I’m back to school, not just any school but it is as it is…. One day every week, I am back in the school benches. A couple of weeks ago, I started my new adventure to become a master tailor for menswear at the Master Tailor Institute Amsterdam, and I am loving every second of it! The reason I am doing this? I want to become the best menswear tailor that I can be, and the Master Tailor Institute is the best place to learn that (in the Netherlands). So for the next 5 years, I will spend every Friday in Amsterdam, in the sewing ateliers of the Master Tailor Institute. Not bad at all….
Back to the basics
But wanting to become a master tailor also means … back to the basics! Menswear is all about accuracy and neat work. Especially if you want to to learn how to make bridal suites, tuxedos or historical garments. One thing I had to master was the industrial sewing machines that can stitch 5000 stitches a minute. And that’s really fast as my Bernina 450 can only stitch 1300 stitches a minute. Fortunately it is also possible to do some slow stitching on these machines, but it takes some getting used to. But a sudden twitch of my feet on the pedal results in a seam that is sewn in a blink of a second and that is a lot longer and wonkier that intended….
Basic stitching exercises
One way to get accustomed to a new sewing machine, no matter its speed, is to do some basic sewing exercises with it. Don’t just start sewing garments, but take some time to explore how well (or not so well) adjusted your machine actually is. It doesn’t have to be difficult but I warn you, it might be hard. But you will see that the quality of all your sewn garments will improve from something simple as basic sewing exercises. And even if your sewing machine isn’t that new any more, it is a fun exercise to test your sewing skills.
A little test: sew perfectly straight lines
I found out that maybe, just maybe, my stitching wasn’t as straight as I wanted it to be. I thought it was straight, it looked like it was really straight, but guess what: when testing it, it just wasn’t straight enough for a master tailor to be! Back to practicing straight sewing lines….
Do you want to test how straight you can sew? Here is how to test your straight stitching on any kind of fabric. Muslim is great, but a cotton is also a great choice for this little test. Here is how you do it:
- Sew a straight line aprox. 25 cm (10 inch) long;
- Sew another straight line, 1,5 cm (5/8 inch) apart from the first one, also 25 cm (10 inch) long
- Get out your ruler and ask yourself:
- Is the first line really, really straight? Just get your ruler and lay it next to your stitch line. Judge the straightness of your stitch line and be honest to yourself. No stitches just a little bit of?
- Check the second line for straightness like the first one.
- Get your ruler out again and measure if your first line is the perfect 1,5 cm (5/8 inch) apart from the other line.
If your lines aren’t as straight as you want them to be, it might be that you are adjusting the fabric too much while sewing. Just try it again and this time, let the machine do all the work and use your hands as guides to the fabric, not as steering wheels.
And what was the result of your straight sewing test? All straight lines or maybe just a bit wonkier than you expected? Were you surprised of the result or did you already know you’re a perfect straight stitcher? I’d love to know if you passed this test with flying colors, so please leave a comment below.