Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Becky-Home-ecky, Anyone?

I have been sewing for a long time, over 20 years (!) actually. In that time, I believe I've become more skilled in my sewing even though I might take a few short cuts, now and then. While I know I'm more than capable of doing couture techniques I really don't have a desire to do them.

However, there are certain rules in my sewing that I will always abide by. Reading and following the instructions of my patterns and sewing manuals was how I taught myself (with guidance from my mother). I found that not just the construction steps were important but also the other information on your instruction sheet before you reached the layouts. Over the years, I found a few things that when not adhered to alter the quality of your sewing drastically, or as I call it...

Best ways to make a garment look "becky-home-ecky"*:

  • Visible hems - You should not be able to see where your hem is from the visible side. Use a blind hem either by machine or by hand. If by hand, do not pull on the thread and keep it loose. Also be careful that when you press the hem you use the steam instead of placing the iron directly on the fabric.

  • Puckered seams or hems - This means the tension was either too tight or the seam allowances were never probably ironed either during the construction or at the end.

  • Puffy Darts - A problem due to incorrect finishing of a dart, was your dart pressed open and laid flat at the point? The best tip is to not back stitch at the point but to just tie the ends in a knot.

  • Non-crisp pleats - Were you diligently pressing those pleats into place as you constructed them. Remember if needed, to use a press cloth if you're worried about fabric shine or scorching.

  • Fly-away facings - Did you understitch the facing? If so, have you tacked the facing to the interior shoulder seams, center front, and center back seam allowances?

  • Misaligned bodice and skirt side seams - Make sure that these match long before wondering if your patterned fabric matches. Loads of retail garments go out without correct pattern matching across seams, even high end pieces. If needed, attach bodice and skirt pieces before attaching them to the corresponding back pieces.

  • Wonky or too-small buttonholes - Practice, practice, practice on a suitable piece of scrap fabric before working on the final garment.

  • Strain marks across bust, stomach, or thighs - Always allow for style ease when you sew up a project. You may like it tighter but straining marks (across chest, stomach, hips) can ruin a perfectly sewn garment. It just looks like you suddenly gained weight before you could buy new clothes that fight you correctly. Believe me, I know.

  • Can you think of any others?

    *You know where this phrase comes from, right?


    Shiny Green Penny said...

    Zig zag hems on knits - it's really gotta be double stitching lines (aka twin needle or coverstitch).

    lsaspacey said...

    Right, but you can still sew the seams with a zigzag stitch.

    Lynne Williams said...

    Love the term "Becky home-ecky"

    The wrong size buttons.

    Curves on pockets and collars that are not a smooth curve but a series of points around a curve.

    Bubbled interfacing.

    Audrey said...

    Great list, they are certainly the things that bug me sometimes when I view the online pictures posted by proud, but inexperianced sewers.

    etoilee8 said...

    I fear everything I make looks Becky-Home-ecky. It's my trademark :D

    melissa said...

    Good points! But seriously, the phrase "Becky Home ecky" has been around for YEARS. Way before Suede on Project Runway, I promise you!

    jen said...

    i always press my hems. i know i shouldn't but i do anyway. at least i try to avoid pressing over the edge of the turned up part (to avoid creating a dent on the front).

    Squeaky Peanut said...

    Just reading this post makes me itch. All that fiddly-ness is why I can't make myself sew!

    pixidance said...

    Why are you not supposed to press a hem?

    lsaspacey said...

    You don't want the inside folded fabric to show on the outside like a dent. The outside of the skirt should be smooth, therefore, it's an invisible hem.