Top tips for novice sewers
- 1. Choose a simple pattern for your first project.
- 2. Work with a well-behaved cloth such as cotton.
- 3. A busy print will hide less than perfect machining.
- 4. Buy the best quality tools you can afford.
- 5. Keep an iron for dressmaking purposes only.
If you decide to choose cotton fabric, consider buying a strong print rather than a plain cloth. This is because any uneven machining will be less exposed. A light weight cotton is ideal for a first project. If you are unsure about the weight of various cloths then ask the assistant to help you. And always buy exactly the amount stated on your pattern envelope. A stunning remnant might seem like a bargain but it won’t be if you can’t fit all your pattern pieces on it. When you get to the display of threads make sure you find a shade that perfectly matches your cloth. If you have chosen a print then select a spool that will work with the background colour. For cotton fabric you can use cotton thread or polyester but make sure you buy the best quality you can afford. Inferior thread can cause your machine to malfunction and will have a tendency to keep breaking while you are machining.
As a novice sewer you will need at least a couple of pairs of scissors. You will want a small pair for cutting threads and clipping curved edges and a large pair for cutting out your pattern pieces. Never skimp on the quality of your tools because a poor quality pair can cause your material to snag. Supermarkets offer very cheap scissors these days but they are simply not man enough for the job. Also, buy a tub of glass headed pins as they are easier to find than the smaller plain silver ones. And also buy a stitch ripper so you won’t be tempted to remove stitches with your scissors. I have also found a simple needle threader invaluable.
Before you lay out your pattern pieces give your fabric a light press to remove any creases. If you have bought a multi-sized pattern then cut round the size that you need and lay your pieces onto your fabric. Pin your pieces in place making sure your pins are not at the very edge of your pattern just in case you blunt your scissors by cutting into them. Following the instructions start by bringing the fabric pieces together using your pins but don’t go straight to your machine. Taking the time to baste, (a large running stitch worked by hand), your seams before machining will pay dividends. It will be mean that your seams are more likely to be sewn straight and the fabric won’t move about under the presser foot.
After you have machined each seam remove the basting and give it a firm press. The iron you choose is as important as the machine you buy. A good quality iron that has a steam facility will help to ensure that you produce a professional-looking garment. Keep the iron in top condition and if possible store it away for dressmaking purposes only. Before pressing your seams open test the heat of your iron on a scrap of fabric. It’s a good idea to lightly press the line of stitching so it sits evenly in the cloth. Then open out the seam and press it firmly. If you are nervous about putting an iron directly onto your fabric you can use a pressing cloth. If you are using cotton then work with the steam section on your iron.