Overcome Your Fears And Start Sewing

by Fatema Ali
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Sewing can be intimidating for newbies who have never or have very rarely touched a sewing machine or cut through metres of fabric. As a self-taught sewist myself I've experienced them and I know those fears can hold you back from enjoying what is actually a very satisfying and creative hobby.

Don't let your fears keep you from starting a new hobby, or re-visiting it. Once you know some of the things to expect you can prepare for it which will give you more confidence to have a go.

These 3 crucial points are a great start to helping you to overcome any fears of sewing;

Your sewing machine won't break and neither will you

So you've finally bought a new sewing machine or you've got a hand-me-down from your mum but now its just sitting on your table looking pretty and crying out for it to be used. You might be thinking you have no idea where to start (this article sewing machine glossary may help) but when you have figured out all the different parts of your sewing machine the best way to learn is to just start.

Just like learning how to use a computer, you don't have to become overwhelmed by all the folders, software and hardware. Just take it one step at a time. If I told you the computer would break you'd probably laugh, unless of course you throw it at the wall (please don't do that). The fear is just a feeling and the machine can probably withstand a lot more than you think.

Once you get a piece of fabric under the foot and are ready to put your foot on the pedal, take it slow and steady. If its your first time put the pedal with the incline facing you and use your upper half of the foot to control the amount of pressure you put on it. This will control the speed of the sewing machine.

The needle is the only thing you really need to watch out for so just make sure your fingers are well away from it. Hold your fabric gently with your left hand on the left side and right hand in front of you so you can gently ease the fabric through in a straight line.

Many sewists have different ways of placing their hands on the fabric and using the pedal; with experience you will find a way that is easy and comfortable for you.

Measure twice, cut once

You may have heard this one before. Cutting into fabric was one of my biggest fears especially if I didn't have a pattern to follow. I would keep measuring until I was sure it was correct, even for the simplest cuts. These are the things to look out for;

  • double-check the measurements (especially if you are converting them from inches to cms)
  • check the grainline is straight
  • check that you have included the seam allowance (if its not included in the pattern)
  • make sure the fabric is completely flat and accessible to cut
  • check that you not accidentally cutting into layers of fabric (unless you intend to)
  • use sharp scissors or a sharp rotary cutter to prevent snags

But you don't have to be too cautious. Once you get into the habit of checking it will become more familiar and you won't need to keep reminding yourself.

Avoid procrastination

You might find yourself putting off sewing for another day and it is probably down to your fears. Its easier to feel good about wanting to sew but not really doing it because you think you will mess it up. But everyone makes mistakes.
No-one was ever born an expert and we all started with the same fears. You just need to know that you will make mistakes and that is alright because you learn from them. Some common mistakes I've made are;

  • cutting the fabric with the print upside down
  • not threading the machine properly - reel and bobbin
  • sewing fabric right side to wrong side (instead of wrong sides together)
  • sewing with fabric caught up under the seam (more common than you think)
  • sewing the left sleeve to the right side

You can avoid most mistakes by taking things slowly, double-checking and focusing on the job.

I hope these tips help you to overcome your fears and you feel more confident to start sewing.






by Fatema Ali


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