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Sewing Hacks You Need to Know

Hello, you lucky seamstresses, seamsters, crafters and makers! Have we got a treat for you today.

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite sewing tips, tricks and hacks to make your creative life easy peasy. These ideas are so simple and genius, you’ll wonder how you didn’t think of them yourself and question why you’ve lived life without them.

Sewing set

Bookmark this list and keep it handy. Your sewing is about to change forever!

  1. Use bobby pins to hold pleats while ironing

After you’ve spent all that precious time plotting and sewing your perfect pleats, pressing them neatly in place is essential. Preserve your hard work by using bobby pins to hold pleats in place while you iron.

  1. Gather easily

If you’ve ever experienced the sheer frustration of using a basting stitch to gather fabric only to have it break part way through, then this gathering tip from Raegun Ramblings has got you covered. This is great for thicker fabrics that might make gathering a little harder with thread alone.

  1. Attach a measuring tape to your cutting table

Placing a measuring tape along the edge of your table or workspace makes cutting quick and easy. You can purchase one with an adhesive backing like this one, and even choose if you’d like it to measure right to left or left to right. Check out this idea from Melly Sews plus some other tips for how to get your sewing room into tip top shape.

  1. Keep scissors sharp

Few things are more annoying than trying to cut with dull scissors. Keep them sharp with these tips to ensure your scissors will last and give you clean cuts for years to come.

  1. Print a bias tape template

Making your own bias tape can be difficult and time consuming with all the ironing and folding. Luckily, the Scientific Seamstress created a printable template that is pure genius and makes fashioning bias tape a cinch!

  1. Quickly and easily install a basic zipper

This tip for sewing in a regular zipper is so smart and simple, it’ll alter the way you install zippers from here on out. Bid adieu to gapped zipper seams and start using this tip from Make It & Love It.

  1. Sew bulky fabric easily using plastic bags

Have you ever wrestled bulky fabric through a sewing machine? Terrycloth, batting or (ugh!) fake fur can wage war against your presser foot and your patience. No more! This helpful hack will show you how to use plastic bags to make these materials glide effortlessly through your machine.

  1. Shorten or lengthen a pattern

Patterns are only so customizable. But, as people, we come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes we require a few extra inches added or subtracted. Learn the right way to personalize your pattern with this helpful tutorial.

  1. Save a buttonhole

You stitch a buttonhole, use a seam ripper to open it up, and accidentally slice through the stitching and into your fabric. That pain is all too real, so don’t let it happen again. Put a pin in it, and read about this idea from Simple Simon and Co.

  1. Mark seam allowances the easy way

If you have to add some space to your seam allowance, you could grab a small ruler and measure and mark all the way around. Or, you could rubberband some pencils together and let them do the work for you. Join 3 pencils together for a ⅝ inch seam, or 2 for a ½ in seam, then trace your pattern edge for an easy and accurate seam allowance.

  1. Make a seam allowance guide using rubber bands

While you’ve got the rubber bands out, grab a couple and slide them onto the base of your sewing machine to temporarily mark seam allowances that extend beyond your machine plate.

  1. Finish an invisible zipper

So you’ve figured out how to use invisible zippers, but how do you make sure the tops of the zipper tape match? And what if there’s lining involved? We got you covered with this tutorial that will keep your invisible zippers invisible and your projects looking professional.

  1. Seam without a serger

If you don’t have a serger, you can still sew pieces without your seams fraying. The Seasoned Homemaker is going to walk you through your options to keep those seams looking clean and intact.

  1. Hand sew without a knot or tail

This is another one of those DUH! sewing hacks that you won’t believe didn’t occur to you sooner. To sew with a needle and thread without leaving a long tail or having to create a knot, simply double your thread by folding the length in half and thread the ends through the needle so that the loop of the thread is at the tail end. That’s it! Bella Dia will show you how to start your stitch from there, forever changing the way you hand sew.

  1. Thread a needle easily with hairspray

While we’re on the subject of threading needles, make threads easier to work with by spraying them with hairspray. This will give you a fray-less, clean end to thread through the needle.

  1. Turn small closed pieces

If your piece is open at both ends, you can use a safety pin to turn it rightside out. But, if it’s closed at one end, all you need is a straw and a small stick or chopstick to get it turned out. Happy Sew Lucky will demonstrate how it’s done.

many colorful safety pin lying on a white background

  1. Use a safety pin to thread elastic

If you have a casing that requires a drawstring or strip of elastic to be threaded through, just hook a safety pin through one end of your elastic and start feeding it through. Work carefully so as not to pull the safety pin out of the end of the elastic.

  1. Make a magnetic pin dish

This idea from Sarah Jane is a smart and stylish way to make a dish that holds all your pins and needles while looking super fabulous. The magnets also make it easy to pick up dropped pins by waving your dish over your floor or work surface.

  1. Prewash fabric to avoid shrinkage

Prewashing your fabric is a super important step before starting a project to ensure shrinkage doesn’t compromise your finished product. Learn about how to pre wash different types of fabrics here, and visit this tutorial to find out ways to protect your fabric from fraying while washing.

  1. Decode your stitches

What the heck are all those stitch settings on your sewing machine? And what do they do? Crazy Little Projects created this wonderful list to explain each and every one so you can break out of your straight stitch rut and start sewing like a pro.

  1. Know your knits and stitches

Now that you know your stitches, knowing which ones to use on knits is important to maintain their stretch and avoid popping stitches. This great tutorial from Andrea’s Notebook will walk you through and show you how to determine your fabric’s stretchability and which stitch to use.

  1. Get a clean corner

Being able to turn out a clean corner when sewing is as simple as making a couple cuts to trim down your seam allowance. Just make sure you don’t snip through your stitches or use anything too sharp that will poke through when turning them out, and you’ll have some nice squared off corners!

  1. Understand the walking foot

Ah, the mysterious walking foot. You’ve heard tales of its wonder. But what does it do exactly? In short, it makes sewing through multiple layers – especially bulky ones – easier by using additional feed dogs to move the layers of fabric through your machine evenly while you sew. Once you have one, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. Find out more about the next sewing tool you’ll add to your arsenal from The Seasoned Homemaker.

  1. Get a grip on your clear ruler

We’ve already extolled the virtues of the clear ruler/rotary cutter/cutting mat trifecta. Add to that list these helpful little guys that keep your clear ruler from sliding around on fabric while you’re making your perfect and straight cuts.

  1. Use a travel cup to hold cone thread

If you have a cone of thread for your home machine, but don’t have an actual cone thread stand, you can use a travel cup with a screw on lid that includes a hole for a straw. Simply pull the thread through the hole in the top of the cup and you’re ready to sew!

  1. Hem frustration-free curved edges

Getting a nice, flat hem on a curved edge can be difficult (we’re looking at you, circle skirt). Learn how to use a facing to ensure a great-looking hem with these instructions from Mabey She Made It.

  1. Stitch a circle

If you’ve ever tried to sew a circle you know how difficult it can be to stitch a curved line and produce and evenly round shape. This suggestion of using a lid and a circle of sandpaper allows you to create a template that will make sewing a circle far easier than freehanding.

  1. Sew perfect darts

Darts are essential for fitting and tailoring a garment, but a sloppy dart can change the overall look and fit of a finished piece. Get those darts on point by following these tips from Indiesew.

  1. Match a seam across a zipper

It can be maddening to sew a zipper into a garment with a seam and zip it up only to see that your seams don’t match, resulting in much ripping of stitches and adjustments. Let the experts at By Hand show you how to stop the madness and match those seams every time.

  1. Use your pins properly

Sure you can just stick pins through your fabric and call it a day, but why not do it in a way that will make your life easier. Learn the right way to use your straight pins so you can keep from sewing over them and breaking your needles.

So there you have it, our list of sewing hacks to make your crafting life easier.

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Did we miss any? Share your favorite sewing tips and tricks in the comments below!

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