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 again..science.
  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!!

Sexy Robe Sewing Tutorial

Guys. I am too excited about this tutorial! It’s long but it’s so worth it! I love it. Rashad loves it. The gods love it. There’s  100% chance that I will act stuck up when wearing this. This is a great way to get sexy without breaking the bank. Ok. That’s enough of that. Let’s get into this tutorial. You can scroll to the bottom of this post to see the finished product!

You will need:

  • Chiffon or Mesh Net fabric (I think you can use any fabric for this. But, if you’re going for sexy stick to these)
  • Matching Thread (you can use a contrasting thread to add a little spice)
  • Basic Sewing supplies (you can check out this post for a list of those)
  • Loose fitting sweater or jacket (choose something that resembles how you would like your robe to fit. You CAN use a t-shirt but a sweater or jacket will most likely be a better example of the fit you want)

To know exactly how much fabric you need you will need to do some math.
Measure from your shoulder to the length you would like your robe, this is the length.
(Length+3)x2=Body
Ok now measure from your shoulder to your wrist and add 3.

Body(inches)+Shoulder(inches)=Amount of fabric needed(in inches)

Divide this number by 36 and you will know how many yards you need. I always get a little extra to account for fabric not being even or mistakes.

Back Panel

  1. Keep your fabric folded and lay it out flat on your floor or a table.
  2. Fold your sweater in half and place the center of it on the fold of your fabric. Fold the sleeves in so that you can see the arm hole edge.
  3. Use your measuring tape to make sure that you have enough fabric available for your body measurement.
  4. Use a marking tool to trace around your sweater being sure to leave seam allowance. I traced about an inch away. Continue the line on an angle to the “end” of your robe. Draw a line from the end point to the fold of your fabric.
  5. Cut this out. This will be the back of your robe. Put it aside.

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Front Panels

  1. Fold the sweater the same way and place 2″ away from the fold. Repeat steps 3-5 of the back panel.
  2. Measure from your shoulder to where you would like your “v” to land.
  3. With fabric still folded 2″ from the fold cut a diagonal line toward the fold using the length of your v. For me this measurement was 10″.
  4. With fabric folded cut down your fold. You now have your two front pieces!

Extra: If you would like your robe to be curved at the hem, before you separate the pieces, you can freehand cut a curve from the edge that was folded to the bottom of your pieces. I did it as an after thought.

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Next Steps

  1. Hem all outside edges (all raw edges except side with arm hole) of the fabric a 1/4″. If you have a serger you can serge instead.
  2. Fold the hemmed edges of the front panels toward the inside of your fabric 2″. Pin and sew. My serger cut off a bit more than I would have liked so I opted for only 1 1/2″ fold.
  3. Do the same for the bottom edge of your back panel
  4. Layer back pattern piece and front panels right side together. Being sure to line up the arm holes and shoulders. Pin them together and sew. DO NOT SEW YOUR ARM HOLE CLOSED.

You should now have a vest. I def tried it on and paraded around a bit to give myself a break! Honestly if you made it this far in one sitting you should probably take a break too!

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Sleeves

  1.  Time for the sleeves. Line your arm hole up to the fold of your fabric with the top edge of the shoulder on the fold. Using your shoulder measurement mark the point from both the top of your arm hole and the bottom. Cut this out. You can use the arm you have cut to cut another one out.
  2. Hem the edge of your sleeves 1/4″ and then fold toward the inside 2″ and stitch. (I did not remember to do this step but doing this now will give a more finished look)
  3. Fold your sleeve right side together and sew the open edge.
  4. Attach Sleeves.

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Attaching sleeves is a bit frustrating and a tutorial in itself. I have linked to a YouTube video that explains it well.

I really LOVE this bomber jacket tutorial   by KenAndrewDaily if you skip to 17:25 you will have a nice visual and instruction on how to insert a sleeve. I highly recommend you saving that tutorial and making the jacket later though!

Congrats! You are done.

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This tutorial can be used to make a great beach cover up, bridesmaids robes, or even a long sweater! It’s all about the fabric you choose.

Feel free to ask for clarity in the comments if any steps are a bit iffy. Thanks so much for sticking with me through my first sewing tutorial!!