Are you learning how to sew but are just a little bit terrified of your first clothing project? Have no fear! Follow these few tips and you should be a bit more confident to take on your first project!
First: Pre-wash and iron your fabric. I know, it’s annoying, but you want to do this because it will soften up your fabric, and help you avoid making a garment that ends up being too small.
After that (or while your fabric is being washed), iron out your pattern. Low heat, no steam.
Now there’s a hot mess. How do you think your pattern will be accurate cutting from that? Yuck.
Here’s another tricky part about your pattern (well, tricky for me anyway): I never really know what size to cut. I made a pair of pants and cut the size according to the measurements on the back of the envelope. Wayyyyy too big. So I open up the pattern and see what the finished measurements are and cut the size closest to that. I’m not sure if that’s right, but that’s how I do it, and it’s worked for me so far.
Now note that the little creases will never come out completely, but it will be much better. When you get ready to cut, pay attention to the notches on almost every piece of your pattern. Those are used to match multiple pieces. When I took my first-ever sewing class in ninth grade, my teacher told me to cut triangles out from those notches instead of in, as the pattern suggests. Why? This helps you notice where they’re at, and helps avoid cutting too close to the seam line accidentally.
Once your fabric is washed and dried, iron that too. Then lay it out on an open area:
My only space large enough for this project isn’t really big enough. But it works. And Yellow Dog loves it.
So you’re all ironed out and your pattern pieces are cut to size, and you’re ready to cut your pattern pieces. Yikes!
See how that fabric is all nice and flat? That’s how yours should look. Then you will arranged your pieces according to the cutting layout in your instructions.
Don’t ignore these cute little arrows on your pattern pieces! They tell you how to lay out your pieces on the fabric to make sure it doesn’t go all wonky on you. These lines should be parallel to the salvage edge, or the edge that doesn’t ravel. Make sure they are traveling the right direction!
You can be stingy in every other area of your life, don’t be stingy with your pins. Pin your pattern pieces down. the more pins the better. More pins help with greater accuracy.
Before you unpin your pattern pieces from the fabric, trace any marking lines on the wrong (ugly) side of the fabric. If there’s not a wrong side, man up and pick one, then stick with it the whole time. This is a photo of what you’ll need to trace. I use the tracing wheel for lines, and the pencil for circles and dots and things. But, as we’ve discussed before, you can be stingy, not buy the tracing wheel, and use the pencil the whole time…on your tracing paper of course!
Now you’re ready to sew!
Read and re-read the directions. Say them out loud if they don’t quite make sense, that may help. Or, get a piece of scrap fabric and practice.
Baste. Baste. Baste.
If you are not sure how something should look, baste first (long stitch, no back stitch). If it looks good, then sew your seam line.
Measure a lot, cut once.
If you have to trim a seam line, clip a corner, or alter your fabric, make sure you are cutting in the right place!
Don’t lose your temper…or your patience.Stick with it! With enough patience, you can make anything. My RA in college decided she was going to learn how to sew. Her first project was her WEDDING DRESS. And it turned out pretty awesome. So there you go! Follow your pattern instructions and these few tips and you will have an awesome garment that is tailored to fit you!