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Tips & Techniques

So, Sew It

If you are looking for sewn-finishing options, you have two choices -- machine sewing or hand sewing. Let's take a look at a few tips that will keep things moving along for you as you tackle the finishing.

  1. Sewing machine: For most needlework projects, a basic sewing machine is really all that is required for finishing a project. Make sure the following things are in order before you begin:
    1. The machine is clean. Sewing machines, like other appliances, can get dusty and dirty over time. Before putting your stitching project on the sewing machine, take a minute to dust the machine and make sure nothing is going to ruin your work. Another tip: I always stitch on a scrap piece of fabric before putting my needlework in the machine. I stitch about 3 inches forward and about 1 inch back just to make sure that my bobbin is working correctly and that any dirt or grime comes off on my scrap fabric instead of my stitched piece.
    2. Use good-quality sewing thread. It takes so little thread to finish most needlework projects, so do yourself a favor and splurge on the good stuff. And pay attention to how your machine handles threads -- some machines like certain brands better than others.
    3. Pick appropriate colors. You should always pick a color that matches your linen or the colors used in the projects. When in doubt, my granny always suggested that you use a shade lighter thread instead of the darker shade. If you're going for a funky style of finishing, try a contrasting-color thread; it might just give you the edge you're looking for in your project.
    4. Always, always, always have a spare needle and bobbin. This really needs no further explanation; just trust me on this one.
    5. If you're planning to do a lot of pillows, invest in a zipper-foot attachment if your machine doesn't already have one. It eliminates some of the stress in adding cord around your pillow edges.
  2. Hand sewing: As much as I love my little sewing machine, there are times when only a hand-sewing needle will work for a project. It might take a little longer, but the results are definitely worth it.
    1. Use a sharp sewing needle when finishing a project. If you're not used to sewing with a sharp needle, a thimble might be a good companion as well. Either way, your finishing will be much cleaner and tighter if you use a sharp sewing needle instead of an embroidery needle.
    2. As with a sewing machine, make sure your needle is clean. Also, examine it carefully to make sure it has no rough edges or barbs on it; these can easily damage your linen or stitching fabric in only a stitch or two.
    3. Use a good-quality sewing thread in an appropriate color. If you're sewing on a small (needle book, etc.), you can also use the same floss you used for stitching or a coordinating color of floss (silk or cotton).
    4. And again, always, always, always have a spare needle!
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