Tools and a Twit

A while back a reader asked me to list the tools I use. Eventually I will have a page with many of them featured but here are a couple that make life easier for me.

First up…scissors…I have almost every Gingher scissors ever made. They are great and will sharpen and tighten their own brand if you send them back with a check for $8 to the repair department.

But the one pair that I could not live without is one I purchased a year ago. They are the 8 inch lightweight nylon version. What they don’t state is that one blade edge is almost micro-serrated and what this does is hold slippery fabrics and cuts through tulle like a dream. I spend hours sitting on the floor with the wedding dresses fitted unto mannequins so I can trim tulle and netting under the satin hems. These scissors just hold unto the tulle just right to make a straight line. Being lightweight they don’t make my hand tired either.gingher black scissors

Another tool I have used for years and years is moleskin. It has a fuzzy side and a sticky side that you can buy in the foot care section of your drugstore. moleskinmoleskin-2

I cut a small square or circle and attach it to my middle finger to push the needle through hours and hours of hand sewing like re-attaching lace borders. I have tried tons of thimbles over the years and they are just for me. I have seen recently that quilters can buy little pre-cut circles to attach to their fingers in the notions area of fabric stores.

Speaking of lace borders/hems…another reader asked me to post a tutorial so with the last dress I worked on I managed to make a Pinterest list of the steps that I use. Now mind you, there probably is another way to do this crappy labor intensive task but this is just my way of dealing with it…here. The steps are numbered in sequence although #14 pops up first instead of last.

You all know I am fussy about where bust darts should end and I just go crazy when I see photos on blogs where the darts end over the nipples!!! Ladies, darts have a job…they release fabric where it is needed and that has to be 1.5 or more inches away from the bust apex/point. So here is a gadget you can make at home to keep handy when altering your paper patterns. Find a plastic lid from a yoghurt or butter container (mine cam from some shredded cheese).tool-1 Draw a circle with a 1.5 inch radius or 3 inches across. tool-2Trim away the excess and poke a hole in the middle…voila’ now you have a special dart limiting tool!tool-3 Place the hole over your carefully plotted out bust point on the paper pattern and back those pesky darts back to where they should end!

Now for the final thing…the Twit…a woman dropped off a dress she was going to wear to a wedding reception and wanted to ask me about all the gowns that were hanging up and waiting to be finished. I told her that sometimes a bride will come for her final fitting and ask that I take in a waist an extra 1/8 of an inch just days before the wedding. While this seems frivolous I do my best to accommodate her as long as I am not having to mess with layers of linings etc which will run into more labor. That’s when this woman asked, “Don’t you ever just NOT do what she wants and tell her you did?” As I suppressed a righteous scream, I straightened myself up and declared, “NEVER!” What a crappy question to ask a professional and was I supposed to admit that, yes, I do cut corners and cheat my clients? Get real, Girl!

Before I go I will share the last of the veggie garden bounty. With freezing temps approaching in our valley I pulled up the pepper plants and eggplants and found all these little guys:    final-crop

Now with the raised beds re-planted with winter crops and under cover it is Mother Nature’s job and my red worms to do their magic!

Nancy is coming over next week so we can finish up with her jacket muslin and move along…I am so excited! Happy sewing everyone!

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29 Responses to Tools and a Twit

  1. Andrea says:

    Moleskin – so creative! I have the stick on dots, although am not a quilter. I do like my leather thimble as well. The lightweight scissors are interesting. Can’t believe that lady asked you that question. Wow.
    Always enjoy pics of your garden bounty. Soon it will be garden snow?

    • mrsmole says:

      Not yet, Andrea but if we have night frosts then everything that is not under cover or in the garage for the winter will suffer. I have planted fennel and beets and lettuce and in the Spring we shall see what survived under the plastic under the snow which comes in Dec.

  2. kathy says:

    Love the moleskin tip – I cannot get the hang of using thimbles either. Fabulous idea – I’ll be buying some of that today! Thanks!!!

    I also cannot stand to see all those bust darts ending right at the nipple. So unflattering.

    • mrsmole says:

      If one things says “homemade” it is bad darts wandering into places they should not be. You see lots of them on Indie patterns with waist darts running too high vertically to do any good at all ending at the nipple. As we age and the boobs drop we have to be very careful with vertical darts and back them up until they are doing their job and buy a good bra to prop up the girls!

  3. sewbusylizzy says:

    Maybe it’s my inner chef – but the beauty & simplicity of the yoghurt lid is brilliant. I love everyday things turned sewing notions. If it works who cares what flavour it once was.

    • mrsmole says:

      Free is good…I’m sure one day some crafty lady will manufacture a round piece of plastic and call it something clever but for today…you can be the designer!

  4. girl in the stix says:

    Thanks for the great tips. Re: darts–I keep remembering the Gwynneth Paltrow’s disastrous evening dress when she won the Oscar–no matter how the press tried to spin it, it was ill-fitting and unflattering! And I love Gingher scissors! I once scored big on e-bay with a lot of Ginghers–I still have some in the original packing. And what the twit said to you revealed a lot about her take on the world.

    I cleared out my garden this weekend–gotta plant garlic now. Hope you have a great day!

    • mrsmole says:

      Happy garlic planting! I once planted shallots and after the whole season they were the same size as they started…so I gave up on those puppies. Movie stars used to wear perfect clothes, envied clothes, couture clothes, frequently copied clothes and then something went horribly wrong…can we blame their assistants and fashion advisers?

  5. So with you on the dart observation. They are way too long on a lot of people/patterns.

  6. Bunny says:

    I know a few people you can send your yogurt lid nipple spacer to. But I think you know who they are as well!

    Brilliant idea with the moleskin. I think I will go buy some at lunch today. I’ve never been a big fan of thimbles.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Bunny, there are so many gals who have no idea where their bust darts are supposed to end. Mainly, we see it on full busted gals where the darts should end 2 inches back and on older gals stuffing themselves into patterns designed for teenagers…yes, the UK term “mutton dressed as lamb” comes to mind. Skater dresses and pigeon-toed poses are not flattering/ridiculous unless you are under 12!

  7. Jane Urbach says:

    I used to sew Renaissance costumes for others and the most elaborate were for 12th Night, and I always told people that you could tell how much business I had by looking at the finger tips on my right hand. If they were almost bloody, then I had done a lot. It would always take a week or more after the event, to heal up. I tried lots of different things, but it seemed like I could not have the right feel with anything in the way. I will try the moleskin idea next time if I notice my finger getting sore when I am just making something for myself.

    • mrsmole says:

      I hope you like it Jane as it stays so flat and helps with the cushioning.Folks have no idea what damage we do to ourselves for the sake of others and our businesses. Start with a square and the trim off the corners to come up with a sort of circle.

  8. Angela says:

    Moleskin… simple and brilliant. Try as I might, I have never become comfortable with thimbles. Moleskin sounds like a wonderful idea!

    • mrsmole says:

      It sure beats a trashed and shredded finger pad after hours of hand sewing while watching recorded TV programs. All that Alabama Chanin hand sewing would have really damaged my finger without the moleskin…and it is so cheap compared to already prepared “dots”.

  9. fabrickated says:

    Oh yes. Moleskin. What a brilliant idea. Also good inside shoes that slip. I hate thimbles. Too loose. Too tight. Not sensitive enough. Sweaty even! This is a brilliant tip. And a good pair of shears make me happier than they should. I have never tried the dreaded rotary cutter – have you? But the best tip is that parmesan lid. Oh my, what a hoot. What do your ladies say when you come at them with that? Lovely post Mrs Mole.

  10. mrsmole says:

    OH DEAR…Kate…I don’t use the plastic circle on my clients…just their paper patterns…ha ha
    I have used a rotary cutter when I worked in a quilt shop for 4 years since they did not use scissors. I see Marcy Tilton uses one in her Craftsy knit classes which makes sense to the fabric will not stretch as much as with scissors…maybe…maybe not. If I was a quilter I would probably use one all the time but I only do clothes for now. Kate has a surprise for us on Saturday…stay tuned!

  11. So many useful tips here – thank you for sharing. Especially the thimble replacement …. right now I’m typing with a slightly shredded finger since I can’t stand using a thimble.

  12. BeaJay says:

    Great tips. Never could work out where a bust dart should be.

    • mrsmole says:

      I’m sure you know where the darts should be….this just tells you where they should end, BeaJay. The larger the cup size, the farther away the darts need to end so they can do their job.

  13. I love the moleskin idea! I’m dreading all the appliques I’ll be hand-sewing to a costume, but I think your trick is going to at least save my fingers.

    I love my Gingher scissors! I may invest in the ones you use to cut tulle and slippery fabrics, the closest I get to cutting a straight line is to sandwich it with tissue paper, and even then it’s still not perfect. =oP I fear a perfectly cut fabric is the equivalent of a catching a fly with a chopstick…you must have endless patience! lol

  14. Valerie says:

    The moleskin is a great idea. I usually cut a fingertip off a surgical glove and wear that if I need to do some hand sewing. Sweat does build up after a while but it’s much better than a thimble!

  15. mrsmole says:

    You may like the thickness of the moleskin to add padding but not heat. Some days I leave the little patch on all day as I go about my sewing from machine to hand. Those of us who have been doing this crazy sewing for 40 years have built up a nice little callus on that middle finger and I find if I wear the moleskin regularly, it helps soften and heal that rough skin as well, Valerie.

  16. Cindy says:

    I stopped on the way home and picked up some moleskin, I cannot adjust to a thimble, they are so clumsy. I’ve used the dots but they are too big so I trim them down and they are so expensive that it pains me to waste it. I think the padding on the moleskin will work better than the slippery plastic, too. It’s the little things, apparently we all need to get out more!
    I love my Ginghers so much I bought my own for at work, you cannot beat a quality pair of scissors.

    • mrsmole says:

      I never thought about the dots being slippery. I just had some of my Ginghers sharpened and they came back in a week…what quick service all the way to the West coast!

  17. prttynpnk says:

    Oh you- how did I miss this post??? I’ve been whining about my pinks needing sharpening for way too long- the local guy has retired. I had a pair of the nylon encased Ginghers when I worked as a dresser- I could use them backstage, no problem if I dropped them and they never caught sight-lines. Loved them!!

  18. Gail Delashaw says:

    Thanks so much for the info about where to have your Gingher scissors sharpened. My favorite pair of Gingher’s need sharpening and I have been afraid to take them to anyone for fear they would never work properly again. I never thought about returning them to the company who made them for repair. My goal is to sew, sew, sew in 2015 so this is great news.

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