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Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Mackinaw Coat Sew-a-long - Tips and Tools

It's day 2 of the Mackinaw Coat Sew-a-long and today we're going over the best tools for the job.  I've found that having the right tools makes a real difference in the final product.  There are affiliate links in this post, but all opinions are mine.

I've been sewing since I was a tween (which was long before that was even a term, hehe) and through the years I've made do with what I had at my disposal.  It's only been in the past few years that I have started to use some of the tools recommended by professionals and I'm kind of shocked with the difference it's made in my sewing.  The Mackinaw Coat with its clean finishes is the perfect place to showcase some of my favorite sewing tools.

First up is the Tailor's Clapper (*affiliate link).  I cannot recommend a clapper enough.  This little piece of wood works some magic.  It is used to press crisp seams and folds in fabrics and if you're working with delicate fabrics it is a must.  First you press the fabric using your iron and before you accidentally scorch your fabric, you remove the iron and replace it with the tailor's clapper.  The untreated wood absorbs some of the steam and heat coming up off of the fabric and holds it without the risk of overheating.  With fabrics such as the wool coating recommended for the Mackinaw Coat there is a dramatic difference in the look of the pressed edges when using a clapper.  It makes short work of pleats and folds and though I originally purchased mine to use in jeans-making, I find I use it in almost all my projects now.  This tool I recommend above all others.  If nothing else, add it to your amazon wishlist because this is one tool you won't want to forget about.

Next is the Turn It All tool (*affiliate link).  I purchased this last year after about two years of using a plastic straw and a chopstick for turning skinny tubes.  Now the straw method worked just fine, but was flimsy and when I finally looked up the price of purchasing a tool specifically designed for the job I was surprised at how cheap it was.  I had been fiddling with and spending time replacing bent straws only to save a few dollars.  The Turn it All is a great turning tool and makes it a lot less painful to turn tubes like the belt, sash, hanging loop, and belt loops in the Mackinaw Coat.

A Tailor's Ham (*affiliate link) is something I've had on my list for awhile.  I remember ages ago when I pinned this great tutorial from No Big Dill and I had serious intentions of making my own.  Three years later I finally realized I'd never find the time to make one and it made more sense to just purchase one.  The ham shape helps get my necklines to lay flat and not droop.  I find myself using it not just during the sewing process, but when I iron our clothes as well.  The biggest difference I've noticed is how nicely my bust darts drape when I press them with the tailor's ham and there's a lot less pointy dart syndrome happening around here.

For Bean's Katy Perry NYE Mackinaw Fray Check (*affiliate link) was my best friend.  That outer fabric wanted to unravel at every single seam and even serging the edges to help secure the threads didn't seem to work.  I used a bit of fray check at all of the corner points and after clipping and it took away the stress.  I was worried that the bound buttonholes with the tiny clips and snips would have fallen apart in my hands, but with a little fray check to keep those threads in place it was a breeze.  I made sure to only use it within the seam allowances so the final coat wouldn't have any "crispy" areas around the edges.

And finally, a tool I got for Christmas this year from my mother.  To be fair, I'd had a seam gauge on my wishlist, but instead of the basic one I listed she bumped it up and got this multi-functional one. It'd be hard to go wrong with a Nancy Zieman recommended tool, but I was still surprised at how much I use the other features of this Sliding Seam Gauge (*affiliate link).  I find myself using the T-gauge most often for marking and I love that it functions as a compass easily as well.  I literally found myself using a string with a golf pencil attached last year when I needed a circle and it was ridiculous and flimsy.  As someone who designs and sews with limited time, simple tools like an ACTUAL compass on hand instead of taking 10 minutes to set up something jury-rigged make a big impact.

And that's sort of the point of this whole post.  Though it may read as one big advertisement, I really want this post to be a sharing of some of my favorite tools.  Whether you purchase through my affiliate links or go out somewhere local to buy the brand of tools you prefer, my goal is to nudge you toward using some of these to up your sewing game.  I'm not an advocate of buying every sewing tool on the market and am not one to jump at the next great thing, but this is my list of tried and true tools where for around $60 you can make a big difference in your sewing.  And if $60 is too rich for your blood, then remember that the tailor's clapper is half of that cost and in a pinch one of my testers used a piece of wood from her garage instead.  Other than trying to avoid splinters, it worked just fine and she was thrilled with the results, hehe.  So there's still nothing wrong with a bit of ingenuity and I certainly applaud it, but I know I've reached the point where spending a little money is worth saving a little time in my process and if you're there too I suggest taking the plunge.

See below for the full schedule of the Mackinaw Coat sew-a-long.  You can share your progress using the hashtag #dbcaMackSAL on Instagram and as always you can use the #designsbycallajaire and #themackinawcoat hashtags to see what everyone else is making.  Share any finished coats in the Designs by Call Ajaire facebook group as I know we'd all love the inspiration!

March 3rd - Sew the (optional) Bound Buttonholes
March 4th - Sew the Outer Coat
March 5th - Sew the Coat Together and Bag the Lining
March 6th - Final Touches and Sharing

And of course let's not forget a fun giveaway!  Enter the Rafflecopter below for the chance to win the following:

The Mackinaw Coat PDF Pattern
$25 gift certificate to the Imagine Gnats shop (*affiliate link) 
$50 gift certificate to purchase relevant sewing tools (*affiliate link) 

The giveaway is only open until midnight EST on the 26th, so don't delay!  This will give the winner time to gather their supplies before the end of the sew-a-long.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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