Mistakes Beginners Make With Sewing Machines: Part 1

Mistakes Beginners Make With Sewing Machines: Part 1

Sewing is growing in popularity.

Many beginners make the same mistakes so we have compiled this three-part series to address this issue.

We will highlight the most common errors made by beginners using their sewing machines. Hopefully, this will help you to avoid making the same faux pass yourself.

1) Choosing an Expensive Sewing Machine

As a beginner, you don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to find a high performance model with a huge range of features.

Some people will already have a machine at home. Grandma’s old balance wheel (manually operated) could easily do the trick. As long as it’s functional and not rusty, you can start practicing with it. Yes, in this age, it’s hard to imagine sewing while moving your feet to power it. It’s the best alternative, though, if you can’t afford to buy one as yet since you are just starting to learn. And it’s not bad to start with the basics.

How about when you are ready to make a purchase?

Sewing beginners don’t need to buy sewing machines that are extremely costly. No matter how excited you might be to run to the nearest store and purchase one that will suit your expensive taste and style, we suggest that you weigh up some options first before pulling out those bills from your pocket...

As first timers, you are trying to learn and study first how to sew fabric. You are not going to sell it yet. You don’t even know if your passion for sewing will last or it is only a passing fancy. So, it is always best to be practical and smart just to be sure. You can always buy the computerized sewing machine of your dreams once your budget increases.

One thing to bear in mind regarding computerized machines: if your budget is less than $300, consider buying a high quality manual machine instead. Many experts suggest that this approach will get you started with a better class of sewing machine.

And always keep in mind that in buying a sewing machine be it pricey or not, impartial reviews are well worth consulting. Also check for the brand names and features. Usually, trusted brands are trusted for a reason. Most of the big players offer very affordable machines in addition to the higher-end models. In terms of features, think first about what you will use the sewing machine for. If you are honest about your requirements it will help you make the wisest choice.

So... You do not need to spend a fortune. Make a sensible selection based on your budget and needs rather than dashing out to buy a $1000 sewing machine thinking that this will lead to success.

2) Choosing a Fabric That Requires Advanced Skills

Don't run before you can walk.

Beginners should always bear in mind that learning to sew, even though it looks so easy watching sewers at work, is never an easy task. There is lots more to it than merely inserting a needle and letting it run into your fabric.

One wrong move may result in creating unnecessary holes on the cloth. So never jump into sewing delicate fabrics such as chiffon, georgette, satin, silk, velvet, taffeta and or straight from the onset. These fabrics should be not experimented upon while starting to learn.

Georgette, chiffon and silk fabrics should be handled more delicately because they are transparent and are very thin. You can see through them. Any wrong seams will be very evident. And they all require a French seam, a kind of seam that has a very fine finish that conceals any undue seam.

Corduroy, taffeta and velvet also demand advanced skills. These fabrics are nubby and quite rough to sew. So, if you are a beginner, pick cotton fabrics first. Cottons are tough fabrics and are cheap. If you happen to stumble and make the traditional mistake of overlapping seams, you can always repair it easily without any noticeable holes.

There is enough time for you to learn so do not rush things. Better results come from experience and discipline so take it easy.

3) Not Following Pattern Instructions

Not following instructions is like diving into the sea when you don’t know how deep it is.

There is always a corresponding rule for everything. Ignoring guidelines just because you thought you were doing the right thing and you don’t need instructions anymore will not get you to the finish line more quickly. Well, it might but with a number of mistakes.

Such guidelines are given to help teach and guide beginners on how to sew using patterns in the correct manner. Learn to be patient and stop taking shortcuts when you haven’t perfected yet the art of sewing.

Sometimes, when you are more advanced, shortcuts can be OK. Just be sure it will not affect the quality of your work. While perfecting your sewing skills, just relax and take your time. There is no reason to hurry.

4) Failing to Press the Seam

You often hear from your sewing instructors to always press the seam after and before you continue and join it with other seams.

As a beginner, iron pressing is always much better than using just the hands. This is because ironing produces a flatter seamed fabric (unlike with plain hand pressing which sometimes leave a crumpled look).

But, of course, as you go along the way you will learn how to expertly press seams using your own hands alone.

It's not essential to keep jumping up and heading to the ironing board. Sew several seams first. If you are working on a blouse perhaps go for the shoulders, sleeves and side. Take them over to your sewing machine. Press them. After this sew them all and you can save some time without taking shortcuts...

5) Taking Unnecessary Shortcuts

The reason why there are instructions is for you to follow the steps precisely.

If you think your life will be much better skipping stages then you are completely mistaken.

There is no shortcut for success. It involves hard work and perseverance.

Attaining a quality sewn garment simply cannot be achieved if you keep on looking for the easy fix. You might succeed at first but it's not an enduring strategy. This is particularly true for most beginners. You are likely to make more mistakes and thus need to carry out alterations in the process.

More haste, less speed.

Take pride in your work and look towards achieving fine results rather than shaving off time. You are supposed to be enjoying yourself so ease up and do things properly.

6) Giving Up in the Process of Learning

Everyone makes mistakes, no one is exempted from that.

Some sewers, when starting out, even fail to perfect a single garment after trying many times.

Letting those failures provoke you to give up only means that your efforts and time have been wasted. Don't quit!

The most valuable thing about any mistake is learning from it. This helps you to avoid repeating it. Take note of what went wrong and ask yourself why it happened. Stop and think.

Things like creating a button hole on the wrong pocket or accidentally cutting the fabric leaving a hole in it... Classic and understandable errors. Everyone has experienced those things. And it’s perfectly normal. Even the best designers in the world at one time needed to replace damaged fabric.

Making mistakes is part of the learning experience. You should let your mistakes become your best teacher to hone a better you.

Never give up and never let failure get in the way of your sewing aspirations.

Keep in mind that those who give up never win.

You will in time get to perfect everything just continue until you get it all right.


Read the next pair of articles which will deal with more things which often go wrong when you are a beginner using a sewing machine.

Take heart: it's not you, these things happen to everybody. Be aware of things to avoid, though, and you are less likely to slip up.

Read more: Mistakes Beginners Make With Sewing Machines: Part 2

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