All crafts can be made easier if you are able to pick up some useful tips. Sewing is no exception. Sewing tips can speed up your work and may help you create a nicer final project. This page contains sewing tips and tricks.
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
Turning fabric tubes right side out can be very frustrating. I found a way that works great for me and is much safer than the turning tool I purchased, as it makes a hole in some fabrics.
By Ron 181
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 Ron 181
If you're ever stuck with a tent, tarp or piece of leatherwork to repair and you don't have a thimble on hand, tape a coin to your finger to help you push that heavy needle through the heavy fabric or leather.
By fossil1955 from Cortez, CO
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
By MaggieGrace from Pittsburgh, PA
Sewing heavy material like canvas can be as hard on the needle as it is on your hands. If, however, you rub the fabric well with soap before you stitch, the job will be a lot more comfortable and the needle will slip through the cloth without nearly so much danger of breaking.
Source: A Farmer's Almanac
By duckie-do from Cortez, CO
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
Make large pattern pieces from inexpensive shower curtains. The pattern pieces will last much longer than paper patterns.
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 Ron 181
Keep a hemostat in your sewing kit if you know a nurse you could get one from. It is handy for pulling/grabbing needles through thick fabric.
Another use for rubber shelf liner is to place a scrap piece under your sewing machine. This is handy and keeps my sewing machine from moving while I'm using it.
When using thread, take a dryer sheet, and run it up and down it. The thread will have less knotting.
By Kim 2
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.
I put up a shelf above my sewing machine and attached a 24 inch light from Walmart to the bottom of the shelf for additional lighting on my sewing project.
Those little pins for sewing and holding fabric together are so small!
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.
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.
Use leftover crepe paper in sewing by placing over thick fabric like fleece or textured material that has a tendency to get caught in the feed dog or presser foot, depending on the type or loft of the material. Just sew right over it and when finished, tear if off.
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.
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 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.
I'm upcycling an UnderArmour shirt and I can't get my sewing machine to sew it. I've changed my needle, the tension, semi-cleaned the machine, rethreaded it a few times, but I can't get the thread to catch more than maybe one stitch. It works fine on other fabric, but not on this material. It is going to be so cute! I just really don't want to have to hand stitch it. I've changed the height of the needle too. I'm considering using another fabric as a "catcher" fabric, I guess you can call it. I've also had problems with dropping stitches a lot. My old machine never did that, but I'm not very experienced with sewing either. Help?
September 6, 2015
Buy a " teflon" needle.
To the unecessary comment stating - a fabric is made so it can't be upcycled...DON'T BE RIDICULOUS! Anytime, any item can be utilized by another to extend its purpose, is perfection. Why add to the trash heaps?
I have two new toys in my sewing stuff. Each one costs less than 5 dollars.
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.
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.
When the spool only has a little thread left on it, it is not worth putting on the sewing machine, as it will be gone after a few stitches. I save these almost empty spools and give them to my senior friends.
I really enjoy sewing, but lack the finances to buy some things I would like to have. For quite some time, I have wished that I could afford to buy a clapper, like I have seen on some sewing shows.
I've been sewing on my kitchen table without using a pin cushion because I couldn't find it, LOL! So I took a lint brush, the sticky kind, to gather up the straight pins instead of sticking my fingers. Works great!
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!)
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.
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.
If your diaper pins or straight pins get dull from over use, run them through your hair and they will work every time.
Accidentally forgetting to leave an opening to turn a sewing project right-side out can be very frustrating. At a recent sewing class, the teacher gave me this fabulous tip to keep from sewing your project shut. Determine where you want your opening to be then mark the beginning and end of the opening with 2 pins.
This tip is too easy, but I never thought of it. I always wrapped mine in duct tape. My sewing machine instructor said that she puts her old ones in an empty medicine container, keeps it in the drawer till full then tosses. I love this idea.
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.
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?
This, as with most of my tips was born of necessity. I am too old to be crawling around on the floor with a flashlight trying to retrieve straight pins that I have dropped. I laid the tee shirt dress I was making for my granddaughter on my folding cutting board.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Elastic around your waist should be your waist size minus 2 inches. It works every time.
I have some curved Precision needles and can't figure out what they are used for.
January 12, 2015
Vintage sewing machine needles.
Ever change your mind on what ribbon you would like to use or find that the tube you made for the drawstring is too small to run the safety pin through?
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.
By Ron 181
Wear fingers of medical gloves to keep from snagging delicate fabrics with rough fingertips when sewing or crafting.
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.
Since there has been a lot of talk about pins and how dangerous they can be to a child or a pet, I thought I could share this tip. If you drop a pin and can't locate it, try taking a magnet and skim over the area you think you have dropped it. Hopefully this will help locate the pin.
Source: In the operating room. If the count was off, we'd use a huge magnet to go over the floor with.
By michele052002 from Bangor, PA
Take the small pieces of soap that are left over in the shower, dry them out and presto, you've got a great marking tool for fabrics and quilting.
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. . .
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.
To make a pattern piece yourself, if you use the "non-iron" interfacing it makes a great pattern and doesn't rip as easy. By wiseinhimmer
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! By Linda
With cats at our house, I try to be extra careful that they don't get ahold of the threads and scraps from my sewing projects. I went to a fundraiser recently and bought a decorative handmade bowl that I didn't have a use for yet. I decided it would be the perfect solution to contain my scraps.
By Marie W. 1
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.
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.
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?
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 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 ...
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.
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.
By Valerie 2
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Diane Karp 2
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.
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.
Use transparent tape, like Scotch tape, for quick basting of seams. By Lynn
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.
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!
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. By Lizaixi
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.
Plackets are used in shirt and blouse construction to create an opening either at the neckline or at the sleeve cuff.
I make a lot of clothes and swimsuits for my three girls. 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.
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.
By Ron 181
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.
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!
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.
When buying seasonal patterns for children, I try to make sure there is a size for when I can actually make the item. If it's 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.
Sarah J. Doyle
Gather and purchase all of the supplies necessary to complete your sewing or craft project ahead of time. Having to stop in the middle of the project in order to run out and get a forgotten essential item is time consuming and irritating.
Double check the threading of your sewing machine to prevent immediate stitching problems. Breaking thread or skipped stitches right off the bat can cause you to lose interest in the project, not to mention the time lost in fixing the problem. And speaking of thread, always use a good quality thread. "Cheap" thread will fray, break and cause knotting of the thread while sewing.
It is a mistake to simply use the same needle for everything you sew until it breaks. Some fabrics require a fine needle while heavier duck type or denim fabrics require a heavier needle. Keep a supply of assorted machine needles handy so you'll have the correct needle for the fabric you'll be using. In addition, if you hit a pin, you should immediately change the needle. A bent needle, even if only "slightly" bent or nicked can cause skipped stitches and can quite possibly cause damage to your fabric.
All pattern pieces have grainline markings. The grainline should run parallel with the length of the fabric. If you simply lay the pattern pieces anywhere on the fabric, ignoring the grain- lines, the finished garment will not hang right. The extra few minutes spent laying the pattern pieces correctly and cutting the seam lines precisely will result in a professional looking garment you will be proud of.
If your project or garment includes a technique you are not familiar with, or haven't done in quite some time, such as buttonholes or flat felled seams, practice on a piece of extra fabric. It would be best to make two or three practice samples before actually sewing on the garment itself.
It only takes a second to clip the stitches from the beginning and end of the seams. If you wait until the garment is finished it will become a chore and you may be tempted to leave them, resulting in an unprofessional looking garment. Be sure to have a waste basket handy, or tape a small lunch bag to the side of your sewing machine table in which to toss the threads after clipping.
Pressing the seams during the sewing process will produce a more professional looking garment, and will also make it easier to sew the seams that will "cross" any of the seams already sewn. Gently open the seams and press flat. You will save time if you sew several seams, then press them all at once, before moving on to the next step.
Clean up the sewing area after each project. A great motto for your sewing/craft area is "a place for everything and everything in its' place". Put things away - left over fabric in a scrap box or drawer, scissors, pins and thread back in the drawer. The sewing room will look much better and an organized sewing area is much more inviting than a messy, piled up area with only a "path" to the sewing machine.