Sewing Clothes

Sewing is one of the oldest of crafts. Primitive man learned to sew long before he learned to write. Thousands of years ago clothing was just an animal skin slung around a wandering wilderness man to keep him warm in winter and to protect him in summer from the hot sun and perhaps from mosquito bites. But when he learned to make needles from bones and thread from grass, he was able to sew the skins together. Then his clothes fitted better and were more comfortable. As people settled down and learned to produce food more efficiently they began to have more time to do other things. They learned how to tan skins to silky softness; they learned how to weave materials. They found out how to get dyes from earth, plants and insects. Through the years fabrics became finer, designs became more elaborate, and needles became sharper. Today clothing does more than keep out the cold or the heat of the burning sun. It improves our appearance.

Not too long ago only wealthy people could afford clothes made of richly ornamented, elegant fabrics. Today machines can turn out copies of old patterns as well as fresh, new designs. everyone has a wide selection of clothing to choose from. Although machines can do wonders in making garments and home decorations, individual taste can best be expressed by handwork. With a good knowledge of sewing and embroidery, you can make your clothing and your home truly your own.

Although you may not think of needles and thread as sewing tools, that is why they really are. They are the tools you need for sewing. The needle is a thin steel shaft with a sharp point at one and at the other and an eye large enough for a thread to go through. Needle come in assorted sizes and shapes. Some are thin; some are quite thick. Some have very small eyes; others have large eyes. The number on the outside of a package of needles will tell you its size. The lower the number, the larger the eye of the needle.

Needles have been made of many materials. Fine needles of bone, ivory gold, and bronze have been found in the ruins of ancient cities. The steel needles used today were first made in Germany in the 14th century. Sewing thread is of different thicknesses to suit different materials and is numbered according to its thickness. The lower the number, the thicker the thread. For most materials #50 or #60 thread is suitable. But for sewing very thin materials, such as organdy or net, you need #100, which is a finer thread. The color of the thread should match the material as closely as possible. If you can not get an exact match, choose a color. that is darker than the fabric rather than one that is lighter.

A thimble, worn on the middle finger of the hand you sew with, is a most helpful tool. It protects the finger that is pushing the needle through the material. A metal or plastic thimble will not get sore from pushing a sharp needle, but your finger will.

Stitches of Sewing
As we know sewing is the making of stitches. A stitch is a made by a threaded needle stuck in and out of one or more pieces of fabric. There are different kinds of stitches for different kinds of work. Some stitches are long and loose because they are used just to hold material in place for a short time. Some stitches are small and close together, to make a strong piece of work that will last. Most stitches are easy to learn, and practice will make them even easier.

Running Stitch. The Running stitch the basic stitch for all sewing, is just what it sounds like. Running from right to left, the threaded needle goes into the clothes and comes up again quite close to where it went in. In again, out again, one stitch at a time. With practice you can learn to take two or three evenly spaced little stitches at one time, and soon the needle will indeed be running, pulling its thread behind, leaving a straight little path of stitches.

Basting Stitch. A basting stitch is used to hold material in place temporarily, until permanent sewing is completed. When the permanent stitches are all in place, the basting stitches are pulled out. Basting stitches are nothing more than long, loose running stitches.

Back Stitch. A back stitch is used in sewing a seem that needs to be extra strong. The back stitch starts just like a running stitch. When the needle and thread come out at the end of the running stitch, just put the needle and thread back into the same hole from which you started the running stitch. But this time bring the needle out a little ahead of where the first stitch ended. Make two or three running stitches, and then repeat the back stitch.

Hemming Stitch. Hemming is useful stitch for any work that needs a flat, neat finish. Hemming is not a running stitch; it is a one-at-a-time stitch, slanted and as small as possible. Before hemming, turn under the raw edges of the material you are going to hem. Then fold the hem to whatever size you want. Baste the folded hem to the main part of the material. Now pick up the tiniest bit of material you can, right beneath the folded edge of the hem. To get your needle through the material and the folded hem at the same time, the needle must be a little slanted. Draw the needle through, and the continue taking the tiny stitches from right to left. The smaller your stitches, the lest they will show on the right side of the material.

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