Monday, January 4, 2010

A favorite sewing tool

And it is not expensive. You don't need to go to a specialty sewing store or scour the internet for a source. Available at your local grocery store. And shoot, you can buy 100 of them for under a dollar! You can't beat that for a deal. Now I know there are special "thangs" that many use, or trolley needles (I am just flat dangerous with that thing.) but these cheap skewers work wonders and at less than a penny a piece I don't seem to lose them with the frequency of those "thangs" and if I do I just grab another. If it is too long, I just break off a hunk. Now you can't get much more specialized and technical than that.

These look like extra fancy ones. The ones I buy at the grocery don't look near this smooth or polished. What do I use a bamboo skewer for? I am beginning to wonder what I don't use them for. Here you see it in action for piping a cuff or collar, I NEVER sew a French seam that I don't use one. It helps me get those 1/8" French seams. I use it to help guide gathered fabric under the presser to keep from getting those awful fold overs when stitching gathered fabric to straight fabric. You know what I mean. It is where there are folds in your gathers or worse yet, it actually peeks out from the seam on the right side. I hate that! I use it to help ease bias around a curve such as a bib or around the lower curve of this little jacket. 
But I knew it was my friend today when I was sewing the first step of a French seam. Imagine my puzzlement when I have stitched the first step on the left side of the gown and am ready to stitch the first step on the right side of the gown. You know you cut both fronts the same size because you cut them at the same time, but for some reason when you go to stitch the second side seam your front is an inch longer than the back. Don't you just hate that? How did that happen? I obviously must have been pulling on something to stretch it I suppose. Or gremlins did while I was eating lunch. Whatever.

I didn't want to puuuuuulllllll and stretch the back to fit because then when you go to press it, you can always tell. It looks like a seam with a bad case of drunk driving. So I decided to try and ease the front to fit the back. (I tried really hard to do this without pictures but couldn't help myself. Excuse the yellow cast to them, it is the yukky lighting in my sewing room at night.)

Above is an example of what I mean about your two pieces not being the same length. These are literally scraps I pulled out of the trash can.

First place the longer piece on top and use the skewer to "crowd the needle" with the fabric in front of the presser foot. You just gently push as you stitch. I am not tucking or pleating the fabric, just pushing it.

This is a closer view of the same action. I do this every few stitches all the way down the seam. Just picking up my skewer and pushing the next little bit of fabric toward the presser foot.

When I got the the end of the seam this was the difference in length that was left. This is negligible as far as I am concerned. Also in such a short piece I didn't have as much territory to cover to ease the longer fabric in. On the baby gown I was working on, I had almost the entire length of 17" to ease with. Here my scraps were only about 5" long.

See that tiny pucker I have circled? Dontworryaboutit!! It will be gone momentarily.

Nice and smooth once it is pressed.

So go to the grocery store and buy yourself an expensive sewing tool. They can be found in the aisle with the foil pans and overpriced measuring spoons.


  1. Thank you so much! I have some of those skewers in my kitchen drawer right now. I didn't know they could solve all these pesky problems.

    I can't wait to try our technique, when I have some fabric to ease in.

  2. Skewer love is in the air! I was just using one a few days ago for sewing, and thinking how helpful and handy they are. Occasionally, I even use them in the kitchen for baking!

  3. Karin, you will be surprised how often that innocent "stick" can be of help when you are at your machine.

    Jan, "Skewer love," Love it! I use them in the kitchen sometimes too. Rarely, but sometimes.

  4. You are so smart! thanks for such a great idea!

  5. I have these in my sewing room, too! I love them. My little seam gauge/ruler is my favorite tool. I have one in each embroidery tote, on the cutting table and one next to the sewing machine. I also have that many seam rippers which I seem to need too often!

  6. Okay I read it all... and my only question is this.. what is a O foot? Do I need one? Why do you use it?

    Back to relaxing before a night of tossing and turning before back to packing...

  7. Julia, thanks. No I am not that much smarter than the average bear, I just sew a LOT!

    Karen you sound like me. I buy my favorite blue wash out marker and those clear 6" rulers 4 at a time. I never have one where I need it.

    Thank you Bunny. I aim to please.

    Robin honey, it is a #zero foot. You have one, it came with your machine.


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