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Topic: Advice/Tips for newbies to the sewing world?  (Read 2628 times)
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roses are red
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« on: November 26, 2006 01:01:17 AM »

Hi everyone. I've had this older sewing machine for ages now. It is so old it doesnt have a bobbin case and its really confusing. So my boyfriend went out and bought me a new one.

I'm sitting at it today, browsing craftster getting all excited to make something and I realize... hmmm I don't really know where to begin. So of course I started with a simple bag. Only problem is I made it too small, and I was having great difficulty with it.

So I thought why not make a topic and see what people can add to a topic of advice and tips for newbies to sewing clothing because that is essentially what I plan to do with my lovely new machine...

for example... what would be an easy piece of clothing to try to attempt to make? and any other newbie tips people can give....

I'm not 100% sure what I really want to accomplish with this, I'm just wondering if anyone has anything to share with a new sewer (no not soo-er. sew-er. hehe)... or even like sewing terms which newcomers may not understand (ie. darts... i still dont really know what they are)

okay well thanks. *shrug*

hope this post isnt repetitive Cheesy


oh! and another question: is there such thing as fabric scissors? i used kitchen scissors to cut my fabric, and it didnt cut very well Sad
« Last Edit: November 26, 2006 01:18:45 AM by roses are red » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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rachikus
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2006 01:14:45 AM »

Get a book. from the library or something.
buy patterns from thrift store.
don't be afraid to make mistakes.
start with something easy.

don't stress about darts.

have fun.
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2006 01:17:29 AM »

thanks Cheesy.. i make lots of mistakes. hahaha. and im always up for a challenge Smiley so this should be good times
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rachikus
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2006 01:28:13 AM »

yup. all the way.
sewing is mucho fun. i like making stuff to wear. then i get exactly what i want.
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« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2006 02:14:08 AM »

I just bought a sewing machine yesterday for my wife and I to use. We have no idea what is what on there, so tomorow we visit the public library for some books. Wish us luck!
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stacysews
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2006 07:05:53 AM »

Practice sewing straight lines and curves first - this helps you give you some practice before you start a pattern.  Then buy yourself pattern that you like that's easy to make - elastic waist skirts and pants\shorts are a good place to start (like pj pants).  Most pattern stores run specials (patterns for $1 or $1.99), so start there.  Work with cottons that don't stretch first.  These are the easiest to work with as knits can pucker, stretch out of shape, the stitches can be harder to rip out, etc. and in general give you a real headache.  Aslo stay away from slippery fabrics at first too - they can also be a pain.

Make friends with a seam ripper - find one that you really like and buy several because no matter how experienced you become, everyone always makes mistakes.

You may also want to look into reading a few books or magazines.  They can give you some great tips and are a good source of inspriation!
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2006 10:32:11 AM »

rachikus: thats exactly why i want to get into sewing. especially me being a bigger girl. im too big for normal sizes and too small for plus sizes, lol. go figure.

Lethaldread: good luck on your sewing adventures!!!! i'm sure you and your wife will do JUST fine Smiley

stacysews: thanks for the advice!!!! so is t-shirt material good to start with??? or is that too stretchy?? Smiley


thanks again everyone.
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stacysews
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2006 11:43:40 AM »

Usually t-shirt material is pretty stretchy....and sometimes thin which can be disasterous if you're trying to rip out stitches.  The seams and hems can get wavy which makes it a bit harder to work with.  Here's some suggestions if you decide you want to go ahead and try it:  use a walking foot (or an even feed foot) - this will keep your fabric from getting as wavy, always use a small zigzag stitch, tripple stretch stitch or stretch stitch for seams, never pull the fabric when sewing (let the machine do the work.  Knits don't generally need to be hemmed so the nice thing about t-shirt fabrics is that you can leave them when the seams are done, however for a finished look hem.  Tips on hems - use stitch witch for hems, this keeps from getting them puckery, uneven, stretched out hem.  If you use stitch witch, you don't always have to sew in a hem at all.  Use a zigzag or double needle for hems - this keeps it stretchy and keeps your threads from breaking.  If you buy a knit - purchase a quality knit, the cheepo kinds do not generally sew as well.  Besides, more expensive fabrics will last longer in the long run.

I would suggest using a fun cotton, non-stretch print for your first few projects (and then tryin out a knit or two).  It's very forgiving and easy to sew and you'll get less frustrated with your garment.

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« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2006 01:19:51 PM »



Lethaldread: good luck on your sewing adventures!!!! i'm sure you and your wife will do JUST fine Smiley


Thanks, so far I have no idea what a bobbin is.=(
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Kaitlinnegan
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2006 02:31:42 PM »

I agree that a knit might give you a lot of frustrations if you're just starting out.  A lot of people here use old sheets (either ones you have on hand, or from a thrift store) for practicing and also for making clothing if the sheet has a neat design on it.  For me, it was nice to make something I could actually wear right away, but if you just don't think you'll wear something made from a non-stretchy woven cotton fabric, it's nice to just play around with some cheap fabric until you've mastered the basics.  Then it'll be a lot easier to move to a more difficult fabric, such as a knit or slippery fabric.  Purses/bags are a great way to start too -- the major pattern companies make patterns for those too.  Although it might seem silly to buy a pattern for something so (seemingly!) simple, sometimes it's really nice to have the steps laid out for you.  It's great not to have to worry about measuring -- you can just cut and sew.  Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2006 03:03:55 PM »

You can buy a pair of scissors for 8 bucks and use those to start. longterm investment buy a nice quality pair for your sewing Cheesy NEVER NEVER cut paper with your fabric scissors YYOU NEED ONE PAIR FOR FABRIC AND ONE PAIR FOR EVERYTHING ELSE! Cheesy Also, Pinking shears are a lovely thing if you don't have a serger (three months ! I am getting one in three months!) hehehe I purchased a singer that came with a very detailed instruction booklet. Whatever machine you purchased read the manual ! Then read it again! AND again! Keep this thing handy! Cheesy I recommend not taking lessons, but I don't like the way some people sew. I recommend using craftster and other sewing forums to learn how to sew. I recommend something EXTREMELY easy for your first pattern. My first pattern I used was a butterick and didn't go so well b/c I didn't know what the hell I was doing... Cheesy Simplicity patterns spell it out Cheesy hehehee also try taking a pillowcase and whacking the top off and throwing in some elastic Cheesy This is good practice! Also, I am a huge hater of straight pins, but to be able to sew nice things you need em! Cheesy hehehehheheehehe Smiley Also, check out the sewing for Dummies book Cheesy Helped me a whole heck of a lot. Check out any books that pop up when you do a search for fabric encyclopedia. It tells you what the fabrics do, best ways to sew em, what needles to use yada yada yada. But, all of this is from a girl who had no idea how to sew and I just started this Feb and now I make outfits for my girls and me Cheesy PLEASE DON'T USE A KNIT AS YOUR FIRST GO! Trust me, you will cry. I did Cheesy Feel free to PM me with exact questions. Cheesy I love helping people. Cheesy Craftster is so full of helpers though you just may not need me ;d hehehehe The gals here are great pick their brains! Cheesy And PATIENCE IS KEY! Cheesy heheheheh Good Luck Cheesy

Lethal---Read the manual it is the best advice that I can give!
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« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2006 05:06:08 PM »

I'm trying to put together a page on this topic at craftacular. The direct link is here: http://www.craftacular.com/index.php?title=Sewing

It's just getting started, but hopefully will be useful in the future  Wink
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« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2006 05:14:29 PM »

I wouldn't rule out taking a class. There is a lot to be said for having someone physically there to help and guide you. Even if you don't like the way they do things, after you are finished with the class you can do it your way. There is no one right way, but like anything without supervision you could acquire some bad habits. For a swap once I gave someone a "learn to sew" kit, I found a Simplicity sewing for dummies pattern (they are really useful if you have never used a pattern before, because the pattern instructions themselves tend not to make sense if you don't know what they mean). I thought the pattern was  really easy, but had to remind myself "what would I want to know if I didn't know how to do this?" The pattern required flat lining and fusible interfacing. So I made a sheet that showed fusible interfacing (which side fuses, why you don't want to fuse the bottom of your iron), tracing paper and how to flat line. A basic class at a fabric store or something will teach you all the basics, sewing is much more than putting pieces of fabric together, it is grainlines, notches, fabrics with nap. Or getting a good learn to sew book, For Dummies is probably pretty good.
I am also glad to answer any questions.
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« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2006 05:39:25 PM »

Ew. I hate manuals. Not enough colors.

For me, my mom taught me how to actually use the sewing machine and the basics of sewing, but for actually techniques and things forums like this have been really helpful. Remember, sewing is like anything else: driving, drawing, sports. Practice makes perfect (or close enough), and don't go too fast your first few times around.

For the first fabric i'd go for the woven cotton, not only because it's not stretchy but because most times it's harder to see where previously removed stitches have been  Wink.

You don't have to make clothing either. I'd sugest starting with a and easy bag because you can make some pretty simple bags that still look really cool with inexpensive fabric.
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spitbubbleluv
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2006 11:46:21 PM »

Supplies you need:
seam ripper
scissors (you can buy cheap $1 ones if you want, so long as they're new and sharp.  Only use it for fabric and it will stay sharp.)
measuring tape
thread
extra bobbins
marking tool of some kind (water soluble pen or pencil)
ruler
cheap practice fabric
pins
extra machine needles

*There are plenty of other tools, but these are the ones that I use every time I sew.

I recommend trying a skirt first.  There are several books available right now that are great for beginners ("Sew U" & "Sew What! Skirts" come to mind.)  Read through your manual if you don't know how to use it.  I still consult mine if I need to know something special. 
If you're not quite up to making from scratch yet, I would suggest altering readymade stuff.  For example, you could take a something you already own and add ribbon to it.  Or make one of those pillowcase skirts. 
When you're ready, start with simple patterns that say "easy" on the label.  If you get confused, walk away for a little bit.  It will come to you eventually. 
One other important thing to note about patterns is that sizing is different so go with your measurements, not your normal clothing size. 
Good luck!

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« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2006 04:47:45 AM »

thanks everyone!!!! this is REALLY helpful!!! Smiley im a total dummy with fabric and i think i know what cottons are but ill ask for help at fabricland if i need it. you all just mean like, fabric that feels like sheets right?! Smiley

anyway.. everyone's been SEW helpful Wink hehee.....
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leaguegirl
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2006 04:53:56 AM »

My tip would be to use good thread. I have yelled many dirty words because of cheap thread. It breaks. Often.  When I first started sewing, I thought thread was thread, and would use those multi-color jumbo packs from the dollar store. I quickly learned my lesson.
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Kaitlinnegan
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2006 05:12:28 AM »

Most fabrics will have their content listed at the top of the bolt, along with care instructions.  But yeah, you basically want something that's like a sheet -- either 100% cotton or a cotton-polyester blend with no spandex or lycra.  You'll find a lot of what you're looking for in the quilting section, although there are some fashion fabrics that are easy to work with too.
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paroper
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2006 05:39:34 AM »

Sewing is about physics and math.  I'm terrible at both so don't let the words confuse you.  The thing is that fabric is woven where you have long fibers going lengthwise and short fibers woven in and out going across.  These are the grainlines.  In knits you have the same motion toward the length but the fibers are looped inside each other and run across the fabric.  All knits are stretchiest going across...and some knits also stretch lengthwise.  

When doing knits, you always want the stretch to go ACROSS the body.  This give you the comfort that knits are famous for.

Ok, so  the finished edge of the fabric is called the SELVAGE the way the fibers run is ACROSS the fabric or cross grain.  Lengthwise of the fabric is called the STRAIGHT OF GRAIN.   If you cut your fabric at 45 degrees you have something called the BIAS of the fabric.  The most stable way to cut a fabric which is woven is lengthwise of grain.  That means that you lay your fabric so that one side is on the fold (from the bolt) and the other side is finished (selvages).  You lay the fabric so that it lays flat, the finished edges are matches, not one laying away from the edge (even if you have to refold the center line).  There should be no wrinkles in the fabric and the weave of the fabric should look like it lines up all the way across.  If you lay it so that the weave is not even, the garment will twist or sag and never look or feel right.  

Once your fabric is laying flat on the table and well matched, look at your pattern.  There will be a GUIDE SHEET in the envelope.  Look at the cutting directions.  There will be several lay-outs.  Find the size, view (A, B, C, etc) that you are looking for in the lay outs.  Match the WIDTH of your fabric with that in the picture and lay your fabric so that it looks the same as the layout in the picture.  Most of the time there will be at least two layouts for your view/pattern size (sometimes more).  

Next, find the pattern pieces that match the layout.  The pattern pieces will be numbered.  Each numbered pattern piece is shown on the layout.  Cut these loose (or trace) these pattern pieces so that you have easy access.  Once you have your pattern pieces found, start by laying the first piece, matching the folded pieces to the fold of the fabric, etc.  Your pattern pieces will either have long arrows or a lay on fold instruction on them.  Pieces to be laid on the fold need to be laid so that the printed line of the fold matches the fold on the fabric and lay right on the crease.  Pieces that are to be laid on the straight of grain (the other pieces) have a long arrow on the pattern piece.  Using the diagram, lay your pattern piece on the fabric.  Pin one end of the long arrow FIRST.  Take a TAPE MEASURE and measure from the pin in the end of the arrow to the selvage edge of the fabric, note the measurment.  Then, take your tape measure and measure from the edge of the fabric to the OTHER END of the arrow.  Smooth the pattern piece, and place a pin in the arrow.  This assures that your piece will lay correctly.  Then, starting in the center of the pattern, pin from the INSIDE of the pattern TOWARD the edge which will be cut...this tends to pull your pattern flat, not "bunch" the pattern.  Place a pin on one side, then the other, move up the pattern on one side several inches, place another pin, and then pin on the other side.  This keeps you from pulling your pattern lop-sided and keeps it laying flat.  WHen you have pinned all the way around the pattern in this manner, you can fill in any large gaps you have between pins that might cause problems when cutting.  Once your pattern has been pinned and layed correctly, place your next piece according to the guide sheet.  You don't have to lay the pieces on top of each other, but lay them close so that you don't waste fabric.  The pattern companies expect you to do this and they don't give you a lot of extra allowance for fabric if you follow their guide.  

Use dressmaker shears.  They don't have to be expensive BUT dressmaker shears are offset so that the FINGER (LARGE) side is closer to the table when you cut.  If you cut correctly, the garment is not lifted more than a small amount from the table as you cut.  You let the edge of the scissors ride against the cutting surface as you cut.  Lifting the fabric or turning the fabric as you touch will make one side of the pattern larger than the other and make your fit strange.  

Now comes the physics part which will explain why it is important that you use the grainline when laying the pattern.  The garment will always try to hang so that the grainline is straight with the floor.  It has to do with the distribution of the fabric's own weight.  Cross grain cut fabrics (where the fabric is cut across the fabric instead of lengthwise hang just a little different that fabrics cut on the straight of grain.  This type of "hang" is often used in the design of the garment.  Some fabrics are printed with a design that runs down the selvage and these garments will always be cut as cross grain.  At the same time, fabrics which are cut on the bias are usually fuller skirts, A-line, circular, etc.  If the bias is cut so that it is in the front and the straight of grain is on the side, it will fall in waves in the front...if the straight of grain is in the front and the bias falls to the side, it will lay in waves to the side of the skirt.  If you look at plaid (sometimes even striped) skirt patterns in catalogs you can easily see how this is used.  It is used a lot in dresses too, esp those lovely feminine vintage garments but it isn't as easy to see on a fabric that is not printed...at least it isn't as easy to see how it was laid.  In time, you'll know the difference.  Ok, knowing now why the garment should be cut using the grainlines, you need to know that if you don't use the grainlines when cutting your pattern, your garment will twist as it trys to lay toward the straight of grain.  If you've ever owned a garment that just didn't feel or look right when you put it on, eventhough the size and fit was fine, the problem was in the grainline.  

If you don't learn to properly lay/cut your garments, you'll never have a product that looks and feels quite right.  Once you get used to doing it correctly, it becomes second nature.  This can be a major difference in what looks and feels home made and a garment that people go "Wow!!! YOU MADE that?", which is one of the highest compliments you can acheve.
 
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paroper
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2006 05:42:11 AM »

The other beginning advice I would give you is to take your MEASURMENTS and compare them to the sizes you are considering.  Compare them against the envelope or the sizes in the catalog and BUY accordingly.  Pattern sizes are much different than ready to wear.  Don't be concerned.  Most of my size 6 customers needed patterns as large as size 10 or 12.  It is just a number on an envelope that no one sees except for the lady checking you out...and she doesn't care or know who it is even for. 
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« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2006 07:32:11 AM »

Well I just set my our sewing machine up yesterday. First time ever......... adn it only took 2 hours to figure things out. Now to learn the basics....
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McJulie-O
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2006 07:37:18 AM »

Ditto on almost all of the above (there are valid varying viewpoints)

If you are a visual or kinesthetic (must manipulate things with your hands before you understand) learner, you might want to take a class of beginning sewing or find a friend who will walk you through your first attempts. Don't be afraid to be compulsive about lining up the grain and other particulars... I had a friend tell me I was too much of a perfectionist (ME!!!!) because I wouldn't let her lay out her pattern every which a way (in order to save fabric!!!! It's not going to save fabric if you can't wear the garment!!)

Scissors: Keep your sewing scissors completely separate, away from your other scissors (buy a dozen of the cheapo kind if you must and spread them around the house, in order to save the sewing scissors from other uses) and warn any cohabitants you might have (roommates, husbands, children, etc) that their lives are forfeit if they use YOUR sewing scissors!!!! Hopefully they will get the message.

Good beginning projects: I believe many children's classes begin with one pattern piece pocketless shorts (similar to the longer legged pajama pants mentioned above), and I think I can remember making a flat apron that gathered on a waist tie that went through a channel at the waist for my first machine project back in the Pleistocene Age, all those years ago. With all the cute embellishments these days, I might suggest a flat apron with a bib above the waist and a pocket which would give you practice with hemming and top-stitching.

Good luck! The forums here at Craftster are a nurturing environment, and I wish I'd had them when I was learning. Kiss

PS: I'm not kidding about the scissors  Roll Eyes  At my house the RED scissors are off limits!
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« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2006 07:45:41 AM »

I agree about the scissors thing. My mom was super anal about her sewing scissors when I was younger, and now their mine! I guess it payed off Smiley and of course I'm the same way, maybe they'll make it to to third generation!
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« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2006 03:06:46 PM »

yes im finding out that scissors are one of the most important parts of the business... lol Smiley scissors for fabric only, no paper, no anything but fabric! Smiley

thanks for everyones great advice!!! Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: November 30, 2006 08:53:40 AM »

I'm a beginner and teaching myself. Patterns are so confuseing to me so I often look to Craftster for help, tutorials, techniques. These are really helpful in me gaining sewing experience. Browse around on here, theres tons of easy well done tutes to get ya started Smiley

And thanks to all who responded with *real* advice hehe. I just learned a few new things Wink
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« Reply #25 on: November 30, 2006 11:16:23 AM »

Great tips! I'm new to the sewing world as well. Is there any trick to keeping the lines straight? or is that just something that improves over time?
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stacysews
« Reply #26 on: November 30, 2006 11:31:26 AM »

It just takes some practice to sew straight lines, but you can purchase a magnetic seam guide (Dritz makes one) that you attach to your throat plate of your machine.  It has a built up metal edge to keep your fabric from sliding over too far.  You can do the same thing yourself with a stack of post it notes.
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paroper
« Reply #27 on: November 30, 2006 11:35:33 AM »

Your machine should have come with a seam guide.  There should be a couple of screw holes in the machine base.  THe guide is L shaped.  You lay the L on its back with the turn up toward the 5/8 seam line.  Many machines also have little screws and holes in the back of the presser feet.  Your machine may have a little twisted bar that is also L-shaped...like a bent hocky stick.  THe long portion slips into the back of the presser foot, you adjust to the place you want it and then screw the set screw into the back to hold it.  These more or less can ride on the fabric and are primarily used for quilting but can also be used as regular seam gauges.  There are also magnetic seam gauges but since almost all machines on the market (unless they are advertised as being manual) are electronic to some extent, you can damage your machines with these.  

Truth be known though your best bet is to learn to watch the seam guide that is built into the base of your machine (the lines) instead of a crutch.  You need to relax and learn to watch the guide, not the needle so much...it is like a farmer learning to plow a straight line.  He doesn't watch the plow, he watches something at the end of the row and plows toward it...sewing is the same way.  Relax and let the machine feed the fabric through.  watch the seam guide, put one hand in front of the project...FLAT on the fabric against the machine table OR let the fabric feed between your thumb and forefinger.  Use the left hand to guide the body of the fabric so that the fabric doesn't swing away from the machine and you'll be in business.  Let the feed dogs feed the fabric through and your seams will be closer to perfect than if you push or pull the fabric.
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McJulie-O
« Reply #28 on: November 30, 2006 03:34:26 PM »

Practice, practice, practice! Wink

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« Reply #29 on: November 30, 2006 03:41:08 PM »

i dont know if this is as obvious as it WASNT to me when i started sewing but

-keep the stitches a decent length......the smaller the stitches, the more of a pain they are to get out when you mess up!
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« Reply #30 on: December 01, 2006 12:27:04 AM »

i used a seamripper the other day for my first time. i was making a jordy bag and when i pulled it inside out, the lining fabric was backwards. practice really does make perfect, and im super proud of my second ever purse Smiley

thanks again to everyone with the fantastic tips. this is why i love craftster, everyone is sooo damn helpful!


also, im having a ridiculous time trying to figure out how the hell im supposed to use patterns haha. i got one for pj pants but i dont even know where to start, lol. even though it says "easy" its not 100% clear (or maybe im just real slow Tongue)


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stacysews
« Reply #31 on: December 01, 2006 05:33:05 AM »

When you're working with patterns: 

Measure yourself first.  Since you're doing pants first measure your waist and hips.  Now look at the back of the pattern envelope and see what size comes close to yours.  Remember that number!

Now open up your pattern instructions - somewhere on the first page is a list of pattern pieces and a picture of what they all look like.  See what pieces you will need for your pants (more than likely there will be as few as 1 piece or as many as 3).  Now open up the tissue paper and cut out these pieces on the size you need.  Cutting lines will be different for each size and are generally a series of dots and dashes.  The pattern will help to tell you which lines to cut according to your size. 
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« Reply #32 on: December 01, 2006 09:17:45 AM »

thank you miss stacy Smiley youve been a major help Cheesy its pj pants and im a girl who is right between normal and plus sizes, so im assuming xl is going to fit me nicely. im going to still measure myself for practice though Smiley
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stacysews
« Reply #33 on: December 01, 2006 09:55:28 AM »

No problem!  The nice thing about pj pants is that most of them use elastic at the waist, so even if they wind up being too big, etc. you can always bring them in at the waist once you use elastic.  PJs are so forgiving! 

If you get stuck or have questions feel free to PM me or post agian!
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« Reply #34 on: December 01, 2006 11:54:02 PM »

awww youre so sweet! my pj pant pattern has a drawstring and i have to do buttonholing. i have that on my sewing machine but im terrified Tongue hahaha. oh well, practice makes perfect! Smiley
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stacysews
« Reply #35 on: December 02, 2006 05:47:34 AM »

If you don't like the drawstring, you can always replace it with elastic waistband instead.  Or if you don't want to do buttonholes, you can always buy some eyelets to use in it's place.
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« Reply #36 on: December 02, 2006 07:17:22 PM »

ooh i never thought of those options! well i think ill attempt this whole buttonholing drawstring i mean... i gotta learn somehow right? Smiley but if all else fails i will attempt another method. thanks again Grin
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paroper
« Reply #37 on: December 02, 2006 09:11:33 PM »

It's a great time to practice button holes because they won't be as important in most pj pants.  My girls prefer the draw string pants.
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Kaitlinnegan
« Reply #38 on: December 02, 2006 10:00:01 PM »

I agree!  The hardest thing about buttonholes (if your machine has a buttonhole function) is the placement, which doesn't matter so much for a drawstring -- it just has to be in generally the right place, but whether it's straight or not won't really matter.  I had the darndest time finding a reasonable cord for my drawstring skirt, though.  It hadn't occurred to me to make one with fabric.
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« Reply #39 on: December 02, 2006 10:18:55 PM »

you should definitely make one with fabric. i bought a plain white cord for my pj pants because the gal at fabricland said it will stay tied better than the flannel pant drawstring Smiley
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paroper
« Reply #40 on: December 03, 2006 12:46:17 AM »

You can usually find the cord in the drapery section.  It is cheap.  There is certainly nothing wrong with making it from fabric.  I usually tie a knot in the end of fabric when I turn it because it is so much easier than making the ends blunt.  Besides, they aren't as likely to slip through with a knot on the end. 
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junipernest
« Reply #41 on: December 05, 2006 11:17:12 PM »

Make friends with a seam ripper - find one that you really like and buy several because no matter how experienced you become, everyone always makes mistakes.

LMAO! That was the first thing I thought of when I saw this thread!

But also remember to respect the seam ripper.  I can't count how many times I was ripping, ripping... ripped right through the fabric.

Tip related to that:  until you are used to the ripper, cut through the threads while the fabrics are flat, just nipping the ---.  Resist the urge to cut between the two pices of fabric, even though it seems quicker, because that's how I usually cut the fabric (or myself).

What else?... I second the good thread comment.  I like Gutermann, myself. I also like to take a little piece of fabric with me when I'm buying the thread because sometimes your memory of the color is a little unreliable.  And make sure you get enough!

Ditto for good needles, in the right sizes.  Read the package label for descriptions of what types of fabric they are for.  Sharp for woven, ballpoint for knits.  Littler number=littler needle=finer weave (or knit) material.  Don't try to sew chiffon with a denim needle or vice versa.  Heartbreak will ensue.

Nice pattern companies for beginners in my opinion are Burda and Kwik-Sew.    I liked the instructions and how they didn't assume that I just knew how to "ease in" or "french seam" or whatever, and the illustrations made the instructions make more sense.  Also for whatever reason, the clothes always fit better.  After a while, you will figure out what companies make things that fit you the way you like.

Make sure you have an iron handy when sewing.  When you finish a seam or turn something or sew a curve, you usually need to press it afterward so that it's shaped right, otherwise it'll be puckery or otherwise weird.  I used to try to sew everything together and then just press it out at the end of the project... doesn't work right.

Only other big thing I can think of right now is: don't sew angry.  Well, you can be angry at school or your job or your family, etc., sewing's good to get your mind off that!  But don't sew angry at your project.  Every time I'm mad at a project (and you will be!  Smiley),  if I keep working on it just then it all goes kerflooey.  Take a break and come back later, and in my experience, you'll end up with a much nicer product at the end.

Good luck!  You have so much cool stuff ahead of you!
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gingembre
« Reply #42 on: December 06, 2006 08:37:42 AM »

I am also a beginning sewer - the comment about grainlines was particularly interesting, though I think I need to reread it 8 or 10 times LOL! What I did that helped with my first project was a) use a cotton print to make b) a simple skirt (with ruffle! Smiley) and c) have friends that knew how to insert the bobbin and get the thread up (pretty important since I'd never used a sewing machine before and had gotten one that did not have a manual!!) I think it came out fairly well Cheesy so I am happy: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=134138.msg1316746#msg1316746

OH! And I *love* my rotary cutters - got them my amazing dollar store and they make cutting fabric soooooo easy.
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