Monday, May 16, 2016

Sewing 101: Getting Started

This should be titled, tips from a novice to a novice.  My mom was a fashion design major at University of Arizona in the late 60s and yet, I never saw her sew more than a button or a few hems (#shortpeopleproblems), sorry mom.  So the idea of sewing something for myself, never really past further than buying the Singer Stitch Sew Quick in college because I wanted to make long fabric headband scarves things, fashion term.  I also remember visiting the sewing rooms in the design college building so we could work on our togas for Greek Week. (insert hashtagtheshame).  I'm not sure I ever considered making baby clothes, even when I found out I was have a daughter.  However, I do know the inspiration spark that is Pinterest, let me believe on more than one occasion that "hey, I could do that!".

It really was the teepee that did me in.  I knew it was something that could be made for a fraction of the price I could buy.  My mom gave me a sewing machine for my 30th birthday.  She taught me to thread it and basically sew a straight line.  I made a few items, had lots of discussions with a blog friend who sews, and basically learned what I needed through pinterest, my manual, and youtube.  I still consider myself a novice, and just lately would give myself a bit more credit with sewing button holes, making clothes, and using fancier stitches.  But hey, let's not get crazy, I've yet to insert a zipper.

Learning to sew can definitely be intimidating if you have no where to start.  Here are some items that definitely make life easier when getting the ball rolling.

Outside of the obvious essentials of a sewing machine, needle, thread, your chosen fabric, some scissors, and an iron, get yourself a seam ripper.  You will need it and it will get used.  If you are like me, it'll get used A LOT.  

Invisible ink pen.  This will let you mark your fabric/trace your patterns and will disappear and wash out.

Sharp scissors.  Get a pair of real sewing scissors and lock them up somewhere secret.  Use them only on fabric so they stay sharp.  Pinking sheers (the zigzaggy scissors that make little triangle edges) are great too for finishing hems before getting comfortable with fancier stitches or a serger.  They will keep the fabric from fraying, and just make the edges look neater if visible.

Self healing mat and rotary cutter.  This isn't necessary, but you'll be so happy you have it.  It will make cutting your fabric a breeze and keeps it much more accurate than cutting with scissors alone.  Being precise with your cuts is really important and having your edges perfectly straight will make sewing a straight line much easier.

Things to know when starting: 

> there are different types of sewing machine needles based on what kind of fabrics you are using, make sure you are using the proper needle to prevent it from breaking or snagging your fabric (ie, denim and canvas vs knits and gauze)

> how to properly thread your bobbin (the understitch)

> how to properly thread your needle (the topstitch)

> adjusting tension (this can be affected by not properly threading your needle or bobbin and cause all sorts of issues)

> how to backstitch to lock your thread in place

Do you sew?  Any tips to add for those who are just starting out or want to learn?

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