Sewing is becoming an increasingly popular hobby these days, you can see it on TV shows and in magazines, and it’s becoming much more admirable to say to someone “Oh, I made it myself!”. However, we know it can be intimidating though to sit before a sewing machine for the first time! Starting off a project can be daunting when you’ve not tried before, and we’ve all had a fabric we didn’t want to waste or a pattern we didn’t want to ruin, so we understand feeling overwhelmed. To help completely new sewers along (or to remind our veterans who’ve picked up bad habits) we’ve got a short guide of basic sewing tips for you to keep in mind when you’re ready to get started.
Sewing may not be an extreme sport exactly, but it’s good to make sure you’re safe before you start. The big three are as follows:
- Make sure your machine is switched off when you set up, and when you’re finished using it.
- Make sure your presser foot is down before you start sewing.
- Make sure you’re set up on a sturdy table, and your cables are out of the way of anyone walking by!
Knowing Your Fabric
Before you start off sewing, take a look at the fabric you’re using. Different fabrics need to be handled in different way: a knitted fabric will need a ball pointed needle to ensure it doesn’t snag. Leather and denims will need much sturdier needles to ensure they don’t break in the fabric. Different fabrics also require different tensions, get to know your tension setting and adjust it for very thick or very thin fabrics. Spend a little time getting to know your fabric and how to handle it (don’t be afraid to ask when you’re buying it!)
Even if you’re happy with how to set up your machine for the fabric you’ve chosen, test your settings first. Once you have a tension setting, needle and stitch, take a scrap of your fabric and trial run what you’re going to do. That way if anything has been set up wrong, you won’t damage your project pieces with unpicking. This is especially useful for things like decorative stitches or button holes, that can be very difficult to unpick.
Don’t Skip The Details
It can be frustrating when you’re sewing your first big piece (or even your first little one!) and a lot of things might seem like they’re just slowing you down. Don’t be fooled!
Firstly, if you’re working from a pattern, make sure you read it all the way through before you begin! Ensure you have enough fabric, understand all the terms used, and know roughly what you’ll be doing. It will be easier for you from the beginning if you know what the pieces you’re cutting are and how they’re used, as well as making it less confusing for you if you take a break and come back to it later.
Don’t forget to mark your notches so you can match up seams – it can seem time consuming if you have a lot of notches but it’s important to be able to line your seams up perfectly, so you get nice flat joins on your finished piece. An uneven match will lower the quality of your finished piece.
Iron your fabric – spending time ironing might seem tedious, but working with a flat smooth fabric will give you a much more professional finish as well as making it easier for you to sew (less chance of bumps and folds in your seams). Remember to also iron your seams after they’ve been sewn, to straighten them out and create a smooth, sharp shape!
Backstitching at the start and ends of your seams will give your items much more stability and make them last longer. At the start of your seam, sew for about an inch and then reverse stitch back over it. Sew forward again as normal and once you reach the end, reverse stitch back over what you’ve done for another inch. A little backstitching on your seams will help stop them from breaking and splitting apart.
Finally, always take your pins out while you’re sewing! It can be tempting to sew right over a pin and take them all out at the end, but you run the risk of hitting one with the needle, potentially damaging your machine. It can also damage your fabric if the bent pin gets stuck in the machine and you have to tug it out!
These basic tips will make your sewing experience smoother and leave your finished projects looking smart! Don’t worry, we know there’s much more you’ll want to know about sewing from here, so don’t forget to check out our other blogs for tips and tutorials, and watch our video guides to get to know your sewing machine better. If you have a question you need answering or a project you’re proud of, like our facebook or follow us on twitter, drop us a message and we’ll get back to you!