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Fabric Godmother

Daily sewing tips

 
  • If you make adjustments to a pattern be sure to make the same adjustments to the lining

  • Find a willing friend or other half to help you pin your hems, standing on a table it makes it easier for them to see if the hem is straight
  • You can play around with using a different fabric to the pattern recommendations, but I would use a cheap fabric or make a toile first time round
  • If you are tall or have long arms don’t forget to add extra length to the sleeves of your patterns as well as the back
  • Do you have an abundance of those reusable shopping bags? I use mine to store ongoing sewing projects in, that way you can keep the fabric, notions and patterns together
  • When making a collar with sheer fabrics iron your interfacing onto the top layer to prevent seam allowances showing
  • Cut out pattern pieces that you are not using as it makes them easier to fold and store for next time
  • Keep plenty of black, navy and white thread in stock, they always come in useful
  • Use pieces of leftover fabric to wrap presents with, instead of wrapping paper
  • Iron your fabric before cutting it out to make sure it lies flat
  • Test your stitch tension on a piece of the fabric you will be sewing before starting on the main garment 
  • Don’t forget to transfer pattern markings before you cut out the pattern, it will save you heaps of time
  • Scour Ebay and Etsy for vintage patterns, but remember vintage sizing comes up smaller so check measurements
  • Buy yourself a box of spare bobbins, otherwise you will end up with 6 different colours all wound round 1 bobbin, and will want the one at the bottom
  • I like to call my mistakes lessons, they are the best way to learn
  • You will need 3 pairs of scissors. Dressmaking shears, to cut your fabric.  Small sharp points for snipping threads and clipping curved seams and a pair of paper scissors for cutting out patterns
  • Pinking shears are a quick and easy way of finishing seam allowances for fabrics that don’t fray easily
  • If you sew a lot (and have the room) think about getting a cutting table, it will save your back and knees
  • Don’t over iron your tailors chalk as it will seal it to the fabric and won’t come off easily
  • Use a really fine sharp sewing machine needle on delicate fabrics to prevent pulling
  • Iron your interfacing on to your fabric before cutting, it make it much easier to match up and helps prevent the edges of your fabric from fraying
  • Invest in a quality unpicker as a blunt one will tug the thread rather than cutting it
  •  I always like to try at least 1 new technique with each thing I sew, so that I am constantly learning and challenging myself
  • Trim loose threads as you go along, it will save going back afterwards and removing them all at the end and keeps your sewing much neater
  • Run your sewing thread over beeswax to help threading the needle and prevent it twisting
  • Don’t forget to give your clothes a really good steam iron when you have finished them for a really polished look
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment, it may not always work but you will learn a lot on the journey
  • Lost your sew-jo? Spend some time tidying your fabrics stash, it will get your creative juices flowing again (honestly try it)
  • Investing in a new machine? Look out for a button hole  memory function, it will help get a better finish on your garments as all of your buttonholes will match
  • Stop at a good point in your sewing, you don’t want to pick up a problem when you come back to it
  • Invest in a metre stick as well as a tape measure, it can make measuring laid out fabric much easier
  • Copy Coco Chanel and sew small weights in the bottom of fluid clothes to make them hang beautifully
  • Take your shoes off when you sew, you will have much more control over your sewing machine pedal – Just be careful of pins!
  • Pick up all the pins before the children play in the room again
  • Remove all loose thread around your zip, they could get caught and ruin your hard work by pulling a thread or clogging the zip
  • Approach your projects one step at a time so anything new doesn't become overwhelming
  • I believe the ‘right’ side of the fabric is the side you like best. Unless it has a loose weave which may snag it doesn't matter which way round you use fabrics as long as you enjoy i
  • Check what stitch your machine is set to before pressing the pedal, the number of times I have started to zig zag along a seam I have lost count 
  • The iron is your friend, stop and iron regularly as you sew
  • Read the instruction manual of your sewing machine every few months, every time I open mine learn something new
  • Refashioning and old piece of clothing can be just s satisfying as sewing something from scratch.
  • When you are trying to match a sewing thread, unroll the end and lay in on, rather than putting the whole roll next to it, it will give a better matc
  • Invest in a good quality sewing thread (I like Gutermann) a cheap one will only break in your machine and frustrate you
  • Want to know how often to change your sewing machine needle? Roughly every 20 hours of sewing
  • Don’t be tempted by a machine with lots of fancy stitches if you don’t need them. Most dressmakers only need a few stitches 
  • Line your laundry basket with fabric to compliment your décor
  • Use paper scissors to cut out your sewing pattern pieces, not your sewing shears as it will blunt them
  • Organise a fabric swap with your friends your old remnants may be their new projects
  • I keep my dressmaking scissors hanging on a pretty hook above my sewing table so they are always in reach
  • Keep your sewing machine dust free it will run better and last longer
  • Most machines have a function to sew on buttons using a zig zag stitch set to 0, check your instructions, it will save hours of boring button sewing
  • Make a sewing date with yourself, plan time in your diary with no distractions. Turn off the phone, make sure the kids are looked after and enjoy your moment
  • Use leftover fabric off cuts to make contrasting collars and cuffs
  • Put your sewing machine on a piece of non slip shelf lining  to stop it moving when in use
  • Use an orange stick (used in manicures) to push out difficult seams and corners when ironing = no more burned fingers
  • Use a dress making dummy for a better fit
  • I have a shelf above my sewing desk with jam jar lids screwed to the bottom, the jars screw on and hang down. I use them to keep essentials like pins, buttons and my tape measures in (bonus you have to eat lots of jam to empty the jars first) #sewing
  • Once you have found a pattern you like, make it in lots of different fabrics. Each time it will get quicker and easier, it is amazing how far one pattern will go just see all the Colette peony dresses in my blogRub off any tailors chalk before washing your clothes as the chalk will mark if it gets wet
  • Mark all notches and pattern markings during cutting out, it will save time in the long run
  • On lightweight fine fabrics use a ball point needle to prevent snagging
  • Dressmaking should be a pleasure not a chore
  • Tie a piece of ribbon to the handles of your sewing scissors to remind the rest of your family to keep their hands off them! 
  • Put your sewing machine on a piece of non slip shelf lining  to stop it moving when in use
  • For slippery fabrics pin, tack then sew, don’t skip a step..... you will get much better results
  • Staple your pattern instructions together in order so you don't get lost or miss any steps
  • Sewing a concealed zip? Press open the zip before you sew it to get closer to the teeth and a neater finish 
  • Add a piece of elastic to a small pin cushion and keep it round your wrist when sewing for easy access to pins 
  • Cutting out a pattern on the carpet? Try sticking the pin straight down into the carpet, much easier than pinning pattern to fabric and it won’t move around
  • Shoulder pads improve your posture and make you look taller and slimmer, add them to your clothes and feel the benefits
  • If you are using striped fabric make sure you lay the pattern pieces out so the stripes match before you start cutting
  • Tie a piece of string between 2 chairs. Rub chalk along the string and adjust it to where you want your hem to be. Put on your unfinished dress or skirt and turn slowly standing next to the string. Instant hem line marking!Take a break, get up and walk around when you are sewing, shrug your shoulders a few times. Looking down at your sewing can cause tension
  • Use tracing paper to make copies of your patterns so that they last longer
  • Don’t cut anything but fabric with your sewing scissors, paper will quickly blunt them
  • To find the right side of a jersey fabric see which way the cut edge rolls, it will always roll towards the right side.
  • Always buy a bit of extra fabric to allow for cutting mistakes.
  • Use up old bits of fabric to make fun contrasting facings for your clothes or pocket linings
  • Iron your work often to open out the seams and make sure it falls correctly
  • When using iron interfacing, let it cool completely before using the fabric, this will create a stronger bond
  • Scribble any alternations on the paper envelope of a sewing pattern so you remember them next time you make it
  • Keep a sewing journal. When you finish a garment, record how much fabric it actually took, and any alterations you made. If you make the garment again, it will be so much easier to cut and fit!
  • Dont keep the box of pins by your machine as you sew, you will knock them over, just put a few in an old tin
  • Change your needle often. It really helps the sewing go much more smoothly
  • When working with fabrics that are difficult to spot right from wrong side,attach small sticky labels to wrong side as you remove pattern pieces. 
  • Take care of your tools. Keep your machine clean and in my case oiled. Keep your scissors sharp and a drop of oil on the screw
  • The most useful tip I learned was to assemble everything needed to complete a project before starting it. Nothing more frustrating than finding you don't have snaps of the correct size or elastic of the proper width when the fabric store has closed for the day
  •  Read all the pattern before starting to sew
  • The best sewing tip I have received is"Enjoy the process". Whatever step you are at with your project ENJOY it.
  • Measuring, cutting, assembling, pressing, finishing; every step is important to the outcome of your project.
  • Quality work can't be rushed
  • Always place your pins at right angles to the cutting or sewing line (If you can)
  • If you can never get all the pattern pieces back in the envelope it came in, put them in a brown envelope and stick the front of the paper pattern to the front
  • Don’t sew when you’re in a bad mood, only when you are happy or excited about what your working on
  • Get your partner to wear your dress and stand on a table to pin up the hem (my dad looked great in my Mum’s dresses!)
  • Vacuum the floor before laying out your fabric for cutting
  • Put the cat away before you bring out the crunchy sounding pattern pieces
  • Tack the seam together and press before laying the zip on top. Make sure the pattern matches on either side of the zip
  • work with a good light behind you
  • don’t leave your cup of tea on the table in case you knock it over
  • keep a sample of fabric in your handbag in case you spy some shoes you like & need to match the colour
  • buy a metre rule – it’s often much easier to use than a tape measure
  • use polyester, not cotton, thread with stretchy fabric
  • put your fabric away otherwise the cat will sleep on it
  • have a pattern swap coffee morning with other sewing friends
  • make a simple pinafore dress for a daughter to match your dress
  • line pockets in a contrasting colour
  • make a loop in the back of the collar to hang up your newly made coat
  • use old (washed) tights to stuff a toy
  • save interesting buttons from old garments before discarding
  • The right fabric is really important, read the back of the pattern for suggested fabrics
  • Take your time practice makes perfect
  • Test the tension of your machine on a scrap of fabric before you start sewing
  • Cut a notch in an old cereal packet for a homemade hem guide
  • Cover buttons in a contrasting fabric to give a garment a new look
  • It may help to put a piece of tissue over slippery fabric before sewing
  • Always test sew a piece of fabric before launching in to your garment
  • Use ribbon to make a hanging loop for a jacket
  • Buy cheap brightly coloured thread for tacking
  • Pull a thread in your fabric to find the exact line of the grain
  • Buy a new pair of pointy scissors, old blunt ones are useless for unpicking seams and cutting into corners
  • If you have trouble threading the needle, position the needle in front of a white surface so the eye is more visible
  • Before hemming a skirt, dress, or pants, let the garment hang for a day on a hanger to allow the fabric to settle
  • Cover a hair elastic to match a new top
  • After oiling your machine run a piece of scrap fabric though it to pick up any stray oil
  • De fluff your machine regularly
  • Make sure all pattern pieces are cut with the fabric the same/right way up
  • It is worth buying extra fabric to match large prints along seams for a professional finish
  • Make a tea cosy with random scraps to remind yourself of all the lovely things you have made
  • Take a photograph of everything you make, it will make you smile when you show your Grandchildren (apparently)
  • Make a matching bow for your dogs collar
  • Sew a pocket into all children’s clothing, perfect for tissues!
  • Make a funky bag for scrabble letters out of fabric leftovers, it won’t make you play better but will make losing more enjoyable
  • Teach your kids to sew, start by making a cushion with their initial on.
  • Use a ball point needle when sewing jersey
  • When possible use tailors chalk to draw round a pattern rather than pinning and cutting
  • Remember to cut inside the chalk line when cutting pattern pieces out
  • Pins with large glass or plastic heads are the easiest to use. Buy the longest ones you can find -- up to 11/2 inches
  • Thimbles come in various sizes; find one that fits the middle finger of your sewing hand
  • Keep a small magnet in your sewing basket. When needles and pins drop on the carpet while you're sewing, retrieve them quickly with the magnet.
  • Before throwing out clothing you no longer wear, stock up on notions by saving any usable zippers, buttons, or decorative trim. These can come in handy when you're trying to replace a fastener.
  • Thread looks darker on the spool than it will on fabric. Choose a thread a shade darker than the material you'll be using it on.
  • Buy at least 2 reels of thread for your projects, 1 is rarely enough and you can always use left overs for tacking other fabric
  • Add a metal jeans zip to the back of a simple top as a statement detail, you can sew it straight on top of the fabric, really easy 
  • If you don’t have a dressmakers dummy try on the garment as often as possible to ensure it fits well.
  • Trim and appliqué pieces muslin to make lovely new baby swaddle cloths, perfect gift for a new mum 
  • If you are sewing with jersey, good news, it doesn’t fray so don’t worry about finishing the edges just cut and sew.
  • Create a sewing playlist on your Ipod, use plenty of uplifting tracks that inspire and make you happy. This will add to your sewing experience and help ease some of the frustrations
  • Use coloured bias binding to add an interesting trim necklines and armholes (also removes the need for fiddly facings)
  • Have fun with your linings, use a bright or contrasting fabric 
  • Tack the 2 sides of a dress opening together before inserting zip to ensure both side match up
  • Before pinning to your fabric, iron the pattern pieces using low heat with no steam to ensure they lie flat.

 

 Happy sewing xxx