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Topic: Advice/Tips for newbies to the sewing world?  (Read 4441 times)
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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

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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

Check out my patterns at <a href="http://www.needyl.com">needyl.com</a>
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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.
« 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
extra bobbins
marking tool of some kind (water soluble pen or pencil)
cheap practice fabric
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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« 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.
« 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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« 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.
« 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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