Sewing for Beginners
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    Lightbulb Sewing for Beginners

    PLEASE DO NOT POST TO THIS THREAD!
    I will start a new thread for questions and answers pertaining to sewing. Thanks!


    Do you have a hard time understanding a pattern? I found a site that does a wonderful job in helping you understand how to read them.

    http://sewing.about.com/library/weekly/aa081199.htm

    The description dealt with a Simplicity pattern, but most patterns have the same things just in different places. If this is your first time making something from a pattern, I suggest using one from Simplicity. They are the easiest to follow.


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    The next step is learning how to lay out the pattern on the fabric.

    http://sewing.about.com/library/weekly/aa072999.htm


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    Mastering A Sewing Machine

    Dateline: 04/07/00
    Many people have a sewing machine in the closet or garage that is never used. They want to do simple mending and learn to sew but have no idea where to start. Here is a great way for children and adults to master control of the sewing machine.
    The sewing machine is a powerful tool and can be a dangerous one for small fingers. Never leave a child unattended on a sewing machine! Take the time to teach them and build their confidence.
    Eventually threading the machine and bobbin will be a necessary part of sewing. For now we will play without the machine being threaded.


    What you will need:

    Plain paper
    A sewing machine with a needle
    A bright color but fine tip marker
    Completely un-thread the sewing machine. No bobbin or top thread. If the machine has not been used, please take the time to do Basic Machine Maintenance.

    Using ordinary paper, draw straight lines, circles, squares, triangles and squiggly lines, each on a separate piece of paper. Keep the shapes large and simple.

    Let the child start with the straight lines. The needle will penetrate the paper and make it very easy to rip as well as being able to see how well they did at sewing on target. The kids have great fun tearing the perforated lines.

    Use the circles and squiggly lines after they have mastered straight lines.

    Use the squares and triangle shapes for them to master stopping at the corners and learning to raise the pressure foot to turn a corner.

    Practice not only makes perfect, it builds self confidence. With self confidence anything is possible.

    Once all these shapes have been mastered, use the edge of plain paper to practice straight seams. Keep the edge of the paper lined up with the seam guides on the machine throat plate. Practice using the pressure foot (and needle position on some machines) to keep straight and even seam lines from the edge of the paper.

    Please remember to change your sewing machine needle before you sew on fabric. Paper will dull the machine needle, just as it will scissors.

    Once the machine is mastered, what comes next?
    Nothing will be more discouraging then trying a project that requires advanced sewing skills. Start with a simple, beginners project and use economical resources. If the simple projects seem like something you would never use, think gifts and charity. Someone out there can benefit from you learning to sew!
    Once you have all the basics, play with the decorative stitches that the machine has built in. Keep a notebook with samples, that you can refer to. Refer to the machine owners manual for more details on your particular machine.
    http://sewing.about.com/library/weekly/aa040700a.htm

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    Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance
    Dateline: 08/29/98

    Basic Care of your sewing Machine

    Are you a sewer who sews constantly or one who pulls the machine out just occasionally? Either way, basic machine care is important to keep your machine ready when you are.

    There are a few ways to remove lint from your machine. If you look closely at the tension mechanisms and bobbin case, they are close fitting areas. Lent left in these areas can destroy machine parts. You will also find that inexpensive thread builds up lint much faster then inexpensive thread. Use the brush which came with your machine or canned air to remove this lint on a regular basis.

    Mississippi State University has published the 4-H Clothing Project Reference Manual on line. It has wonderful basic sewing information, as well as basic sewing machine maintenance information and a diagram of Parts Of A Sewing Machine.

    Sewing machine oil is not something you borrow from the garage. It is clear white oil. Be sure to use the proper oil. Refer to your owners manual for the proper spots to oil. Some of the older machines, have these areas marked. Run stitches on some scrape fabric before you tackle your project. This allows oil to escape on to the scrapes, if it's going to, instead of the project you are working on.

    Oiling the machine not only lubricates your moving parts, to prevent wear. It reduces the risk of rust. Rust forms rapidly with any dampness, even just the humidity in the air. Surface rust can act just like loose sand granule in your machine, and create excess wear. hex key wrench sets or Allen Wrenches to check these. These can be found in dollar bins at the supermarket. The sets found there are not "great" sets but should serve your purpose. If you need a stronger set of hex keys then you probably need a repair shop.

    If the set screws are missing or loose, take the machine to a repair shop. It may seem easy to just replace the screw or tighten it, but all of these details go in to the timing of the machine. If the timing is off you can do great damage and the repair bill will be much more then a tune up.
    http://sewing.about.com/library/weekly/aa082998.htm

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    Economical Sewing Machines For Learning The Basics

    Your Children want to sew. You know from past experience that this may be a passing whim or you are leary about letting them man handle the machine of your dreams. Here you'll find some economical soluitions so the kids have their own machine to learn on and you can both sew at the same time.

    A basic straight stitch machine will give the beginner and opportunity to experiment and learn all the basics of sewing. Pinking shears and straight edged Basic Seam Finishes can be achieved on a straight stitch machine. Zig zag and buttonhole stitches are a wonderful extra if they are a vailable but not absolutly nessecary.

    Be sure to Read Sewing Machine Buying Tips for pointers on things to look for before shopping at any source.

    If you have found an economical machine without a manual, refer to Locating A Sewing Machine Manual for on and off line sources.

    Newspapers and Clssified Ad Papers


    Many times you can find a basic sewing machine with a cabnet even for $25. The older machines are usually more durable and a child can even learn about what makes the machine work, more so then on todays electonic machines.

    Good Will and Salvation Army Stores


    As homes and attics are cleaned out many times machine will be donated to these sources. You may even find sewing baskets, boxes of patterns, notions and more.

    Yard Sales


    Here you will have an opportunity tio meet the owner of the machine that may be a real bargain or a real lemon. Talk to the person selling the machine. Try the machine out.
    http://sewing.about.com/library/blmach.htm

    Sewing Machine Buying Tips: http://sewing.about.com/library/weekly/aa102897.htm

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    Stay Stitching

    Dateline: 08/12/99

    How often do we read a patterns directions and decide we can skip a step? Many times stay stitching seems like one of those we can skip. Will it effect to finished garment if we do?

    Stay stitching is a single row of stitching on a single layer of fabric. Stay stitching is usually called for on any curved cut edge of a pattern piece. These curved areas, whether an extreme curve or a slight curve are exceptionally susceptible to distortion. A classic example is an arm hole. One of the first instructions will be to "Stay stitch" the armhole. So why should you bother?

    Stay stitching stops cut edges from distorting and stretching. By stitching the material, you maintain the original cut shape. As you are constructing the garment, you will be pressing and moving the cut fabric. Every time you do, it is possible to rearrange the original weave of the fabric. Stay stitching, holds the weave in the original cut position.

    Without stay stitching, when you are ready to attach a facing, you may discover that nothing seems to fit together, even though you cut everything perfectly.

    Just as you can adjust the grainline on fabric before cutting, you may have distorted the grainline as you worked with the cut piece of fabric. Not only does this make it difficult to make pieces fit together, you may see a distorted fit in your finished garment. Although you may be able to make the facing fit, there is apt to be a bubbled appearance in the area of the garment near the facing.

    So how do you achieve a proper stay stitch?

    The number one rule, when using any commercial pattern.... Read the Direction Sheet! This sheet is loaded with details that the designers are sharing with you. They will not explain why you should follow a step, but it would be vary time consuming for them to add things that do not need to be done. If a step is included in the directions, there is a reason. Cutting corners will usually effect the finished garment.
    Stay stitch as soon as you remove the paper pattern piece. This prevents any handling distortion of the fabric.
    Use a regular construction stitch lenth on your machine. Do not use a basting, or long stitch length. A regular stitch, helps the fabric maintain it's shape.
    Stay stitching is done just inside, the seam line of the garment. For example: If your garment calls for 5/8" seams, stay stitching is done at 4/8" on the seam allowance.
    After you have stay stitched, place your pattern piece on top of you fabric. Machine tension and inadvertently stretching the fabric may have distorted it. There are many ways to correct this if it has been distorted.
    Always pay attention to direction of stitching. This may not show as drasticly with a tightly woven fabric in comparison to a loose weave, but it is a good habit to have. Stitching against the grain when stay stitching will loosen the fabric weave and cause distortions. Many pattern directions do include the direction of stitching. When in doubt or working with a pattern direction sheet that does not include the direction you should stitch, refer to basic directional stitching.
    http://sewing.about.com/library/weekly/aa081299.htm

    Ways To Correct a Distorted Stay Stitch
    (Continued from Stay Stitching)

    As discussed earlier, it is possible to distort your cut fabric with your stay stitching.

    It is advisable to always test your machine, with your scraps, before stitching on the garment. Many times you must adjust your tension and needle to the fabric you are working with. Taking a few minutes to test stitch, prevents having to correct mistakes later and gives you a professional result.

    Distortion can happen due to stretching the fabric as you sew, even if the machine tension is correct. If the fabric is stretched, gently left a stitch ever inch or so, with a straight pin. Without forming a gather, ease the fabric back into the original shape and size.

    If the fabric has "shrunk" due to your stay stitching, clip one stitch every inch or so. Finger press the fabric back to it's correct shape. Test your machine tension on a scrap before doing any more stitching. A commonly used trick on thin fabric, which tends to pucker, is to use a layer of tissue paper under your fabric.
    http://sewing.about.com/library/blsstitch.htm

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    Basic Directional Stitching

    http://sewing.about.com/library/bldirectstitch.htm

    This is important, so pay attention to the arrows on your pattern piece.

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    Fabric And Grainlines!

    Dateline: 05/20/99

    Fabric And Grainlines!
    Purchased patterns have grain line markings and grain line terms. Do you understand what they all mean?
    Are you sometimes puzzled by all the grainline emphasis? As boring as the subject may sound, by learning more, you will understand the impact grainlines make on the way a garment fits and the way it hangs.

    Have you ever owned a pair of jeans or slacks that twisted around your leg no matter how much you pressed them? Did you know that someone created this problem, by not cutting the pieces out on the straight grain of the fabric?

    How do you avoid these problems? Learn more about how the grain works and why it impacts your finished product.

    Neb Guides - Preparing Fabric For Use has the best, full explanation for understanding how the threads of fabric comprise what is referred to as fabric grain. As you scan down the page, you will find ways to straighten the grain, as well as how the grain line effects fitting and garments on a human body.

    Pattern Layouts - Taunton Press gives you great details on all aspects of the pattern placement and lay out, as well as a bit of grainline information.

    Threads On Line - Bias 101 has everything you could need to understand the newer bias cut garments, why you would choose a pattern that is bias and Safe fabric choices for bias. By following the arrows in the bottom right hand corner of each page of this article, every home sewer can master, what many designers avoid and have never mastered.

    Grainlines are not the only task at hand when laying out a pattern. Threads On Line: WITH-NAP LAYOUT gives you all the information you need to make sure you understand nap layouts for patterns. This article lets you understand how you could end up with a garment that looks like you cut it out of two different colors. Did you know that could happen?

    KWIK SEW Method for Easy Sewing takes the mystery out of choosing fabrics and explains the things you need to consider in order to make a garment that you are proud to wear.

    Preshrinking is a necessary step before starting a garment. By following the technique described in Oh, what a tangled prewash we avoid the only thing you lose is a 1/2" of fabric and your fabric is ready for production.

    Learning is an on going process, take your time and analyze what you are doing. The results are always worth the time spent, if you want an exquisitely tailored garment as a finished product.
    http://sewing.about.com/library/weekly/aa052099.htm

    If you go to the link, there are many other links from there to help you. If you don't get your grainline matched up with your pattern piece (even if you are only making a tote bag) it can come out twisted. Have you ever bought a pair of jeans with one leg twisted or a t-shirt came out of the wash all squee hawed (new word! ) ? They weren't cut on the straight of grain! This is very important if you want your project to come out nice.

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    Dateline: 05/05/00

    Exploring Hems - Part 1


    When our children grow, when styles change, when our body shapes change, and when purchased garments need to be altered, we are forced to pay for alterations or to pick up a needle and thread to hem a garment. Here you will find instructions and directions for the many ways to achieve a professional hem line on any garment. This week we are going to talk about hemming pants and slacks.
    First things first! You will need to decide on the finished length you will want the garment.

    Hem lengths vary wildly! Rules of thumb seem to have gone out the window. This leaves the decision up to you. If you are altering a garment, remove the original hem. Try on the pants or slacks with the type of shoe you would normally wear with them. If you normal wear a foundation garment, such as a girdle, wear it to hem the pants. Not wearing it will change the way the pants fit and hang.
    Using straight pins or tailors chalk, mark where you want the finished length. Try to keep your markings straight and an even distance from the floor. As convenient as it may seem for the person doing the hemming, do not have the model stand on a chair or uneven surface. This will cause an uneven marking. (Note: If there is a lot of extra length it is best to fold the excess to the outside until the final fitting.)
    Remove the pants and lay them out flat. There should be a fairly straight line of markings for you to follow. Many times you will discover that the line is higher in the front and lower in the back. This is due to the way the garment hangs on a person. The trick is to make the taper as smooth as possible, avoiding a peak or valley in the hem line.

    Straighten your marked line and lightly press the hem up on the marked line. Lightly pin the excess fabric up in the pants. Do not use a lot of pins as this may change the way the pants hang. Try on the pants again to be sure you have the desired length and a straight hem line.(Note: I firmly believe in checking twice before cutting. You can re do pressing but you can't reattach the fabric if you cut too much.)

    Now things are going to get a bit more complicated. The fabric and the style of the pants are going to dictate how much fabric you are going to leave on the garment.

    A top stitched hem: If you are hemming a pair of jeans and want to reproduce the top stitched hem, look at the original about of fabric that was turned up. Double that amount as you will be turning it over twice to enclose the raw edges. Mark that amount on the inside hem, up from your pressed line. Move your pins so that they are inside the hem that will remain on the garment. Trim off the excess fabric. Now give your desired hem line a good pressing. Create a sharp crease.
    This same method is used for many sports type garments. The amount of hem is usually between a half and three quarters of an inch. Therefore you leave one to one and a half inches of fabric inside the pants from your desired finished length.
    Turn the raw edge under to meet your pressed line. Press the hem into place. Top stitch the hem.
    On jeans or flat felled seams you will discover many sewing machines do not want to go through this heavy area. There are many gadgets on the market to solve this problem. (See the Jean-A-Ma-Jig at Clotilde under Machine Accessories.)

    Dress Slacks and Suit Pants:These hems require you to leave more fabric to achieve a smooth finished hem. Lightweight fabric may require you to add seam tape to eliminate the bulk that would be created by turning the fabric over under itself.
    If the amount of fabric allows you, leave one and a half to two inches of fabric inside the garment from the pressed hem line. You will now need to decide on a seam finish for the raw edge of the fabric. Serge the edge, zig zag the edge, add seam binding to the edge or turn under the edge if it will not create too much bulk. More On Seam Finishes
    Press the hem line. If you are not familiar with sewing, using a long running hand stitch, baste the hem in to place. Many sewing machines have a blind stitch available. Refer to your sewing machine manual for how to use it.
    To hand stitch the hem, thread a fine hand sewing needle with thread that matches the slacks. Take care to only catch a few threads from the outside of the garment as you stitch. Keep your stitches evenly spaced and an even distance from the pressed hem line. Do not pull the stitches too tight. This caused a pucker and will not allow the pants to lay smoothly.
    In many garments the leg tapers and the hem will be vertically wider then the area of pants that you are trying to sew it on to. You will need to ease in the hem line. There are a couple ways to resolve this. Never make vertical tucks in the hem. This creates too much bulk.

    How to ease:
    The easiest way to ease in the fabric will require you to use a sewing machine. On the turned edge or the inside edge of your seam finish, make a row of basting stitches, leaving a tail of thread. Gently tug the tail, to pull in the fabric, until it fits the pants leg. Spread the easing over the entire hem so that no gathers or tucks exist.
    http://sewing.about.com/library/weekly/aa050500a.htm

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    How to Sew A Pants Hem
    From your Sewing Guide

    Here you will find instructions and directions to hem slacks. Avoid paying for this alteration on ready made garments by learning to do it your self.

    Difficulty Level: Average Time Required: 60 Minutes



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Here's How:
    You will need a straight pins, tailors chalk, scissors, needle and thread.
    Try on the pants and decide on the desired length.
    Mark the desired length with pins or tailors chalk.
    Lightly press the new hem line in to place and try on the pants again.
    Trim the excess fabric, leaving 1 1/2' to 2' for dress slacks and 1' for a top stitched hem.
    Press the new hem line well.
    Finish the raw edge of the fabric.
    Hand stitch or machine blind hem the fabric in to place.
    Press well.


    Tips:

    Use care to not pull hand stitches to tight and create puckers in your fabric.
    Always double check the desired length before cutting off excess fabric.
    Ease in excess fabric when necessary. Never make tucks in the hem.
    Related Information:

    Let's Talk About Sewing Hems
    Easing and Stay Stitching
    Basic Seam Finishes
    http://sewing.about.com/c/ht/00/07/H...0962932898.htm

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    Sewing On Flat Buttons

    Dateline: 02/25/00

    Sewing a Flat Button
    Materials list
    Needle and Thread
    Scissors
    Your button(s)
    A Straight pin.
    Procedure For A Flat Button
    Locate where you will be sewing the button on to the garment.
    Place the needle into the fabric, starting at the back side of the garment, bringing it up through the garment.
    Make two or three stitches in the fabric, without the button to anchor your thread.
    Place the button over the anchor stitches and bring the needle up through the button.
    Lay the straight pin over the button.
    Bring your needle down through the button and fabric, allowing the thread to trap the straight pin.
    http://sewing.about.com/library/weekly/aa022500a.htm

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    Sewing a Flat Button - continued.....

    Make 6 stitches, through the fabric and button, to sew on the button.
    Repeat for the other two holes if you are using a 4 hole button.
    On the back of the fabric, where your original thread knot is, knot the thread. Cut the thread.
    http://sewing.about.com/library/weekly/aa022500a.htm

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    Sewing a Flat Button continued....

    Tips And Tricks:
    If you have lost the original button, you may be able to "steal" an original button from a normally unseen area, such as the shirt tails. Some garments are purchased with extra buttons sewn on to the inside of the garment. If you purchase a garment that comes with extra buttons packaged with the tag, take a few moments to sew on the extra buttons in an inconspicuous area of the garment.
    Pull each stitch taunt, as you attach the button, to create a smooth stitched effect and to prevent a knotted mess.
    Use a thread color that is a close match to the other buttons on the garment.
    When you are replacing a button, there is an urge to "over" sew the replacement. Doing this will not give you professional results. Resist the urge!
    When you are creating a garment, you can use your button attaching thread to embellish the garment. For example: You have made a white blouse with red top stitching. Use white buttons and read thread to attach the buttons. If you have found red buttons to match your top stitching, use white thread to sew them on to the garment.
    When ever you are going to discard a garment, remove the buttons and save them. They just may be the button you need in the future.
    Use small beads in place of buttons on small doll clothes.
    http://sewing.about.com/library/weekly/aa022500a.htm

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