5 Sewing Tips and Tricks You Don’t Want to Miss

Posted by on Jun 16, 2013 in Sewing | Comments


sewing tips

Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that really help me out whenever I’m sewing. They are pretty basic, but I’ve found that ignoring them (like not changing the needle in my machine often) never ends well!

Here are my 5 favorite sewing tips and tricks:

Needles:

It’s recommended that you start each new sewing project with a new needle. That way you know you’re working with a sharp needle and don’t run the risk of damaging your fabric with a dull needle. But which needle to pick? Needles are given numerical sizes and the one right for you really depends on the fabric you are working with. Delicate fabrics like silk or chiffon require a size 9. Lightweight fabrics like taffeta would take a size 11. Fabrics of medium weight, like flannel, wool or poplin, play nicely with a size 14 needle. If you are sewing a medium-heavy fabric, like wool suiting, you’ll want to use a size 16 needle. And heavy fabric, like denim, needs a size 18 needle. Of course, you should also replace your needle any time it becomes damaged.

Know your fabric:

Working with a fabric you’ve never worked with before? Spend a bit of time reading about it online before you start cutting. Fabrics behave differently, and you’ll save yourself some serious headaches and frustrations if you pick up some basic tips for working with it before you get started. I’ve covered many different types here on the blog: felt, terry cloth, taffeta, spandex, fur, chiffon, satin, specialty fabrics and even vintage fabric.

Sew smarter, not harder:

Without a doubt, one of the best investments (beyond a quality sewing machine!) you can make is the purchase of a self-healing cutting mat and a rotary cutter. They aren’t just for quilters! These two items will make cutting out pattern pieces a breeze. You can even skip the straight pins and use pattern weights as you cut, which is a total time saver. Buy the largest mat you can find. If you have a large cutting surface, you can even go for two. The more space you have to spread out your fabric and cut, the better.

Love your machine:

Show your sewing machine some love by giving it a cleaning and oiling every now and then (how often will depend on the frequency with which you use your machine). This helps it stay in top working order and decreases the chances of you suffering from machine-related frustrations. Your sewing machine manual should have some basic instructions for cleaning.

Sewing tricky seams:

Straight seams are easy-peasy. Unfortunately, most sewing projects, especially when sewing garments, involved some curved seams. My trick for sewing these more challenging seams is to go slowly. Even though it’s tempting to speed through them with the same way I stitch a straight seam, it will only end with me picking out the seam with my seam ripper. So, slow it is. I try to keep my eye on the needle, versus the edge of the presser foot. It helps to stop often and pivot the fabric slightly to help navigate the curve. And I only concern myself with lining up the edge of the fabric that’s directly in line with the needle with the seam guide.

Tell me what your favorite sewing tips and tricks are, no matter how basic!

Comments

  1. Sabrina Simington says:

    I liked all of your tips and I am glad you put them up. Thank you.

  2. Jill says:

    I’m about to embark on a new project: sewing a dress for my little one out of some fabulous fabric I found at Ikea. Wish me luck and thanks for the wonderful tips!

  3. vanessa says:

    Great tips! Especially the part about slowing down. Just a quick one but, ironing. Ironing hems, darts and anything else that needs a sharp fold, preferably with a bit of steam. I absolutely hate ironing but, if I’m sewing, I’ll do it willingly.

  4. Elena says:

    Like Vanessa, I’d like to emphasize the importance of ironing/pressing. It takes extra time, but makes all the difference between a home made look and a professionally finished garment you’ll be proud to wear.

  5. Rosemary says:

    First read the directions carefully. Just like a recipe, when making something for the first time, make sure you understand each step. Each phrase usually refers to a specific step/technique. Some say patterns/directions are too difficult but they can be broken down into manageable steps that ultimately when put together in a logical order, which is not always intuitive, lead to a successfully completed project.

  6. presstoplay says:

    Another great post – really useful reminders, no matter what our level of skill. Many thanks!

  7. Barbra Timms says:

    When sewing small curvy projects like hearts and toys draw seam line on wrong side of fabric, then sew and only after cut out. Use small stitches on curves. Thanks for tips.

  8. Liz says:

    If I’m about to start a big sewing project I fill three or four bobbins. It saves quite a bit of time when your bobbin runs out being able to put the new one in straight away
    Thanks for your tips. Really good!

  9. Candie says:

    Remember to cut your thread on a diagonal because it is round, not flat. If you don’t have an automatic threader, this tip really helps in threading the needle, any needle.

  10. Ann George says:

    Always measure twice (at least!), cut once!

  11. Kim says:

    I sit down and read through the pattern instructions thoroughly first so there are no surprises. I wash and press my fabric first. I make a muslin or sample before cutting the fashion fabric. I lay out all the pattern pieces before I cut so that I’m not caught a few inches short or so that I can match stripes or plaid or a large floral print. Most important: when I get tired I stop so that I’m not tempted to take short cuts or be sloppy — or worse, get frustrated with an instruction detail and guess … And then have to take it all out and start again.

  12. Corrie says:

    If you have a hard time seeing to thread a needle on sewing machine, place a piece of white paper or cardboard behind the needle..it helps cut down on the reflection from your sewing machine light ab=nd the needle opening will be easier to see. I like the suggestion above about cutting thread on the diagonal and will try that for sure!

  13. Paula says:

    I disagree with the curved seam tip. You do not want to watch the needle. You want to gently guide the fabric(slow) with left hand and keep the seam edge straight. If you watch the needle your curve will be off, and your seam will be uneven.

  14. Robin says:

    When I was a child my mother received some oriental silk from my Dad straight from Korea (where he was stationed). My mother had a basic sewing machine by today’s standards and there weren’t any specialty needles sold then either (early 1960′s). She had problems with the fabric slipping and skipping stitches. After some trial and error, she finally took two strips of white tissue paper about an inch to 1 1/2 in wide on either side of her seams. After sewing easily, she pulled the tissue away. Now we have Sulky products to do the same thing, but not everyone can get a hold of them or can afford them. Tissue paper is the cheapest alternative and works great. I have used this method all my adult life.