Save You Time
right tool for the right job
Having the right tools and equipment to complete a
job makes work more efficient and enjoyable. If you
save time, that means you are saving money. Always
have your equipment serviced regularly, and keep
your work area clean. It is easy to get busy and
forget to clean up, but once you are disorganized,
it is easy to lose control of your workspace.
Have a backup machine ready to go
It is a good idea to own more than one sewing
machine. It is wise to buy a back up for those times
when your main sewing machine may need service. It
can be very stressful when you are up against a
deadline and your only machine is in the shop, or if
you are in the middle of a project and it goes
haywire for whatever reason.
Sewing machine maintenance
Make sure you maintain your machine and keep it
clean. Never blow out thread fuzz; it only packs it
up in the machine tighter. Buy a small coarse
bristle brush to sweep out the areas where fuzz
collects. Also, buy good quality lightweight machine
oil and use it sparingly. Ask your sewing machine
dealer or repair technician to show you the proper
way to oil and maintain your machine.
Use a good chair to save your back
Buy a metal-framed adjustable drafting chair with a
well-padded seat and back. The chair should adjust
up and down to accommodate varying table heights you
may have in your work area. It is important to buy a
good quality chair, as you will be spending many
hours sitting on it. Note the sturdy metal footrest
ring. In addition, a good anti-static floor mat is a
good investment if you have carpet around your work
Use wooden dowels (sometimes found in bags of
fiberfill or at art supply stores) for squaring out
edges and pushing out seams. Make sure if you use
one that the edge is not too sharp, as you could
tear your fabrics while using it. A letter opener or
artist's "bone" will work just as well.
This is a great tool to convert high capacity serger
thread spools to fit any sewing machine. It can be
purchased through Homesew (see
links section for
Plastic organizers are great for storing small
notions and beads, and will keep everything neat and
separated. Buy a wooden thread tree to keep your
thread spools organized and ready when you need
them. A bobbin organizer will keep full bobbins from
The ironing board pictured is a hinged style, and
can be attached to a wall or door to store it out of
the way. Keep your iron clean, and check its surface
every time you need to use it. There is nothing like
ironing a fabric that is not color set � it can
leave a thin layer of dye on the iron face and will
ruin a finer fabric during the next use. Other
pressing equipment might include a spray bottle (for
controlled steaming), tailor's pressing ham, and a
sleeve or cuff pressing board.
Clean your workspace
You will sew more productively when things are
organized and clean. stay on top of it! Clean up
your sewing area before starting a new project.
Vacuum and wipe off work surfaces to pick up lint,
thread clippings and fibers from the last project.
Magnets are handy but...
You can keep a magnet around your workspace to pick
up pins that fall. There is controversy over whether
magnets placed near computerized machines can cause
problems. It appears that some computerized machines
are affected and others are not. Before you use
magnetic seam guides, magnetic pin cushions, or
other magnetic accessories near your machine, check
with your dealer or sewing machine manufacturer.
Keep a sharp seam ripper handy
A good seam ripper has a sharp smooth point and a
razor sharp cutting edge in the curve. Seam rippers
with flat handles are less likely to roll onto the
floor and save you from needless frustration.
Replace your seam ripper when it gets dull.
Always press your seams as you go
When sewing, never sew over an unpressed seam.
Always press the seams as you go. This will make
sewing easier and will improve the quality and hang
of your finished garment.
Ironing vs. Pressing
Ironing is done by using a back and forth motion.
Pressing is done by using an up and down motion.
Ironing can stretch the fabric out of shape and
cause wrinkling and puckering on finished garments.
Patterns can be stored in a filing cabinet, zip-top
bags, or boxes. Cardboard file boxes work great for
patterns. If your pattern collection is large, sort
the patterns by style (dresses, separates, children,
etc.) or by size. Be sure to clearly label the
outside of the boxes.
Clear stackable boxes are great for storing sewing
supplies. Clear shoe boxes are great for notions.
Larger boxes are great for projects; keeping fabric,
pattern, and notions stored together. Covered boxes
are great because you can stack them up to save
space and they keep the dust out.
Replace machine and hand sewing needles
Hand sewing needles need to be sharp for sewing ease
and smooth hand stitching. Not only are dull needles
difficult to work with, they cause thread to fray
and material to snag. Check hand sewing needles for
burrs and replace them often.
To avoid seam imprints on the right side of the
fabric, place a strip of brown paper bag between the
seam allowance and the garment before pressing.
The ideal height for your cutting table will depend
on your height. The height is generally between 34
and 40 inches high. It is better for your back if
you can work without bending over. If your table is
not high enough, consider putting it up on blocks.
It is important to have a yardstick or longer ruler.
This measuring tool is necessary for longer
measuring tasks, such as measuring from the floor to
the hemline and extending a grain line. Attach one
to your cutting table to help measure fabric
Sew before you buy a machine
Take fabric samples with you to use when trying out
machines. Dealers will usually demonstrate using
fabrics that are easy to handle, giving the best
results. In addition to watching a demonstration,
you should test sew using the types of fabrics and
techniques that you plan to use.
Scissors need to be accessible, but in a safe place.
A purchased scissor block (similar to a kitchen
knife block) from a sewing specialty store works
well. Other storage solutions are drawer or hanging
on a hook. Mark your scissors "for fabric only".
Buy an inexpensive basic machine or a used machine
to start out with. After you have gained some
experience, you will know what features are
important to you and will be able to make better
choices when investing in a more expensive machine.
You can often trade-in your old machine or keep it
for a back-up when the other is being serviced.
It is important to have an accurate tape measure.
Tape measures stretch out of shape and become
distorted with wear. Lay your tape measure on a
ruler to check for accuracy. Replace it as needed.
Avoid rolling up your tape measure, this will
stretch and twist it out of shape.
Measure Twice, Cut Once...