Beginning Sewing Necessary Things
First off the first tutorial I chose is a daunting project to a lot. I chose it intentionally to get people to really put aside their self doubt. Perhaps the biggest barrier every single person faces is the prison in their head. This can also become a labyrinth for those who question their progress. The next project will be a lot easier and will be suitable even for the unlikely beginner. This first project is not hard once you understand the how things work. It will take a lot of time to complete. Especially if you are fallowing along with my directions exactly. I won’t be using a sewing machine. The example project mentioned has, but only because I needed to finish it. This upcoming project will be done by hand. You will have the choice between new and scrap fabric. I recommend the new fabric if you can afford it. Working with scrap fabric does provide an incredible advantage over the other. Your will have a a rather large amount of practice with the stitches I will be presenting in this introduction. With out further ado let her rip.
If you never been told this before or seen the mad-grandma, “who used my scissors meme,” then now would be an excellent time. You don’t use them on anything other than fabric or thread. Even then you want to keep two pairs. One for relatively easy or thin fabric and another for tightly woven fabrics such as denim. I will be using a lot of denim through out all the tutorials. I imagine even the DIY tech tutorials will include it as well as Popsicle sticks. That is a story for another time. Mostly you want to keep things cheap as you start out. You do not have to have a top notch set of tools for sewing. In other areas things can become rather difficult if you don't have the tools for the job. In sewing; however, a lot of stuff can be done with cheap stuff. Even yard sell finds make for good beginners tools. I spent about 3-4 years using sewing machines I either found refurbished or yard sell that I took and got cleaned up.
The Sewing Machine
I wish I kept my refurbished sewing machine to show, but it was taking up space. Technically you don't need to get a serger if your going to broaden yourself to multiple areas in this hobby. If you can get by with a sewing machine designed for slightly heavier fabrics like denim like I have here then you should be fine. I never had a yard sell machine last very long when working with denim. It works depending on how you fold the fabric and how heavy the denim is.
Expect to learn by hand first. I also recommend needle first because it teaches you a lot about thread tension and where things can go wrong. A beneficial skill is knowing how to work with thread and spot mistakes. This can go a long way into not having to pay a repair man every time something goes wrong. Sewing by hand is very important when you first start out.
Cutting Materials Into Shape
Perhaps the most important tool is your cutting tools. Like I mentioned above you do not want to use it on anything but fabric and thread. I actually keep several cheap ones on hand for when I am working with other materials. Then I keep a set specifically for fabric. One big pair of tailor shears, a slightly smaller one for softer fabrics, and then a couple rotary cutters for very precise piece work.
My big pair can be taken apart for sharpening. My slightly smaller ones pictured below with blue arthritis handles. I got them as a pair with even smaller ones. I gave the smaller ones to my grandmother because she needed better ones then she had. I originally bought these to support a quilters shop that I lived nearby before I moved. I have a local quilting shop that will sharpen them for me. I actually plan to get mine sharpened soon due to how its been a while. Rotary cutters are very helpful, but you don't need them to get started. Learning how to have a steady hand is also something to learn. Being able to use shears can help you learn to do this. It most certainly did for me.
Tailor Shears. Heavy duty for cutting suiting fabric and heavier woven fabrics.
Cheap 1 usd shears (Above)
Arthritis shears that are made to be easier to hold and use.
Big expensive Omnigrid brand and a smaller cutter for tight corners. Self healing mat underneath.
Jenome New Home Brand 7318 Sewing Machine
The intentional Temporary
There will always be times when you make mistakes. Whether it be intentional or not. Well how do you define intentional? Sometimes life has a its own merit to reason and we are only observers. Well everything has a beginning middle and end. Its all part of the process and the journey the reward. For a while I did not know what basting was. A basting stitch is when you have equally spaced out stitches that are only there to test something or to hold it long enough for a final stronger stitch is made. A lot of people hate using strait pins. Instead they will either tack or baste things together. Tacking is when you tie a knot, run the needle through, cut, and then tie a couple knots on the other side.
These temporary stitches do need to come out after things are made permanent. Although there are times when I leave some in because they are not in a spot where they can causes problems. That can be a real plus when you really don't have time or desire to work with strait pins or safety pins. I also use seam rippers merely because they are smaller. I use seem rippers a lot when I am laying down and sewing by hand. Never woke up with a needle in my side yet though. I don't recommend trying this unless you want a rude awakening. Just don't complain when I told ya so.
Seem rippers and small cutters
A diamond cut from rotary on a self healing mat and then sewn together.
Another aspect is making templates and patterns. No matter what kind of stuff you do patterns will always be necessary. There are some who don't spend much time on their patterns, but they do have one in some form. I highly recommend you get cheapo rulers, curves, and some other cheap back to school drafting tools. Save your money for the specific templates that you know you will use. Quilting has a lot of plastic templates and they can be really expensive. You will want a cheap rotary cutter strait edge for marking on material. You can find them and they can be cheaper then what you find at quilting shops.
I will be going over how to make patterns and how to modify or preserve tissue paper patterns. It takes longer to preserve a pattern instead of pinning it to pattern pieces, but that is in my opinion better then buying the pattern again. You can buy tissue paper around Christmas time for tracing onto. Believe me reserving those patterns can save you money and even hardship for when you get confused.
Cheap strait edge and several cheapo drafting tools.
Flatter Than a
Pancake and No Shrinking
You don't need a special iron and board. you can get relatively cheap stuff from a convenience store or again a yard sell. The point is to use one to flatten your work and have it worked. This can help in many ways. you want to pre-wash your fabrics once you cut things within the range of your pattern pieces. Then zigzag stitch or blanket stitch by hand to wash and dry them. This will prevent the fabric from unraveling. Even with t-shirt fabric that can last a while without the stitch can really help when you pull it out of the drier.
You can use a towel like I did. You don't necessarily need to sew a piece of white fabric like I did. This was just to make things easier for when I make markings. I can make a temporary marking that will show up on the white cotton fabric easier than it would on a plain old towel. Wrinkles can cause a lot of problems. Especially when it has not even been worked with under heat.
60 inch tape for large patters. Having a smaller one on hand will work too.
White fabric sewn onto several layers of bath towel. Finished with a decorative edge. Makes markings easier, but a simple bath towel can work just fine.
A cheap iron from my local Dollar Store
Your Work Area
Perhaps the most important part in all this is your work area. Deciding on how much room is needed and what is available will help you decide on organization. The picture below was a long time ago. This was before I got back into my tech studies. I spent a lot of time trying to sew things together to sell. This really does show you what the maximum can look like for space. Also note that I slept in the same room as my sewing area for the longest time. I kept my art, books, and writing in other areas to try and spread things out. Today everything has changed and I am provided with a new challenge. I suppose this website will show just what challenge an imaginative craft can provide. Yet its worth it in the end to share your life story in some way.
I highly recommend using tailors chalk. Its a little more dense then school chalk and it only sits on top of the fabric. I can be tricky to clean off though. So, be aware of the colors you use.