It is so easy to make sewing mistakes. Sometimes, it is the best way to learn. However, we want to help you avoid or fix these most common mistakes.
Don’t forget you can also call in to one of our stores and we’ll do our best to help or why not join one of our classes! And remember practice makes perfect so don’t give up!
Measure twice, cut once!
Fabric is expensive so plan your project carefully and take care each step of the way. Make sure you align accurately with fabric grain lines. Lay your cloth on a flat surface, like a clean floor or table. If you place your fabric on a table, make sure parts of it aren’t hanging over the edge, as this may pull it out of shape. If you need to cut on fold, ensure the fold is exactly on grain. Always check twice that the pattern pieces are perfectly aligned with grainlines, then pin all around them, before cutting. Inaccurate cutting is one of the most common and expensive beginner sewing mistakes. By following these steps, and taking your time, you can easily avoid it.
Use your presser foot
The presser foot holds the fabric in place, so you can always stitch neatly, so make sure you use it. Forgetting to put the presser foot in the “down” position before you begin to sew will cause the material to jump around and it won’t “walk” backwards easily; you might get bunched up with your threads in a tangled mess!
Get the right tension
Tensioning is a common complaint for sewers, and it is a tough skill to master, which even experienced sewers can struggle with. The tension dial does exactly what it says – it adjusts the tension on the spool of thread. Sometimes, when the stitching looks uneven or it is very tight on the top side, this can be a result of the thread tension. Before you begin fiddling with the tension settings, check that your bobbin is threaded properly. The bobbin should be threaded into the bobbin case correctly, with thread unspooling in the correct direction (usually anticlockwise). You can sew test fabrics first to check your tensioning is correct. We recommend taking note of your settings before you start trying to adjust tension dials.
Don’t forget about your seams!
If you are sewing clothing, then knowing about seams is vital! When sewing seams, you’re constantly working on the inside of your garment, and reversing. This can be a tricky move to get used to, but it is so important to make sure you sew seams on the correct side.
When using patterned textiles, remember to place patterned sides facing each other, because when you reverse, they will end up on the outside. Also, try and get used to pressing your seams as you go, before joining seams, and ironing your fabric before you get started. This will make your finished project look a lot more professional and reduces the risk of puckering. Bumpy fabric can also result in inaccurate cutting and sewing, which could all lead to a sewing disaster!
Choose the right fabric for your project
Don’t get side tracked by the pretty, colourful fabrics, if they are not the right textiles for the job at hand! It can be very easy to be persuaded to use a certain textile, thanks to its colour, pattern, or style, but most patterns have suggested fabrics, which have been carefully chosen to best suit the structure of the finished garment. By choosing a fabric based on its aesthetics alone, you might not be able to complete your project.
Choose the correct needle and thread
When making most kinds of garments, you should use a 100% polyester, all-purpose thread. Make sure you check the label, as certain threads, such as rayon, silk and quilting thread are not appropriate for garment construction. Universal needles are mostly used for sewing natural fibres, and ballpoint or jersey needles are best for sewing with knits.
There are needles designed for stretchy fabrics, such as stretch needles, as well as speciality needles for materials such as metallic and leather. Ensure you match the needle to the weight of the cloth and check the intended purpose before starting your project. While we are on the subject of needles; make sure the needle in your sewing machine is changed regularly. It is recommended that sewing machine needles should only be used for 6 – 8 hours of sewing time, before being replaced by a fresh one. This will ensure a smooth and more accurate finish.
Learn how to read a sewing pattern
When you are following a pattern, it is important to remember that every single mark, symbol, and label on the pattern is there for a reason, and they all mean something. Phrases such as; the grainline, fold lines, finishes measurements etc., all mean something, and we recommend reading up about sewing terms (see our handy A-Z guide) before getting started on your project. Education is key, so if there is anything you don’t understand, look it up or ask someone with more sewing experience.
Have plenty of fabric!
When you are just getting started, it can be very easy to make an error or mistake when you are cutting out a pattern, which leads you to having to discard that piece of fabric. When you buy the material for your sewing project, buy a bit extra, to cover these kinds of errors. Some fabrics also tend to shrink in the wash, so by having some extra material, all your bases are covered. This leads us onto the next mistake to avoid…
Prep your fabric!
Prepping your fabric before you embark on your project is a necessity! Some textiles need to be washed or even dry cleaned before they can be used. Denim, for example, needs to be machine washed and wool needs to be dry cleaned. Some fabrics can shrink after washing them, and if you haven’t prepared for it, then your garment will not fit properly when it is made. Sewing disaster!
Keep it simple to start and practice on scraps
Before attempting am ambitious project, you need to master the basics such as stitching straight and stitching accurately on woven textiles. We also recommend just sticking to one project at a time. Make and finish each project as you go. Along the way of each one, you will learn, and make mistakes, which you can avoid in your next project.
Use the right tools
A lot of simple sewing mistakes can be avoided by simply using the correct tools.
Scissors. There is a world of difference between kitchen scissors and sewing appropriate scissors. Not all scissors are created equal! You need good quality SHARP scissors to cut your fabric. Never use your regular household scissors, that you have used to cut paper, packaging etc, to cut your material. This will blunt your blade significantly. Keep sewing scissors sharp and well-maintained so they can chop through fabric smoothly. Also, don’t use scissors to rip out a seam. Use a seam ripper instead – they are made specifically for this purpose. They are quicker and better than scissors, and will prevent your fabric from ripping.