Tools & Techniques
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Learning objectives
Learning objectives
To understand the different tools and equipment
that can be used to help create a textile item.
To realize the similarities and differences
between domestic and industrial tools and
To become familiar with and be able to use a
variety of textile techniques.
To be able to select appropriate tools for different
To use tools and equipment safely and
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What do you know?
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Basic equipment – scissors
Scissors or shears are used
to cut fabric and thread. They
Pinking shears at first
come in a range of sizes, from
glance look like scissors.
very large to small embroidery
The zigzag blade can be
scissors. When carrying
used to limit fraying or to
scissors, you should hold them
leave a decorative edge.
by the blade to avoid injury.
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When cutting out fabric it is
important that you lay it out in the
correct manner – selvedge edges
Ensure that balance marks or notches are included – it
is sometimes helpful if you cut these out rather than snip
into the fabric. This makes them easier to see when
constructing your product.
Keep the pattern pieces attached to the fabric to enable
you to locate the pieces.
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Basic equipment – tape measures and tailor’s chalk
Tape measures are ideal for use when
making clothes as they can go around
the body.
Tailor’s chalk has a soapy
consistency and is available in
many different colours to suit
different fabrics. It is used to draw
around patterns and mark darts,
button holes and where pockets
are placed.
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Marking out
Your fabric should be laid out right sides
together for you to make any marks on it.
You can either pin your pattern to the fabric or
weigh it down using fabric weights.
Tailor’s chalk is then used to mark around the
Balance marks/notches, darts and pocket
placements, etc. should be marked at this stage.
You may then cut around the pattern, ensuring
notches and balance marks are cut out in a Vshape.
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Basic equipment – pins and needles
Pins are used to hold two pieces of fabric together.
They are used prior
to tacking to hold
things in place.
They are also used
to attach the pattern
to the fabric.
There are two main types of needle: hand needles and
machine needles.
Hand needles are available in
many sizes. These sizes can
determine the length,
thickness and size of the eye.
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When pinning a pattern to fabric,
insert the pins within the seam
allowance. This will ensure that
no pin holes are visible in the
garment/textile product. This is
particularly important if you are
using a waterproof fabric. By
doing this you will also reduce any
snags in the fabric.
Start pinning in the corners of the
pattern, then work your way
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Prior to tacking, pins should be used to attach the fabric
pieces together. There are two ways to pin fabric together:
Pin perpendicular to the seam, as
this allows you to sew over the pins
and remove them after you have
done so.
Pin parallel to the seam so that
it is possible to remove the pins
as you sew towards them.
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When all the pieces of the textile item are
pinned, they should then be tacked
Tacking thread is a very thin temporary
thread that is easily broken. It should be
used as a single strand and it is not
necessary to knot the ends.
Tacking is done by hand using stitches of
1cm in length.
When you have machine stitched your item, remove all
tacking thread using a seam ripper.
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Seams are made when two pieces of fabric are attached
They are generally 1-1.5cm wide; however, you should
always check your pattern.
Some patterns do not include a seam allowance – you
should check prior to cutting out.
How long the stitches are on your seams will depend on the
fabric you use. When using a stretchy fabric, a larger
stitch should be used.
Make sure that you reverse a few stitches at the beginning
and end of every seam. This will ensure that the seam does
not come loose over time.
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Hems are normally found on the bottoms of garments or soft
If you are making a pair of trousers that have turn-ups, you will
need to calculate how much turn-up you require and how much
hem you want.
For a 3cm turn-up with a 1.5cm hem, you would multiply the
turn-up length by two and add the 1.5cm hem:
1.5 x 2 + 1.5 = 7.5cm
It is also possible to create a false hem on an item. This is often
done when skirts or trousers require lengthening and there is
not enough hem to do so. Binding tape is attached to the
bottom of the fabric and this is then turned up accordingly. This
process can also be applied to curtains.
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Textile machines
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Sewing machines
There are four main types of sewing
Standard machines enable you to
sew basic stitches, for example to
attach pieces of fabric. They are also
suitable for doing simple
embroidery. They are made up of a
machine, pedal and power cable.
Overlockers are used to finish off
seams and hems of garments. They can
also be used as a feature. The
overlocker trims the fabric as it sews
the seam.
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Embroidery machines
The embroidery machine gives students an ideal
opportunity to explore an industrial process.
1. A design is copied using a
scanner or created using
CAD software.
2. The embroidery machine
can be linked directly to a
PC or designs can be
transferred on a disk.
3. The image is then downloaded onto the
machine’s memory and output onto the machine
bed, creating a machined logo or image.
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Knitting and weaving machines
Knitting machines can stand alone
or be linked to a computer.
They can create complex patterns
and complete garments.
Domestic knitting machines are called
flat bed knitting machines.
There are many different types of
weaving looms that can create a
number of different weaves, including
plain, satin and twill.
In factories, machines such as looms
are often controlled by computers.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using
these five machines instead of sewing by hand?
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Heating equipment
Irons can be used for ironing, pressing
and steaming. Check the label first to
see the best temperature to iron at.
Ironing will finish the garment off – this is
normally the last stage of manufacture
but can also be done throughout.
Pressing is used when bonding – e.g.
attaching interfacing to a piece of fabric.
Steaming can be done without actually
touching the fabric. It is used on
garments made from delicate fabrics.
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Heating equipment
Heat presses are normally used
for transfer printing.
An image is
produced using
CAD (computer
aided design) and
printed out onto
the transfer paper.
This image is
then heat
pressed for a
number of
Unlike ironing it enables you to heat the
whole design at the same time, thus
giving a more professional finish.
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Key points
Key points
Scissors and pinking shears are used to cut fabric.
A tape measure measures parts of the body and
tailor’s chalk temporarily marks the fabric.
Pins hold fabrics in place temporarily and needles
are used to attach them permanently with thread.
The only type of sewing which is not permanent is
Textile machines include sewing machines,
overlockers, embroidery machines, knitting
machines and weaving looms. These are used in
homes and in industry.
Ironing is normally the last stage of manufacture. If
an item is made from a delicate fabric, a steamer
may be used to finish it instead. Irons and heat
presses can also be used to transfer images.
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Tools and Techniques - GCSE TEXTILES REVISION