So on the subject of new beginnings, this post is for all those beginners out there.
I was a self taught sewer who started when she was 16; yeah I watched my mom sew but never took any interest. Things changed when I joined the Society for Creative Anachronism and I saw all the amazing clothing and research my friends were doing and I got the sewing bug. I’ve always been into fashion and clothing design but never in my mind did I think I would ever be able to sew without a commercial pattern; which in my opinion is just as tricky somedays.
I didn’t start with much and I believe anyone with the willingness to learn and a passion for sewing; or even those out of necessity; can sew and build their confidence with it. I found if you have these few things the sky is the limit! So enough of my ramblings and into the juicy stuff you wanted to read!
1: Sewing Machine
Now this doesn’t have to be anything fancy, tho I coveted the big expensive machines – everything from Singer & Brother to Bernina,Husqvarna & Viking. Upgrade later, right now just decide what you will be sewing the most.
I decided a basic zig zag machine would do everything I needed. I saved up enough for a cheap Singer at Walmart they range from $99 – $350 CAD new, you can also check your local Charity shops, Sewing Machine Repair areas, online and Kijiji (or similar) in your area. Find a place that can service the machines for a reasonable amount if your unsure of the machines state of sewing and your off to the races.
I didn’t upgrade to a serger til a few years into my skill set when I knew it would be used more then once, and when I did pick one up I went back to Walmart and grabbed on of there. Both are still going strong with love and care they can last a long while.
2: Measuring Tape
You can find these almost everywhere! Look for a long tape and can range anywhere from $1 and up. I picked mine up at Fabricland way to many years ago and its still happy and living life to its fullest! The best ones I love are the ones that have inches one side and centimeters on the other. To be fair tho I’ve only ever seen these kind of ones but you never know. Having both measurements come in handy when your looking at patterns and instructions from a variety of sources. No pattern is created equal.
I know a lot of people say use tailors chalk or you can use this type or that type of chalk. Honestly I went to my local dollar store and picked up a pack; haven’t run out yet!
There’s a tonne of different ways to mark fabric, it’s personal preference. I do have tailors chalk now, and some felt fabric markers (the stuff from fabric stores that was out and meant for marking out patterns) depending on the project, material and who I’m making it for. I still favor my chalk for most of my projects. I can wipe off with a damp cloth or baby wipe, washes off in the washer. Best of all its cheap.
Picked mine up at Walmart, make sure they have the coloured balls on the end so when you drop one; cause you will; you’ll be able to find it. Side note either be very conscious on where its dropped or wear hard soled slippers/shoes while you sew. You learn fast when you step on or kneel on a fallen pin.
If you want to be really fancy add a pin cushion to put them in (steal wool ones will sharpen pins – dual purpose) and have a giant magnet around to sweep over surfaces to collect the pins.
This is where I spend the money on! There’s nothing that compares to the frustration trying to cut fabric and getting a good cut-line with dull scissors. You will grumble and curse or be tempted to. NEVER use your sewing scissors to cut paper this will just dull them, have a specific paper scissor designated. I know when you have the tissue paper pattern to cut out its OK for the fabric scissors. Its the printed pdf patterns that will need the separate scissors then you can just pin and cut around the paper.
This is probably something you would think was common sense but I know in my own little world I either had cheap thread that constantly broke or I had all the funky colours everything but black an white.
Invest in a good all purpose thread; one black and one white and pick up colour depending on your project, while you are purchasing your fabric. Go a shade deeper or right on shade for your fabric. Lighter will be visible.
7: Practice Fabric
I use cheap cotton broadcloth. I learned the hard way, never cut out your good fabric until you are sure on the pattern. I was and still am occasionally to lazy to do this and I will either find something needs to be tweaked or the pattern piece is reversed etc. I don’t mean to put in the buttons and zippers, just make a mock of the general garment to be sure. If its not a garment, your probably safe to just go for it.
8: Seam Ripper
I hate to say it, but its good and possibly necessary to have this in the mix. At some point you will need to take out a seam and these make it easier.
Get a good non greasy, well absorbing lotion. Working with fabric can really dry out and chap your hands.
Yeah I said it, cause if you’re like me, you will need this in your sewing kit. Either from accidentally slicing your finger on scissors or the Rotary Cutter. Jabbing pins into fingers or cuticles, paper cuts… a wide range of things you never thought could draw blood.
Well that is all for now folks, there’s so many other things you can get or need, and I will save that for upcoming lists and post. This will definitely get you sewing!