Sewing tips

Learn How To Find Your Grain

Finding your grain can often be the most difficult part of beginning a project. However, if you clip into the selvage just a bit and pull on a loose thread, you can easily find the grain. The loose thread will tug on the fabric and you can pull it out gently. This line that is left is your cross-grain and the cross-grain runs perpendicular to the grain line. Once you fold the fabric in half, your lines should match on both sides. Source and more info: colettehq

Cut Burlap Perfectly Straight

You’ve likely noticed how much I love burlap. You can really decorate so many things in a rustic way with this amazing material. However, it can be difficult to get the perfect cut. An easy way to cut straight lines in burlap is to simply pull out one strand before you cut. The strand will show you where you need to cut to get a perfect line. You just cut along the gap.

Choose the right machine

Obviously if you already own a sewing machine, you can skip this (and make do with what you have). However if you still need to buy one, there are sewing machines best suited to beginners to choose from. I'm not going to go into detail here about the advantages of those models but I strongly invite you to go read a few of product descriptions to get the gist.

Keep your lines straight and your curves neat

This can seem hard if you've never used a sewing machine before, but fear not it's actually quite simple (although you'll definitely need some practice). To stitch a straight line, place the edge of your fabric along one of the lines* on the needle plate, and keep that alignment while you stitch. *Most sewing machines have these lines. If not, you can "draw" one by sticking a bit of tape on the needle plate. Go slowly at first then increase your speed as you gain confidence. Always focus on the alignment, not the needle or the stitching: they move too fast for your eyes to follow plus it prevents you from seeing the bigger picture. To make a smooth curve, stitch slowly while rotating the fabric using both hands. Do this in a steady, continuous movement if you can, and if you can't (or if you need to make a sharp turn) always stop with the needle down into the fabric. This allows you to pivot the fabric around the last stitch ensuring a neat curve.

Keep Your Scissors Sharp

Keep your scissors sharp by designating a pair just for cutting fabric. When you use your fabric scissors to cut through paper or other material, it gets dull. You don’t want that to happen! This is a really important and life-saving sewing hack you always have to remember.

Use Muslin in Cutting Slippery Fabrics

Cutting slippery fabrics can be a little tricky. There is little to no traction between your scissors and fabric that just begs for a mistake. To help you out, place a layer of muslin under it. You can pin the layers together to make cutting easier.


If you are piecing oilcloth, top-stitching can help the seams lie flat.

Don’t use pins!

Pins will leave holes in the oilcloth. Use sewing clips instead.

Finish the edges (or don’t)

Oilcloth doesn’t fray, so you don’t need to finish your edges or hem your fabric. If you don’t like the look of the raw edges, you can:

  • Finish the edge with bias tape
  • Serge the edges
  • Trim with pinking shears
  • Hem like normal

Choose the right stitch length

Use a longer stitch length. This reduces the number of holes you make in the oilcloth (which can potentially make it less waterproof) and prevent the oilcloth from tearing.