An Introduction to Sewing


Sewing is a highly useful skill that can help you to do lots of different things – sewing patterns and names into clothes for instance to personalise them (or to help school children to stop losing them), to create new items, or to repair holes and tears in favourites. Here we shall look at how to get started sewing so that you can easily do all of those things.

What You Will Need

First of all you will need some basic materials and items to get started. This means a needle set, thread for weaving, and a material that you can sew into. You might also want to buy a sewing machine that can make the whole process a lot easier and more efficient for quickly sewing stitches that will not come undone, but does not allow for quite the same level of fine control and versatility. When looking for a sewing machine look for one with a zigzag, a button hole, and a straight seam.

Other things that can be useful are a disappearing ink pen for drawing the outlines of where you are going to sew, an ironing board for pressing, a seam gauge, scissors, pins for holding material in place, a seam ripper and tape measure.

Basics of Sewing

Now to get started sewing simply poke your thread through the eye of the needle and then tie it on. Now you are going to sew your items together and to do this you will use a ‘stitch’ where you will weave the thread through the two pieces of fabric in order to bond them together along a line. The length of the stitch will determine the strength of the bond and the visibility of the stitch. As a rule then smaller stitches are more desirable, however you never want the strength of the stitch to be more durable than that of the material. Different stitches are then also used for cosmetic reasons, and to provide different features and prevent things like the stitches tightening. Below we will look at some basic types of stitches to start trying with.

Some Stitches

The straight stitch: This is as-it-sounds and is the most basic stitch of all that simply involves weaving thread in and out of two pieces of material in a straight line to hold them together. Hold the needle and push it down through both layers, then push it back up from underneath immediately after.

Basting stitch: A basting stitch is simply a straight stitch but with very long stitches. This then means it is used for temporarily bonding and allows you to see what something will look like and then remove the thread.

Zig zag stitch: Here the stitch is in zig zags in order to allow it to stretch which means it is highly useful for use with stretchable fabric. The larger the stitches the more stretchable it will be.

Blind stitch: The blind stitch is used only on the underside of the fabric so that it does not show on the front/top. This is important for an aesthetic benefit. Of course the stitch has to push through both sides, but here the stitch will be long on the bottom and very tiny on the top so as to be almost invisible.

Cross stitch: Cross stitch involves sewing in the shape of a cross. This is more clearly visible than normal stitch but that allows for a more secure stitch that may be used for some patterns too.

Back stitch: In back stitch you go back on yourself after each stitch to reuse the hole behind. This way you have the same stitches on either side and it will look like a single line, but it will be highly unlikely to come unravelled.

Top stitch: Finally top stitch is a term used for any stitch that is used in just one piece of fabric for stitching patterns and images rather than holding pieces of fabric together.

Finally, while not a stitch you also need to know how to use a back tack – by sewing forward, backwards and forward again in order to start or end any stitch and to prevent it coming unravelled.

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Richard Landry

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Richard Landry