The Seven Deadly Sins of Sewing……

When pondering recently, just what I have learnt since I began my sewing adventures a couple of years ago, it occurred to me that there are certain things that I do now, that I was clueless of at the start,  but have now become my sewing fundamentals.  They are the steps that I wouldn’t dream of skipping or the situations that I will avoid like the plague. Because I know in all certainty, that if I do (or if I don’t), I have sounded the death knell on my project’s success. As I become aware of the little details that combine to make a professionally finished garment, these are my unwritten (until now!) rules, that I would be committing sewing sacrilage if I failed to adhere to. These are my Seven Deadly Sins of Sewing…

Skimping on the Pressing – I hadn’t a clue as a beginner that my iron would be just as important as my sewing machine.

Skipping the Toile – In my eagerness to sew a finished garment, in the past I have dived straight in and cut straight from my fashion fabric and regretted it every single time. It’s good to have a practice run when you’re using a pattern for the first time

Rushing – This is a big one for me! I can be an impatient sort. I’ve taught myself to enjoy the process of making a garment as much as the finished article, and take time over the little details, done well,  that I know will make me smile each time I look at them

Neglecting needles – Using a new needle each time I start a new project has become a bit of a ritual for me. And using the right needle for the type of fabric was a lesson learnt the hard way too!

Sewing on Empty – Sewing when I’m tired is also a big no no for me.  My  patience is low, I get easily frustrated  and I make stupid mistakes. (Hence the lack of sewing on this blog of late!) Some things are best left for another day when you’re in the right frame of mind

Fabric Faux Pas’ – If something is worth my time sewing, then it’s worth sewing with a decent quality fabric and decent quality notions. I’ve learnt to be patient in sourcing my fabrics because I can’t afford to buy metres and metres of fabric from High Street retailers. My stash is comprised almost entirely of thrifted supplies and I’ve had some great scores from Freecycle and fabric swaps too.

Thinking you can’t – This one, out of all of them has held me back the most in the past. Here’s what I’ve learnt – Don’t be afraid to tackle a project because you think it’s beyond you. Ok you may have to tackle it bit by bit. Break it down into smaller parts, surf the net for tutorials. read blogs. Practice on a scrap of fabric. But you’ll get there, and you’ll learn so much on the way

This list is by no means set in stone and there are many other things that I could add. I’m sure as I continue my sewing adventures I’ll find still more. But because of my heavily illiterated title, I’ve limited myself to just 7 for the purposes of this post! I’m interested though….what are your big no no’s when it comes to sewing? What are the massive faux pas’that you would simply never commit?

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  1. didyoumakethat August 11, 2011

    I agree with all of your deadly sins. I sometimes commit all or one of them. I hate ironing! If I’d known how much time I’d spend with my iron, I might never have started on this heady adventure! (I wouldn’t change things, however.)

  2. Stephanie Lynn August 11, 2011

    I’m so bad about pressing but it does make such a difference! I’m also terrible about forgetting to snip my threads so I always have little dangley threads everywhere. I am trying to be good though!

  3. lladybird August 11, 2011

    i agree with all of these – especially the rushing part. i have a tendency to want to finish as soon as possible so i can wear the piece to wherever (i think this is a problem for a lot of sewers, actually!) and in rushing, i end up with a lot of “just good enough” that is barely passable. wonky zippers, uneven hems, bad (or no) seam finishes, poorly inserted sleeves… you get the picture. it’s so so so important to remember that sewing is supposed to be fun, and one shouldn’t try to fly through the entire thing in an evening.

    my other major one is sewing over pins. eeee!! just STOP IT! i can hear that poor machine screaming all the way over here! 🙁

  4. Jody Pearl August 11, 2011

    I ticked all those boxes….just thinking of the things I say to students;

    “the iron is your friend”
    “the un-picker is your friend”
    “don’t be afraid to walk away – make a cuppa, go for a walk, have a holiday”.
    “take the time to get to know your sewing machine – it’s important you are friends”.

    pretty much everything you’ve said only in Australian!

  5. Sarah August 12, 2011

    That’s a great list – I agree with all of them. My biggest downfall is sewing when tired and rushing. I never, ever forget to press 🙂

  6. Anonymous August 12, 2011

    All very sound principles. As part of “not rushing” I include basting, and generally doing things that will permit the fabric to be handled as gently as possible. I sometimes read the Cutter and Tailorforum,, which is not aimed at home sewers. It tries to instill professional values even in amateurs and they warn off people who aren’t dedicated.

    There was one relative beginner who had posted his work and he said that he figured he’d fix any problems with the next project. The moderators, who are professional tailors, told him that he needed to work more slowly and deliberately and to redo things when necessary.

    I also wholeheartedly support the idea of using the best material one can afford. Fabric is easily responsible for 80% of the effect of a garment, and sewing is so much work. Why not maximize one’s success?

    My biggest sewing sins are procrastination and timidity; it also doesn’t help that it’s currently a hassle for me to gather my materials together to sew.

  7. Frankly My Dear August 12, 2011

    i think upon the few occasions which i sew, i always end up doing all seven sins. i’m going straight to sewing hell.

  8. Anna. Kathryn Vaughn August 12, 2011

    great advice for all levels of sewers.

  9. Suzie August 12, 2011

    Ooo these have all hit home for me too! I’ve litterally just posted a rant about using cheap thread, it’s just not worth it.
    And I’ve just discovered my favourite top has frayed at the seams and has big holes now, which I don’t think I can fix…all because I didn’t finish the seams well enough (oh for a serger!).
    But I guess these are things you just learn the hard way from experience.

  10. cyberdaze August 12, 2011

    I agree with your seven. And as well as changing the needle I clean the sewing machine before every project. And I always have to remind myself to sew slowly on anything that needs accuracy…it’s quicker to do it right first time than have to unpick it!

  11. Debi August 12, 2011

    I agree with all of these (except maybe the toile…I rarely make those. But the reason is that I use the same pattern company from the same time periods and know how they will fit me. I do make toiles for other patterns that I’m not as familiar with, for example 1950’s dresses. But I always make the toile out of the exact same fibre content as the fashion fabric. I also do quite a bit of tissue fitting and basting in general..)

    But yes to all the others! Especially being tired and sewing! Love the picture..too funny!

  12. Kestrel August 12, 2011

    All great points. Rushing and not taking time are things I can definitely be guilty of. It’s so important to have that ability to take a step back and think ‘I need to take a break’, before you stop enjoying things.
    Good quality materials of all kinds are a must, from fabric and thread to scissors and needles.

  13. Sulla August 12, 2011

    Oh yeah, sewing over pins… That’s my biggest no-no. Oh, and not getting my machine regularly maintained. I am guilty of always trying to squeeze just one more project out of it before I pay to get it serviced. Going on 6 years now with no maintenance. Constantly adjusting the tension isn’t cutting it anymore. I can’t even do button holes anymore. Time to fork over the $…

  14. A.J.A. August 14, 2011

    Great list! I am guilty of needing to keep better track of changing my needles. And I am with you in trying not to rush- at first it sounded good to be able to speed right along with the blind hem stitch on my machine or the zipper foot, but I have learned that, for me, the hem and zipper look so much better when I do them by hand. I do hand sewing even on the baby’s stuff or simple items, because I need the practice! Another big no-no can be not pre-treating your fabric. I have made this mistake in the past. Not fun! I let it slide with some fabrics though, especially if I intend to hand wash the finished items.

  15. Super Bloomers August 14, 2011

    Thanks for the list! I pretty much follow all of them except changing the needle with every new project. I know my sewing instructor had told us too, but I never had. I guess it’s really that important?

    Hm… something I never skip. I would say fabric prep by making sure the grain is straight and basting EVERYTHING.

  16. Jeanne Marie August 15, 2011

    This is a good list. I’ve been sewing for years, and have learned some of these in only the past few years. My tip for remembering to use a new needle each time: Take the old needle out when you finish a project, as part of your cleanup. You’ll be forced to put in a new needle to start the next project.

  17. Technicolor Cutie August 15, 2011

    I have been sewing since I was about 12. This list has really hit home. In the past I was very eager to help others, but never sewed for myself because I was apprehensive to “take the time” and the clothes I wanted to wear were “too overwhelming”. I was afriad that I wouldn’t make them well enough because I rush, have little time to give myself and usually “run on empty” prompting many seam ripping sessions and do overs. Which really ends in abondon and half done garments, doesn’t it? However, I am all about revisiting and polishing my 20+ years of sewing back into myself. Reading blogs, watching tutorials and actually doing the small steps that I always skipped in the past (basting, pinning fabric piece together and actually using a zipper foot, lol). Thank-you for your post! It really helped me 🙂

  18. Tracy August 16, 2011

    Rushing is the big sin I always am guilty of. Fitting sewing around work means that I am always trying to finish something at the weekend and so try to pack in as much as possible – I always want to show off my creation on Monday. I have so many things that look nice from the outside – but inside – amateur and nasty!

  19. Brandy Layton August 18, 2011

    Just popped into your blog for the first time…I agree with you wholeheartedly on these sins. Sometimes I am spread way to thin and my sewing will reflect that. Being patient is something I have learned comes from being well rested.


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