So, now you’ve done all of the necessary prep work and it’s finally time to do what you’ve been eager to do –
sew your project!
Here are a few more important things you need to know:
Follow the instructions in your guide sheet
It’s best to read through your entire guide sheet before starting your project. This is so you'll be familiar
with any special terms or instructions the guide sheet may provide.
Your guide sheet will tell you, step by step, how to construct your item. But keep in mind that these
instructions are very basic. For instance, the instructions may not tell you to finish the raw edges of your
seam allowances or when to trim and clip them (see further down). So keep this in mind as you sew.
And as your skill increases, you’ll often find you can deviate from the pattern instructions, perhaps finding a
more efficient order in which to complete the steps. You may even reach a point where you can work
without the pattern instructions entirely.
Terms you may see in your guidesheet:
This is a seam that is stitched slightly inside the seamline of a fabric piece to keep the edge from
stretching out of shape as it’s being handled and sewn. Staystitching is often used on curved areas
such as necklines and armholes.
This is a type of stitching that’s used to fit one section of a garment into another, such as a sleeve
into an armhole. To easestitch, baste 5/8” from the edge of your fabric (assuming you’re using a 5/8”
seam allowance). Pull the end of one of the thread tails to take in the fabric slightly.
This technique is used to pull a length of fabric together for a shirred effect, such as for a ruffle or a
full skirt. To gather fabric, make two rows of basting stitches about 1/2" and 3/4”from the fabric
edge. Pull on either the top thread tails or the bottom thread tails (not both) to take up the fabric.
Press as you sew
Pressing is a necessary part of sewing. You’ll be spending about as much time at your ironing board as you
will at your sewing machine. So before you start to sew, set up your iron and ironing board close to your
sewing area for convenience.
After sewing each seam, stop to press it before moving on to your next sewing step. Press seams open
unless otherwise indicated in your pattern instructions.
Pressing is a step that’s tempting to skip, but it’s very important if you want your finished item to look
nice. If you don’t press as you sew, your item will likely end up looking very “homemade.”
For detailed instructions on pressing as you sew, see How to Press.
Trim and clip seam allowances as necessary
Sometimes you’ll need to trim or clip a seam allowance. This is done to reduce bulk in the seam allowance
so it lies flat when it’s turned.
Apply interfacing as needed
Fit as you sew
If you’re making a garment, make adjustments to the fit as you construct it. Pin sections together first, try
the garment piece on (carefully, so you don’t get stuck by a pin), and make adjustments to the fit before
sewing the permanent seams. Or you may want to baste sections together first, then try your garment
piece on. Remove the basting stitches once the permanent seams have been sewn.
The desire to whip through a project quickly to finish it can be overwhelming. But it really is a good idea to
“fit as you sew.” You wouldn’t want to end up with an item that’s well-made and beautiful, but doesn’t fit
Finish your seams, if desired
A seam finish is used on the raw edge of a seam allowance to keep it from raveling. It can also add a
professional-looking touch to an item, producing a neat, clean seam edge that makes an item look as nice
on the inside as it does on the outside.
It’s not necessary to finish your seams, it’s a personal preference. You also don’t need to finish seams that
will be enclosed or on fabric that doesn’t ravel.
Your pattern instructions likely won’t tell you when or how to finish your seams. But as a general rule, finish
a seam before crossing it with another seam.
For detailed instructions on various seam-finishing techniques, see Seam Finishes.
Learn to Sew Lesson #11: Sew Your Project!
|Sewing Information, Advice, How-to