As some of you may be aware Josie from Fabric Godmother, an online dressmaking supplies store, posts a new sewing tip on her Facebook and Twitter accounts most days. She has kindly allowed us to share some of her tips here.
There’s so many great tips I’ve split them down into categories for you.
You will need 3 pairs of scissors. Dressmaking shears, to cut your fabric. Small sharp points for snipping threads and clipping curved seams and a pair of paper scissors for cutting out patterns.
Pinking shears are a quick and easy way of finishing seam allowances for fabrics that don’t fray easily.
Pins with large glass or plastic heads are the easiest to use. Buy the longest ones you can find — up to 1-2 inches.
Sewing machine & needles
On lightweight fine fabrics use a ball point needle to prevent snagging.
Test your stitch tension on a piece of the fabric you will be sewing before starting on the main garment.
After oiling your machine run a piece of scrap fabric though it to pick up any stray oil.
Use a ball point needle when sewing jersey.
Buy yourself a box of spare bobbins, otherwise you will end up with 6 different colours all wound round 1 bobbin, and will want the one at the bottom.
If you have trouble threading the needle, position the needle in front of a white surface so the eye is more visible.
Don’t forget to transfer pattern markings before you cut out the pattern, it will save you heaps of time.
Cut out pattern pieces that you are not using as it makes them easier to fold and store for next time.
Use tracing paper to make copies of your patterns so that they last longer.
Read all the pattern before starting to sew.
When possible use tailors chalk to draw round a pattern rather than pinning and cutting. Remember to cut inside the chalk line when cutting pattern pieces out.
Iron your fabric before cutting it out to make sure it lies flat.
For slippery fabrics pin, tack then sew, don’t skip a step….. you will get much better results.
If you are using striped fabric make sure you lay the pattern pieces out so the stripes match before you start cutting.
To find the right side of a jersey fabric see which way the cut edge rolls, it will always roll towards the right side.
Always buy a bit of extra fabric to allow for cutting mistakes.
If you are sewing with jersey, good news, it doesn’t fray so don’t worry about finishing the edges just cut and sew.
The right fabric is really important, read the back of the pattern for suggested fabrics.
It may help to put a piece of tissue over slippery fabric before sewing.
Pull a thread in your fabric to find the exact line of the grain.
Run your sewing thread over beeswax to help threading the needle and prevent it twisting.
Invest in a good quality sewing thread (I like Gutermann) a cheap one will only break in your machine and frustrate you.
Keep plenty of black, navy and white thread in stock, they always come in useful.
Trim loose threads as you go along, it will save going back afterwards and removing them all at the end and keeps your sewing much neater.
Remove all loose thread around your zip, they could get caught and ruin your hard work by pulling a thread or clogging the zip.
Use polyester, not cotton, thread with stretchy fabric.
Thread looks darker on the spool than it will on fabric. Choose a thread a shade darker than the material you’ll be using it on.
General sewing tips
Lost your sew-jo? Spend some time tidying your fabrics stash, it will get your creative juices flowing again (honestly try it).
Don’t over iron your tailors chalk as it will seal it to the fabric and won’t come off easily.
The iron is your friend, stop and iron regularly as you sew.
The most useful tip I learned was to assemble everything needed to complete a project before starting it. Nothing more frustrating than finding you don’t have snaps of the correct size or elastic of the proper width when the fabric store has closed for the day.
Always place your pins at right angles to the cutting or sewing line (If you can).
Iron your interfacing on to your fabric before cutting, it make it much easier to match up and helps prevent the edges of your fabric from fraying.
When using iron interfacing, let it cool completely before using the fabric, this will create a stronger bond.
Use coloured bias binding to add an interesting trim necklines and armholes (also removes the need for fiddly facings).
Use up old bits of fabric to make fun contrasting facings for your clothes or pocket linings.
Tack the seam together and press before laying the zip on top. Make sure the pattern matches on either side of the zip.