Tips & Advice
Follow any of these simple tips & advice pointers to improve both
your productivity and quality of sewing.
Here are some great sewing tips and trick i have learnt over many years. Some of these will help you get a great finish.
GLUE TRIMMING: Fusible hemming web is a great way to apply ribbon and trims that can be pressed.
- Cut a long strip of hemming web slightly narrower than your trim
- Place webbing to wrong side of trim, cover with non-stick baking paper or Teflon appliqué mat and press
- Position trim onto garment at placement line with adhesive side down and press
- If Using fabrics that you intend to machine wash. Machine down each side, close to the edge. Otherwise I recommend cold water hand wash.
Before you’ve even opened your sewing pattern, make sure you have read the instructions thoroughly TWICE ! Follow each step carefully, and in order. There’s always a reason why the steps are in the order that they are, so resist the temptation to skip or swap steps around! If you find it hard to understand the instructions just look at the images and put your fabric pieces in the asme position as the diagram and you will then understand
When you’re buying fabric off a bolt, be sure to write down the care instructions that are on the label on the roll. Pin these instructions to your fabric until you are ready to use it. I’m sure we all have piles of fabric at home that we’ve bought a long time ago and have forgotten what sort of fabric it is and how to launder it.
Before you buy fabric to go with your pattern, make sure that you’ve checked the instructions on the pattern to see if there are any particularly good fabrics to use with that pattern, plus any fabrics to avoid.
When buying sewing pins, the ones with glass or plastic heads are easier to use and very useful when you find it difficult to see and pick up regular sewing pins. Always choose the longest and thinnest!
If you have trouble hand threading a machine needle, place a piece of white paper behind the eye of the needle. This will highlight the eye and make threading more accurate.
Be sure to cover your sewing machine when you’ve finished using it. Dust and lint building up in and on your machine is the biggest cause of machine break-downs.
When you’re making a garment with a lining, or mixed materials, make sure that all of the fabrics can be laundered the same way (ie all machine washable, or all dry-clean only. Pre-wash all appropriate fabric being used so that they can shrink in equal amounts before the patterns are cut out.
If your thimble is loose, try wrapping thin strips of tape inside the thimble, this way it will snuggly fit your finger. I find that surgical/medical tape is best as it does not slip.
The easiest way to thread a sewing machine needle, or hand sewing needle, is to trim the end of your thread on an angle before putting it through the eye of the needle. It also helps if you have a white background to work in front of.
When threading a needle, don’t moisten the end of the thread as this will cause it to swell up and make the job more difficult.
Have you ever had trouble removing the crease from a hem that you’ve just let down? You can try spraying it with an equal mix of white vinegar and water and pressing the crease with a pressing cloth. If this still doesn’t work, you can try to use the vinegar straight, but test this on a discreet area of your garment first if you are going to use this method.
The best way to store your rotary cutting mat is to use a pants hanger from your wardrobe, the type with the clips at the top. You can then hang it up vertically on the back of your sewing room door without any risk of it getting damaged, plus it also gets it out of the way when you’re not using it.
Don’t put linen fabric or garments in a dryer. This will break down the flax fibers, so it is better if these items are air-dried.
When you want to pre-shrink fabric before cutting out your pattern, zig-zag or serge the raw edges of the fabric. This prevents the fabric from fraying in the wash.
To stop your sewing machine foot pedal from straying try putting a piece of Sure-Grip drawer liner underneath it. It helps the pedal to grip onto the carpet or timber flooring. (Readily available from any home improvement store, or large supermarket). It’s also useful to put a piece under your sewing machine to reduce vibrations.
If you’re travelling with a basic sewing repair kit, but can’t carry scissors (due to airline restrictions) you can always use the “cutter” from your dental floss pack instead of scissors to trim thread.
Velvet garments are very unforgiving when it comes to re-sizing or letting hems out as the stitch marks from the original seam will still be evident.
When using fusible interfacing be sure to trim it inside the fabric lines to stop the adhesive from getting on your ironing board. It also avoids bulk by doing this.
Never iron directly onto fabric with a nap – it will detrimentally change the look and feel of the nap. Always use a pressing cloth with care. Never iron velvet – it needs to be steamed as it is a piled fabric.
Store scraps of fabric in a container near your sewing machine so that they’re readily available when you want to test different types of stitches and tensions.
After pre-washing your cotton fabric, leave it a little damp before ironing it. Ironing when slightly damp will make it easier to release wrinkles.
When you are creating buttonholes on a garment make sure that they are applied vertically on blouses and shirts, and horizontally on jackets and coats.
If you’ve snagged a favorite sweater, don’t trim the loose threads or otherwise this could cause raveling. Turn the garment inside out and carefully feed the loose thread loop to the wrong side (a crochet needle is good at grabbing the thread and pulling it through)
If you’ve torn or ripped fabric or a garment, don’t launder it until you’ve mended it; washing it first could cause more damage.
When cutting fabric with sewing scissors, take long bites of the fabric and don’t let the scissor tips shut completely; stop about 1″ from the tip. Re-open the scissors, slide them along the fabric and continue cutting. You will achieve a much cleaner cut this way.
Always purchase a spare button for the garment you are making so that if you lose one you don’t need to search around stores trying to find a matching one. You can sew the spare to an inside seam of your garment so that it is readily available.
If you need to join iron-on interfacing, place the two cut edges close together rather than overlapping. This will avoid a ridge showing on the right side.
Machine Needles: I recommend you use a new machine needle for every new garment or outfit. Always use the correct needle for your fabric. The average lifespan of a machine needle is approximately 8-10hours of stitching.”
When choosing lining for jackets and coats always purchase the best quality lining as these garments receive a lot of wear. Cheap linings often wear out long before the main fabric and will need replacing. Akso they fray easily and can be difficult to sew with. Linings should be washable in the same manner as the garment fabric or dry clean only fabric choose heavier synthetic and silk-satin linings for coats.
FABRIC STORAGE: Moths and silverfish tend to prefer eating natural fibres such as wool and silk. Store these fabrics in plastic seal top bags. Include a lavender bag. Lavender is a natural moth repellent and will also add a lovely fragrance to your fabrics.
Do you have trouble getting your pattern pieces folded back into your pattern envelope without tearing and distorting the envelope? Place all your paper pattern and/or vilene tracings into a sealed plastic bag. or press the pieces together and fold to a slightly smaller rectangle than the envelope.
Always include a swatch of the fabric of the garment made in that pattern for the following reasons:
it will remind you of what you have made in that pattern if you love a particular garment, wear it all the time and want to make it again in another fabric, finding the exact pattern used will be easy
helps with wardrobe planning.
“When making a hand stitched eye for a dress, hook or belt keeper, use top stitching thread instead of dressmaking thread – it’s quicker and stronger.”
If your dressmaker pencil has been dropped and when sharpening the lead
continually breaks – put it into the microwave which will re-bond the lead.
Note:test it in 20sec intervals on low to monitor as microwave ovens vary.
Nothing makes a garment look homemade faster than a poorly sewn and cut buttonhole. Next time you are snoop shopping, check out the buttonholes on different price levels of ready-to-wear garments. Once you learn the secrets to great looking buttonholes, your’s will be better than the designer garments.
1. Wrap a water-soluble gel stabilizer over the buttonhole edge covering the buttonhole placement on both the right and wrong sides of the buttonhole before stitching. This reduces the friction between the presser foot and the fabric. It also prevents fabrics from pulling down into the throat plate. The water-soluble stabilizer on the underside also seals the inner edges of the buttonhole.