Tips & Tricks!
When you sew it can be difficult and these are just some things that I have learned through my own trials and tribulations, so take this opportunity and benefit from my mistakes! I will be updating the ‘tips & tricks’ page regularly so check back often!
If you hit a wall with a difficult project take a quick break and come back to it, DON’T leave the project alone for weeks at a time, it makes it a lot harder to pick back up if something has been sitting for a while. I did this once with a frilly apron I made, when I came back to it I was really confused and it took me a while to get back on track.
Measure TWICE and cut once, I cannot stress this one enough, there is nothing more frustrating than wasting an entire yard of fabric because of a careless mistake. I once was making a garment bag and I measured wrong and I had to go back to the store and buy another yard of fabric.
The thread you use doesn’t have to match your fabric exactly, especially if you are sewing on a budget just use a thread that is close, chances are if you buy an odd color you’ll only use it a handfull of times, and when in doubt just use white thread, I think being able to see the stitching on things is actually a really cool visual. Stick to the basic thread colors: black, white, brown, and navy.
Keep your sewing box organized. It will make it easier when you are in the middle of a project and you need something, it is easy for sewing supplies to get messy, so just try to straighten things out at the end of every project.
I like to iron my projects before I sew them, because if you sew something without ironing it you run the risk of it being a little uneven, ironing just helps to make everything come out neatly. You can thank my wonderful grandmother for that tip!
Always always always do a forward stitch and then a back stich when you are sewing, if you don’t your seam will come apart, I know I say this in the videos but it is really important, even if you do a back stitch it might come out if you do not go back far enough, so make sure you do it, because it stinks to pull something out of the washer only to find your seam has come apart.
When you are done with a spool of thread, please for your own sanity tie it off, most spools have some kind of little wedge built into them so that you can stick the thread in there and it wont come out, if you dont do this you will have a very messy thread situation on your hands, its not only frustrating but it also ends up wasting thread.
Keep a spare piece of fabric beside your machine to test the stitch after you thread the machine, this is just to make sure the machine is stitching properly, I have started sewing on my good fabric a number of times only to find out it is not stitching correctly. Frustrating.
Keep a magnet or a pin cushion beside your machine at all times, it will make it really easy to throw an extra pin in your fabric while you are working, and it will also give you a place to put your pins if you pull them out as you go.
Keep your machine in good shape, if you do not maintain your machine it will not sew properly, even if you simply follow the few guidelines in your manuel it will make your machine last.
Always, always, always iron your patterns before you pin them to fabric! The first time my grandmother told me that you could iron the frail cray paper of a pattern I was amazed, ironing it out is very quick and it will ensure that your pattern is precise and will come together correctly when you sew the pieces together. Basically iron EVERYTHING, and the quality of your projects will be dramatically improved.
Buy extra bobbins so you can have several different colors on deck at one time. It makes it much easier to alter something in a pinch if you have a bobbin that is ready to go and all you have to do is thread your machine and do a quick stich.
Save all of your fabric, you never know when it may come in handy, now obviously I am not talking about minuscule scraps but even if it is a small piece you can save it to do test stitches on. I have also actually made some neat things out of fabric that was left over from previous projects (see cat toy post!)
Keep an eye on fabric sales. Fabric can be costly, but if you pay attention to when there are sales at your local fabric store you can score awesome deals. Unless I am looking for a specialty fabric I head directly to the sale section, and then I proceed to buy fabric I like in bulk. Personally I like to buy fabric that is monochromatic, in the past I have bought patterned fabric and then down the road I found I disliked it, but that is just personal preference.
If you are sewing a black fabric use a dark purple thread, so if you make a mistake it will be easy to go back and seam rip. That is what I did when I made this Cynthia Rowley Dress in black and it was super helpful several times throughout the process.
Keep a small trash can next to your sewing machine so you can throw away your thread (random other things too) with ease as you are sewing.
Listen to music while you work. I know this isn’t directly related but I always put Pandora on and sew away.