Sewing a button by hand is quick and easy. But sewing buttons by machine is even quicker and easier, especially if you are already familiar with a sewing machine. I don’t often use the machine when I’m just sewing on an odd button here and there. But I always used the machine if I am sewing multiple buttons, such as after sewing a shirt, or if I am replacing all of the buttons on a thrift-store find.
A sewing machine, capable of a zigzag stitch, threaded to coordinate with the button.
Step 1: Set up the Machine
- Set your machine to a wide zig-zag stitch
- Drop the feed dogs (If you aren’t sure how to do this with your machine, check the owner’s manual)
Step 2: Set the stitch width
- Place your button in the proper place on the garment under the presser foot.
- Place the needle down into the first hole
- Carefully place the presser foot down on the button. If the pressure of the foot moves the button out of place, I release the presser foot and use my fingers to hold down the button instead. Just keep them out of the way of the needle!
- Manually make the first “stitch” This is where you will want to play around with the width of your zigzag so that your needle slides into the next button hole. Keep making manual stitches until you are sure that the needle moves from one hole to the other. (This is really important to avoid breaking your needle once you get going!)
Step 3: Sew
- Now put your foot on the peddle and let it go! Make about 10 stitches and your button is secured!
- If you have four holes like my button, move the button up so the needle will slide into the lower button holes and sew another 10 stitches or so
- Trim your threads and you’re done!
- Repeat for any other buttons you are sewing on your garment
That’s it! Don’t forget to raise your feed dogs up when you’re done so you will be ready for whatever you want to sew next!
Have you ever sewn buttons by machine? Any tips or tricks to share?Read More
This is one of those basic sewing tasks that everyone should be able to do. Seriously. Everyone has had a button fall off at some point in their life and it only takes a minute or two to sew it back on, and no stellar sewing skills are required.
- thread that is close to the colour originally used
Step 1: Thread the needle
- Cut a piece of thread about the length from your fingertips to your elbow
- Tie a knot in one end
Beginner’s Tip: if you are a total non-sewer (and don’t want to be one) make this even easier by cutting a piece of thread as long as your whole arm, putting it through the needle and pulling until both ends meet. (The needle will be in the middle of the thread.) Then tie your knot using both ends at the same time. This keeps the thread securely on the needle and you won’t have to worry about holding onto it as you pull.
An easy way to make a knot:
Wrap the thread around one of your fingers several times.
Using your thumb, push the threads off your finger. They will sort of roll over each other and form a tight circle.
Hold the “circle” between your fingers and pull on the thread.
Voila! A knot! (It might take a try or two to get the knack for this, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it!)
Step 2: Sew on the button
Hold the button in the correct position. Working from the back of the garment, push the needle up into one of the button holes. This will leave the knot on the back of your clothing where it won’t be seen.
(My button still has a bit of thread on it as it hadn’t quite fallen off the sweater yet. If you are replacing a button that has completely fallen off, all your holes will be empty at this point. )
Then push the needle down the opposite hole. When you do so, try to aim the needle point so it comes through close to, or on top of, the knot. This will keep all of your stitches in one place and even the back of your garment will be tidy looking.
Come up again into the first hole.
Go down the second hole.
Repeat a number of times until the button seems good and strong.
If your button has 4 holes, like mine, come up into one of the other holes and do the same thing on that side.
Step 3: Secure the thread
Now that your button is nicely sewed on, you don’t want to lose it again! Tie a good strong knot to keep it in place.
An easy way to do this is to make a stitch on the back of the garment. Pull the thread, but leave a loop as shown.
Pass the needle through this loop and then pull on the thread to close the loop and create a new one.
Repeat three times, then pull tightly to create the knot. There are step-by-step photos to show this process at the end of this tutorial.
Clip your threads close to the knot.
That’s it! Pretty simple, right?
Next week I’ll show you how to do the same thing using the sewing machine!Read More
Did you ever have a stuffed animal or plush toy who lost a limb? We are big stuffie lovers at this house, and sometimes a precious stuffed friend just gets loved too much.
But never fear! A quick trip to the animal hospital (or sewing room) can have him all fixed up in no time!
Step 1: Clean the Wound
Sometimes, as in this case, part of the limb is still attached. Other times, the whole limb might be detached from the body. Either way, we want to clean up all those loose threads before we start stitching. Simply clip them off with a pair of sharp scissors.
Step 2: Prepare the Needle
Thread a needle with some thread that matches the fur of the stuffie (as close as you can.) Tie a knot on the end and you’re ready to go!
Step 3: Stitch on the Limb
Start by burying the knot inside the stuffie where it won’t be seen, and pulling up the needle at the edge of the hole. If the limb is no longer attached to the body, choose a spot to start stitching and hold the limb in place as you stitch. The arrow in this photo shows where I buried the knot.
When you are finished stitching, you won’t want to see your stitches on the outside of the stuffie. Keep your stitches small, tight, and close together.
Begin by taking a small stitch in the fabric along the opening.
Pull the thread tight and then take a stitch in the limb, down close to where you want it to sit in the opening.
Pull your thread tight and take another stitch along the opening.
Then take a stitch on the arm. You’ve got the idea. Keep doing this all the way around the limb until it is all stitched on.
As you go you may have to keep tucking the limb back into the hole. If it’s really being stubborn you could try keeping it in place with pins.
Voila! The limb is repaired and there is not a stitch to be seen!
Step 4: Tie a Knot
This is an important step. After your stuffie is healed, you don’t want to see him back in the hospital for a long time. To keep that limb secure you want to make a good knot. There are a few ways to do this, but this is the method I use.
Begin by taking a small stitch in the crease where the arm meets the body. Pull the thread, but not all the way. Leave a loop as shown below.
Take your needle and pass it through the loop.
Pull on the bottom thread (see arrow below) to close the original loop, and to make a new one.
Pass your needle and thread through the new loop and pull on the bottom string again to create a loop.
Pass your needle through the loop for a final time and pull on the bottom thread to create one more loop. At this point there will be a spot where the threads overlap, close to where you made your first stitch. This will become your knot.
Stick your finger on this spot to keep the knot in place and pull on the thread until your last loop is gone. You now have a knot!
To tuck the knot back into the stuffie where it won’t be seen, pass the needle down into the fabric as close to the knot as you can get, and take it out about an inch or so away. Pull the thread through, and pull tight (you don’t want to break the thread, but you want some force to pull the knot into the fabric.) Cut the thread close to the stuffie.
Step 5: Give Your Stuffie a Hug!
All fixed! Don’t you think he deserves a hug for being so brave?
Do you have a stuffed animal lover at your house? Have you ever had to repair an over-loved stuffie? What was your favourite stuffed animal as a kid? I’d love to hear your stories!Read More
This is the second post in the Sewing Basics series. Of all the things I get asked to do as a seamstress, this one probably tops the list. Unless you are lucky enough to be a standard size, you have probably at some point purchased a pair of pants that were too long and required hemming. Professional hemming usually costs somewhere between $10 and $20, depending on the type of pants and who is hemming them. If you have several pairs that need hemming, it can add up quickly. And lets not talk about those other ways of “hemming” – scotch tape, duct tape, staples, and safety pins are just a few I have personally seen, and I am sure there are other creative ideas out there!
So what’s a girl (or guy) to do when their pants are too long? Learn to hem them yourself! It really isn’t that difficult, and it’s much better than the alternatives!
How to Hem Your Pants
- A pair of pants in need of hemming, washed and dried (If they are new and will be going in the dryer, sometimes I’ll wash them twice, just to make sure they have finished all of their shrinking!)
- A sewing machine and matching thread
Step 1: Mark the ideal length
This is much easier to do with a friend to help, but it is totally doable on your own. What you want to do is fold the bottom of the paint leg up at the ideal length and then pin it. Rather than pulling it up on the outside (like a cuff) you are going to tuck it under and up inside the pant leg (like it will be when you are finished hemming.)
Make sure you are happy with the length (don’t forget to try it out with the shoes you usually wear) and then pin them in place. Then take them to the ironing board and press the bottoms well at their new length. If the hems are slightly uneven, this is the time to fix them and make sure they are straight.
Step 2: Cut
Lay your pants on a flat surface and unfold the hems. If you are lucky enough to have a decent amount of fabric between your fold line and the original hem (at least 1 1/4″ for a narrow hem) you can go ahead and cut off that original hem. If your pants have big hems like mine, or if you only need to hem them a little, you will have to sit and pick out the stitching of the original hem. (I know, I know, it’s not my favourite job either, but seriously sit down with some of your favourite music or a good movie and you’ll have them done in no time.)
In this photo the top fold line is my ideal length, and the middle fold line is the original length of the pants before I unpicked them.
Now you want to think about how big you want your finished hems to be. I usually use the original hem as a guide, but at this point, anything goes. If your pants had big hems and you prefer small, this is your chance to be the designer! Whatever that number is add 1/2″ for folding down the raw edge, and now you know how much fabric you need to leave below your fold line. For example, if you wanted your finished hems to be about 1″, you would want to leave 1 1/2″ of fabric. Use a ruler to mark that amount all the way along the pant leg and then cut off the excess.
Step 3: Press and Pin
Take your pants back to the ironing board and press the raw edge under 1/2″ all the way around the paint leg.
Then fold them under on your original press mark (the ideal length) and pin them in place. At this point I like to try them on again, just to be sure they are exactly the length I want them. It’s much easier to fix it now, before you start to sew.
(Okay, so you may have noticed that the pants I am hemming here keep changing colour. As I was working on the original pair I realized there was a way to skip a few steps, if your hems happened to be in the right place, so had to use a second pair to show the longer way. I’ll show you the shortcut at the end.)
Step 4: Sew
Now take the pants to the sewing machine and sew all the way around the hem with a straight stitch, close to the folded edge.
Repeat with the other side.
Step 5: Show Off!
You’re done! Now you can show off your new, perfect-length pants! (no tape, staples or safety pins required.)
This method of hemming works for all pants with a visible seam. For those special dressy pants with invisible hems, I find it easiest to hem those by hand with a blind hem. And if you are hemming jeans, there is an incredibly easy way to hem them and keep the stitching of the original hems intact!
Hemming Short Cut
As promised, here is a short cut that might work on some of your hems. In the photo below, the ideal length of my pants ended up being at the top of the original hem, on the original stitching line. When this happens, it is really easy to make use of the original hem line and save yourself some measuring and ironing.
I cut the pants off 1/2″ below the second fold line (the original hemline of the pants).
Then I refolded the fabric along the fold line to tuck in the raw edges.
After that it was a simple matter of folding them up, pinning in place, and sewing. Easy, peasy, right?
Anyone out there willing to confess? What is the craziest thing you have done (or seen done) to temporarily “hem” a pair of pants?Read More
With the new year, new resolutions and goals, and many out there who received new sewing machines for Christmas, I thought it might be a good time to post some tutorials for sewing basics. (And, of course, the huge pile of sewing projects sitting on my sewing table might have had something to do with the decision, too!) The list will include hemming curtains, hemming pants, and even the super-basic, sewing a button (but I’ll show you how to do it on the machine, too). These are the things I most get asked about, and are great skills for someone new to sewing to learn.
Today we have: How to Hem Curtains.
As many of you know, we recently moved into a new house. And although window coverings came with the house, none of them had been hemmed, which means that they went right down to the floor, covering the baseboard heaters. And although aesthetically I like them that way, it’s not worth the fire hazard! So, a-hemming we will go!
- curtains to be hemmed (washed and dried. If they are going to shrink, you want them to do it BEFORE you hem them.)
- a sewing machine
- a long measuring tape
- thread to match your curtains
- sharp scissors
- marking pencil (fancy fabric ones are nice, but chalk will work on dark colours, and a regular pencil will work on lights, you won’t see the markings once you are done sewing)
- optional (but helpful): sewing gauge, rotary cutter and mat
Step 1: Measure
The first thing you need to figure out is how long your curtains should be. Using the measuring tape, measure from the top of your curtain rod to where you would like your curtains to hang. (For me, that was a couple of inches above the heater, which ended up being 75 inches.) Write that number down.
Then, add the amount you will need for seams. This is really completely up to you, but you can use the original curtain hems as a guide. The original hems on my curtain were quite narrow, so I decided to go with 1″ hems. Then, because the seam will be folded twice before being sewn, I doubled this number, giving me 2.” (If your number is different mine, just double whatever you came up with and you’re all set)
Add these two numbers together – finished length + seam allowance (75 + 2 in my case) and you will have the length you will be cutting your curtains.
Step 2: Cut
Lay your first curtain panel out flat on the floor. (Or a table if you have one long enough.) To make things easier, I like to fold mine in half for this step. Just make sure that you keep the tops if the curtains lined up after folding, to avoid crooked seams later on.
Using your measuring tape, measure from the top of the curtain and make a mark at your target number. (Remember Step 1? My number was 77 inches) Use a marking pencil to mark a line on the curtains.
Do this several times across the width of the curtain until you have 4 or 5 marks.
Use a ruler to join the marks you have made into a solid line.
I don’t know what yours will be like, but my curtains did not originally have straight hems – about 1″ off in places! This is why it is important to measure from the top, and not from the bottom, of the curtain. (Sometimes when you do things yourself you end up with something better than what you started with!)
Okay, now cut across the line you just made. You now have a perfectly straight curtains ready to hem! Repeat this step with the other curtain panel(s).
What do I do if my cutting line runs into the original hem?
If you are lucky, you will be shortening your curtains enough that you will be able to just cut off the original hem entirely. However, this is not always the case. If your cutting line runs down into the original hem, you will have to sit and unpick the original stitching. It’s a bit tedious, but I find putting on some of my favourite music or sitting down and watching a movie while I work my way through makes the time pass quickly.
Step 3: Press and Pin
We’re halfway there! Now you are going to lay your newly-cut curtain bottoms across your ironing board and press the hem. Using a ruler or sewing gauge to stay consistent, press up your hem the full amount of the seam allowance (that second number you chose in Step 1) In my case, that number was 2″.
Then unfold this newly pressed hem, and fold the fabric again, but this time only until it meets the line you just pressed. In my case, it meant folding it up 1″. Press on the fold.
Now fold the hem up on your original fold line again and pin. This tucks all the raw edges neatly away and leaves you with a nice straight edge, ready to sew!
Step 4: Sew
Now the fun part! Load up your machine with matching thread, and sew a straight stitch close to the folded edge of your hem, removing the pins as you go. Be sure to backstitch when you start and when you stop to lock the stitches.
Trim your threads and admire your beautifully sewn hem! These curtains are ready to hang.
That’s all there is to it! Now you are ready to hang your curtains and enjoy your handiwork! Well done!Read More