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The Basics For Sewing Beginners

Dec 27, 2007
The information presented here is the kind that will later become routine to you.

Most of the time, two pieces of fabric are sewed together with right sides facing each other and wrong sides of the fabric on the outside. Directions usually say "right sides together." Usually a plain seam is used, that is, a line of stitching a certain distance from the raw edges. This seam is then pressed open. A gauge is used to make the line the same distance from the edge all the way down. To hold the fabric together while you are sewing, pin the edges together with a series of pins, with the heads near the edge.

Mark the sewing line with chalk. A new machine will sew over pins because of its hinged presser foot but the pins must be placed perpendicular to the edge. It is a good idea to invest in such a foot if you do not have one. If you do not have a hinged foot, slow the machine as you come to the pins and pull them out. Putting pins in this way will eliminate basting and, indeed, hold your work more firmly than if you basted.

Get into the habit of back tacking at the beginning and end of your work. If your machine has a backtracker this is easy, for the machine will go backward as easily as forward.

If not, start a short distance from the edge with the fabric facing the opposite direction from the way the seam is to be stitched; stitch to the edge, then, with the needle in the material, lift the presser foot, pivot the work around, lower the presser foot, and stitch the seam properly, going over the few stitches you have just made. At the end of the line of stitching, turn the work around, and go back over the last few stitches in the same way.

Press as you go along. This is one of the secrets of good work, and remember, if you feel you are losing time from the sewing, that you are probably saving time because of the greater ease and facility with which you will be able to sew the pressed seams.

When turning enclosed seams, as in collars, cuffs, facings, etc., trim the seams close (3/8 or 1/4 inch) to avoid unnecessary and ugly bulk. Trim especially close at corners for really smooth lines. Curved lines, for example at the waistline, neck edge, armhole, scalloped trims, etc., are clipped with little triangular cuts that extend right to the seam line, naturally only as close as is possible without actually cutting the stitching. Directions usually say "trim seam and clip curves."

When the directions tell you to edge stitch, that means you are to sew as close to the edge as you can in a very straight line. Learn to watch the edge of the presser foot and to use this as a guide. Do not watch the needle, for that is confusing and can make you a little dizzy.

Don't neglect any markings on the pattern. Patterns are made to fit together perfectly. If you do not sew on the indicated lines, one piece will not fit another. If you are careless and sew the shoulder seams 1inch from the edge when the pattern calls for 1/2 inch, the collar will be very queer looking when you are through, for the ends will not meet properly at the center of the blouse.

Do not remove pattern pieces from fabric until you are ready to use them. Otherwise, the similarity in shape of some pieces may be very confusing.

Don't attempt to do any sewing until you have really learned how to use the machine. This is the first big job. Don't neglect it. Practice religiously until you can control the speed of the machine and can sew a line that is really straight.

The inside of your work should look almost as good as the outside. You wouldn't sweep the dust under the carpet. Remember that the principle is the same.

Strive for perfection. You will never sew well if your standards are not high.
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