Resources & Tips
Below you will find some (hopefully!) helpful information to improve your sewing skills and knowledge. This page will be slowing expanding as we get suggestions from you for what you would like to see here! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions.
BIAS BESPOKE HYMO CANVAS COMPARISON CHART
Bias Bespoke's hymo canvases in order of weight, from heaviest to lightest. It's generally wise to choose a canvas whose weight is about the same as the weight of your fabric. (For more thoughts on matching hymo to garment fabric, see the Tailoring section in our Sewing FAQs page.)
Cleo (Super Premium, Wide Goods)
Torino (Super Premium Linen Wool, Wide Goods)
MEDIUM HEAVY WEIGHT
Savile (Super Premium)
Remo (Super Premium)
Giove (Super Premium)
Delfino (Premium, Wide Goods)
Panna (Premium, Light-Colored, Wide Goods)
TC-200 (Wide Goods)
Alda (Premium Linen)
MEDIUM LIGHT WEIGHT
Stella (Premium, Wide Goods)
Rosalba (Premium, Wide Goods)
Cera (Premium, Light-Colored, Wide Goods)
TC-212 (Wide Goods)
Valentin (Premium, Wide Goods)
Margherite (Premium, Light-Colored)
Anselmo (Premium Linen)
INSTRUCTIONS FOR SET-IN TROUSER HOOKS
It's easy to put set-in hooks into fabric with just a pair of pliers. Set-in hooks are best used where there is more than one layer of fabric, like in a waistband, so that the "wrong" side of the hooks always lives between layers of fabric.
1. Mark your fabric where you want the prongs of the hook and bar to push through the fabric.
2. Hold the top overlap of your fabric and push the 4 prongs of the hook from the innermost layer of fabric to the center of the fabric layers so that the prongs end up between the layers of fabric. (If there are two layers, push the prongs through one of them.)
3. Place the square silver backing piece between the layers of fabric and just inside the prongs. Using a small pair of pliers, wrap the prongs around the metal so that the hook is held in place not just by fabric, but also by metal.
4. Hold the underlap of your fabric and push the 2 prongs of the bar side from the outer layer of fabric through to the center.
5. Place the narrow backing piece between the layers of fabric so that the prongs insert through the holes.Using a small pair of pliers, wrap the prongs around the metal so that the hook is held in place not just by fabric, but also by metal.
If you don't get the placement just right the first time, unfold the prongs and set again!
INSTRUCTIONS FOR INVISIBLE SEPARATING ZIPPERS
We sell invisible separating zippers in a number of lengths, such as here. They're a little finicky to set in, so here are instructions.
1. Completely separate the zipper so that you have two unconnected parts. Sew the side without the slider and box, staying about 1mm width away from the teeth, especially near the bottom. (If you're too close to the teeth at the bottom, it will be very hard to open the zipper.)
2. On the other side of the zipper, move the slider and box upward to around the middle of the zipper. Sew about half of the zipper, and then lift the sewing foot up and move the slider and box back down into the part of the zipper already sewn. Continue stitching all the way to the end.
3. Put the pin into the slider and box and join the zipper and check your work. It is done!
ABOUT FABRICS: FIBER, CONSTRUCTION, and FINISHING
For people new-ish to working with fabrics, the world of fabrics can be confusing. One of the most common points of confusion is the difference between what the fabric is made of (the fiber content), how it is constructed (is it woven, knit, or something else?), and what is the finish (is it a satin finish, a velvet, etc.). The fiber content is probably the least-noticed among people new to the world of fabrics, but it can sometimes make the difference between a garment that's enjoyable to wear vs. one that you can't wait to take off. Let me break this down.
FIBER CONTENT What is your fabric made of? Some common fibers (a.k.a. thread or yarn) are polyester, cotton, silk, rayon, acetate, nylon, cupro viscose, linen, wool. Some of these are natural, some synthetic (and some artificial - but that's getting too technical for now!). Cotton, silk, wool, and linen are natural fibers taken from plants and animals. Polyester, rayon, acetate, cupro and viscose are created in laboratories by humans.
In many cases, but not all, natural fibers have better "breathability" - meaning that they allow air to flow through the fibers better, instead of trapping it close to your skin. This is particularly important in suit-making -- which we know well! -- since the difference between a jacket or coat that keeps you comfortable and lets sweat out and one that doesn't can make a HUGE but often unconscious difference in how much you want to wear that garment! As we note on the Sewing Frequently Asked Questions page, the common fibers used in jacket linings that have the best breathability are one synthetic (artificial) fiber called cupro bemberg (which is engineered in a labortory from natural cellulose fibers derived from cotton) and silk, which is natural fiber from silkworms. Silk is still highly regarded in the fashion world for the exquisite ways it can be For the outer, or "fashion" fabric as we call it, wool is still generally unbeatable as having the best breathability, and nowadays, there are so many different weights and finishes for wool that thinking of it as the thick, hot and heavy fabric of yesteryear is simply not accurate.
CONSTRUCTION There are two main ways of "making" fabric, and they have very different properties that lend themselves to different uses.
Woven: Woven fabrics are made from interlacing fibers, and make up the majority of all fabrics worldwide. They are created on weaving looms, in which the threads that run continuously along the length of the fabric are called the 'warp' and the fiber that's woven under and over them across the width of the fabric is called the 'weft'.
Woven fabrics are most commonly rigid (not stretchy) but they can be made with a fiber that has some stretch to it, and thereby create a stretchy woven fabric.
There are many common weaving "patterns" that make fabrics with a textured or figural design embedded into them. For example, a herringbone or twill weave creates the look and feel of diagonal lines in the fabric, and a jacquard weave can be used to make paisleys, flowers, words, lightning bolts -- anything -- IN the fabric. A jacquard weave is distinct from printing a design onto finished fabric with dye/ink. The printing is applied to the surface (usually of a plain weave fabric) whereas a jacquard design is made as the fabric is being constructed, thread by thread.
Velvet is a special weave that's made on a loom able to weave two thicknesses of fabric at the same time, which are then cut apart to make two different pieces of fabric. The cut weft threads form what's called a "pile", which are short threads poking out all over the fabric, which might sound kinda strange, but as we all know, velvet can look luxe like nothing else.
Satin is a weave too!! Or actually, it's a family of weaves that all have one side (the face) that looks shiny and one side with a dull matte look. It's created by a thread (warp or weft) staying on the fabric's face for longer before diving under a thread to interlace. The longer distance between interlacements makes a fabric with a smooth and lustrous face. Satin can be made of polyester, silk, wool, or cotton, but the most common are polyester and silk.
Knit: Knit fabrics are generally* made from one single thread interlooping with the rows of loops below them. If you've done knitting by hand, that's the same process as for most commercially made fabric, it's just that instead of using 2 knitting needles, the stitches are held on a machine that's generally *much* wider than is possible with needles held in the hand, and each loop has it's own needle and loops into them one by one and then sets the new loop back until the yarn comes around again.
Fabrics made through knitting can be quite stretchy even when the fiber they're made from is rigid, so they've become very popular for modern day clothing where comfort is king. Pretty much all t-shirts, sweats, sweaters, swimsuits and athletic wear are made from knit fabric. Commercially-made garments made from knit fabrics might be made of cotton (t-shirts) or "performance fabrics", which are designed to withstand wear and tear and be easy to clean. Some of the extra performance of these fabrics comes from the finishing stage or post-finishing treatments that are added, but the fiber used matters a lot too. Usually, performance fabrics are synthetic fibers that have been engineered to be extra strong and easy to clean.
Like with wovens, there are many different "patterns" that can be knit into the fabric, such as ribs, cables or lace patterns, but the most common knit stitch for garment making is called stockinette or jersey stitch. This stitch has the same looping pattern over and over (called a knit stitch) in one direction and on the way back it's reversed (called a purl stitch) so that the resulting surface design looks flat and clean. If you're wearing a knit t-shirt, you're probably wearing stockinette stitch right now.
*Knitting with a single spool of yarn is called weft knitting, and is the most common. There's also warp knitting, which is how tricot is made, and uses many spools of yarn kinds of like on a weaving loom, though the fabric is still interlooped, not interlaced. Knitting with multiple yarns also happens with fancy stitch patterns, such as fair isle, intarsia, or double knitting. There's a lot to learn here!
Nonwoven: Almost all fabrics are wovens or knits, but occasionally "fabrics" are made from interlocking fibers, such as by a process of extrusion (stitch witchery is an example of this). Nonwoven fabrics often feel paper-y or plastic-y.
For more information about fabric construction, this PDF is interesting!
FINISHING The finishing stage of fabric-making determines so much of a fabric's appearance and quality. Fabric that's just off the loom or knitting machine is called "grey cloth" and is not ready for use. Grey cloth contains both natural and added impurities (such as sizing) which need to be removed, and there are a heck of a lot of finishing processes that may improve the look, feel and function of the fabric far beyond it's state just post-loom. Some finishing processes are primarily physical processes, such as sanding, brushing, calendering, and singeing. Some are primarily chemical processes such as acid treatments, mercerising, and dyeing, in addition to a broad range of newer chemical treatments that help create the "high performance" fabrics mentioned in the knitting section above, such as anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, colorfastness, or anti-static processes.