(In which DJ puts on her Martha Stewart hat)
Here's a chance for everyone to chime in with those sanity saving tips that you wish you'd known when you'd started costuming! Plus there are a number of items that have been incorporated into our processes that probably weren't ever intended for what we use them for. So 'fess up your secrets! Even if you think it's something everyone knows, you can bet that you'll enlighten at least one reader!
It can be anything from sewing, to crafting to organization to resources to...well, you know how this hobby takes us all over the map! (Psst... Links are always helpful)
I'll work to keep this main post updated with everyone's suggestions!
* This magnetic pin catcher on my sewing machine is fantastic when I've left my pin cushion on the work table.
* Having trouble with delicate fabrics or shiny, sticky things like PVC catching on the pressure foot or feed dogs and getting caught up? Sandwich your fabric between two sheet of paper (bond, printer paper, tissue paper, etc) and pin that to the fabric as well, then sew through the paper/fabric sandwich as usual. When done, just rip the paper off using the handy perforations your needle made!
* Use fabric scraps from old projects, good deals, or given to you by friends to test out pattern pieces before you construct. This is especially useful if you happen to be using the same fabric in a different color! That way you'll know exactly how the pattern may need to be altered to fit you, and you know how the fabric will react to the pattern. I do this for things I haven't constructed before, or new techniques that I am attempting, such as my first corset, flared gloves, boot covers, etc.
* Do your best to pre-wash your fabric (and bias tape!) before you sew with it. There is often residue left over from the manufacturing process on the surface of the fabric, and any dust that would come loose in the wash will just waft into your face as you are cutting and sewing the fabric. Plus, if the fabric is going to shrink or color will bleed, this will prevent it from doing so after you have finished your project.
* Oil your machine in between each project. It will keep everything running smoothly as well as prolong the life of the machine. You can ask your local sew repair shop where to oil, or follow the general rule that wherever metal rubs on metal, it should be oiled.
* Keep tweezers in all of your beads and sequins storage boxes...always easier to get them out of the corners!
* Nail polish remover is great for taking off heat-applied labels, and leaves no residue or "ghost" images
* Use clothespins with different colors on them to help sort your different projects if they're in bags
* Magazine holders make for great pattern storage. Go budget with cardboard versions or upscale and dressy with plastic a or wood!
* Alternate suggestion: I don't like storing patterns back in their envelope. I take a gallon freezer bag and stick everything in there. Make sure you keep the pattern envelope towards the front, so you know exactly which pattern it is at a glance!
* Alternate suggestion: Can't get your pattern back in the envelope? Hit the dollar store a buy some larger manilla mailing envelopes. In order to keep track of your patterns after transferring them to larger mailing envelopes, you simply glue the original pattern envelope to the front of the new manilla envelope. (sort of like the freezer bag method, but you can keep your envelopes of patterns more uniform and easy to file).
* Use a low-heat iron to smooth out your pattern pieces. It will get rid of any creases or odd wrinkles from being compressed the pattern envelope. Then you can re-fold however you prefer to store them!
* Consider picking up one of these for your fabric storage. When you roll or fold your fabric for storage, create a tag (printer paper works fine, oaktag is better) writing the location you bought the fabric from, how much there is (or if it's been used/is scrap-like), washing instructions, and whether or not you have pre-washed the fabric. Then you don't have to wonder later on!
* Hang your fabric instead of folding/rolling it. I swung by a local retail outlet which was going out of business and purchased some rolling racks for a great price. Then I bought some cheap pant hangers (the kind where you drape the pants not clip them). I can hang up to 3 yards of fabric, and I know at a glance what materials I have in stock
* Sometimes, original packaging for one thing can be very useful to store something else! When I purchase pins, I put them all into my pin cushion. But what to do with the plastic container they come in? Well, I can store all of this very neatly inside!
* Keep an eye on eBay and look for a roll of dry cleaner bags - I found a roll of 500 misprinted hotel bags for about 30 bucks, and they have been a fantastic for everything from clothing storage to drop cloths.
* Betzina's Fabric Savvy - The right needle makes such a difference!
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