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Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Sewing

On my blog I am frequently  asked questions about how to sew, most are pretty specific and I answer them the best that I can, and some are more general, like “how do you learn to sew?”, “where do I start?” and “what did I do wrong?”

Today I’m going to share with you my favorite Sewing Tips & Tricks. Including many things I wish I knew before I started sewing. 

I think anyone that has ever sewn has felt the frustration of a project that is not going the way you envisioned it.  I’ve been sewing since I was 15 and I can say that this has happened to me many many times.  My husband has walked into my sewing room several times with a “why are you even doing this?” look on his face, and sometimes I agree with him (after resisting the urge to throw my sewing machine out the window *wink*)

Things I wish I knew Before I Started Sewing

So I thought for my Sewing 101 contribution today I ‘d share with you some of the “tips & tricks” that I have discovered in my years of sewing. The little things that I think help you get a finished project that you are proud of.

1-Ask for help

Most everyone who is sewing now had some help at the beginning of their sewing career.  Maybe you have a friend who is an excellent seamstress, or a Grandmother who would love to share some of her knowledge with you, odds are that you know someone who can help you learn.

Don’t just ask “will you teach me to sew”, that is too broad a statement and may ruffle a few feathers of the person you are asking… say something like “I started sewing this purse and got a pretty good start but now I’m at a point that I am stuck and was wondering if you could help me out a bit?” If you want to learn at some point there will be some “trial & error” and the only way to get past it is just to TRY, you are capable of doing a lot more than you think you are!! Give it a shot on your own then when you get stuck, turn to your friend to get some help.

You can also try bribing them with something like “If I make a yummy lunch this week can you come over for a bit and help me with a project I’m working on?” Most seamstress I know are easily bribed with food!

2- Iron, then Iron again!

It may seem like a pain to get up from your sewing machine and go over to your ironing board to iron each seam you sew, but you MUST do it!! There is no better tip that I can give you than to IRON! I can always tell a project that was poorly pressed along the way.  Invest in a good quality iron, next to your sewing machine this will be the most valuable tool in your sewing arsenal!

3- Take a class!

Even though I learned to sew as a teenager I still took sewing classes as an Adult.   I can not tell you how much this has helped me.  The teachers always helped me to look at things in new ways.  I learned techniques that I would never have figured out on my own, plus there is the added bonus that you FINISH the project during the class, so it doesn’t get thrown in the “someday” pile.

Most cities have either heirloom sewing or quilting stores that offer classes, talk a friend into going with you and be BRAVE and just sign up!

This post started out with 3 things I wish I knew before I started sewing, then I wrote it and thought of 5 more things. Below find four EXTRA bonus sewing tips!

4- Walk away

If you get to the point in a project where you are sewing sloppily or find yourself saying “good enough” more than a few times… walk away… Put it down and go do something else. This is the thing that took me the longest to figure out.  I can not tell you how many times I have woken up in the morning and had a “uggggg” moment because I stayed up too late working on something that I was really not in the “mood” to be working on.

If you get frustrated with a project or lose interest, it’s OKAY to leave it for a bit.  Nine times out of ten you will get your “mojo” back soon and be able to finish it up.  There is nothing worse than working while you’re frustrated! So don’t do it!!

5- Just unpick it.

I know no one ever likes to unpick something they have just sewn… but just do it. If it’s not right, you will expend more energy trying to fix it later than just unpicking it in the first place.

6- Change your Needle

15 must know bag making tips and tricks. Lots of great tips and simple things to do to get great results when you are sewing bags and purses!

Once in a class, I took the instructor informed us that we should change our needle every-time we start a new project.  I don’t change mine that often but try to change it every few projects.  A  lot of times a dull needle will cause your machine to skip stitches, pull fabric or cause problems with your tension.  So ask yourself “when was the last time you changed your needle?”… Probably been a while…

7- Rethread your Machine

Just think of it like rebooting your computer, one little thing can fix a multitude of ills.  If you break a needle, break your thread,  or your machine starts sewing funny,  rethread it.  Trust me it works 🙂

What about you? What do you wish you knew before you started sewing??

8- Seam Allowances Matter

You may not think it matters much, but having a consistent seam allowance is a big deal. Think of a sewing pattern as a giant puzzle. If you don’t use the correct seam allowance then your pieces may not fit together properly when you’re done.

seam gauge on fabric seam

Check your seam allowance with a handy seam guide (pick one up at your local sewing shop).

You May Also like these Sewing Tips & Tricks:

How to Sew With Laminate Fabrics

Must Know Bag Making Tips & Tricks

How to Make and Sew Piping

Sewing Tips and Tricks

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  1. I’m a newbie…and a BIG BELIEVER in the “WALK AWAY” tip! SOmetimes, it’s the only thing that keeps me sane!
    Great Post!

  2. I’ve been sewing most of my 40 years and it’s been a long learning curve with lots of these lessons … and last night, a 12-year-old asked me to teach her, so I get to relive it! The “walk away” tip is the best. I like to take the bobbin running out as my sign to take a break before I get tired and mess something up. 🙂

  3. what great tips. i just did a little q&a about sewing and I am going to link up to your post, is that okay?

  4. Thanks for the tips! I never realized you should change your needle that often. I only change mine when it breaks!

  5. Your graphic are SOOO adorable on this post… I agree with your tips… I think Ironing is one of the most important steps ever… I NEVER take short cuts on pressing…


  6. Great tips! I heard the same from a sewing class & heard it from a guy that repaired the sewing machines! Thx so much for sharing!

  7. These are all great tips! And I have to tell you, I have Never, in all the nearly 50 years I’ve been using a sewing machine (lol, age alert!) heard that you should change the needle often! I’m going to be doing that from now on. Who knows how my machines will behave? They probably won’t know how to act!

  8. I read somewhere that I should change my needle after
    every project and remember thinking I may have to take out a 2nd mortgage to cover the cost of the needles..,…

  9. omg PPL PLZ buy yourself a small iron steamer!!! it makes sewing soooooooooo much easier its like an iron but steams and creases your fabric faster then a iron . . . I found mines a good will it was brand new still in its box and the old school kind something the created back in 1965 or soo i said to myself wow im going to be rich i have anitque!!! YEAH RIGHT I pulled that sucker out I was gone sewing all day!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Hi, i’m 40 now and have never used a sewing machine, i have recently been bought 1, and i’m a bit wary of starting to use it, i love crafting and making things so i would love to start, thanks for the tips, hopefully i will do ok 🙂 xx

  11. I live by #4 & 6! I’m not one to use a commercial pattern and I’ve had patterns I was trying to work out in my head, I’ve gone to bed only to wake up in the middle of the night thinking “that’s where I went wrong”. Always take a break! And change your needle every 8 hrs of sewing or so. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and needles are cheap!

  12. I miss getting your blog feed through email. But it was your Blog powered by Feedblitz that totally screwed up my Outlook. Problem last for weeks with a multitude of long phone times spent with various people and then finally Microsoft to fix. Wow…..can’t go through that again. But I do miss getting your email. 🙁

    1. Carolyn,
      Actually it was FeedBurner not FeedBlitz causing the problem. It happened to everyone with a blog, not just me. I’ve moved away from FeedBurner and now use FeedBlitz.

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