Beginner Sewing: What you need and need to know.

This is definatley a business not fun post! So I am going to dive right in!

Basic Supplies

  • Sewing Machine- As long as it has a straight and zig zag stitch you will be fine.

  • Bobbins- These will come with your machine. Buy more. Try to have at least one for every color thread you have.  Make sure they are the right size for your machine.

  • Scissors- Only use these on fabric.

  • Straight Pins

  • Pin Cushion

  • Safety Pins

  • Marking Tool- They sell chalk and special pens I usually use a marker or pen.

  • Seam Ripper- At least three. I lose one every week.

  • Measuring Tape- Same as seam ripper.

  • Thread- Anytime thread is on sale I stock up on black, white and browns. Then I buy any random color they have.

  • Iron + Ironing Board

Not So Basic Supplies

  • Yard Stick- I recommend the thicker wood ones not  metal one.

  • Rotary Cutter- One with a lock!

  • Cutting Mat- Self-healing is ideal.

  • Snips- Small cute scissor thingys that help get rid of thread. Got one recently and cant figure out why I never had them.

  • Binder Clips- The office supply kind.

  • Pinking Sheers- Great for finishing edges and to prevent unraveling of fabrics.

  • Can of Air- You know the thing they use to clean computer key boards? That. It is great for cleaning out your machine!

I recommend having a container or special place to store your cutting tools. Especially if you have children.  I have cut myself before with a rotary cutter and it is not pretty. This is also a good way to make sure your tools are only used for fabric

Terms You Should Know!

I will admit that I usually ignore some of these or call them the wrong thing! So that we are always on the same page I will use these terms throughout tutorials. I also promise to make up words for things I don’t know the term for.

  1. Straight Stitch- Literally what your sewing machine does when you turn it on. I generally don’t change stitch length. When I can’t figure out how to get my machine back to straight stitch I simply turn it off and on
  2. Basting Stitch- This is a straight stitch with a wider stitch length. Most often used when gathering or placing temporary stitches. The easiest way to do this is to put your stitch length to the highest number.
  3. Zig-Zag Stitch- Most sewing machines have a zig zag stitch option. This is used when sewing stretch fabric to give it more give.
  4. Back Stitch- Your sewing machine should have a button or lever that does this. When beginning and ending anything at your machine you will stitch forward (the “normal” way) and then backward. By doing this you secure your thread. My rule is unless a project clearly states not to do this DO IT.
  5. Top Stitch- This can make or break your project! This is a stitch that is on the right side of the fabric going over a seam that you have already sewn. It usually gives a nice flat professional look to any project. If you are wearing pants the stitching on your waist band is a top stitch.
  6. Right Side- This is referring to the printed side of your fabric or the side you would like to show in the finish project. Some fabrics like batiks and mesh look the same on both sides. For some patterns you would need to label which side you are using for the “right side”.
  7. Wrong Side- Opposite of right side. Ha! ***Most often you will see the terms “right side together” or “wrong sides together” These refer to how the fabric should be placed to sew.***
  8. Selvage- When you buy fabric it is generally folded in half. Selvage refers to the edge that does not have the fold. On some fabrics this may be a different color and list info about the fabric.
  9. Woven- This is  term used to refer to fabric that does not have much give.
  10. Knit- This is fabric with stretch. Usually if a pattern or project asks for this you can ask an attendant in your local fabric store to point you in the direction of jersey fabric. Knit fabric is also more forgiving when practicing making clothes.
  11. On the Fold- Fold your fabric in half and line your pattern piece up to the folded edge to cut. When unfolded it should be a mirror of your pattern piece.
  12. Seam Allowance- This lets you know how much fabric will be between the edge of the fabric and the stitch line. For example 1/2″ seam allowance would mean that when you take your fabric to the sewing machine you would line the edge up with the 1/2″ line near your machine foot and sew. Generally projects call for 1/4″ seam allowance which is the width of your sewing machine foot.***If a project says that seam allowance is not included you will need to add your own.***
  13. Finishing- This is generally making the raw edges of your fabric look nice. This can be done multiple ways.

Ways to “Finish” fabric

  1. Hem- Fold the raw edges under press and sew. This gives  a clean edge to your fabric.
  2. Serge-This is best for knits. If you own a serger you can serge raw edges. Sometimes this is done with a contrasting color to add a little spice!
  3. Bias Tape- This can be store bought or made. I can never get it right. Your best bet is to look up a youtube video on this one! Sorry. You can also sew a ribbon or trim at the edge of some fabrics to give it a finished look!

I hope this post was useful. I will continue to add terms to this list based on questions from readers! Now, go get your basics together so that we can make some not so basic items together!!

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