10 Things About Sewing I Learned the Hard Way

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Hi everybody! It’s Sewing Saturday! This is the first sewing post I’ve done on my blog…let me know what you think!

This is a list of ten things I think we all learn eventually, but maybe this will help you to learn sooner – and not the hard way!

1. Transfer those marks! The circles, dots, and squares on the pattern are NOT just for decoration! I have definitely forgotten to do this more than once, only to realize later that the marks were really important. Then you have to get the pattern out and pin it again just so you can transfer the marks, which isn’t very fun. Whenever you see a mark on the pattern that looks like it might be important, just transfer it. The way I do it is by sticking fine pins in the spot where the mark is while the pattern is still pinned to the fabric. Then I use tailor’s chalk (or this special pen with ink that disappears after three days) to mark directly on the fabric where the pin is.

2. Don’t sew over the pins! We all totally do this at some point, but it’s actually really easy to break your needle if you sew over the pins. If you make sure to take the pins out before the needle reaches that point, you can prevent broken needles super easily.

3. Know the seam allowances and hem lengths! Don’t just assume that they’re all the same! Usually the seam allowances and hem lengths are listed on the individual pattern pieces. As you’re pinning the pattern on the fabric, you can use tailor’s chalk to write the measurements on the fabric itself. Then you won’t have to dig around for the pattern pieces later.

4. Change the needle! Did you know that there are different needles for different types of fabrics? Well, now you know! It may not seem important, but it really does make it easier when you have the correct needle for your fabric. Pretty much any fabric or sewing store (like Joann) will have different kinds of needles. If you buy a variety of needles, you’ll be prepared to sew with all different kinds of fabrics!

5. Change the presser foot! This one kind of goes along with #4, but I think it also deserves to be mentioned on its own. For different seams and stitches, there are different feet to use! I’m pretty sure all sewing machines come with all the different types of presser feet needed for that particular machine. I have a Brother sewing machine, and with mine, it says on the screen when each stitch is selected which foot to use. If your sewing machine does not have that feature, you can look in the manual. It should list which foot to use for each stitch.

6. Place the pins across from the seam you will be sewing, not parallel to! When you are pinning for a seam you are going to sew, pin across it! (If you are pinning a pattern piece, it doesn’t matter.) Think of it like this: if you are sewing from north to south, you want your pins to go from east to west. You can face them which ever way you want (it doesn’t matter – east to west or west to east) depending on which hand you like to use to take the pins out when you’re sewing, but just make sure that they’re not parallel to the seam! Why? It’s a lot easier to take the pins out when you’re sewing and it’s less likely you’ll sew over a pin and break your needle. PIN ACROSS!

7. Try it on! If you are making a garment for yourself, make sure to try it on frequently. You should try it on at each stage of sewing, to make sure it fits you! If it doesn’t, you’ll be glad you tried it on sooner rather than later! There are some alterations you can make, and it’s easier to fix the sooner you start. The last thing you want to do is make the entire thing and then realize it doesn’t even fit!

8. When sewing a zipper, measure four times, and sew once! You all know the saying that goes, “Measure twice, cut once.” Well, I didn’t just get the saying wrong in the first sentence. I did it on purpose! You really should probably measure four times and only cut once when sewing a zipper. Zippers are the most finicky part of sewing I have encountered – so far. I  measure, measure, measure, and measure again when sewing zippers, just to be sure. Trust me, it’s better to measure a bunch of times than to sew the whole zipper and have to rip it all out again if you mess up because you measured incorrectly.

9. Hand sew when you need to! Please, please, please to not dismiss hand sewing as boring or too time consuming! There are certain things that need to be hand sewn, and they won’t turn out correctly if they are sewn with a machine. Some examples are finishing up a pillow after it is stuffed and sewing on fasteners such as hooks and eyes. In the instructions for a project (if you are using a pattern), it should say when something needs to be hand sewn. Pay attention to the directions, and for sure, do it when the instructions say to!

10. HAVE FUN! This is by far the most important thing I have learned, and that’s why I saved the best for last. Sometimes, sewing can feel like a tedious chore if you aren’t having fun! When you’re sewing, enjoy yourself! Even if your on a schedule or in a time crunch, make sure you are having fun while sewing! It’s a fun, enjoyable activity or hobby, not a chore! To make sewing something, especially a large project, not seem intimidating, turn on some music, take breaks when you need to, or even watch a little TV! As long as it doesn’t distract from your project, it’s perfectly okay and definitely makes sewing a little bit more fun!

Whew! That was a lot! Well, I hope my tips were helpful! Have a great day!

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