ColossalCon 2011 Live Blog – Sewing 101
Sewing 101 I believe is run by Rachel, the same girl who did the wig panel yesterday. This is going on at the same time as Cosplay 101 but I decided to go to this one since there have been a few other general cosplay introduction panels I’ve gone to and I haven’t really been to many dedicated to just sewing. The panel is starting a bit late since they’re waiting on a microphone. It seems like she got roped into doing this panel too and wasn’t originally supposed to do this panel. I guess the original panelist for both dropped out last minute. I guess that means it’s potentially going to be some sort of Q&A.
The first thing she mentions is that if you know how to drive a car you know how to operate a sewing machine.
She starts out by giving a brief rundown on how to hand sew which I’m interested in since I had to hand sew the last part of my Roy Mustang cosplay and I wasn’t totally happy with how it turned out. The proper way to thread a needle is to knot it at the end not at the base (not sure why anyone would ever to think of knotting it at the eye of the needle). She goes over a few stitched like the straight and top stitch. You should hem everything so you don’t have loose threads.
Machine sewing is a lot easier and you should start out by reading the instruction book and knowing where everything is. If you don’t use the correct tension you can have a lot of trouble.
An audience member comes up and draws on the whiteboard a diagram of how to tie a knot which involves holding the thread in a loop and rolling the thread with your thumb.
She then asks if anyone knows what a serger is. Sergers are commonly seen on T-shirts to prevent fraying of the fabric edge. There’s a blade that also cuts off the excess fabric. Roll hemming is an alternative and can be a difficult technique.
An audience member asks about making a garment that come out at the bottom. It sounds like she needs to use some wire support which the panelist suggested too. She also suggested gardening hose as an alternative to hoop steel.
Another question elicits a discussion about bias tape. I get to point to my Roy cosplay which has plenty of bias tape all over.
The next question is about how to prevent a sewing machine from jamming. It was most likely a result of incorrect tension. She was using felt which requires higher tension. Tension goes up for a lot of thicker fabrics and should be lower for easier to sew fabrics.
Next question – how do you do a cross stitch (hand sewing). I think it should be fairly easy to find how to do this online or from a book.
The next question is about altering store bought patterns. The panelist says that you can make a cheap mockup using cheap bedsheets you buy from the thrift store. Also measure twice cut once.
What is the one fabric you would never use? Costume satin. The panelist says that vinyl is great and easy to work with but you have to be careful since puncture marks stay. Her favorite fabric to work with is fleece since you don’t have to hem or serge it and it’s really easy to sew it.
For sewing stretchy fabric you can use stretchy thread. You also need to be careful of whether it’s 2 way or 4 way stretch fabric. You may also need to get specialty needles to make sure the sewing machine doesn’t ruin the fabric. You should also use a zigzag stitch.
She also had a few suggestions for staying safe with using a sewing machine such as making sure everything is secure.
You should also backstitch when using a sewing machine because it ties knots at the end.
There’s a lot of trial and error when sewing and you should make mockups if you don’t know what you’re doing. I probably should have done this but I didn’t. I guess I got lucky that it still turned out ok.
Spend money on a good sewing machine if you’re going to be in the hobby for a while. Get a Brother or a Singer since they’re not too expensive and work well. The Viking ones are really expensive.
You can do embroidery using a zigzag stitch that’s really wide and turn the machine power up and feed it really slowly.
One suggestion for the con staff in the future would be to have all the panels behind closed doors since this was held in the lounge and it was sometimes distracting to hear a lot of noise coming from outside.