How to Sew
Sewing is both a useful skill to know and a great way to pass the time. With just a needle and thread, you can stitch pieces of fabric together, patch holes, and create unique designs and patterns. It’s simple to learn, fun to master, and can be picked up by anyone.
Getting the Basics Down
Iron or pre-wash your fabric.If your fabric is prone to shrinking, you'll be thankful you did. Do this well before you start sewing -- the fabric needs to be completely dry.
- Follow the washing instructions for that specific fabric. Whether it's machine wash, hand wash, or hang dry, the instructions should be followed.
- If you throw your fabric in the dryer and it comes out a little wrinkly, iron it. It'll be much easier to work with when you're sewing.
Thread the needle.When it comes to thread, more is better. Aim for cutting twice as much thread as you think you'll actually need. Taking one end of the thread between your thumb and forefinger, insert it through the eye of the needle. Then, bring the needle to the halfway point by bringing both ends of the thread together. Once there, secure the ends in a knot.
- Cutting the thread with sharp scissors and licking the end can make it easier to guide through the eye of the needle. If you can't do it, your thread may be too thick or your needle too small.
Sewing Your First Straight Stitch
Pierce the needle through the wrong side of the fabric.That is, pierce it through the side that people won't be seeing. Pull it out and through (you may need a bit of force), followed by the thread, all the way until it's stopped by the knot. If your knot goes through, simply make a bigger one.
- The reason you start on the wrong side is so that this knot doesn't end up on the right side (the visible part) of a garment or fabric.
- If the knot slips right through the fabric, there might be a few reasons for this:
- You might need to make a bigger knot
- Your needle might be too big, creating a hole in the fabric that's the same size or bigger than the knot, allowing the knot to pass through
- You might be yanking the thread too hard when the knot meets the fabric
Pierce the needle through the right side of the fabric.Close to where you pierced your material initially, push the needle back through to the wrong side. Pull the entire length of thread and keep pulling until you feel resistance. You just made your first stitch on the right side! Congratulations! It looks like a little hyphen, right?
- The stitch should be tight enough to lay flat on the fabric, but not so tight that it makes the fabric bunch underneath it.
Repeat the previous two steps.Always keeping close to your last stitch, pierce through the wrong side again. Pull all the thread out and voila -- your second stitch. Continue doing this, making sure each stitch is the same length as the one before.
- Generally, the stitches should be in a straight line, like a less computerized version of this:
- - - - - -
- This stitch, with the wide intervals between each bit of thread, is called the basting stitch. This is generally used to hold fabrics together or to gather pieces of fabric.
- Generally, the stitches should be in a straight line, like a less computerized version of this:
End by piercing the right side.You're finished! The needle and thread should now be on the wrong side, where you can finish 'er off with another knot. Get it as close to your material as possible -- otherwise your stitches will move around and stretch out.
- There is an alternative, however. You could push the needle to the correct side, but leave it loose. You want a loop on the wrong side. Then, put the needle through to the wrong side again, once more close to the piercing you just made. Pull it tight so there's no loop on that side, but keeping the original loop intact. Now, pass the needle through the loop and tighten all the way, undoing the loop. The loop serves to secure the thread to the fabric. Pass it through twice for good measure.
Mastering Other Stitches
Practice a closer stitch.The basting stitch, as described above, is good for a start. However, the bigger the stitches, the more likely it is to tear or come out.
- The basting stitch has a long stitch length -- sturdier stitches have medium or short stitch lengths. When piercing through the right side to the wrong side of your fabric, the next pierce should be as close to the former stitch as possible.
Start zig-zag stitching.This is a stitch that goes back and forth and is used when a straight stitch just won't do, like to reinforce buttonholes or in working with stretchable fabrics. It can also be used to temporarily join two pieces together at their edges. It looks just like a zigzag (hence the name) and comes in short, medium, and long stitch lengths, too.
- A blind stitch is a variant of the zigzag stitch. It is also called a "blind hem." It is very similar to the zig-zag stitch, but it includes several straight, run-of-the-mill stitches. It's used to create an invisible hem; this is accomplished because only the zig-zags make it through to the right side of the material. With a reduced number comes reduced visibility.
Sew two pieces of fabric together.If you're upgrading to this step, put your fabric together so that their wrong sides face outwards (and their right sides are together). Line up the edges along which you want to join them. Sew in a line that follows the edges.
- Once you're done, pull the pieces apart. They'll be held together at the seam you just sewed, but the thread will be barely visible. A better way to do this, however, is by slip stitching.
Patch a hole.Sewing a rip or tear isn't too difficult. Just pinch the edges of the hole together, towards the inside (the wrong side). Sew the edges together in a seam. Use a short stitch length (no space between the stitches) to keep it from breaking open.
QuestionDo I need to iron the fabric?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou don't have to, but it makes sewing easier. Ironing will smooth out the fabric and get rid of any wrinkles that may interfere with the pattern, cutting, pinning, and sewing.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I stitch with a sewing machine?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMost sewing machines have settings for stitches. All you need to do is choose your setting, then move the fabric along where you want it to sew.Thanks!
QuestionCan I sew with other materials?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can use all kinds of fabrics in your sewing, like cotton, wool, etc.Thanks!
QuestionMy sewing machine keeps on working, then not, then working again. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTake it to the store where you bought it from, and explain what it is doing and ask to have it fixed. If it is out of warranty or too old, then take it to an electrical repairer and have them take a look at it. Also check what you're doing when you're using it -- is the cord attached properly each time, are you handling it the same way each time, are you using the foot pedal properly, etc.?Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I cannot thread the needle?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can use a needle threader. It makes it a lot easier ,since it is metal and easier to thread through the eye of the needle. You can usually find them pretty cheaply at your local crafts store.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are the guidelines for hand sewing?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPatience and practice are key, without those two, you won't get far. As long as you can get the basic stitch down you'll be fine.Thanks!
QuestionWhich stitch is best for making a rag doll?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI think the best stitch is the 4th one listed because the stitches won't show on the outside when you are done.Thanks!
QuestionI learned from watching stitching videos that I am supposed to turn the fabric inside out to make something, but whenever I do, the fabric rips. What could I be doing wrong?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou might be pulling your fabric too tight, or your needle is too big.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I sew an animal on a piece of fabric?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAt some stores you can buy little felt animals. You can just sew them on. Or you can find an animal stencil and place that down on the material. Then, using a simple stitch, follow the outline and end with a knot.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I sew the lower arm side of a vest?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf it is ripped, and you want to fix it, or if you just cut the sleeve off, you sew around the hem of the arm. Use whatever type of stitches you would like.Thanks!
If you’ve never sewn before, thread your needle by running a piece of thread through its eye and securing it with a knot. Then, take your threaded needle and push it through the back of the fabric. To create a stitch, push your needle through the front of the fabric close to the initial piercing and pull it through until you feel resistance. Keep your stitches in a straight line to make a trail of dashes. Repeat this until you run out of thread or are finished sewing, then secure it with a knot in the back of the fabric.
- If you are a beginner, you should use thread that is pretty close to the fabrics color, but not the same so that you can see what you are doing and can unthread if you need to.
- Wet the tip of the thread with your mouth for easier movement through the needle hole.
- Try to make the thread match the fabric so that it is less visible if you make any mistakes.
- For more advanced stitches, try a sewing machine. This will make decorative stitches easier and make it prettier.
- If you are poor at threading the needle, note that there are needles with different sizes of eyes and also tools to help you thread a needle.
- If you are getting pricked by the needle, use a thimble to help.
- Accidents can happen. Use a thimble, you don't want to get poked!
Things You'll Need
Sources and Citations
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