Just taking liberties with my sewing machine this week to do some minor alterations. I do not claim to be an expert in any sense but I can show you a couple of ways to fix things based on my good and bad experiences.
1. Unraveling sweater at cuff
What I’ve done wrong before: Uhhh wear it despite the fact that it’s falling apart – news flash … it just keeps unraveling.
How I fixed it: This is not a perfect fix – it’s a quick 15-minute fix and I think 99% of people would not notice you fixed it yourself. To fix an unraveling sweater at the cuff simply turn the sleeve inside out and pin to match the rest of the sleeve. Make sure the two pieces at the end of the sleeve match up – otherwise it will look janky (sorry I don’t know the technical term).
Get a stretch or other ball point needle – otherwise you risk cutting through the fibers rather than separating them. Match thread (a trick is to use light grey with most light fabrics), placement (most likely near the edge) and stitch length (typically shorter than default setting) with the existing stitches on the sweater. Notice my needle is moved all the way to the right – this allows me to use the right side of the presser foot as an edge guide. Also my presser foot is clear so you can easily see where your stitches are going.
Start at point of unraveling, back-stitch up the sleeve a couple of stitches, regular stitch to the end of the cuff, knot or back-stitch to finish. I have a Janome that does a knot at the end and I love it. [Insert rant on why “vintage sewing machines” are not necessarily all that]. Voila. No more angry cuff.
2.Tips on hemming up a skirt
What I’ve done wrong before: Cut the bottom of the skirt before sewing. My first instinct to hem a skirt is to cut off all that excess that I don’t want. Well I learned that if you do this it is very hard and time consuming to get the bottom of the skirt to be even all the way around – particularly if you are anal retentive like me.
How I fixed it: My mom sent me one of her cute vintage dresses and it fit perfectly it was just too long. I wanted to take off 5-6 inches. The absolute easiest thing to do is to use the existing hem as a guide.
Turn dress/skirt inside out. Do not cut anything. Pin edge of skirt up to the desired length – use the same length all the way around – in my case 5 inches. Iron the bottom of the skirt so there is a new bottom edge to work with. Remeasure and adjust as needed to make sure it is 5 inches pinned up all the way around. The ironing flattens the fabric and may change some of the measurements.
Baste – in other words – do a long fake stitch about an inch from the bottom so you can see what the new length will look like. If it looks good proceed to cutting and hemming – a rolled hem is nice. Now at least you have a good straight line to work with. Voila. Happy hem.