Do you have a favorite trick you use when you sew to make your work cleaner, faster, easier, etc? Once you have been sewing for a while you tend to figure out some hacks along the way to speed up your work, simplify it, or get prettier results. We asked our amazing tester group what their favorite sewing tips and tricks are, and they came up with some great ones!
Read on for our favorite sewing tips and tricks!
Add clear elastic to shoulder seams and waist seams of slinkier fabrics to help stabilize the seams and get cleaner lines.
Glue a paper ruler to the side of your sewing table.
Only use blue pins/clips for back pieces (or any single color), and to mark the back side of sleeves, etc. This way you always know which side is the back. Never accidentally sew the wrong sides again!
Create your own drawstrings! Cut your desired size…before serging make a long tail and put it inside of your RST drawstring. Pull as you go. When you reach the end pull that out and your drawstring will flip itself out!
Baste together the raw edges of cuffs, bands, etc., before attaching them. They never come undone and are easier to work with.
Make your own bias binding if you have a good square piece of fabric left over after cutting out. Wind it on an old cotton reel for storage. You’ll always have some pieces on hand to use on future makes!
Machine washable fabric glue is great when hemming or working with slippery fabrics. You can use it for hems when you’re hemming with a cover stitch. It is also great to use if you’re placing a patch or a pocket instead of pins.
Use Wonder Under for appliqué!
Print all your favorite settings for each of your machines for frequently used fabrics! Then you have a quick reference guide when you are changing fabrics.
Use your least favorite snap colors from the sample pack on the backside of your shirt/dress that no one will see. You still have a useable snap but your favorite colors can last longer!
An Elmer’s glue stick is useful for so many things! Holding buttons in place while you sew them on, lining up a placket, making a pretty enclosed waist seam, sewing on pockets or other appliqued pieces, lining up stripes… there are so many uses!
Wash away wonder tape is great for holding hems in place on circle skirts while you sew!
Use a wet-erase markers to make color coded dots and dashes to “bookmark” your serger settings for things like rolled hems, gathering etc.. (For example, use a blue dot on the needle and looper tension dials so I know the settings for a rolled/lettuce hem) If you use wet erase they won’t accidentally wipe off till you use a wet cloth on them.
Sew your corners at 45° angles for crispness!
Crayola washable markers work great in place of chalk!
Chain sewing makes things go so fast!
Memory press all your bands before starting for a quicker and easier finish.
Clip and burn your serger threads. (See here for a bunch of other ways to finish your serger threads!)
For turning narrow tubes right side out (think ties), use a plastic straw and a skewer (or pencil or whatever other long item fits inside the straw). With the tube wrong side out, slide your straw inside all the way to the end. Then poke the end of your tube down into the straw to turn it right side out. You can also buy a turning tool for this same purpose- see this blog post for a list of our favorite sewing tools!
When we asked our testers for some of their best tips, we received a bunch of submissions about gathering! Gathering fabrics can be time consuming and tricky, but is always worth the work when you see those gorgeous ruffles, skirts, sleeves, etc. Here are some really great tips for making gathering easier, and with beautiful results!
Gather by zigzagging over a contrasting color of thread, or even floss!
When gathering on a serger, drop stitch width to a 5 then sew it up using a 7 so the stitches get enclosed when serging again. You don’t have to worry about pulling out thread or little thread edges showing.
Another great way to gather is by using clear elastic. Cut out the elastic to be what the final length is and then divide and mark both the elastic and the fabric into eighths or quarters. Then stretch the elastic to match each point as you sew.
Iron ruffles after gathering and before attaching! It makes it less bulky when attaching and gives it a nicer finish.
Gather knits using your serger (we even have a post on this here!)
Use up old bobbin thread colors when you gather! If you have bobbins or a particular color leftover from previous sews and you don’t need that color, use it for all your gathering stitches! No thread goes to waste, nobody will ever see it, and you can save your “good” color for your current project.
When gathering, instead of sewing two parallel gathering rows separately, sew one length, pivot 90 degrees, sew a stitch, pivot again and sew alongside the first row of basting. This way when you pull the threads, the gathering can’t come out the other end.
For gathering, mark the skirt and bodice into eighths and then baste the gathered piece and see how you like it before fully sewing it on.
We hope you enjoyed this roundup of great sewing tips and tricks! If you learned something new you haven’t tried before, give it a try and let us know what you think! Do you have your own favorite trick you didn’t see listed here? We want to know! Tell us about it in our Facebook group, which is also a wonderful community for chatting about all things sewing!