Hello! While we come the end end of yet another week in quarantine, I decided to share 10 things I wish I knew when I just started sewing. Because we are all required to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, I realized there are probably a lot of people who maybe didn’t really sew before but have had a sewing machine in the closet and are thinking that now’s a good time to learn. And I agree. So, if you’re just learning how to sew, I hope this list will help you avoid some of the headaches I’ve had in the past because I didn’t know these things.
1.How important pressing is! This seems like it doesn’t really matter but it makes a huge difference! One thing that makes it more obvious that your clothes are homemade, is unpressed seams. So, even if the pattern instructions don’t say to press- if you sew a seam, you press that seam before moving on!
2. On a related note- you should always use a tailor’s ham and seam roll. Both of these are used for pressing seams that you don’t want to flatten- such as sleeves, darts, and shoulder seams. Use the wool side when sewing wool fabrics or the cotton (white) side for lighter fabrics.
3. Always notch convex seams and snip concave seams (ex. necklines). This will help make sure you have nice, smooth, and clean seams.
4. It’s very important to pay attention to the grainline! I have made the mistake of ignoring the grain line and I ended up with a shirt that kept twisting while I wore it. It was so annoying and looked so weird that I ended up just throwing the shirt out.
5. Better techniques for sewing bias tape which you can find here
6. You can use pattern weights for cutting out pattern pieces. I used to pin my pattern pieces to my fabric and it took forever. Pinning pattern pieces to fabric can also sometimes distort the pattern’s shape. I never use pins anymore! (you can use anything for pattern weights- larger washers from the hardware store, small weights, even canned food!)
7. I wish I knew about different pattern companies that come with easier to follow instructions- Tilly and the buttons, Style Sew Me, Burda Easy, and Mimi G Style. I spent A LOT of time trying to understand what the instructions in Burda Style meant- it doesn’t help that those magazines are translated from German (it doesn’t always translate well). Also, just having someone show you exactly what is meant by certain phrases and words really speeds up the time it takes to learn how to sew and elevate your skills!
8. That my sewing machine has a little spot to insert an extra thread spool holder! I had been sewing for years and didn’t know why my machine came with an extra thread holder! Finally, I realized it’s so that you can use a twin needle and you can also re-load your bobbin without having to un-thread and re-thread your machine!
9. The difference between stretch and ballpoint/jersey needles. Stretch needles are for SUPER stretchy fabrics (like, swimwear fabrics). As it’s name implies, jersey needles are more for sewing jersey and knit fabrics.
10. What exactly a serger is for. They are amazing for finishing seams and are definitely worth buying! I didn’t really know what a serger was for when I got one but I took an online course so I could learn the basics (through Burda Academy). You can use a serger to make entire t-shirts, you can make wedding veils, you can do rolled hems, lettuce hems, gathering stitches, and, most importantly, finish seams! It saves so much time.
Thanks for reading! Stay safe and happy sewing!