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Free denim? We are a short family. It is hard to find the 29 inch length jeans that my husband wears for work and play. I have become an expert at cutting off and hemming the 30 inch to fit. I decided if I had to cut and hem, why not buy the longest length possible 36 inch or longer. I now have extra new denim for patching or other crafts. I also do the same for my own jeans.
By MaggieGrace from Pittsburgh, PA
I used to do a lot of sewing and it was so hard to get the patterns back in the package, so just put them in a large baggie and it keeps them nice and neat. If you spray them with spray starch it will help keep them from tearing.
Also, when my pins would get dull, I would just sand them with a little sandpaper, or an emery board. Your sewing machine needle will sharpen if you sew through very fine sandpaper.
I hope these tips work for you, they have worked for me. Hope they will help you enjoy your sewing!
By Dorothy from New Creek, WV
I am a sewing designer by trade. If you have ever sewn vinyl material, you know how difficult it is, because it is very slippery. In the past when I have sewn vinyl, my stitching has looked very unprofessional.
I have just figured out a wonderful trick to sew vinyl with beautiful stitching. Lay a piece of wax paper over your vinyl and stitch your project. When you are finished just tear the wax paper away. Beautiful stitching every time!
By Dee from Dunedin, FL
I have always had trouble getting my thread started on my bobbin before loading it onto the bobbin winder on the sewing machine. It seems that the hole in the bobbin gets smaller every year!
I decided to try my little Dritz needle threader and it works beautifully. Just insert the little wire piece from the outside edge of the bobbin, then push the end of your thread through that and pull it through the hole. Wind it around a couple of times and you are ready for the machine bobbin winder.
You don't have to let a bunch of clear plastic contraptions gain mastery over you! And what is better, you don't have to give up sewing just because you can't see your hand before your face. I remember as a little kid my mama had so much trouble with her sewing. I was a middle age baby so I was underfoot during the time she was struggling with the vision problems and oversized hands. I got my big hands from her.
Approximate Time: Less than 5 minutes
Use dollar store plastic or vinyl tablecloths to transfer sewing or craft patterns onto. They last a lot longer by doing this.
By fossil1955 from Cortez, CO
By MaggieGrace from Pittsburgh, PA
Make large pattern pieces from inexpensive shower curtains. The pattern pieces will last much longer than paper patterns.
By duckie-do from Cortez, CO
When using thread, take a dryer sheet, and run it up and down it. The thread will have less knotting.
By Renee from Sterling Heights, MI
When making coffee cozies, I needed something for a closure that would work with a big button I was using for the design. Since I didn't want to make a large button hole, I discovered the perfect thing for it was a thin elastic hair band. It is economical and I had plenty I wasn't using. The bands also work for small coin purses or other items needing something like a thin cord or elastic. I hand-stitched the elastic in place with just a few stitches using thread to match the band color. For under a dollar I can also replace my stash of those elastic hair bands for other uses. I'm sure this would also work on clothing items, such as sweaters, etc.
By Monica from Cortez, CO
Those little pins for sewing and holding fabric together are so small!
I made my sewing pins more visible by taping some duct tape over the tops. I then trimmed some of them into a round or triangular shape. I can see them much better.
I am making a rag quilt for the first time.
By Robyn 
I am adding iridescent ribbon to the ruffles on my daughter's prom dress and was having a difficult time seeing to sew. I found that using a head-lamp, the kind that you strap onto your head for hiking, etc. is wonderful to use when hand-sewing.
You can aim the light right at the fabric and see the stitching so much better than if you drag a big lamp over to wherever you are working. With the adjustable head-lamp, I am just flying through the seven layers of ruffles.
By MooseMom from Elk Grove, CA
As I become a WOW (wise older woman), I find it easier to see if I mark the slot on a spool of thread (the little slot that holds the thread to keep it from unwinding) with a dot of red nail polish.
By Cookie from Warrenton, VA
When sewing if you need to rip out your work, when you are done run a lint roller over the thread and all the little pieces come right out.
By barat99 from Crystal Lake, IL
You can stick your needles and pins in a bar of soap to make them slide into your material easier. I use the little bars that you get at the motel. You can keep them in the wrapper and it doesn't sliver off.
I found this at J Hittle in Louisville, Kentucky. I buy a lot of my supplies from them because I am not to be trusted in a fabric store. I can order just a few things. The sewing machine needle is inserted into the end with the flat side toward the back of the machine. Just move it around a bit and it will slide right into the proper place and will leave you a free hand to tighten the screw.
I have hands like a lumber jack and I've always had trouble changing out my needle. This is a Dritz product and is available where they sell Dritz. It has a little brush on the end for dust removal. I have used it already and it will extend my sewing life for several years. The person who has very large hands or those who have arthritis will love this little trinket. I have both problems and I am enjoying it.
Approximate Time: 2 minutes
When I am doing machine sewing, I set up 2 small wastebaskets - one on each side of my chair. That way I can drop scraps, thread, etc. with either hand. Saves a lot of time and waste motion.
By DeBushe from Gilroy, CA
I have two new toys in my sewing stuff. Each one costs less than 5 dollars.
One is called "That Purple Thang". It comes from a company called Little Foot, Ltd in New Mexico and is made by Lynn Graves. It is for pushing the corners of pillows and collars after you sew them. They turn so nicely with one of these. I had been using the handle of a wooden spoon. This is much nicer.
The other item is called a Bobbin Buddy. It comes with 4 on a little plastic piece. You separate them by twisting the plastic. Just spread it apart with your fingers and put it on a full bobbin. No more thread ends driving you nuts. My bobbin box is so neat now. I tossed the packaging on it, but they can be ordered from J Hittle in Kentucky. You can Google "bobbin buddies" or J Hittle. They are a wholesaler of sewing and quilting supplies.
I haven't looked, but they might be available at your local fabric store.
Source: I saw these in a weekly sale flyer I got via email from J Hittle. I order a lot of my thread and supplies from them because I am not to be trusted in a fabric store. I go online and order what I want. Even with shipping it's much cheaper that way.
By Marty from Knoxville, TN
Most of us carry a first aid kit in our cars or trucks. The other day my daughter ripped her coat while we were out shopping. I decided to put sewing materials in my car, but what to put in it and where to keep it? I put together thread, needle, and safety pins (the first aid kit already has scissors) and added them to my first aid kit.
By PICO from T. Paul, AB
My most recent sewing machine has a transparent plastic bobbin cover plate. When I would take it out to replace a bobbin, many times I had trouble seeing it. For whatever reason, I had in my stash of junk, a page of smiley stickers. I put a small one on the plate and now I can find it wherever it is hiding. It doesn't impede the travel of my fabric and it makes it much easier for my old crippled up eyes to see when it is lying to the side.
By Marty D from Knoxville, TN
When I make sweaters for myself or family, I mark the front of the sweater on the right side with a small safety pin. I use safety pins for holding sweater pieces together for sewing them. They are small and easy to spot.
By Linda from Kearney, MO
I have a 20 something neighbor who frequently needs his jeans patched. DH and I trade favors with him and his parents so I patch his jeans when they need it. A few days ago he brought 3 or 4 pairs to be patched. One of them was in such disreputable state it couldn't be fixed. I wrote his name and "patches" on the leather label in back and put it with my sewing stuff. I now have denim to patch his jeans for eons to come.
I used to do this when making pull on pants for the toddlers in my life to make it easier to insert the elastic. After pressing the seams open I just sewed a few stitches on either side of the open seam and when you fold it down to make the pocket it won't bunch up or partially close on you.
I am making a beach tote from double sided quilting and I don't need any more thicknesses when I put the lining in so I remembered this tip which I got off a sewing pattern more than 30 years ago. I just ran a few stitches down either side of the pressed open seam to hold it in place. After I get the lining in the stitches won't be visible from the outside. I put them in what will be the seam allowance for sewing the lining in.
Source: A sewing pattern from eons ago. Probably Simplicity (for the simple - me)
By Marty D from Knoxville, TN
Wear fingers of medical gloves to keep from snagging delicate fabrics with rough fingertips when sewing or crafting.
By fossil1955 from Cortez, CO
This one is for sewers, (or if you drop a nail when hanging a picture) whether you have a "bad" back or need to reach into a tight space, this works for me. Stick a magnet onto the end of a knitting needle or yardstick, etc. Then you can easily pick up those pins, etc. that always seem to fall where they cannot be reached.
By Barbara from B.C. Canada
For those of you who sew, you all know how much it would help if you had your own dress form. (To get the correct fit on my garments, I'm always trying-on my sewing projects inside-out, and getting stuck with pins while trying to look in the mirror while pining behind my back at the same time!) But dress forms are expensive! They can cost from $139 to $600 and even more. Here's a site that shows you 4 different ways to make your own dress form:
If you want "the REAL thing", here's a super cheap pre-made dress form: (only $119)
By Cyinda from near Seattle
For those of you who sew: I've found that tuna cans and small cat food cans work great as "weights" to hold patterns down when cutting them out. This way, no pins are needed! And when you're done, back in the cupboard they go!
Source: I saw this on "Sewing with Nancy" on PBS TV.
By Cyinda from near Seattle
This tip is for all sewers! I'm 65 and I learned this from my mother when I was about ten or twelve. Many times it is hard to sew a straight seam because your machine's markings aren't clear or easy to see. I use an ordinary Band-aid along the seam width I need. First, I fold back a small amount of the tape to make it easy to remove. Next I place the Band-aid along the seam allowance starting quite a ways before the machines markings. This helps to align the fabric before it reaches the presser foot. Try it. You'll like it!
By Judy from Birmingham, AL
I have two sewing machines both of which have a variety of stitches for fancy work. In order to better see what each stitch looks like on fabric, I make a sample of each stitch on a plain piece of medium weight fabric. One for each machine. I keep them with the machine for reference. I also write the number of each stitch next to it using a pen.
By Judy from Birmingham, AL
I have been sewing for many years now! I used to get so frustrated trying to add set in sleeves until I came across this helpful tip; first stitch with regular stitch length from underarm area of sleeve to the notch.
Raise your needle, then lengthen stitch length as long as it will go. Now stitch to the notch on the other side of sleeve underarm, then raise needle again and put stitch length back to normal. Finish sewing to the other edge of underarm. This stitching should be 1/2 inch from armhole edge. Next pin sleeve to armhole BEFORE sewing side seams. Ease from shoulder seam down, by using a pin or needle and pulling up a single thread and easing toward the underarm edges. When stitching, be careful to keep easing even.
By Judy from Birmingham, AL
When starting a large hand sewing or needlework project, thread several needles when you begin. Then you won't have to stop and keep threading needles as you work.
If you are using a rotary cutter with a marked ruler and a marked cutting mat, use one or the other to measure your cutting line. Never switch between the ruler marking and the mat marking, they may not be exactly the same.
Source: personal experience
By Marie W. 
Plackets are used in shirt and blouse construction to create an opening either at the neckline or at the sleeve cuff. My tip will help you create the perfect opening by preventing 'over-stitching' the slash lines and also preventing cutting through the pivot point after stitching the slash line. And it is SOOO simple!
Approximate Time: Ten minutes, tops!
Yield: One perfectly prepared slashed placket opening
Trace the stitching line as shown on your pattern piece-make sure the pivot point is clearly marked on the fabric.
Now take one of your pins and place it just ABOVE the marked pivot point.
Then take your marked fabric to the sewing machine and carefully stitch your first stitch line along the marked line right up to the pin.
Leaving the needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot and remove the pin from the fabric then turn (reposition) the fabric so that you can stitch the pivot point stitches.
Lower the presser foot and make your pivot by taking 1-2 stitches across then turning to stitch the other line by again leaving the needle in the fabric, lifting the presser foot and repositioning the fabric. Lower the presser foot and stitch the other marked line.
Lift the presser foot, cut your threads, and go to Step 2...
Cut confidently (but carefully)-because you have the pin effectively blocking the pivot point, you cannot cut through it!
To photograph the sleeve after I cut, I positioned the scissors in the slash with the tip right at the place where the pin stopped the cutting action.
I have one of those cutting mats for sewing, laid out on a large table. This morning I went down one side to mark the size of the tote bags I am making. I have the length of straps for an adult bag, the width including seam allowance and depth with allowance for the top seam with a note to fold this piece. I wrote it with a ball point pen in my small scribbles. On the other side I have measurements for placemats, and valances with headers. This makes my life much easier.
By Marty D from Knoxville, TN
I use my vintage (1970s Stylist, and a 1930s treadle) Singer sewing machines to sew, for home sewing and crafting. I also teach sewing, specializing in teaching home sewing newbies. Often my students don't even know how to thread a hand sewing needle on the first day of class.
One special tip I stress to my students is to always remove the thread spools, bobbins, and the machine needle at the end of each project.
In home sewing and crafting on a sewing machine, it's rare for the fabric to be exactly the same for every project so the needles and threads used on the machine will need to be of different sizes and types depending on the thickness and type of the fabric.
Making a habit of always removing the needle and threads will prevent sitting down at a machine loaded with the wrong needles and threads for the next project. Avoiding the frustrations of broken or bent needles, and puckered stitches due to using the wrong needle and thread for the fabric means a project completed with a smile:)
By FrugalSunnie from Scotland
I make a lot of clothes and swimsuits for my three girls. I use many multi-size patterns. I trace the patterns in the size I need onto other paper. I have found it extremely helpful to label these papers with my daughters' names, the year I made that size, and my daughters' measurements.
Fitting swimsuits is very difficult, and this has made my life much easier. All I have to do is get last year's pattern out, compare measurements, and go from there. I find that many times I only have to adjust for one or two of the measurements. Of course, sometimes I have to start with a completely different size. It always helps to know what I did last year though.
By Mary from Montrose, SD
Grabbing the thread on a new spool so you can use it is easy when you use a pair of tweezers. Grab the thread between the tweezers (I use old pair of scissors tweezers) and just pull. The thread comes off and it is so easy. It's much faster then trying to get the thread with the fingers. I also keep the tweezers where I keep my thread so I can find them easily.
By meis54 from Tipp City, OH
For gloves that help you grip slippery fabric for sewing, get "one size fits all" knit gloves and embellish the palm and fingers of each glove with puff paint.
By fossil1955 from Cortez, CO
I was doing some sewing today. I am making some crafts to sell. I had labels made to sew inside and I hand sew my labels. Instead of straight pins I pinned them in place with two small safety pins. That way I didn't have to be on guard against the points. The job went much faster that way.
By MartyD from Houston, TX
Scan small pattern pieces and vintage patterns! Since I mostly sew doll clothes, I'm used to scanning each new pattern as I obtain it. That takes several hours of image editing and standing at the printer/scanner, so it keeps me from going too nuts at the fabric stores' frequent 99 cent sales! Be sure to scan a ruler, too, to ensure that the printout is the right size.
Recently, I found several early 60s patterns that yielded wonderful doll outfits. I was very glad I scanned them and used printouts instead of using the fragile, old tissue pattern. My copy paper ones held up for several uses, and I still had the original, safe and intact in the envelope. I could make a thousand 'Oriental Sheath' dresses, without putting so much as a pinhole in the original tissue.
If you save the paper you used to cut the pattern from, you can use it as a template to get the best placement on print-design fabric. Just center the paper where you like, put the pattern piece down, and take away the paper.
Even if you make full size clothes, it's probably a good idea to scan those small but important pieces, and save them to your hard drive. Sewists know that it's the tiny little pattern pieces that always vanish ! Be sure to back up any of your scans to a CD-R.
It's within copyright to back up your patterns, long as you don't sell them!
By Dorrie from Norman, OK
When hemming up a new pair of pants, I use the original thread from the pants to re-hem them. If you cut and pull the right piece of thread from the beginning (seam area) of the hem, you will wind up with a very long piece of thread. This is especially good for pants, that you don't have matching thread for in you sewing box.
By Val P. from Westhampton, NY
This is for all you sewing machine sewers. If you are like me, one of the most frustrating things to do is when you are trying to remove thread from a bobbin that you want to put another color on, it seems like no matter how tightly you hang on to it, the bobbin falls from your fingers onto the floor.
I have learned to "attach it to a magnet" with the flat side down. You will never have it falling on the floor again!
Source: This tip comes from myself with over 55 years of sewing experience, and I just discovered it which proves you are never too old to learn!
By Elaine from IA
If you sew a lot and do mending or alterations, use invisible thread for the top thread and change bobbins for different colors. You will save a lot of time by not having to re-thread the needle every time you do a different colored garment. (I wish I had found this tip when I was trying to make the mending pile disappear LOL.)
Source: local TV guide
By Cinnamon from Williams Lake, BC
I like to sew, so to save time I cut out my patterns apart while watching television at night. When I am ready to sew, they are all set to lay out and cut.
By Lorraine from Minnetonka, MN
I have a large sewing box and was always pricking my finger on loose needles! So to solve this problem I hot-glued a large magnet to the top that I had received free from a local business. Voila! No more needle mishaps and they are always where I can see them.
By Trude from Lima, OH
To stop getting knots in the thread when you are hand sewing, pass the thread through beeswax. You can purchase a beeswax notion at fabric stores. This just works wonders! There will be no wax residue left behind.
By Janette from Parkersburg, WV
I am beginning to cut out a robe for my granddaughter. The pattern has several views. I am going to take the pattern pieces which go to one view and fold them together and secure with a paper clip or safety pin. The ones which are to be used for more than one view, I will keep together securing them in the same way. That will make the pieces easier to keep up with and there won't be as much searching for certain pieces
By MartyD from Houston, TX
I've seen others make things that looked great and with which they seemed very proud. However, I have not ever been totally pleased with everything I have sewn, usually because of the fabrics chosen. Now, I'm steering clear of a lot of bad fabrics, about which my WW II sewing-factory grandmother taught me as a young woman, before she passed away:
Bulky, itchy, bold, bright, cheap printed, metallic, fringed, vinyl, leather, velvet, corduroy, satin, sequined/studded/beaded, silk, fake fur, knit stretchy, rayon, smelly dyes, flimsy wrinkle-prone imports, and fabrics that have to be hand-washed or must have especially gentle handling and soaps or dry cleaning.
Instead, I have for forty years concentrated on the most washable, smoothest textures, moderately tight weaves, poly blends, medium colors, solids or texture on texture, made in America, light weight, year-round usage, breathable, quick drying, nothing see-through, woven patterns on both sides, resisting fad fabrics from overpriced fabric stores in favor of these features in the clothing I already have chosen, found or have been given, proven, enjoy, can trust, have safely stored. Taking her advice over the years, and for this knowledge, I am very grateful.
Life is too short to gamble, experiment, or to pay for dry cleaning, repairing, and gasoline hunting for fabrics and fads that fade all too soon, and don't flatter most of me anyway. It makes being of lower income and a frugal resolve easier to accept and manage. Most of my clothing has lasted over thirty years with this advice. God bless those who love us.
I use hydrogen peroxide (3%) on a cotton ball to remove blood spots when quilting or sewing, from the needle sticks. Removes with no trace of stain. I use it on other spots on clothes. When applying make up, if a spot gets on a blouse, this removes it in seconds, dries with no tell tale sign, and you are good to go. I've used it on carpets and drapes as well.
By Diane from Allentown, PA
Sewing Hint: Have someone shine a laser beam on a piece of material you need to cut a straight line on. Just follow the laser line. Works great.
By Lois from Ontonagon, MI
While you're working with cording, some endings can come unraveled. End that by putting a tiny drop of super glue on the end of the cording that you are working with and smash it together, working it into the fibers at the ends of the cording. Get the glue off of your fingers with fingernail polish remover with acetone dabbed onto a cotton ball. You could also try the product "Fray Check", but super glue is cheaper, stronger and longer lasting.
When you get near the end of your cording with the glue on it, either sew it into your pattern or cut it off and add the new piece and continue. Since it is only on such a small area, little is wasted.
By Kelly from Mission, TX
When buying seasonal patterns for children, I try to make sure there is a size for when I can actually make the item. If its for next year, make sure you get a bigger size. If the pattern is a classic you may want to get two sizes.
When doing any craft work with a needle, I keep a hotel bar of soap handy, they are small, when you finish or need to sharpen your needle or it needs to slip in easy, wipe it down with the soap or poke end of needle in the soap. It makes it easy to use.
Keep a magnet by your sewing machine to pick up loose pins.
If your diaper pins or straight pins get dull from over use, run them through your hair and they will work every time.
I use an easy way to gather fabric without the gathering thread breaking. Pull out both the bobbin and the top threads to a length longer than the piece to be gathered, and pull them to the right of the needle. Set the machine to a ziz-zag stitch. Put the fabric under the pressure foot and make 2 or 3 stitches. Pull the two threads to the front of the pressure foot and start sewing. The zig-zag stitch will cover the threads almost automatically. Pull the threads to gather as full as needed. If I have several widths of fabric to gather, I divide it into quarters or half and gather each section separately.
Use transparent tape, like Scotch tape, for quick basting of seams.
To knot thread: hold your thumb on the thread as it lays across a needle facing you, cut end to the right, then with your left hand wrap the thread around the needle two or three times (depending on how large a knot you want) then hold the thread that you wrapped around in your left hand and slide down the needle and down the thread until the knot is formed. Cut off excess thread beneath knot. It's a slick fast way to knot your thread for hand sewing!
When sewing heavy fabrics (e.g. jeans) on the sewing machine, keep the little box the needles on a piece of Blu-tack on the front of your machine. That way you will know at a glance where the right needle for the next job is.
If you would like to trace off a craft pattern and don't have any tracing paper, just take a pencil and shade the back side of the paper with the pattern below it, and then trace around the pattern. The pattern will be duplicated. This may not work on everything, but you can trace onto another paper or a piece of wood with this method.
To make a pattern piece yourself, if you use the "non-iron" interfacing it makes a great pattern and doesn't rip as easy.
I use safety pins to mark the right side of material when it's hard to tell because straight pins will fall out. This saves time and I know at a glance which side is which!
I sew a lot and often make things that need to have drawstrings threaded through. I used to clip large safety pins to the string and thread it through that way, but my hands would get tight and hurt. Now I keep leftover chopsticks from take-out Chinese and tape the string to the bottom and use them like a giant needle to thread the string. Not only does it saves my hands from aching but it cuts the time in half too.
By Carolyn S.
Keep 2 needles threaded with black and white thread in your bedroom or bathroom. You can stick the needles into a bit of sponge or cork. Then when a button pops off you can sew it on quickly!
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Here are questions related to Sewing Tips And Tricks.
What is floss for sewing am I thinking of the same thing when I think of dental floss (bought in a small container usually covered with mint or other substance)? What is embroidery floss (do you mean embroidery thread? Thank you and where would I purchase it?
Embroidery thread and embroidery floss are the same. There are usually six strands per hank, and you use between one and six depending on the effect you want to achieve.