A guide to starting your Sewing Journey: Sewing Essentials
Hooray! You’ve decided to embark on your Sewing Journey, but no idea what you need to get you on your way? Choosing a Sewing Machine can seem like a daunting task; top-loading, bottom-loading, manual, electronic, computerized… well I’m here to help you embrace this new creative choice and realise it’s not so mind boggling!
Here’s a list of Sewing Essentials to get you going.
The best sewing machines for beginners allow them to feel able to sew their chosen garment without being overwhelmed by an abundance of different knobs and buttons; a simple, well-built machine with clear operating instructions will help you feel at ease and confident to get started.
I adopted my first sewing machine from my mum and the second from my Grandfather who was a fantastic sewer, his moto, much like mine was to make do and mend and there’s not much he couldn’t fix! Both these machines were by no means all singing, all dancing but were quite sufficient for what I needed. If you’re looking to buy a new machine I’ve put together a quick guide below to help you choose, there’s some fab machines out there on the market!
Sewing Machine guide
Top sewing brands include Singer, Brother, Janome, Elna and Simplicity amongst others. They have varying features, such as weight, number of stitch patterns, manual and automatic settings. If you get the opportunity, try some out in a sewing store and get a feel for them. Sewing machines can be divided into four main categories, Mechanical, Electronic, Computerised and Overlocker.
Mechanical machines are what you would describe as vintage machines, they are not powered by electricity and as beautiful as they are, they have basic features and are mainly used by experienced sewers who enjoy them for their simplicity and durability.
Electronic machines are powered by electricity and your foot is used to control the speed of the machine on the pedal allowing you to use your hands to guide the fabric through the needle. Most electronic machines have dials to set the tension, stitch pattern and length of stitch. Some have automatic tension settings and thread cutters which are handy little extras. Most modern electronic machines are the perfect choice for beginners and intermediate sewers.
Computerised machines are a little more advanced and can have several hundred stitch patterns programmed for you to choose from, and are operated using a touchpad screen. These machines can also memorise your most used stitch setting and automatically set the tension and stitch dimensions. Advanced models allow you to sew complex embroidery patterns and you can also download stitch patterns online. These machines are often desirable as they allow you to complete sewing projects at a faster rate, however they come at a heftier price tag!
Overlocker machines provide a neat and professional finish when sewing hems and seams. These machines have less functions than most electronic or computerised machines but are able to stitch, neaten and trim fabric at double the speed. These machines are fab for sewing simple garments but not designed to sew zips or button holes. They are often used alongside a standard sewing machine to provide a neat finish.
Essential Sewing Tools
Now you’ve got your machine, there’s some nifty little gadgets that can help you make sewing a little easier. Here’s my list of essential sewing tools
Rotary cutter and mat- Once you’ve marked out your pattern onto your chosen fabric, use some weights or stones to hold your fabric smooth and taut on the cutting mat, then carefully use the rotary cutter to cut out your pattern. The rotary cutter gives a nice crisp edge!
Snipping scissors- Snipping scissors are handy to help clip threads once you’ve sewn your pattern. This helps your item look clean and professional.
A full Bobbin – Some sewers like to keep a healthy supply of bobbins, and say 20-30 bobbins is ample, this seems like a lot but it depends on what you’re wanting to sew. For example, you may want to make several items in different colours and it makes life easier if you have a different bobbin to keep each colour thread on, however 4-5 bobbins should be suffice for a beginner.
When buying new bobbins make sure you get the same bobbins that are provided with your sewing machine; for example, they may be plastic or metal; ensure you get the same size and weight for your sewing machine.
When filling your bobbin, make sure it’s full but not bulging. Your machine will keep an even distribution of thread on your bobbin when filling.
A seam ripper – Even the most advanced sewists can make mistakes and have the need to remove stitches. A seam ripper allows you to carefully remove unwanted stitches. They can also be used to cut the slit for button holes!
Correct thread – It may seem obvious but the cheaper the thread the more likely it is to break when sewing, this can make sewing frustrating and time consuming. Make sure you choose a suitable thread for your sewing project. Most sewing projects require cotton or Polyester thread, cotton thread has less give but is durable against high temperatures when pressing garments, polyester has more give but is less resistant against heat, so be sure to use a cooler temperature when pressing. Polyester has a smoother finish which makes it easier to pass through fabrics.
Pins – A good supply of pins is essential when making an item of clothing. You will be required to pin the seams together to ensure the fabric is lined up correctly and sits together tightly without slipping or moving when feeding through the machine. Place the pins vertically to the hem of the fabric with the head of the pin sitting off the edge of the material and the point facing inwards, this way your sewing machine will skip over the pins when sewing minimising the risk of your needle breaking.
I hope this has been a useful guide and provided some inspiration to help you get started on your Sewing Journey! Happy Sewing!