[mad as hell] SEWING!! GRR!!! [/mad as hell] [face_stabbing self in head]

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by Darth_Bandalak, Aug 19, 2006.

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  1. Darth_Bandalak Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2006
    star 1
    I've got a list of some very basic things for my Darth Bandalak costume, but when I started to look, something hit me! ( [face_beatup] ) Sewing! I've got a bit of knowledge, but 1. I've never used a sewing machine. 2. I don't know any basic stitch patterns (or whatever they're called). 3. I really don't want to mess up right when I start sewing.

    So, a few questions:

    1. Would it be best for me to use a sewing machine? Which would (hand/machine) be more accurate?

    2. Are there any website that can show me basic princaples of sewing? (I basically just picked it up myself) Or is there anyone in my general area that can show me some basic things?
  2. HardwareStoreJedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2006
    star 2
    Here's a few links, one that I'm involved with and two that are just plain good:

    http://www.squidoo.com/sewing/
    This is the Sewing Lens on Squidoo. A page full of really good links.

    http://www.sew-whats-new.com/sewinglessons/
    Sewing lessons for the absolute beginner at Sew What's New. Unfortunately the lessons are very geared towards women but if you are a guy you could do these lessons for a girlfriend or a female relative.
    http://www.squidoo.com/cpl/
    This is my costuming and propmaking lens on Squidoo. No projects up here yet, but some good links.

    Hopefully these will help.

    It's kind of frustrating starting out, but if you sew long enough you'll get to the point where it's second nature. I'm not entirely at that point but I can see it from here.

    Take care,
    Michelle aka HSJ
  3. Arsinoe Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 24, 1999
    star 3
    Definately learn to use a sewing machine. Hand sewing everything would be a huge pain in the fingers and take you an extremely long time.

    A lot of community centres put on sewing and craft courses during the winter months. Maybe there's one close by to you that you could take advantage of.

    Also check out your local library, they might have a few books on basic sewing. Some titles to look for are "Complete Guide to Sewing" by Reader's Digest or "Sewing for Dummies". I'm sure there are others, but either of these will get you started in the right direction.
  4. bassclarinets Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 18, 2006
    Also - befrend the cheaper fabrics ($1/yd) and play around with new patterns before you use your real (more expensive fabrics).. if you screw up on cheap fabric, oh well.. if you screw up on $17/yd fabric, you will be angry at your sewing machine and yourself.. :)

    take it slow and relax. You can figure it out (and the people at the fabric stores tend to be helpful too..)

    Jen
  5. greencat336 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2001
    star 5
    This is something even experienced costumers do, make a 'trial run' of a costume with very cheap fabric (the color doesn't matter, since its a practice run) before using the expensive stuff. Get the fit correct with the cheap stuff, make any adjustments that are needed, then carefully take the finished 'trial run' apart and use those pieces as patterns on the expensive fabric.

    Definitely make friends with the folks at your local fabric store, they can be very helpful about fabrics and techniques. It might be helpful to take a basic class before starting out (as was said before, these are often offered at local fabric/craft stores and at community colleges)
  6. HardwareStoreJedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2006
    star 2
    I haven't looked at "Sewing for Dummies." However, the Reader's Digest book is absolutely AWESOME. Don't just take it out from the library, get your own. You can always find it on eBay. Look for a version from the '70s or '80s as it has a lot of good basic projects in it that aren't in later versions.

    Also, here's something I didn't mention last time: get the most basic, plain mechanical sewing machine you can. You don't need something that seems like a prop from the Jetsons (and would likely be in Rosie the Robot's sewing room) to sew on. "School" models are good. The thing is that if you learn on a basic machine you will be just fine sewing with one of those expensive machines that can embroider and do all kinds of stuff for you. If you learn on a "do it all for you" machine you will be stumped if you are in front of one of these basic machines.

    The machine I got from Sears (look for the Ultra Mini) is not only the most dog-standard basic machine you can find, it's also 3/4 scale. Which makes it easy to transport places. My costuming maven acquaintance Colleen Crosby still can't believe the thing is a "real" sewing machine and was amazed to see that I was able to finish my Jedi robes on it. It's available at Sears and is made for Kenmore by Japanese manufacturer Janome. The box mine came in had the words "not a toy" printed on it. And it isn't.

    However, when you get it, find a sewing machine shop you trust and have them check it over and adjust it. Mine had an issue with the bobbin assembly which meant it would not stay adjusted after doing an adjustment to it. It turned out the bobbin assembly was not screwed in right and had worked its way loose. Now it's all tight and ship-shape.

    With regard to the "school" machines sometimes local school districts sell their old machines from time to time. They will have been "beaten on" but those kind of machines are designed to take abuse. Take it to your friendly sewing machine shop and have them give it a good "tune up" and they should be good to go.

    Again, hope this helps...
  7. Darth_Bandalak Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2006
    star 1
    Sorry I didn't reply earlier, my internet has been down for three days. :mad:
    Yeah, I cut up a whole bunch of my old shirts and stuff from my sisters' rooms [face_devil] and I made a VERY odd-looking, short robe with a small hood (I couldn't find any shirts that were wide enough, that didn't have designs on them to make a big one) and my fingers are all crampy and stiff.

    I haven't checked the links yet, but I will in a few seconds.

    Also, I'm not sure if my dad owns a sewing machine (He used to but recently had a yard sale. But I'm pretty sure he didn't sell it). So, how much would a decent one cost? Just in case.
  8. JainaMSolo Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 19, 2001
    star 3
    Got a Sears near you? Their Kenmore line is pretty decent these days, and you can get a basic model for under $100. Check it out.
  9. The_Real_Darth_Mule Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2005
    Old kenmores rock! The kind that were made out of metal. But these new ones are junk. After I dropped and broke the feed arm off my all metal, early 70s model. I settled for one of the $100.00 specials at sears. Thing worked okay for a year or so (which is all you need I'm sure), then it died. The Ultra-Mini HSJ mentioned might be a good idea as it is made by Janome which turns out a fairly decent product. There's also the thrift store route. Often these require an immediate trip to the shop for tune-up and maintenence, but you can get some good deals on good old sewing machines. My local bible-thumper thrift store has a crapload of old singer machines for $35 bucks each.

    Personally I went to bernina and spent $600.00 on their base-model all mechanical. But I sew for a living, so I needed it. Nothing beats a Bernina.

    Almost forgot. Since I teach sewing to college freshmen in theatre, I may be of help here as well. Sewing for dummies actually has a pretty good amount of information. Also check out The Cotume Technians Handbook by Rosemary Ingham and Liz Covey. Lot of good general info in there once you get past the opening chapters on costume shop setup and safety. One of the best learning tools is a 3 hour shirt (type of men's button-down shirt pattern). Pick up one of these patterns and hit the dollar a yd fabric. They use several techniques and you can follow the instructions in putting it together.

    Chris
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