10 Useful Sewing Tips Even Advanced Seamstresses Might Not Know

If you have just started or have only been sewing for a little while, you may still feel a bit lost or even overwhelmed. Our sewing tips are not going to teach you how to sew; what we focus on is on the essential tips to get you started. From learning all about your sewing machine to the best way to thread it, we show you some of the best things we have learned about sewing with a machine.

  1. Change Needles Frequently

Change the machine’s needles frequently. A lot of people use the needle that comes with it far longer than they should; we are talking years here.

They often bring their machine in for service and complain that various things are off, especially the tension. The truth is many of these problems are caused by sewing with an old needle, replacing your needles frequently helps prevent issues like bird’s nest.

When it comes to needles, I like to keep more than just the universal pack of needles on hand. We recommend you keep denim, embroidery, leather, and jersey needles on hand as well.

This allows you always to have the right needle for the fabric you are using.

Just pay close attention to the size of the needle, as it needs to match the thread you are working with. Check your needle size before you install it. Use a small piece to thread it and then see if the needle glides smoothly.

If it does, it will sew well; if not, you need to change your needle size.

  1. Using Spool Pin Caps

Don’t just leave the spool pin caps inside your accessory bag; you need to make sure you are utilizing them. Using these spool pin caps is crucial as they help thread wind off the spool and down into the machine.

Use the correct size spool pin cap for the best results, which I have found the spin cap size depends on the size of the thread spool.

  1. Read the Entire Sewing Machine Manual

Although this might seem rather apparent because most of us know to read the manuals, it is still worth mentioning.

Some people skim through the manual, while others who have sewn before don’t bother to read the manual when they buy a new machine. Many sewers make the mistake of assuming they know everything about a specific brand. Modern sewing machines often mean new features and abilities.

We strongly recommend reading the manual from beginning to end so you understand everything yours is capable of doing. I also like to read the manual as then I know how to troubleshoot my machine if something isn’t working as I expect it to.

You should always keep your manual nearby when you are sewing, so you can refer to it as needed.

  1. Best Way to Thread the Sewing Machine

When threading the machine, make sure the presser foot is in the up position. Having the presser foot up releases the tension discs, which ensures the thread is in the right spot.

How I can tell if my presser foot is in the correct position is the thread will pull easily from the machine. If the tension discs are not released, the thread is not able to move.

Threading with the presser foot down creates unnecessary threading issues and may even have you thinking your tension is a problem, and the machine needs servicing.

  1. Moisten the Back of the Needle

When trying to place thread through the eye of the needle, many people moisten the thread to help it slide through the needle. This may or may not work. What works better is wetting the back of the needle as the thread is attracted to moisture so that it will slide through easily.

  1. Never Watch the Needle When Sewing

One of the biggest mistakes beginners makes when sewing is watching the needle while they are sewing. What usually happens is they end up not sewing in a straight line.

Rather than watching the needle, we suggest watching the throat plate guide or whatever you are using for your seam allowance. Many people mark their machines with masking tape to help keep things lined up, and that is what they watch.

  1. Invest in Some Specialty Feet

Many higher-end model machines will come with a variety of specialty feet, but for ones that don’t, we encourage purchasing a variety of them.

Lower end machines and older machines never had the option, but they are adaptable. Check with your local sewing shop or machine dealer what feet will work with your brand of machine.

The feet you want to invest in are based on the sewing you enjoy doing, but here are a few good ones:

  • Walking feet are excellent for quilting or slippery fabrics, as it feeds the material through at the same rate.
  • The quarter-inch foot comes with a built-in guide on the foot’s edge, so you are always sewing at a quarter-inch.
  • Rolled hem foot comes with a curly “q” that moves the fabric into it to provide you with a narrow hem.
  1. Always Have Spray Adhesive in your Sewing Room

Some people view it as a cheat, but we see it as a shortcut as it helps hold things in place while you are sewing.

When using temporary spray adhesive once finished sewing, toss the item in the wash to remove the temporary adhesive, turn right side out and finish up the rest of your stitching.

  1. Press the Fabric as you Sew

Not pressing your material as you sew leaves your items looking a bit more “homemade” than you want. We can’t stress enough how important it is to press the material before you begin sewing with a good iron. The iron needs to have excellent steaming capabilities and needs to get super hot.

  1. Love your Seam Ripper

You will use this seam ripper tool more than you think. Always keep the seam ripper that comes with the machine nearby, so you have one when you need it.

I also recommend investing in other seam rippers, such as a surgical seam ripper. These are ideal for taking out surge seams, applicable stitches, or anything that requires taking out a lot of stitches. Find the seam ripper that works for you because it is something you will use a lot.

If you want your machine to work better in the long term, you also need to pay attention to the maintenance of sewing machines.


Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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