Advice · Sewing · Uncategorized

What I Wish I’d Known When I Started Sewing…

…Or How Hindsight Can Be So frustrating

Since I’ve only been sewing less than a year my early experiences are fresh in my head and I thought about what I’d do differently if I started again. So these are very basic things I wish I’d know. I’ve also included a resources page at the bottom in case there are any beginners reading this who need some extra help.

Use a sewing pattern
One of my very first projects was following a tutorial on a box pleat skirt. The pleats were even but seam allowance and finishing seams was non-existent as the tutorial never mentioned it! An actual pattern would have covered this. When I finally made the Sorbetto pattern I learned so much as it explained all the basics.

Use quilting cottons
I saw all the advice of avoiding quilting cottons yet I still bought some, why? Well, first of all I didn’t really know what a quilting cotton was, and secondly the pretty prints! I don’t see this as a mistake, the fabric was pretty, cotton and slightly stiff making it easy to handle and sturdy to all my seam ripping!

sorbetto 2.jpg
This is my second Sorbetto, I made my own bias tape and drafted my own facing. This is made from an easy to handle quilting cotton.

Have someone teach you, if possible
I spent a lot of time learning from the internet, I’m largely a self-taught seamstress. While there are many resources for learning to sew, I still found it difficult. In hindsight I could have saved a lot of time and energy if I had swallowed my pride and had someone show and explain the basics to me.

The problem isn’t tension!
Loopy stitches and nesting under the fabric. These problems look like tension problem, however, they’re usually not. Oh how I turned that dial one way and the other. Re-threading the machine and learning how to actually thread it fixed this problem for me.

Another early Sorbetto, the fabric was difficult to use as it moved, you can see how bubbly the seams are, but it’s certainly neater than the previous one!

What do you wish you’d known when you first started sewing? Or, like with quilting cottons are there rules you broke that you’re glad you broke?


Resources for Young Sewists

Tilly and the Buttons 
Tilly’s blog begins with her first sewing project ever, and places a huge emphasis on learning to sew. It’s ideal for beginners, I think. Her blog has many tutorials that beginner sewer could certainly benefit from. Her patterns are also very simple, her Miette and more recent circle skirt patterns are very simple, so simple I think some are a little overpriced for that reason (hello elastic waisted skirt!), especially when designs like this are rife on the internet.

I’ve found the Colette blog to be extremely useful, perhaps for me the best post was than on basic sewing machine maintenance it goes through many of the common issues and how to fix them. The comments are also insightful into common issues.

The best advice I have is to sew as much as possible, make mistakes and learn from them. Colette’s advice to sewers of making each project a learning opportunity so that even if it’s a disaster you’ll still have learnt something really spoke to me and I really took this advice to heart and recommend it to new sewers. Also, don’t be too harsh on yourself, nobody is going to look at your clothes and think ‘that under stitching really is too far from the edge’, you’re first several projects will probably be awful (lord knows mine were), and that’s ok, you’re still learning.