The following post was written by our sewing contributor Jennifer Shelton of The Life of Jennifer Dawn.
I’m sharing with you a few things that I’ve picked up along the way…
Sewing Tricks and Tips
1. Always wash and dry your fabrics and trims before sewing with them. This preshrinks everything which is especially important if you are sewing clothing from two or more different materials. Different fabrics may shrink different amounts. If you don’t preshrink your fabrics, it could cause puckering and other issues the first time the finished item is washed. If you are sewing an item that will only need to be spot cleaned like a pillow or place mat, it isn’t quite as necessary to wash the fabrics. I personally wash all of my fabrics as soon as they enter my home. Just putting them in the rinse cycle is enough–no detergent necessary.
3. If you need rectangular or squared pieces for a sewing project, tearing your fabric instead of cutting it is a quick and accurate option. It is also a lot of fun to tear fabric. I love the sound it makes. Try it and you’ll see. Just measure, snip, and tear.
4. A quality, reliable machine can make all the difference. When you are just beginning, your instinct may be to purchase a really inexpensive (cheap) machine until you see if you even enjoy sewing. This could just cause major frustration that has nothing to do with your abilities as the seamstress and everything to do with the machine itself. If you aren’t ready to splurge on a good machine just yet, see if you can borrow a friend or a family member’s machine as you test the waters on sewing. When you are ready to purchase, make sure to buy a good machine.
6. Sew items with quality. Always backstitch at the start and finish of each seam unless you are doing a gathering stitch to make a ruffle. Create nice hemlines–I sew a double hem. Topstitch when necessary. Clip corners. Finish your raw edges. Even if you don’t have a serger, you can zig zag stitch along the raw edges or at least use your pinking shears.
7. Confused by the terms backstitch and gathering stitch or even topstitch, and double hem. Find a class, friend, family member, book, or website that can teach you the basics.
8. Frequently change out your needle. I learned this lesson the hard way when a worn out needle shattered in the middle of a project and hit my eye. Ouch! It could have been a lot worse than it was. Having a “fresh” needle can also prevent a lot of frustration and issues with the machine as you sew.
*There are often two different numbers on a needle. One is the American size (ranging from 8 to 19) and the other is the European size (ranging from 60 to 120).
*Most fabrics will work well with a universal needle. Keep in mind that there are other types of needles like ballpoint needles which are great for heavy knits and denim needles which are great for sewing through the thickness of jean material.
*The larger the number on the needle, the more heavy duty the needle is. For lightweight fabrics, use a smaller needle like a 60/8. For medium weight (most apparel and cotton fabrics), use a 75/11 or 80/12. For heavyweight fabrics like heavy upholstery fabrics, use a much larger needle.
*Use thread that is the same color or slightly darker than the fabric you are sewing with.
*If you are sewing two different colored fabrics together, you can use one color for the bobbin thread and another color for the top thread to give your project a nicer, more cohesive look.
*Don’t buy cheap thread.
*Most projects simply require a quality all purpose thread, but if you sewing with a heavier fabric like upholstery fabric or duck cloth, make sure to get a heavy duty thread.
*Read the labels on the elastic to find the perfect one for your sewing needs.
*Knit elastic works great with lightweight fabrics whereas woven elastic is better for heavyweight fabrics.
11. When you are first learning to sew, don’t shoot for the moon. Yes, I made this mistake myself. I have always been someone who has had to learn things the hard way. Starting with something complicated will only lead to frustration and perhaps even giving up on the craft altogether. Moral: Start simple!
12. Find your sewing style. My mom and sister always like to have a pattern. Me? I like to make it up as I go along and create my own patterns. Find what works best for you.
13. Sew what you love! Some may prefer to sew curtains, pillows, and other lovely items for their home. Others many love sewing things for their children. You may find that you dislike any project that requires sewing by hand or be like me and love to sew by hand. Bottom line: Discover what it is that you love about sewing and go with it!
14. Have fun and be creative!
Happy sewing as we keep the art of sewing alive!
Now It’s Your Turn!
Do you have any great sewing tips?
I’d love to hear them!
Leave a comment below to share your best sewing tip or to even ask a sewing question that you’ve been wondering about.