Perfect Patterns Style 39
Heirloom Sewing by Machine
~Lesson 1~
Practice! Practice! Practice!
With photos and instructions by
Marsha Olson
(printout is 6 pages)

For all of you, whether you are trying heirloom sewing for the first time or have done this before, this may be the most important lesson of the entire class.
Print out this lesson and start a notebook or file.
You will be taping samples into the notebook and writing down your sewing machine settings for each exercise next to your sample.
The purpose of your samples is to test your materials and find the perfect settings for you and this project. The combination of your laces, fabrics, thread, and sewing machine are all different from what I or anyone else is using. I can't tell you what setting to use, you have to test and make your samples in order to decide which setting works best for your materials.

This 'sample' exercise is not something made up just for the novice 'heirloomer', it is something we all do every time we start a new heirloom project with different laces or fabrics than we have ever used before. You will find this to be a useful lesson to use for any sewing project whether it be heirloom sewing or not.

As you get each sample finished, tape a piece of it into your notebook by the instructions for making it. Take note of the stitch settings you used to create your sample and write them down next to the sample. When you get to that portion of the project where you need to use each method, you will have the information to set up your machine without having to go through a tedious trial and error period that can cause loss of interest in the project.

Our first sample is called
"Sewing Flat Lace to Flat Lace"
Using a hot steam iron, spray starch
2 or 3 pieces of flat inset lace
until they feel almost stiff.
(Inset Lace has both edges straight)
Set your machine to the largest zigzag
stitch and work down from there until
you find the width and length that you
think looks best for your lace.
Do not overlap the edges of the lace,
just butt them together. Try it on one
side with an alternate color thread
just for practice.

"Finishing Fabric Edges"
There are several ways to finish the raw edge of the fabric, and you will want to make a small sample of each one in order to determine which method you prefer to use for the project.
Rolled Hem by Hand - Machine Zigzag - Rolled Hem by Serger
Any of these methods will work to get your fabric ready to use.
Before you start, you will need to prepare your fabric.

Cut a small piece of your voile since that is the fabric we will be working with first. A 4"x6" piece will work nicely.
Find the straight of the grain by pulling a single thread out of the length of the fabric all the way across. It is important to find the grain line of the fabric in order to roll the edge for hand hemming.

Spray starch your fabric.
Cut the fabric precisely along the pulled thread line.

Sample 2
Rolled Hem by Hand

First check the 'roll' of your fabric by pulling across the corner on the bias to see which way the fabric naturally rolls. It will roll to the wrong side. We take advantage of that natural roll of the fabric when rolling in our hem.

Starting about 1/4" down from the edge (see arrow), secure the knotted end of the thread by taking a backstitch. With a couple of small stitches, bring your needle and thread up to the raw edge of the fabric. Using your fingers in a rolling motion to get the corner started, roll the fabric down over the body of the needle until you have enough to set your starting stitches. Continue rolling the fabric tightly as you pick up a single thread of the fabric under the roll and a thread or two on the roll every 1/8" or less across the length of the piece.

From the right side of the fabric you should only see the thread
where you have picked up each single thread of the fabric. Finish at least 2 or 3 inches to become familiar with the 'roll and stitch' rhythm. The finished hem should be very narrow, about 1/16" (2mm) when completed.

A magnifying lamp helps greatly. You might want to think about investing in one of these if this work appeals to you.

Sample 3
Machine Zigzag

(my preferred method)
Spray starch the edge of the fabric and press 1/4" to the inside.

Finish the pressed edge with a narrow zigzag.

Trim the excess off the 1/4" raw edge.

Sample 4

If you have a serger capable of making a very narrow rolled hem edge or finishing edge you can use that for finishing your fabric edge also. The surger will often give you a clean finish that can be very decorative. You may serge the cut edge or press and fold as you did with the zigzag edge and trim the excess.
Now that you have several finished edges on fabric, we can go back to practicing with sewing flat laces to these different fabric edges. Re-starch your fabric and lace each time. You may end up re-starching the same piece of fabric many times before you have finished your project because each time you handle it, it will soften up. This is normal.

Normally I would use a thread color to match the lace, but for these lessons I will use white or a contrast thread to make it easier to see in the photos.

Sample 5
Sewing Lace to Fabric

Butt the lace up to the finished edge of the fabric and zigzag straight down the center between the fabric and the lace so each zigzag stitch catches both pieces.
Sample 6 (optional)
Sewing Lace to Lace

You can also sew lace to lace in the above flat manner, or try this: as you are sewing 'push' the loose lace up to form a hump in the lace while holding the flat lace firmly. As you sew, your maching will pull the loose lace in faster than the flat side allowing the lace to 'gather' very slightly. This method works very nicely for edging the ruffle of the petticoat if you want to try it.
This is how the above method looks when finished. It takes a bit of practice, but well worth the effort and uses much less of our expensive lace than gathering would use.

End Style 39 Lesson 1

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