I learned to use a sewing machine when I was a little girl, and those skills come in handy in spring, when I sew plastic or fabric vegetable garden row covers and cloches for the garden. My 1953-model Singer (restored by Alpine Sewing Company) is up to the task, or you can use a needle and thread and sew by hand. Either way, using a few special techniques will make your plant protectors turn out right the first time.
Use perpendicular pins. Before you sew plastic or row cover pieces together, pin the edges. Place pins at right angles to the future seam, about 8 inches apart. Take them out as you sew.
Use long stitches. Whether you’re stitching spunbound row cover, tulle or other featherweight fabrics or plastic sheeting, long basting stitches work best.
Use a paper backing. My sewing machine can’t grip plastic or other slippery fabrics to properly advance the stitches, and push-pulling it through by hand is a good way to break a needle. Placing strips of tissue paper under the layers of plastic solves this problem, and the paper tears off easily. In a pinch, I have even used toilet tissue with good results.
When sewing by hand, work only with the finished edges of tulle, row cover or other very lightweight fabrics. The long “selvage” edges of fabrics are reinforced, so you can sew them together with a needle and thread. Three years ago I hand-stitched a large tulle row cover for my vegetable garden, and the seam is still holding.