I’ve talked about how to deal with frustration in Finding your Sewing Zen. Today I give you my top five hot tips for avoiding the frustration in the first place!
I’m going to take it for granted that you have your basic sewing kit assembled and you are working with sharp needles and scissors, and in good light – the basics. Beyond that though, these are my top tips to set yourself up for success and fun for your next sewing project.
1. Give yourself enough time
Probably my number one trigger for sewing frustration is pushing up against a deadline. There is nothing that will kill your patience quicker than realising you have to unpick a seam on the dress you’re intending to wear tonight!
So make sure you are realistic about the amount of time you need to get a project finished if you are working towards a deadline – and the deadline might just be 3pm when you have to pick up the kids from school.
Break your project down into steps and only attempt to do what you will be reasonably able to do in the time that you have. Keep in mind too that the trickier the project and the more you are pushing your sewing skills, the more time you need to allow yourself.
And ensure you are not too tired. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stuffed up because I was tired and attempting to sew – even something quite simple.
2. Choose the right pattern
While you do want to be stretching yourself and learning new skills as time goes by, you also need to make sure that you embark on projects or choose patterns that will not stretch you too far. Build up your skills gradually and sequentially. Attempting something too difficult for your current skill level will not set you up for success and will likely lead to frustration.
At the same time, don’t be afraid of new skills and techniques. As I said above, if you are choosing something a little tricker or involving a new skill, give yourself more time so that you can practice on scraps before attempting your project.
Another point to make here is that your project and materials need to be suitable for your equipment. Sewing super thick things like leather on a domestic machine that isn’t powerful enough to cope will not have a happy outcome – for you or your machine!
3. Choose the right fabric
Different fabrics are suited to different applications (see my posts All About Fabric for more on this) so it is important to match your fabric to your project. Your pattern or project instructions should give you guidelines about this. Choosing the right fabric will make your project easier to make as well as giving you a final product with which you will be happy.
Some fabrics, such as knits, require different skills and techniques so take the time to master those before embarking on your project.
4. Measure and cut carefully
The first thing to measure, if you are making a garment, is yourself. It is easier to make alterations to your project as you cut rather than after it is sewn together – especially true if you find you have made the garment too small. So take your measurements accurately and adjust your pattern accordingly.
When cutting out pattern pieces, careful and accurate cutting will prevent issues of pieces not fitting together as they should and ultimately lead to a much happier sewing experience.
5. Have everything you need at hand
Other than your basic sewing kit, make sure you have all the notions, trims, interfacings, linings and fasteners you will need for your project before you start. Remembering to pick these up when you buy your fabric and pattern is ideal but if you are anything like me you may well buy a piece of fabric because it catches your eye long before you have any real idea what you will do with it. In this case, when you have decided what you are going to do with it, gather all the bits and pieces you need before sitting down to sew. It is so disappointing to carve out a precious little bit of time to sew, only to get to step 2 and find that you need to fuse your fabric to interfacing you do not have or insert a zip you forgot to buy.
And, a bonus tip: Expect to have to handle frustration
And finally, my bonus tip is to expect a little frustration and be ready to deal with it. It is part of the learning process to make mistakes so be kind to yourself. It is also worth unpicking a seam or re-inserting a zipper if you are not completely happy with it. You’ll be so much happier and more satisfied with your finished product if you do. So, back to tip number one, build this time into your expectations and your frustration will be minor.
I hope you find these tips useful. Do you have other top tips for a fun sewing experience? Please share them in the comments.