Tag Archives: tips and tricks

The worst thing about sewing

12 Jul

.. is mistakes.

I hate how the cost of a mistake in sewing is so high.

If you mis-cut a piece, you have to have more fabric in order to cut a new piece. You miss sew something together, you can unpick it (even though unpicking it will take longer than it did to sew it wrong to begin with.. AARG), but you still might need to cut a new piece if your stitches were too close or got knotted and you can’t unpick it without making a hole. You would be surprised how often this happens to me.

And as the garment progresses, the cost of mistakes rises. Messing up the button holes after everything is all together, and the seams have been cut and flat felled down.. well you might as well scrap it. Could you save it? Maybe. But after all that time and effort you put into a garment, it’s inevitable that at some point you’re just going to say “good enough” and be done with it. It’s no wonder “home sewn” has such a bad name!

I get so mad at myself for making a mistake. Especially a mistake that I don’t notice until after I’ve finished the seam finishing for the piece. Because seriously, after the seam finishing is done, it’s done. D-O-N-E. I’ve probably cut off the allowances to the point of no return and the only way to fix it is to cut a new piece and do it all over again.

This is the absolute worst thing about sewing. Mistakes.  Especially ones made further on in the project which end up scrapping all of the rest of the mistake-free sewing that took you forever to painstakingly do.

So what can you do about it?

I have learned

  1. It’s best to try out a new technique on something that is quick and easy to put together… like a pillow. That way if you mess up to the point of no return you can just cut off that seam/area and start again. After all, a pillow doesn’t have to fit your body, so who cares if it’s not a perfect square? You can stuff it with just a little bit less filling.
  2. Always have more fabric than the pattern calls for. Mistakes happen. You may cut out two backs instead of back and a front, or two left sleeves instead of a left and a right. Or get a little scissor happy and put a big hole in the middle of a piece.  Yes, this happens.  Having extra fabric lets you do it right instead of coming up with a “creative” solution that will make you end up hating the final result.
  3. Baste all your seams together first. This increases your sewing accuracy and shortens the time you spend correcting mistakes. Check out how to machine baste for tips.
  4. Use the longest stitch length you can get away with. Looking at my store bought clothes I realized that the stitches were actually really far apart. Way farther than the “recommended” stitch lengths for the type of cloth. Especially in areas not under strain, like hems.  Commercially they probably do that so they can sew faster (and cheaper). A longer stitch length = faster stitches and not as much thread. So what’s wrong with increasing the stitch length at home? You’ll benefit from a slightly faster sewing time and slightly less thread usage, plus if you’ve made a mistake even after basting, it’s much easier to unpick. And when it comes to unpicking seams, every little bit helps.
Do you have any other tips for easing the pain of sewing mistakes? What do you think the worst thing about sewing is?

How To: Knit Binding

19 Jun

I have no idea what the directions for the binding of my one pattern many looks challenge is actually suppose to be sewn down.  I tried flipping the binding to the inside, but it was very thick and didn’t lay right.  But I forged on and sewed it anyway.  I should remember to not do that.

And don’t you know, I didn’t know about this potential problem until after I was already almost done with it.  Why do the most and worst mistakes happen then?

But I found this video from Threads magazine, and it was very helpful

knit binding

These are the basic steps

  1. Cut out a binding strip parallel with the stretchiest part of your fabric
  2. Fold your garment in half and your binding in half
  3. “Measure” how much binding you will need by taking the binding and stretching it around the neckline.  You will stretch it more for curves, and less for non curvy parts.
  4. Sew binding strip together and pin to your garment in fourths
  5. Attach to neckline stretching it the same way you did when you measured it (more for curves, less for non curves)
  6. Ta Da!  Flat knit binding!

So I cut off the binding I did, and re-did it this way.  It may not be the way the directions say to do it (or maybe it is.. since I didn’t understand the directions at all) but I did it anyway.

It turned out okay I think.  It’s much better than version 1, that’s for sure.

Have you run into any sewing gotchas at the last minute?

How to machine baste

14 Jun

Now, this may seem fairly obvious to you, but when I first started to “baste” my seams using my sewing machine, I was doing it wrong.  Well maybe wrong is a bit harsh.  I wasn’t doing it as well as I could.  There was no obvious “baste” setting on my machine so I just sewed with the largest stitch length (4).

I always felt like this was difficult to undo, even though it was the largest stitch length available to me.  Aren’t basting stitches suppose to more or less come right out?

Turns out there is a trick to machine basting.


  1. Adjust your machine for a straight stitch (on my machine this is 2), longest stitch length (on my machine this is 4)
  2. The trick-> Adjust your tension for the loosest tension (on my machine between 1-0).  The loosest tension part is really important!  If you plan on taking your basting stitches out later it really really helps in allowing you to just pull the thread loose.  You may not even need the seam ripper to get the stitches out.  It’s that cool.

The Overcast Foot

8 Sep

I love my overcast foot, even though it was one of the more expensive foots I’ve bought.  It makes the overcasting stitches on a regular sewing machine behave more like a serged edge.  No, it doesn’t cut the fabric for you like a serger, I typically do that before I overcast it.  But it does keep the fabric edge from pulling into the machine so you get a nice crisp edge.  It’s definitely one of my most used feet.  Anytime I don’t want to flat fell or french seam, I overcast.  I think it looks the closest to RTW you can get without an additional machine.

Plus it’s great on light weight ravel prone fabric.  You know the kind.  Just overcast all the edges, and no more raveled mess!