Fostering good sewing habits

Hands up who tends to be a slapdash sewist? I certainly am. Cutting corners is my thing, don’t you know.

But for 2013, I’ve decided my sewing needs to mature a little. Here’s some bad sewing habits I need to grow out of:

1) Skimming instructions


There’s just something about instructions that makes them so… skimmable. It’s as though as soon as you introduce some sort of numbered list, I switch off. Equally, ¬†sometimes I just can’t or won’t make the effort to get my head around what exactly a pattern is asking me to do.

If text turns you off, then there are a wealth of visual and video tutorials available online. Or, better yet, many independent pattern companies are providing in-detail drawings with simple instructions – perfect for more visual learners like me. (I used a pic of Gertie’s instructions above – but what it doesn’t show is the great little illustrative instructions featured over the page) If you really don’t understand something, Google is just a click away.

2) Leaving threads unsnipped and seams unironed…

It can seem such a pain to get up from your sewing machine to head for the ironing board or reach for the scissors – particularly if you have a lack of space. In my case, the ironing board and iron are in another room completely. Ironing seams helps everything look much more professional in the long run. As for snipping threads – it’s such a relief not to have to deal with a load of strays all over your garment right at the very end if you’ve done it the whole way through.

Gertie took a look into the whys and hows of ironing – specifically, whether it’s really necessary to iron your seams flat and then open. Over at the Coletterie, August’s good habit of the month was clipping those threads!

3) Never making a muslin

I’ve mused about my love-hate relationship with muslins before. To the slapdash and money-conscious sewist in me, muslins are time-consuming and a waste of otherwise perfectly good fabric. But after a number of fitting disasters, I’ve changed my tune a little – I even made a muslin of my most recent pencil skirt project.


The fact is, if you’re making significant alterations, then a muslin is probably sensible. In my brief foray into the world of muslin-making, I’ve found a stable cotton to work well in a light colour you can easily draw on. Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch did a great pencil skirt sewalong a couple of years back which included how to tackle fitting the perfect muslin. Not sure if you need to make a muslin? Check out Sewaholic’s post here for musings on when a practice garment is necessary.

4) Claiming there’s just no time to sew

Sometimes, sewing can seem like just too much effort, particularly when I’ve had a long day at the office. More often than not, it’s not the actual sewing which makes me reluctant – it’s trying to muster up the enthusiasm to get started.

One great way to tackle this is to adopt Tilly’s 15-minute rule. Setting 15 minutes aside every day really helps me to get my sewing mojo back. Sometimes it turns into a little longer, other times I stick to the 15 minutes and just trace out a pattern or something. Bitesize chunks take the pressure off immensely – and it definitely stops me feeling guilty for being a bit lazy with the sewing machine!

Those are just some of the bad sewing habits I’m tackling right now. How about you? Are you a sewist who sticks to the straight and narrow, or do you often find yourself developing bad habits?

6 thoughts on “Fostering good sewing habits

  1. Crafting a Rainbow says:

    Oh, I’m SUCH a slapdash sewist… which I usually just try to embrace! I like your goals though! In the end, you want to make wearable clothing that you love, so do whatever it takes to get there, right?

  2. Mom says:

    I learned to sew in a summer school class when I was 13, and then any questions I had my Mother answered for me and she’d learned from her father who was a professionally trained tailor. The best compliment to a sewist’s (who made up that word?) ability is to NOT be asked if you made the item you’re wearing! I’m a persnickety seamstress. I sometimes have to remind myself that this is a Halloween costume (for my children) and not haute couture, otherwise I drive myself crazy with perfectionism. I believe there is a time and place for all levels of sewing; however the more effort you put into doing things “right” the better the finished garment looks and fits, so it’s worth the time and trouble. Keep up the good work!

  3. Helena says:

    I’m very slapdash, especially regarding the muslin issue. I don’t know where to get cheap fabrics (I never find fabrics when thrifting) so I don’t want to waste a lot of money just on muslins.
    One thing I’m trying to change is to clean all lint from the machine after each finished project.

  4. kokorimbaud says:

    I also struggle with instructions! I mean, c’mon, how hard can it be to figure out by just doing? (Very, I found :D) For the snipping threads, however, what works really well for me is a thread snipper that can be attached to a cord to hang around your neck or just sitting next to your machine. Having a (small!) dedicated tool really made a huge difference for me.

  5. Amanda says:

    These are such good habits to set up. I must admit to being a reluctant presser and used to skip the step all the time. Now I just sew up as many pieces to where they need a press and do it all at once. If only I could leave the ironing board up somewhere…

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