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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tips and Tricks: Chain Stitching

I love to sew.  In fact if I had more time in my day and more money to blow I would be sewing 24/7! Who is with me?!  Well today we are going to learn a clever tip that will save us a little time and money on our sewing projects. Every little bit counts! 

This trick is what I call Chain Stitching. It's not related to crochet chain stitching but I did learn this trick while sewing a quilt long ago.  Chain stitching works great for me when sewing clothes too and I'm excited to show you the little project I did this morning to demonstrate. 

My darling Nicole loves wearing her Coco's Pettiskirt to dance class. I made her this fabulous bow/headband to go with it and she likes it a lot. The only problem is that over time she has decided that the bow is too heavy and not very dance-friendly, at least for a 6-year-old.  Plus the other little girls are too tempted by its cuteness. "Mom, they all want to look at it and won't stop touching me."  (She is definitely my daughter. My mom is going to laugh when she reads this.)

So the other day when I was making some Emmett's bow ties for my boys, Nicole saw how cute the bows were and informed me that she would love to have some for her hair. Lucky for her, they are the perfect small project to demonstrate chain stitching today!  Here we go: 

The idea of chain stitching is that we don't have to clip our threads after each piece we sew. That may seem like an insignificant detail but the results add up fast!

 Before we start chain stitching, we are going to make a pile of the pieces that we need to sew.  In the picture above, I made a little stack that will end up as five separate bow ties. I have pinned the long edge of each one to itself, as called for in the pattern. (We can use chain stitching for sewing multiple pieces together as well but that is not necessary for this project.)

To start, we take our first piece and begin stitching down the pinned edge as we always do. 

When we get close to the end of our first piece, we will have our second piece ready to feed into the machine.  Without lifting the presser foot we will slide the edge of the second piece right up next to the first piece.  It is okay to slow down or stop stitching to do this, and it's also okay if one or two stitches end up between the pieces. Just be sure that we do not lift the foot!  Continue sewing down the second piece. 

When we get close to the end of the second piece, we will then put the edge of the third piece right next to it, again without lifting the presser foot. 

 Repeat with the fourth piece. 

And the fifth! 

Continue with however many pieces you have ready to sew.  (I once did a baby rag quilt with 90 squares connected!)  When you get to the end of your last piece, you can finally lift the foot and clip the threads. 

When we are done our pieces will look like this! Now we can see why it's called chain stitching.  

This is the fun part! Now we can go back and clip the one or two threads between each piece. Or if we're in a hurry, it is simple enough of a task that we can get our minions to help clip the threads while we move onto something else. 

Now they look just like they always do. Nobody has to know that we cheated a little to save time and thread.

Continuing with my bow project, I did chain stitching on the remaining steps as well. This time I even remembered to connect my little pieces on the chain. 

A few more steps and there we have it!  Aren't they cute?  It would have taken me about 20 minutes to make one bow (not bad) but by doing it this way I was able to make all five in just half an hour! 

Now my daughter has a super cute bow to match her skirt, plus four more to match her other outfits! This one should be lighter and more suited for a dance ponytail.  I can't guarantee the little girls won't still be tempted by it, but there's really no way around that. 

So that's how we do chain stitching! What a time saver for all of us, especially when we are making multiple outfits or repeating steps with several pieces. I encourage you to try it out on your next project and let us know how it goes.

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 

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