There are lots of assumptions about sewing that get passed down from sewist to sewist, but how many of them are actually true? Here’s a look at the facts and fictions of sewing myths!
It’s cheaper to sew it yourself
This one is probably the most commonly held belief, especially among people who’ve never done a sewing project for themselves. How many times has someone held up a picture of a gorgeous outfit and asked if you can make it for a pittance? Making something yourself is seldom less expensive than buying from a shop for a multitude of reasons. First, as a consumer, you’re paying the retail price for materials, while manufacturers enjoy price cuts for buying in bulk. Mass-produced items also rely on cutting corners—like unfinished seams, facings instead of linings, and elastic instead of tailoring. A handmade item might cost more upfront, but it will probably last longer!
Hand sewing is inferior to machine sewing
Absolutely untrue. If this were the case, how do we still have hand-sewn materials that are hundreds of years old that have held up over time? The haute couture houses of Paris wouldn’t dream of sending a piece down the runway that was stitched together by machine, and even with lots of fancy machines available, sometimes hand sewing is the best option for home sewing projects, too. When done properly, hand sewing is sturdy, flexible, and almost invisible.
You can’t sew stretch fabrics without a serger or overlock machine
A serger or overlock machine can be handy when it comes to working with stretch fabrics, but it’s hardly the only way to go. A standard home machine hand work just fine—be sure to use some scrap pieces to test all your settings first! Support your material as you work so it doesn’t stretch under its own weight, and use a walking foot to prevent the regular presser foot from distorting your seam line as you go.
All sewing projects are the same
Just because you’re comfortable sewing new drapes for the guest room doesn’t mean you’re ready to tackle a bridal gown! There are all kinds of techniques and challenges in different types of sewing, and even an expert in one area would find themselves a complete beginner in another. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, but also don’t assume that your skills will readily translate.
You can always spot a homemade sewing project
We’ve all had a project turn out a bit wonky, but that doesn’t mean a homemade project should look anything less than stellar. If you’re not satisfied with your initial efforts, check with a fellow sewist to see if they can help you spot what went awry.
You need to master every technique
If only you could! Just as it’s true that no two sewing disciplines require quite the same skill set, it’s also true that no discipline requires all the skills you could possibly learn, either. Do you need to be an expert in sewing with leather to make a set of reversible placements? Hardly. Learn the skills that interest you, and those you need to complete your projects, but don’t worry about the rest.
Pinning is the best way to get even, perfectly aligned seams
Anyone who has worked with slippery or tough materials can tell you this is definitely not the case! Especially with soft, loosely woven materials like chiffon or charmeuse, pinning can be an exercise in futility. Instead, hand baste your pieces. The process might seem time consuming, but it’s much faster and less frustrating than pinning, and can save you ruining your project if your seam is misplaced, since removing it can damage the material beyond repair. For tough materials that are difficult to pin, make sure to cut as precisely as you can and mark your seam line carefully, then simply keep the edges aligned by hand as you go. These materials tend to have limited stretch, which makes this technique possible.
Always press each seam as you go
Pressing is critical for many projects, but this is still a myth. First of all, some materials should never be pressed with an iron. Velvet, for example, would be utterly ruined. Instead, finger-press or steam your seams as appropriate. Secondly, sometimes it’s not efficient to switch back and forth from stitching to pressing for every single seam, especially if you have to get up and cross the room to your pressing station. Instead, stitch seams that don’t intersect or overlap, then press everything at once before moving on to the next phase of your sewing.
You can’t sew just anything at home
There’s an assumption that certain items must be mass produced, but why? Lingerie is one example. It requires some specialized knowledge, but can definitely be made by hand. What about upholstery or heavy drapery? Nope, you can do that too—just make sure your material isn’t too thick or tough for your sewing machine. What about waterproof material, swimwear, or…a nylon kite?? If it can be sewn, you can learn to sew it! Just be prepared for a learning curve if you’re working on something unique or with exacting specifications.
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