How to Attach Non-Fusible Interfacing

Hello sewists! I’ve covered the usefulness of interfacing in this post, and earlier I shared a post about how to attach fusible interfacing, which you can view here.

However, not all interfacing is fusible. Some forms of interfacing are non-fusible and cannot be attached just using steam and heat.

Fusible interfacing is a really great tool for giving shape to your projects and doesn’t require being stitched onto fabric. Non-fusible interfacing is sometimes called “sew-in” interfacing because it doesn’t have an adhesive side like fusible interfacing does and has to be attached by being sewn to the fabric.

The process of attaching non-fusible interfacing differs a little bit from attaching fusible interfacing, so here’s a guide to using non-fusible interfacing to give a project some shape.

First, you’ll want to cut out your pattern pieces. I’m demonstrating on a Christmas stocking, and I’m attaching interfacing to the lining so that it holds the stocking shape.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Notice that I cut out the interfacing to be the exact same size as the fabric piece. When cutting out fusible interfacing you also cut it to be the same size at first. However, non-fusible is different in that you don’t trim the edges before attaching.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Pin the interfacing to the fabric, matching the raw edges.

Tip: Notice that my pins are not right along the raw edge like you normally do when pinning together two pieces of fabric. I also used as few pins as possible. This is because the interfacing is very thick and can get distorted easily with the pins. I removed the pins as I stitched to keep the edges as even as possible.

Before you stitch, you should have decided how wide your seam allowance will be. When you stitch the interfacing onto the fabric, you’ll want to use a slightly shorter seam allowance so that the interfacing will definitely be stitched into your seam.

For example, I typically use a 1/2 inch seam allowance. So for this piece of fabric, I’ll be using a 3/8 inch seam allowance when attaching my interfacing.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Stitch the interfacing onto the fabric as a normal straight stitch.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

After you stitch the interfacing onto the fabric, trim the interfacing very close to the stitch to reduce bulk in your seams. This is why you have to use a shorter seam allowance rather than one that is the same length that you normally use. After you trim your interfacing, you can still be sure that it will be in your line of stitching and give your fabric a smooth look.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your StuffLearning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

Now your interfacing is attached directly to the fabric. Remember that non-fusible interfacing is different from fusible in that when attaching fusible, you trim the edges before you attach. As you can see with the non-fusible interfacing, you trim  after you attach.

Next I repeated this process on the matching piece of fabric and stitched the two together to form the lining of the stocking. When I stitch the seam, notice that the seam stitch is slightly deeper than the stitch used to attach the interfacing.

Learning the difference between fusible and non-fusible interfacing and how to attach each is important for a beginner learning to sew with sewing notions - Sew Me Your Stuff

The stitch closer to the raw edge is the stitch used to attach the interfacing, and the deeper stitch is the seam.

All in all, non-fusible interfacing is no more difficult to attach than fusible. I tend to prefer fusible because you don’t have to use as much thread and it sticks directly to the fabric. When stitching my non-fusible interfacing, I had trouble with the fabric and interfacing becoming separated and throwing off my stitches which isn’t a problem I have with fusible.

Remember to use the interfacing guide at your fabric store if possible to pick the right interfacing for your project!

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A Bag’s Life Part 3: The Construction

And now the epic conclusion to the Sew Me Your Stuff saga of how to go from pattern to product – Market Tote Edition.  This post detailed the process of choosing an easy pattern for a beginner and finding notions in the store. This post will guide you through understanding the pattern and setting it up to get started. Now it’s time to learn how to turn that pattern into a finished craft!

The last step mentioned in the previous post was cutting out the pattern pieces needed for your project. The next step will be to trace the pieces onto fabric, but there’s a little preparation before you do that.

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

First, you’ll need to iron the fabric to smooth out any wrinkles. Wrinkles can distort the traced pattern and cause your final product to be pretty wonky. This fabric that I’m using I picked from the home decor section of the fabric store, and it’s a simple woven cotton. I highly recommend a fabric like this for a beginner’s craft. It was great to work with!

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

Next you have to flip your iron to a low setting and press your pattern pieces flat. The folds and creases in the paper can also distort your lines, so it’s very important that you completely flatten the pattern piece.

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

Before you begin tracing, lay the pattern pieces on the fabric to be sure that you’re leaving yourself enough fabric for both pieces. The pattern instructions will often contain a guide to laying the pieces that you can use to help you with this step.

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

To help you trace the pattern accurately, you should pin the pattern to the fabric. If your fabric is folded, pin the pattern through all layers. This thin paper can easily be shifted while tracing, but pins will hold it in place.

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

Next it’s time to actually trace the pattern. Because all of the edges are straight, I used a ruler to guide me. This isn’t always possible, but if you can then it will help you keep your lines accurate.

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

You can see in this picture that I completely traced the outline of the pattern, but very importantly I also traced the markings on the pattern that indicate where the pocket and straps should go. Make sure you transfer all markings from the pattern to the fabric!

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

Next it’s time to cut! With all the extra markings on the fabric, be sure you only cut the lines that you’re supposed to.

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

Repeat this process for all pattern pieces. It may be most time-effective to trace all pieces and then cut all pieces, but because of the layout of these pieces I decided to do them separately.

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

From here on out I’ll be following the instructions included in the sewing pattern. It’s very important that you start with the first step and follow the instructions carefully. (I actually skipped the checkstand hanger loop)

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

Midway through the process. Webbing straps are pretty easy to sew! Notice that all pins are perpendicular to the path of the sewing machine. Most sewing machines can tolerate horizontal pins like this, but if your pins are vertical it can damage your sewing machine!

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

Sewing the side seams. I had some crookedness in my stitches, but this fabric was very easy to move through the machine.

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

Cutting the last stitch!

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

And voila! We have a bag!

Hopefully this series has helped you see how easy it is to go from cutting the pattern to putting your new tote bag (or other craft) to work. You can really surprise yourself with what you’re capable of making once you get the hang of sewing!

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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!

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A Bag’s Life Part 1: The Fabric Store

Earlier I shared a post helping you choose your first sewing pattern, which you can find here. Now it’s time to put it into action by demonstrating how to use a sewing pattern to create a bag!

I started by going to my local fabric store and heading to the patterns section, looking for the beginner section. The store provides books full of patterns that you choose from filing cabinets, but beginners get a special section with sewing patterns on display.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
I chose a pattern for a bag that was marked “Level 1” for beginner sewists. You can also look for Simplicity beginner patterns or patterns with a label saying “Yes it’s easy!” or something similar. Next I turned it over to check out the notions and fabric requirements.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
I’m choosing to do the Market Tote, so I ignored the requirement for the Produce Bag and the optional checkstand loop. Other than that, it seems the only notion I need is thread – perfect!

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
This pattern calls for less than a yard of fabric, so it’s possible I could peruse the remnant rack for an appropriate fabric. It also calls for webbing straps, which can be found in the ribbon section of the store.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
I saw this woven cotton fabric and really wanted to use it, so I forewent the remnant rack and got a cut of this. I decided to do the Medium bag, so I cut 5/8 of a yard.

Learning how to use a sewing pattern to make a craft is important for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
This is a roll of webbing strap (or something close enough to it!) that’s cut by the yard. I actually got a little extra of this because there were 15 inches left after my 2 7/8 yard cut. If you agree to buy that extra portion, the store usually gives it to you at a discount.

I already have dark blue thread, but at this point you should make sure you have a matching thread for your fabric. Nothing worse than getting home all excited about a new craft only to realize you forgot to buy thread!

And that’s all it takes to get started! I walked out of the store with everything I need to make a new bag, and I can’t wait to get started and share the process with you! Next I’ll be demonstrating how to use the sewing pattern to create a bag.

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Fabric for Beginners Part Five: Types of Synthetic Fabrics

Hello sewists!

I hope your head isn’t spinning too badly from the three posts about common and useful cotton fabrics (one, two, three), because it’s time to talk about more fabrics! Today I’ll focus on synthetic fabrics which are often an inexpensive alternative to natural fabrics.

You probably are pretty familiar with polyester, but there are a wide variety of synthetic fabrics available that mimic or enhance natural textiles. Some are used for very specific purposes while others can be adapted to different garments and crafts and blended with other textiles to create a unique fabric. Here is a basic guide to some of the most common synthetic fabrics you’re likely to encounter.

  • Acetate
    Acetate is commonly used in garment lining, which is a handy thing to know when you're learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffAcetate is commonly used in garment lining, which is a handy thing to know when you're learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Acetate is a fabric made from cellulose with a silky and lustrous appearance. In clothing it is most often found as the lining for garments like dresses, skirts, and other formal or professional wear. Garments containing acetate usually have to be dry cleaned, so as a beginner you may want to stick to lining materials that can be washed in the machine.
  • Acrylic
    Acrylic fabric has some good properties, but natural fibers are probably a better option for someone learning to sew. - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Acrylic fabric is often used to imitate wool or cashmere or in babies’ clothing because it can be cleaned repeatedly without wearing as much as most fabrics. It’s more often used in knitting than in sewing and in home decor. I have never used acrylic since I started sewing, and I feel like a beginner probably will have little use for it and would be better off sticking to natural textiles.
  • Nylon
    Nylon Fabric is a very common synthetic fabric but may not be the best choice for someone learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Nylon is one of the oldest truly synthetic fabrics, and it has a million uses. It can be found in home decor, outerwear, athletic wear, swimwear, and even bridal gowns because of its versatility. It’s highly durable and resistant to environmental damage, so it’s often used in outdoor gear. Some say that nylon is a good choice for beginners because it’s inexpensive and versatile, but lots of extra care has to be taken to sew nylon successfully. It can’t be pressed or pinned which are techniques that beginners need to learn, so I would recommend saving nylon for later!
  • Polyester
    Polyester is a really common synthetic fabric that can be very useful for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffPolyester is a very common synthetic fabric that can be useful for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    I’ve known some girls who have tried to cut polyester from their wardrobes completely, but I’m not sure that’s possible anymore. Polyester can be found in a wide array of garments and mixed with other fibers to create many different fabrics. I think most people associate polyester with imitation silk and don’t realize how versatile it actually is (Side note: If you’re not sure if a garment is polyester or silk, set it on fire. If it burns, it’s silk; if it melts, it’s polyester. Learned that one in China!). As a beginner, polyester can be a good choice because it’s so inexpensive, but I would still recommend avoiding very stretchy knits because those are difficult for beginners. Make sure you use small needles and polyester threads – cotton thread won’t have enough stretch!
  • Rayon
    Rayon is a comfortable and inexpensive synthetic fiber but can be difficult for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Rayon was first introduced as imitation silk, but has since become pretty well known in its own right because it drapes so well and can be used in a wide variety of garments. Rayon is very lightweight and silky which makes for great garments but can cause a lot of headaches for beginners. Beginners using rayon have difficulty cutting the fabric because it slides so much and often need to use interfacing to be able to stitch the  fabric and keep it stable. Maybe after you get more experience sewing stretchy cotton or polyester knits, rayon will be a good choice for making some beautiful garments.

That’s just a quick summary of the most common synthetic fabrics you’ll encounter at your fabric store. The one I would most recommend for beginners is polyester because it’s so inexpensive and versatile. Remember to prewash and preshrink your fabrics, no matter what you’re using!

Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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July 2012 Summary

If you’ve just recently started reading the Sew Me Your Stuff blog, you might have missed some earlier posts that have really useful information for any beginner who’s just learning to sew. Since it’s the end of the month, here’s a look back at this month’s posts so you can jump to any that you might have missed and want to read.

Stitches:

Fabrics:

Tools and Supplies:

Next month I’ll start tutorial videos and project guides once I finally get home from China. Thanks for reading, and I’m looking forward to a very crafty August with you!

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

Fabric for Beginners Part Four: Cotton Fabrics 103

Over the last week or so I’ve shared part one and part two of a basic guide to the most common cotton fabrics, focusing mostly on apparel fabric. Now it is time for part three to wrap it up, and next I’ll talk about some common synthetic fabrics.

If there are any fabrics in particular you would like more information about, let me know!

And now, the last few cotton apparel fabrics I think any beginner sew-er should know:

  • Seersucker
    Seersucker is a cotton fabric with a unique texture but isn't too difficult if you're learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffSeersucker is a cotton fabric with a unique texture but isn't too difficult if you're learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Being from the South, I’m quite familiar with seersucker garments worn in the spring and summer. Funny enough, I was actually told recently by a guy from South Carolina how the unique crinkled texture of seersucker is achieved: the yarn tension is alternated during the weaving process so that certain bunches of yarn clump together and cause the fabric to crinkle. It may look intimidating, but sewing with seersucker is not particularly difficult. It is most often used in men’s clothing but can be used for a wide variety of garments for men, women, and kids.
  • Twill
    Twill fabric is slightly heavy in weight for someone who is learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffTwill Fabric is slightly heavy in weight for someone who is learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Twill is most often identified by the diagonal lines across its surface. It’s most often used for dresswear such as suits and jackets but can also be found in casual bottoms like shorts. It’s a pretty flexible fabric for a lot of different projects, but it is a little heavy for a beginner who’s first learning to sew, and sometimes you have to use a nap pattern which adds a layer of difficulty. After you get the hang of sewing, twill is probably a good choice for projects in the near future!
  • Velveteen
    Velveteen fabric is not particularly difficult if you're learning to sew, but requires some special steps - Sew Me Your Stuff4Velveteen is not particularly difficult if you are learning to sew, but it does require some special steps and care - Sew Me Your Stuff
    There are fabrics made from 100% cotton sold as “velvet,” but what you’re more likely to find is velveteen. It can be used in clothing, but is also great for decorations especially around the holiday. The fabric itself is not difficult to sew, but there are extra steps you have to take to maintain the fabric. You have to lay your pattern out properly to work with the nap, edges need to be finished very well, and when pressing it’s easy to accidentally press the texture out of the fabric. I would recommend holding off on this fabric because of the extra care and sticking to something more low-maintenance. Maybe around the holidays you can grab some velveteen for crafts and projects?
  • Voile
    Voile can make some beautiful garments but is probably too delicate for someone who is learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffVoile can be used to make beautiful garments, but is probably too delicate for someone who is learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Voile is a very delicate sheer fabric that can be used to make draping garments and beautiful dresses. However, it is so delicate that it requires some special care that may be difficult for a beginner. Definitely experiment with this fabric in your future projects, but for now use fabrics that are more durable but still lightweight as you develop your sewing skills!

That’s about it for cotton! There are a wide variety of cotton fabrics from which to choose, but that’s a rundown of what I think are the most common apparel fabrics you’ll encounter in the fabric store. I mentioned before that I didn’t put a lot of emphasis on purely decorative fabrics for upholstery or other furniture, but in the future if you’d like I can cover those as well.

Know Before You Sew: Cotton fabrics tend to shrink when washed, so you’ll need to prewash all cotton fabrics before starting a project. When you buy a cut of fabric, the care instructions are usually written on the bolt so be sure to look at that before you leave. If you buy a remnant, the care instructions are usually on the label.

Happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Fabric for Beginners Part Three: Cotton Fabrics 102

Earlier I wrote this post to begin to introduce you to the various types of cotton fabric from which you can choose and their respective uses. Now it’s time for the thrilling second part of your journey into cotton!

In general I’m focusing on apparel fabrics and shying away from fabrics that are purely for home decor such as bedsheets and tablecloths. If you would like more info on those fabrics, let me know in the comments and I’ll include them in the next section!

  • Gingham
    Gingham fabric is a great choice for children's clothes and kitchen accessories as you learn to sew - Sew Me Your StuffGingham fabric is a great choice for children's clothes and kitchen accessories as you learn to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    This woven fabric is typically found in a checkered pattern. You’ll usually find gingham in kitchen settings, either in upholstery or accessories (think of a basket lined with gingham and filled with muffins…delicious blueberry muffins), and it isn’t often used in adult fashion. However it can make great clothing for children during warmer months because it is lightweight and durable enough to withstand playtime. This fabric is not particularly difficult to sew, but because it may have a nap or one-way pattern if you’re not ready to match patterns yet it may be best to go with a solid color fabric for now.
  • Knit
    Cotton knit is a common fabric but can be very challenging if you're learning to sew because it is so stretchy - Sew Me Your StuffCotton knit is a common fabric but can be very challenging if you're learning to sew because it is so stretchy - Sew Me Your Stuff
    You probably are familiar with knit cotton if you have ever owned a T-shirt. You may often hear this fabric referred to as Jersey, but modern jersey fabrics are not exclusively cotton, so it would be best to check the composition of the fabric before you buy. Knit cotton is very stretchy which makes it great for casual wear, but not so great for beginner sew-ers. I have successfully sewn some jersey garments in my day, but it is a headache because the fabric stretching as you stitch can cause issues, and it’s recommended that you use fancy products to do it properly, and all-in-all you should stick with woven fabrics for now. It may seem a little counter-intuitive; I know when I first started I thought T-shirt material must be the easiest to sew since T-shirts are so ubiquitous, but alas that is not the case!
  • Oxford
    Oxford fabric can tax your sewing equipment, so not the best choice for now if you're learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Typically used in men’s dress shirts, Oxford is a woven fabric with very narrow stripes. It is a relatively coarse fabric, so very sturdy equipment is needed to sew an Oxford shirt. Probably not the best choice for your first few projects!
  • Poplin
    Poplin is a great choice if you are learning to sew because it does not stretch and is a lightweight fabric - Sew Me Your StuffPoplin is a great choice if you are learning to sew because it does not stretch and is a lightweight fabric - Sew Me Your Stuff
    I bet you a soda you’ve never heard of poplin. I sure hadn’t until I actually started researching cotton fabrics, so either I’m completely oblivious or this fabric is the best-kept secret in the fabric world. Poplin is a thin, breathable, “all-purpose” woven fabric found often in sportswear, mens’ shirts, and uniforms though it can also be used in blouses and dresses as well as decor. Sewing with poplin can be very simple because it doesn’t slide around much as you stitch and it doesn’t stretch. Sounds like a great choice for a beginner!

Check back soon for the final installment of your introduction to cotton fabrics!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Fabric for Beginners Part Two: Cotton Fabrics 101

Cotton, the fabric of our lives. You’ve probably seen those commercials and know the jingle. Actually when I first started sewing, when I thought “cotton” I just thought T-shirts and didn’t know what else cotton was good for. Then I would be wandering around JoAnn desperately searching for a rack that just said “cotton” and not all these other weird fabric names like “broadcloth” and “seersucker.”

Little did I know that cotton can be shaped and molded into many different fabrics with many different names. It’s helpful to learn these before you start picking out fabrics so you know which are good for apparel, which are for home decor, etc.

The first time I went to buy fabric for a sewing pattern, I had to ask a random woman for help finding fabric that would work for clothes because I didn’t understand all the names! I want to help you avoid that feeling of silliness and embarrassment, so I’ll be making a few posts about the most common fabrics and what you can use them for.

In doing my research for this post, I found there were so many different useful types of cotton that I’m going to have to split them over multiple posts, and here goes part one!

  • Broadcloth
    Broadcloth is a great basic woven fabric for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffBroadcloth is a great basic woven fabric for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Broadcloth is a medium-weight cotton fabric that’s tightly woven and very sturdy. It’s a little thin and light for pants but can be used for shirts, blouses, skirts, bed linens, quilts, and lots of other crafts. Broadcloth can be found in pure cotton or in a poly-cotton blend. I think broadcloth is great for a beginner because it doesn’t stretch and is very affordable. Also it only comes in solids, so you don’t have to worry about matching patterns or anything.
  • Chambray
    Chambray is a woven cotton fabric that is easy on beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Chambray is a woven fabric made with one colored yarn as the warp (vertical strands) and white yarn as the weft (horizontal strands). It is lightweight but durable, and is easy for beginners to sew. You can use it to make spring or summer clothes like shirts and dresses or work shirts and sportswear.
  • Corduroy
    Sewing corduroy can be a little tricky, so I would not recommend using it when you are first learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffSewing corduroy can be a little tricky, so I would not recommend using it when you are first learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Corduroy consists of twisted woven fibers that form cords, hence the name. You’ve probably seen this fabric used in pants, jackets, jumpers, and more. It isn’t a particularly difficult fabric to sew, but you have to coordinate naps (making sure all the fabric is going in the same direction) and pressing can be a delicate process, so I would recommend holding off on trying any corduroy projects for now.
  • Denim
    Denim projects may be a little heavy and complex for beginners, so I would stick to lighter fabrics as you learn to sew. - Sew Me Your StuffDenim projects may be a little heavy and complex for beginners, so I would stick to lighter fabrics as you learn to sew. - Sew Me Your Stuff
    I’m sure you’re familiar with denim. It’s a form of twill that’s very durable and most often used in jeans but occasionally in bedspreads and curtains. I feel like denim is a little heavy to start sewing with as a beginner, and most items that are meant to be denim would probably be difficult to sew.
  • Flannel
    Flannel can be tough on needles and equipment, so it isn't the best choice for someone learning to sew - Sew Me Your StuffFlannel can be tough on needles and equipment, so it isn't the best choice for someone learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    You’ve probably seen a flannel shirt and are somewhat familiar with this fabric. It’s a very soft woven fabric with a slight nap, and is used in pajamas, sheets, lumberjack shirts, quilts, and more. It’s not particularly difficult to sew but can stretch and distort very easily, and it dulls needles quickly. I would recommend that beginners hold off on flannel and stick to thinner, stiffer woven fabrics for easier sewing.

This concludes part one of your journey into cotton fabrics! There are many other types of cotton fabrics to learn, so part two will be posted soon. Have a great day and happy sewing!

Learni.st – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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Fabric for Beginners Part One: The Basics

When you first visited the fabric store to pick up your basic supplies, you probably noticed that there are seemingly hundreds of different types of fabric to choose from. When I first started sewing and had to buy fabric, my plan of action was always to just find fabric that felt like the same material in my clothing. However, it’s really helpful to learn about fabrics before you spend your money on fabrics that are hard to manage and maneuver.

First, let’s go over some basic terms you’ll hear often when discussing fabrics.

  • Right side/wrong side – These refer to what you would think of as the “outside” and the “inside” of the fabric. The right side is the side that is intended to be seen when the garment is worn. The wrong side is the side that is intended to be hidden while wearing the garment. When stitching two pieces of fabric together, you usually pin them with right sides together so that the seam will not be as noticeable from the outside.
    Distinguishing between the right and wrong sides of fabric is essential for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Note the difference between the right side (darker) and the wrong side (lighter) of the fabric used for this pair of jeans. Click image to enlarge.
  • Grain, bias, selvage – These are directional terms related to your piece of fabric. Grain refers to the straight lines that are visible when looking at the fabric; this is the direction that the fabric was woven or knit. Bias is the diagonal line going across these straight lines in either direction. If you pull on a piece of fabric in the bias direction, it will stretch more than vertically or horizontally. Selvage relates to fabric cut and bought from a fabric store, and it is the length-wise edge of the fabric that is typically parallel with the length-wise grainline. In other words, when you get a piece of fabric cut at the store, they’ll measure the length you want and cut the fabric. The edge that they measure is the selvage edge.
    Understanding the direction of fabric will make learning to sew much easier for beginners learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Grainlines and bias direction on canvas. This fabric does not stretch vertically or horizontally, but it does stretch slightly when pulled in the bias direction. Click image to enlarge.

Next, we’ll look at the two groups of fabric into which all types of fabric can be organized: woven and knit.

  • Woven fabric is fabric that is created by interlacing and weaving yarn vertically and horizontally. Generally woven fabric does not stretch unless a stretchy fabric is added to the weave like spandex. Common woven fabrics are linen, denim, satin, and canvas.
    Woven fabric is important for beginners learning to sew because it is easier to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    The canvas fabric pictured above is a good example of woven fabric, as is this denim. Click image to enlarge.
  • Knit fabric is produced by knitting and interlocking yarn in loops, like a person knitting with two knitting needles but on a much smaller scale. Knit fabrics naturally stretch by design. Common knit fabrics include T-shirt fabric, jersey, and felt. Sewing knits can be more challenging for beginners because of the stretchiness, and I recommend beginning with wovens to make your first projects easier.
    Knits pose more of a challenge for beginners learning to sew because of their stretch - Sew Me Your Stuff
    A piece of knit fabric stretched completely horizontally. Note the visible loops throughout the fabric. Click image to enlarge.

This is just the beginning of everything there is to know about fabric! However it helps to learn about new fabrics and how to manage them if you first learn the distinction between woven and knits. When you move from the remnant table to selecting from the bolts of fabric lining the walls, these terms will definitely come in handy!

Happy sewing and have a good day!

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