Before you've even opened your sewing pattern, make sure you have read the instructions thoroughly TWICE ! Follow each step carefully, and in order. There's always a reason why the steps are in the order that they are, so resist the temptation to skip or swap steps around!
When you're buying fabric of a bolt, be sure to write down the care instructions that are on the label on the roll. Pin these instructions to your fabric until you are ready to use it. I'm sure we all have piles of fabric at home that we've bought a long time ago and have forgotten what sort of fabric it is and how to launder it.
Before you buy fabric to go with your pattern, make sure that you've checked the instructions on the pattern to see if there are any particularly good fabrics to use with that pattern, plus any fabrics to avoid.
When buying sewing pins, the ones with glass or plastic heads are easier to use and very useful when you find it difficult to see and pick up regular sewing pins.
Be sure to cover your sewing machine when you've finished using it. Dust and lint building up in and on your machine is the biggest cause of machine break-downs.
When you're making a garment with a lining, or mixed materials, make sure that all of the fabrics can be laundered the same way (ie all machine washable, or all dry-clean only. Pre-wash all appropriate fabric being used so that they can shrink in equal amounts before the patterns are cut out.
If your thimble is loose, try wrapping thin strips of tape inside the thimble, this way it will snuggly fit your finger. I find that surgical/medical tape is best as it does not slip.
The easiest way to thread a sewing machine needle, or hand sewing needle, is to trim the end of your thread on an angle before putting it through the eye of the needle. It also helps if you have a white background to work in front of.
When threading a needle, don't moisten the end of the thread as this will cause it to swell up and make the job more difficult.
Have you ever had trouble removing the crease from a hem that you've just let down? You can try spraying it with an equal mix of white vinegar and water and pressing the crease with a pressing cloth. If this still doesn't work, you can try to use the vinegar straight, but test this on a discreet area of your garment first if you are going to use this method.
The best way to store your rotary cutting mat is to use a pants hanger from your wardrobe, the type with the clips at the top. You can then hang it up vertically on the back of your sewing room door without any risk of it getting damaged, plus it also gets it out of the way when you're not using it.
Don't put linen fabric or garments in a dryer. This will break down the flax fibers, so it is better if these items are air-dried.
When you want to pre-shrink fabric before cutting out your pattern, zig-zag or serge the raw edges of the fabric. This prevents the fabric from fraying in the wash.
To stop your sewing machine foot pedal from straying try putting a piece of Sure-Grip drawer liner underneath it. It helps the pedal to grip onto the carpet or timber flooring. (Readily available from any home improvement store, or large supermarket). It's also useful to put a piece under your sewing machine to reduce vibrations.
If you're travelling with a basic sewing repair kit, but can't carry scissors (due to airline restrictions) you can always use the "cutter" from your dental floss pack instead of scissors to trim thread.
Velvet garments are very unforgiving when it comes to re-sizing or letting hems out as the stitch marks from the original seam will still be evident.
When using fusible interfacing be sure to trim it inside the fabric lines to stop the adhesive from getting on your ironing board. It also avoids bulk by doing this.
Never iron directly onto fabric with a nap - it will detrimentally change the look and feel of the nap. Always use a pressing cloth with care. Never iron velvet - it needs to be steamed as it is a piled fabric.
Store scraps of fabric in a container near your sewing machine so that they're readily available when you want to test different types of stitches and tensions.
After pre-washing your cotton fabric, leave it a little damp before ironing it. Ironing when slightly damp will make it easier to release wrinkles.
When you are creating buttonholes on a garment make sure that they are applied vertically on blouses and shirts, and horizontally on jackets and coats.
If you've snagged a favorite sweater, don't trim the loose threads or otherwise this could cause raveling. Turn the garment inside out and carefully feed the loose thread loop to the wrong side (a crochet needle is good at grabbing the thread and pulling it through)
If you've torn or ripped fabric or a garment, don't launder it until you've mended it; washing it first could cause more damage.
When cutting fabric with sewing scissors, take long bites of the fabric and don't let the scissor tips shut completely; stop about 1" from the tip. Re-open the scissors, slide them along the fabric and continue cutting. You will achieve a much cleaner cut this way.
Always purchase a spare button for the garment you are making so that if you lose one you don't need to search around stores trying to find a matching one. You can sew the spare to an inside seam of your garment so that it is readily available.
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