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Sewing 101 – Hack your way to better projects

Today we have a guest Blogger.  Paisley Hansen who you can find here talks about some tricks to improve your sewing!

Sewing 101: Hack Your Way to Better Projects

Sewing, like any skill, requires practice to master. Although you may not be able to jump in and create fashions ready for the runway on your first day, there are some tricks that can make even your novice projects something to be proud of.

Choosing Fabric
Cotton and fleece fabrics are some of the easiest to work with. Cotton comes in light-, medium- and heavy-weights so you can use it for everything from a light summer dress to a simple quilt. Fleece doesn’t unravel and works well for blankets, jackets, scarves and anything else requiring a heavy but soft fabric.

  • Pull a few feet of fabric off the bolt and feel the texture and check the drape to ensure it will work well for the project you have in mind.
  • When buying fleece by the yard, verify that the color reaches all the way to the selvage and the dye is consistent throughout the yardage.
  • Beware pattern fabric if you are piecing together a more complicated item. It can be difficult to match up pattern lines when you are first starting out. Instead, choose a solid color or a non-repetitive pattern, such as flowers, and skip the fancy chevrons and stripes for now.

Getting Started Tips and Tricks

You have your fabric but you aren’t quite ready to sew, yet. The fabric and your machine need a little TLC so they both perform smoothly. Taking the time to prepare both helps you avoid some of the common frustrations that plague the novice.

  •  Getting the thread on the needle sometimes poses the greatest challenge to any sewing project. If you don’t have a nifty needle threader available, try spritzing the end of the thread with hairspray. It stiffens the thread so it’s easier to stab it through the tiny needle hole.
  • Pins are a vital part of any sewing project because they keep your fabric in place until it passes through the machine. Insert the pins perpendicular to the fabric edge instead of placing them parallel. Your sewing machine needle easily passes over them instead of hitting and bending the pin, or worse, breaking the needle.
  • Prepare your fabric ahead of time! Most new nonsynthetic fabrics require washing and preshrinking, otherwise your project will come out of it’s first wash smaller and misshapen. Run a simple basting stitch around the edges so it doesn’t unravel first. After washing, iron it well so wrinkles don’t mess with your measurements.

Notions, Trims and Extras
A bit of bias tape that provides a clean edge without a hem, or some decorative stitching to add pizazz can make your beginner projects look like the work of a seasoned pro. A few tips can help you pull off these maneuvers without ruining your project.

  • Unfold your bias tape and line it up so the edge of the fabric is even with the center fold of the tape. Sew the tape in place and then fold it over the edge before topstitching it completely in place. Any uneven stitches end up on the back side of the project, and your clean stitches are on the front.
  • Button holes can frustrate the beginner, and it doesn’t help that each machine performs this task differently. Read the directions and practice on scrap fabric before making the real thing. If buttonholes still seam out of your league for now, use a hook-and-loop tape closure and sew decorative buttons on by hand.
  • Don’t forget interfacing. This thin material goes on the inside of the fabric to give it some weight. A bit of interfacing can keep your buttons from sagging on a thin cotton fabric, or help stabilize a bit of embroidery or applique.
  • Avoid going overboard with the decorative stitches. Once again, practice all the stitches on your machine on scrap fabric first. Each stitch may require a tension adjustment before it looks correct, so practice on the same weight and type of fabric so you can verify the tension is right.


{ 1 comment }


1 Comment to “Sewing 101 – Hack your way to better projects”

  1. Sarah 29/07/2014 at 4:44 pm

    What a great article – full of useful tips that really would make life easier for those just starting out on their sewing journey. I have shared to my FB community. Thanks for sharing such wisdom Paisley. Cheers, Sarah


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