Monday, September 26, 2011

Sewing: The Basics

A few months back I opened Don't Waste your Homemaking to contributors who have a passion for Jesus and have a particular area in homemaking that they thrive in. Today, I'm introducing the first contributor, Sarah from Why Sew Serious. She is basically amazing! She will be sharing what you need to get started sewing.


I’m a twenty-five year old wife from New


I absolutely love being my husband’s helper these (almost) four years.

I spend my days teaching English part-time,

welcoming tourists at our Christchurch airport and keeping house.

To relax and recuperate after a year full of earthquakes, I sew, sew, sew – oh, and did I say sew?

I am a self-taught beginner and have only ever been to one class, so all the posts I’m going to be writing about will be for people like me – who love fabric and using their fingers actively, but don’t really know where to start! So join me as we learn all about the basics of sewing, in particular quilting and other homemade goodies for the house. Check out my blog too, at Why Sew Serious.

What You Need – The Basics

When I started to sew, I didn’t really know what to start with – except a needle and thread! So, I thought I’d start with the basics of sewing equipment. Sewing can be an expensive hobby – but it doesn’t need to be. Some people spend a lot of money (and I mean, a lot!), but I haven’t and deliberately choose to find what I need cheaply. This can be done through sales, searching at different shops, or even online.

You can pick up good sewing needles anywhere – make sure they’re from a good maker and come in a range of sizes.

Thread. Everyone likes different brands – the one I’ve seen that most sewers like, and which I buy, is Guttermann. It doesn’t knot at the most annoying times, as cheaper brands do, and is reasonably price. You can buy thread at different lengths. If I made a quilt, I would go through two 250m sized-threads.

Pins/Pin Cushion/Unpicker. I go through pins – but only because I lose them all the time! Good pins are a necessity and having enough is a must. Keeping them in a pin cushion that is ready at hand is a good tip, and you can also buy pin cushions that wrap around your wrist. As much as I hate unpicking and used to avoid it at all costs, if I want my sewing to look accurate, sometimes I have to. So, unpicker’s are a hated but necessary tool.

Scissors/Rottery Cutter. I used both of these interchangeably, but I must be honest and say I haven’t mastered the rottery cutter yet. Mature quilters use their cutters for everything, but I’m still learning, so I like using scissors mostly. But both are needed. Buy a good brand for both, they’re worth the money.

Ruler. I’ve picked these up as I’ve gone and must say that now that I have them, I love them. This is when you do use your rottery cutter rather than templates (which I make handmade with cardboard). They are easy to measure and once in place, you slice along the edge with the cutter.

Mat. When you use your cutter, these self-healing mats are fantastic and you won’t destroy that tabletop! It’s also got measurements on it to help everything align rightly.

Sewing Box. Invest in one of these – they’re cute and great to store everything in.

Machine. My sewing machine is the most basic and cheapest you can get – but for what I do, it’s all you need. If you like embroidery, invest in a more high-range machine, but the basics are excellent all the same. Make sure it has different stitch types and lengths as well as a button-hole setting. They usually come with extra bits and bobs, but what you need to invest in are “bobbins” – the thread holder that is put inside the machine. You need quite a few for different colours you use.

Well, I hope this was helpful! Let me know if you have any other ideas about what you think you need to start! Happy sewing everyone!

*Please welcome Sarah to this blog by leaving her some lovely comments and make sure you say whether you are a sewer or wanting to learn!

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  1. I've asked my husband for a sewing machine for Christmas (nothing fancy of course because I'm a novice and just used to hand sewing). I will have to refer back to these tips if a get a machine. I reaalllllly hope I do too ;-)

  2. Hi Sarah...popping over to your blog right now. I'm not a beginner sewer, but it's always nice to refresh what I know -- or think I know!

  3. Hi Darby and Tanya! Thanks for commenting! I am definately no mature sewer and I learn as I sew, so hopefully what I say is helpful and encouraging, even if it's somewhat elementary!

  4. I am semi-new to sewing so any advice helps. I have a sewing machine that might come out once a year and I've used it for burp cloths, hooded towels and bath mitts. Maybe I'll start on clothing next, but I'm not sure if I'm ready for that yet!

  5. Sarah, I've been meaning to ask you what I needed to start sewing, and then I found your post here! Hooray! This is so helpful!

  6. Love to sew...great post! Hurrah for starting out on Gutermann thread. About the machine: go to a reputable sewing repair and sales shop and they will usually have older machines that have been traded in and reconditioned. I was able to get a much nicer machine than I could have afforded new, and it runs perfectly.

  7. I only use my machine for bags and other things that might have a lot of wear and tear, but mostly I handsew because I love it and I can sit with Hubby while I do it. Because I sew so much during my spare time, I don't want to ignore him, so it's a great medium.

  8. I've been sewing for about 40 years. Your list is a great one! I would tell anyone buying a new (or first) pair of sewing scissors to make certain to never, ever cut paper with them. My family knows which scissors are Mom's sewing scissors, so hands off!
    I've never heard the term "unpicker" but it works, LOL! I call it a 'seam ripper.'

  9. Great post! I've been wanting to start sewing for awhile now, but I've been a bit overwhelmed...this might be the incentive I need! :)