Everyone was a beginner at one stage, and while asking for help online or in a sewing store can be intimidating, learning how to correct your mistakes before they become habit is incredibly worthwhile.
We've come up with the top three mistakes we made when starting on our sewing journey and how we learned to overcome them.
#1 - Making the wrong size
"Oh no, I'm not THAT size!" I would say to myself after taking my measurements and looking them up on the pattern chart. I would decide that I know best and make the size I was used to seeing on ready to wear clothing. The end result was a garment that either didn't fit at all or fit poorly, and ended up not being worn.
At the end of the day, the pattern maker (hopefully!) knows best, and a well designed pattern will fit if you make the size indicated by your measurements. Size is just a number, and although it can be hard to accept the number you're seeing, remember that there are no sizing standards in Australia. As ridiculous as that sounds, it is true, so someone who is a 12 in one store can be a 16 in another, and maybe even a 10 in a store that indulges in "vanity sizing" to make their customers feel better about themselves. Being told that you then need to sew an 18 may feel like a slap in the face, but try not to let it impact your self image - the number just tells you what line to cut along, it doesn't tell you who you are!
Having a garment that fits right, in a fabric you chose and love will make you look better than one with a smaller number on a tag that you can't even see. And because you made it yourself, there is no size tag, and no one to put a label on you but yourself!
#2 - Not Buying Enough Fabric
It sounds like the setup for a sewing joke, but when it comes to making a garment as a beginner, there is nothing funny about running out of fabric and being unable to complete your garment because you accidentally cut out two left legs or didn't put a piece on the fold. It happens to everyone, especially me.
When it comes to kids' clothing (or adults' clothing, let's be honest!), there's nothing wrong with getting creative and mixing up colours and patterns to create a really fun look. But if you're making something really special, it can be comforting to just buy that extra half metre as an insurance policy against mistakes.
If you get a visit from the F*ck Up Fairy, you have that extra to fall back on, but if you're lucky and everything goes right, you have enough to make some matching underwear or add coordinating details to another garment.
#3 - Not Speaking The Language
Yup, yup, cut this, mark that, join together, baste...? huh?, oh well, sew here, sew there... oh crap. Yeah, I guess I needed to baste after all.
The instructions are not just there to take up space and confuse you with odd words, they actually mean something! Learning sewing terminology can be frustrating and confusing, but knowing what is required is important if you want your garment to look like it does in the picture!
When I started sewing, I was over-confident, and jumped into patterns that were above my skill level. I had so many disasters and wasted so much fabric, it hurts me to think about it now. A lot of patterns come with a glossary page that only takes a few minutes to read, outlining the terms they use and helping you understand why you need to do seemingly silly things... like baste.