Tips & Tricks [for Beginners]

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Learning how to sew can and will be an uphill battle. It may seem complicated at first with all of the fancy words and tools you see online. But, believe me when you finally make that dress you once saw at a store for a third of the price, it will be so rewarding. My sewing journey began a few years ago, when I stumbled upon this youtube video. I can't even remember how many times I watched it, but it was love at first sight. I was filled with excitement and eager to make this pleated chiffon skirt. The next day I walked into Joann's fabric for the first time with my idea in mind and bought only a yard of fabric and some elastic for the waistband, thinking that was more than enough. Little did I know it took more than a yard of fabric to make a full skirt. That was just the beginning of the many hurdles I faced in learning how to sew. I found an old singer sewing machine in my parent's garage that was in pretty good shape. There was only one thing missing, a freaking manual. So, I was literally lost for days just learning how to wind the bobbin on this machine. When, I finally threaded the machine I struggled with sewing a straight line and ended up with more zig-zag lines than I hoped. Long story short, we all start from somewhere, but as time goes on you will get the hang of things. And you will be making custom dresses for your sisters, who will be begging for more.

Here are a few tips I wished I had known a little earlier:

1.) You DON'T need any fancy tools as a beginner.
- When I began, I thought I had to break the bank and have the fanciest materials to make a simple garment. The truth is all you need are the basics to begin. Your first project should not be a elegant three-layered dress. Its best if you work your way up by learning how to make one design at a time and in the future you can marry the designs together to create a whole new garment. I would recommend making a straight skirt as a first sewing project. This will help you practice your straight stitching skills. 

Must-have Materials:
- Sewing Machine (of course!)
- Good pair of scissors
- Fabric pins
- Thread
- Measuring Tape
- Seam ripper (mistakes are inevitable)

2.) Patterns are a Pain, but Pins are your Life-savers. 
- The covers of store bought patterns are so deceiving. They make it look so simple and easy, but when you open the envelope it looks like a bunch of brown-thin sheets of paper with random lines. Well, it did for me. It could be that I am over exaggerating or just really impatient. A neat trick I learned early on was to pin down an old skirt to a double folded fabric. Then using your fabric chalk leave some seam allowance and trace around it. All you need to do next is cut and sew! This is a million times easier to follow than all those steps on the pre-made pattern. As time passes on you will be making your own patterns. But, that is for another day. 

3.) Use your sisters/friends.
- Okay this probably sounds out of the box, but trust me on this one it is a win-win for both sides. When I began sewing, my sisters (who are close in age) were the first in line to ask for skirts, dresses, you name it! This is a great opportunity to learn how to take measurements and do fittings. Also, your sisters or friends get a cute outfit or two. 

4.) Where you cut your fabric DOES matter. 
- This is when sewing terms come to the table. Knowing your grain lines (threads in fabric). Its important to know where these lines lie because it affects the level of stretch your garment will have. For example, lets say you want to make a sleeve and your fabric has more stretch horizontally than vertically. So then its a good idea to cut the width of the fabric where the grains are crosswise (horizontal); this will make it more breathable and moveable for the person wearing it. 

I hope this inspired you to continue your sewing journey! 

Leave a comment below or email me if you have any questions.
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