The Lost Art of Sewing


Back in the day, our parents and grandparents use to sew, crochet, and knit not only for enjoyment, but also out of necessity. They made and repaired clothing items, as well as accessories, that were to be worn or used inside and outside the home. In recent years, as clothing and accessories have become more affordable and readily available, our society has moved away from creating these items at home. Instead, people have opted to purchase something off the rack, sometimes spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on one shirt, one scarf, or one pair of shoes just because of the name on the label. What’s even crazier is the availability of items that look hand sewn, crocheted, or otherwise homemade, or the things that look worn (like faded or ripped jeans, or sneakers with holes on the toes).

Well, with people cutting back on expenses and spending more time at home, the lost art of sewing is starting to be found again. Even the least creative person can make some really cool things if they can follow a simple pattern. Keep in mind that sewing is not just limited to clothing items, either. Things like blankets, purses, wallets, makeup bags, and crayon/marker rolls are also great sewing projects, regardless of your level of ability.

Whether you are a complete novice or returning to the world of sewing after a long hiatus, there are a few things you’ll need first.

Find The Right Sewing Machine

When you have the right tools, you can do anything. Modern technology has transformed sewing machines from heavy, clunky, big needle-and-thread machines, into more really cool, user friendly, lightweight machines that can do all sorts of fancy stitch work and embroidery. However, with all the available choices, how do you determine which machine is right for you?

Well, if you do not currently own one, find out if any of your family members or friends have a machine you can borrow. Find some scraps of fabric, such as old rags or clothes that are no longer wearable, and a spool of thread.  Take time to play around with the machine and the different available features. This will allow you to get comfortable with at least the basics of how a sewing machine works and help you determine what features you like before buying one.

If you don’t know anyone with a sewing machine and/or when you are ready to purchase your own, consider starting with one that is used or refurbished. You can usually find good deals on basic machines for under $100 on either, Craigslist, or Ebay.

When you are ready to make the move to a more advanced machine, read product reviews from such places like Consumer Reports or other websites specifically for those interested in sewing. You could also check with your local fabric or craft stores, like JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores, Hancock Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby. Salespeople at these types of places should be able to help you narrow down what machines would be the most appropriate for your ability level and the projects you want to do.

Get The Necessary Sewing Supplies

Now that you’ve got your sewing machine squared away, it’s time to pick your project. The first step is to determine what you want to do. Relatively simple projects, that don’t take much time, are perfect for the beginner or begin-againer to start with. That could be something like an apron or a blanket. If you are feeling a bit more ambitious, you could try a simple child’s dress, a purse, or bag. Whatever project you decide on, sewing patterns are divided into levels of expertise, thereby making it relatively easy to find a pattern appropriate for your abilities.

Once you’ve decided on a pattern, the next step is to find fabric, thread, and any accessories (like buttons, trim, zippers, etc.). If you’ve never been to a fabric store, you may find that the fabric choices are a bit overwhelming. No worries. Each pattern usually has a recommended type of fabric, thread, and any necessary (or optional) accessories printed on it. If you need additional help making your selections, any of the salespeople are more than able to help.

A few other miscellaneous items to make sure you have is a good pair of sharp scissors, a tape measure, and stick pins.

Designate a Sewing Area

Armed with your sewing machine in one hand and your bag of fabric store purchases in the other, you are ready to get your creative juices flowing. But where should you set up your sewing area? It should be a place that has enough space to spread out, a sturdy table or desk, and a comfortable yet supportive chair. You should also be able to work on your sewing project without having to bend over or reach up, or you will end up working on a back pain project in addition to sewing.

It should also be well lit. There’s nothing like trying to thread a needle when you can barely see the eye. (The eye of the needle is the loop or hole in the needle that the thread goes through.) Additionally, good lighting comes in quite handy when trying to cut out the pattern pieces and then put them together. Not to mention how essential the lighting is when actually sewing.

With your sewing machine setup and threaded, and your pattern pieces and fabric laid out, it is time to begin. The only thing left to say is “happy sewing!”

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