Essential Sewing Tips: Tools, Techniques, and Troubleshooting

Essential Sewing Tips: Tools, Techniques, and Troubleshooting

Sewing has been my companion for as long as I can remember, a gift passed down from my mother, a talented seamstress. While I've crafted everything from bridesmaid dresses and dance costumes to handmade cushions and handmade make up bags, my journey has been one of self-taught adventures, learning through YouTube tutorials and Facebook sewing groups. Let me share some foundational tips that have helped me along the way.

Poppy print zipper pouch

Getting Started: Choosing the Right Tools

Sharp fabric scissors – only ever use them to cut fabric if you want them to stay sharp. Also, rotary cutters are a game-changer for fast accurate cutting; just make sure that you are following all the safety guides to avoid nasty accidents.

Various Needles – Using the correct needle, whether sewing by hand or machine, is vital. Universal machine needles are fine for most fabrics but if you’re sewing stretchy fabrics or very fine or thick fabrics, you will need to use the corresponding needle. For machine embroidery, I always use Organ Embroidery needles size 75/11. If unsure about which needle to use, a quick Google search can be quite helpful

Tip: I change mine after every few projects to ensure smooth sewing. Sewing machine needles are relatively cheap, so don’t struggle for months with a blunt needle. After a while you will learn to recognise the sound of a blunt needle, when it’s getting dull, it sounds as though it’s punching through the fabric rather than sliding smoothly. A nice sharp needle will also help to avoid some common issues with your stitches.

Good Quality Thread - Don’t skimp on good thread; it’s just not worth it. Save your cheap thread for basting. Poor quality thread will jam up your sewing machine or just keep breaking. Personally, I only ever use Gutterman or Drima thread for general sewing and Simthread for machine embroidery. Even if you are hand sewing, using a good quality thread will save you hours of frustration and give you a much better overall result.

Tip: For machine sewing, always use the same thread in your bobbin as you do on the top.

Understanding Your Fabric

Every fabric tells a story, making the right choice crucial. Start with user-friendly fabrics like cotton or canvas when making cushion covers or handmade tablet sleeves  . My journey with different fabrics has been full of trial and error, but each has taught me valuable lessons.

Royal blue handmade tablet sleeve

Basic Sewing Techniques

Begin with basic stitches: straight, backstitch, and hemming, which are your bread and butter. My early attempts were far from perfect, but they laid the foundation for the intricate work I do today on cushion covers and other crafts.

The Art of Following Patterns

At first, patterns can be puzzling, but they serve as invaluable guides. My mother and I would often decode patterns together, a ritual that has helped me in designing everything from tablet cases to festive decorations. Now, I rarely use patterns at all, I almost always create my own templates, but this is only because I want my work to be unique and my own. Here is one of the crossbody bags I made using my own template: bee embroidered handmade crossbody bag

Sewing Machine Basics

The sewing machine might seem daunting initially, but it will become your best friend. Practice threading and running simple stitches. This was my key to moving on to more complex projects like handmade drawstring tote bags and detailed handmade appliqued cushions  

Handmade appliqued Christmas floral cushion on grey

Troubleshooting Common Sewing Problems

Mishaps like tangled threads or uneven stitches are part of the learning curve. These challenges have sharpened my problem-solving skills, crucial when working on intricate pieces like tablet cases. Joining Facebook support groups to ask fellow sewists for advice or searching for solutions on YouTube generally resolves these issues.

Sewing teaches patience and fosters creativity. Your first cushion cover or zipper pouch may not be perfect, but it will be a testament to your growth and creativity.

Embarking on your sewing journey is an adventure filled with learning and joy. Embrace each stitch, and don’t forget to share your creations and stories with us!

Looking for more sewing insights? Check out our blog Crafts Chatter  for more tips.

Join the Watership Down Crafts community and let’s keep the thread of creativity spinning!
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