The Textile Bench

What’s on your bench? Mine’s mostly filled with electronic test equipment, soldering kit, and computers. I’m an electronic engineer by trade when I’m not writing for Hackaday, so that’s hardly surprising. Perhaps yours is like mine, or maybe you’ve added a 3D printer to the mix, a bunch of woodworking tools, or maybe power tools.

So that’s my bench. But is it my only bench? On the other side of the room from the electronics bench is a sturdy folding dining table that houses the tools and supplies of my other bench. I’m probably not alone in having more than one bench for different activities, indeed like many of you I also have a messy bench elsewhere for dismantling parts of 1960s cars, or making clay ovens.

My textile bench, with a selection of the equipment used on it.
My textile bench, with a selection of the equipment used on it.

The other bench in question though is not for messy work, in fact the diametric opposite. This is my textile bench, and it houses the various sewing machines and other equipment that allow me to tackle all sorts of projects involving fabric. On it I’ve made, modified, and repaired all sorts of clothing, I’ve made not-very-successful kites, passable sandals, and adventurous tent designs among countless other projects.

Some of you might wonder why my textile bench is Hackaday fodder, after all it’s probably safe to assume that few readers have ever considered fabricating their own taffeta ball gown. But to concentrate only on one aspect of textile work misses the point, because the potential is there for so much cross-over between these different threads of the maker world. So I’m going to take you through my textile bench and introduce you to its main tools. With luck this will demystify some of them, and maybe encourage you to have a go.

Hand Tools and Measurement

You might expect this article to head directly for the machine tools, the sewing machines. But they are only part of the picture, and it is how the rest of the tools that surround them are used that makes the difference between textile success and failure.

First up are my collection of scissors and shears. I have three pairs, a big orange handled set of fabric shears for cutting fabric, a set of normal domestic scissors for cutting pattern pieces and other paper, and a set of tiny scissors for getting into small spaces for snipping thread or similar. These should be taken care of, in particular the fabric shears. Blunt or damaged shears can damage your fabric, so woe betide anyone who picks up mine and cuts anything but fabric with them.

My stitch ripper. Very useful tool, it covers up for my mistakes.
My stitch ripper. Very useful tool, it covers up for my mistakes.

The smallest and probably the cheapest tool on my textile bench is my stitch ripper. This is a combination of hook, spike, and knife, which is like a universal delete button for textilists. With it you can unpick seams, either to dismantle an item for remodeling or most likely, to undo your inevitable mistakes. This and the shears really are the tools you have to hand the most on your textile bench.

The metrology requirements of a textilist are less demanding than those of an electronic engineer, so the closest thing to an instrument on my textile bench is a fabric tape measure. Why a fabric one, you ask? Imagine having a measurement taken with a cold spring steel engineer’s tape measure. Unexpectedly from an engineering perspective I do my textile measurements in inches rather than millimetres, they seem to be the unit of choice in the field.

Sundries And Consumables

In the picture above, you’ll see a range of sundries and consumables. Minor components of your project, or small parts used in their construction. Most obvious are the pins, I have a pincushion full of dressmaker’s pins, each about an inch long with a small plastic ball on one end. Pins are the universal fixer of textile work, they are used to hold everything in place exactly as it should be before sewing. I’ll thus often have a piece of work with a lot of them in at once, and have to be careful to remove them afterwards. In the case of pinned-together seams, the pins are removed anyway as you feed them into your sewing machine.

As for consumables, you’ll find elastic, iron-on interfacing — like a stick-on fabric stiffener and support, repair tape, and a box of spools of thread in my workbox. There is also a box of sewing machine bobbins ready loaded with different coloured threads, and because I have two sewing machines of vastly different ages I have to keep two different bobbin sizes.

Sewing Machines And Overlockers

Cue a comment thread about plastic gears...
Cue a comment thread about plastic gears…

Having dealt with the small stuff, we come to the machines. I have a couple of sewing machines and an overlocker, which are each used for doing seams to join fabric in their own particular way.

My main sewing machine is a modern Singer domestic machine. It has been mine for several years now, it has a basic computerized management of a huge range of specialized stitches, and with it I’ve built all sorts of projects. I’ve talked in the past about selecting a sewing machine for your bench at all levels, but I can recommend a similar everyday modern machine as a workhorse if you can afford it.

From a time when you had to be a weightlifter to own a sewing machine.
From a time when you had to be a weightlifter to own a sewing machine.

The other sewing machine on my bench is a vintage Singer from the 1950s, a 201K. It does only one stitch, a straight line, but it does that better and more robustly than almost any machine you could find today. It is built to a standard that exceeds that of many modern heavy-duty or industrial machines, and in fact that is what I use it for. It comes out for leather, footwear, canvas, tentage, awnings, or other projects the domestic machine would struggle over.

A 201K does however weigh as much as a small battleship, and is not a machine for the faint-hearted to move.

The final machine on my textile bench is a Janome overlocker. If you are unfamiliar with an overlocker, think of it as a machine for creating seams and finishing them such that they don’t fray. When you simply sew two pieces of fabric together with a single line of stitching and without any techniques to protect the edge, the cut edge of the fabric has nothing to secure it, and thus its weaving starts to come apart. The overlocker prevents this by extending a stitch over the cut edge from above and below, in effect protecting the cut edge. You can see this clearly in the accompanying picture, on the left is a fraying seam edge done with the Singer, on the right an overlocked one from the Janome.

This functionality comes with the trade-off of an overlocker being a much more complex machine than a straightforward sewing machine. It has four spools of thread and two needles which are rather more complex to set up, and it has an oscillating knife blade which cuts a straight edge on the fabric.

An overlocker is probably not something you will find on the second-hand market as readily as you would a sewing machine, they are not such a ubiquitous piece of domestic equipment that everybody’s mother or grandmother would have had. However if you have the chance to pick one up cheaply or you can afford to buy a new one then they are very much worth the effort, this is a machine that will take your textile work to the next level.

There is one final piece of textile equipment that doesn’t sit on my bench, it’s simply too big for that. A tailor’s dummy is an extremely useful tool, a human-shaped former onto which you can pin fabric or pattern pieces to create shapes in 3D. I use mine for adjusting the fit of part-built garments, as a former to get the shape I need when taking something in, and for laying pieces of tracing paper to create my own patterns. It was an enabling moment for my textile work, taking me off the 2D table and into the third dimension allowed me to get to grips with my own patterns in a way I had never done before.

One size fits only me.
One size, fits only me.

If you are looking for a tailor’s dummy, you might be lucky enough to find one second-hand. Purpose built ones are adjustable across a range of sizes and are not exactly cheap when bought new, but fortunately if all you will ever need is one size there is a cheap alternative. My tailor’s dummy is a fake one manufactured from expanded polystyrene with a fabric cover for shop window displays, these are available in a range of sizes and don’t cost a huge amount. Mine came from Amazon, and cost me around £20 ($25).

All this equipment represents a fairly well-equipped textile bench, It takes up quite a lot of space, and I haven’t even shown you the boxes containing my stocks of random fabrics or patterns. If you have an interest in textiles you don’t have to buy all the equipment shown here, this represents the accumulated result of quite a few years. But if you take a look at the hand tools and consumables then pair them with a serviceable domestic sewing machine you should be equipped to tackle most textile builds, and it needn’t cost an arm and a leg. Even if it might sometimes cover them.

52 thoughts on “The Textile Bench

  1. Nice to see this. As a man who has shrugged off the stigma of “sewing is for girls” I can simply say how useful it is to be able to sew and use a sewing machine. I have a few sewing tasks on my list of things to do today. I have yet to combine sewing and electronics, but it is the same mindset. Whether I am using a lathe or soldering iron or sewing machine, it is all making stuff and bypassing the restrictions of only being able to buy things.

    My most used machine is an old school Elna, but I have picked up a number of other machines (that need rehab and maintenance) including a couple of old school Singers (401A and 237). I pass up all of the newer machines that I see in second hand stores and such. Just like my lathe and mill are all “turn the crank” machines and not CNC. I have friends who urge me to do CNC conversions, but I resist. That is another world that I am simply choosing not to get into.

    I view actually making good looking clothing as the Mt. Everest of sewing and am not going down that road. Maybe someday, but right now it is handy to be able to patch things and get extra years of useful life. I buy second hand clothes just to get source material for patching. The main drive for me getting into this though was making outdoor gear.

    1. Whether I am using a lathe or soldering iron or sewing machine, it is all making stuff and bypassing the restrictions of only being able to buy things. and (not) having to throw them away because of a small problem! Saves money and is good for environnment. I had a sewing machine as a kid, today i’m annoyed that i took it apart at some time… I’m not interested in making clothes but for repairs it would be useful sometimes, it was more a toy but it worked. I just have some very basic equipment, a few needles and thread, a thimble, a few buttons, but this is enough for not having to throw away like a pant because of some minor defect. Oh and people saying “sewing is for woman” and stuff like this are just plain stupid.

      1. > Oh and people saying “sewing is for woman” and stuff like this are just plain stupid.
        One of my grand-grandfathers was a tailor. (If he would have been gaaaay because of sewing, I simply wouldn’t exist…) I’m proud of this the same way I’m proud when my daughters reach for the soldering iron or the screwdriver, or my son does cooking and think about it every time I do some sewing.
        Btw: it happens that my wife and I spend an evening on the sofa skimming thru the table of the elements because of her crafting jewelry out of raw mineral crystals (not gemstones).
        Sorry for the digression: just wanted to say that classifying any activity by gender is meanwhile so last century (few exceptions being giving birth and breast-feeding :-)

    2. Mom taught me all her hobbies, and sewing is the one that has been VERY useful all these years. Yah, friends stopping by give a funny look when they see a sewing machine is in use on the kitchen workbench, but when they see the results they offer money and ;”Can you make one for me?”. Don’t make clothes, but will do new covers for the couch, curtains, cover for the bike, toolbags, motorcycle sidebags, …

      Your own labor is very cheap compared to buying something that’s destined to fall apart quickly. Repairs save the most money. Need custom fit mosquito screens for the car cause you go to outdoor theater?

      1. I have way too many hobbies. Sewing is just another tool in my ability to make things i want or need, and isnt something I started for fun, but simply because I needed a lot of custom sewing done, wouldnt be cost effective having it done professionally, and a hell of a lot of work making patterns for someone to follow, and a normal cheap machine wont do it. I mostly sew things for military/outdoor applications, so plenty of nature colours, camo patterns, cordura, webbing and such in many layers. Backpacks, molle pouches, tactical vests and more. A normal “heavyduty” machine cant be used all the time, the pressfoot cant be lifted high enough and the machine arnt strong enough (or the normal more durable needles). Some seams I have to use a needle and pliers to do. No amount of planning is enough when you need to sew together 6 layers of nylon webbing with 4 layers of thicker cordura… or more. But yes: fixing seams in pants or similar for my self or buddies happens. And its always nice to have get positive comments on the end product and people wanting it.

        1. What type of machine would you recommend for what you’re doing? I really would like to get into making tool pouches and outdoor gear as I can never find exactly what I want, like a nice pouch to keep my expensive electronics pliers in without them getting the cutting edges dinged and nicked and the springs damaged. I would also like to make equipment covers for my ham gear and some of my test equipment.

    1. I suggest doing it by hand. If you’re doing it on a machine so you have a straight, regular line though, I would keep it wound on the bobbin and use the straightest stitch the machine has and run it fairly slow to keep the tension down.

  2. ” I’m probably not alone in having more than one bench for different activities” For those who have the space. :(

    But anyway wouldn’t an oversize bed on the sewing machine give you more room to working with large fabrics and materials?

    1. I do most of my sewing on a 4×8 foot sheet of plywood on top of two tall saw horses. I prefer to sew standing and find it a lot less fatiguing that sitting bent over my work. A cheap plastic drop cloth on top of the plywood keeps things from snagging on splinters all the time. Yes I should sand and paint it some fine day. I sew big items like tents, camping tarps and sleeping quilts this way. Works well for me.

    2. The bed of the machine itself should be small, in fact a lot of machines have a partially removable bed to make it smaller if necessary. The reason is that sometimes you need the machine to get in the way as little as possible. The area around it is of course another matter.

  3. Ha! Of not less importance as all listed tools for sewing is the missing STEAM IRON.
    As a male wielding a Schaublin 102, a Tektronix 2247A and a Weller station among others, I also wield TWO Berninas: a “125” (the one from the 50ies) and a “Record 850” (just a few years younger han me).
    Oh yes: sewing machines requiring “weightlifting” rulez! Flyweights are for whimps! (Or girlies? ;-)

    1. Irons are great for doing old-school board etching. I make a copy onto some transparency sheets (remember those?), put the toner side against the board, cover the other side with regular paper, then slowly run the iron across the page. I figured this out by myself when I was 12. Then, Popular Electronics published it a few months later. Turns out it was something that a lot of people were doing at the time. This was when ferric chloride was the etchant of choice.

  4. “Some of you might wonder why my textile bench is Hackaday fodder” Not at all. I have the electronics, welders, car tools. I’m going to make a minimalist camper van and I’d love to be able to do this; insulated window covers, awnings, etc etc.

    My brain must be locked in the guy stereotype because I have no issues with metal but look at what you’re able to do with fabric with fear.

  5. Textiles are just another material to be manufactured into something awesome. I have yet to delve into any proper sewing, but I have played around with cross-stitch (as it tends to be quite meditative). Sadly, though, I only have the one bench as I am not blessed with enough space for multiples. Modular setups FTW!

  6. I am glad someone mentioned welding. I am amazed how similar the thought processes are when designing something that will be welded up and something that will be sewn up.

    The sewing thing is all about mental attitudes. Ultimately it is just an incredible machine that you learn to master and the special issues in dealing with thread and fabric. It is all about technology. I spent a very worthwhile day once watching videos and learning about needles, thread, and the machine itself. After that day I have understood most or at least many of the mysterious tricks my machine seems to want to play on me.

    And if you want to work on sewing machines and not just use them, that is definitely hacker territory.

    For example the cotton coated polyester thread that you see everywhere. It is cotton coated to be used in industrial machines that are run so fast and continuously that the needle gets hot enough to melt the polyester. The cotton coating is all about making thread to be used in that production environment, so I go for pure polyester every time. My take is that the coated thread is essentially “surplus” being supplied to the home market.

  7. That 201 is a beautiful machine! I have a 401 and I’m looking for a 301 for straight stitch as most of the 201’s I’ve found are quite pricey. Your 201 is built like a tank, it’ll be around 100 years from now.

  8. Like an audio power amplifier, the mark of a good one is that it is a challenge to pick up. Adding something like the 201k to my arsenal would be nice, although the 237 is supposed to be formidable when you fit a more powerful motor to it.

    On the other hand, I like an all metal machine with metal gears that has a non-computerized zig-zag stitch. When you are building gear rather than garments, being able to sew a zig-zag lets you sew bar-tacks and reinforce key stitches as well as to sew on webbing and straps.

  9. I did some sewing as a kid with my mom’s machine and am lucky and old enough to have taken Home Economics in middle school in which we sewed a good bit. In college, I wanted to design sneakers for a while so I took some textile classes that were very interesting in particular because the instructor was a chemist and focused on synthetics and dyeing and patterns, which I had never really thought about as a 19yo dude. It was very cool info and made me recognize and respect the whole manufacturing process that walked past my face all day everyday.
    I must admit I have only probably used a sewing machine a couple of times in the past few years but am thankful for those home ec classes :) The fun melding of technology that happened with the patterns were what had me working on sewing machines. I think it was 4 or so years ago I ended up putting an HxC floppy emulator in one lady’s machine (she asked me to swap the floppy drive while I was working on her computer which did not even have one anymore haha). She loved being able to have ALLLLLLLL her patterns on a thumb drive. Her friend that she used to get to download and put patterns on the floppies called me the next day and so I installed one in hers as well. They collected patterns and embroidery files like I collected GPK cards in elementary school haha. It was great to see what the new machines could do and they made me an embroidered towel and polo shirt with my llc name on it :) It was a fun time and good barter for services :)
    TLDR sewing and textiles are great :)

    1. This reminds me that some Hackerspaces in Europe do have fancy sewing machines (or something like this, i don’t remember exactly and have no knowledge in this field) that contain lots of electronic -> lots of hacking possibilities! Also sometimes i see old knitting machines for sale, i wondered more then once how difficult it would be to add some servos and some switches and other nice stuff to automate such a thing.

      Sadly i never learned sewing, soldering, drilling or anything like this at school (except some parts at university/college of course). Would have been SO MUCH more useful (and hopefully fun) than analyzing some incredibly boring texts of some well know (not by me…) writer that died several hundred years ago and stuff like this. It’s really not the right place here to discuss this and i’m not interested in doing this anyway but the school system here is really broken. :-/

      1. Ah it is all good man. Everyone has their own special interest and talent that help us all as a whole get better and faster and stronger (and keep this blue marble spinning). I am not an EE or anything really but just enjoy fixing things that happen to be broken electronics. Just enjoy life and keep learning :) With wikipedia and youtube it is way easier than say traveling to Alexandria to read a scroll in a language you may not know. If if makes you feel better, I wish I had read more classic literature when I was younger. But hey, there is plenty of time on the weekends to fill in the gaps :)
        BTW the knitting machine sounds like a good project to get started with microcontrollers, solenoids, and some stepper motors among other things :) Then you can read something really boring like cods haha kidding ;)

  10. Does your overlocker (serger here in the States) have an on/off foot pedal or is it variable speed? It looks like the one that my wife has. Hers is on/off but it goes so fast sometime that it’s really easy to mess up an edge if you’re not concentrating the whole time. She won’t let me touch it to add variable speed because that’s how she learned to use it and doesn’t want to have to get used to an easier way of doing it. ;-)

    My first “real” sewing project was a pair of shorts in high school. My first *major* project was a quilt I made for my then-fiance-now-wife. We still have it hanging up on display.

    Anybody who says that sewing is for girls needs to be reminded that when you’re out in the wilderness with a gash in your leg and no superglue or duct tape around, you’ll regret not learning how to sew!

    1. Strange. What model serger to you have? All home sergers that I’ve seen (and I’ve seen several) have the same sort of foot pedal that sewing machines have. Older models use carbon discs to form a resistor to slow down the motor (like a rheostat). When you step on the pedal, you mash the discs together and lower the resistance, and the motor goes faster.

      Modern machines have an “electronic” foot pedal with a tirac. Basically, a “light dimmer” circuit in the foot pedal. The machine doesn’t even know or care if it’s motor is being controlled by a big fat resister or a triac. The pedals are interchangeable. Only the connector varies.

      I’ve noticed that some pedals have a smoother “curve” and easier to control the speed at the low end. Other pedals are poorly designed and after only a narrow range for slow speed, the thing is wide-open at max speed. I actually have a serger which responds well with an older foot pedal (good low speed control), but is skitich with an electronic control (maxes out too easily).

      Perhaps your wife’s pedal is too sensitive like that. Or perhaps the pedal is defective. Most carbon disc pedals have a final switch at the max position that shorts out the carbon stack. Perhaps only the switch is working but not the variable portion? You really need the make and model of the machine and pedal.

      1. It’s a smaller Singer model. My first thought was that it was overly sensitive. But, it’s definitely a snap-action switch. My son (10 at the time) took it apart while she wasn’t looking after hearing me talk about putting a variable speed on it and I saw it before putting it back together when he couldn’t. Of course, she caught me with it so I got the blame…

        1. Sure, blame it on the kid! lol

          Easiest thing would to be to borrow a pedal from a compatible machine and try it out.

          The plugs are all keyed, so if it fits, it should work. If that’s the original Singer pedal, I can’t believe it’s just an On/Off switch. Any clue as to whether it’s the carbon stack or the electronic version? Was it broken *before* junior took it apart? Is it possible he lost a part? Or mis-assembled the thing?

          1. It’s a snap-action switch. That’s all that is in there. It’s a lightweight portable machine, so that may have something to do with it.

  11. As a maker, I like to be able to do everything for a project myself, including sewing. While I am not expert enough to sew clothes, I can make upholstery for my car projects, covers for cars, pool, outdoor furniture and equipment. Curtains and home upholstery are not too difficult. There is no reason for you not to do it too. My sewing machine is a fairly new Singer heavy duty model (4432 I think). While this is not as good as a real industrial machine, it is capable of sewing several layers of vynl or Sunbrella material if you take care. The good news is that it cost me under $100 refurbished. You an easily get material, such as vinyl, and heavy duty thread and needles at reasonable prices on EBay. Go for it! It is very satisfying.

  12. Electronics/Gadgets/3D Printing are my hobbies, Sewing is my career. Been in the industry for 20+ years. If your serous about sewing, look into getting an industrial machine. Pfaff, Juki, Singer, Consew, Durkopp Adler, are all brands to be on the lookout for. I would try to get a walking foot, but I tend to sew heavier materials. Heads and motors are separate items (Some of the new machines are integrated), Clutch motors are readily available in 110v, so don’t be afraid to buy a 220v machine if the price is right, just switch the motor. I prefer electronic motors, but those are usually much more expensive and usually not 110v (Unless you get lucky). A Singer 111 is a great place to start, almost indestructible, I’ve seen machines being used in industry for over 40 years, a hobbyist would never wear one out.

    This was not written by me, but is a pretty good write up of what to look for in a machine.

    http://nwtarp.blogspot.com/2012/10/blog-post.html

    With some patience and some good shopping you should be able to get a working machine for $500 or less. I know that I have sold several 100 for around this price at a previous employer.

  13. Lots of crossover in the development history of firearm manufacturing, sewing machines, and typewriters. Especially Japan’s Brother which makes printers, sewing machines, and typewriters.
    And Remington who made rifles and typewriters (lots of IBM Selectrics were made by Remington).

    All need interchangeable parts. Precision mechanisms. Indeed, in the 1980s when SMT (Surface Mount Technology) was taking off, Sony partnered with sewing machine manufacturer Juki to apply it’s expertise to SMT pick-and-place machines. Today Juki is a leader in the field.

    Many sewing machines synchronize the the top (needle) and bottom (feed) mechanisms using mechanical linkages, but many (especially newer models) use timing belts. Hmmm, just like car engines. Indeed, in reading some Singer patents, they refer to the zero-reference as T.D.C (Top Dead Center) and have techniques similar to automotive “spark advance” when the machine is sewing at high speeds (timing is dynamically adjusted). So imagine reading a sewing patent and seeing reference to “spark advance” in the contents.

    First generation machines made a straight stitch. Later machines added a few additional stitches using fixed cams to move the needle left and right (called bight) to create zig-zag stitches, etc. After that, the cam discs were user replaceable, 1950s onward, to add additional stitch pattern.

    When digital machines first appeared in the1970s they used a computer controller solenoid to move the needle, but modern machines currently use a stepper motor and a cam combination to creat all stitches. For the bottom fabric feed, the main motor still *feeds* the fabric, but a second stepper motor sets the operation timing phase to advance the fabric by a large or small amount, or even feed in reverse direction.

    Add an X-Y table to move the fabric around and you have an embroidery machine. So the sewing crown beat the 3D-printer folks!

    Digital machines offer a variety of hacking opportunities. As is often the case, a basic machine is the same chassis as the advanced model, but without certain features installed. For example a Brother CE-4000 is a basic 39 stitch model with a single reverse stich button, and foot-pedal operation. A look at all the unpopulated locations on the circuit board and it became obvious where to add various switches to add Start/Stop, and needle Up/Down functions. Adding a dial pot, gave speed control without the need for a foot-pedal. A few jumpers expanded the stitch library from 39 to 79 patterns. Look, hacking! (sort of).

  14. Sewing is indeed a worthy technology. I’d pursue it myself, but I’m into so much already (latest goals – arc welding, and laser engraving)

    My wife inherited her grandmother’s big ole Singer, and she’s not that avid a sewer, but we did make a sail-cover for our boat (from a Sailrite kit). I’m currently heaping praise on her til she agrees to make new cushions for the boat. I’ll help of course, while hopefully still letting it be her thing.

  15. I picked up a Singer “Featherweight” nearly the same age as me at a garage sale for $25, complete with fold-open cabinet and a stool, whose removable top revealed a trove of feet and attachments to give it a range of stitches.
    Apparently, in Singer parlance, a feather is made of cast iron weighs about forty pounds.
    I have done only a couple of simple things so far, but I have some plans …

    1. You have a gem there. Inherited my my mother in law’s feather weight and it’s a great machine. Absolutely precision and only does a straight stitch but it does it very well!

  16. Protip if you want to make your own torso dummy: Put on a close-fitting but junk T-shirt, not too tight. Then have a friend wrap you all over the entire shirt in several layers of duct tape. Be sure to burnish the tape down well so it stays put. Wiggle your way out of the taped up shirt, stick a decent clothes hanger in it for easy storage by hanging on a rack, and fill it up with crumpled newspaper as stuffing. Costs only a buck or two, or free if you have all the stuff, and you have a custom dummy that is your exact shape. Works great!

    1. Additional tip: Use short pieces of duct tape when covering the shirt, rather than long, in order to better capture all the curves. You can also cut up the back to make it easier to take off; just remember to tape it back up to use.

      If you plan to wear a foundation garment (e.g., a bra) put it on under the T-shirt, so that the dummy captures your body shape as you intend to use it. This implies that to do a good job, your friend will be touching and burnishing your (clothed) body, so you should be comfortable with that.

  17. As the handy husband of a sewing wife I often get called into the sewing projects! I actually like to setup and help configure the embroidery machine. It’s got stepper motors, computer interface, lots of smarts. IT can sew amazing patterns. I finally have her trained on operating the latest machine and now she is really taking it to another level. It’s a lot of fun to work on a project together. Give it a try some time.

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