10 Things to know before you start sewing
Welcome to 10 things to know before you start sewing. Overall, this post will cover all the things that you need to know as a sewing beginner.
Without a doubt, when you first start to sew, it can be very daunting. Therefore it’s important to take small steps as rushing into advanced projects will make you ultimately doubt your sewing skills and throw the towel in early.
Nevertheless, if you follow our lessons and related projects, you will soon be able to complete these advanced projects with confidence and ease.
Knowing your machine- 10 things to know before you start sewing
To begin our list of 10 things to know before you start sewing, we will look at knowing your sewing machine. At first, your machine may look like something from another planet. However, once you know all of the parts, things will fall into place much easier.
Below I have highlighted the parts of your sewing machine that you need to become familiar with.
The stitch length-
Most machines will measure the stitch length in mm. However, you will find that different fabric may need a different stitch length. For this reason, it is important to try out your stitch length on a small piece of your chosen fabric before you begin. As well as this, you may also find that the pattern you are using needs a specific stitch length, however, this is rare. In addition to this, It is also important to note that the higher the stitch length number, the longer your stitch will be on your fabric.
Next we move onto basting stitches. Simply put, these are temporary stitches that are sewn with a long (higher number) stitch. Often these stitches are used when making ruffles. Alternatively, they can also be used to hold something in place more firmly than pins.
Tension is another important part of your machine. In most cases, the top tension is adjusted by a wheel (or as a number if digital). As with stitch length, If your tension is incorrect, it will cause your sewing to bunch or become uneven. Again, it is important to check your tension on a small bit of fabric to ensure that you keep even and tight stitches.
On the whole, most machines now come with a good, large selection of different stitches that you can use. In most cases, these will be shown somewhere on your machine, usually on the right hand side. As well as this, each stitch will be shown with a different icon. However, the basic stitches that you will use at first will be: Straight stitch and zigzag stitch.
Firstly, the straight stitch is a stitch in a continuous line and commonly used to sew your fabric together. Without a doubt, this is the most common stitch that you will use.
Next is the zigzag stitch. This stitch is also very common and is often used to finish off your seams in order to avoid fraying fabric.
Controlling your foot-
On the whole, the foot pedal on a sewing machine is similar to an accelerator in a car. For example, the harder you press your pedal, the faster your machine will sew. With this in mind, it is a good idea to practice using your foot pedal before you start a project. First, sew some straight lines and some right angles until you feel comfortable with the pressure you need on your foot pedal. After this, try sewing some curves and also circles. As with most things in life, the more you practice, the better you will become
Simple guide to fabric- 10 things to know before you start sewing.
Another one of your 10 things to know before you start sewing is all about fabric. Although you don’t need to know every single fabric that is available at this point, it’s crucial to know the fabric basics.
One thing to remember is that everyone started somewhere. Don’t be afraid to visit your local fabric store and ask for assistance. You will undoubtedly find that the people who work there will be more than happy to show you what you need.
The most important part of learning about fabric, is knowing that all fabrics will fall into a weight category. On the whole, the weight of fabric is determined by the thickness of the thread, for example: Light weight fabric includes silk and chiffon. However, on the other hand, heavy weight fabrics include denim and leather. Another point to remember, is that you will occasionally need to change your sewing machine needle to match your fabric. Heavier fabric will need to be sewn with a thicker needle, however, thinner fabric will need a thinner needle..
Right and wrong side
The next thing to know about fabric is that it will have a RIGHT side and a WRONG side. On the whole, this is a very important piece of sewing information and you will need this information to make most things. Essentially, the right side of the fabric, also know as the correct side or outside is the side of the fabric that you will see when the product is finished. Whereas, the wrong side of the fabric, also known as inside, is the side of the fabric that will be hidden when the project or garment is finished. Furthermore, when sewing, you will find that most things are sewn “right sides together”. This simply means that both sides of the fabric will be pinned together with both right sides touching.
Number 3 of our 10 things to know before you start sewing is all about the seam allowance. Overall, each product or garment that you make will require a seam allowance. On the whole, this is how far away from the raw edge or specific edge that you sew. For example, if your pattern requires a 1 inch seam allowance, measure in 1 inch from your raw edge and sew.
As well as this, most sewing machines will also have a measuring guide on the needle plate. However, not all machines will have these. On the other hand, If your machine doesn’t have this, you can also mark on your own lines or even tape a fabric tape measure onto the bottom end of your machine. As a result, these marks will help you guide your fabric and maintain an even seam allowance.
Although your seam allowance could be different, the most commonly used seam allowance in 3/8 inch, which is 1cm. Additionally, always ensure that you take note of the seam allowance that is stated in your projects. Besides this, if you are making your own pattern, don’t forget to add the required seam allowance to your pattern and take note of what this is.
Pins and Needles.
Next, we move onto learning about the importance of pins and pinning in our 10 things to know before you start sewing. One thing to note, is that all of your pins and needles need to be kept sharp, as if they are blunt they will cause pulling and tearing in your fabric. However, You can keep them sharp using our top tip below or alternatively ensure that you replace them regularly.
TOP TIP- Cover some wire wool with fabric to make a pin cushion and as a result; the wire wool will keep your pins and needles sharp.
In addition to this, pinning your fabric will also help to keep your pieces together whilst you sew. Although there isn’t a specific way to put your pins, we would recommend that you place them with the sharp edge facing the raw edge.
As well as pins, you can also use fabric clips to help keep your fabric together. You can find these here.
Importance of pressing.
Another important part of our 10 things to know before you start sewing is the importance of pressing. When I first began sewing; I would regularly skip the pressing and ironing parts of my sewing pattern. However, after the garment was finished, I would be baffled as to why things didn’t line up correctly.
After years of experience, I have learnt that pressing is possibly one of the most important parts of sewing.
Not only does pressing help with lining up fabric, but it also helps guide you when you are sewing things such as : seams and zippers. As well as this, pressing your pieces will also help to set the stitch in the direction that you require.
Don't forget to back stitch.
This is again another important step for you to remember when sewing and number 6 on our list of 10 things to know before you start sewing. In most cases, back stitching is usually done at the beginning and end of your stitch. Furthermore, your machine should have a button or lever that is used to create a back stitch.
In addition to this, the back stitch is simply a stitch that goes backwards, and is used to secure the thread and keep the stitch from untangling.
Furthermore, it is important to practice your back stitching to get to grips with it properly and also don’t forget to use it when sewing your pieces together.
Although you will need to back stitch in most cases, when doing a basting stitch you DO NOT back stitch, this is because you don’t want to secure a basting stitch.
Finishing you seams for beginners
As a sewing beginner, you want to keep this part of sewing as simple as possible at first. Although finishing your seams can appear complicated, it will become easy once you have done it several times. Additionally, It is important to know Seams can be finished in a variety of different ways and this is to prevent the raw edges of the fabric for fraying. Alternatively, finishing your seams can also be used to hide the raw edge completely.
Overall, the most common way to finish a seam is by using a zigzag stitch. In order to use a zigzag stitch to finish a seam-
- First, Ensure that your needle is lifted to the highest setting using your hand wheel (or use your button if working on a digital machine).
- Next, cut off excess fabric and thread, however, be careful not to cut through your seam.
- Once you have done this, next; select the zigzag stitch on your stitch guide.
- Line up your presser foot with the raw end of the fabric. At this point it is important to note that you do NOT want your zigzag stitch to go over your seam.
- Finally, sew along your raw edges, back stitching at start and end.
Over locker foot
However, not all machines will have this stitch option. Alternatively you can buy an over locking machine but I would suggest you buy this as you get more advance in sewing as they can be very expensive.
Keep your work space organised.
The next things that I have learnt whilst sewing, is that; it is essential to keep your work space and sewing items tidy and organised.
When I first began sewing, I would start 3 projects at once and as a result all of my work was scattered everywhere. Over time I realised that I spent more time looking for the things that I needed than I did actually sewing.
On the whole, It is important to keep everything where you can easily find it, as well as giving all of your sewing items a home. As you build your sewing collection, you can also buy amazing stands that will hold all of your bobbins and thread. Not only this but, you can also find some beautiful sewing bags on the market, or better yet make your own. In addition to this, it is also a good idea to get yourself a folder to store all of your patterns and instructions.
Need to know sewing feet.
without a doubt, during your sewing journey you will cross a vast amount of different sewing feet with a huge range of different purposes. However as a beginner you will only need to know the simple ones. below are 3 sewing feet that you need to know as a sewing beginner.
The regular presser foot-
On the whole, this foot will be your most popular foot to use and is used for your straight stitch, zigzag stitch and also when doing a basting stitch. Additionally, you can find regular presser feet that are clear plastic and as a result, enables you to see your sewing through it. As well as this, It is important to note that you can also purchase a regular foot that has markings on.
Over locking foot-
Next we look at the overlocking foot, which is most commonly used to finish off seams and also assist in hemming. However, not all machines are compatible with the over locking stitch.
On the other hand, if your machine is compatible, over locking feet can be bought from most haberdasheries.
Another popular foot that you will need on your sewing journey is a zipper foot. Unlike the other feet that we have looked at, you can purchase a zipper foot to complete both visible and invisible zippers. Although a zipper foot is not always needed to insert a zipper, it will however make the process much easier and simpler.
Practice makes perfect
The last point on our list of 10 things to know before you start sewing is that practice makes perfect. Although it is easy to give up after you mess up or fail a project, I believe we learn better from the mistakes that we make.
Having fun is the most important part, as you don’t want your hobby to feel like a chore.
As well as this, take your time practising and if you come across something that goes wrong, practice some more. Eventually you will become comfortable with your machine and what you need to do in order to complete the perfect project
We hope that you have found this useful and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to message us or comment below. Keep visiting us weekly for more sewing lessons, tutorials and reviews.