Top tips for budding sew-istas

With The Great British Sewing Bee bursting onto our screens recently and style icons such as Lady Gaga, Eva Longoria and Danni Minogue confessing to catching the sewing bug and creating their own clothes, sewing is the latest must- do activity and crafting is the new cool.

Offering some top tips for those of us taking the plunge and picking up a needle- Simplicity’s sewing specialist- Wendy Gardiner- is here to help! 

Choose an easy to make sewing pattern:

If you’re new to sewing, then don’t go head first into a complicated pattern. Watching the exciting challenges on programmes such as The Great British Bee, it’s always tempting to think too big. Instead start with an easy to follow, basic pattern and choose creative prints, fabrics and textures to stamp your style on the project, then work your way up to more complex designs as your ability and confidence increase.

Simplicity’s It’s So Easy range is perfect for novices looking to start their first project. With everything from maxi dresses to summer tea dresses, Simplicity sewing patterns come with easy to follow instructions. Not only this, but each Simplicity pattern comes with a step-by-step guide, providing essential tips – from what equipment to buy to the amount of fabric needed.

Think ahead:

To avoid a last minute dash to the haberdashery shop- make sure you get  all your supplies in advance.
Tick these sewing kit must-haves off your list and you’re ready to start.

• Scissors- For a neat and tidy finish, embroidery scissors are a must for every  budding sewista.
• Tape Measure- An absolute must for every sewer.
• New needles- Ensure that you have a good stock of sewing machine needles, so you use a new needle for each project.
• Thread-  It always pays to choose a good quality thread. A long-lasting cotton-wrapped polyester thread is the most popular type.
• Sharp pins- Plenty of pins are an essential part of  any crafter’s sewing kit.
• Hand sewing needles- A set of needles is essential for finishing off details- whether you are making the garment by hand or using a sewing machine.
• Marking pencil- These are great for helping mark out where to cut, and can help to avoid any sewing mistakes.
• Seam Ripper- These are great for correcting any mistakes you make along the way, as they effortlessly cut seams and not the fabric.
•  Patterns- Last but not least you need your patterns & fabric too.

Size matters:

Make sure you use the right size sewing pattern. Checking your measurements is always the first step to take . You’ll probably not be the same size as a ready-to-wear garment from the high street, so using your trusted tape measure is essential!

If you’d like to make a garment that fits your bodyshape exactly, then choose one of Simplicity’s Amazing Fit patterns.  Each pattern comes complete with separate tissue sizes, making sure you can can easily and quickly adapt patterns to fit your form.

You’ll make some mistakes:

One thing is for sure- you’ll make mistakes in your first project, as everyone does at first, but you’ll soon learn the hang of it if you press on!  On the bright side, it’s a great way of mastering your sewing skills. Don’t take your first attempts too seriously! Sewing is a brilliant way of getting creative and de-stressing , so enjoy the experience. 
Practice stitching on fabric scraps, which have the same number of layers and interfacing as you’ll use on your final fabric.
For common mistakes such as a puckered seam, simply use a seam ripper to help you correct any errors you make along the way.

Use your resources:

Take a look at the Simplicity website,, which offers everything from the latest  Simplicty sewing patterns, to ‘how to’ videos. Sewing bloggers can also be a great resource for extending your sewing knowledge, so interact with your fellow crafters for a helping hand.

What to look out for in a sewing machine:

If you’re splurging out on a sewing machine, make sure it ticks all the boxes. A sewing machine is a real investment, so find one that meets your specific needs.  Follow these handy, top tips for finding the perfect machine for you:

• Opt for a reputable brand- this will help to ensure you have access to spare parts and optional extras.
• Decide what type of project you’re buying the machine for- with quilting machines varying from simply sewing machines, find a machine that matches your particular needs.
• If your budget can stretch to it, a computerised model is ideal for beginners- with automatic settings for stitch length and width to suit the stitch you choose, it offers a great helping hand.
• Try before you buy- take your own fabric samples to try on the machine, from fleece to chiffon, make sure it is the right machine for you and your favourite fabrics.
• Pick a machine that can do more than you want it to at this stage. If you do this it allows you to develop your skills with the same trusty sewing machine, rather than outgrow it early on.


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