September/October 2012 Summary

Hello sewists! It’s November, which means it’s time to put the shorts away and stay warm inside while you get started on some Christmas crafts! If you’ve fallen behind on Sew Me Your Stuff posts, here’s a recap of what’s been covered the last couple of months.

Need to go back further? Past recaps:

Sewing Patterns:

Sewing Machine Help:

Notions and other Tools:

A Bag’s Life:

Remember, if you ever would like to see a topic covered by Sew Me Your Stuff, just submit it here!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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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
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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
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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

How to Choose a Sewing Pattern for Beginners

Hello sewists! Hopefully you’ve been doing some of the crafts I’ve shared and even come up with your own crafts to practice, because now we’re taking the next step!

Once you’ve mastered the basic techniques of sewing through small projects and crafts, it’s time to move on to projects that require you to use a sewing pattern. Learning to use sewing patterns will open you up to a whole new world of sewing and give you more options for crafts and garments to develop your sewing skills as you become a sewinista.

A sewing pattern is a set of pieces and instructions that you use to create a garment or craft. The pattern will come with paper that you cut into pieces and trace onto fabric, and then cut out and sew those pieces together according to the instructions. It sounds really easy, but not all patterns are created equally!

When you go to choose your first sewing pattern, there are some things you should consider as you decide which project to take on. Here’s a guide you can use to evaluate a pattern before you take it home.

Look for patterns labeled “Easy,” “Simple,” etc. My rule of thumb is to find a pattern that you think you could sew with your current set of skills, put it back down, and buy one that’s one degree easier than that pattern. Not because you shouldn’t challenge yourself, but because it’s really easy to overestimate yourself and end up frustrated – I’ve done it several times! Fabric stores often have a display dedicated to very easy sewing patterns so that you don’t have to flip through the books, but if you do have to use the books you’ll find a difficulty level for each garment. The easy garments or crafts in the books are sometimes even separated from the intermediate or difficult ones. For now look for simple patterns on display, because these are usually for beginners specifically.

Check the “Notions” section on the back of the pattern. For now, look for patterns that don’t require any notions except thread. If other notions are required, the pattern will contain instructions for using these notions, but if you’re completely unfamiliar with the notion it’s best for now to just stick to old fashioned stitches. You should either see “Notions: Thread” or no notions indicated at all on the back of the pattern.

Check the recommended fabrics. Avoid patterns that call for stretch or double stretch fabrics. I recommend finding a pattern that lists broadcloth as a recommended fabric and then using that. It’s a very easy fabric to use. Woven cottons in general are what I recommend for beginners because they are very easy to use and you can often find a fabric that’s easy to maneuver without looking cheap.

If possible, find a pattern that calls for less than a yard of fabric. This isn’t always possible, but if you can find something that doesn’t require a full yard you may be able to find fabric at the remnant rack that can be used for the garment or craft. This is just a way to save money if you can, because remnants are pretty heftily marked down. But if you see a fabric that looks good and would work for the pattern don’t hold back!

Once you find a pattern that meets these criteria, take it home and get ready to take the next step in learning to sew like a pro!

Check back for more posts on how to use a sewing pattern!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Etsy – Shop Sew Me Your Stuff