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Sewing Basics

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Join us, along with our friends at Janome, as we pull together information, tutorials, and projects to rekindle sewing as a real life survival skill. Now is the time to remember, re-learn, and teach others how to create from scratch.

Any endeavor that turns into a passion comes with its own set of terms, phrases, abbreviations, and secret handshakes. Well, maybe they don’t all have a secret handshake… maybe just a decoder ring. Sewing is no different, and although we do try to make sure we define the more unusual words we sometimes toss around, we can
I love buttons. Always have. In fact, although I don't recall much about the two-year-old phase of my life, I do remember my white sweater with the little duckie buttons. I can close my eyes and see his chubby yellow body and orange feet. I can even remember the feel of the raised, painted surface
"Give us the tools and we will finish the job." – Winston Churchill. One of the signs of a truly well-made project is that it looks nearly as good on the inside as it does on the outside. Finishing a project's inside raw edges will not only elevate the final appearance, it will also elevate

It’s simply a stitched box with an “X” through the middle, but this basic stitching pattern provides a high level of strength and stability, and when done with precision, it also adds a pretty detail to straps, ties, and more.

A blind hem is exactly what it sounds like: a hem with stitches you can barely see. It's perfect for window coverings, the hem at the bottom of a garment, or anywhere you want a clean finished edge. When I first started sewing, attaining a perfect blind hem was like finding the Holy Grail. And
We've been asked numerous times by Sew4Home visitors, "How do you get your double rows of stitching so perfectly even?" We've quietly given out our secret to several of you. But now we've decided it's time to reveal it to the world. The way to get perfectly even, super close, double rows of stitching is...
Rick rack or rickrack or ricrac, however you spell it, there’s no denying it’s been at the top of the trim list for near 200 years. Earliest mentions of this wavy wonder date back to the mid-1800s! At its most simplified, rick rack is defined as a flat, narrow woven braid in a zig zag

Whatever the task, a bit of hand stitching usually comes in… well, “handy.” We’ve outlined the tools needed along with seven of the most common stitches. Simple drawings and steps show how to do each one.

The right finishes make projects go more smoothly, look more professional, and give you an upper hand when it comes to impressing friends with your vast sewing knowledge! Making a flat felled (or flat fell) seam is a detail with a place in history as well as a place in the world of professional seam
“I don’t have time for that.” “No one will notice.” “I’ll fix it later.” A million excuses usually lead to a million regrets. We all make mistakes, and sometimes stuff just happens beyond our control. But some mistakes can be avoided with proper planning, attention to detail, and the wisdom to slow down. It’s no
There you stand in the fabric store, staring at that giant display of bias tapes and bindings in front of you, the shiny cellophane packages glinting in their neat, color coordinated rows. Single fold, double fold, blanket, quilt. Geeze! What's what? Do you just throw a dart and hope for the best? No! You study
Puckered seams. Misaligned panels. If you’ve ever tried to work with fabric cuts are that are not straight and true, you know why it’s so important to square-up your fabric. This is a technique that belongs in everyone’s sewing toolbox. Read on for our easy folding, aligning, and cutting tips plus ruler recommendations.  When you
The majority of projects you encounter require at least a little hand stitching. Often, it’s the final seam closure after turning a project right side out. The goal is to make your hand stitching as invisible as possible. Although it’s tempting to rush through this last bit of stitching, the Pro Secret is to take
This is not one of those square-peg-in-a-round-hole situations. But, if the idea of sewing a two-dimensional item (a flat circle) into a three-dimensional item (a tube) sounds like something from another dimension altogether, read on. We've broken it down into a simple step-by-step process and even show you two different methods.  Let's chat first about
The magnetic snap is indispensable to the construction of purses, totes, and bags. We've used them on dozens of Sew4Home projects and decided it was high time the technique had its very own tutorial. As with many notions and tools that add a unique professional finish, the steps for their use are themselves not necessarily
There are a lot of home décor projects that require cutting large panels of fabrics, such as curtains, throws, and tablecloths. When you're short on space, this can be a bit of a challenge. So here's a little folding-and-cutting trick to make it easier, faster, more compact ... and actually, more precise. Remember making paper
We love to gather with friends and family to share good food and conversation. We enjoy gathering with like-minded folks to attend concerts and other events. In these contexts, gathering is fun and easy. By comparison, in sewing... gathering is often known as daunting or simply too time-consuming! We believe all gathering should be fun
The square pillow – it's a decorating staple and a great way to freshen up a room. You pick your favorite fabric, measure carefully, and cut two perfect squares. You sew the seams, pivoting at each corner with precision, and insert the pillow form. You set the finished pillow on the sofa, and... Hey! That

Elastic shirring creates a wonderful stretchy texture. It occupies the space between the simplicity of gathering and the intricacy of hand-smocking. We cover the technique itself as well as several project ideas.

We go over our recommendations for what to have on hand if you’re just getting started in the world of sewing as well as a few favorites to add to your toolbox as you move up in your skill level and expand your projects.

In between the simplicity of gathering and the intricacy of hand-smocking, lives one of our favorite texturing techniques: elastic shirring. You've probably owned a garment or two with shirring on the bodice or sleeve edge. It was the style on those iconic 1970s peasant dresses, and it remains popular in new fashion trends. Shirring is
Rivets are everywhere. Airliners have rivets. The pockets of your Levis® have rivets. Frogs make the sound, "rrriiiiiivvvet." That last example probably isn't applicable, but it kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it? Not only are rivets ubiquitous, they look super professional when used on a sewing project. Rivets also have a very logical purpose: they
We get a lot of questions about zippers. They seem to live at the top of many people's lists of Sewing Phobias (ziphobia!). In an effort to calm these fears, we already have three step-by-step tutorials for inserting standard zippers, tackling invisible zippers, and putting in an inset zipper. We're adding to the zipper toolbox
Okay - true confession time. In school, I was a theater rat... always in plays and musicals, always taking artsy-fartsy classes, including "How To Mime" or, as I remember it, "How To Pretend You're Stuck In A Box And Look Foolish Doing It." Unless you're Marcel Marceau, you look really silly doing mime. So... no
Left: Faux Leather Shopper, Right: Trendy Faux Leather Handbag Back in the 1970s, I wanted my mom to buy me a real leather jacket. Unfortunately, she was only prepared to spend for one made of synthetic leather. As much as I wanted to believe it looked genuine, it just looked fake. Today's fake – excuse
A circle has 360˚ – we all learned that in school, but we didn’t always learn how to use those 30 dozen degrees to create the angles that make up some of our favorite shapes. Our latest Sew4Home Cheat Card is the third installment in our Basics Shapes trio. It focuses on the most common
Whether you’re a novice or an advanced sewer, you’ve likely heard the term "basting." And, we don't mean the yummy Thanksgiving turkey technique! In sewing, basting is a temporary straight stitch used to hold layers together until a final stitch is sewn. Since it’s a long, loose stitch, a basting stitch removes easily after sewing
It’s always exciting to begin a new sewing project. We’re eager to get started, and test stitching can feel like a roadblock to the creativity to come. However, ripping out a bad seam or ruining an expensive piece of fabric with a gnarl of thread is an even greater roadblock. Taking just a few minutes
There are lots of straight lines in sewing, but we love the circle. In fact, in my humble opinion, the circle is the Queen of the geometric shapes. Don't get me wrong; I like all those squares, rectangles, triangles, octagons, and whatnot; but the circle is the coolest of the bunch: smooth and pretty and
We based our tutorial on the words we hear whenever we receive questions about this topic: "How do you figure out how much fabric you need?" "How do you cut all the strips?" "How do you sew all the strips together?" "How do you put it on your project so it looks smooth and pretty?"
  No matter what kind of sewing you like to do, there are times you must use a hand needle and thread. It could be for something simple, such as sewing on a button, stitching an opening closed, or tacking a strap in place. Or, you can move up the hand-sewing food chain to beautifully
Sometimes, you cross something off your "give-it-a-go" list simply because it looks too hard. But once you do finally try, maybe with someone’s help the first time out, you often discover it wasn’t as hard as you thought! Such is the case with the phobia many sewers have when it comes to inserting metal grommets. Since
Adjusting stitch length isn't necessary for every project, but as you experiment with different types of fabrics and and start using stitches for embellishment as well as construction, a few quick tips will come in handy. When working with today's machines, which can zip along at up to 1000 stitches per minute, you can see
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