Sewing lessons learned

I am learning my sewing machine by making lots of dinner napkins from fat quarters of quilting cotton, and making more zipper bags. My machine is a Baby Lock Presto II and I have already learned several important lessons:

Colourful cotton dinner napkins on a wooden background with a quilting rule above.
Colourful cotton dinner napkins on a wooden background with a quilting rule above.

Ironing is a thing. Lots and lots of ironing.

Despite what happened in high school Textiles class to a boy named Mervyn, it would be very difficult to drive the needle through your fingernail into the top joint of your middle finger, thus pinning you to the sewing machine until the teacher gets the needle out and sends you to the school nurse.

Sewing machines can thread the needle by themselves! There’s a lever for that and it works every single time and it will make me happy every single time.

Trust the feed dogs.

Measure your fabric. Then cut the edges straight yourself, because they’re probably not straight and they definitely don’t have a nice right-angle corner you can use.

For no apparent reason, batik fabrics, while gorgeous, seem to be thinner than prints. I have no explanation for this.

If roller cutters had been around when I was in Textiles class at school, I’d have done a lot better with cutting things in straight lines. OmniGrip self-healing cutting mats are made of magic.

Do not, under any circumstances, use fabric with a grid pattern. You will go quietly bananas with trying to line it up exactly and sew it perfectly straight. Just don't start.

The fabric scissors are only for fabric. This rule is absolute and sacred!

There’s something very satisfying about turning a piece of work right-side-out after sewing it with the right sides on the inside.

Washing the fabric will both change its shape slightly and liberate an alarming amount of loose thread. This is normal.

Seam allowances are a good thing. You need them. You probably need them to be a bit bigger.

Even more ironing. It's worth it, but so much ironing.

Unlike your mother's sewing machine, yours has speeds other than "all stop" and "Warp 9." Though it does have a warp 9 and it's fun to use on a straight edge.

Don’t do this stuff on the fly. Figure out the measurements, wash and iron the fabric, measure and cut it, clip it in place. You are not yet at the skill level where you can improvise like you can with knitting.

Subscribe to Quantum Tea

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
Follow me on Mastodon