“I think art is the only political power, the only revolutionary power, the only evolutionary power, the only power to free humankind form all repression.” - Joseph Beuys
Embroidery, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, etc., arts and crafts are becoming more popular with the younger generation. It’s the end of tired clichés. Year on year, the number of amateur sewers continues to increase.
Is it just a fad or a genuine shift in the popularity of sewing?
One thing’s for sure, there are a lot of advantages to sewing! Sewing clothes, making a homemade present, touching up your curtains, redecorating your house all require creativity and imagination.
So how do you get started?
Get your sewing equipment together and learn about the different stitches a beginner should know when they first start sewing! In this article, we'll be looking at the different seams commonly used like the open and closed seams, felled seams, overlock stitches, and zig-zag stitches.
Everything You Need to Know About the Closed Seam
Before you start sewing a buttonhole, tote bag, zippers or patchwork, you should know that there are different ways to sew and properly stitch something up. Each method needs to be used in order to arrive at the best results possible.
Open seams and closed seams are different methods used in sewing.
Open seams are generally used on thicker materials. The two parts are separated and ironed down. The two folds are not on top of one another. This means you can’t see the seam which would be too thick when seen from the outside.
To do an open seam, you need to start by placing the two parts right sides together and then holding them in place with a pin. Then, with the help of a sewing machine or by hand, you just need to sew a centimetre from the edge.
Once you’ve finished sewing, you need to fold the surplus material and then iron it on both sides. This will create a crease and the fold won’t move anymore.
This technique is often used with trousers, skirts, and even jackets.
The closed seam, on the other hand, is used for delicate items like shirts, blouses, or lingerie.
The main difference between these two types of seam is that the closed seam folds the two edges on the same side. This means you won’t have to separate them. With fine materials, you don’t want to divide them. You can even use a serger to join the two parts of the seam together. You can start by doing a closed seam and if it’s too thick, change it to a closed seam.
The two techniques are quite simple to learn. You can even teach yourself how to do it. However, if you need help, you might want to go to a sewing workshop in a haberdashery or ask for help from a private sewing tutor.
Look up for sewing classes near me on Superprof.
How to Do a Felled Seam
Of all the different sewing techniques, the felled seam is arguably one of the most solid. Also known as the flat-fell seam, the felled seam is made by stitching twice in parallel.
This technique is often used to decorate shirts or sew jeans or furnishings. It’s often used for the inseam for trousers and on areas of clothing that are under a lot of stress. To learn this technique, you can get a private sewing tutor to help you or a professional in a haberdashery workshop.
You could also teach yourself the technique. You’ll need to practise regularly to get it right.
To get started, choose two pieces of fabric that you want to use, and put them right sides together. The two pieces of fabric need to be offset so that you can fold one part of the fabric down onto the other. Pin the two pieces together so that they don’t move while you’re sewing them. If you’re using a sewing machine, it’ll go over the top.
Once the first seam is done, separate the two pieces of fabric and then position the right sides flat on the table. Fold the longer edge over the shorter one and sew again. Then you’ll have a felled seam.
The difficult thing about this method is that the two seams need to be parallel for it to work. Practise doing it and you’ll soon get the hang of it.
An overlock stitch is a common technique used for pieces that need to be folded. This could be pockets on a pair of jeans, for example.
The overlock stitch involves passing the needle and thread around the fabric so that you always work on the same side. This creates loops around the edge of the fabric. The overlock is used to stop the ends fraying and it commonly used for hems.
To get better at an overlock stitch, you might want to use scraps rather than trying it directly on an item of clothing. If this is the case, take two pieces of fabric, and place them right sides together. Just like the other sewing techniques, you should pin the pieces together so they don’t move.
Stitch from the inside. In other words, start your stitch from the right side of one of the pieces of fabric so that you arrive at the other side. Once the needle’s come out the other side, you just need to loop around the top of the two edges and stitch towards the second piece. This time, you need to pass the needle through both pieces of fabric at the same time.
You’ll notice that the thread goes around the edges of both the pieces of fabric. The overlock stitch will be the same along the length of the seam. At each stitch, you’ll need to go around the fabric and pass the needle through the same side. The needle will pass through the same side every time.
This stitch is sometimes reinforced with a double overlock stitch. In this case, you need to do the same again but in the opposite direction.
To reinforce the stitch, you can also use embroidery thread. They tend to be thicker and more resistant.
How Do You Do a Zig-Zag Stitch?
In most sewing classes, you’ll learn about the zig-zag stitch. The zig-zag stitch, much like the straight stitch, is useful for almost every type of fabric.
In fact, the zig-zag stitch is used to make hems and buttonholes as well as reinforcing stretch fabric. When fabric’s flexible and elastic, it can be difficult to find the right tension in the thread for a clean seam. The zig-zag stitch can help a lot in this case.
The biggest advantage of the zig-zag stitch is that you can change its length and width. Thus, you can adapt the zig-zag stitch to every situation.
So how do you do a zigzag stitch?
This stitch can be done by hand or with a sewing machine. A sewing machine is very quick. You just need to choose the right setting on the machine, lift the presser foot, slide the fabric in, lower the presser foot, and start sewing.
By hand, this can take more time.
After you’ve done the end of the seam, you need to do the first stitch in one direction and then come back the other way to form the zigzag. During the second part of the seam, the needle will pass through the first holes but in the opposite direction to rejoin the parts where the thread hasn’t already passed.
You just need to end the seam and you’re done. However, you need to make sure that you’ve got the right tension in the thread; not too tight nor too loose. Thread, elastic, needles, pins, scissors, bobbins, sergers, etc., you need to get all your gear ready for sewing and becoming a great seamstress. The rest is up to you!
If you need more help with sewing, get in touch with one of many talented tutors on Superprof. You can get either face-to-face tutorials, online sewing classes, or group tutorials. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages and it'll depend really on your learning objectives and your budget.
Face-to-face tutorials are costly but cost-effective. Online tutorials are cheaper but lack intimacy. Group tutorials tend to be the cheapest per person per hour but your tutor won't be at your beck and call since they'll have a number of other students to worry about.
Ready to start sewing?