One of the commonest things every newcomer to sewing wants to know is- How to improve your sewing as a beginner. Actually, It’s one question we never stop asking ourselves. Even when we’ve been sewing for years. The thing is, sewing is a learning curve that never ends. There will always be something you don’t know or a new skill to learn.
This article will show you hints and time-saving tips to help improve and expand your skills. Tips born out of many years of sewing experience. Let’s dive straight in and find out how you can improve your sewing as a beginner.
1. Don’t Buy Sewing Equipment Frivolously- Buy just what you need.
Sewing is one of those hobbies with a gadget for every task. It can be tempting to buy every tool going in the hope it will help you sew better. While this can be true for some things, many are just gizmos. Purchasing them all will cost you a fortune and may end up confusing you rather than being any use.
When you’re starting out, concentrate on the items you need for the project you’re working on. Over time, you’ll find the list of equipment you own will grow. As will your sewing knowledge. With every project teaching you more about sewing, your skills and the contents of your work box will improve.
Better still, your sewing kit will contain items you know how to use. Rather than things you bought on a whim.
2. Watch the Fabric Not The Needle
Sitting behind a sewing machine the first couple of times can be daunting. It goes so fast and never stays on a straight line. Making your seams all wonky.
The reason new sewists struggle to sew a straight line is because all their focus is on the needle. There’s only one way the needle can move. Up and down. The only thing veering off course is the fabric.
For straight seam lines, you need to watch the fabric not the needle.
Choose an item to line up your stitching with. It can be the edge of the sewing machine foot, the seam guide on your machine, or a line marked on the fabric.
As you sew, keep your eyes on your chosen stitching guide. Focus on the fabric. About 3 – 4 inches in front of the presser foot should do it. Watch carefully to ensure the fabric stays on course. Make small, gentle corrections as the fabric moves forwards. If you need to, ease up on your speed and take it slow.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Whenever you come across a new technique it’s easy to get frustrated when it doesn’t turn out right.
Unfortunately, it’s not the technique that’s the problem. None of us are born knowing how to sew. We have to learn how to do each and every process within the craft. We’re all guilty of skipping the practice stage because of time constraints or because it’s boring.
The thing is, it’s the practice that makes us sew with perfection.
Take the time to figure out how to do each task. Learn the new sewing skills before trying them on your project. Zippers, using a buttonhole foot, or even sewing a button on by hand, are all acquired skills. So is making a garment from a pattern.
Make a test piece out of spare, inexpensive fabric first. When you’re happy with how it looks, move on to your project fabric.
When it comes to sewing, practice does more than make things perfect. It also helps you learn and fine-tune your sewing skills, saving you from annoyance and frustration.
4. Challenge Yourself With Each Project
Start your sewing journey with an easy beginner project. A simple start will help you get to grips with your new hobby and the tools you need for the job. Not only will completing your first project boost your confidence, it will also encourage you to sew something else.
Make sure your second project is slightly more challenging than the first. Each new task should push you to learn a new technique. By introducing something different each time, your sewing skills will improve without you even noticing.
Before long, you’ll be tackling complex sewing tasks without batting an eyelid.
5. If at First, You Don’t Succeed Try, Try, Try, Again
Sometimes our sewing plans don’t go according to the plan. Or even the pattern. We all have a picture in our head of what we want a project to turn out like. When it doesn’t, it can be a crushing blow to our sewing mojo.
Sewing is one of those activities where screwing up can seem like an occupational hazard. For beginners, it can be especially hard. No one likes to fail at something. Or make mistakes.
Don’t despair! Sewing bloopers are part of the process of learning. Get back to that sewing machine, or hand stitching project and try again. The key to successful sewing is to keep sewing. And then sew some more. Keep trying. You’ll get there!
6. Tip on Commercial Patterns
Many sewists become irritated with commercial patterns. They can never find one that fits their body. As an experienced sewist, let me tell you. I still haven’t found a pattern I don’t have to alter. To be able to use a commercial pattern straight out of the packet is rare.
Commercial patterns are designed for a base figure. An average size if you like. One many of us don’t even come close to.
There are two areas you need to focus on when choosing your commercial pattern. The first is your shoulders, or rather the width of your upper body from armpit to armpit. The second is your hips. Both areas are a nightmare to alter. So save yourself the hassle and don’t adjust them. It’s these areas you need to fit your pattern to. Match your pattern to those body parts, and fitting the rest of you will be a breeze.
Once you have the size, the next thing to be careful with is style.
Shopping for commercial patterns is very similar to buying ready to wear clothes. Each of us has a style that attracts us. Something we know suits our body shape. Take an off the peg tee-shirt, if your preference is for a V neck, you’ll bypass all the other neck types.
You should approach pattern buying in the same way. Avoid patterns for garments you know don’t suit you. Or you know you won’t wear.
Sounds obvious doesn’t it? The problem with commercial patterns, the packaging can portray the image of a garment that’s so gorgeous on the model, you just have to sew it. Even if you’d never buy that style of clothing from the store.
There’s nothing wrong with sewing something you don’t normally wear. But, if the end result looks bad on you, it will put a dent in your sewing confidence. Instead of it being down to a poorly chosen pattern, you’ll think your sewing skills suck.
When it comes to sewing patterns, stick to garments you know suit you and your style. You’ll have a better sewing experience if you work on something you’ll actually want to wear.
7. Stick With the Fabric Recommendations
The biggest challenge for new sewists, is fabric choice. With so many different kinds of fabric available, in all the colors of the rainbow and more, it’s easy to get carried away.
Picking the brightest, softest fabric for that skirt or top you’ve been planning to make, might seem like a good idea in the store. But, if it’s the wrong one for the pattern, you’re going to be in fabric hell.
Not all fabrics are suitable for all projects. Choosing the right one can be a challenge but there is a way to make the choice a bit more simple.
Check the back of your pattern. Commercial patterns all have recommended fabrics listed on the back of the packet. Stick to their suggestions and your project and fabric will be a match made in heaven.
8. Prepare Your Fabric
A step in the sewing process often overlooked is preparing the fabric. Depending on the material you are using, you may need to pre-wash it. This is an important step. If you’re using a fabric like cotton, it has a tendency to shrink. You’ll want it to shrink before you sew your form-fitted shirt. Otherwise, the garment you worked so hard on won’t fit.
Marking your fabric before you cut is also an essential part of the sewing process. The notches, darts, dots, button placements and fold lines, all need to be noted on your fabric.
Doing so will save time when you get to the sewing stage. You’ll know at a glance which bit matches up where. You’ll also be able to work from the information on the fabric instead of having to keep digging the pattern piece out of a packet. A step you’ll only do once before it gets annoying. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to work from the fabric markings!
Many beginners find keeping the seam allowances accurate throughout sewing is tricky. Although you can use the seam guide on the sewing machine, this can get hidden under the fabric. Take the time to mark the seam allowance from the pattern onto the fabric. A simple dotted line where you need to sew will help keep you on track.
9. Treat Your Sewing Machine Like a Princess
Treating your sewing machine with respect will make it last longer. It will also improve your sewing. A well-oiled, finely tuned machine will sew a perfectly straight seam, free from puckers and pulls.
A machine full of dust bunnies and bits of broken needle will struggle, miss stitches and most likely give up on you halfway through your project.
The quality of your sewing isn’t down to your skills alone. It’s also down to the tools you use and how you treat them. Keeping your machine in tip-top condition is essential. You can’t improve your skills if your machine doesn’t work properly.
Make sure you clean out fabric fluff from the bobbin area regularly. Change the needle after every project. Most of all, don’t get into the habit of sewing over pins. Hitting pins breaks needles. A bit of broken needle inside a sewing machine can do all sorts of damage. To both the machine and your sewing mojo.
10. Watch Some Videos
One of the easiest ways to learn is to watch someone show you how to do something. YouTube is a treasure trove of sewing videos explaining a multitude of techniques. There are even videos on how to use sewing machines. From using the different stitches to choosing the right foot for the job.
Some TV stations have weekly shows that cover various techniques and give great tips on how to do them.
Learning from sewing books is all well and good but sewing is a practical skill. There isn’t a substitute for the hands-on feel you get when watching a tutorial.
The tried and tested way to improve your sewing is to sew. As often and as much as you can. Sewing is a skill that grows with you. Whether you are a beginner, an intermediate, or an experienced sewist, the more you sew, the more techniques you will come across. The better your sewing will be.