Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sewing 101

I'm a sewer; pretty sure I'd be a spinner and carder too if I had my own sheep :)  I started working on sewing when I was 11 - my mother helped me make my first dress.  Since then, I've been slowly but surely learning as I go....and probably developing my own weird ways of doing things that will entertain.

I'm surprised by the number of people who are going back to working with their hands, whether it's gardening, knitting, sewing or canning.  So here, for anyone out there in cyberworld is my own little suggestion list for starting to sew (I'll get you all up-to-date on canning in July when peaches and blueberries are ready for me!).

The first thing about sewing is needing a few basic tools.  Besides the obvious sewing machine (I'm not even hard-core enough to hand sew!), you'll need a good pair of sharp scissors, a pin cushion, a couple packages of pins and some patience to start!

Other good to have items include a tape measure and some kind of basket/bag to keep your sewing supplies in.

The next step in getting your sewing career started is picking a pattern to start with.  The tape measure will come in handy here to take your measurements before you head of to the store.  For most patterns, you'll need to know your waist, hip and bust.

Here's a pattern I'll be working on over the next week or so.  It's a pretty basic pattern, even though it has quite a few pieces.  The best way to get patterns is to go when the patterns are on sale.  Get on the mailing list for a local hobby store.  The patterns are generally $10-20 not on sale, however, the sales flyers I get show sales on patterns for as little as 99 cents (I've been known to buy 10 on a limit of 10).  I generally buy the patterns I think look like projects I'll work on, if I buy 10 patterns on sale and use 1 that would've cost $15, I've still come out ahead.  I have a library of patterns now that I go through when looking for patterns for play clothes, gifts and such. 

The pattern pictured above is now helping me to make the 2nd and 3rd aprons I've made with this pattern. 

I also recommend when looking for patterns to pick something simple for your first project....nothing slows down enthusiasm faster than an impossibly hard start.  Avoid zippers, buttons and other complex roadblocks to beginning.  You'll get there, but don't try to take on every challenge at once.

The back of the pattern will give you the information you need on how much fabric to buy and what other things you should pick up at the store.  Where it says Notions - those are the things you need for the pattern you're going to make.  The back of the pattern also gives you the measurements you should be looking for, depending on the sizing.  There will also be a recommended list of types of fabric to make your item out of.

When I'm deciding on a pattern, I sometimes take a look at the directions inside the pattern to get a handle on what I'm in for.

The directions are really your best friend when it comes to starting sewing.  They give the layout of the pieces and even a glossary of terms. 

Once you've added your pattern, fabric and basic supplies, you're ready for the tedious section of sewing :)

The first recommendation is usually to wash and dry the fabric.  This then requires the additional step of ironing to get the wrinkles out before you place the pattern pieces.

The fabric won't lay flat very well for the pinning if you don't iron, even though it is a pain.

The pattern pieces come as giant sheets of tissue paper with the pieces numbered.  My first step is cutting a rough cut around the pattern pieces.  I generally leave an inch or two around the pattern piece between where I rough cut and where the black line of the pattern is.

The pattern pieces, in addition to be numbered, also tell you on the piece how many to cut and where they should go.  An arrow sometimes points to where the grainline should be.  The grainline is the natural weave or line of the fabric.

The pattern pieces also have notations like the circles and triangles.  The circles can be to match up darts (fitted part of bodices or skirts) or put pieces together.  The triangles are best to cut a triangle in the opposite direction so that when you take the pattern pieces off, you can see where they line up.  This is important because the triangles note where different pattern pieces will fit together in the finished product.  I usually note the circles by tracing a light dot on the fabric where the circle is. 

That being said, I also NEVER take the pattern piece off the fabric until I'm ready to sew with it.  I'd rather not spend the afternoon trying to figure out which piece is which.  If I need to use the same pattern piece to cut a second piece I pin through the first piece into the fabric to cut again.

Laying out all the pieces before you start pinning them down helps to get things as close as you can and save fabric space.  Remember to follow the directions in the pattern for laying out the pieces.  There's usually a best way to lay things out for the amount of fabric you bought and it's almost always the way the directions show.

Much later that same afternoon, I have all the pieces cut out and have finished my goal for the day.  I like to break the project up over a couple days....I don't have the patience or the family life that allows me to do most projects in a day :)


Tomorrow I'll be starting to piece the pieces together....that's when the actual fun begins!

1 comment:

  1. Shanna Hobert SmithJune 2, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    You are awesome Annie. I also can, however, I was wondering where you get your fresh blueberries. While I'm stuck in the hospital, my husband got our garden in for the first time by himself. :) Ive recently taken an interest in sewing and plan to get a machine when I get home, so I'm super excited about your sewing 101!! I've recently learned to knit...that's harder than you think, lol.

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