Seven Essential Sewing Skills

on September 27 | in Sewing + Quilting Tips, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 35 Comments

Tasia from Sewaholic and Sewaholic Patterns wows us with her incredible style and sewing skills. Her blog is one of our favorite daily reads! Have you seen all of the gorgeous versions of her Lonsdale Dress out there on Flickr, Pinterest and your favorite blogs, all sewn up this past summer? Tasia inspires, and teaches along the way too; she is a fabulous resource for sewing techniques and more on her blog. We asked for some of her favorite tips for essential sewing skills and she shares them here today. Enjoy!

Hello, everyone! I’m Tasia, sewing blogger at Sewaholic and owner of Sewaholic Patterns. I really love to sew! One of the things I love about sewing is the fact that you’re always learning. No matter what skill level your sewing is at, there’s always something new to learn! Luckily, the online sewing world is full of amazing, well-written tutorials to help you sew. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share some of my favourite sewing tips with you. We’ll talk about seven essential sewing skills, with a list of resources for each one.

1. Pre-washing Your Fabric
Pre-washing is exactly what it sounds like– Washing your fabric before starting to sew! While you might be excited to get started right away, this is an important first step. Washing your fabric first can help eliminate shrinkage. You don’t want your finished project to shrink after it’s all finished! Pre-washing also removes finishing chemicals which can irritate sensitive skin. And, if your fabric is brightly coloured, pre-washing can remove excess dye and keep it from bleeding or running later on. So before you start cutting, wash and dry your fabric first!

Helpful Links:

2. Taking Your Measurements
It’s not about your size, it’s all about your measurements! Pattern sizing is often very different from clothing sizing; you may be a size 6 when you shop, but a size 12 according to pattern size charts. Don’t worry about the number, focus instead on taking accurate measurements. Remember to measure your body wearing the undergarments you’ll be wearing under the finished garment. If your dress will be worn with a special bra, put it on before you measure!

Helpful Links:

3. Pressing
Pressing is what you might think of as ironing. Technically, pressing is exactly what it sounds like– “Pressing” the iron to the fabric and lifting it up in between pressing, rather than sliding it back and forth. Pressing is so important to successful sewing! Not only does pressing help flatten your work, removing puckers and helping the seams to lay flat, but it also ‘sets’ the stitches, melding them into the fibers of the fabric.

Some great posts on pressing:

4. Seam Finishing
My mother always told me that my projects should look as nice on the inside as they do on the outside. It’s easy to do if you choose the right seam finish! There are so many ways to finish the inside of your garments, even if you don’t have a serger. You can bind the edges with fabric, and why not use a contrasting colour for fun? Turned-and-stitched seams look just as good as serged seams. French seams are easier than you’d think, too!

Here’s a great list of seam finishes to get you started!

5. Sewing Zippers
Zippers are a fast, efficient and easy closure for your garments! There are two main types of zippers used in home sewing, invisible zippers and regular zippers. Invisible zippers are exactly what they sound like– ‘Invisible’ from the right side of your project. All you’ll be able to see is the tab at the top! Regular zippers are easier to spot and are definitely visible from the outside of your work, but they’re often more durable than invisible zippers and easier to replace. There are many options for inserting a regular zipper: centred, lapped, or even hand-picked! Hand-picked zippers are a special favourite of mine– They’re one of those techniques that looks more complicated than it actually is!

There are plenty of zipper tutorials out there, but here are some great ones:

6. Buttons and Buttonholes
A lot of people are afraid of sewing buttonholes– It’s true! Buttonholes are intimidating because they’re often the last step. Your project is just about finished, everything looks great… What if something goes wrong with the buttonhole? Take a deep breath, and keep reading. These tutorials will help you get over your fear of buttonholes! Whether you sew them by machine, by hand or– the ultimate in adventurous buttonholes– the bound buttonhole, the same theory applies. Practice makes perfect! Definitely make at least one test buttonhole before diving in on your actual project. Even if the test buttonhole is flawless, it’s still a good way to practice!

7. Hemming
If you don’t have buttonholes to worry about, then hemming is likely your last sewing step. Like seam finishes, there are many different ways to hem your garments. The simplest way is to turn up the edge of your garment and sew by machine. You can add seam binding for a pop of colour, sew invisibly by hand, or if you’re hemming your lining, add lace trim for a pretty touch!

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35 Responses to Seven Essential Sewing Skills

  1. Judi says:

    Wonderful. Thanks so much!

  2. sangeetha says:

    Thank you !!

  3. Malisa says:

    Very helpful tips. I took your advice and filled my iron with lots of water last night. It did help with pressing my fabric. Thanks for posting this!

  4. Betsy M says:

    thanks – these will help.

  5. This is a great list of sewing skills and links to helpful site. I am going to bookmark it so that I can come back when I am working on a project and get the help that I need. Thank you!

  6. Tasia says:

    Yay! Thanks everyone! I’m so glad you liked the post and all of the helpful links. Zippers and buttonholes are the two tricky tasks that most people dislike or avoid. Practice, try different techniques and figure out which methods you like best and work for your style of sewing. They get easier, I promise!
    @Evelyn – absolutely! Owning a seam ripper is important. A nice sharp one makes ripping out faster and easier! Equally important – don’t be mad at yourself when you have to use it. Mistakes happen!
    Thanks again for letting me guest-post, it was fun!

  7. Aneta says:

    LOVE all the tips!Bookmaking this forever 🙂

  8. Katrina H says:

    I love the tips!

  9. That’s a good list of sewing skills, summed up quite nicely. I agree with Evelyn, seam ripper is part of essential tools and just part of sewing even when it’s frustrating to need it.

  10. Lynne says:

    Wow! Thank you! Super information and tutes all in one location! I especially love the different hem tips. Thanks!

  11. Suzanne says:

    This post holds a wealth of information. I can’t wait to read all the links. Thank you!

  12. Jayne says:

    There was a lot of wonderful info in that post! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Great roundup for a newbie like me! Thanks for the encouragement, I was trying to talk myself into not doing that step (well, have to sew the non-selvage sides first), but I just know something bad would come out of being lazy. Off to pre-wash some fabric!

  14. Tina says:

    THANK YOU!!! This page is definitely bookmarked for future reference.

  15. Catherine says:

    Fantastic post for all levels of sewing experience! Bookmarking this one!

  16. Stacey says:


  17. Ashley says:

    Great tips! Thanks so muc for sharing!!!

  18. Jennyroo says:

    Sighhhhh… zippers and buttonholes. I really need to bite the bullet and just TRY!

  19. Kristin H says:

    Thanks for all the tips! I especially appreciate the links for finished seams, I’m always forgetting how to do French seams.

  20. Fran says:

    Fabulous resource !
    Love all those links too….
    many thanks….my last shirt project
    is STILL missing buttons & button holes !!!!!

  21. Maya says:

    These are some great tips! Thanks!

  22. Norine says:

    I heart Tasia and Sewholic! Thanks for the tips.

  23. Shirley Clark says:

    Pressing is so important. I don’t know how people can sew a straight seam without pressing the fabric before and after everything you do.

  24. Christine says:

    Thank you for the tips. I need all the help I can get.

  25. Evelyn says:

    My first thought when I saw the title of this post was: one of them has to be “own a seam ripper”. In 95% of my projects I need to use mine at least once, if only to pull out tailor’s tacks and basting.

    Great post!

  26. Sharonnz says:

    Great info thanks!

  27. Lainie says:

    What a great resource post! Thank you 🙂

  28. Jessica H says:

    This was a great post. Thanks!

  29. Amy in VA says:

    Great tips! Thanks. I’ve bookmarked so I can ‘study’ before starting my skirt.

  30. Samina says:

    Tasia’s tips are great, as always. I’ve followed her blog for ages & have learned an awful lot from her.

  31. kathyh says:

    Very organized with great photos.

  32. great tips! I don’t sew garments but these tips apply to all sewing projects; like prewashing, pressing (i’m an obsessive presser!), and seam finishes (i line just about everything I make because I don’tlike frayed edges!).

  33. amber says:

    Great post Tasia – thanks for sharing!
    Amber 🙂

  34. Chris says:

    Thank you sew much! I am in sore need of a refresher on the basics!

  35. Bethany says:

    awesome tips and extra help for whatever trouble spot you have! That is super cool! Thanks!

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