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How to Sew: An overview

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

What is the best way to learn to sew? There are a few things which are great ways for getting "into" sewing. Perhaps have a friend teach you the basics or sign up to a local sewing class, then you can buy or borrow a sewing machine and give it a go! You could customise or repair your clothing either by hand stitching or machine sewing. Your local sewing shop is always happy to give advice and YouTube is also a wealth of knowledge teaming with sewing tips. Top Notch Sewing Centre is also on hand via email or social media to give advice and answer questions free of charge.

How do I start Sewing ?!

Sewing machines come with a standard foot and universal needle already fitted, which are suitable for most beginners projects. You will need the manual to learn how to wind and insert a bobbin as well as how to thread the top thread, then you are set to go. It is helpful to have in mind what you would like to sew. Would you like to make clothing? or make home furnishings? or how about doing quilting or embroidery? or possibly just mending clothes and things around the house. Once you have in mind your first project you can give sewing a try.

The Sewing Machine Manual:

Every sewing machine comes with a manual which shows you how to use and maintain the machine. I was gifted a beautiful Frister & Rossmann sewing machine bought in the mid 1970's which still has it's manual! Most modern sewing machines often have manuals which can be downloaded, but whichever way you view it, the sewing machine manual has a wealth of knowledge, so take your time and read through it, and then work through it practically trying the various attachments and machine feet.

The manual will tell you what each part of the sewing machine is called. It will tell you how to thread the machine and how to use the various stitches as well as what stitch length, width and tension to use. There is always a troubleshooting guide at the back if you run into problems. An added bonus is that manuals even tell you which needle (purchased separately) is best to use for various types of fabrics. After you have been sewing for a little while is is likely that you will have to hand a few different fabrics to experiment your stitching with. It is always suggested to try a new stitch type or new sewing machine foot on spare fabric.

What do I Need to be Able to Sew?!

When you are committed to learn to sew and have use of a sewing machine (whether yours or one which you may borrow or hire), then there are a few things which will be needed and often used. You will need a tape measure, fabric scissors, a seam ripper (quick unpick), fabric, thread, hand sewing needles and dressmakers pins. Things which come in handy as you progress are thread clippers, fabric pencils or chalk, interfacing (fusing for stiffening or stabilising fabric), speciality needles, speciality machine presser feet, a sewing pattern and a set square. There are also items which are handy to have a store of in case you need them like various coloured threads, zips, buttons, cords and elastics.

A few Sewing Tips:

Always keep your needle in the top position when you finish sewing or when you are changing the stitch type, length or width. Do this by using the hand wheel. Keep your foot off the foot pedal when you are not sewing and turn the machine off. When you are done with sewing for the day, place a scrap of fabric under the presser foot, lower the foot and put the needle down. Always test a new fabric or stitch on spare fabric first. If the stitches are skipping or bunching, check your troubleshooting guide and rethread the top thread and bobbin. Always insert the top spool and bobbin so that they unwind anticlockwise. And a tip for those of you with children or pets... always store away threads, bobbins and pins!

Be brave and give sewing a try and above all, enjoy yourself!

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