5 sewing hacks to help you make that first cut

So, you’re fairly new to sewing, you have a few yards of beautiful fabric - and now it’s time to make that first cut. 

What are you waiting for? Are you worried you’ll mess up and waste your fabric? 

Well, here’s a newsflash: You’re definitely going to make mistakes and waste fabric. 

But don’t let that stop you!

When I first started cutting into my fabric I was worried about making mistakes, too. And guess what? The mistakes happened!  I was completely justified  in my concerns because yes, I wasted fabric, and the mess ups were kind of expensive, but because I was willing to make those mistakes I learned so much faster and got so much better than if I would have waited.

Here’s a slightly embarrassing, but 100% true story

A few years ago, I came across a pattern for a really cute romper. This romper had a tie back and ¾ inch sleeves and I just knew it would look good on me. (What? We only sew things we think will look good, right?)

I had the perfect ohia lehua fabric for it, and I needed a fair amount to make it  (2 yards to be exact]. I had never made this pattern before, but I was confident I could figure it out. 

And guess what? I did. I pulled it together and sewed up a really cute romper!

 Problem is… I can’t even wear it anymore. 

In my excitement, I didn’t finish the edges correctly and so the sleeves frayed creating a big hole in the seams. I also didn’t wash my fabric beforehand so once it was washed, the romper shrunk weirdly in the crotch area. Now when I try to wear it -  it gives me a wedgie! (Don’t laugh. Okay okay, you can laugh.)

But I still love it. I even have it hanging in my closet to this day. That romper is meaningful because it reminds me of how far I’ve come.

I’ve made things I can't salvage. It’s not even worth going back and trying to fix. I just keep going!

Make the mistakes fast - make them today! Get them over with. Once you finish it, you can put the thing aside, make a quilt, donate it, or whatever feels right to you.

I know you want to be sewing like a pro, so where do you want to be in a few months or a year from now? Let’s get to the fun part where you’re confident in your abilities.

Cut the fabric! 

And no matter how it plays out, keep sewing. 

…Now that we’ve had this little reality check (I think we’re clear on what to expect), I do actually want to help you out. We all know I’ve messed up on patterns… and maybe maybe maybe you won’t have to make all the mistakes I did. Maybe.

Here are 5 sewing hacks I learned the hard way so you don’t have to… (or maybe these will just be reminders in case they slip your mult-tasking mind.)

  1. Get yourself a cutting mat, a big one - maybe even two. Here’s the one that I got from Amazon and I use it all the time.
  2. Use a rotary blade to cut so that you don’t have to lift up your pattern 
  3. Cut out your pattern onto butcher paper if it’s a pdf printed pattern so that you have the pattern pieces on one piece of paper.
  4. Find a place where you can lay out your fabric and all the pattern pieces before you start cutting them. Cut the “on the fold” pieces first.
  5. Use old clothing, sheets, blankets, etc to practice cutting on before using your special fabrics.

And always remember! What makes you a good seamstress is that you keep sewing!

5 comments

Carol Leinani Brown

Mahalo nui…I love reading about your mistakes…I’ve made quite a few myself, I’m sure much more than you! My grandma taught me how to sew a little, I learned a lot in 7th grade at Kamehameha! First item I sewed was a fitted skirt, top to match! It wasn’t too bad. Oh btw I’m 71 and you’ve inspired me to sew more. It’s very special to give something you’ve made to others, be it coasters, placemats, bags, jams (that’s a word from the past!) blankets…especially for Kupuna. Oops that’s me! I hope you make fabric again with the print significant to our alma mater. I loved your blue fabric with the warrior Kamehameha and I Mua printed on the side! My niece Tiani got 5 yds for me. Have just about used it all! Have a good day dear! Warmest Aloha! Anake Carol

Kealohi

I love this! It inspires me to give sewing a try (:

Anela

I love this post! It’s giving me more confidence to make something!

I have one question about washing fabrics. How do you wash and dry without the ends fraying terribly? I have a top loading washer and I read somewhere to wash the fabric like you would the actual garment. After doing so the edges of the fabric frayed and those threads knotted up. It was a hot mess! (Yikes)

Any suggestions or hacks you’re willing to share will be most appreciated!!! :)

Anela

I love this post! It’s giving me more confidence to make something!

I have one question about washing fabrics. How do you wash and dry without the ends fraying terribly? I have a top loading washer and I read somewhere to wash the fabric like you would the actual garment. After doing so the edges of the fabric frayed and those threads knotted up. It was a hot mess! (Yikes)

Any suggestions or hacks you’re willing to share will be most appreciated!!! :)

Alicia

Brilliant! Haha I actually have soooo much cute fabric that I’ve been storing for yeeeeaars🤦🏼‍♀️. I need to just make the cut and go for it – even if it turns out junk the first time😆. You’ve inspired me!

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