5 Learn-to-Sew Skills I Plan to Pursue Next Year

I've been enjoying the stories over on the QA community discussion board where members are sharing how they learned to sew.

Everyone has their own unique story (some funny, some bittersweet) but most people seem to have learned to sew from: their mothers, their 8th-grade home ec class, or from a grandmother or family friend.

A lot of them learned how to sew clothing first, putting in (and often taking out and putting in, again) set-in sleeves, gathering fabric for peasant skirts, and even stitching up a pair of pants.

I confess, I never learned to sew that way. They didn't have home ec in my school and although my mom and other influential women in my life sewed quite a bit, it didn't stick with me. I did learn hand embroidery, and that eventually led me to art quilting and machine quilting.

But despite my passion for "Project Runway," making totes and stitching dog coats is about as close as I get to fashion sewing. Given that, there are certain sewing tasks that are not in my repertoire. Installing an invisible zipper, for one. Sewing and pressing a curved seam, for another.

However, the more I delve into home décor and accessories like bags and cuffs, the more interest I have in acquiring those fashion and home dec skills.

Conversely, having learned how to use zippers and buttonholes as design elements in art quilts and also how to bind a quilt with a curved facing, I can see how these sewing techniques would expand my art quilting arsenal of skills as well.

So I was thrilled to see that Stitch Magazine's Winter/Spring issue will include a list of Top 10 sewing tips and techniques complete with illustrations. There are at least five that I'm interested in right off the bat, including:

  • How to install an invisible zipper (As the zipper disappears into the seam, it's the perfect closure for knife-edge pillow covers.)
  • Sewing and pressing a curved seam (A great skill to have when making a facing-style binding on a curved-edge quilt or when creating a fiber art vessel.)
  • Sewing buttonholes (Useful when creating closures for home décor projects or as part of the design or the hanging structure for a quilt.)
  • Making and inserting piping (Pillows again!)
  • Creating even gathers (Aprons, skirting for a studio worktable, making a ruffled edge for a pillow, quilt, art scarf or cuff.)

Here's just one example of Stitch's Top 10 technique tutorials.

To ensure nice, tight, even gathers:

  1. Sew a line of basting stitches (longest machine stitch and slightly loosened tension) 1/8 (3 mm) on either side of the seamline. On tough-to-gather fabrics, add a third basting line right on the seamline. Leave long thread tails on both ends.
  2. When you're ready to gather, grab all the bobbin threads on one end and pull gently, easing the gathers to the center. Repeat from the other end (A). When you have the exact gathered length needed, tie off both ends.
  3. As you join the gathered piece to an adjacent section, stitch with the gathered side up. Make sure the fullness stays at a right-angle to the stitching line and don't let the gathers scoot along the thread length.

Very helpful advice! If, like me, you were never schooled in these skills or you're looking to brush up on what you learned long ago, I strongly recommend you pre-order the Winter/Spring issue of Stitch. (Psst! You'll also love the directions for the "Scrappy Coneflower Quilt" and the "Happy Home Wall Hanging" inside the same issue.)

Other topics you may enjoy:


Machine Quilting, Quilting Daily Blog, Sewing Techniques

One thought on “5 Learn-to-Sew Skills I Plan to Pursue Next Year

  1. If you dont add a lock stitch in the middle you could pull out the thread from the other side. I suggest 2 back stitches in the middle just to be safe. Especially when learning how to pull threads for gathering. I have been sewing for 50 years and have found that if it can happen it will eventually. Maybe not the first time but trust me it will when you least want it to.