June 29, 2011

Hand Sewing

Beginner's Sewing Kit - $11 @ Joann Fabric
I have had one of my maybe awesome/maybe horrible ideas. Hear me out before you judge! I love Salvation Army and Goodwill and hate buying clothes at full price. The only problem is that they never seem to have one shirt/pant/etc in multiple sizes (go figure) so I end up not getting things I love because it doesn’t hang quite right. In case you missed it, I live in my car, and don’t have room for a sewing machine. Because of my lack of space I have not tried altering clothes, but that will end today! I’m going to try altering clothes by hand. Yeah, you heard me. This may be a total disaster (flash forward to my top unraveling at work) or really useful. Either way, it’s going to be a learning experience.

My first step was to read a bit. I got How To Sew: Basics (the Kindle version, of course) and, while free (because it was free?), it was surprising unhelpful. The one good thing was that it lists and explains some basic sewing stuff I’m going to need to get started. For  some instruction on actual stitches I went to Monkeysee.com (I'm kind of addicted to this site) and found some great videos on all types of sewing styles and techniques.

I'll bet this chic even hand stitched that shirt!!

So last night I went to Joann Fabric and picked up a beginner's sewing kit. I might make a quick stop at Salvies this evening to find something cheap to test on... My fingers ache just thinking about this project but hey, why not right? Are there any seamstresses in the audience? I know I sit next to one at work every day and am super jealous of her abilities. I may be picking her brain for useful tips... Mainly about seamstress first aid.


  1. Here's my first tip:
    Never judge a sewing job until it's pressed. They all look a bid rumply until they are "sized" or ironed. You can "overnight" iron by placing your clothes under your bed, or in your case, anything with weight will do....dampen it to set the press.

    Hand sewing is actually a better way to sew, you have better control and it actually drapes and moves better.

    I do historical sewing, so I have got used to hand sewing, and find it faster and easier than lugging out and setting up my machine, in most cases.

    Practice sewing by buying some cheap embroidery thread at the goodwill and start embellishing your jeans or tops. You'll be fabulous in no time and look great too.

    The stitch used in the photo above is the best all around stitch ever, it works like serging or zig zag, it gives a little.

    I never use the "running" stitch, it puckers and looks bad.

    Good Luck, and I'll be checking in to see how you are doing, also check local sewing boards for quilting clubs, they often have gatherings you can join in on and get some experience and good advice.

    By the by, I once lived on the streets in my teens, it was a great formative experience. Try to get into something a bit more substantial though, life will be better when you can move around and have toilet and washing facilities. I have seen old Truck Toyota Campers sell for $500.

    Stitching Up History

  2. I have a large box of clothes that need repairs, if you'd like to practice! Better you than me!

    Cyndi & Stumpy @ RVly Ever After

  3. For most of human history, all sewing was done by hand so there is no reason it won't work. A french seam can be a really good, strong hand seam. The trick to good hand sewing is small stitches and keep smoothing out your seam. An iron really is essential to sewing - by hand or machine. It is a lot slower. Once upon a time, all women of every social status were busy sewing whenever they sat down because it took so much time. That's where all those "idle hands" adages came from.

  4. One more thing. Watch the quality of the thread in those sewing kits. It usually is pretty lousy and meant only for an emergency repair that won't last. Get a beeswax thread thing. Makes the thread tangle less and lasts forever. You thread your needle,then run the thread thru it. Good scissors are essential too. You will probably need a better pair than what is in the kit.

  5. You guys are so helpful!! Thanks:)

  6. Had to catch up after our last hectic few days! Where we live there are a couple of fabric store/lounge where they have sewing machine stations set up, its kind of like a Starbucks type of place but for sewing. They offer classes and have open craft nights as well where you can just bring whatever project you may be working on and work on it there with everyone else. Maybe there's something like that in your town?

  7. J & V,

    That is such a great idea! I remember those in California (not sure where you guys are) but the east coast seems to be too antisocial for such things. Micheal's Craft store does classes and I was thinking of sneaking in... We'll see.


I love mail so leave a message, ask a question, or give me some advice. You can also email me at Thetuckerbag@gmail.com