Tips for a Beginning Sewist

When I was a beginning sewist, I avoided handsewing at all costs. If the fabric could be coerced under my machine’s foot, that’s where it went. Just recently, I began to change my ways. Why? Because sometimes, it is so much easier to handsew.


Handsewn bias binding
Handstitching the binding to
the inside was easier
Handsewing is your friend2
This baby jacket sleeve cap
was meant to be handsewn.
Handsewing is your friend
Handstitching–it’s not just for
hems anymore!

Want proof? Of course you do. Well, here it is.

Last weekend I was working on a small baby jacket, to fit a nine-month old. It’s a fun and easy pattern with only three pieces–front, back, and sleeves. I added a lining so that it would be a bit warmer, and it also makes the inside look so nice. The edges are bound with bias tape. This pattern could not be easier.

The thing is, some of these areas are really tiny–the ends of the sleeves, for example. And some are just tricky to maneuver–setting in the lining sleeve.

After I wrestled with machine-stitching one side of the binding to the outside of the jacket sleeve, I got out my hand needle and handstitched the other side of the binding to the lining. It was far more relaxing–and actually took less time!

For lining, I pulled the jacket inside out, and pinned the lining sleeve cap to the jacket body. (I realized looking at that middle picture that I have a lot of random pins, and a fairly random method of pinning!) Handstitching around the sleeve was a 10″ sewing commitment. Two sleeves–20″ total.

(Those of you who are really thinking this through may wonder why I didn’t stitch the lining sleeve by machine, the same way I stitched the outer jacket sleeve to the jacket body. Good question! I wasn’t paying attention for awhile, and got a step ahead of myself. Oh well.)

So, if you’re looking at a tiny, tricky, or otherwise noodle-y bit of sewing, lift that pressure foot and pull out your hand needle. You’ll be glad you did.

And if you’re looking for some inspiration for things to sew, you can pre-order the 2012 Stitch Collection.

I’m curious. When do you switch to handstitching–or do you avoid it at all costs? I’d love to know!  

Happy stitching!


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