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20 Ways to Improve Your Sewing

Improve your sewing by marking things that matter
Prioritize pattern size for a better fit
Learn the difference between topstitching and edgestitching
Improve your sewing by marking things that matter

Improve your sewing by marking things that matter

Clip to the stitch

16. Clip to the stitch, don't stitch to the clip
Many patterns (especially those with V necks) tell us to clip and then stitch to the end of the clip. This can be very difficult when the fabric frays easily, or when we lose sight of the end of the clip under the presser foot. It's much easier to mark the point to be clipped to, stitch to this point, stop in the needle-down position, lift the presser foot, and then carefully clip to the stitch. Then lower the presser foot and complete the seam.

17. Interfacing is a discretionary material!

Don't just follow the pattern; treat the suggestions in your pattern or guide book as starting points and use your own hands and eyes to tell you what areas in this garment need support or body. Examine your own clothes (actually open the linings!) to discover how ready-to-wear uses interfacing to get results you like-it's got to be either the fabric or the interfacing, or both. And don't just buy a basic interfacing or two and use them everywhere; start a collection and test each one.

Also, don't be afraid to layer a favorite interfacing until you get the effect you want, or to use more than one type of interfacing in the same garment. In fact, it's sensible to use a heavier interfacing in a lapel, a lighter-weight one in a jacket front, and a medium-weight one in a hem, even if it isn't suggested in the pattern. That's how it's done in ready-to-wear.

18. Deal with ambitious seams in sections

For example, when sewing a seam that will involve matching up crossing seams or details (two sides of a waistline, yokes, piping, and so on), stitch only a few inches at the point of intersection. Stop, check to see whether the cross seams line up, adjust if necessary, and then complete the seam.

Stitch a curved edge

19. It's easier to stitch a curved edge than to press a curve
Forget about using those metal corner-shaping templates (unless you can find a way to use them without burning your fingers) or turning up along a stitched line. Instead, simply line and turn all curved pockets, flaps, and similar details. It's faster, simpler, and cleaner.

20. Sewing is, above all, a sensual and emotional experience
Don't even begin a project if you don't love the color and enjoy the feel of the fabric. Fit may be flawless, design stunning, workmanship impeccable, but if the fabric doesn't appeal to the senses, you'll never wear it.

Drawings: Karen Meyer

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Comments (5)

MurielM MurielM writes: About the diagram for #4, when it is turned, would not the outside curve then be an inside curve, and vice versa? Or am I just seeing it wrong?
Posted: 10:41 am on July 25th

user-3957048 user-3957048 writes: The diagram that shows when to clip a slit and when to clip a V is the wrong way around.

On an external curve, clipping a slit is correct. There is less fabric on the outer edge than on the seam, so the curve will spread these slits apart to allow the outer perimeter to be larger than the inner one. You don't need to clip a V.

On an internal curve, the perimeter at the outer edge is larger than at the seam. It needs to squash up into a smaller space so to you need to clip V notches to prevent the fabric from overlapping and being lumpy. The Vs will just look like slits around the curve once it's clipped.

You have Vs on the external and slits on the internal - please correct the diagram: 79-improve-your-sewing-04.jpg - move the V shaped bits above the internal curve.
Posted: 9:55 am on June 28th

sewingbeginner sewingbeginner writes: This helped alot with the placement and how to do the pockets in the seam of a ready made dress.
Posted: 12:24 pm on July 5th

katzber katzber writes:
As a sewer of 40+ years, I recognize good advice and there's a lot of it here.


Posted: 6:40 am on April 18th

rosb rosb writes: I thought this was well thought out & the last comment is so true so I recently donated all my bits to a migrant learn to sew group & its interesting to see my pieces of fabric walking around the streets all made up & someone has fallen in love with them. Some of these fabrics I have kept for many years carting them around the globe then thinking what made me buy that its not me
Posted: 6:48 pm on December 15th

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