Tips, Tricks, and Tools!
So- I have only been sewing for about 3 years now. Wow, that went fast! But there are definitely some things I wish I had known about when I very first started. I mean even to this day I learn something new that saves time and makes life easier. So I gathered some of my sewing friends and we did some brainstorming to bring you some of our favorite things to hopefully help your life a little easier too. This will have to be a multiple part blog as there are so many helpful things out there, but here are a few to get you going.
Let's start with the dreaded seam ripper. Now, some weeks are worse than others, but my seam ripper and I really spend more time together than I'd like. Thankfully. there are a few things I learned along the way that make it at least slightly less torturous. First, invest in a good one. That doesn't mean expensive but you know that little mini one that comes in all your first sewing kits?? Well, I'm pretty sure I tried to use that for at least a year. If I could go back in time and slap myself I would. One day I had a gift card and bought a nicer one- maybe like $5?? and my life was transformed. Suddenly seam ripping was only slightly horrible. So, get this, not that.
Also- Buy like 20. Okay, maybe not 20 but at least 5! They tend to walk off- especially if you have kids. There is nothing worse than spending more time looking for your seam ripper than it would have taken you to just cut and sew another garment. I got this pack of 4 from Amazon and they have worked great! I have no problem if they get lost or replacing them because they are so cheap. There is also really fancy cool custom ones out there you can get I just haven't taken the plunge yet.
How to Seam Ripper Serger Threads- This is a big one I actually only recently learned. Now there may be other ways but this is what I've found works best for me so far and honestly - now I hate seam ripping regular sewing machine stitches more than serger! Here is a little video I hope makes sense!
Next Up- Wonder clips!! These are life-changing. Buy a million. Not only are they fast, quick, and no bloody fingers or sewing over pins but you also have built-in measurements for hems! I use the little ones more than anything but I love the big ones when it comes to bringing in garments or doing larger hems. You can buy name brand (Wonder) or the cheap ones have worked just fine for me! I usually order this pack from Amazon. Also- do yourself a favor and order two, because if you are anything like me they disappear to the mysterious house graveyard somewhere and pretty soon you only have 5 that your kids keep stealing to play with.
Now that you have your clips- don't give up your pins altogether because there are certain projects you'll want them for. Since I've got kiddos around I always try to be extra careful with my pins not to lose one on the floor. This little magnet has helped a ton with keeping track of them and peace of mind!
Next- another option if you don't want to clip or pin is Wash away wonder tape! It's basically double sided tape that you can sew through without messing up your needle. Then it washes away when washed. It's really helpful for hems, slippery fabrics, some people even use it to put their zippers on!
On to Cutting fabric- Well I'm hoping you all already have this but if you don't- A rotary blade (a nice one), self healing mat, and acrylic rulers are life.
I started with a fiskars and while it was better than scissors investing in my Gingher was so worth it! If you are lucky you can use really good coupons and get them decently priced at Joanns! For mat and ruler, This is the little set I started with and still use- minus the blade but it's a great starter kit with a decent sized mat. Fiskars also guarantees their mats so if yours ends up getting a ton of no longer self healing cuts you can contact them and they'll send you a replacement.
The acrylic ruler is a must for cutting things like neckbands and cuffs!
Stabilizing fabric! This is important for knits as they tend to stretch when sewn. It's always good to have a lightweight fusible interfacing on hand for things like baby booties, straps, buttonholes, snaps, grommets, applique, and especially stabilizing zippers. If you are doing a zipper with knit fabric, do your self a favor and cut strips of interfacing and stabilize all the seams you'll be sewing the zipper to. It's going to help prevent your zipper from getting that wavy look and allows for much easier installation. I generally always have some of this Pellon P44F around for those things. Although I've recently discovered that you can get interfacing in rolls of strips which takes out the annoying part of having to cut long strips! This has made my lazy self very happy.
Applique- One word- Heat'N'Bond. This stuff is your best friend!! You are going to want to stabilize all your applique pieces with the light sewable kind. Usually, I'll cut my applique piece I want out of the HeatNBond and then apply it to the fabric (make sure you do it to the wrong side). After that, I cut that piece out of the fabric and then peel the backing off. Figure out where you want it on your main garment and apply it with an iron. Then you are free to stitch it without shifting and pulling! If you have a cutting machine, such as a Silhouette like I have, you can use it to cut your applique pieces out of the heatnbond to make life even easier!
Another little tip a friend of mine gave me was to use a zipper foot when stitching your appliques down. It makes it SO much easier to get around the small curves.
International Patterns- We all love our international patterns but they take a little extra to get ready to cut your fabric. First- you are going to need to print on A4 paper. You can also use legal paper but you're going to have to trim pages so for ease sake I'd get some A4! International patterns are drafted for this slightly larger paper so if you don't use it you're going to end up with peices that don't match up or a garment that is too small.
Another extremely important thing is adding seam allowance. A majoirty of international patterns do not have seam allowance built into the pattern so you will need to add your own. There are two easy ways to do this. First- grab yourself a chisel tip highlighter because the tip just happens to be 1/4 inch! Horray! Trace all the way around your pattern with this prior to cutting it out (just remember you don't add it to folds). While this way takes a little longer you at least will never forget to add seam allowance again. Ask my how many times I've done that... sigh. Another way is to add small magents to your rotary blade that stick out 1/4 inch. Then line those up with your pattern piece while cutting so you have a 1/4inch space betweent he pattern and your blade.
Bonus Items- Now I don't have either of these but they were recommended and I'm SO excited!! How did I not know these exsited!?
A Hot Hemmer- oh my gosh, perfect hems!! You can flip your fabric over this ruler lining up the hem you need and iron right on top of it!! Life Changing.
Finally- This little bobbin holder because I've tried the plastic things and they are worthless and this is my current bobin situation. So you better believe this puppy is already being shipped to me.
That's just a small sampling of all the amazing tips, tools, and tricks out there to help make your sewing life easier. Hopefully there was at least one thing in there new to you!! Thanks for reading and get ready for Swim blog next week!
Happy Sewing and Rocking
OH!!! I almost for got the most important thing to make your sewing life easier!!!
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Thank you for the fantastic tips!
I just learned about clips this past year but have never heard of some of these! Excited to try a few!
Oh my gosh that bobbin saver! Thanks for the tips :) I might have to girder the hot hemmer too… :)
Thank you for the suggestions! Will for sure be using all these tricks!
You’re a genius