No matter if you’re a beginner or a seamstress-level maker, you are going to love these 20 sewing hacks & tricks I learned from my grandma. I use some of these sewing hacks almost on a daily basis and of course a few of the sewing tricks are used more on the rarity. My hope is this list helps you gain some new sewing hacks that help you pull off that sewing project a little quicker. A little clever use of tape, pencils and more can really kick your sewing up a notch, making even a beginner look like they’ve been sewing for years.
Grandma’s Sewing Hacks & Tricks
1. The Pattern. Most patterns are printed on flimsy, floppy paper–or even worse that tissue paper stuff. Trace your paper pattern onto cardboard, craft or butcher paper, or even craft foam to keep your pattern from flopping around so much you can’t trace it onto your fabric.
2. Colored Pencils or Washable Pens. Speaking of tracing your pattern onto the fabric, use colored pencils (washable, of course) with similar color as the fabric so that if some residue is left, it will blend into the pattern better.
3. Pin Corners. Instead of pinning every ¼ inch, pin just the corners, if your piece is small. This will not only reduce the 10 minutes you spend putting pins in and taking pins out, but it will also reduce the amount of ripples and potential wrinkles caused by over-pinning.
4. Mark Hems. When making your hems, it’s incredibly helpful to have a line to follow–because staying straight is hard. So, to mark this and make sure you have a perfect line to follow, rubber band two colored pencils together and draw your hemline.
5. Washi Tape Hem Guides. No colored pencils? Use washi tape placed along the edge of your fabric to make a hem guide. It works well since the tape leaves no residue.
6. Washi Tape Interior Line Guides. If you have an interior sewing lines you want to make, for example in a quilted piece or similar, you can mark these without a pencil using washi tape–and they’ll be straight!
7. Non-Stop Corners. If you want to make nice, clean-cut corners, it all starts with a non-stop hem line. This is where you stop sewing, but don’t close your hem, just leave the needle in the hem, then turn the piece. Start running your hem again along the other side.
8. Angled Corners. To make an even nicer looking corner, it can be about reducing bulk. So, before you hem, or afterward, you can trim away the excess fabric extending past the hem line at an angle to help keep that bulk down.
9. Washi Tape Double Hem Guides. If you plan to make a double hemline, use washi tape to mark where the two hemlines should go. Not only will this give you a nice straight line, but it will be very easy to see if they are even along the length of the hemline.
10. Ladder Stitch. To make a super clean looking hem when you finish your piece, consider using a ladder stitch. This is going to spread the hem out and make a thicker plane of sewn area.
11. Washi Tape Pin Replacer. If you don’t have any pins, this tip is going to be amazing for you. Just use washi tape to hold your two pieces of fabric together! Just fold it over the edge of one and capture the edge of the other. I recommend running this along the entire edge, or at least a long length of the edge, to get the most clean hem line.
12. Circle Guide. If you’re making a circle or other complex shape, you can cut this shape from cardboard or craft foam and then tape it down using washi tape to the fabric. Be sure to place it not along the hem line, but rather measure the width of your sewing machine foot and place your shape along that line (you may want to trim your shape down as well). Then you can use the form to get your shape sewn correctly.
13. Tape Bracelet. I love a good pin cushion, but sometimes I can’t find it. So, if that’s the case, I just wrap a strip of tape around my wrist, then stick the pins on it as I pull them out!
14. Corner Guide. Just like with the circle shape above, if you want corners that are rounded or some other shape, to get them all the exact same angle, you can cut one shape from craft foam or cardboard, then place that corner guide in place when you go to sew each corner.
15. Reduce Bulk at Hems by Ironing. If your hems are sticking out, kind of bulky looking, you can spread them out, then iron them flat. Then, fold the hem how you’d like them to look and iron once more. This layered ironing action will reduce the bulk significantly. You can use this great Mini Press for ironing.
16. Spray Thread End. A lot of times, I have a terrible time threading the needle. So, to keep this from becoming the most frustrating moment of my life, I like to lightly spray the end of the thread with hairspray. This will help the threads stick together and be a little stiff so that you can get that thread into the eye.
17. Finger Stitch Markers. When you’re hand stitching, I find that I am always disappointed with the results because my stitches are uneven and wonky looking. So, to solve this, place two marks on your finger or thumb to use as a guide to make the stitches super even and clean looking.
18. Washi Tape Reduces Fraying. If you have a fabric that frays immediately upon cutting it (pretty frequent in my case), you can put washi tape on the edge of the fabric to keep that fraying from happening. Whether you’re doing this with the piece you’re sewing or the remnant fabric you’re saving, either way, you’ll be happy your fabric isn’t frayed.
19. Sharpen Scissors, Pins and Needles. I find that I get frustrated when my needles and pins don’t slide right through my fabric. Turns out, sometimes it’s not the fabric’s fault. You can sharpen your pins and needles just like you would your scissors–by poking a folded-up piece of aluminum foil! Note this won’t sharpen a sew of completely dull scissors but will help to sharpen that cutting edge. Remember this is a sewing trick not a miracle worker.
20. Burn Ends of Ribbons. If you’re working with ribbons, one of the annoying things can be the fraying at the ends–constantly. Good news is that you can quickly run a flame across the end of the ribbon to eliminate the fraying.
See? Weren’t all of these sewing hacks fabulous? It’ll take your sewing skills up a notch for sure. We hope you enjoyed learning with us. What sewing tips did your grandma teach you? Let us know down in the comments!
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