A friend of mine is starting out on her machine sewing adventures. I rattled off a very quick list of top tips for her. Because quite frankly, if you skip all the technical geeky know-how, machine sewing can drive you very crazy very quickly. So since I'd assembled this list, I thought it might as well be shared with anyone else who might find it useful. Let me know how you find them, and what other top tips you'd share with an absolute beginner?
1. Read the manual. You can only have a love affair with a sewing machine if you understand its needs. If you don't spend time getting to know its little ways, believe me you'll despise its very soul by the end of day one.
2. Make sure your tension is right, and then you probably never to need to mess with that ever again. Never ok? Not until you feel like you can call yourself an advanced stitcher.
3. Always use a sharp needle, don't use the same one for 5 years. It won't sew, it will pucker, catch, snap - all sorts of horrid things. Basically put in a new one every time you start a new project. If you sew lots and lots - like several times a week, use a new one at least once a month.
4. Always use the right needle - they are different thicknesses. The thinner the fabric, the thinner the needle. And swap it over if you change fabric.
5. Use the right thread - natural thread ie cotton for natural fabrics; man made thread ie nylon for man made fabrics.
6. Always go slow to start with and don't push your fabric through the machine: let the machine take it through at its pace - your job is just to hold it loosely and keep it straight - do that and the machine will take it off you at a lovely rhythm.
7. Always start off with your needle in the fabric, and turn the wheel to do the first 2 or 3 stitches manually, so that the needle picks up the thread below well and isn't rushed - or the thread can break and catch.
8. Always wash your fabric before you even cut out the pattern. Fabric will shrink at some point which can screw up the measurements of what you make. And if you use two different fabrics together and they shrink in different ways, you might as well have just bought some fabric, and put it straight in the bin. Always wash them before your cut your pieces out.
9. Boring geeky tip: always iron everything! pieces before you start, seams flat, corners sharp... etc. Most people don't do this, and it shows. I'm an ironing evangelist. You won't regret it.
10. Finally - get to know your overlocking stitch and buy an overlocking foot. It will stop your fabrics from fraying or prevent you having to spend forever sewing a million extra seams and hems.