No matter how long you’ve been sewing for or what level you are at, you can always learn something new. Sewing has been around for far too long for anyone to say that they know everything. Some tips are timeless and are often forgotten by those who sew frequently. Other suggestions will help beginners understand how to best approach their first big project.
You can have the best of everything, and still love that five-dollar pair of scissors. High-quality materials and tools do last a long time, and many come with lifetime guarantees. However, having a range of quality can make it easier to be a little less gentle with your inexpensive tools.
Always pre-wash your fabric to avoid puckering. But don’t stop there! The material around zippers can stretch, and decorative braids might bleed in their first wash. Be sure to pre-wash these items too.
Anyone sewing at home should know precisely how to get a good fit. However, that's difficult because it means something different to everyone. So, head down to your fabric store or visit GoldStar Tool and get the cheapest muslin fabric you can find and use that as a trial run. It's much better spending your time making a mock-dress or shirt and trying it on and making a note of the necessary adjustments than it is to use a stand-in.
Wait, what are grainlines? Grainlines are what the arrows on printed patterns refer to, and they help you know how your fabric should lay. When you cut your material against the grain or off-grain, the end result won't be quite right. For garments, it can make skirts, shirts, and coats feel off or even hang in an unsightly way.
To practice finding grainlines, start with napped fabrics such as satin, corduroy, and velvet.
For lightweight needles, you can go to town with tissue knit jersey or organza fabrics. However, anything heavier and your needle will snap. For quilting cotton, flannel and corduroy you'll need a medium-weight needle. Then you have the heavyweight champs of upholstery and denim. The differences between these fabrics are stark; however, that doesn't stop people from wanting to use one type of needle.
A medium-weight needle is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Make sure that you're using the right needle for your fabric.
Everyone says to iron out your fabric first. But as you're working your way through a project, the fabric pulls and moves and gets wrinkled. Always press your seams flat when you finish them and then press the seams open.
Finishing a raw seam will lead to fraying after only a few uses of the garment. It's generally not-so-professional, and it can be uncomfortable. However, using alternative seam techniques such as a French seam, Hong Kong binding, or flat felling can eliminate these problems. Try these techniques on scrap fabric before getting adventurous with your seams on a major project.
Ask any sewer and they will tell you that bulk is gross. Whether you're making a jacket or a blanket, you need to get rid of your bulk. Start slowly by trimming down your seams. Then consider using a clip or notch approach on curves. A notched seam will help your fabric lay completely flat. For seams, trim the ends on a diagonal for optimal comfort. On corners, you can ruthlessly cut the corners to make an approximate 145-degree angle (for the remaining fabric).
Isn't it true that the details of a project can make it look amazing or drab? So, first, sew straight. Use painters’ tape, washi tape, or a ruler to ensure that you're sewing in a straight line. Also, be sure to clip any threads. Having a quality pair of small scissors can make this process a breeze.
One trick that can change your whole view on garment projects is directional sewing. Sew from the widest edge of the seam inward to the narrowest edge. This helps fabrics from pulling and can keep seams from twisting.
Why do we use sewing machines if we still have to hand sew? It's a good question, and the answer is, sometimes you need better quality. At some point, you will have to sit down with a needle and thread in hand. Be sure to practice basting, hemming, and slip stitches as they are the most common in printed patterns. When you master these, you'll notice that there's an incredible flair to your projects. As a bonus tip, be sure that you're using the right thread for the fabric and the type of stitch work.
Whether you are just starting out or you have been sewing for years, you should never stop learning and trying to discover new things. Try out some of these new tips for yourself and see if they can help you improve your technique.