How to prepare fabric for sewing

How to prepare fabric for sewing

Many people think that once they can sew, that they can just go ahead and make something. But few realize that there is a process involved in getting ready to sew. How to prepare the fabric for sewing is often a snag that many people overlook.

That’s right. You cannot just go ahead and lay out the fabric. The last thing you want to do is go through all that effort to make something only to have it shrink or loose color in the wash. It needs to be tested for color fastness as well as shrinking. So how do you actually prepare the fabric for sewing?

The first thing you need to do is give the fabric a wash. This will not only clean the fabric but also test the color fastness of the fabric. Yes, it does take the smell of the newness of the garment away, but it does eliminate the fabric shrinking and coloring all your other clothes in the wash.

The next thing you need to know about how to prepare the fabric for sewing is to give it an ironing or drying in the machine. The ironing of the fabric will make sure that if it was going to shrink further as will the drying in the machine. I recommend drying it in the dryer.

Once the fabric is dried and has been ironed, you can now fold the fabric in two with the outside inside, length wise.

I hope this has been helpful in teaching you how to prepare fabric for sewing. It’s not always easy when you start out with a project and it’s your first project.

Sew Facing

How to sew facing

If you’re relatively new to sewing, and you’ve not sewn much before, you will be a bit in the dark on how to sew facing and what it is.

Basically, when you cut fabric, you can’t just sew a seam around the arm holes or neck. It will end up looking funny. So for that reason, we use facing instead. The facing will make the garment you want to sew nicely rounded off without any uneven edges or ragged fraying.

The other way to avoid sewing facing is to simply make a double piece of fabric and sew it turning it inside out. But for my illustration below I will show you how to sew facing.

Most patterns will have a piece for facing along with the actual pieces of pattern. Facing can be cut from different fabric or from the same fabric. I like to use the same fabric in most of my sewing projects.

In my case, I’m going to show you how to sew the facing with the top of a recent dress that I made. The first thing I did was to place the pieces I cut out, inside out and make the outsides face each other. The facing and the top. I then sewed along the edge of the facing so that it would flap over and I’d have two outer sides on both the inside of the shirt and the outside. See the images below.

You then fold the pieces of facing over as indicated on the second image and iron them, making certain that it’s exact and the inside isn’t showing out. The following image will illustrate that.

Once you have ironed the pieces straight, the next thing to do is to sew a “stay stitch” on the outside so that the pieces of facing that you have sewed does not fold back out with the next wash in the machine. And there we go, the sewing of the facing is done.

I hope this showed you how do sew facing as it’s really simple and easy. All you require to sew the facing is a sewing machine, the pattern pieces, fabric and an iron and it can be done quickly and painlessly.

How to lay out a sewing pattern

How to lay out a sewing pattern correctly

If you’re about to lay out your first sewing pattern but you don’t quite know how to go about it, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I am going to show you how to lay out a sewing pattern on fabric. There is another article I wrote on how to cut the pattern.

Once you have the pattern that you have decided to use, and checked the measurements on the back, you will know which size to use on your sewing pattern. The trick now is to cut out along the lines of the specific size that you need for your pattern.

The first thing to do is to fold the fabric in half length ways and lay it out straight and nice on on a flat surface such as a table or a pattern board etc. The fabric needs to be folded with the right side of the fabric inside and the wrong side on the outside.

The next thing is to lay the pieces out on the fabric, in such a way that it will fit. But you need to be careful how you lay out the sewing pattern pieces as not all pieces gets laid out the same way. Some pieces needs to be laid out with “cut on fold” and others need to be laid out along the grain line. The indication for cut on fold is an arrow that shows inwards (First pic) and the indication for a grain line is a straight arrow with two points in 180 degrees (second pic).

The grain line of the fabric is usually the direction in which the side seam (edge) of the fabric is running.

Lay out the sewing pattern on the fabric, with the “place on fold” arrow on the fold of the fabric so that it cuts double fabric, but on the fold. In other words, once you open the piece after cutting, it will be a full piece covering both sides of the body, not just a half size.

Lay out the other pieces of fabric as indicated with the grain line matching up to the grain direction of the fabric.

Once you have been successful in the lay out of the sewing pattern, it’s important to indicate all pattern marking. You can do this with either pins or a fabric marker or even just a pencil. You do not need fancy tools when working with sewing patterns, even though they will make your job easier.

Now that you’ve learned how to lay out a sewing pattern, and you’ve done all the pattern markings, you can go ahead and cut out the sewing pattern on the lines. Be careful not to cut the pattern itself as that will ruin your pattern and make your sewing shears blunt, which is something you don’t want.

Remember to pack away your sewing pattern that you used to learn how to lay out the sewing pattern so that you can use it again on the next item of clothing that you want to make with this particular pattern.

I hope that you’ve learned how to lay out a sewing pattern today. This is the way I lay out my sewing patterns and it’s always worked for me. There is an article on how to cut your sewing pattern that you can read if you’re unsure about how to cut the pattern before you lay out the pattern.

Sewing Machine Basic Stitch Settings

The basic stitch settings on a sewing machine can be tricky to get right. There are several zigzag settings and several straight settings, but these stitches don’t all do the same thing. It is important to know what you’re doing when you are just starting out with sewing and you are struggling to understand the different basic stitch settings on the sewing machine.

I’m hoping to help you by taking a look at the sewing machine stitch settings and seeing if you can understand them after I’ve explained it. So without much more pomp, let me get straight to what you are here to read.

Lets’s start with the different sides of the sewing machine stitch settings panel. There is a right hand side and a left hand side. On the left is your different stitches and on the right is the stitch length. Let’s look at the left hand side again.

The first stitch (A) is a straight stitch. To reverse this stitch, you need to press the reverse knob on the sewing machine usually located towards the bottom part of the machine or on the side. The reverse works the same for all other stitches.

The next stitch (b) is a basting stitch. This stitch is used for gathering or basting and usually has to be at it’s maximum size to work.

Stitch (c) is a zigzag stitch. This is used to applique or work an edge around the hem to stop it from fraying. Depending on the size of the stitch you may need a pressure foot with a wider hole than the standard pressure foot.

Stitch (d) is a stretch stitch. This is used on knit fabrics so that the fabric can still stretch after stitching has been done. It goes along the stretch of the fabric enabling the fabric to stretch. You would sometimes use a stretchy type of thread for this.

Stitch (e) is called a blind hem stitch. It is used when you don’t want much of the hem stitch visible and is useful for that purpose.

Stitch (f) is a shell stitch which is often used for sewing delicate fabrics and the hems on them.

Stitch (g) is an overcast stitch. It is used for keeping hems neat and tidy. Especially when you struggle with straight stitching! You need a special overcast pressure foot to use this stitch.

Stitch (h) is used for making scalloped hems and is called a scallop stitch. It is a difficult technique to master and I would not try this for a first time sewer.

Stitch (i) is a satin stitch and is used for decorative purposes on satin fabric. It’s a tight type of zigzag stitch to make it look pretty.

On the far left size there are three blue images. These are for the button holes. Turing the wheel (on my machine) or changing the dial on another sewing machine (or a button) would enable the sewing machine to stitch these basic stitches.

On the right hand side you get the different stitch lengths. Depending on what you want to sew, you would have to adjust your stitch length to the correct size. Usually for sewing straight hems and seams, a setting of 2 would work well. For gathering, a setting of 4 or 5 is required. For button holes, you would need to do a small stitch. It really depends on the exact project that you want to make.

I’m hoping this article is helping in making sense of the different stitches that are available. There are tons of research and articles out there on sewing machine basic stitch settings. As usual, happy sewing!

Sewing Machine Settings

Sewing machine settings can be confusing to the new sewer. If you have never worked a sewing machine but want to start, the settings could be confusing. You could Google around for the different “sewing machine settings” or you could just read further.

Most sewing machines have the same type of settings, right across the world. If you can use one sewing machine, it should not be too hard to figure out the next sewing machine. That is, except for really old fashioned machines that they initially used by hand before feet were developed for them.

So without much further ado, let me assist you in the different sewing machine settings you get, and how to use them. The basic thing to remember is that there will be some sort of nob or wheel or button to press to change the different stitch settings on a sewing machine.

The different stitches you will find on the sewing machine will include plain straight stitching, a zigzag setting and settings to sew button holes and zippers etc.

If you look at the settings window, there is one place ( on the left) to change the stitch type and another place (on the right) to change the size of the setting. Usually to sew something, you would use about a setting of “2” for the straight stitch. But that is a different page and different article.

The different stitches are simple to change. Simply select the stitch that you want to use and set button or wheel or shift to that stitch. Do the same with the size of the stitch and there we go. The sewing machine settings are complete.

If you are wondering about the different stitch settings, you could look at them here in this article about the sewing machine basic stitch settings.

Fabric Stores – Finding the right one

Fabric Stores

There are so many fabric stores out there. Even Wallmart sells fabrics. But did you know that different fabric stores sell different things? For example, you won’t find Viscose or Voil at Wallmart. You might be lucky enough to find Polyester Cotton or Flannel but that’s about as far as it goes.

When it comes to looking for fabric stores where you can find what you need, you first need to determine what type of item you are going to make. For this item, what kind of fabric are you going to need? What kind of accessories are you going to need? Do you need iron on’s to go on it? Do you want to make curtains? Do you need curtaining tape or rings?

All these things and many more is exactly what you need to determine before you start your search for fabric stores in your area. There are many to choose from. Online fabric stores allow you to order your fabrics from the comfort of your home and other walk in fabric stores will have assistants where you can ask them to help you and show you the fabrics you want to purchase.

My downfall is that when I’m in a fabric store I always walk out with more than I budgeted for. I can get lost between the isles with fabrics and sewing add ons, patterns, buttons and other items they have for sale. It is important to know what you want before you walk into a fabric store, especially if you are on a tight budget.

My idea of a perfect fabric store is one that has isles and isles of many fabrics to choose from. After all, I do not want to get to the store only to discover there is a very limited choice of fabrics to choose from. It needs to have a great variety of fabrics – different kinds!

A good fabric store will also have fabrics at lower prices than your general stores or smaller fabric stores. They may even have off cuts which you can get at discounted prices – and if you’re lucky enough, big enough for you to make what you need to make.

The perfect fabric store will not only sell fabrics but also have other things in the store such as sewing accessories, sewing patterns, wool, knitting needles and sometimes even sewing machines. At the very least they sould have a place where you can buy sewing machine accessories and get advice on how to service your sewing machine and buy sewing machine oil.

I hope this helps. When you do a Google search for fabric stores, many will come up. Take your time to find one that is relatively large so that you know you will be able to get what you’re looking for in a fabric store.

How to sew straight

How to sew straight

I thought in this post I would help with tips on how to sew straight. There is nothing worse than a garment that has been made and the stitching is all over the show, right? It’s sometimes blatantly obvious that things haven’t gone that well if the person that sewed it did’nt sew in a straight line.

Well our first tip on how to sew straight is to relax. Sewing straight is really not that complicated. The machine does most of the work for you and even if you have really shaky hands, you can still manage to sew straight.

The thing to remember about sewing straight is that your hand is used as a guide. Your hand guides the machine’s path and fabric just to go in a straight line. So here is how to sew straight

Firstly, fold the hem or seam you need to fold and pin it, measuring in a straight line with a measuring tape to make certain that your seam or hem is straight when you fold and pin the hem.

The next thing is to find the place on the sewing machine where you want the seam to be sewn. The sewing machine is equipped with a hem guide plate right by the needle. The hem guide plate has a series of little measurements and lines. Each line represents a place where the hem can be sewn or the edge of the fabric can be placed. Choose which line you want to follow and place the edge of the fabric on that line.

It’s quite easy how to sew straight. The next thing you do is to gently guide the fabric as you sew. Keep the edge of the fabric on the hem line that you chose on the guide plate of the sewing machine. Don’t deviate from that guide line to the next guide line. This will help. Your hands need to gently guide the fabric as the sewing machine does the rest.

So as you can see, there is nothing to it! I hope this little bit on how to sew straight has put your fears at rest and that you see that it’s not so difficult to sew a hem or seam straight as you thought before.

Practice how to sew straight:

The best way to teach yourself how to sew straight is to start practicing it. Take the tips you have learned here and apply them and practice them on your sewing machine. The more you practice how to sew straight, the straighter you will sew and the better you will become. Like they always say….practice makes perfect!

Types of sewing thread

Types of sewing thread

What types of sewing thread is there and which one should I buy for my sewing project? I mean there are so many types of sewing thread out there that it can get quite confusing. I’ve been sewing for years and even if still get confused about what types of thread there is.

The thing is that different types of sewing threads are used for different things. So for example you want to do embroidery, you can’t just go ahead and use cotton thread. It won’t work. It’s not decorative nor is it strong enough or thick enough. The success of your creation will depend on the type of sewing thread that you use.

I’m going to attempt to explain the different types of sewing threads and what they are used for. It’s not just a case of buy any type of thread and go ahead to sew. So here goes.

Cotton sewing thread: this type of thread is soft to the touch and reasonably thin. It works well on sewing hems, pillow cases, duvet covers and anything else that it not going to be stretching anytime soon. If it stretches, it breaks so using this type of sewing thread for a t-shirt or swimming suit is probably not the right idea.

Polyester sewing thread: this type of sewing thread is ideal for most sewing creations. Fabrics such as synthetics, knits and wool are thicker and needs a thicker type of sewing thread that is more sturdy. This kind where polyesterday threads come in. It can even handle a little more stretch than cotton thread.

Cotton colored polyester thread: this is an ideal all purpose thread. It is heat resistant which means if you have to make something that has to handle a lot of heat and go through the iron and ironing board a lot, this is a good type of sewing thread to use. It’s also got some stretch in it meaning you can use it comforably on stretch type fabrics for making things like t-shirts.

Silk threads: this type of sewing thread is made from silk and does not leave holes in your fabric. It is great for making wedding dresses and lingerie. Also, great for doing applique with as it leaves a nice smooth finish on the applique. This type of thread also comes in different thicknesses which really helps when deciding what thread to use for your project.

Speciality sewing threads: then there are these types of sewing threads. Used for different things, like the common types of sewing thread, each of the speciality threads have their own purpose:

  • Heavy duty threads suited for upholstery or things like jeans
  • Invisible threads – yes. Invisible!
  • Button and craft thread – strong and thick!
  • Nylon thread – lightweight and durable!
  • Wool thread – heavy fabrics and embroidery
  • Metal thread – crafts and decorative stitching.

So as you can see there are many types of sewing threads you can choose from. As I’ve said before, choosing the right type of sewing thread depends on you, but your project success depends on the type of thread you choose.

Which sewing machine?

Which sewing machine should I buy?

Starting out with your basic sewing supplies and wondering about which sewing machine to buy can be daunting. There are so many items to choose from. From the very basic sewing basket items to the basic sewing machine. It can all be confusing, especially if you’re just starting out with your sewing hobby.

So when you’re wondering which sewing machine you should buy, there are several things to remember. Different types of machines do different things, and not all of them are sewing machines to be frank. You get different types of machines which I will describe briefly here.

Industrial Sewing machine: An industrial sewing machine is made for heavy duty sewing and has a few basic stitches. Not enough to get by if you don’t also have a serger.

A home sewing machine: A home sewing machine has a whole range of stitches that you need to do your sewing. Straight, zigzag, button holes, blind seam stitch etc. The home sewing machine can do various tasks such as applique as well.

The serger: a serger is not actually a sewing machine but works hand in hand with a sewing machine. It works off the ends of the fabric so that the fabric doesn’t fray and leaves it neat and tidy. If you’re an absolute beginner, I do not recommend using a serger. It’s far too easy to make a mistake and make a hole in your fabric as the serger also cuts the fabric.

The embroidery machine: This is a fancy machine that can do embroidery images onto a piece of cloth such as a towel or shirt. It usually works with a computerized image that is fed into it or pre set on the embroidery machine.

Well now that you know the different types of machines, I think you can figure out which sewing machine you should use. The home sewing machine is the one to get as it can have many functions you will need in your sewing endeavours. Without the stitches on the home sewing machine, it’s basically impossible to sew properly and thoroughly.

There are so many brands to choose from for home sewing machines. In another article, I have written about the different types of sewing machine brands and which ones are recommended.

Below, I have added an image of the types of stitches you will find on a basic sewing machine and which ones to look for when you buy your basic sewing machine. It will tell you which sewing machine to look for when you buy the machine.

How to sew a button hole - machine setting

How to sew a seam

How to sew a seam without a serger

Sewing done the right way can produce good quality and lasting results on garments, unlike some things you see in the shops that fray. But the problem is that if you don’t now how to sew a seam, it could be a problem in that fraying can start occurring. Sewing seams is an every day thing every seamstress needs to know.

I’m going to show you how to sew a seam in the next couple of paragraphs. It’s really that simple. Whether you have a serger or not, it’s not difficult to learn how to sew a seam on any type of garment or sewing project, whether it is upholstery or clothes that you are busy with.

The first thing is that the seam needs to be cut. A straight seam is 90% of the work done already. Once you have a straight seam, the how to on sewing the seam is a lot easier than trying to navigate jagged edges.

The next thing that needs to be done is that your seam needs to go through a serger to work a finish for the seam that won’t unravel. But don’t say “I don’t have a serger so now I don’t know how to sew a seam”. If you don’t have a serger it’s not that hard. You simply set your sewing machine setting to zigzag. If you sew on the zigzag on the edge of the fabric your machine may turn the very edge around into the zig zag seam. I have included a photo below to see.

How to sew a seam
How to sew a seam

When you are done sewing the zigzag around the edge of your garment, you need to pin the seam. Pin all around at the same width right around the fabric. This will make you sew the seam straight instead of going skew. Just remember to take the pins out as you sew the seam, before your sewing machine needle hits a pin! If you have a pin cushion, take the pin out right before the sewing machine needle is about to go over it and and put it in the pin cushion.

How to sew a seam

Make sure that when you sew a seam on anything, it’s straight. You can’t just pin the seam straight. You also need to sew the seam straight. This is very important otherwise your garment or project may just turn out skew.

Of course, you are not done learning how to sew a seam. The last thing that needs to be done when you’ve sewn the seam is to iron the seam. This will help to make it straight and press it neatly.

How to sew a seam

I hope this has helped in educating you on how to sew a seam. You can use this method to sew a seam onto almost anything and everything that needs a seam. If you are still wondering about how to sew a seam, feel free to browse this website under “sewing basics” as there are many tips and tricks you can follow to make sewing easier!