11 Painful Mistakes Only A Sewist Will Understand

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11 Painful Mistakes Only A Sewist Will Understand

imageplaceholder Jill Case
Online Editor, Sew Daily
SewDaily.com

I'm sure all the experienced seamstresses and sewers out there have plenty of advice to a new sewer. Much of my learning has been self taught so I have always (tried to anyway) fail fast and fail cheap.

Here's a list of the missteps and mistakes I've made over the years. Tell me what your best advice is to someone new to sewing.

    1.    Not taking care of my machines. Most costly mistake ever for me. For whatever bone head reason, I never oiled my serger. I live in a dry climate + I sew a lot = unrepairable machine.


    2.    Sewing when tired. This one is hard to break. But, I've sewn sleeves on backwards, sleeves on necks, pants only wearable on an alien and so on. If you sew when you're tired have the seam ripper handy.

    3.    Not taking care with fabric layout. "I know how to lay this out! I don't need no stinkin' directions" Resulting in prints that don't line up or big flower bulls eye right on your 'girls'. 
Or worse this:

Unfortunate flower placementX
    5.    Not checking for straight of grain (or worse checking it and knowing it's off but proceeding anyway) Once you start sewing garments this will and should become automatic. It's very easy to do and is a must if you want your garments to lie and look nice.

    6.    Picking a project beyond your skill set. If you're in the fabric store and at a complete loss, ask the person at the counter or the nice lady next to you looking at the Vogue pattern book. Or find a local sewing group and ask what would be a good beginner project ( I have at least half a dozen suggestions!) I learned by sewing clothes for my Skipper doll (remember her!). Plus, I was fortunate to have my mother and grandmother helping me. 


    7.    Not buying enough fabric (said by an crazy fabric collector). Generally speaking 1-2 yards of fabric is enough to make a skirt, but not a super full one. 3-4 yards is generally enough for a dress or a jacket. 5-6 yards is well, you can make a lot with that. I have some silk that I bought and it was on sale AND I only bought a yard, and everything I wanted to make needed more. I went back and it was all sold out. When in doubt I buy three yards. Plus, be mindful of widths. 2 yards of 60" wide fabric is not the same as 45" wide. Those inches add up!

    8.    Not knowing your body measurements and pattern size. Pattern sizes are different than RTW. I started out sewing a 14-16, only realizing that I am more like a 6-8 for bodices and 12 for pants and skirts. It's a miracle I kept sewing even though I was swimming in garment after garment. 


    9.    Picking the wrong fabric for the job. Or, using a difficult fabric when you're not ready. Quick advice: Don't sew with silk if you've never done so. At the least try an inexpensive silky from the clearance bin. Once you master that head to the silk!


    10.    Believing that sewing with knits is difficult. I do not find knits challenging I think the reason why is that no one ever told me THEY WERE! I don't know who started the rumor that working with knits is difficult but it isn't. Once you sew with knits you'll have a hard time going back to wovens.

    11.    Listening to people who don't know what they're talking about. This is hard to do in the age of Internet gobbledygook. There are a lot of people out there claiming they're experts and just aren't. Be curious, ask questions find a trusted resource, friend or book. Better yet, find all three. This will save you time and money and sanity to keep you sewing for years on end.

What are your favorite tips for new sewers. What was the best advice you recieved? Let me know on the blog!

1a signautre small version 3

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Sewing for Beginners
Jill

About Jill

I am the Online Editor for Sew Daily and I am so incredibly excited to meet everyone here on this amazing sewing community!

My first passion is garment sewing, I love vintage sewing patterns and working with knits and silks. I also get very jazzed about sewing pants and love learning couture techniques. What about you? I can't wait to get started finding out more about you and what you like to sew.

17 thoughts on “11 Painful Mistakes Only A Sewist Will Understand

  1. Love your true confessions! I think sewing when tired ought to be at the top of the list! I have finally learned that when I’m tired I just need to put it down and go to bed. It’s safer. My best advice in general? READ THE DIRECTIONS!

  2. Thanks for the fantastic Monday morning read. I can relate to just about every one of your points (not sure if that is a good thing!!) Not sewing when I’m tired is on the top of my list. But one I have to add for myself is, When things go wrong over and over, stop and walk away for awhile. Come back and try later. lololol
    Thanks for the great article.

  3. I agree and will add 1 more…at this point in my life if I don’t think I can have fun with it “NO”. There are so many items to sew that are really fun, why do the time and not enjoy it. When helping others, newbies, I try to given them several options and let them choose, patterns, colors, etc., so they can have more fun. When growing up sewing was a must and not too fun, now with great notions and helps it should be a lot more FUN!

  4. My number one rule is to always, always wash and dry your fabric, as you would your finished project, before you lay it out to start cutting. If your fabric ravels or shreds, overcast those cut edges first. It saves so much grief and disappointment for beginners.

  5. I always tell a friend learning to sew to do so with really good light, and to get a couple of those rubber door stops to tuck under the back edge of the machine to tilt it forward just a bit. I can see what I’m doing without straining my back. What a difference it makes for long periods of time at the machine!

  6. I’ve beeb sewing for years and #7 keeps me company regularly. My top tip would be to always always preshrink your fabric! I learned this the hard way by ending up with pants that were two inches too short and with no fabric left to even try to mend them.

  7. I’ve been sewing for years and #7 keeps me company regularly. My top tip would be to always always preshrink your fabric! I learned this the hard way by ending up with pants that were two inches too short and with no fabric left to even try to mend them.

  8. Lots of times I read the idea to work from a top that’s comfortable and flattering. Well, duh! I always want to look just like the model. Not realistic. Even at a slim weight, a top for me needs to hit at a certain spot mid-tummy or near the hip-bone, above the crotch or I will not look so good. In large-size ready to wear, I don’t know what those women think they’re hiding, but those tunics . . . if you go looking at Neiman-Marcus, they call that length a dress! I’ve stood at the mirror and adjusted length until it’s just right. I am petite and circumferentially gifted, so a pattern should be adjusted before I cut and fine-tuned in the fitting. . . . This is really a pep-talk for someone who needs pretty clothes, has a huge stash, and is just about to dive back into sewing. I like you, Jill. In your picture, you look like my sweet cousin Odette. And you always have good information, inspiration. Thank you! Mimi in Tahoe

  9. Have to add, I once made my brother a cowboy shirt of yarn-dyed green and brown plaid. Such fabric gets reversed easily. I must’ve been 13 and Mike was 8. Years later he told me it had two left cuffs and “Mom made me wear it!”

  10. You hit all of mine! I’m just so relieved not to be alone. The only thing I would add is not to “sew or ‘cut anything out’ while tired.” I made my boyfriend (who loves fly-fishing) a shirt with fish on it. It was late but I was in a hurry so cut it out and sewed it together without giving how tired I was a 2nd thought . . . I mean I’ve made shirts a few hundred times; “I can do it in my sleep.” Well, the shirt was perfect, buttonholes came out, everything was even – it fit him perfectly! The thing was the fish were all upside down(!) – sleeves, pocket (matched up), placket, collar – ALL upside down. It looked like a dead fish shirt . . . Hope someone at the Thrift Store liked it.

  11. I too have made maybe half these mistakes over my years of sewing. I think for me it’s when I’m tired and I keep pushing to finish a project. I ALWAYS make an error and it takes me twice as long to correct and complete. My personal advice is listen to your body telling u it’s time to slow down. If u want professional results you must take the time to do it right. Being alert and being able to concentrate and staying focused is very important. One more important piece of advice–change your needles with every 8 hrs of sewing and use the correct needle for what u are doing. I used to teach sewing and I could not stress that enough-change your needles!!!

  12. I too have made maybe half these mistakes over my years of sewing. I think for me it’s when I’m tired and I keep pushing to finish a project. I ALWAYS make an error and it takes me twice as long to correct and complete. My personal advice is listen to your body telling u it’s time to slow down. If u want professional results you must take the time to do it right. Being alert and being able to concentrate and staying focused is very important. One more important piece of advice–change your needles with every 8 hrs of sewing and use the correct needle for what u are doing. I used to teach sewing and I could not stress that enough-change your needles!!!

  13. I too have made maybe half these mistakes over my years of sewing. I think for me it’s when I’m tired and I keep pushing to finish a project. I ALWAYS make an error and it takes me twice as long to correct and complete. My personal advice is listen to your body telling u it’s time to slow down. If u want professional results you must take the time to do it right. Being alert and being able to concentrate and staying focused is very important. One more important piece of advice–change your needles with every 8 hrs of sewing and use the correct needle for what u are doing. I used to teach sewing and I could not stress that enough-change your needles!!!

  14. I too have made maybe half these mistakes over my years of sewing. I think for me it’s when I’m tired and I keep pushing to finish a project. I ALWAYS make an error and it takes me twice as long to correct and complete. My personal advice is listen to your body telling u it’s time to slow down. If u want professional results you must take the time to do it right. Being alert and being able to concentrate and staying focused is very important. One more important piece of advice–change your needles with every 8 hrs of sewing and use the correct needle for what u are doing. I used to teach sewing and I could not stress that enough-change your needles!!!

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