I’ve been sewing for many years and up until the last year or two it was very scarce and anything I had learned was quickly lost between the times I did sit in front of the sewing machine! I have learned many things along the way now that I’m in front of it every day. I’ve invested more time than was necessary researching things and I wanted to give it to you all in one short article. Sew, here we go:
Where to Start!
The Machine: Personal preference. Just like anything you purchase, the price tag generally alludes to quality. The more you spend the better the machine. This isn’t always the case, but it is a good rule of thumb. For your first machine, don’t get something complicated – you’ll regret it. You’ll spend more time trying to figure it out than you will be constructing and sewing and it will wear down your enthusiasm. READ REVIEWS! You’re peers have lots to say. Check this great review site out to help you get started: Best Sewing Machine Reviews HQ. Final Tip: keep the manual within arms reach for the first year (ok well maybe not a whole year, but you get my drift).
The Tools: Scissors, thread, needles (both hand and machine), seam ripper, soluble marking pen (there a lot of different ones – I have one marker and one pencil), pins, soft measuring tape, and an iron. These are all necessary. Optional: interfacing <–click it and read it), silk pins and quilting pins, rotary cutter, self-healing cutting mat (different sizes – just remember your work space area before you buy so it’s not bigger than what you can lay flat on a hard surface), ironing board, hard quilting ruler (even if you don’t quilt these things are super handy for rotary cutting, cutting at angles, etc), hem gauge, extra bobbins related to your machine, sewing box, elastic in different sizes and ribbon. I also recommend a tailor’s ham – they are handy for some projects. Final Tip: There are many many more tools for the trade, but don’t get caught up in buying stuff that you ‘might’ need. Stick with the above for now, you’ll discover other tid bits you’ll want – but that’s for later!
The Material: Quilting cotton! When you’re starting out cotton is, by far, the best material to work with. You can start off with small projects as you get a feel for sewing and you won’t have the headache of material bunching, tons of seam ripping and the urge to throw your machine as far as you can. Aside from that, give yourself time to learn. I know you’ll have a plethora of ideas floating around in your head, but stay focused on small projects and write down any other ideas you have for later. I’ll get into different materials in a later article. Final Tip: If you insist on using material other than cotton, I would recommend using an interfacing that can be removed from your fabric to give it stability while you learn.
The Project: If you are starting with a pattern, please make sure it says easy or for beginners. Read ALL the instructions FIRST and make sure you understand exactly what it is telling you to do. If you are confused, it’s best to do some research before measuring or cutting anything. I recommend starting with a pillowcase to allow you to get a feel for your machine. You can either seam rip an old one and use it as a pattern or keep it as it is but just don’t forget to add in your seam allowance. Final Tip: I recommend you start off with a 5/8” seam allowance or more to allow for errors until you find your sewing rhythm.
The Final Tips: Take time. Allow several uninterrupted hours if you can. Make sure you fully understand what you’re undertaking and measure, think, remeasure, think before you cut. There’s a saying in the sewing industry: measure twice, cut once. Do not get frustrated if you screw it up. Use your seam ripper and just remember – as you’re unhappily plucking thread – it will make you a stronger seamstress!