I’ve been knitting for a couple of years and, after failing at crochet, I decided to try sewing. Miss Dobson banned me from using the sewing machines forever in Year 7 Textiles, so I just assumed I was hopeless, but after helping a friend sew 100 red owls for his primary class, I decided maybe I wasn’t as bad as she made out and decided to give it another go.
Sewing the owls was more to do with speed than technique. Plus they were supposed to look like primary children had made them, so it was a good opportunity to practise!
Anyway, I’m not counting that as my ‘first attempt’. I looked up some beginner projects online and found one on Hobbycraft for bunting. I went to the market and bought some polkadot contrasting material and the bias binding needed for the band.
Tip #1: Sewing is just as much about being able to cut in a straight line as it is sewing in a straight line. Not a strength of mine. It’s best to use a ruler and a pen rather than eyeballing it. The fabric also didn’t have lines in it, which meant drawing my own. I’d bought a disappearing ink fabric pen, which was great, except if I was too slow, the ink faded too quickly! I’ve since bought a rotary cutter (they use them on the Great British Sewing Bee, so they must be good) and that will hopefully help. Failing that, I can always persuade my husband to help… I found that lining the edge of the ruler up against the edge of the table made it more difficult for me to draw a wonky line.
Tip #2: Pinning things is also important, particularly if you’ve cut things out wonkily. Because my sides were sometimes misshapen, it made it a bit like a jigsaw puzzle (which I’m terrible at) pinning the sides together to make sure the triangles were proportionate.
Tip #3: A knitting needle makes a good ‘poking’ device when trying to turn the sewed pieces inside out (or right side in).
Tip #4: Ironing is pretty important. Sewing seems to be spending an awful lot of time doing everything else besides sewing! Ironing did make the triangles look better. So don’t skip that step.
Tip #5: It’s easier to sew in a straight line if you don’t look directly at the needle. And if you find something on either side to concentrate on. I sewed the above pile of flags before I worked out that if I lined the foot up with the edge of the fabric then I could sew straighter.
Tip #6: If you have to put pins in, don’t sew over them (obvious) but be careful not to stab yourself with them while sewing (happened a lot). I didn’t coordinate this well- I didn’t sew over any pins, but I did stab myself with them a lot. It would have been easier if I had sewed the top of the bias together first before attaching the flags.
Tip #7: Correct slowly. A bit like driving a car. If you go wonky and drift a bit, it’s not as obvious if you correct it gradually rather than suddenly swerving back.
Tip #8: You have a bit more control over your sewing if you go at a reasonable speed.
Tip #9: Don’t forget to breathe while sewing– I realised I was holding my breath, which isn’t a good idea!
Tip #10: As obvious as it sounds, take your foot completely away from the pedal when you’re threading your machine or checking something under the foot! Otherwise you might get your fingers trapped!
Overall, apart from a few wonky sections where I overcorrected, I don’t think it turned out too badly!