36 Tips to Improve Your Sewing Skills to a Professional Level

You know how to sew, but you’re not a professional. You want to be the best at it that you can be. In order to get there, you need some tips on how to improve your sewing skills and make them as good as they possibly can be.

In this blog post, we are going to look at 20 different ways that will help you do just that! These tips come from experts in the industry – people who have been sewing for years and know what they are doing when it comes down to improving one’s skills with a needle and thread.

Be prepared, these tips may change the way you think about sewing forever. They could even make all of your other projects go much faster than before.


How to Improve your Sewing Skills

1. Practice Proper Form

Hold the fabric gently in both hands, not too tight or too loose. Relax your shoulders and keep your wrists straight at all times while you sew, don’t bend them inwards or outwards.

Finally, allow the weight of the sewing machine to do most of the work – you shouldn’t be pushing it along with a lot of effort.

2. Check Your Needle

A blunt needle with a poor tip will never do a good job, so be sure to check it before beginning your sewing project. Change the needle if necessary, as this can spell disaster for your finished product.

Related: How to choose the right sewing machine needle

3. Fabric Choice

If your fabric is too heavy for your machine, it will have trouble moving the fabric through the feed dogs. Make sure you’re using a lightweight material or adjusting the presser foot pressure if not.

You can also use steam to help move it along, just be sure that your machine allows you to do this without damage.

Related: Best Heavy duty sewing machines

4. Needle Type

If you’ve changed your needle and still aren’t getting the right stitch, make sure that it is the correct type for your machine (such as sharp versus ballpoint).

Even though you can use universal needles in certain cases, they are not suitable for all machines.

5. Needle Condition

If you’re using a sharp needle and still having issues, it may be that your needle is old or damaged or even too small to handle the thread you’re using. Be sure to use the correct size of needle for your thread.

6. Thread Quality

If you’re having trouble with thread breaking or knotting, be sure that you are using high-quality material that is also appropriate for the fabric you are working with. Make sure that your bobbin case is clean & clear of lint.

Related: How to Thread a Sewing Machine for Beginners

7. Bobbin Case Condition

It may be that you need to replace your bobbin case because it is worn out, damaged, or full of lint.

Worn-out bobbins can cause a lot of issues with tension and even needle breakage.

8. Presser Foot

If the stitch looks too long & narrow, try using a presser foot that has a wider opening. This will allow your fabric to move more easily, helping you get better results.

9. Don’t Rush

Rushing will not help you create a good-looking piece so take the time to learn how your machine works and practice before trying anything too complicated or detailed.

The best way to practice is by making small projects with simple stitching.

10. You Can Fix It

If you’ve made a mistake, don’t panic – there are ways to fix it so that you don’t have to start over.

For example, if your bobbin thread is visible on the top side of your fabric, use a seam ripper to remove the top few stitches and then reapply the thread to your bobbin.

11. Practice, Then Practice More

The more you practice sewing on scrap fabric, the better you will become so do it often. This is one of the best ways to increase your skills – try experimenting with different stitches & materials if possible.

You’ll be surprised how much you will learn this way.

12. Safety First

Be sure to read your sewing machine manual for specifics regarding your model, and always place it on a flat, sturdy surface to avoid accidents & damage.

Always turn it off before unplugging or transporting it as well. When threading the machine, be sure not to touch the needle (use a pair of tweezers if necessary).

13. Presser Foot

Use the appropriate foot to get your desired stitch result and keep in mind that you can use different combinations to suit your needs.

For example, you could try using a zigzag foot and straight stretch stitch for beautiful hems or gathering fabric.

14. Add A Seam Allowance

If you need to finish your edges, adding a seam allowance is an easy step that can be done before stitching or afterward with pinking shears.

15. Stop Stretching The Fabric

Avoid pulling the fabric around as it feeds through the machine – this will reduce skipped stitches and other problems.

Instead, try feeding it slowly and smoothly, making sure to hold the top & bottom threads taut as you stitch.

16. Use The Correct Tension

Learning what the correct tension is for your machine & thread will help you get better results. You can usually find instructions in your manual, online, or by asking your dealer.

17. Different Stitch Lengths

To make sure that you are getting an even stitch, try using different lengths of stitches first to see which one works best – shorter ones are better for curves and longer ones are great for straight seaming.

18. Sewing On Buttons

Use a thimble to push the needle through the fabric when sewing on buttons to avoid hurting your fingers.

If you don’t have a thimble, try using a small metal washer or cufflink instead. This is also a great way to avoid pricking your fingers (and ruining the fabric) when sewing.

19. Sewing Over Buttons

If you are sewing over buttons, try pressing them down first with an iron before stitching – this will help prevent them from getting caught in the machine and can make for a smoother operation overall.

20. Get The Right Tool

For best results, use the right tools when necessary – don’t try to fix knots in your thread with a metal needle or pin – use a seam ripper instead.

A small pair of scissors can be used to help remove pilling from knits and to cut fabric, too.

21. Threading The Machine

To prevent tangles, thread the machine in the order that you will sew (check your manual for specifics). When storing, keep the spool upright so that it drains properly.

22. Do A Test Run

Before attempting to do any real sewing, always try running a swatch of fabric to see how well everything works together – this is a great way to make sure that you’re prepared for anything and will help avoid problems once you’re on the go.

23. Practice

Whenever possible, practice new techniques and stitches with scrap material – this will help you become comfortable with everything and also give you a chance to check for errors before tackling larger projects.

24. Sewing Over Stitches

If necessary, you can stitch over previously made stitches to reinforce them. Just make sure that you are sewing over the same thread, otherwise, it can weaken the whole chain.

25. Use The Reverse Button

To make sure that you’re getting the most out of this button on your machine (and to improve the quality of your product) make sure to use it whenever possible – especially if you are sewing seams or tacking fabric together.

26. Sewing Stretchy Material

If you are working with elastic, spandex, or any other similar stretchy material – pin it together well, don’t make too many stops along the way, and do not sew over any buttonholes.

Stretchy materials should be sewn from right to left when possible – you can also switch between a straight stitch and a zigzag every 2 stitches to help avoid damage.

27. Sewing With Knits

If you are working with knits, avoid using pins – there is a chance that the fabric will be stretched out of shape.

Instead, sew stretchy pieces together using a loose zigzag stitch when possible and try to use the appropriate needle size when necessary (sizes 90/14 or 100/16 work well when working with knits).

You can also try using a sewing machine that has stretch stitch capabilities.

28. Pinning

For best results, make sure to place pins parallel to the edge of the sewn material and pin no more than 1″ away from it (use five pins per inch).

29. Remove Pins

Whenever possible, use your finger to remove pins by applying slight pressure so that they turn sideways and slide out of the way.

If this is not possible, you can also use a tweezer or pair of pointy-tipped scissors to pull them out with minimal damage (be careful not to snip your fabric!).

30. To Use Pattern Paper

Place the pattern paper under your fabric and pin it into place – this will help you avoid pinholes in your final product.

Most sewers recommend using blue painters’ tape instead of pins, but these can leave a residue behind that is difficult to remove from most fabrics.

31. Tearing Out Stitches

To tear out stitches, use a seam ripper – carefully work your way along with each stitch until it is removed.

You can also try using sharp pointy scissors but be careful not to cut through any of the fabric.

32. Sewing With Bias Tape

When working with bias tape, make sure to pair it with the right side of your fabric and use a well-sized seam allowance.

33. Sewing Straight Lines

If you are using a sewing machine, make sure to use a straight stitch (and if necessary, place a ruler under the footer) when working with straight lines – this will ensure that there are no messy stitches in the final product.

34. Sewing Curves

If you are working with curves, make sure to use the appropriate footer and stitch slowly without pulling too hard on your material – if necessary, lay a piece of fabric under your presser foot as well.

35. Tracing Off Pattern Paper

To avoid your pattern paper shifting around when you are working with it, try placing it under an old magazine or using pins to secure it into place.

36. Inserting a Zipper

To insert a zipper, start by pinning one side of your zipper to your product – use a zipper foot to prevent any messy stitches.

Set it just above where you want your teeth to be lined up, using the edge of the presser foot as a guide.

Related: How to install the zipper foot on a Brother sewing machine?

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