Top 10 Best Sewing Tips for Beginners
Who's ready to learn some useful sewing tips and tricks? We’ve collected our top 10 sewing tips from the DIY guys here at Sailrite®. You’ll learn our tricks of the trade so you can sew like a pro. From organizational hacks to fabric and thread tips, these are our favorite good sewing habits to follow. Whether you’re new to the craft or have been sewing for years, you’re sure to find a useful trick in this list. Let’s get started.
1. Measure Twice, Cut Once
It’s an old adage but a good one! No matter how long you’ve been sewing, it’s always a good idea to measure twice before you start cutting your fabric. The extra time spent double-checking measurements could make all the difference in whether your project is a success or failure. And don’t forget to account for your seam allowance when calculating your measurements.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
Before beginning your project, we recommend doing some test sewing with the thread, needle, fabric and machine you plan on using for your DIY. That’s why it’s a good idea to order more fabric than you need, or make use of any scrap fabric after you’ve patterned and cut your pieces.
Do some practice sewing to check your thread tension and that your sewing machine is working properly. You can get any issues corrected so your sewing project starts out on the right track. It’s also good to practice new sewing techniques on scrap fabric. That way you get the hang of a new technique before using it on your project and running into issues if you didn’t practice it first.
3. Lock Your Stitches
This may seem like an obvious one, but all new sewers should get into the habit of locking their stitches. What this means is to reverse sew at the beginning and end of each seam to lock your stitches in place to prevent them from raveling once the threads are snipped. You only need to reverse sew for about an inch.
Another tip is to trap your threads when you start sewing so you don't get a bird's nest at the beginning of your stitching. Use your left hand to hold down the loose needle and bobbin threads on the bed of the sewing machine. Once you sew for a couple of inches, you can remove your hand.
4. Read the Instructions First
If you’re following written instructions or a how-to video, read the entire pattern and watch the complete video before beginning your project. You will not regret spending this extra time. All too often, we hear from customers that they had to order extra fabric or supplies halfway through a project. They didn’t read through the instructions first and they made a mistake early on in the pattern that they later had to spend time and money correcting.
5. Use a Magnet to Collect Pins
Here’s a useful little tip. Keep a magnet within arm’s reach in your sewing room so you can pick up any dropped pins on the floor so you don't step on them. If you have a metal sewing machine (like the Ultrafeed® or Fabricator®) you can stick the magnet to your sewing machine so it’s always handy.
6. Don’t Force Fabric Through the Machine
This is a common mistake that beginner sewers make. You don’t need to force or push the fabric through the sewing machine. Let the machine do the work; all you have to do is guide the fabric and keep it straight as it’s fed under the needle. You also need to be careful not to slide or move your hands around your fabric assembly as you sew. This can cause the fabric to shift around and can ruin your beautifully straight stitches.
7. Organize Your Sewing Space
When it’s quick and easy to find things in your sewing studio or workroom, it makes the DIY process much more enjoyable and stress free. Having an organized workspace is an easy way to make that happen. Hang pegboard in your sewing room or workshop so you can hang tools and supplies for storage and organization. It’s also smart to organize your supplies by use. You should hang supplies you use all the time closer to you so they’re easier to access.
Tools you don’t use very often can be stored in cabinets or drawers out of the way, ready when you need them. Reuse coffee tins, sauce jars, etc., for notions like marking pencils and chalks, scissors, bobbins, pins and clips, and more. It’s a great way to upcycle something that would have been thrown away, and clear containers let you see what’s inside without having to open them.
8. Don’t Get in a Bind
When working with binding, unroll more binding than you need so it doesn’t get caught or bound on the shipping cardboard or spool. Having to stop sewing suddenly to unwind more binding or untangle it is an annoying inconvenience. Make sure that your binding is also out of the way of your chair so you don’t accidentally trap it. If the binding is caught under your chair leg, this can cause feeding problems to your sewing machine when the binding can’t be pulled free.
9. Scissors & Thread Snips
Fabric scissors should only be used to cut fabric — letting your family use them to cut paper, plastic or anything else will ruin the blades. To keep your fabric scissors sharp so you get perfect cuts every time, cut through a sheet of tin foil every few months. You can also take your scissors apart and sharpen them with a sharpening stone, or take them to be professionally sharpened. If you take the time to care for your scissors, you’ll never need another pair!
Thread snips, clippers or nippers are great for snipping threads right at your machine. In fact, a lot of sewers prefer them to snipping threads with fabric scissors. They are small, ergonomic and comfortable to handle. Thread snips are spring loaded and remain open, making snipping threads quick and easy. They’re also easy to navigate into tight spaces for clipping your excess sewing threads close to your fabric application.
10. Clean Your Machine
Your sewing machine will perform at its best when it’s well maintained and cleaned. This includes oiling and lubricating the parts indicated in your sewing machine manual. You will also need to clean out the dust that can creep into nooks and crannies. Dust and lint can cause thread jams and other issues. We recommend using either a lint brush or canned air (with proper safety precautions including eye protection) to remove the dust that can accumulate in the bobbin area under the needle plate. Remove the thread tensioning knob and clean the area between the tension disks where thread lint can build.