you have a sewing machine, now what..? where do you begin..? what do you need..? i’ll give you several tips to start your journey, and before you know it, you’ll sew like a pro!
1. to prewash or not prewash.
yes and no.. if you will using your fabric to sew a garment, then yes, prewash your fabric in a cold water rinse cycle with a bit of white vinegar [white vinegar helps colors from fading]. no need for detergent or fabric softener. tumble dry on perm press cycle or better yet, hang on a line to dry outdoors.
once dry, use a steam iron and starch to press your fabric, i evenly mist the starch onto the fabric and let it soak in for 1-2 minutes before pressing.
if you will be sewing a tote bag, zipper pouch, craft projects, etc.. i do not prewash my fabric, and i never prewash my fabric for quilting, the washing is done when the quilt is complete.
2. fabric scissors.
purchase a good pair of FABRIC scissors in a standard and small size, hide them from your friends and family. the standard size scissors will be for cutting your pattern, fabric, notions, etc. and the small scissors for cutting threads.
do not use your fabric scissors for anything other than cutting fabric, ribbon, etc.
3. straight pins.
ball head long straight pins and a magnetic pin cushion, a definite must have. i can’t live without my magnetic pin cushions [grabbit shown in photo], i prefer them over the standard tomato shaped pin cushions. you’ll have a lot less wayward pins with a magnetic pin cushion. long straight pins tend to fall out of the standard pin cushions, and believe me, you do not want to step on a 2 inch straight pin sticking up out of your carpet!
long straight pins are great for pinning just about everything, and the colorful ball head makes them easy to see.
4. quality thread.
high quality thread will give you high quality results, ease of use and durability. cheap thread is cheap thread it will only cause frustration during the sewing process with breakage, lint, uneven stitches, not to mention it will not withstand use in the long run.
i rarely purchase my thread at full price, i use coupons, watch for sales, and when my favorite thread goes on sale, i buy several spools.
read “machine thread basics” for more information about thread, and how to select the proper thread for your project.
5. extra bobbins.
many bobbins look alike, but not all bobbins are meant for YOUR machine. please refer to your user manual for the exact type of bobbin that is recommended for your machine and purchase plenty of extra bobbins.
for example singer bobbins come in a type 15 & 15 J, they look the same at first glance, but are not. just because a bobbin seams to “fit” does not mean it will work properly in your machine, and in fact an improper bobbin can damage your machine, ruin your fabric and cause a lot of frustration.
if you have misplaced your manual, you can google your machines make and model to find your manual, likely in a PDF file that you can save for future use.
you’ll need extra bobbins for different thread colors. i do not suggest purchasing prewound bobbins, the thread is cheap, likely old and once again, cheap is cheap. you do not want to spend all your time sewing a garment only to have the seams break open the first time you wear it.
6. proper sewing machine needles.
NOT all machine needles are created equal, you must choose the proper needle for the type of fabric you’ll be sewing. [i.e. stretch knit, woven, denim, etc.]
buy several types of needles, this way you’ll have options and the right needle for your project.
if the needle is to large it will damage your fabric, if the needle is too small it can cause skipped, uneven, puckered stitches, and/or break and damage your machine.
read “sewing machine needles” for more information about machine needles and choosing the proper needle for your project.
7. steam iron and starch.
a steam iron and a good quality starch go together like bread and butter. not matter what you’re sewing project is, you’ll likely need an iron.
you’ll need an iron to press your prewashed fabric prior to cutting out your pattern, you’ll need an iron to lightly press your pattern pieces prior to pinning them onto your fabric. you’ll also need an iron to press open seams, press hems, etc.
keep ALL your receipts, without your receipt most fabric stores will not return fabric. there have been times when i get home to find a major flaw in the fabric, and other times i just did not need a cut of fabric. its just good practice to keep all your receipts, making your return or exchange process simple.
there are so many more gadgets and tools, but with these basics behind you, you’ll soon be sewing like a pro!