How to be Crafty: Sewing

how to be crafty

So, you've always dreamed of sewing your own clothes, curtains, or even just a napkin or two. But it seems too complex or time-consuming, or you've never even picked up a needle and thread and have no idea where to start. Sound familiar? I've certainly been there. Although I did have a bit of sewing experience growing up, I'd never sewn any clothes, and my first sewing project as an adult was mending the binding on my bathmat. 

Since mending that first bathmat, I've managed to make a quilt or two, sew up a few things for the kids, and most recently began sewing clothes for myself. There's definitely a bit of a learning curve, but I'm here to help you through it. Here are some tips that will hopefully motivate you, no matter how much experience you may have with sewing. 

bare necessities

Bare Necessities

First off, you really don't need a lot to get started sewing. It's just stitching two pieces of fabric together, after all. And the only two things you really need are a needle and thread. But a pair of fabric scissors, some pins, and a seam ripper will get you going. If you already have a sewing machine then great, if not don't feel like you have to go off rushing to buy one (unless you have the money and know that you'll use it).

Start Simple

Like, I said, my first self-motivated sewing project wasn't anything fancy. Sewing binding onto the edge of a bathmat is about as boring as it gets. But starting with something small will familiarize you with the basics of sewing while also boosting your crafting confidence.

And mending is an excellent introduction to sewing. Shortening hems, patching knees, and stitching lose seams will not only help you save money in the long run, but you'll also find yourself seeing how many other things you can mend before tossing.

Learning the basics will give you the skills you need move on to bigger and more challenging projects. And if you already have a bit of experience, but still don't have the confidence to move on to something like sewing your own clothes, try a simpler version of what you'd like to move on to.

I was anxious over sewing garments for myself for the longest time, but got comfortable with sewing clothes for my easier-to-dress kids. This helped me in understanding how the parts of a shirt or dress go together, and then, once I felt comfortable enough, I mustered up the courage to make my own dress (and it turned out wonderfully).

So, if you'd love to make a queen-sized quilt for your bed but aren't quite ready, start off with some quilted pot holders, a wall hanging, or a pillowcase. Then move on to the bigger part. Of course, you can always dive head first into the challenging projects, too!

Mess Up

Give yourself permission to make mistakes! We all do eventually, and it's the best way to learn how to make things better the next time. Although I'm not always fond of my seam ripper, it's definitely a lifesaver when I find myself still sewing things the wrong way.


Also, don't feel discouraged if your sewing projects don't quite turn out the way you'd like them to in the beginning. There are projects that I look back on now and wince at, but I know they were important in my growth. Even Monet scribbled as a child, and a good recipe always tastes better with practice.


Add a Few Bells and Whistles

Once you're comfortable with making stitches, treat yourself to a few extras to help make the work a little easier. A measuring tape helps in taking measurements to customize the fit of garments. A larger seam ripper is easier on the hand. Disappearing fabric pens help with tracing patterns onto fabric. And, my newest favorite, a pair of dress cutting shears makes cutting fabric an almost pleasurable experience.

When you move on to making from scratch rather than mending, you can also have fun picking out fabric. Many of you probably already have stashes of colorful prints that you couldn't keep your hands off of! Just make sure you use it, too!

Keep it Frugal

Don't go overboard with amassing all possible sewing supplies, though. Just like your eyes can be too big for your stomach at lunch time, they can also be too big for your wallet and your sewing room (or in my case a wall in our family room). 

I do have a small budget for crafting every month now, but when I first started I had to be super thrifty with acquiring supplies and fabric.  I was fortunate that my mother had a fairly large stash that she let me pick through. And if you don't have a relative who sews, ask around to see if any friends have sewing supplies they no longer need.

Other favorite sources of mine are garage sales and thrift stores. Used pillowcases and sheets make great material for blankets, and kids clothing. You can also buy clothes to alter for yourself.

And think twice before getting rid of your own textiles. You can make tons of stuff from your own old clothing and linens--I've made quilts out of clothing, sock animals, and have turned some of my old clothes into new ones for the kids.

Resources

I haven't actually talked about how to sew, but I've found that there are numerous resources that help just about anyone learn themselves.

1. Check out your local library. Most libraries have a pretty large selection of sewing books, whether it's learning the fundamentals or project idea books, the library is a great place to find free information. I highly suggest tracking down a book on basic sewing skills. I still refer to my old copy of Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.

2. Look online. Another free, and even more accessible resource is the internet. There are countless blogs, websites, and YouTube videos to help you learn everything from how to thread a needle to full tutorials and free patterns on how to make your own dress. Some of my favorite sewing blogs and websites are Me Sew Crazy, Luvinthemommyhood, Elsie Marley, and Sew, Mama, Sew!

3. Look local. Check your local fabric store for sewing classes. Better yet, find out if your city has an alternative sewing lounge. Also find out if there is a local sewing guild in your area.

4. Find a community. One of the best things you can do to motivate your sewing is find someone to share it with. There's a reason why Trekkies and Star Wars fans go to conventions--there aren't many people like them in their day to day lives. And so it goes with sewing (without the crazy costumes, hopefully). Finding a friend--in person or online--that you can talk shop with validates your crazy endeavors into making something out of nothing.


So, there we have it. Some simple steps to motivate you to get sewing. I hope you're inspired to start stitching and I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below! What are your sewing hurdles? What was your first project? Can't wait to see what you guys are up to!

P.S. Come back by tomorrow and I'll have a fun little surprise for you guys!

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