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:
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!