I still remember the first few years I started sewing. I always did things the hard way because I had no idea of tips and tricks that could simplify my sewing. Yes, my mother and grandmother shared a few of their traditional tricks but nothing special. So, I started discovering those sewing hacks along the way.
Today, I want to share those nifty sewing tips and tricks with you. If you are a beginner, intermediate sewer or professional, stay with me. I have a special section with sewing tips for each and every one of you that will match your skill level. So, no matter your experience, you will find them helpful. And fun.
How Can I Improve My Sewing Skills?
Every beginner’s first question is, how can he improve his skills. I have a few tips that might help you. However, you must remember that practice makes perfect, so this is the most important tip to apply.
Tip 1: Take photos
I suggest taking photos of existing threading just to make sure that you can re-thread when you need to.
Tip 2: Leave the thread guide up
This is a very important tip for beginners. When you begin with sewing, make sure that the thread guide above the needle is in its higher position. Otherwise, as you will spin the handwheel to begin, the needle will unthread. So, to make sure that this does not happen, create a habit of checking it every single time.
Tip 3: Start by hand
In order to make sure that everything is perfect, I recommend doing the first few stitches by turning the handwheel anticlockwise. This way you can check if the needle is getting easier in the fabric, determine if the thickness is an issue, and avoid thread jams. Also, you will precisely define the first stitch position.
Tip 4: Leave the needle down
Make sure that you stop with your needle up (out of the garment), while sewing a corner or when you need to reposition the fabric. Leaving it down and pivoting in the fabric will help you make a nice seam.
Tip 5: Rethreading will solve 99% of your problems
When you find in your seam a thread too loose or too tight, or your sewing unit is skipping stitches, I recommend rethreading. Rethread the bobbin and spool. To make things easier for yourself, check the photos you made at the beginning (tip 1). While you move the bobbin, check for bird’s nest right below the needle plate. This is usually what causes problems including missing stitches or thread wonkiness.
Tip 6: Choose the right type of needle and conditions
Universal needles make the perfect choice for beginners, however, when working with special kinds of fabric, I recommend choosing the right type of needle. For example, lightweight fabrics like thin cotton or sheers require a smaller needle while thicker fabrics like denim require a bigger needle (100 or 110).
In my opinion, ballpoint needles also known as jersey/stretch/knit ones are the most important kind of needles. They have a rounded tip that moves between knitted threads, splitting them. Using a Universal needle will make unwanted holes before you blink. Also, always use a new, sharp needle when working. Using a bent needle can make a thread jam, suck your fabric or worse – it can break and hurt your eyes.
Tip 7: Choose the right type of thread
I recommend using the same thread type in both spool and bobbin. Using various colors in your lower and upper thread is not a problem. However, pick them from the same family in order to prevent jams or unwanted breakages. This means that you should not mix cotton in the bobbin and polyester spool.
Tip 8: Clean your sewing machine regularly
I find this tip as the most important one for both beginners and professionals. Cleaning your machine is going to extend its life. Also, proper maintenance is important. You should always oil your unit except if you own one has a self-lubricating system. Use a compressor to blow out lint or thread hidden inside the machine. Check your sewing unit’s manual in order to check how to clean and maintain it the right way.
Tip 9: Master the straight line
Learning how to sew a straight line is easy, however, most beginners find it a bit difficult. The trick is not to look at your sewing needle. Estimate your seam allowances distance from a needle and point the one you need on your needle plate somehow (sticky notes), making a repositionable seam guide. Keep your garment’s edge aligned with your improvised seam guide. This will help you make the ideal straight line.
Tip 10: Practice on scraps
When cutting out pattern pieces, do not throw away your fabric scraps. You can use them for calibrating and practicing your stitching. No one is born a natural sewist or has the ability to sew perfectly without practice. Practice makes perfect. Trying a certain stitch on scraps can help you improvise the end results.
Tip 11: Always check the volume of thread on the bobbin
I know that this sounds silly but I always check the amount of thread on the bobbin. This is a good tip for people who believe in bad luck. Most times when I do not check or assume that I have enough, it always ends in the middle of the project. It is better to change it before you start and spare yourself the stress.
Tip 12: Go back and forth
I always recommend starting 1/2 cm inside your garment edge, backstitch and sew the seam. This will fix your seam’s head. You can do the same with the other end of the garment. When reaching the edge, reverse your sewing unit direction, make a few stitches and cut the thread tails. In some situations, it is better to just sew off the edge leaving long thread tails, tie tails together and shorten them afterward.
Tip 13: Start your seam holding threads tails on your left hand
In order to prevent messes, start your every seam holding threads tails on your left hand. This is a good tip for lightweight fabrics that are more likely to be swallowed but not anymore if you follow my advice.
Tip 14: Manage your speed
If you are a beginner, you should pay attention to the speed. I suggest going slowly at the beginning and never pushing your foot down the pedal. Also, I always prefer working with my naked foot on the pedal. It gives me more control rather than wearing shoes or slippers but it is a matter of preference and taste.
Tip 15: Never underestimate the power of a good press
Last but not least, never skip a good press. Learning how to press seams while you work will make a big difference in your projects. However, never cross a seam with one other seam if the first is not pressed.
What do I Need for Beginner Sewing?
Most beginners believe that needles and threads make a sewing kit complete. However, if you want to become a serious sewer, you will need a lot more. Here is a list of the basic things you need for sewing.
- Cutting mat
- Quilters ruler
- Needle threader
- Magnetic pin holder
- Chalk or washable markers
- A quality pair of fabric scissors
- A quality pair of embroidery scissors
- Parchment paper/dryer sheets
- Lots of lovely fabrics
- Pinking shears
- Tape measure
- Rotary cutter
- Seam rippers
- Seam gauge
Sewing Tips for Beginners
Starting a new hobby like sewing can always seem a bit scary. However, if you think of it as a journey, it can help you make the first step. Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher once stated: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” So, let’s take that step together and learn a few useful tricks along the way.
Trick 1: Cut your patterns attentively
When you are working with something that has pattern pieces to cut around, press the pattern paper to prevent wrinkles from deforming your cut fabric. Pay close attention to fabric grain. If the pattern shows you to cut something on the grain, it means that you should line up that piece in the way of the wrapped thread that was used to weave that material. Measure twice before you cut. It is recommended to use a rotary cutter with a cutting mat in order to get the perfect and clean lines.
Trick 2: Measure your seam allowances
Most people think that any old seam allowance will fit their new project. However, that is not possible. Even the slightest miscalculation can break your final outcome. That is why measuring seam allowances is important. Seam allowance can change depending on different parts of a project. If you are not sure, I recommend testing it on a piece of fabric. After, mark the position on your presser foot or sewing unit.
Trick 3: Press your garments properly
Pressing and ironing are not the same things in sewing. And the difference between them can make or break your project. Use a presser bar or a pressing ham for right spaces or curved edges. If you are using an ironing tool, make sure that you use the right heat setting for the fabric that you are pressing. Also, it is recommended to test a piece of the fabric with your heating tool before you press the actual garment.
Trick 4: Add custom details
I am one of those people who believe that details can make a difference. That is why I encourage myself and others to add hand-sewn details to their projects. Hand sewing takes more time than using a sewing unit but it is worth it if it makes your project stand out. Also, adding a personal touch to your project will make it even more special. You can use decorative stitches to boost a certain area or embroidery details.
Sewing Tips for Intermediate Professional
If you already know the basics of sewing and have brought a couple of your own ideas to life, it is time to improve your skills. Here is a shortlist of tips and tricks that will take your sewing crafts to the next level.
Sewing fabrics is not the same as sewing leather
When working with leather, keep in mind that it cannot be pinned. Any holes in this type of material will stay forever. Instead, it is recommended to use office clips or paperclips to hold leather pieces together.
Turn your pin-cushion into a pin-sharpening tool
I have noticed that my needles and pins turn dull over time because of the pin-cushion that I used. But I have discovered a hack that solved this problem. I turned my pincushion into a pin-sharpening tool. Just sew the cushion together and pack it with torn-up steel wool pads. It will keep the needles super-sharp.
Washi tape can be used in many different manners
Did you know that you can use washi tape to mark out seams, seam allowance guide, and also lines for topstitching? It is the ideal tool for people with trouble viewing the seam allowance marks on their foot. Just put a strip of washi tape on the sewing machine in order to use it as a mark and you are good to go.
A bodkin has proved to be a very handy sewing tool
You can use bodkin in many ways in your sewing room. For example, you can insert elastic into a sleeve or waistband while your garment is in its making phase. Or you can draw an elastic band out. Just insert an open bodkin into the sleeve or waistband, catch the elastic and slide the ring down. It is a handy tool.
Make your own fabric weights
Fabric weights are extremely useful because they make cutting long pieces of fabric very easy, however, they are also very expensive to purchase. Using washers, you can make your own weights for only $0.60. Buy two kinds of flat washers – 1/2’’ and 3/4’’ or you can purchase the heaviest and largest you can find.
Take hot glue and glue the washers together. Make sure they are the same size. The flat sides should be touching. End off the look by wrapping them with any leftover fabric or material that you have on hand.
Craft your own hemline tool
You can create your own hemline tool with a piece of cardstock. Just cut a rectangle (8 x 5’’ or bigger) and spot every half inch from both sides. This method will enable you to iron hemlines or folds evenly.
Store your bobbins and threads properly
I suggest storing your filled bobbins together. Also, keep your threads from dangling by putting them in a foam toe separator. Extra tip – every time you change your bobbin, take a small brush and remove any lint that could have piled up inside the bobbin case. Regular maintenance will keep your tools effective.
Keep your buttons from falling off with this hack
In order to keep your buttons from falling out, you should add a coat of transparent nail polish. This will prevent the thread from unraveling. So, it will also keep your buttons in tack for a longer period of time.
Sewing Tips for Professional Finish
No matter if you are a newbie or a professional sewist, there is always a place for improvement. You can make your projects look even more professional. Here are some tips on how to boost your sewing skills.
Tip 1: Wash your fabrics
I always recommend washing your fabric before you start cutting. Wash it in the same way you would once the garment is created. This will help you notice wrinkles, see if the drape and feel of the garment changes after any dressing have been washed out, and of course, you will test if for colorfastness. If you skip this step, you might get disappointed once you wash your finished garment and get horrible results.
Tip 2: Use the right type of needle
Using the right type of needle is important. You should determine the type of needle depending on your fabrics. Also, you should determine the right size. For example, sharp point needles are great for an even nice stitch and little puckering. But they make a terrible choice for woven fabrics such as linen or cotton.
Universal needles, on the other hand, are a little bit bigger than the sharp point needles. They also have a rounded point that transfers easily through knitted fabric. But it is still sharp enough to pierce a woven fabric. If you want super-versatile needles that can be used with different fabrics, buy universal needles.
If you want to sew jersey or stretch fabrics, you will need ballpoint needles. They have a rounded point that slips between the threads of the fabric and ensures that it does not snag. When it comes to needle sizes, you can choose from size 9 to size 18. Size 9 is most suitable for lightweight fabrics such as organza or voile, while size 18 is perfect for heavy fabrics such as canvas or denim. Change your needle regularly.
Tip 3: Select the proper interfacing
Selecting the proper interfacing gives your fabric the ability to behave as you prefer. Search and look for garments made with the fabric you want to use on the Internet in order to get your own, creative ideas.
Interfacing is very important. Except for stabilizing edges and giving support to lapels and collars, it hides bulk or keeps inside seams from appearing to the right side. It gives durability and strength to the fabric.
Tip 4: Learn to make perfect darts
A beautifully sewn dart makes shaping in a garment and provides the fabric the ability to wrap around the body. A poorly made dart can ruin the look of your garment. This is why marking dart legs matters.
Tip 5: Trim and grade your seams
One important detail of a beautifully polished garment is a clean seam and edges without any bumps or lumps appearing through. This is why you need to trim and grade the seams of your waistbands, facings, lapels, collars, and edges of jackets and coats – they all have seams that should be trimmed and graded.
Tip 6: Use the power of understitching
The key to a smooth lining or facing that does not roll to the outside of a neckline is understitching. This method means pressing the seam allowance joining the facing to the fabric against the facing. Next, you make a line of stitches close to the seam itself. Make sure to remain on the facing side and taking seam allowances in the sewing. This leads the facing to roll inwards on the garment, making the smooth edge.
Tip 7: Press your garment with care
Over the years, I have concluded that pressing can either make or break your sewing project. However, do not worry because most pattern instructions provide details about when and where to press during the making process. So, make sure to check and follow those instructions if you want the perfect result.
Tip 8: Sew a hidden hem
Once you are done with your garment, correctly sewn darts, picked the right interfacing, trimmed away seams, and under-stitched where necessary, it is time for the hem. Learning how to make a hidden hem is important because it makes a lovely complement to a nicely sewn garment. Using silk thread will help you hide the stitches and make your work a lot easier.
Tip 9: Use your fabric scissors for fabric only
It has proved to me that cutting paper or something else with your fabric scissors is never a smart idea. This is why I recommend using your scissors for cutting fabric only. Otherwise, you will dull your scissors.
Tip 10: Change your needle frequently
It is important to change your needles regularly. You should not wait for them to wear out. They can be bad even when they are not broken yet. I also forget to change my needles on a regular basis. However, let’s hope that I will develop a habit of changing them more frequently after writing this article. Join me.
Hopefully, my article can help enthusiastic beginners and thriving sewers improve their skills and boost their creativity. If you like my nifty sewing tips and tricks, do not forget to share them with your friends.
If you have any tips for sewers on how to improve the quality of their projects, please, share them in the comments. I would love to hear them. And remember, a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.