Helpful Link: Sewing Machine Tension

The tension adjuster on your sewing machine is one of those mysterious dials that many sewists try to avoid touching. If you’re having a problem, you’ll often hear “It’s probably a problem with your tension settings” but not much else on how to actually fix the problem.

Thread tension itself isn’t a very complicated idea, but adjusting and perfecting it can be a little intimidating since you have top thread tension and bobbin thread tension which are adjusted completely separately.

While browsing Pinterest (side note: SMYS now has a Pinterest!) I came across a link to this blog post by Threads Magazine that thoroughly explains thread tension and is well worth a read.

If you feel that this is a bit advanced for you at this point, definitely hold onto it for later reading if you’re having trouble with your sewing!

Link: Understanding Thread Tension

Happy reading!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

Advertisements

Notions to Know

There are a lot of crafts and garments that can be made with just some properly cut fabric and stitches, but to expand your repertoire you’re going to need to learn about notions. Notions are basically any non-fabric part of a garment or tool used to create a certain effect.

In this post and this post about buying your beginning sewing supplies, as well as in this video, you’ll find a lot of basic tools and notions that will help you construct a basic craft or garment. Now that you’ve moved onto sewing patterns and are getting a little more advanced, you’ll encounter patterns that call for specific notions to create specific effects. Here are a few that I ran into a lot as a beginner that left me confused or intimidated.

  • Buttons
    Buttons are a basic but important sewing notion for beginners who are learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    We all know buttons. But actually attaching them to a garment takes a bit of effort – you might want to look for a sewing machine with a buttonhole stitch to make these easier. Some machines even have a stitch to sew on buttons, but personally I usually sew notions like this by hand to gain more precision. There will definitely be a post or two in the future about sewing buttons!
  • Zippers
    Zippers are important basic sewing notions for beginners learning to sew. - Sew Me Your StuffZippers are important basic sewing notions for beginners learning to sew. - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Zippers are a bit of a challenge to learn – even my mother never bothered to sew things with zippers because she never got the hang of it. Really encouraging for me to hear when she was helping me learn to sew. But with some practice and careful reading of the instructions, you can pick it up in no time. Invisible zippers are handy to learn, but sometimes you just need a basic zipper.  Once you learn the process of attaching a zipper, you’ll be opened up to a whole new world of crafts you can make!
  • Elastic
    Elastic is an important basic sewing notion for beginners learning to sew. - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Elastic is generally used to fit a garment or create an effect and can be attached in different ways. You can sew a casing, push the elastic through, and sew it shut. Also you can sew the elastic directly to the fabric, which I find more challenging because sewing on a stretch is never easy for beginners. However, casings are pretty easy and can give beginners a lot of opportunities to get creative with projects!
  • Interfacing
    Interfacing is an important sewing notion for beginners learning to sew to learn. - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Okay, this may not count as a “notion,” technically. If your pattern calls for interfacing, it’s usually listed under the fabric requirements. It’s bought by the yard just as fabric as well. Most patterns I’ve seen will call for fusible interfacing, which is attached to fabric using an iron. Non-fusible interfacing is sewn on. Interfacing is used to stiffen fabric and keep it from warping, such as collars or buttonholes. Once you use it a couple of times it’s no sweat at all!
  • Bias tape
    Bias tape is a sewing notion with a lot of great uses for a beginner learning to sew  - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Bias tape has many wonderful and handy uses, but full disclosure I haven’t really used it for any of them. You can finish raw edges with it, add accents, bind seams, and a lot more. It’s fabric that’s been cut on the bias of fabric so it won’t unravel and has much more flexibility than fabric that follows the grainline. Basically there are a million things you can use bias tape for, and I’m going to make a million tutorials to help you learn them!

Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

A Bag’s Life Part 2: The Pattern

In a previous post I detailed the hunt for a simple project pattern at the fabric store. Now it’s time to look at how to use the sewing pattern, first by reading and interpreting it.

When you open a new pattern, it will have two things in it: instructions, and the pattern printed on drafting paper.

Before you start trying to cut out the pattern, let’s first look at the instructions.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

It is very important to closely read all of the sewing instructions that accompany a pattern, not just the step-by-step. They will typically define unfamiliar terms, specify the width of the seam allowance, and tell you important tips that might be omitted from the step-by-step instructions. Notice under “Layout & Cutting” in the picture (click the image to enlarge) the pattern illustrates how to lay out the pattern pieces on your fabric to trace. This pattern is pretty simple, but that is really helpful for more complex projects or projects where you have to consider the grainline.

After you have studied the instructions, it’s time to look at the pattern pieces.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

This bag can be produced in a small, medium, or large size, so the pattern has three different lines outlining the body of the bag that you can trace depending on the size of the bag that you want. The second piece of the pattern, the pocket, comes in only one size.

If you have a pattern that gives you multiple sizing options, be extra careful when cutting to be sure that you are being consistent. Many clothing patterns are printed in 6 or 8 sizes at once, so it takes some focus to make sure that you don’t mix up the lines and start cutting out the wrong size. However, once you get more advanced you may want to intentionally blend sizes to fit your body or tastes better – until then just stick to one size at a time!

I’ve decided that I only want a small bag, so it’s time for me to start cutting.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

Notice that my scissors are cutting along the “small” dotted line. Alternatively, I could have cut along one of the bigger lines and simply maneuvered to trace the “small” line, but I decided to keep it simple.

And here are my cut out pieces!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff

In the next post, I’ll show how these two pieces of paper turn into a cute tote bag!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

Video: How to Read a Sewing Pattern

Hello sewists!

I recently shared this post on how to choose a sewing pattern for beginners and this post detailing how I applied that to purchase a sewing pattern for a market tote.

Recently someone sent me this video that does a great job of explaining in-depth how to use a sewing pattern by showing the easiest way to read and interpret a sewing pattern. It’s a pretty long video but goes into detail about the process of finding and choosing the pattern you want to try.

Next I’ll be posting a series on sewing notions. Have a great day!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff

August 2012 Summary

Hello sewists! In case you missed any posts during the month of August, here is a little recap of what I’ve been posting to Sew Me Your Stuff over the last month. You can revisit the July 2012 recap here too.

Fabrics:

Sewing Machines:

Techniques:

Videos:

Thanks for sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
Pinterest & Twitter – Follow for tips, ideas, and more
Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff