Before you start working on your first big project, knowing how to sew two pieces of fabric together is essential for your success. It’s not just garment making where this knowledge will come in handy either. Whether you’re making clothes, curtains, or stuffed toys you will, at some point, need to join two pieces of fabric together.
For the beginner, making the first stitch can be a daunting prospect. Not only do you have to consider your equipment, but the type of fabric you use also changes the way you sew.
This article will tell you how to sew two pieces of fabric together either by hand sewing or using a sewing machine.
Should You Hand Sew Or Use a Sewing Machine?
The choice between sewing by hand or machine is completely up to you. They both have their pros and cons.
While hand sewing is much slower and less precise, it can be therapeutic. Forcing you to slow down and focus on one thing. Many sewists love to hand sew as it clears their mind allowing them to relax after a hard day.
In the case of history bounding, the chance to sew a project in the old ways enhances the authenticity and connection you, as the sewist, feels with your work.
Sewing machines, on the other hand, are both faster and neater. Not only can they help you sail through projects with ease, but their stitches only take a few seconds and a reverse button to lock into place.
There is a lot more to consider when using a sewing machine though, from getting the tension right, the type of foot you use, to making sure you have the right needle. Most machines come with a manual that helps you navigate the different settings. Once you’re familiar with your machine, you may not want to hand sew a seam ever again.
What Do You Need To Sew Two Pieces Of Fabric?
The good thing is, sewing two pieces of fabric together doesn’t require an arsenal of tools. To get you started, you only need a handful of essentials.
Sewing two pieces of fabric together requires… well, two pieces of fabric. If you’re just starting out, it’s always good practice to begin with scraps. This will help you learn how to sew, without worrying about making a mess of your project.
Another essential, is your sewing machine and the accessories that are needed to make it work. Most of the important tools you need are included with your machine and are probably stored in the handy accessory tray in modern machines. Some even come with a built in thread cutter, meaning you don’t need to worry about finding some scissors.
Remember to check your needle is the right one for your chosen fabric, they don’t all cope well with different materials.
Needle and Thread
If you’re more interested in hand sewing or haven’t saved up for a sewing machine yet, all you need to sew two pieces of fabric together is a needle and thread. Again, make sure your needle is the right one for your chosen fabric and that it’s sharp. A blunt needle will make your learning curve steeper and a lot more frustrating.
Pins or Clips
Whether you use a sewing machine or needle and thread, the fabric needs to be kept still and level. Keeping your fabric pieces together can be tricky, especially when you need your hands free to make the stitches or guide your material through the sewing machine.
This is where pins or clips come in handy. They’ll hold your work in place so you can focus on sewing the fabric together.
If your thread is new, which is recommended for strong stitches, you’ll probably find breaking it isn’t easy. Not only do scissors come in handy for cutting your fabric down to size, you can use them to snip off those unwanted thread tails and neaten up your project when you’ve finished.
Sewing two pieces of fabric together creates seams. If you’re making clothes, it’s important your seams don’t cause unnecessary bulk. Ironing your seams flat will keep them neat, eliminating the issue of unsightly wrinkles and bulges.
How to Sew Two Pieces of Fabric Together
Now you know the equipment you need, let’s grab some scrap fabric and practice sewing two pieces together.
Step One – Pin Your Fabric Together
Place your fabric right sides together. The right side is the pretty side, or the printed side. The wrong side is either blank or less vibrant in its coloring.
Pinning fabric can be done in two ways. Either horizontally from the edge of the fabric across into the body of the fabric. Or vertically, so they run parallel to the edge. Both ways do the same job. Which one you use is up to you.
If you’re using clips, they can only go one way. Clip them onto the edge of the fabric.
Step Two – Thread Your Needle
Whether you decide to use a sewing machine or a hand needle, you need thread.
Sewing machines come with handy thread guides to make setting up simple. Some modern machines even have an automatic needle threader to help you coax the thread through the tiny eye of the needle.
Remember to push the needle up/down button to bring the bobbin thread up too. You’ll need it to make the stitches. If you haven’t already checked your machine’s manual for threading instructions, now would be a good time to do so.
Hand sewing is a lot simpler. Cut a length of thread and guide it through the eye of your needle. You should end up with two tails. Tying a knot in the end is up to you, a simple one will be more than enough to stop your thread pulling through the fabric as you sew.
Step Three – Check Your Fabric
Pause here to double check your fabric. Make sure your pins are in place and both pieces are flush together. There shouldn’t be any wrinkles or creases. If there is, smooth them out. Fixing any issues now will save you the heartache later.
Step Four – Secure Your Thread
Now you’re ready to start! Like threading the needle, this process differs depending on your chosen sewing technique.
With a sewing machine, lower the foot onto the end of your fabric where you want the seam to start. Making sure both the needle thread and the bobbin thread are behind the foot. Hold the threads lightly in your left hand and press the pedal with your right foot. Make two or three stitches. Stop. Let go of the threads.
Modern machines have a reverse button, check your manual if you don’t know where it is. Keep it pressed in and press the foot pedal again to go back over your first few stitches. This will lock them in place. You should end up right where you began.
If you’re hand sewing, you can either rely on the knot you tied in the end of your thread or secure the tail into the first few stitches you sew. The knot is easier but it’s really personal preference.
Step Five – Sew Your Seam
You’re finally ready to start sewing your first two pieces of fabric together. Remember to remove the pins or clips as you reach them and keep an eye on the size of your seam. Sewing machines have a handy guide to help you keep your stitches straight but you can also use tailor’s chalk to sketch the line you need to sew.
Step Six – Finish!
When you reach the end of your seam, finish the way you started.
For sewing machine users, use the reverse button again and back tack over your last few stitches. End with the needle up, raise the foot and cut the thread.
Hand sewists. Tie another knot or work the end of your thread into your previous stitches and cut off the remaining tail.
Use an iron to flatten your seams and voila. You’re done.
Troubleshooting Your Sewing
Sewing two pieces of fabric together is easy, in theory, but there’s a handful of things to remember. Here’s a few common issues to keep in mind to make troubleshooting a cinch:
Depending on your project, the type of fabric you need to work with varies. Unfortunately, they don’t all act the same way.
Woven materials, like cotton, are the easiest to work with, especially in straight lines. They don’t move or stretch much while you’re sewing. That changes when you’re sewing on the bias or around curves. Always stay stitch curve pieces before attempting to sew the seams. This will stop the fabric stretching out of shape.
Knit fabrics can also stretch as you work with them. Use plenty of pins or clips and try not to pull or push the fabric as you sew.
Slippery fabrics, like silk, take an even more careful and experienced hand. Although sleek and vibrant, silk has a tendency to move around while you’re sewing. Especially if you’re using a sewing machine. A lot of clips and a walking foot are essential.
It’s not just the texture of the fabric you have to take into account though. Thicker materials also create their own problems. If your sewing project calls for leather, you have to use the right thread and a specialized needle.
Pinning and Clipping
Both pins and clips hold your fabric together. The choice between the two is dependent on personal preference and the type of sewing you are doing. Whichever you choose, you need to make sure you secure your fabric pieces together properly.
There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through your project and realizing your pins slipped or you didn’t quite catch both layers of fabric with your clips. It’s an easy and simple mistake, yet one with devastating consequences. Especially on the motivation of the beginner sewist.
If you’re sewing with a sewing machine, make sure you take both pins and clips out of the fabric before they get hit by the foot or needle! Clips won’t fit under the needle. If the needle hits a pin while you’re sewing, it could break. Sending metal shards flying and possible damage to your machine.
Sewing a perfect project relies on one, very important, point. The smooth line of the seam you’re intending to sew.
As you pin, or clip, your two pieces of fabric, you need to make sure both are flush together. Wrinkles and creases in your fabric will bunch up under the needle and make your seams deformed and unsightly.
Ironing the fabric before you start will help but remember to make sure it’s a material that doesn’t melt under heat. Otherwise, just pay particular attention to keeping the fabric you’ve chosen flat while you work.
Sewing two pieces of fabric is the basis of every sewing project. Regardless of whether you use a sewing machine or a hand needle. Take your time and practice with scrap fabric, especially if you’re venturing into an unfamiliar material. You’ll be sewing seams like a pro before you know it.