4 Simple Sewing Tricks to Save Money

When I was young, my family had very little money. All of my clothes were thrift store veterans and cheap as heck, and really not worth saving once they had something wrong with them. In the last several years I’ve started occasionally buying nice clothes, and discovered how much more traumatic it is when a $200 suit is torn than when it’s a $3.50 pair of canvas shorts. Fortunately, after surviving so long on a shoestring budget, I’ve learned several sewing tips and tricks that help me extend the life of my clothes long past what I’d have thought was their expiration date.

Sew button “tags” instead of just looping the thread

A common mistake is to sew a button as tightly to the fabric as possible after it falls off. Don’t do this! It puckers the fabric and increases tension. To save not only the thread holding the button but the fabric itself, leave about a quarter of an inch between the button and the fabric when you sew it in–then, tightly wrap the end of the thread around the loose bit several times, creating a “standing tag.” Your clothes will be less stressed and fit better, too!

Learn to tie a perfect sewing knot

One of the worst things about sewing a seam is having to re-sew it when it tears again. A good way to avoid this is to make your sewing knot tight and indestructible the first time! Wet the tip of your index finger (licking it works fine), loop the end of the thread around it once, then slide it firmly off your finger with your thumb. Pull the loop tight, and there should be a big impenetrable scraggly knot at the end that you can’t break through with a chainsaw.

Beware of weakened cloth

When a seam rips, don’t sew it back in the exact same place. That cloth is weakened now; it’ll drastically improve the chances of that seam surviving the next abrupt movement if you move it a quarter of an inch to one direction or another. If not, next time it might not be the thread that rips, but the fabric itself, which is much harder to repair.

Abuse clear nail polish

Super quick “cheat”: Is there a hem that wants to unravel? A hook and eye or button that looks a little weak in the thread? Paint it with clear nail polish! Let dry for 10 minutes and you should be good to go!

Nascar Sewing Project for Teens

Teen girls will love this simple Nascar themed sewing project. If your teenage daughter is a huge fan of Nascar, which has the largest growing fan population of any sport, then this simple sewing craft is a great way for her to create a Nascar theme pillow for her room.

To Make This Nascar Sewing Craft Your Teen Will Need:

Fabric (options to be discussed)

Interfacing

Scissors

Sewing Machine

Scissors

Pillow Form

So, you have quite a few fabric options with this Nascar pillow sewing project. My personally favorite is to use a Nascar t shirt and recycle it into a pillow. You can determine the best 2 squares of fabric and cut them out.

Focus on the number of yoru favorite driver and other fun details that will make your pillow pop.

Another idea is to create your own fabric. You can buy fabric in your favorite driver’s colors. Now, use stencil, rubber stamps with fabric ink, or simple fabric paint to paint on the car number.

You can also use fabric paint pens to outline this detail. Get creative here. You can recycle old sheets for free fabric or even any old clothes.

Now, measure your pillow form. These can come in many shapes and sizes, but stick to a square pillow form for the easiest Nascar sewing craft for your teen.

Add 2 inches on to the length and width of the pillow cover. So, if your pillow is 8X8 inches, then cut out fabric to 10X10 inches.

Lay the front panel face up on your table. You can iron some fusible interfacing to the back if you are using a super light weight fabric. Now, Top this off with the back panel face down on the fabric.

Sew along 3 sides with a ½ inch seam allowance. I like to leave most of the bottom open, but you can sew the corners and only leave an inch opening in the bottom. This will make the corners on your Nascar pillow craft look the best.

Now, turn the Nascar pillow sewing craft inside out. Poke out the corners using a pointy tool Scissors work well, but avoid punching through or cutting through the corners.

Now, insert the pillow form. You can also simply stuff with pillow fluff from the craft store.

Fold the opening shut to create neat edges and simply sew shut. Use a thread that matches the fabric on your Nascar pillow and it will blend away!

Trim any thread ends and your Nascar pillow craft is finshed.

A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Sewing Supplies

Shopping for sewing supplies in a fabric or craft store can be daunting. If you have recently made the decision to try your hand at sewing and are unsure of what you need to purchase, I will help you. I have made a list of the things the average person will need to buy to get started. In no time you will be able to navigate these stores with confidence on your own. Let’s get started.

The first thing you need to do is get a best sewing machine if you do not already have one. This is like buying a television. You can get a decent one that is relatively inexpensive, or you can decide to go for the top of the line machine and spend a lot. You should base your decision on your experience level. If you’ve never tried sewing in your life and are not sure if you will even like it, go for the most basic model you can find.

These machines will cost you an average of $100. Do not confuse these simple sewing machines with the junked ones they make for kids. You want a real sewing machine. They come with instruction manuals, but if you are really timid about threading it for the first time you should ask your salesperson for assistance. Most of these people will be happy to use the display model as an example to show you how it works.

When you are buying your sewing machine, you should also get a bottle of sewing machine oil. This is a very important item to have. Your sewing machine is like your car, it needs to be lubricated on a regular basis or it will stop working.

You will need sewing machine needles. These are sold with the hand sewing needles. They come in different sizes. You should always get the “skip free” needles. This is to prevent skipped stitches. If you plan to sew a lightweight fabric, you should get size 11 needles. For medium weight fabrics, you should use size 14. They even make special needles for sewing denim. Your sewing machine needles should be replaced frequently. Ideally, you need to change your needle with every item sewn. They are inexpensive, a couple of dollars for a package of five, so buy several packages.

Thread is another item you will need to buy. I do not recommend purchasing the cheap thread that is sold for a dollar or less. This thread is not strong and will cause your projects to fall apart rather quickly. I buy Gutermann thread, or Coats brand thread. These spools are about four or five dollars apiece, but I assure you, it is money well spent. Always buy the all purpose thread for use with your sewing machine. It is best to match your thread to the fabric you want to sew.

You will need to buy a package of bobbins. These little plastic things are filled with your thread on your sewing machine in a matter of seconds. It’s very easy and your sewing machine manual will explain how to do this. Buy lots of bobbins and always fill one with each new thread you buy. This way you will be prepared when you get ready to sew. Bobbins are also inexpensive.

You will need a package of straight pins. I like the kind with the large, colorful plastic heads. You need to do a lot of pinning when you are sewing, so buy good ones. A pin cushion is nice to have, but not really necessary. You can keep them in the plastic package they come in.

You will need a good pair of fabric shears. Don’t settle for the cheapest here. Splurge on a good pair and do not allow anyone to use them for anything but fabric. This is important. Using your fabric scissors for paper or hair will cause them to get dull, and they could get nicked. Pinking shears are the ones with the zig-zag edge. These are nice to have, but not necessary.

Get a seam ripper. Unfortunately, you will need this at some point. They come in two sizes. I would buy both if I were you. Both sizes will be handy to have, depending on the fabric you are working with. These can be purchased for a dollar each. Seam ripper’s are not an item you need to spend a lot of money on.

Pick out your sewing project. Decide what you want to make and buy a pattern. There are patterns for everything you can imagine. Allow yourself time to sit on the stools in the store and look through the pattern books unrushed. This is part of the fun. Choose a project that is in comparison to your skills. If you have no special skills yet, that’s OK. Find a pattern marked “easy” and you’ll do fine. This is important because there are some very complicated patterns out there. If you frighten yourself on your first try, it will be hard to try again.

Read the back of your pattern and find out how much fabric you need. If you are unsure of how to do this, ask for help. Don’t be shy. If you are new to sewing, I don’t advise buying expensive fabric the first few times. Start out with simple cottons. Again, I don’t recommend purchasing the one dollar per yard fabrics. Some of these are inferior and can wear out quickly. You will learn how to spot quality as you go. You won’t go wrong if you stick to the mid-priced fabrics for now.

A very important item in the sewing room is an iron and ironing board. You can get a decent iron from the dollar store. Your iron will be necessary when ironing out your patterns and fabrics, but you do not need to spend a lot of money for it.

Now you are ready to sew. Obviously, there are many more items you can purchase for this hobby, but that will come later. For now, get to know your sewing machine and make sure that this is something you intend to continue doing in the future.

I bought a very simple sewing machine for myself twelve years ago. I had no sewing skills and I did not take any classes. I taught myself how to use my sewing machine and made a lot of sun dress sets for my little girl. Since then I have upgraded my sewing machine twice and my little girl is now fourteen. She is no longer interested in homemade clothing, so I’ve taken up quilting. Sewing is a very satisfying hobby and can save you quite a bit of money in the long run.

Sewing a Decorative Pillow for Beginners

Learning to sew is a dying art. Sewing was once an essential skill to our fore mothers. It was necessary for women to be able to sew garments and bedding for their families and to mend any rips or tears. Stores at one time carried very few ready made clothing and that was in limited sizes and styles. Young girls would first learn to sew doing basic projects such as pillows, aprons, and samplers. And sewing a decorative pillow is a great beginners sewing project.

To start your craft project you will need: ¼ yard of 100% cotton material, thread, poly-fill stuffing, sewing machine, pencil, ruler, and large sheet of paper.

Before you get started sewing you need to get acquainted with your sewing machine. Follow the instructions in your machine’s owner’s manual wind the bobbin with your thread. Now thread your machine. Next get a piece of scrap material to practice sewing. Get yourself familiar with straight stitching and back stitching. Once you have practice sewing to the point you feel pretty comfortable with your sewing machine, you can buy your material for your pillow.

For beginning sewers I recommend using 100% cotton broad fabric. Since cotton is popular to work with it comes in a large variety of colors and patterns. You will need to purchase ¼ of a yard of fabric for this project. After you have purchased your fabric you will need to wash it before using. Washing the fabric pre-shrinks the fabric and removes any sizing or chemicals it the fabric. Now you will want to iron the fabric and cut away any loose threads, smooth fabric is a lot easier to work with so don’t skip this step.

Now for our pattern to keep things simple I suggest making your own. Take the large sheet of paper and draw a 12″X12″ square and cut it out, now you have your pattern. See that was easy. Now fold the fabric into half and pin on the pattern use plenty of pins to secure the pattern. Next cut the fabric around your pillow pattern. After cutting out your pillow pattern it is time to sew.

First remove the pins and pattern leaving only the fabric. Now take the fabric pieces apart and pin them together with right (printed) sides facing each other. Be sure to leave a four inch opening on one end. Now place the fabric onto the sewing machine with your starting point at one end of the opening. Back stitch to lock the seam then straight stitch the fabric leaving a 5/8″ seam allowance. When you reach the corner lifted the pressure foot and turn the fabric 90*, lower the pressure foot and continue sew. Repeat until you reach the opening now back stitch, remove the pillow, and cut away the threads.

Now you need to trim the seam allowances at the corners to approximately ¼ “. Next turn the pillow right side out; you may need to use a pencil (erase end) to push out the corners. Here comes the fun part stuffing. Tear off handfuls of the poly-fill and stuff your pillow until it is nice and firm. And now to finish off your pillow, hand stitch the opening closed.

Look you’ve done it! You have completed your first sewing project. And you have a beautiful new pillow to enjoy.

Singer Quik Stitch Sewing Machine Review

I found the Singer Quik Stitch sewing machine at Target for about $50 after looking all over the place for a beginner’s sewing machine. I recently gained an interest in sewing but wasn’t sure if the hobby would stick so I didn’t want to invest a lot of money (and didn’t have the money to invest) into a sewing machine if it turned out that I wasn’t going to use it.

The Singer Quik Stitch sewing machine is a small, portable machine with eight different stitching options. This was the reason I chose this product among other beginning sewing machines that only had one kind of stitching option. I was looking for a zig zag stitch and this sewing machine gave me two of them.

After looking literally all over town, I was delighted to finally find what I was looking for, so I brought it home. Now, I will say I had some initial trouble with it but I will also admit that the trouble I had was due to operator error. If I had read the instructions sooner, I would have known how to thread the sewing needle and wind the bobbin properly. Fortunately, I managed to muddle through thanks to the instructions. Once I got my act together, the sewing machine performed beautifully.

It is lightweight, yet durable. I can store it away when I am finished with it, unlike larger sewing machines. It has a helpful foot pedal to control the speed and pace of the sewing and a reverse feed option. I have had brief negative encounters in the past with other beginning sewing machines which I promptly returned. This sewing machine I expect to have for a long time. I know that Singer is a good product and this Quik Stitch sewing machine is great for quick hems or craft projects. It will do just about anything you want it to do in the way of sewing at a beginning level.

If you are an experienced sew crafter or hobbyist, then I recommend a sewing machine that is more experienced with more options, but if you are like me and are unsure as to what you are doing but are interested in learning about sewing, this is the perfect beginning sewing machine for you.

A Simple Porjects: Sewing Burp Cloths With This Tutorial

Every new mom needs a stack of burp cloths but somehow they have managed to miss out on the cuteness that other baby items have been given. Let’s face it most burp cloths are plain white and boring. Burp cloths however are easy to make, even when you have little to no sewing experience, and when you make your own you can make them as cute as you want them to be. Here are three great tutorials for making your own burp cloths.

One Crafty Home: Terry Cloth Burp Cloths – DIY Tutorial

Sarah shares a great tutorial on how to make burp cloths using terry cloth on her blog One Crafty Home. I love the idea of using terry cloth to make burp cloths because of their absorbency. Another great thing about using terry cloth is you can use towels that have been bought on sale to make these instead of having to buy the terry cloth from the fabric store, which can save you a ton of money. Sarah’s tutorial is extremely well-written with step-by-step instructions and is accompanied by photos of each step of the sewing process. I love when images of the entire process are included in a tutorial because I am a very visual person and the pictures keep me on track. You can find Sarah’s Terry Cloth Burp Cloths DIY Tutorial by visiting her blog One Crafty Home.

Steph Jacobson: Fabric Strip Burp Cloth

I love scrap buster projects and that is exactly what this Fabric Strip Burp Cloth from Steph Jacobson is. Made entirely from scraps this burp cloth is absolutely adorable. This is one of those sewing projects that I love because the cost is virtually nothing since you are using up your scraps that have been leftover from previous projects. Again this tutorial features well written step-by-step instructions with pictures of the entire sewing process. Find the tutorial for this Fabric Strip Burp Cloth by visiting the Steph Jacobson blog.

Made by Rae: The Best Burp Cloths

I love these burp cloths from Made by Rae, they are super, super simple to make and are perfect for someone just learning how to sew. The top layer of the burp cloth is made using a single layer gauze fabric or quilting cotton with the bottom layer made from a cotton tee-shirt. The rectangle design makes cutting the fabric for this project a breeze and it takes only a matter of minutes to sew it together, which means you can make up a huge stack of these burp cloths in no time.

Brother CS6000i Feature Rich Sewing Machine Review

Sewing, embroidery and quilting have always been crafts enjoyed by certain people, especially women. Sewing has already evolved from being a craft done by hands to produce different products such as clothes, bags, handkerchiefs, and linen through manual sewing machines. After the manual machines, came the electronic ones that are now slowly being combined with computerized models. The Brother CS6000i is a computerized electronic sewing machine that has numerous stitching functions and designs that can produce not only sewing stitches but embroidery and quilting as well.

Since it is computerized, the controls are programmable to suit user’s requirements. Speed, stitch sizes and lengths can be customized, as well as the fabric tension to produce smooth and perfect stitches. Its programmable features make the Brother CS6000i ideal for mass production due to its versatility when used on different kinds of garments that are made of denim, wool, leather and other delicate fabrics. Its program enables the user to work twice as fast as using the normal electronic sewing machines. The total working time is cut half at least since different functions may be programmed instead of working on each one after the other.

Following are further advantages of the Brother CS6000i:

  • 1. Small and lightweight

The Brother CS6000i is small that it can be place on any table top. Despite its numerous functions, the machine still weighs less which makes it portable. It does not consume much space so you do not have to work in a large room nor do you need a large storage place. It is also portable though you may want to be extra careful not to lose the cover since it does not come with a clip and may be detached from the machine itself.

  • 2. User-friendly

You do not need to be computer-literate to operate the Brother CS6000i. The machine is programmed and may be adjusted through its easy-to-understand buttons.

  • 3. Affordability

The Brother CS6000i comes complete with full accessories so you will not have to spend more to maximize the machine’s capabilities. Spending at most $200 for the machine is very affordable considering what you can do with the Brother CS6000i sewing machine.

  • 4. Versatility

Using the Brother CS6000i sewing machine enables you to use different stitching designs which may be used not only for sewing but for embroidery and quilting as well.

As you have read some reviews on this product, you will be able to know if this is something that you want to get for yourself or not. What is important is that you will get your money’s worth.

The Ladder Stitch – A Useful Hand Sewing Technique

Hand sewing is a useful skill to have. Whether you want to make a quilt or mend an article of clothing, the ability to hand sew is invaluable and the techniques such as the ladder stitch are easy to learn and master. This stitch is perfect for those hard-to-reach places that a machine can’t easily access.

The ladder stitch is a specific hand sewing stitch used to join two pieces of fabric “invisibly,” or without the thread showing. While it is technically impossible for the thread not to show, this technique bares as little of the inner workings of the stitching as possible. The most common applications for the ladder stitch are sewing hems or seams, but it may be used for other applications as well.

To execute the ladder stitch, thread a hand sewing needle of the appropriate gauge for the fabric you are using. Fine fabrics require fine needles, while denser fabrics, like denim, use larger needles. Fold the raw edges of the fabric under. Bring the needle through a small piece of one side of the folded fabric, just below the fold. Only the fold is sewn, rendering the stitching nearly invisible. The needle is drawn back and forth horizontally through each side of the fabric, the stitches resembling the rungs of a ladder.

Some individuals cannot learn to hand stitch via textual descriptions. Craft Magazine has created an excellent video demonstration of this stitch that can be found here.

Because it is invisible or near invisible, the ladder stitch has a distinct advantage over other popular hand stitches like the running stitch or back stitch while providing the same amount of durability and strength to the finished sewn item, if not more-so. In addition to the strength added by using the ladder stitch, the time commitment needed to perform this stitch is significantly less than, say, the time needed to sew a garment with a backstitch. The invisibility of the seam lends a finished, neat appearance to a hand-stitched garment.Take note that while no stitch is completely invisible, using a thread that matches your fabric will minimize the appearance of this strong, subtle stitching method. For a wild and funky look, experiment with a contrasting or complimentary thread color.

Tips on Sewing Pockets on Tricky Fabrics

Sewing pockets on tricky fabrics can be difficult. Here are some tips:

Stripes or Plaids

Changing direction when using stripes or plaids can add an exciting design element to the garment. When turning the direction of the grainline, consider how this element affects the look of the garment and whether the cost of the additional fabric needed is justified when using bias. Bias pockets made from stripes or plaids require stabilizing; changing the lengthwise grainline to the crosswise grainline may produce some stretching. Stabilize the entire pocket, or use stay tape at the upper edge to prevent stretching.

Sheer Fabrics

Sheer fabrics fall into two categories: firmly woven, such as organdy or softer sheer, such as chiffon. When working with these fabrics, extra care must be taken in cutting and sewing. For greater accuracy in cutting and sewing, use tissue paper over and under the fabric.

Purchase a package of multicolored gift tissue and use a color that is similar to the fabric you are using, whether it is a solid or a print. The tissue tears away easily, but if tiny bits are left within the seam allowance, it will be less noticeable than white tissue paper.

A detail such as a pocket that is functional needs to be underlined. Pockets in sheer fabrics such as georgette or batiste can be underlined using another firm sheer fabric such as silk organza for support.

A decorative pocket such as a gathered pocket made from chiffon can be self-lined.

Always match the fabric to the use. A fabric can be made to work in a way for which it was not intended as a design statement. In order for it to look well made, it must complement and enhance the design, as well as be impeccably constructed.

Lace, Beaded, Velvet, and Satin Fabrics

These very special-care fabrics that require particular attention to careful handling can all be stitched as in-seam pockets. Because of the potential bulkiness of velvet and lace, a facing pocket paired with lining will reduce the bulk and produce a smooth, flat pocket. When using beaded fabrics for in-seam pockets, all of the beading should be removed from the surface of the pocket fabric before stitching. Satin fabrics will often show ridging on the surface of the garment if serging is used to finish seams; finish the seam edges of the pocket with sheer seams for the flattest, smoothest finish.

Knits

Any type of pocket could conceivably be made in knit fabric, but the success of the pocket style depends on the weight and stretch of the knit. For example, you would not put a tailored, welt pocket into slinky knit. The stretch of the knit would completely prevent the finished pocket from interacting with the drape of the knit. Patch pockets are often found on stable knit garments that are heavier weight. In-seam pockets are most often used on skirts, dresses, and pants made from knit fabric.

Denim

All styles of pockets are fabulous in denim. Sample the style of pocket you want to use before placing it onto or into the garment.

Leather

Any style of pocket that can be made in fabric can also be made in leather. Lighter weight skins of leather have some give and require stabilizing (only use low-temperature fusible) to prevent stretching. Test several weights and types of interfacing on sample pieces of leather to obtain a perfect match. Use stabilizer tape at the top edge of leather pockets to prevent the pocket opening from stretching. Use craft glue to position patch pockets on the surface of a leather garment.