine – which is of course another option- I could use my Instant Tailor Marker instead.

From fair-isle to football boots

This was a talk that I gave at the Textile Institute. In it I discussed seamless knitting technologies, their historical roots in hand knitting methods, and the potential the ‘new’ technolgies are bringing to commerical knitwear and knitted outputs. The audience had the opportunity to handle samples produced on flat-bed Shima Seiki Wholegarment and Santoni circular seamless machinery.

This was in 2014, and since then mass produced knitted footwear of varying degrees of sophistication has become common on the high street (and it is so comfortable).

I recently purchased a pair of hi-top elastic knit trainers, with flechage (short row) shaping on the ankle and other technical knit structures on the upper and toe, for a very moderate sum. In 2014 they were still expensive and quite exclusive – so we can see the impact on footwear without looking further than the high street (or online shopping of course).

I recently heard of a business in the US that knits custom made climbing boot uppers, fascinating!

Follow this link to my media page to read more about the talk.

 

 

BBC online interview

More consideration seems to be being given to the problem of sizing in clothing; a subject of my own research that is close to my heart.

The BBC reported that H&M have announced they will be changing their sizing in the UK. I was asked by teh BBC to add some background to the story about the history of clothing sizing systems and how these have been implemented.

Read the article here:

BBC news H&M female clothes sizes bigger

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According to the article, H&M offered the follwoing as an example of what they plan to do, ‘…the previous measurements and fit of a size 12 would now be the measurements of a size 10’.  I am trying to get my head around that. So does that mean they will in effect re-label a size 12 as a size 10? Does that actually address the issue that has been brought to light?

One of the major changes in women’s size found by the 2002 national sizing survey Size UK was that of relative proportions. Women’s waists are much larger in proportion to their bust and hips than they were 50 years ago. The historically desirable female ‘hour-glass’ figure, achieved largely through the constriction of corsetry (latterly those ghastly panty girdles), is no longer a realistic shape for the average woman. So shouldn’t this be reflected by making waists larger rather than than just up-size all over?

If you want to read more about the social history of corsetry I recommend ‘Bound to Please, A History of the Victorian Corset‘, by Leigh Summers. Its easy to read and very informative.

Bloomsbury publishing link to Bound to Please

 

BBC Radio 4 ‘More or Less’ programme Friday 25th August, 16.30.

Earlier in the summer I was approached by the BBC to give an interview to about the history of clothing sizing. I was really keen to do this and try to put the problems so many of us have with this issue into some context.

It was a sweltering day, and it was a relief to avoid travelling and being able to take part in the interview in the BBC Brighton studio. If you ask me now what I talked about, I can’t remember, so it will be a nice surprise for me as well to listen on Friday at 4.30pm.

If you miss it, don’t forget to catch up on iPlayer.