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

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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, ┬ásometimes 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.

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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?

Three useful sewing links for beginners

It’s easier than you think to teach yourself to sew, especially with a few handy resources at your fingertips.

Like I said in my previous post, I taught myself how to sew through various tools available online. While there are so many sewing courses you can take or sewing books you can buy, if you’re a student like me, then cost can sometimes be a barrier. Getting to grips with a needle and thread needn’t be as stressful as your textiles class in school!

So if perhaps you’re thinking of taking up a Seamless style challenge, here are some sites to get you started:

BurdaStyle

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BurdaStyle is like Facebook for sewing boffins. An endless source of inspiration and talent, the members of BurdaStyle have plenty of projects and tips to share. There are also patterns, both free and at affordable prices, available to download. You print them off and then stick the pages together, et voila! That bit might be a pain, but who’s complaining when the pattern is free?

Pattern Review

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This is a handy resource for those who enjoy sewing from commercial patterns. One of the best parts of sewing your own garments is having complete control over the fabric and fit of your clothes, but what use is this if your pattern looks nothing like the image on the envelope? Before you cut into that beautiful metre of fabric you’ve been hoarding, search for your pattern on Pattern Review. Users post comprehensive reviews of sewing patterns used for their projects detailing everything from how easy the instructions were to follow

Craftster

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Craftster is the kind of forum for those of you who aren’t quite satisfied by sewing alone. I’ve yet to venture into the world of knitting or jewellery making, but you name the craft and there’ll be someone talking about it of Craftster. It’s a great resource for those times you’ve hit a bit of a brick wall. Not sure why your thread keeps tangling up? Someone on the forum has probably had the same problem. Head to the Sewing in General board to get discussing your projects, but do take a look around the rest of the site as well.

So what are you waiting for? Get stitching and maybe you’ll end up saying bye bye to the high street too!

Got any sewing resources of your own? Comment away!