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SEWING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES

Sewing is such a rewarding, fulfilling pastime and when you master the techniques and become proficient it can become a business. After many years of sewing for myself, my family, friends and then as a business owner, here are a few #sewingtipsandtechniques to share. These are some of the tricks of the trade I have learned along the way.

When starting out on a sewing project ensure that the sewing room is clean and tidy as it is so disheartening to have to clear debris of former projects out of the way before you even begin. It is enough to put one off beginning the new project.

Know where every thing you will be need to use is in working order and at hand. If the sewing machine needs servicing or oiling get this done.

These are some of the items I cannot be without

  1. Well oiled and ready to use sewing machine. Mine is a Bernina. Have used this machine to do free motion quilting on numerous quilts of all sizes. The Biggest being King size.
  2. Overlocker/serger. Am still using my trusty Babylock. It only has three threads but has served me for 35 years or so
  3. Good lighting. My husband bought me a lamp which has a magnifying glass to enable me to thread invisible thread, into the almost invisible eye of fine needle, to sew crystal beads on wedding dresses. I have appalling eyesight as it is and now need to use this to thread any needle. It is indispensable.
  4. Brother Embroidery machine not new but works like a dream. Have enjoyed making so many beautiful items for home, sale, gifts and Church Bazaars
  5. storage space
  6. Good quality sharp scissors, variety of sizes and shapes.
  7. Quick unpicker (everyone needs these, even the best dressmakers)
  8. Great iron, I have a Russel Hobbs, that has a water storage tank underneath so doesn’t need filling up with water that often.
  9. Bodkin to make threading needles easier

Sewing Tips to avoid frustration

My suggestion would be to have your machine serviced and ready for use before you even go shopping for the fabric and pattern.

It is time for me to begin to think of my summer wardrobe and will be taking my machine in for a service on Monday. This I find exciting and can’t wait for it to be done but in the meantime I have been sorting out my sewing room.

The trials and Tribulations of Sorting a Sewing Room

What a job to sort out my sewing room. I realised I need more storage space and as the sewing room is not as large as the one I had in my former home, it entailed me unpacking two bookcases which are now standing on top of my two desks. In these bookcases I have packed containers of thread and various other sewing notions so that they can be close at hand.

The sewing room now looking better but……… Oh dear me! …

It is time now to deal with the books (mostly recipe books and a few novels) which are now decorating half of my queen sized bed and the worktop in the kitchen.

Will phone a charity to come and collect. I hope that no-one just pops in for a visit before these are cleared away.

#sewingtipsandtechniques

One job leads to another, so as my scouting sons and grandsons say, be prepared.

Preparations – Measure up

When I begin any new project and before I buy the necessities, I have a friend (an honest one) take my measurements. We tend not to see ourselves exactly as we are and it can sometimes come as a shock to find that you are no longer the size you were and would need to get a larger sized pattern.

Once you have all the measurements done and have been realistic when getting the pattern and fabric the at least you won’t have cut the fabric to the wrong size, become discouraged and want to give up sewing altogether.

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Choosing the fabric is such fun and one can be enticed to buy just for the sake of buying because you love, love, love a certain piece. Before doing this however, think of what you want to make for yourself.

If you have the pattern, take it along with you to fabric shop so that you purchase the correct yardage (meterage) you require. All the necessary trimmings, zip, buttons, thread etc. to match should be bought at the same time.

Now with a light heart, off you can go home to the neat, tidy, sewing room with machine in perfect working order and set yourself up for a satisfying day or two of successful sewing.

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Am of the opinion that it is best to iron out the pattern pieces once they have been cut. (When ironing pattern pieces, make sure to turn off the steam function on iron).

Follow the Instructions

All patterns come with clear instruction to follow which makes it so much easier to perform each task in the correct order. Follow the instructions

This is something one learns by trial and error. It is so easy to think that you know exactly what to do and just go your merry way when the pattern maker definitely knows better,

A few of my close friends think I am mad to iron out the pattern pieces but it works so much better for me. Can’t stand working with the paper crumpled or creased.

Alterations

Any alteration which need to be done to accommodate size difference, should be done before cutting the fabric. By measuring a couple of times before cutting all should be well.

We all have different ways of marking out the darts and it really depends on what fabric you are working with if you can get away with just putting pins through the indicated dots and matching them up on the other side before pulling the two pieces of fabric apart.

Then matching up, pin your darts. Sew straight away before moving on to next step. It is better not to have pins left in too long as they can become unpinned and be replaced in the wrong place thus throwing the measurements out completely.

It is wise to iron as you go along.

Dealing with More Challenging Fabrics

If you are using silky fabric which won’t keep the pins in place, then I find what works for me is marking the fabric with marking pen which will wash out.

Another, more permanent way is to sew a few loops of thread in the correct place, place a match stick over the dot and sew around it, loosely. Once that is done, pull out the match stick, gently pull the fabric pieces apart and cut through the thread and this will leave both pieces of fabric (back and front) with cotton loops showing where the dots need to match up.

Something really important, which I can’t emphasize enough, is the marking of notches as each piece of the pattern is cut. This is going to make your life so much easier. You will be able to match them up, do any gathering etc. to have your garment finished to perfection.

Measure carefully, twice, to be sure, before cutting the fabric pieces to avoid making any mistakes.

You will see that each pattern piece has a straight line on it, usually with arrows on each end. Measure from the straight line, at top and bottom, to the side of your fabric. The measurement must be the same to keep the garment hanging straight.

Placing the pattern on the fabric in the correct way is extremely important. This I found to my cost. When I was newly married, I wanted to make myself a winter dress and found a stunning piece of fabric. Sadly for me, I didn’t check how much I would need and found myself short so turned one of the pattern pieces the wrong way to make it fit the fabric.

I ended up with a dress which nearly drove me mad as the skirt swung to one side, despite all the tugging on my behalf. It was not at all comfortable. What a waste of such a good piece of fabric. A hard learned lesson.

It has been a pleasure to pass on these #sewingtipsandtechniques and hope that you will find them helpful. These are for basic dressmaking.

Jill Alexa

Jill of all Trades. Master of Many. Too busy to die.

15 Comments

  1. Hi Jill,
    I enjoyed reading your new article, it took me to the time I started to work on my “new” sewing machine many years ago, and since that moment there’s not a day I haven’t do something on my sewing machine or something by hand.
    It started like a hobby but in a few months I had a business going on, it was slow at the beginning and it became almost a professional business in a couple of years.
    As a single mother of three young boys, I could be a stay at home mom and run my own business, time flies so fast and now my boys are young adult men and they are on their own.
    I don’t have that same business as I moved from Mexico to Canada, but it’s time to start a new business sharing what I love to do… Quilts.
    Thanks so much for sharing a wonderful article to read!

    • Hi Alejandra, Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my post. I also love to make quilts and will be blogging about my quilting journey one of these days. All the best.

  2. Wow this post is so good. I learnt a great detail.
    I never knew that the fabric you use has its set of instructions and way of sewing.
    This post has sparked an interest of sewing of which I will need to learn but I can see once I have mastered it I can even turn it into a business.

    How long can it take a beginner like me to be a top level sewer and be able to run a business?

    I would love to hear your thoughts

    • Hi Thabo, Sewing to a level where you can turn it into a business takes many years and lots of practice. One needs good machinery and an aptitude for the work and love of the skills required. It took me many years and training as a designer and tailoring at college to get to where I am now.

      • Okay thanx…But I am sure if I can be mentored by someone successful my results can be quicker than if I got to a college and learn hey?

  3. I have been in the market for a sewing machine for my wife, she has a pretty old one that has served her well. She really enjoys sewing and is teaching our daughter the finer points as well. One thing they love to do is buy patterns for Halloween and make costumes.

    The tips you listed were on point as well. Having a well-oiled machine is important, as well as good lighting. The last thing you want to do is run your finger under the needle because it’s too dark to see.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful insight, I can tell you are very passionate about sewing.

  4. I am so glad I stumbled upon your site Jill, I am just setting up a sewing room (well part of my office actually) and your tips are very helpful. I loved your items you can’t do without, hmmm more to buy!. I now think I need a bookcase too, it would be fantastic for all the boxes of bits I seem to be accumulating.

    Thanks heaps for taking the time to share 🙂

    • Hello Heidi, Thank you for reading my post and am glad if it is of encouragement to you. I love reading your blogs on horses. It makes me feel closer to them somehow.

  5. Nice seeing you share these sewing tips and techniques. I don’t see but I love tailoring because tailors are sort of a very important to me as an upcoming music artist. I have a tailor friend and my mother is a tailor too. With my level of experience in tailoring, I read through and found out that these tips and techniques are very helpful to tailors.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Barry, Thank you for reading my blog and also for the kind comments. Wishing you all the very best in your music career.

      Best wishes,

      Jill

  6. Great post and good info. 

    This is for my mother in law, she loves all these kind of things, she is very good in it actually. 

    She is also very perfectionistic when it comes about this. 

    I will share this post with her because I think she can learn some new things and become even better than she already is. 

    So, thanks for sharing it with us! 

    • Thank you, Emmanuel. I do hope your mother-in-law enjoys reading it. Thank you also for your kind comments.

      All the best,

      Jill

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