Last Updated on September 23, 2023
SEWING 101: Welcome to the world of sewing! If you’ve recently dipped your toes into the art of stitching and are eager to learn more about the basics, you’re in the right place. Whether you’re upcycling thrift finds, altering your wardrobe, or creating something entirely new, sewing is a valuable skill that allows you to unleash your creativity and resourcefulness.
SEWING 101 – The Ultimate Beginners Guide
Here, we’ll cover everything from threading your sewing machine to sewing a straight line, adding buttonholes, and creating ruffled sections. Let’s dive in!
Intro to Basic Terminology
Before we start our sewing journey, let’s familiarize ourselves with some essential sewing terminology:
- Backstitching: A function used to secure a line of stitches at the beginning and end of your sewing.
- Good Side: The side of the fabric you want to face outward on your garment. This side is usually more vibrant or visually appealing.
- Hem: The finished edge of a garment, usually double-folded and sewn in place to prevent fraying.
- Raw Edges: Unhemmed sections intentionally left to fray or the unfinished edges of fabric.
- Overlocking: A technique used to trim and neaten the edge of fabric. It can be done with an overlocking machine, pinking shears, or a zigzag stitch.
- Selvage: The self-finished edge of fabric that doesn’t fray, often found on new materials.
- Bias: When a pattern is cut on a 45-degree angle to the fabric selvage, allowing for draping and stretch.
- Seam: The line where a stitched line of thread holds two pieces of fabric together.
- Seam Allowance: Extra fabric is added to the edge of a garment to allow space between the stitching line and the raw edge.
- Interfacing: A layer of fabric added to the inner section of a garment to provide support, prevent transparency, or create a cleaner edge.
- Lining: An additional layer of material attached to the inside of a garment for warmth or opacity.
- Darts: Techniques used to shape a garment, commonly found around the waist and bust areas.
- Pin Tucks: Narrow stitched folds of fabric typically added as embellishments.
How to Thread a Sewing Machine
Now that we’re familiar with some sewing terminology let’s start by threading your sewing machine. Remember that different machines may have slight variations in the threading process, so consult your machine’s manual for specific instructions. Here’s a general overview:
- Prepare Your Thread: Choose a thread color matching your fabric. Ensure you have a sufficient amount of thread on a spool.
- Thread the Bobbin: Place an empty bobbin on the designated holder and thread the end of the thread through one of the bobbin holes from the inside out. Pull it out a bit and keep hold of it.
- Secure the Bobbin: Wrap the thread around the provided screw or hook on the other side of the bobbin holder. Push the bobbin to the right to engage it.
- Wind the Bobbin: Plug in your sewing machine and turn it on. While holding the excess thread, press the foot pedal to start winding the thread onto the bobbin. Fill the bobbin until it’s about three-quarters full, then cut the thread and push the bobbin back to the left.
- Thread the Upper Part of the Machine: Pull out a decent length of thread from the spool and follow your machine’s threading path, which typically involves guiding the thread around hooks and through tension discs. Make sure to thread the needle and leave about six inches of excess thread.
With the top half of the machine threaded, focus on the bottom half by inserting the bobbin into the bobbin holder, making sure it’s properly threaded through the slit. Test it to ensure it pulls out smoothly. Guide both threads to the back of the machine, leaving about six inches for the next time you sew.
How to Sew a Straight Line
Now that your machine is threaded let’s learn how to sew a straight line, a fundamental skill in sewing:
- Prepare Your Fabric: Place your fabric under the machine’s presser foot, aligning the edge of the fabric with the desired seam allowance. Lower the presser foot.
- Backstitch: Start by doing a backstitch, which is a few stitches in reverse, to secure the beginning of your seam. Most sewing machines have a button or lever for backstitching. Make sure it’s engaged.
- Sewing: Gently press the foot pedal to start sewing. As you sew, guide the fabric to keep it aligned with the seam allowance guide on your machine. This will help you maintain a straight line.
- Backstitch Again: When you reach the end of your seam, perform another backstitch to secure the stitches at the end.
- Lift the Needle: Raise the needle using the machine’s lever or button and lift the presser foot.
- Trim the Thread: Cut the thread with scissors or a thread cutter, leaving a few inches of excess thread.
With these steps, you can confidently sew a straight line. Practice this basic skill to build your sewing expertise.
How to Sew a Basic Hem
Hemming is a crucial sewing skill, as it provides a clean and polished finish to the edges of your garments. Here’s how to sew a basic hem:
- Prepare Your Fabric: Fold the fabric to create a double-fold hem. The width of the fold depends on your project and the desired finished hem size.
- Iron or Pin: To help maintain the fold, you can either iron it flat or use pins to hold it in place.
- Sewing: Align the edge of the fabric with the desired hem width and sew along the folded edge, keeping a straight line. Remove the pins as you sew.
- Backstitch: To secure the stitches, perform a backstitch at the beginning and end of your hem.
- Trim Excess Thread: Trim any excess thread, and your hem is complete.
Hemming provides a neat and professional look to your sewing projects, and with practice, you can hem various garments.
How to Add an Elastic Waistband
Adding an elastic waistband to your garment is a practical skill. It allows for comfort and flexibility. Here’s how to do it:
- Measure the Elastic: Determine the length of elastic you need by wrapping it around your waist comfortably and adding a few extra inches for overlap.
- Sewing the Waistband: Fold the fabric over the elastic, leaving enough space for the elastic to slide through. Pin the fabric in place, ensuring the elastic can move freely.
- Sewing Channel for Elastic: Sew around the fabric, leaving a small opening for inserting the elastic. Make sure the stitches are close enough to secure the elastic in place.
- Insert the Elastic: Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic, and use it to guide the elastic through the fabric channel. Make sure not to twist the elastic.
- Secure the Elastic: Overlap the ends of the elastic by about an inch and sew them together securely.
- Close the Opening: Sew the small opening shut, ensuring the elastic is evenly distributed inside the waistband.
You can create comfortable and adjustable garments like skirts, pants, or shorts with an elastic waistband.
How to Make a Buttonhole
Adding buttonholes is essential when making garments with buttons. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Select the Button: Choose a button for your project. Measure its width to determine the size of the buttonhole.
- Mark Buttonhole Placement: Mark where you want your buttonholes to be on the fabric. Ensure they are evenly spaced and aligned.
- Set the Machine: Most sewing machines have a buttonhole function. Select the appropriate buttonhole stitch and attach the buttonhole foot.
- Stitch the Buttonhole: Start sewing the buttonhole, guiding the machine to follow the markings. The machine will automatically create the buttonhole according to the selected stitch.
- Secure the Thread: At the end of the buttonhole, sew a few stitches in place or use the machine’s built-in securing function to lock the thread.
- Cut the Hole: Carefully cut open the buttonhole using small scissors or a seam ripper. Be cautious not to cut the stitches.
Now you have a functional buttonhole ready to attach your button.
Creating Ruffled Sections
Ruffles can add a touch of femininity and texture to your sewing projects. Here’s how to create them:
- Prepare the Fabric: Cut a strip of fabric for your ruffle. The width and length will depend on your project. The longer the strip, the more ruffled the section will be.
- Gather the Fabric: Increase the stitch length to its maximum setting on your sewing machine. Sew a straight line along the edge of the fabric, about 1/4 inch from the edge, without backstitching at the beginning or end.
- Create Tension: Hold the thread tails at one end and gently pull the bobbin thread from the other end. As you do this, the fabric will gather and create ruffles.
- Adjust Ruffle Length: Continue pulling the bobbin thread until the ruffle is the desired length. Distribute the ruffles evenly along the strip.
- Attach the Ruffle: Pin the ruffled section to your project, aligning the raw edge of the ruffle with the fabric where you want to attach it. Sew along the edge to secure the ruffle in place.
- Finish the Seam: You can fold the raw edge under or use a serger or overlocking stitch to prevent fraying.
Ruffles can be added to hems, cuffs, necklines, and various other parts of your garments to create a unique and decorative look.
Practicing and Progressing
Sewing, like any other skill, improves with practice. Start with simple projects and gradually move on to more complex ones as you build your confidence and expertise. As you gain experience, you can explore advanced techniques such as appliqué, quilting, and garment fitting.
Remember to be patient with yourself and don’t be discouraged by mistakes – they are part of the learning process. With dedication and practice, you’ll soon be creating beautiful and functional pieces with your sewing machine.
Congratulations! You’ve just embarked on a sewing journey that can be incredibly rewarding. You’ve learned the basics of sewing from threading your sewing machine to sewing straight lines, adding buttonholes, and creating ruffled sections. Now, it’s time to explore, experiment, and let your creativity shine through your sewing projects. Happy sewing!
|Credit – The Essentials Club|
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