How to sew, lesson 1,
Getting Started and Disclaimer.
We'll start with the disclaimer.
There are some sewers out there who will tell you that everything in sewing must be exact. You must measure exactly, cut precisely and sew straight, even stitches.....always making sure you have 13,942 stitches per inch.
I Don't Sew Like That!
Here's my philosophy (big words make it sound more important!)
During every sewing project I have ever done (that's a LOT folks), there comes a point in time when it becomes tedious and boring. I believe this is the reason why when my Mimi died she left an entire bedroom piled 3 feet high with half completed craft projects. (I'm serious...I was 5 and remember the piles of stuff as tall as I was when we cleaned that room out....you couldn't see the floor anywhere!!)
So, how to keep from putting your project down never to return to it when it starts to get boring?? This is especially hard for youngsters.
Keep it simple, Keep it fun, Keep successes coming.
If you are told to rip out a seam and sew it over repeatedly so it'll be exactly straight you may become a better sewer....but you're more likely to learn to hate sewing.
Keep it simple and don't dwell on the details. Those will come later. It is more important that you had fun making the project than that every detail is perfect.
I've always found comfort in the Amish view of sewing/quilting. They intentionally put a "mistake" in every quilt they sew. Now if you've ever seen an Amish made quilt you know they are about the best quilters anywhere, so why would they make intentional mistakes??
"Because only God can make something that is perfect."
Remember that! It's important!!
One way to Keep it Fun is to learn together. If your little one wants to learn to sew and you don't know how then I'd suggest each of you make a pillow and glory in each other's successes.
I break my projects down into small steps in my mind. Then I have "success" when each step is completed. Literally in my head it's "Ok, I've cut it out, that's the first step DONE! Yeehaw!"
This breaks up the monotony and keeps me interested in the project longer.
Our project for the purpose of this tutorial will be a small pillow. Pillows are great starter projects, for either hand or machine sewing. All that's needed are long straight seams. When you get good at those then move on to curves, but most everything you need to know can be learned by making a pillow.
I try to keep costs down and if you're not a sewer you probably don't have some of the "sewing stuff" lying around your house. So I'm gonna give more everyday options for things when I can. Also, I'm going to show you how to make this pillow by hand, I figure most folk who have a sewing machine already know how to sew....
Things you need to gather to get started:
fabric - it needs to be a little more than twice as big as you want your pillow to be. (your pillow can be either a square or a rectangle in a size of your choice). Here's a Keep It Fun hint. If you loooooove the fabric then you'll be happier working with it for the time needed to complete this project. (Remember to let the sewer pick the fabric....don't pick it for them!)
scissors - these need to be sharp or they'll fray your fabric. Cutting paper dulls scissors so most sewers keep a pair just for fabric.
thread - can be any color any type. I usually go for the "all purpose/dual duty" thread at Walmart. Typically it's a good idea to match the thread to the fabric....but really you can use whatever you like or have at hand.
ruler - the clear plastic quilting rulers are nice, but not necessary. Any ruler or yard stick will do ya fine. You just need a straight edge.
needles - I recommend getting a package of assorted craft/sewing needles. You're going to want one that has a sharp point, but is big enough to see the hole and for your youngun to hold onto. (no, we're not going to look at the hole to thread the needle, but if it's big enough to see then it'll be easier for a beginner to thread) Also know that it is common to drop needles so you need a backup (although I will show you how to prevent most lost needles later)
marking pen or pencil - my favorite is the blue-ink water erasable quilting pens or the white dressmaker's pencils. (white for dark fabrics, blue for all others) But, if you have washable markers that come out of clothing well when washed then you can use those and not buy something new.
sewing pins - these are not a necessity, but I recommend them. If your sewer is on the younger side or you have smaller ones that might "find" the pins then skip them entirely, this project can be done just as easily without them. (you can use safety pins too!)
stuffing - I like the poly-fill (or polyester fiberfill), it comes in a bag. You can use the preformed pillows...but then you'll have to be much more exact in the making of your pillow and hey! Lumps add character :-)
OK, folks, I think that's about it. You go and collect your things (ie complete step 1, Yeehaw!) and meet me back here next week to cut out our pillows.