A friend asked for my sewing tips. Here’s what I came up with. Some are really small practical things that have been important to me in getting a better finish on my projects. Others are about the approach I take to my sewing, and probably should take towards life too!
#1 – First up I think the only way you can ever get a really good finish is to go into the process knowing that it might not go according to plan. Time and materials might be used without an end product, but it is not a waste, you’re learning.
#2 – Buy the best that you can if you want your creativity to last. And when it comes to sewing tools, it makes sense to buy the quality, well-recommended products, because they will save you hours of frustration.
#3 – Look after your sewing machine – clean it, oil it, get it serviced. And as with everything you love, get to know its quirks, foibles, strengths and weaknesses.
#4 – So small but so important! Learn about needle sizes and make sure you use the right needle for the right project and fabric, whether you are machine stitching or hand sewing. Change machine needles regularly, it will make all the difference to the quality of your stitching.
#5 – Try and figure out how the pattern works and pieces fit together before you start. Make sure you have everything you need.
#6 – Oh yes, go on, please build your stash! Especially if you are a patchworker, or use lots of fabric in your work, it makes such a difference to your sewing and your freedom to experiment if you have lots of fabric to work with and choose from. Make sure you keep your stash colour balanced too. Let’s go shopping!!
#7 – Experiment with linings, interfacings, waddings, stitches, seam finishes, and decide on the ones you like for the finish you want to get. Some of this will come with experience, and (see rule 1) it is ok, although a bit hard sometimes, to make mistakes. I feel it really pays off not to skimp on this stuff.
#8 – You know that big fabric stash? Well, the lesson I am only just beginning to learn, as my scrap mountain gets more and more out of control, is that you need to keep it sorted. By colour, collection, size, value, designer – whatever works best for you. It’s a great way to see the gaps in your stash too, so you can do more of Rule 6 😉
#9 – It’s all going wrong? You’ve sewn that block in upside down for the second time? You’ve forgotten to interface your collar? You just can’t work out how the pieces are meant to fit together? Your pineapple block looks more like a banana? Take a break! Sleep on it, make a fresh start in half an hour, tomorrow, next week…
Ignore all the rules (even these – well, except the one about needles…and #6 of course), there’s usually more than one approach to take, more than one way to do things. Just remind yourself of #1 and then chuck the rule book out the window.