Mistakes Beginners Make With Sewing Machines: Part 2

Mistakes Beginners Make With Sewing Machines: Part 2

Today we will continue in our 3 part series about common mistakes made by beginners with their sewing machines.

Everybody makes errors but knowing how to avoid them helps.

Don't be scared to experiment but steer clear of the usual mishaps by arming yourself with as much information as possible.

Here are 6 more pitfalls to sidestep when you are starting out with your sewing machine...

1) Not Knowing When It's Time To Rest

Often, when you are just starting out, projects can seem incredibly complex.

There might be a time when you keep on getting stuck with a specific step. Sometimes you might keep repeating the same thing and ending up with the same result. Your frustration and anger grows. The temptation is there to quit.

Do not think that taking a break is admitting defeat. The reverse is true. You should be enjoying yourself so if you find out that something keeps going wrong, take a step back and think about why.

You know how you best relax. For some people it might be taking a walk while others enjoy hitting the fridge for some ice cream. Simply leave the sewing machine and get some perspective.

Come back when you are calm and study exactly what went wrong and caused you to get stuck. Do some research.

You'll often find that a very brief pitstop helps you to return with renewed focus and determination.

2) Sewing For Other People Without Knowing The Basics

Many people who do not sew think that garments simply sew themselves with the right machine. Nothing could be further from the truth. While sewing is incredibly enjoyable, it's also very hard work.

Take plenty of time before you start sewing for others to fully get to grips with the basics that you need to sew well. Practice, practice, practice.

One good tip is not even to tell other people that you have a sewing machine. It might be hard to contain your excitement but you are better off to devote the time to learning your craft before undertaking projects for others. Whether this takes the form of commercial work or a favor, do not heap on extra pressure by needing to consider other people.

Friends and family often have no real concept of the time involved in sewing something well. They also seem to think that custom made clothing is cheap. Be firm and set down boundaries.

The most important thing for beginners is to feel comfortable with their machine and to think of their own needs first.

3) Not Learning The Terminology of Sewing

When you are starting to sew, the large number of technical terms can seem bewildering.

Be realistic. It's not like learning another new language. There are a finite number of special words or phrases which keep on cropping up. Do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with as many of these as possible.

Whether it's the features of particular garments, sewing techniques or the parts of a sewing machine, the more you can commit to memory the better. Increase your understanding. Look at learning this new craft as a challenge not a chore.

If you learn best as you go along then do it in this way rather than attempting to memorize long lists of words. This approach is more practical and you can see what you are learning in context.

However you choose to learn, do not overlook the importance of being well versed in the terminology of sewing.

4) Failing To Prepare The Fabric

Shortcuts usually lead to failure. A lack of preparation is inexcusable.

It's understandable that you are eager to get going when you have a new project in mind but you need to get started in the right way.

Some materials require washing or dry cleaning before use. Denim needs to be popped in the machine while wool requires dry cleaning.

Material can often shrink after washing so doing this before making something new from the fabric is crucial if you want the finished article to fit!

Interfacing, lining and trim also often needs to be preshrunk too. If this shrinks up and the garment doesn't, it will still do you no good.

Make sure that any accessories which you sew on to your garment are compatible. It's no use lining a machine washable blouse with a dry clean only trim.

Be patient and take your time before wading in. You will avoid many mistakes and unwearable pieces of clothing if you exercise caution and prepare properly.

5) Not Learning To Read a Sewing Pattern

Patterns are clearly critical. Every symbol, marking and label has a specific meaning.

If there is something on the pattern that seems alien, take the opportunity to learn what it means. Use whatever resources you feel most comfortable with, online or offline, and make it your business to find out.

Think of the time you invest here as a saving in money potentially wasted if you ruin the garment you are working on.

Check out this outstanding guide which will help you to differentiate between the markings commonly found on sewing patterns.

If you skip this and try to avoid learning, it could be a costly mistake.

6) Choosing a Pattern That Needs Major Changes

If you are just beginning to use your sewing machine, the very last thing you need is to be faced with major alterations. Even something demanding a large number of smaller changes is to avoided. Keep it simple.

When you are starting out, choose something like a pillow or scarf. These small projects are great and do not bring with them the need to start embarking on serious alterations.

In particular you should avoid:

  • Redesigning or combing patterns
  • Bust alterations
  • Resizing or grading patterns

Think about your own strengths and weaknesses. How much do you relish a challenge? Do you want an easier life? Be honest about exactly what you want from using your sewing machine. Don't bite off more than you can chew.

You can always build up to more complex projects but it's best to do so slowly.

Check out the final part in this series for 6 more mistakes to watch out for when you are beginning to use your sewing machine.

Read more: Mistakes Beginners Make With Sewing Machines: Part 3

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