as i was sewing last night, i realized that i have really evolved as a seamstess over the years. of course there are areas where i can improve, but otherwise, being mostly self-taught, i realized that there are three basic things that all sewers need to know.
here are my top three simple tips for making sewing easier:
1) press your fabric. no, don't iron it! ironing is a back and forth motion, pressing is laying or folding the fabric how you want it, and then laying the iron on it for a few seconds. by running the iron back and forth (ironing), you will push and pull the fabric with the iron, causing your fabric to deform from how you laid it. by pressing your fabric, especially the folds and pleats, you will have a much easier time sewing along them, and won't have to use as many pins...
2)...which brings me to pinning your fabric. i think that many sewers find pinning to be overrated. pin everything! it keeps all the layers of fabric together, straight, and avoids shifting under the presser-foot. remember to remove each pin as you come towards it with the needle, lest you hit it with the needle: this can cause the pin to bend and (worse) the needle to break. sometimes, when i am using a very large width stitch, i will sew carefully over the pins...
3) ...and when would i use a very large width stitch? if you like pleats and layers, the best thing to do is to baste them in place. the word "basting" takes me back to when i would read the little house on the prairie books, when the ingalls girls would baste by hand then hand off the garment to their mother to machine-sew. nowadays, many machines have a basting stitch that is simply a very wide width stitch that can be set to a loose tension. the concept is to first press and pin your garment, then baste the garment along a pleated area or area that has many layers. this way as you work with it more, it will already have that area set in place, regardless of what your future steps are for the rest of the garment. just keep in mind that basting is not for seams!
well i hope this helped and did not confuse! remember : press, pin, baste!
now, go get sewing!