Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Let's Get This Straight

Sewing is one of the housewifey things that it seems like the domestically challenged have the hardest time wrapping their heads around. I'm not just talking about sewing on a button, or fixing a saggy hem (although those pose their own challenges to some folks), but actually taking fabric and making something out of it. The idea of it almost seems quaint, in an era when you can get a cute outfit at H&M or a full set of patio cushions from Ikea for less than the fabric it would cost to make them. Of course, they (both) will start to fall apart the first time you sit down, but still.
However, because my parents took a sort of Laura Ingalls Wilder approach to child-rearing, I actually like to sew. When I was an awkward preteen, my mom enrolled me in a sewing class which culminated in my being forced to model a pair of culottes of my own creation in a "fashion" show at the county fair. While it was among the most mortifying experiences in a lifetime full of mortifying experiences, the sewing know-how seemed to stick. While I don't have much of a desire to attempt to create my own skorts or palazzo pants these days, I still take a certain pride in my ability to make my own curtains, pillows, tablecloths, and baby quilts that don't cost a fortune, and have that handmade-with-love vibe to them.
All of this is has been a very long-winded (and cathartic) intro to the topic of one very simple sewing trick that might be the solution to a problem vexing the sewing-phobes among you- how to cut fabric straight. It's one my lanky, bespectacled (in retrospect, creepy) bachelor of a sewing teacher imparted to me, and one that has come in handy many times over the years. And does it work? You bet your culottes.

How to Cut Fabric Perfectly Straight

 Step 1: Cut a slit in the fabric about where you would like to cut the straight line. Pick at one edge of the fabric until a string comes loose that you can grab on to.
 Step 2. Yank on the string, causing a pull that runs the width of the fabric. Pull the thread until it breaks, or comes completely free of the fabric. The run you have made in the fabric will leave a perfect line in the weave of the fabric.
Step 3: Using your sharpest scissors, cut following along the line that the string left. Voila- a perfectly straight cut! Now, whatever your sewing-related traumas may be, wonky edges won't be among them.

top photo credit:


Christine said...

What a great tip! I am forever cutting fabric crookedly. The only way I can get it straight is if I am using quilting maps, rules and a rotary cutter...and that doesn't really work when you need to cut large pieces of fabric!
P.S. I also took sewing class when I was about 11...our final product was a reversible wrap skirt. :)

melinda said...

So funny - I was forced to sew and model a patriotic jumper at our fair! Now I love sewing, just wish I had more time for it.

Mary said...

Great tip! I have been sewing for close to 40 years and this never occured to me.

My grandma taught me to sew when I spent spring break at her house the year I was 10 and I made simple smock tops for our summer vacation in Hawaii that summer. :) Over the years I have found that knowing how to follow a pattern is useful for doing wood work, too.

Anonymous said...

I want to applaud you since I have done all of the things and more for 54 years, raised 5 children and not once did my daughters get a dress for church that wasn't sewn by Mom, the three boys had pants and many knit shirts made as well. Cooking to this day is something that is done for dinner nightly. Keep it up - your family will be healthier in the long run.

Farmer's City Wife said...

Amazing tip, and I love the fact you use the word "wonky" :)

Beth said...

I <3 your blog! I am not a housewife, but I would be if we could afford it. Thank you for the tip, I always have a problem with cutting straight lines. I don't sew, but I want a sewing machine so bad, it's on my wishlist. I do however knit, which no one can believe, and I adore it.

Rachel said...

What a great tip!! It seems so logical, yet it never has occured to me. Cutting fabric straight is a huge problem for me, mostly because it's hard to find a big place to lay out my fabric flat for measuring. I will definitely be using this tip!

My mother was never really a seamstress, so I've taught myself how to sew through a couple classes, online tutorials, and just simple trial and error. I love how stress relieving it can be for me! And like you, I love being able to make things for our home.

Tim and Marcia Allen said...

Wow, didn't know cutting a straight line could be so easy. A tip I will always remember. Love your sewing machine pic, I actually learned how to sew on that same model! My mom still has it.