Going back and relearning the basics, it’s interesting the things that I do now that make sewing easier and faster compared to my first attempts at sewing. Want to know what they are? Got better tips and tricks?
1. Cutting out your fabric.
Pinning your patterns pieces and using scizzors to cut them meant my first garments had odd seams. What do I mean by odd? Slightly wavvy, never matching up exactly and very imprecise. The best way (and admittedly, having done quilting I already had the supplies which made this simple to try) is using weights on the pattern pieces and using my rotary cutter and quilting mat to cut out the pieces. That way the fabric never moves, it’s much faster and accuracy is guaranteed! The only downside for this is making sure you have a mat big enough to cut your pieces without having to move the fabric.
***Hint to husband if you’re reading this – Lincraft has a giant mat on sale and it’s only $99. AND my birthday is soon. Just saying.***
2. Cutting out your pattern pieces.
DON’T CUT YOUR ORIGINAL PATTERN! Trace it. Yes, it is a total pain in the a**e to do, but odds are you will not cut the right size, or years later you want to make another item from your original pattern and you’ve changed a dress size. If you want to make any pattern alterations as well this means you can cut/stickytape/draw all over your traced item. I also hang my traced pieces up in my sewing cupboard which means if they do still fit and I want to make another, it’s already out, flat and ready to go. If you have the option, buy proper tracing paper. I bought mine from Tessuti in Melbourne and it was maybe $15 for 10 metres? It’s on a wide roll and it’s taken me two years to use all of it.
3. Use a basting stitch if you’re not quite sure about a seam
Sometimes if you’re sewing a tricky thing, maybe a zip, a sleeve, a pocket. Something you’re struggling with and a little worried about the final result, pin it, then sew the seam with a long straight stitch length like 4 just inside the seam allowance. For example if your seam allowance is 5/8, sew at 1/2. This way you can see if it’s puckered or wavvy and unpick it quickly if you’re not happy. If it looks good then sew the proper seam again at 5/8 and it’s a perfect job. The other benefit, is sometimes using pins the fabric can shift and move a little. With a long basting stitch you can massage the fabric a little and then sew. I prefer to do this on inset sleeves and I get less puckering. Did I mention I hate unpicking?
4. If you’re doing lots of sewing, get your bobbins prepared.
You’re halfway down a long seam and BAM. Bobbin has run out. Don’t waste time then unthreading, winding your bobbin, rethreading. Be organised and BEFORE you start fill up two bobbins with your thread, and maybe even more if it is a colour you will sew with most of the time. This is a procrastination eliminator.
5. Change your sewing needle
This is by far the stupidest mistake I made when I was a novice. I’d chuck in the towel halfway through sewing as my machine was awful..my stitches were skipping, the thread was breaking… Anytime now I have a problem with the sewing, I rethread my machine. Still a problem? I change the needle. 99% of the time this fixes my problem. Have you ever seen the IT crowd? This is the sewing equivalent to turning it off and on again.
Change your needle before you start a new project. ALWAYS. A blunt needle only leads to sewing rage.
Do you have any silly mistakes you learnt from?