Most people think that a sewing machine runs completely by itself and does not require any additional knowledge to sew with it. The fact that this is not true is immediately apparent the first time you use it. The sewing machine only supports sewing but does not replace the main part of the work. Disappointment spreads quickly and the desire to sew disappears again.
But that doesn’t have to happen – because with our guides you can get comprehensive information in advance.
In this post, we will show you the top sewing tips and tricks to steadily improve your sewing skills.
The following points are addressed:
- Create the right atmosphere
- Understand the materials
- sew corners
- Sew with fine fabrics
- Automatic settings make handling easier
- Practice creates masters
- Conclusion on handling the sewing machine
To minimize breakage of metallic thread while sewing or embroidering, remember to use a metallic needle, reduce your stitch speed, apply a few beads of Sewer’s Aid on the thread spool, and, believe it or not, store your metallic threads in a ziplock freezer bag in your freezer. It really works!
Understand the materials
What makes sewing so versatile and interesting is the variety of fabrics. You can choose from numerous fabrics, depending on the desired end product.
In order to use the right substance at the right time, you need to understand its properties.
The two key properties that matter in any fabric are stretch and thickness.
Sew with fine fabrics
Fine fabrics are not only more difficult to process when sewing, but also cause higher costs if mistakes are made since finer fabrics usually cost more money.
Tips for handling: Use a rotary cutter so that mistakes are not made when cutting. To provide additional protection for the fabric, it is also advisable to use an unused sewing needle, which has a very low risk of hanging threads and tears. A thin sewing thread also helps.
Addition: Especially with silk and other extremely fine materials, the fabric often pulls in along the seam. You can prevent this by setting a short stitch length (1.5mm) and reducing the thread tension. Tissue paper for fixing can provide additional stability.
Almost all sewing machines offer the function of sewing practical transverse lines. However, most sewing machines do not offer the option of having corners sewn.
A very simple trick will help you to be able to replace this missing stitch type: Mark an even distance with adhesive tape and shorten the stitch length in order to hit the corner points perfectly.
Automatic settings make handling easier
Computer sewing machines are rarely used for simple private purposes. In fact, however, the devices are ideal for beginners because they automatically adjust the stitch length and width and relieve the seamstress of a large part of the work.
Disadvantage: The additional functions of the computer-controlled sewing machines have their price and make the modern machines the most expensive models of all.
Practice creates masters
Last but not least, a tip that is just as relevant when sewing as it is in many other areas: practice makes perfect. Keep at it and sew as much as you can to keep improving.
Even if it can be very difficult and tiring at first, after a while sewing becomes a sure-fire success – no matter what fabric.
Understitching is one of the best sewing techniques to give your garment a professional finish. I use understitching whenever possible on facings. After sewing facing onto a garment, the seams are graded and then understitched.
Grading: A standard 5/8 seam allowance is sewn, then the seam allowance nearest the facing is trimmed away to approximately 1/4 inch. The remaining seam allowance is trimmed to approximately ½ inch.
The next step is to finger-press both seam allowances toward the facing. Then, keeping all the seam allowances toward the facing, stitch 1/4 inch away from the seam on the right side of the facing through all three layers.
When ironing the finished seam, use steam and only gentle pressure if necessary. If the pattern calls for topstitching, your seam is ready to go!
Another stitch to try is the triple zig-zag, or (serpentine stitch). On some fabrics, or pattern pieces, this stitch may make the finished garment lay flatter
Doing this extra step helps the facing roll naturally to the inside giving a much sharper and cleaner finished garment.
Needles are one of the most important and essential sewing tools. Using the proper needle for your embroidery project will ensure better quality stitching and a more professional end result. There are 3 specialty needles that are recommended for embroidery: Embroidery, metallic, and top-stitch.
The embroidery and metallic needles have only been introduced to the market in the last 2-3 years, due to the growing number of embroidery machines on the market. These needles are designed for trouble-free sewing on these machines. These needles have a very light “ballpoint”, a larger eye to accommodate heavy decorative threads and the front groove is deep to reduce skipped stitches. They are also made to withstand the higher temperatures produced by decorative threads as you are sewing. You will find that these needles are slightly thinner than the size 90/14 universal needle you are familiar with. You may also use these needles when sewing on both woven and stretch fabrics.
Names to look for in Embroidery and metallic needles: Schmetz™ Embroidery: has a red band at the base of the shank for easy identification. Available in an assorted size package of three 75/11 and two 90/14 needles or 5 packs of size 75/11. Use these needles when working with rayon threads. Look for the code H-E on the package to identify them when purchasing.
Schmetz Metallics™: designed with an elongated eye, a deep front grove, and a longer scarf so you can sew with the metallic and flat-filament types of decorative threads, eliminating skipped and thread breakage. These needles are available in sizes 80/12. Look for the code H-MET on the package to identify them when purchasing.
Lammertz Metafil™: this is also a size 80/12 needle that has been made from a specially treated alloy that withstands the higher temperatures generated by the synthetic and metallic threads. It has a long eye with a friction-reducing coating, resulting in reduced thread stripping.
It is important to note that as with all your sewing, you should change your needle often. Remember when embroidering that you are sewing through a layer of fabric, and one, two, or more layers of stabilizer, plus the density of the threads, which will all tend to dull your needle faster. A good rule of thumb for changing your needle is when you change your bobbin, change your needle.
Top-stitch Needles: this is an extra sharp needle, with the eye twice as long and the front groove is deeper than the 90/14 universal needle. Because of the larger eye and deeper front groove, this needle will accommodate the rayon and metallic threads, even allowing you to thread two strands of thread through it. Since the long eye tends to make this needle somewhat fragile you may find more needle breakage when sewing heavier threads. These needles are available in size 70/10, 80/12, and 90/14. Look for code N on the package to identify them when purchasing.
More Polar Fleece Adventures
Just when you thought you had enough books on polar fleece–here comes More Polar Fleece Adventures, by Nancy Cornwell. This isn’t just another book with the same old polar fleece projects. Nancy Cornwell has introduced several “new Fleece” techniques to add unique embellishments to everything from jackets to sunglasses holders, to golf club covers.
Many of the techniques are old-time friends in the heirloom sewing tradition. One of my favorite techniques is cutwork on fleece. There are suggestions for finding a design or using the templates in the book. Other techniques include
pintucks with a double-needle, decorative stitch sculpturing, texturizing with underlay stitches, and applique on fleece.
In addition to these new techniques to embellish your next polar fleece project, there is a full chapter on buttonholes and sport snaps, and finishing touches. If you want a special look try Fleece Welt or Ultra Suede Backwards Welt Buttonholes–they add a beautiful designer touch to your garment. If you’re not happy with the way your basic buttonholes have been coming out, Nancy has several tips to sew a perfect buttonhole or try a Self Fabric “Interfaced” Buttonhole.
If you’re looking for a special finishing touch to make your garment extra special, try one of Nancy’s stylish zipper treatments of edge finishes. Whether you are a polar fleece expert or just beginning, More Polar Fleece Adventures has a refreshing new twist. You will be sure to find the perfect techniques to make your next project extra special.
New User-Friendly Interfacing
Palmer/Pletsch introduces a new line of fusible interfacings that can be used to give added body to garments when sewing. Fusibles were first developed in 1968, at the time Pati Palmer was an educator for the Armo Interfacing Company. Pati called the first fusibles, bake-on. “You’d iron them on and then they’d bubble and fall off,” says Palmer. Over the years they improved dramatically and fusing agents were applied to woven fabrics, non-woven fabrics, and knits. The latest and best for general use are the new weft interfacings. These are fabrics that are knitted with the addition of a yam woven into them along the crosswise or “weft” direction. They have the softness of a knit, yet the stability of a woven.
In 1989, Pati, in keeping up her contacts with Armo, a division of Crown Textiles, developed a line of interfacings for The McCall Pattern Company in Australia. The line became very successful. At that time, there was no need for her to do this in the U.S. Then, in 1995, Crown Textiles, the premier interfacing manufacturer in the U.S. filed Chapter 11 and was sold. Confusion followed. Pati got together with longtime associate and sewing expert, Marta Alto, and began to research interfacings that would meet their goals. The goals and how they solved them with their new line of Perfect Fuse tm interfacings; are as follows:
Simplification. There are so many interfacing choices that the customer has no idea what to use where. Therefore, they narrowed the choices to 4 that will solve nearly every interfacing need.
See the difference. Often, you can’t tell the difference visually between one interfacing and another. They made sure there is a distinct visual difference between each interfacing in their line. Even the names signify. the differences-Perfect Fuse Sheer, Light, Medium, and Tailor.
Reasonable prices. Prices on interfacings vary greatly. Often you get what you pay for. The team went for the best product, not the best price, yet the new line is reasonably priced and double the width of other products. Based on the wider width, the interfacings are generally less per yard than the competitor’s narrower products. The packaging, however, is labor-intensive, so in order to keep the prices down for the consumer, there will be no distributor pricing. Because of this, the interfacings will most likely only be found in independent fabric stores.
A new video called Perfect Fusing, The Latest Solutions to Professional Garment Shaping is now available. In it, Marta Alto discusses different interfacings and their uses, including other brands than Perfect Fuse. She also talks about the different uses for the Perfect Fuse brand which include Perfect Fuse Sheer, Perfect Fuse Light, Perfect Fuse Medium, and Perfect Fuse Tailor. For example, Sheer and Light are similar in weight, so what are the different uses? Sheer provides a crisper body. Use it in collars and cuffs. On some smooth fabrics, Light may show through, whereas Sheer won’t.
However, Light fuses to textures better than Sheer. Designers use Light as an underlining in 3-ply silk crepe de chine jackets. It makes great underlining in any jacket where a little extra body is needed. Its open weave adds breathability. Keep Light in the bag as it can be snag-another reason we sell it in a package. Tailor is wonderful in jacket fronts and on the under collar combined with Medium or Light on the upper collar and facing. Medium is ideal for Ultrasuede jackets.
The video also covers preshrinking, cutting, proper fusing, and garment care. Marta takes you through the entire process including showing many different types of garments and explaining what she used and why. She has lots of time-saving tips and advice for quality sewing.
Pati Palmer’s first job out of college was with Crown Textiles, one of the largest U.S. interfacing manufacturers. She tested the first fusible interfacing for them and has been on the leading edge ever since. Marta Alto has been using, testing, and teaching about fusible interfacings for 30 years. As a team, they saw a need and spent 4 years developing interfacings for their new line of Perfect Fuse Interfacing.
Good performance. Some interfacings bubble during laundering or abrade and pill. All of the new interfacings are wefts that do not pill or shred after several launderings. They add stability as well as softness. In-depth care and preshrinking instructions are given for each one.
Wider widths. Some garments have required narrow interfacings to be pieced. Their new interfacings are 60 and 66 inches wide, TWICE the width of most other interfacings which are 22″ or 29.1″
Good instructions. Generic instructions, if any, are sold with interfacings today. Each of the new interfacings has its own instructions. In addition, each package includes well-researched and well-written general instructions for using fusible.
Instant, no-wait purchasing. When you go to the deli and have the choice of waiting for your cheese to be cut or to pick up a package of the same cheese, time will be a factor in your choice. Pre-packaged interfacings mean you don’t have to wait for them to be cut. Perfect Fuse interfacings come in one or three-yard packages. One yard of the wider width is plenty for most projects and you can store the unused portions in the plastic envelope. One yard of Tailor will do two jackets, depending on size and style. One yard of Sheer will be enough for several shirts.
Less confusion in your interfacing stash at home. Often, after we use interfacing, we stack it on the shelf and 3 months later we can’t figure out what it is. The protective storage bag will keep the interfacing clean and the consumer will always know which interfacing is inside.
Quality. Consumers aren’t very confident in how interfacings will perform. Marta Alto and Pati Palmer tested hundreds of products over a 4-year period and spent 2 years writing, editing, and testing use and care instructions. Palmer/Pletsch is a name. recognized for quality.
Foolproof Fly Front Zipper
Here is an easy way for you to have a perfect fly front zipper application every time – and it only takes about ten minutes!
Finish each raw edge of the pants fronts at the crotch seams and fly extensions with a serger or zig-zag stitch. Use a 12″ zipper for this construction technique. The excess length will be cut off after applying the waistband.
With the right sides of the Pants Fronts together, baste down the center front of the zipper dot.
At the dot, change to a normal stitch length. Backstitch below the dot, and continue stitching the crotch seam, stopping about 3″ from the end of the inseam. (VIEW A)
Press fly extensions to open.
With the wrong side of the Pants Front facing up, place the two front pieces and the left fly extensions to the left, leaving the right fly extension on its own. (VIEW B)
Lay the zipper face down on the right fly extension so that the left edge of the zipper tape will butt up to the center seam. Place the zipper stop 1/4″ above the dot. Pin the right side of the zipper tape to the fly extension only. Stitch the right side of the zipper tape to the right fly extension. The stitching should be less than 1/4″ from the zipper teeth. (VIEW C)
Flip the Pants Fronts and the right fly extension to the right side, leaving the left fly extension exposed.
Push the zipper towards the left fly extension as much as possible and press. Pin the left side of the zipper tape to the left fly extension only. Stitch the zipper tape less than 1/4″ from the zipper teeth to the left fly extension. (VIEW D)
With the right side of the pants facing up on the ironing board, press the zipper and fly to the right of the pants.
Pin the fly front extensions to the pants and topstitch 1″ – 1 1/4″ from the center seam. Use a quilt bar guide for your machine to ensure accuracy while topstitching. Be sure to mark where the zipper stop is to avoid hitting it with the needle. The topstitching should end near the dot (VIEW E)
Take out the center seam basting, and your zipper is finished! Wasn’t that easy?
To copy ready-to-wear, you may want to add bartacks. Use a zig-zag stitch, with a width of 2.0 and a length of 0.3 (VIEW F)
Conclusion on handling the sewing machine
Sewing proves to be not only a useful activity but also a fun activity for many people. Purchasing a sewing machine is particularly worthwhile if you have been wanting to start sewing for a long time but don’t know how to start.
- Ideal for getting started with sewing
- Some tips and tricks that are particularly easy to implement
- High-quality textiles are possible early on
- However, a lot of patience is required
- Sewing machines can cost a lot of money
A sewing machine makes it easy and pleasant to get started with sewing.