this post by Edelweiss Patterns to be immensely helpful, and ever since then my iron has been plugged in every time I've sewn something. It might seem tedious to run back and forth and press and sew and press again, but it is so worth it! I'd even go so far as to say that good pressing has revolutionalized my sewing. UPDATE: This is another helpful article about pressing. And this one, too!
2. Don't sew in a rush or when you're tired. Okay, that might seem like an obvious statement, but I needed to know this last January. All the times that I've accidentally sewn a side to a shoulder or attached two pieces wrong sides together have been when I wasn't 100% mentally present. One of my most horrific memories was deciding to sew a dress for attending a friend's wedding starting at 8 PM the night before. Also, it was only the second time I'd ever sewn a fitted dress. I only finished at 5 AM the next morning, and while the dress looked fine and held up all day and everything, the seam finishing left so much to be desired that I later had to go back and topstitch everything to make sure it wouldn't fall apart in the wash. Not a pleasant experience.
|So that's what it's for!!! Picture from here.|
|Masking tape to indicate walls and other features of the dungeon.|
5. Just do it. If you spend all your time wibbling about how you don't know how to do something yet, or how it looks way too difficult, you will just scare yourself and never learn. Like I mentioned before, I'd never done much by way of "real" sewing, then I decided that I was going to make a dress to wear to a wedding. And yes, it was crazy and hard and I wanted to tear out my hair, but in the end it was, actually, worth it. I felt so proud of myself and that is not a feeling you can get from just anywhere. So much of my sewing starts with "You know what? I'm just going to try it," whether it's designing a sailor dress or making a cut-out back or hacking a princess seam bodice pattern to make a strapless dress. But, that said, you should still...
6. Think very carefully about what you're doing. I spend a lot of time before each project (usually as I'm driving or drifting off to sleep (but not both at the same time!) visualizing in my head how I'm going to manipulate my fabric and what I want the final piece to look like. I make design changes in my head, think through what order would make the most sense as I sew, how I would even put a ____ in the ____, etc. Kind of like how they tell you to visualize shooting an arrow right into the target when doing archery. Or something. Do it enough in your head, and it'll be better when you do it in real life.
7. Don't get discouraged! Everyone has to start out somewhere. I daresay even Gertie and Tasia and Sunni sewed crooked stitches and wonky pieces at some point in their life... Practice can really go a long way, as long as you learn from your mistakes.
|Or you can always just look at this mess to make yourself feel better.|
- Tasia the Sewaholic's sewtionary (she inspired me to try a handpicked zipper and I've never looked back...she also has really good basic techniques)
- The Snippets emails from Colette Patterns (also tons more on their blog, but those can be a little more overwhelming)
- Sunni from A Fashionable Stitch has a mini "Sewing School" (as well as a fantastic online shop for harder to find sewing stuff)
- Burdastyle has a whole bunch of helpful techniques (also lots of of other inspirational sewists)
- Pattern Review is exactly what it sounds like: reviews by real people for the commercial patterns you find at Joann's and such...really helpful before you grab a bunch of duds during the $0.99 sales (you'll need to join before you can read older reviews, but it's free)
- For the single best lined dress bodice tutorial ever (this is the strategy I always use and just ignore the actual directions in the pattern envelope), look at this. Of course, it's just my opinion, and it only works for sleeveless dresses, but still.
- I only recently discovered Sherry's Tricks of the Trade, and even though these techniques are mostly beyond me for now, I have it bookmarked for the future!
- For real people you can ask about all your problems (sewing only), I have found the Pattern Review community and Sew Weekly Circle very very helpful.
- UPDATE: This article from Fiskars on how to use a pattern is excellent for beginning sewists!
Bonus tip #9: Wait until the cat is asleep before getting to work. Walnut is inevitably drawn to nicely laid out fabric and crinkly pattern paper as if it were freshly cut salmon. I'm constantly having to pull him out of my projects. Or if not out of fabric or off of paper, then off of my sewing chair. Or the laptop.
|I really wasn't kidding.|
|Nope. Not gonna let you do what you wanna do.|