Sewing is not only about making clothing, handbags or cushions. Many artists use stitching as a medium in the same way they’d use paint or plaster.
Emily Barletta Untitled 34 2012 thread and paper 24 x 18 inches
Now I love playing with paper almost as much as playing with fabric and back when I used to scrapbook a lot I tried to use stitching whenever I could. But I’d been noticing how many people were stressing about putting a page under their sewing machine so I thought I’d share a few tips.
This is what I’ve learnt so far…
it doesn’t really matter what needle you use. Obviously though, the bigger the needle, the bigger the hole. But understand that you won’t be able to use this needle for fabric again – it will be too blunt
you really have to grip the paper well as the foot and the feed dog (the little jagged bits where the foot rests), will try to take off with your paper
only use a glue stick for fixing your papers together before sewing. If you use double sided tape or regular sticky tape, the needle will get covered in gunk and won’t work properly
I always leave long tails when I cut off, so I can pull the threads to the back
and instead of trying to tie off the ends I simply hold the ends down with a piece of masking tape
the thread tension is nothing to get too worried about either. Sometimes having the bobbin thread coming through to the front can add interest – especially if it’s a contrast colour
try not to have your stitches too close together. Too many holes will weaken the paper.
I hope these tips make you more confident to have a go at stitching on paper. Have a go on a scrap piece and get to know what your machine will do. And let me know how you go.
Since the spread in popularity of PDF sewing patterns, many have turned their backs on commercial patterns from the big 3 (Simplicity, Butterick and Vogue) saying they’re just too hard and confusing to follow. But really there’s so much to learn from these patterns and if you’re trying to teach yourself to sew without paying for lessons, using these patterns are your best bet in discovering the “right way” to sew.
Here are my top 3 reasons why I believe commercial patterns are the best way to learn –
Clear photos – All the steps are written and illustrated clearly and there are no poorly lit images or distracting fabric designs. To understand the sketched diagrams, you need to also read the key – ie which is the right side, wrong side, lining etc.
Clear steps – The number of steps shown will match the skill level of the pattern. For example a beginner pattern will show more steps to demonstrate techniques clearly. More complex patterns will assume you can do certain steps without guidance and will therefore only refer to them briefly.
Proper techniques – Commercial patterns show proper sewing techniques. Yes there is always more than one way to do things, but learning the standard tried and true techniques will allow you to make your own informed choices later. Like a wise man once said – learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Sewing well is a skill that can only be learnt by understanding the basics and by hours of practice. It can bring you a tremendous amount of joy and pride, just be prepared for a few frustrations along the way. Don’t give up at the first failure – toss it to the side and try again!
If you have any pattern troubles I’d be happy to help you out – either leave a comment below or email me at debra(at)stitchingrules(dot)com