Newbie Thoughts on Sewing

Top 5 of 2012

Keeping on with the reflections post, here are five lessons I, as newbie garment sewer, have learned:

Tracing is Fun!
I thought I would prefer cutting my patterns, and figured if I needed another size, I would just buy the pattern again. But using the Japanese pattern book (which has multiple patterns on a piece of paper and you are forced to trace), I learned that I really enjoy tracing. I think this is because the process makes me feel artistic I am not at all artistic, and I’m well aware tracing is copying over someone else’s handiwork, but the feeling cannot be dislodged by something as weak as logic . Also, while tracing, I develop a better understanding of the pattern than I do when cutting, and I think this has improved my sewing. I like to trace a pattern shortly after it enters my stash, which is when my enthusiasm for the pattern is highest. If I don’t, when the mood or the fabric arrives, I have to prep my pattern before cutting and sewing, and then I might put it off …

Tracing, while watching ABC via the internet. I don’t recall what I was tracing in this photograph…

The Benefits of Using Interfacing as Pattern Paper
I trace using cheap interfacing. The pattern piece then often sticks nicely to my fabric, I pin in fewer places and use pattern weights (tins of tuna and some decorative pebbles that did not make it into a pot plant) and cutting is a breeze. Sometimes, if I’m going to make the pattern I’ve traced fairly soon, I just cut my traced pattern pieces roughly. I then cut more accurately at the same time I cut my fabric.

Danger: The Rotary Cutter (I call it a pizza cutter, for obvious reasons…)
I thought this would be too dangerous for me but I’ve only almost sliced my fingers a few times. I am notoriously good at getting paper cuts, and if I did not have fingernails, probably would not have fingertips. A pizza cutter, combined with using interfacing as my pattern pieces has halved my cutting time. Plus, I think the rotary cutter produces more accurate cuts. I cut out more than one project at a time because I’ve got all the cutting stuff set up. Sometimes I want to sew, but I won’t have any projects cut out and I don’t want to cut. So then, I won’t sew! (Or cut) Better to have lots of projects cut out when the cutting mood strikes, so I’m all ready for when the sewing mood strikes!

Here is another point where using interfacing as pattern piece is great: I keep the interfacing stuck to my cut fabric and then roll it up. The interfacing keeps the edges of the fabric from fraying (or rolling if it is knit fabric) and I know what the project is.Ā  The down side is that I cannot, or rather do not, cut out multiples of the same pattern at a time.Ā  But that’s okay.

Pressing Means Better Ironing
I hate ironing. But pressing has taught me to not mind ironing as much. Like Kat from Modern Vintage Cupcakes, I slip the ironing in amongst my sewing, so that I complete some chores while also doing something fun. I’ve also found pressing has taught me how to iron better.

Compact Sewing
When I first started out, my sewing colonised the living room. Fabric everywhere; instruction sheet on one chair; pattern pieces on another; needles, spools of thread, scissors strewn upon any available surface. Now I only pull out what I need for the particular task I’m doing (although it did take me a while to learn what were the things I needed…), and its very satisfying and much quicker to set up and put away if I don’t empty out my sewing boxes whenever I get time to sew!

But I don’t have to be as compact in my sewing any more, because as of today, I have a permanent sewing station. We moved the sofa bed out of the study and into the lounge (sorry, guests, you sleep in the lounge room from here on in) and bought me a desk:

Ta da! 2013 is definitely going to be a good year in sewing. Yippee!



  1. Yay for having a dedicated sewing space! šŸ™‚ (My sewing increased by a LOT after I got a dedicated space so I didn’t have to set things up and pack them down all the time. So much easier!)

    Good idea about the interfacing for tracing patterns – I may have to give that a go. šŸ™‚


    1. Hi Kat!
      Yes, it is good knowing I don’t have to allocate half an hour for set up/pack away time! Now to get sewing (instead of blogging about it …)


  2. Glad to hear you now have a dedicated sewing spot! Looks good and nice and cool near the window too! Don’t think your guests will mind sleeping in the lounge (I won’t) and they might even get a little sewing gift for a very keen sewer! šŸ™‚
    Keep on sewin’


    1. I don’t know. Helen, for or from both seem fine to me šŸ™‚
      Spotlight are having a sale, and I shall be holding you in mind when I browse there!


  3. These are great tips, especially about tracing the pattern as soon as you get it so it’s ready to go when you’ve got the fabric. Look forward to seeing your 2013 sewing projects!


  4. Ooh, you won the pattern pyramid! It’s your lucky day!
    I am also a huge fan of tracing onto interfacing – now when I try to cut corners and use the original tissue, I find that it slips all over and the cutting is less precise. As you said, I like to get to know the pattern by tracing it – then I don’t have to read the instructions so carefully!


    1. It’s funny – it seems plenty of people trace onto interfacing, but not many people say they do. When I thought about doing it, I tried searching blogs to see if it was a sensible idea, and not that many people mentioned it! Partially because once you do it, well, there’s not much to say about it really, except perhaps sing its praises!

      I still have to read instructions carefully šŸ™‚


    1. Me too… There’s no room in there to cut and definitely no room for an iron, so I continue to colonise the living room. Although I am contemplating making myself a tony pressing board…


  5. Good thinking tracing when you very the pattern! I don’t love the process, but if I did it when I was excited about the pattern that might be different. Smart!


    1. It’s important that I do things when my enthusiasm is high, because the danger that I won’t do it at all is also high ….


  6. I really like the interfacing idea! I was just heading out to buy some tracing paper today but think I will try the “cheap” interfacing idea! thanks! -Laurie


    1. I stumbled upon this idea because I couldn’t find tracing paper (only because I am hopeles in stores; I didn’t know where they kept it and never asked …)) and wanted to trace. So I just used what I had that would work: interfacing! And it’s brilliant. Works a treat.


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