As with life, along your sewing journey there are moments that change you. Things you learn that blow your mind, and change the way you do things. When things like this happen, it can totally alter the way you think about sewing. Stop you from cringing over sewing an armhole, from shying away from certain fabrics, or from making that expensive purchase. It can mean sewing freedom.
Here are 10 Sewing Tips I learned along the way that changed my life.
1. How to thread a machine properly.
This is obviously the very basic. But I couldn’t even get started with my sewing journey until I learned this simple tip. I tried and tried, but all I would get was bunched up thread and loads of unsavory language flying out of my mouth. It was enough to make me throw in the towel. I might not have ever started my sewing journey if it wasn’t for my Mother getting on an airplane, flying out to Germany, to teach me how to thread my sewing machine properly. Once I could sew a straight line, I was unstoppable.
2. How to End Wavy Knit Seam Syndrome.
I tried and tried to sew with knits, and was always so unsuccessful. Ending up with wonky seams and a frustrated spirit. It wasn’t until I figured out THIS little trick, that I was able to be successful in sewing with knits. Shortly thereafter, I upgraded my sewing machine to a Bernina B350, and I haven’t had any issues since with it’s fancy ‘stretch’ stitches.
3. Not all Cottons are Created Equal
I used to use quilting cotton for everything. I mean…everything. There is just something so appealing about the rows upon rows of pretty quilting cotton when entering the fabric store. Before you know it, you find yourself with a cart full of pretty patterns and textiles that you simply couldn’t live without. Unfortunately, they don’t always make for the best apparel fabric. They CAN work, and do for a lot of things. But sometimes you want a cotton with a bit more flow. Try voile, batiste, shirting, linen, or double gauze. You will love them.
4. How to Sew a Sleeve, without Using the Set-In Method.
Sleeves used to be my nemesis. I hated, hated, hated setting in sleeves. I constantly found myself pulling out the seam ripper whenever it came to sleeves to pull out the tiny little fabric tucks that would get stuck in my sleeve’s armsyce seam. Seeing THIS tutorial by Dana Made It changed my sleeve sewing life. And I haven’t sewn a set-in sleeve since.
5. There is a Direction to the Stretch in your Fabric.
It doesn’t matter what type of fabric you are working with, cotton or knit – all fabric has a ‘direction’. A grainline which you should be paying close attention to when cutting out your patterns. More often that not, one direction has more of a stretch than the other. And if you cut your pattern incorrectly it can cause for a tight pattern, or worse – one that you cannot even slip over your head! I cannot tell you how many times I had too-tight sleeves because I forgot to pay attention to this huge detail. So figure out the grainline and stretch of your fabric, before cutting. This goes hand in hand with sewing knits, don’t try to use a straight stitch when sewing. You will just end up with popped stitches.
6. Get a Serger.
I cannot stress enough how much a serger changed my sewing life. I wanted to get one for so long, for so so long. I was scared off of them by fairytales of how difficult they were to thread. They’re not. They are actually pretty easy if you follow the instructional graphics. After you have one, you will wonder what took you so long. And probably throw your pinking shears out the window. Trust me. Put it on your Christmas list to Santa.
7. New Mothers everywhere thank God for PDF Patterns.
I remember the days of going to the store, and trying to desperately rock the stroller long enough to browse the encyclopedia sized paper pattern book. It was t-o-r-t-u-r-e. And I was never able to find what I wanted. I don’t know who first figured out how to make a digital downloadable pattern, or how they became so popular – but I thank Heaven each and every day for them. I believe they, along with DIY blogs, are the main culprits responsible for the recent boom in the sewing industry. Learning how to purchase a PDF pattern, print one out, and tape it together has been a blessing for me, and new mother’s everywhere.
8. Just Say No.
There is nothing worse than being coerced into sewing something you do not want to make. You curse the entire time you are sewing, and what is supposed to feel like a gift…feels like anything but. Learn how to say NO. Let’s practice…
- “No, I cannot make those curtains for you.”
- “No. $20 is actually a really decent price for that doggie vest. You should just buy it.”
- “No. I do not have time to sit down and make 20 tutus for your daughter’s birthday party.”
You shouldn’t have to make excuses, or feel guilty. Learn how to say No. And know that it is OK to do it. And yes, I know this is very hard for some of you. But your life will have freedom because of it.
9. How to Fully Line a Bodice.
This was another one of my favorite tutorials…ever. I used to struggle with linings and armsyces, trying to get nice even stitches all the way around. I thank my lucky stars every day that Amanda wrote THIS post. It has saved me much bodice sewing heartache.
10. How to Make your Own Pattern.
I have used THIS method time and time again. It has been perfect when I simply want a shirt, just like the one I already have in my closet. Learning that you can draft your own patterns is completely liberating. I know it can be scary at first, but it can also be a lot of fun. And it will give you a new appreciation for the men and women who create and sell sewing patterns for a living. This is great for the basics, but not recommended for the more complex items hanging in your closet. Trust me – I’ve tried. Lol
And there you have it! Ten things I learned along the way that changed everything.
At least for me.
What tips and tricks have you picked up along the way that were invaluable to you?
I want to hear them, in fact we all want to hear them! Who knows, maybe it will be the next item on our ever-growing, life altering, sewing tips list!