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Don't look at the needle!

When I thought about the first top tip post I would be adding to my blog, I pondered long and hard. Until in the end I thought, hang on a blinkin' minute there's only one top tip for machine sewers that I can start with, and that is DON'T LOOK AT THE NEEDLE! Stay with me people, stay with me.


Now I've been sewing for a while and, all that while, I've basically taught myself. As a result of following my own teachings I've probably picked up a lot, I mean a LOT, of bad habits. So, when I wanted to start sewing my own clothes I thought I'd better go and get some advice from someone that knew what they were talking about in the form of a weekly sewing class. This wasn't anything special, or even very advanced, it was one morning a week through an adult learning programme with my local authority, but I enjoyed it immensely. Probably because I was with a small group of like minded people who all wanted to make their first item of clothing that they could actually wear! This was two hours a week of absolute sewing bliss, we chatted, we scoffed cakes and drank copious amounts of tea and coffee. But best of all we all grew in confidence as we shared our experience and were all basically starting from the same place. I would advise anyone starting on their sewing journey to look out for a local sewing class, lot's of local authorities have them as part of their adult learning programmes. and they are quite cheap, so check them out.


Now enough of the reminiscing and on to this top tip. One of the things that I struggled with when I first started sewing with my own machine was how to sew in a straight line. Now I know you might all be looking at your screen and saying 'WHAT! You can't even sew in a straight line!' But yes, I hold my hands up and happily admit this was an issue for me. I mean, I wasn't all over the place and, as long as my thread matched my fabric well, it really wasn't much of an issue. However, I knew that lines weren't exactly straight and it used to drive me crazy.


So one day while making a small owl pin cushion at my sewing class the tutor watched me sew and unpick the same line three times. (I'll add this pin cushion pattern to my free patterns section as it's really lovely and so easy to make). She must have realised what my issue was because she leant across and simply said 'are you watching your needle?' Obviously I said yes I was watching the needle and thought she'd gone a bit mad because of course I was watching the needle, how else would you know you're sewing in the right place. Anyway, she just laughed and said that's exactly what she used to do and this was exactly why her lines used to go wonky. Years before, someone had told her to stop looking at the needle while she was sewing and instead focus on the presser foot. In fact the right edge of the presser foot to be exact. In doing this she was able to line up the presser foot with the edge of the fabric and follow the line perfectly, while also giving her a perfect 0.6mm seam allowance.


Well obviously I tried it straight away, although I didn't hold out much hope for success, but two minutes later I was eating my words and beaming from ear to ear.What, What, What and WOW! It Worked! No, I mean it actually worked! I mean it was like a lightbulb going on above my head. I could now sew in a straight line without worrying about having to unpick yet another line of wobbly stitches. I can't begin to tell you how happy I was.


I know this might seem like such an obvious tip to all you people out there but seriously, I will be forever grateful to the wonderful tutor who flippantly gave me this little pearl of wisdom. She absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt changed my sewing journey for ever and for this I thank her profusely.


So in return I pass it on to you. Use it and enjoy. With love from me to you. Gail xxx



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