Time Saving Tips
Most of us have tips that we’ve discovered over the years by accident-how about sharing some of them!
Just today, after playing “chase the foot pedal” yet again as I spent time on the serger, I decided to cut a rectangular piece of rubberized shelf liner about an inch larger all around than the foot pedal. Voila’!!!! The pedal now stays in place on the carpet and I’m not yanking it back every 5 minutes…..I’m sew happy!!!
Darlene In NC
My sewing machine is on a table, the base of which is an antique Singer foot treadle machine. When I was younger, I had no problem keeping the foot pedal of the machine on the treadle. Now that I am older and have arthritis in my ankles and feet, it isn't "sew easy". I solved the problem by putting a scrap of wood under the back of the treadle. It now stays put and I'm not chasing the pedal across the floor.
Another tip is to keep a crotchett hook with a very small head at my machine to pull out stitches. It works faster than a seam ripper and is easier to use on instant mistakes.
My arthritis challenge is in my right hand....my thumb doesn't work well and it makes threading my serger a pain. I love the Fiskars spring action scissors...I can cut out patterns without a lot of discomfort.
I was in line for joint replacement when I started using a home hand waxing machine. It is a Godsend. I dip my hands about eight times each and put on gloves for awhile. It took quite awhile, but what relief it gave me. Eventually with exercises and often handling a very soft little ball (clay helps too) the range of motion actually increased, the pain decreased considerably. I wear gloves for driving and hand ese for sewing and such. I also found that the gloves for weight lifting really supported my joints better than custom made splints from a hand therapist.
I use a rotary cutter and large mat for most of my cutting. A serger seam ripper, a plastic needle holder to insert needles into the serger the other end threads the needle made by Pfaff or Husq/Viking, sewing machine is self threading. Husq/Viking makes a grey gizmo to use instead of a screwdriver that works great. Electric scissors also. I buy every ergonomic helper I can find.
Hope this helps and that others will make suggestions too.
I'm interested in your parrafin bath. The thumb on my right hand ihas been "frozen" at the first joint for almost a year. My first and middle fingers have started going numb on me from the first joint to the tip since January. I refuse to let it keep me from sewing......Of course repetitive movement makes it worse. I was making a pair of pj bottoms (for myself out of plisse) and while looking for something to ease the job of threading the elastic through the casing, I spotted my point turning tool. It's smooth plastic, pointed on one end with a small hole in the other. I threaded a 3 inch long narrow strip of fabric through the hole....stitched it to one end of the elastic and it fed through slick as a whistle.....
I have a Remington, but I think they all work about the same. It came with soft booties and mittens that are washable. I love the lavender scented wax, then I get the aromatherapy too!
Before I used it, I got approval from my Rheumatologist. Didn't really expect to get such great results! I was just hoping for a little pain relief and got a bonus of increased joint mobility! Maybe it was partially the glucosamine, I really don't know. I do know it has been a realy blessing to have use of my hands back!
It's amazing how much we take for granted. I could barely hold a cup or glass to take a drink without dropping it. The cold or damp weather will always be a factor so we are considering a move to a warmer climate.
Hope this is helpful. Mary
First and foremost, get a good evaluation and diagnosis from a physician. The numbness can be caused by many different things. I wouldn't want you to try something that could make your situation worse! Mary
Edited 5/1/2007 1:05 am ET by MaryinColorado
SF: I have arthritis in my left hand, makes holding garments for hand sewing a real PITA.
Another tip: keeping "reader" glasses in all the places where I sew: by the machine, in the LR by my chair, etc. On ocassion I have even resorted to the magnifier that hands around my neck, which has taught me not to use the smallest stitch on my machine
I have found that keeping my pins in a shot glass makes for easier use. I use the ball head pins and they are much easier to pick out of the glass instead of the pincushion.
Same here on the reading glasses....My biggest challenge visually is sewing black....I have a floor lamp with 3 bulbs that I can focus in different directions and an ott light table lamp. Along with the ceiling fixture and sewing machine light. My sewing room has a window and I love to work in the afternoon when the sun is streaming in.
I use a "magnetic" pin cushion.....love that thing....and when I drop pins, I just swing it over them and they pop right onto it.
Edited 4/15/2007 6:59 pm ET by SewFit
I guess my time saving tip is to cut everything with a mat and rotary cutter, EVERYTHING. I use an armscye acrylic ruler and an acrylic hip curve as well. I also like to be organized. Midstream of a project I am a mess, but basically find my creativity depends on some sort of zen in my sewing environment. So I spend a few minutes at the end of each day organizing what I have been using. The next day I can jump right to my sewing and not have to go scouting for things. I think placement of things used is time saving as well. To my right of my machine space is a drawer, almost always open, that has all my oft used tools, scissors, tweezers, machine needles, etc. Things I don't use often are the farthest away from the machine and cutting table.
hey solo, don't tell olfa this but those crash boards that they use in hockey rinks (the big white ones around the rink) make great rotary cutting mats, and if your local hockey rink is changing them, they are free. I just glued one down to a 20 foot by 4 foot table and can cut anything. They also accept dry erase markers, so are great for keeping notes regarding measurements etc then just wipe them off. I must add that they do have to be replaced every 5 years or so, but thankfully, so do the ones in the rinks.
That is just brilliant! How the heck did you ever figure this one out? Inquiring minds want to know....
I hate companies that overprice things just because they say it is a specialty product which only they can produce...so I went looking for an alternative to buying a $90.00 olfa mat that was not even big enough to work with. I started with that linoleum stuff that you used to carve in grade 8 art class to make prints with. It works well too, but just doesn't seem to have the longevity that the hockey boards have. I have to admit that the hockey boards are a little harder on your cutting blades than the traditional cutting mat, but I can buy a whole lot of blades for $90.00. Also, did you know that if you buy your rotary cutters and blades at the hardware store they are nearly half the price? Carpet installers etc use them too. I am soooo cheap lol!!! I guess that I am also forced to be a little more inventive too, because I live in a small town. Happy hockey board hunting (and don't tell olfa, they are a great company, just a little overpriced sometimes)
I know this is supposed to be a time saving thread...but when I saw CHEAP and hardware, I have to mention my cheap trip to Home Depot. I went in search of something to use for stays in corsets. The real things are terribly expensive (to me, at least,) and boning just won't do it. I went to Home Depot and said I wanted to talk to someone who knew the merchandise and had an imagination. I did not want someone who could n't think outside the box. I told the guy what I wanted to use it for and asked him what he had. He really thought and showed me some things, but there were various reasons they wouldn't work. Then....I saw some strapping stuff that they used to tie lumber together. It's about 3/4 inches wide and green. I played with it and decided that several layers of it might work. I asked him how much and he said it's waste and take all you want. I crawled around the floor and got a big sackful I took it home and submerged it to see if the dye would bleed and it didn't. It worked just great and it was FREE. I went back several times for more.
Hey Ralphetta;I love your "outside the box" thinking. Have you tried sandwiching 2 layers of newspaper strapping (the plastic stuff) between fusible interfacing to make your own boning?Would love to hear from any one else out there who has found their own alternatives to traditional sewing notions.
No, but it sounds like the same kind of stuff i used. It's what they fasten bunches of lumber together with. It's flexible, so I experimented with different layers of it to get the right stiffness. Yes, I encased it in something. It's washable, also a plus for costumes.
It really helps when you are lucky enough to find someone at the hardware store with an imagination and you can brainstorm. That guy seemed to enjoy the challenge and I had to be the happiest customer he had all day....crawling under the pallets and shrieking with glee as I swooped up the dust covered pieces.
Yep, sounds like a different weight of the same stuff. The local gas station saves it off of their newspaper bundles for me.
Wow this thread is wonderful!! I think Time Saving, Cheap, Hardware and all that go hand in hand myself!!I will certainly have to check out the Hardware for the Rotary Blades!!I don't use them as often as most..I still like my scissors when I am cutting curves and such!! I can't wait to see what is next !!I will have to start thinkin if I have anything I have done...hmmmm
Whenever I need a new sewing or craft tool, my first stop is the hardware store. I can use zip ties to turn a loop, I bought my rivet setter and die tools there, exacto knives, olfa blades, hammers, rulers, T squares, the list goes on. But for me, the biggest advantage is that I don't get that look from my homophobic boyfriend when I hand him a pink cutting tool that I bought at the sewing supply shop. I think he is afraid that pink will "give him the gay."
First, I love hardware stores. I have as much trouble leaving them as I do fabric stores. But I've never thought to even price their rotary cutters and such. This "tips" thread is a boon.Second, how do you use zip ties to turn loops?
Run the seam, and bunch up one side of the loop to be turned. Cinch the zip tie down on the bunched up fabric. Feed the loose end of the zip tie through the center of your tube and pull. Cut off the zip tie, and Voila!! Just a note, I don't use this method on really small things, or delicate fabrics, but it is great for those frustrating time when you cannot find anything else. I do use this method fairly often for threading elastic waistbands though (I make a lot of PJ's)
Oh, good, you're just the person I want to talk to. Do you make pajamas for men? I want to make drawstring/elastic pj pants for the men in my family for Christmas presents. Want to use Tencel or one of the new bamboo rayons that feel so wonderful. I was thinking size wouldn't be so important, if I can just do S-M-L-XL. But I haven't done much, if any, sewing for men, so don't know how pattern sizes compare to rtw, and hoped to avoid getting measurements, other than perhaps waist and length. Any advice?
For pj pants, fit really isn't really important, you will do fine with waist and length (you can even just sneak a peek at their pants label.) You do need to remember that men will require more ease in the crotch, and seem to prefer a button fly. Make sure to pre-wash and dry the fabric before you cut - Pj stuff usually shrinks quite seriously, and you want them to be machine washable. I don't know what your skill level is, but it can sometimes get confusing as to which is the front pattern piece, and which is the back. I use different color pins to mark them (even still). Also, it is nice to elasticize most of the waist - even if it is a drawstring - that way you avoid any undoing accidents. The last thing you want is a phone call saying "I loved the PJ pants, but they ended up around my ankles when I went out to pick up the newspaper this morning!!" The elasticized waist is also much more comfortable, as it has give, and moves with your body as you are sleeping. Just add a decorative tie to the front.Oh, and if you are making PJ pants for kids, remember to give them a good long hem so that they can be let down as the kids grow. I made little sleep over sets for my two youngest sisters a couple of years ago, full pj's with a matching tote bag. They loved them.
Edited 4/18/2007 5:39 pm ET by tmorris1
Actually, a couple of buttons in the fly would be a better idea (not too small buttons), as, with one button, the fly gapes when the guy sits down & something may peek out at you! (This happens with boxer shorts, too). In fact, my son requested that I sew up the fly if the garment had an elastic waist, as many RTW PJ pants, shorts & swimsuits are made that way (with a fake fly front, but sewn up). I have to agree with you - the elastic waist is more comfortable for sleeping & safer for wearing (& the cords don't get tangled in the wash).
Thanks for your suggestions. I'm e-mailing your post to myself for my file.Your sisters' sleep-over sets with matching totes sound great!I will be sewing these pj pants for adults only. I wonder if the drawstring ties can be sewn to the ends of the elastic in the waist? Or better to just have elastic waist with fake ties?With a button fly, are the buttons hidden in a covered placket? Better than snaps? Actually I hate to install those snaps - don't have much luck with that gizmo that clamps the snaps on.GLORIASEWS: Yes, maybe a sewn "fake" fly is a good idea, with the elastic waist. I'll consult dh.
Edited 4/19/2007 6:18 pm ET by Josefly
Jose;Yes, traditionally the buttons are under a placket on the fly. I agree that you should probably ask what these men prefer, they all have such different habits (wish I had a choice of 3 different ways to pee lol) If you do not want to ruin the surprise, ask their significant others what they prefer, if you feel comfortable snooping, then snoop (this gives you a better idea of what they like as well) If you are going to go as far as snooping, take a tape measure with you, and pick the most worn pair of pj's as your guide.
Good ideas, thanks.
Wondering if zip tie would work on small stuff if you used the thread ends to tie onto the hole-end of the zip tie then thread the pointed end through the tube to be turned? I have an assortment of zip-ties from small to large and never thought of this use!!
You have a good suggestion there Becky. I am sure that you could use that method to turn anything the zip tie head will fit through. I do not highly recommend it for use on delicate fabrics though.
Thanks for this tip of using a zip tie to thread a drawstring; it works really well, and my husband has hundreds of them in all different sizes....
I know!!! The men walk into your sewing room and ask "what in the world are you ever going to do with 6 pairs of scissors???" We need to turn around and say "The exact same thing that you are going to do with 10 THOUSAND zip ties!" LOL
Okay, I think the two of you are tied for the prize! I use a 48"drywall t square to help straighten the grain of fabrics. I use bandage scissors for applique, and hemostats for pulling tearaway stabilizer out of tiny areas of machine embroidery, and papertape for marking darts and such, alcohol swabs for cleaning scissors and spoolholders....these are from nurses uniform shops.Mary
Also, syringes are great for squirting tiny amounts of dye or glue or oil into tiny areas.
Edited 4/17/2007 12:49 pm ET by MaryinColorado
"Necessity, (and no money,) is the mother of invention."
I like to think of it as being a savvy shopper. So many items are marketed under different purposes. I raid hubby's garage quite often and he now has one of my old cutting mats and rotary cutters. I also "stole" his flytieing lamp with magnifier, it clamps onto the sewing table and is super adjustable! He also had some screws that fit the holes in my quilting rulers perfectly. I love to snoop around in his stuff.
He made my sewing tables as I am 4"11 1/2, they are L shaped too. For $10.00 I got a tall office chair at a used office supply store that works great at the cutting table or ironing, and several large pinch clamps for pennies, paper for patternmaking, etc.
Okay, I'll fess up...I've been reading/commenting on various threads today in an effort to forget about the fact that the plumber left my house last night at midnight and then I discovered that neither toilet works [email protected]#%@^
I've calmed down and guess I'll get on the phone.
Oooooh! Now that was just plain rude of him!!! No warning or promise to return? Talk about a rude awakening!!! First thing in the morning is not the best time to make that discovery! I hope it is fixed properly asap! Mary
OOOH I love the surgical supply stores too. Those clamps that hold themselves together are great for everything, from removing fish hooks to loading the needle into my machine (different pair of course) Once you use them once there is just no turning back lol.
Some people use exam table paper for patternmaking too. Wouldn't we have fun on a shopping spree? Forget the malls!
Shopping...did I hear someone say Shopping? I like to shop, I could go.I have heard of the exam table stuff, I buy roll ends from the local newspaper for about 50 cents. The newspapers cannot use the entire roll without harming their printers. There is about 200 feet of paper left on them, and the rolls are really sturdy, and useful too once there is no paper left.
Another alternative sewing notion is an empty large dental floss container (like Reach)- drop in a spool of Gutermann (fits perfectly) and thread it through the cutting knife and you have a tidy dispenser for hand sewing thread.
And in the surgical supplies line, the little curved scalpels (size 15) are great seam rippers. A neighbor who is a plastic surgeon gave me one years ago and it is still going strong.
Edited 5/8/2007 12:07 pm by Ckbklady
Mary;I too love the curved scalpels for seam ripping, they are so much faster once you get used to them, and not nearly as destructive as you would think. I get mine from the local surgical supply store for about .35 cents each.
Well, that's sure cheaper than my neighbor - he only gave me one after boasting that he only gave them out to face lift clients who expressed an interest in sewing or embroidery. I can't imagine what a face lift costs, but I bet your 35 cents beats it!
Wow! Now that is truly "thinking outside the box". I think you win the prize for the most unique use of materials!!! Mary
I'm rewriting this post here as I mistakenly put it elsewhere. I got lost trying to copy it to here. Does anyone know of a hardware store gadget that one can use as a velvet board - that is to press velvet seams? I remember reading about this somewhere several years ago. It was, of course, a lot cheaper than a velvet board. I don't know why I didn't run out and buy it then. Ring any bells?
The bells are ringing Dotty, but I can't seem to figure out where they are coming from right now. I have to do some thinking on it, but will definitely get back to you as soon as I can remember where my brain stored this little tidbit of info.
Okay Dotty, I know that I said I would get back to you right away, but I am truly drawing a blank. These are the pressing techniques which I have been able to remember, and a few things I have thought of which may work for you...1) The easiest thing to do would be to press on a scrap of velvet turned right side up on your ironing board. Wiggle the two piles together, steam it heavily, and press the seam open with your thumb or the backside of a spoon, and let dry thoroughly. 2) Velvet board looks much like those heavy wire brushes used to clean grills, scrape off paint etc. I think that they are usually fairly small, but you may be able to stabilize a couple of them to a piece of wood.3) Straw mats (the kind with the heavy pile to help catch dirt) look like they would work well, but I would recommend trying a scrap first.4) A wooden dowel with a piece of velvet draped over it will allow you to only press the seam and not the rest of the velvet.5) If you have a steamer, forget the press board all together and use that.Remember when you press velvet or wool that if you slip a piece of typing paper under your seam allowances while pressing, it will keep the seams from transferring on to the front of your work.Good luck, let me know what works best for you.
Dotty, I don't know if you received a reply about a velvet board, but I thought you could use fluffy bath towels as a base for pressing velvet. That way the nap has something to sink into to instead of becoming flat. I haven't sewn velvet in about 20 years so check with some other people as well.
Mimi- This is an off-the-subject question! I noticed you had a quote as your signature. Do you change them very often? SOmeone on the site had a quote about children, along the lines of 'All children can learn, just not all on the same day...'but I can't remember exactly how it went. I would also love to find out where it comes from. Was that your signature at one time? Thanks for your help! Paula
"All children can learn, just not on the same day in the same way." Yes, that was me. I don't know the author, it was somthing I may have known at one time but...! I was a kindergarten teacher for almost 17 years, and I truly beleive that all children learn at their own pace and should not be penalized for veering from the norm.
I jumped ship last summer and now work with the Foster Grandparent Program.
I use dental tools that my hygienist provided to pick out stitches, and as a stilletto to control fabric going under the presser foot.
I always keep an extra spool of matching thread on my vertical spool holder for bobbin winding. This way I do not have to waste a lot of thread by pre-spooling bobbins, and I do not have to unthread my machine to fill a new bobbin.
-I use tweezers( the ones that came with my serger) to guide the end of the fabric when I serge seams to keep them straight
-Also, I keep a hairclip near my machine to keep my hair from falling into my face when I sew.
-I paste a label on the cover of my sewing books and magazines with the page numbers of items of information I reference frequently. I'm also big on using the colored stickey page markers to remember where I saw something.
My sewing "library" looks like a flag convention with all the sticky page markers. I keep telling myself to go thru the magazines and tear out the articles I want. Then file them in labeled folders and put them in a file cabinet. Ha! Right!
And that game of "chase the foot pedal". Seems I do more of that than sewing. I even purchased those thingys you put under the pedal so it stays put. Alas! I had to chase the pedal AND the thingy. LOL! I'll try the suggestion of the non-slip shelf liner.
Here's a suggestion for anyone who sets up their machine on a regular height table, then, after hours of sewing your back feels like someone nailed a 2x4 to your spine. I saw an old desk that someone had put out for the trash and thought it was a great size for sewing so I brought it home (Creative Dumpster Diving). I sawed off about 3 or 4 inches of the legs. Then I removed the center drawer so my thighs would fit under after shortening the legs. My arms are now lower when holding the fabric on my machine and the pressure is off my back. Relief!
My mom had the best find!!!! She went to Wal-mart in the hopes of finding a card table to replace the old one that is near shot. She found a folding table a similar size and height to a desk, with minimal underneath. She was using it to do paperwork the other day and she lowered it to the height of the desk before sitting down. It was $40.00!
Needless to say, it will be commandeered soon to help furnish my sewing area as I will be spending much of my time there, I can sit or stand or even switch to almost any chair whenever I get uncomfortable... Aren't moms the best at finding the good stuff???? Also with the zip-tie thing, can you make the really skinny spaghetti straps that way? it seems like a great way to do it.
Edited 4/23/2007 12:04 pm ET by ineedaserger329
I like the stability of a desk. Tables tend to rock and roll when I sew. Or maybe I just need a speed control for my machine. I do tend to put "the pedal to the metal'.
Lol, Whatever you have to do to get it done and move to the next project, I'm hoping it will work for me...if not, mom uses it during her holiday baking and neither of us let it go to waste
I love the tip about keeping an extra spool of thread to wind the bobbin.....real time saver!
Edited 4/15/2007 4:20 pm ET by SewFit
I have several short-cuts, but the one I discovered recently is an optional use for the brush that came with my machine.
One end is the brush and the other end is tapered (almost a point). I haven't found any reference in the manual as to what the tapered end is for, but I use it to tip up the bobbin (drop-in type) so I can get hold of it for removal.
There is a gadget out now to remove the bobbin from the bobbin case, but the little brush/taper works for me - and it only cost me $4,000.! Where are those smiley faces when you need one!
Edited 4/23/2007 2:14 pm ET by spicegirl
Hi Spicegirl,Where can I get one of those $4000 bobbin removal brushes. LOLMarcy
RE: Bobbin remover
Are you kidding! Buy a new embroidery machine and you will get one free! My Elna's Quilter's Pro also had one with it. Maybe it is something the newer machine come with?????
Edited 4/30/2007 8:02 pm ET by spicegirl
Yes, Spicegirl, I was just kidding you.
My brush has a taper on it, too (& I only paid $300 for mine) - ha ha! Anyway, I'll try it for the bobbin (I wondered what the taper was for, too, as it isn't mentioned in the manual). Heretofore, I have been using the point on my seam ripper to lift the bobbin. Sounds like the taper is a better idea - thanks!
My Grandma Said to use a bar of soap on your pins to keep them slippery. I also use it when my dresser drawers start to stick.
Use a crochet hook to pull the strings at the end of the fabric when using a serger through....making the neat look most people use a needle for.....
That's all I can think of right now, I'm sure I will think of more
I use plastic dental floss threaders (used for dentures) to thread my serger. I bought a little snap box of them 10 years ago and they're still going strong.
Perhaps you have a middle (grade) or high school in the area that offers a home-ec. or sewing class? Even better if you have a child in one of those classes. I learned (and took advantage of) this trick when I was in middle school. Students can purchase patterns at a fraction of the cost through their home-ec class. I purchased several (regularly priced) $10-20 patterns for myself and family, all for under $5.00. However, they often don't offer the same variety of makers, I think my school offered three or four brands to students. after I graduated, they stopped offering home-ec in middle school and I had intensive scheduling for half of High school and couldn't take it....I would've finished highschool the summer before I turned 17, but they switched scheduling back....but that's another story altogether......Good luck I hope you can use this to your advatnage...I'm also posted this on the another thread.
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