Top 10 Beginner Sewing Tips Nina Makes Tutorials Patterns Free

Learn to Sew – Top 10 Beginner Sewing Tips

Here are my Top 10 Beginner Sewing Tips! When you are just starting out on your sewing journey sometimes those little Sewing Tips are so helpful. Those of us who have been sewing a while tend to take these for granted, and presume they are common knowledge.

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Updated: Learn to Sew – Joining Elastic 3 Ways

As part of my Learn to Sew tutorials for beginners I have updated my Joining Elastic 3 Ways post.  Now it matches the new formatting and should be a lot easier to read and use.  So if you need a little help with joining elastic, then check out the updated post!

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Learn to sew - step 1 - straight seam

Learn to Sew – A Straight Seam – Beginners Tutorial

Do you want to learn to sew?  Think it is too difficult? I have been told by so many people that sewing is just too hard…well I thought I would start addressing that by making tutorials for the absolute beginner.  I will be bringing out a series of very basic and easy to follow tutorials to get you started on your learn to sew journey.

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Make your own Bias Binding – Single & Double Fold

I have always wanted to make my own bias binding but it just seemed so difficult to get it straight.  Then I discovered that you use a bias making tool for that!

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I bought mine online from fishpond.  Monkeybrother Fabric Sewing Quilting Bias Binding Maker Tape Maker Tool Set – 4 Different Sizes. Updated 8 October 2016 – These are no longer available but they now have Estone Set of 4 Bias Makers which are the same,

This is an affiliate link it costs you nothing but if you use it to make a purchase I earn a commission for sending you to their online store.  Working towards the dream of blogging for a living…one day!

Making Bias Binding a

Now for making the bias!

What you will need,

  • Fabric (woven fabric) I am using an off cut but fat quarters work well too
  • Bias Maker Tool
  • Roller Cutter, Ruler & Cutting Mat.  You can use scissors but it will be a little more time consuming to get the pieces even.
  • Iron
  • Thread
  • Regular Sewing machine.

Step 1 – Cut Your Strips

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I find it easier to use a square piece of fabric so have cut my piece into a square.  Then I folded it into a triangle, taking care to make sure it was folded accurately.  The ruler shows the grainline of the fabric.

Bias Diagram

The black grid shows the direction of the woven fabric (grainline & weft). The bias is the red line and is cut at a 45° angle.

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By folding your square in half into a triangle you have a crease marking the bias line!

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Cut down the fold line to make it into two triangles.  Work out how wide you want your bias to be.  I am doing 1” (2.5cm) and cut your strips on a 45° angle from the grain line.  You will need to check what size your bias makers are!  I am going to make my strips 2” wide, this will make a 1” single fold bias or a 1/2” double fold bias.

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Cut your strips parallel to the cut you made on the crease earlier.  Measure the first one carefully and cut it.

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Do a quick test to make sure it is the right size for your bias maker!

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You can then use your strip as a pattern piece for all the rest.  Saves you measuring it out every time.  If you have a special fabric ruler (on my wish list!) then you can just use the measurement guides on that!

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Cut as many strips as you can fit.  You can see I have left the top triangle out as it is getting pretty narrow and would mean a lot of joins in a small area.  Carry on with the other half of your fabric until it is all cut.

Step 2 – Joining your strips

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Pin your strips with the right sides facing, overlap the points as shown in the photo.  Check out the next photo to see where you sew!

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Sew from where that two layers meet in the corner to the same place on the other side.

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Check that when folded out it looks like this!

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Press the fold open from the wrong side of the fabric.  If you fold them both over in one direction it will create a small piece that is 3 layers thick which won’t sit as nicely.  By folding it open it will only ever by 2 layers thick in one place.  Once the bias is folded the angle of the join will stop the seam folding up on top of itself, and also retains the ‘give’ the bias has.  This give is what allows it to go around corners.

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Trim off the pointy edges and you are done!  Now to join all the other pieces.  I find it much quicker to sew all the joins then press.

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There you have a long flat pieces of soon to be bias binding!

Step 3 – Bias Maker Tool

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Time to use the bias maker tool.  Feed the corner into the widest end of your bias maker, and pull through.  If you are having trouble there is a hole on the top that you can use a pin in to help pull it through.

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Here you have it pulled through a bit.

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Head over to your iron and press the iron down onto the little end you pulled through.  Then slowly slide the bias maker down the length of your fabric strip, following it with your iron.  To keep it even make sure you stay the same distance from the bias maker tool with the iron.

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Keep going until the bias maker comes off the end of the strip.  The joins in your strip shouldn’t effect the way it folds, but can sometimes need a little extra pressing to make them sit flat.

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And there you have it single fold bias!

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It always amazes me how much you get out of such a small square of fabric!

Step 4 – Double Fold Bias

To turn your single fold into double fold bias binding you need exactly that…another fold!

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So back to the iron we go.  Fold your bias in half so that the raw edges are hidden inside.  Press and carry on till it is all folded.

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And now we have piles of double fold bias!

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And a close up just in case!

Step 5 – Storing Your Bias

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I like to keep the pieces of cardboard from store bought bias and re-use those.  You could use any card you like (cut up a cereal box etc) to fit where ever you store your bias.

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I also like to trim the pointed ends straight before winding it onto the card.  You can always do this before you use it but I like it to be ready when I want it later!

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Just wrap it around and around your card.  This will keep the folds in place so it will store well and be ready for use when you need it.

Get ready for a  whole new world of decorative bias!

Struggling with the Bias Binding?

There is nothing quite as frustrating as attaching your bias binding to turn it over and see it hasn’t been caught on both sides!  Out comes the quick unpick and after the joy of unpicking you get to try to sew it again.  This is a risk more on the corners and even though I pin them extra it still happens sometimes.  I have a cute solution!

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Here are the different methods I have used previously on the blog to attached bias binding!

First Method

Place the binding on and sew both layers at once.  This is OK for small straight pieces of bias binding, like on my Expandable Pockets.  If you are putting bias around corners I’d recommend using the second or third method, or a combo of the first and second!

20150725_130646 Second Method

Unfold the bias and pin open onto the right side of the fabric, sew down the first fold.  Then fold over the edge and pin.  Sew right next to the bias to catch the back layer.  Get more details on my Bandana-ish Bib Tutorial there is also a great video link there!

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Third Method

Here is another cute way to attach it without the risk of missing it on one side!  Above you can see the two ways I already attached bias binding, and for this method you start off the same way as the second method.  See the instructions in Bandana-ish Bib Tutorial.

Instead of stitching right next to the binding zigzag over it!  I chose a fluoro green (which I bought to make a ‘Fluoro Dance Party themed costume, here are the supplies on Instagram!) as a nice contrast and to make a feature of it.  The photos are not doing the colour justice it is very Flouro!  I love it!

Bandana-ish Bib Zigzag

I think it gives a great effect on this Bandana-ish Baby Bib, a nice feature and way to add a bit colour.  Of course you can always use a matching colour if you don’t want it to stand out, but why???

Let me know if you have any other ingenious methods of attaching bias binding!

Joining Elastic 3 Ways - Beginners Tutorial

Joining Elastic Three Different Ways Beginners Tutorial

Hello again as promised in the Contrast Baby Pants Tutorial here is a tutorial on joining elastic 3 different ways.

Joining Elastic 3 Ways - Beginners Tutorial

There are so many ways to join elastic.  These are the three I use most often.  I have used white elastic with blue thread so you can clearly see what I have done.  Obviously a matching thread would give a much neater looking finish!

1. Overlapping Elastic Join

Joining Elastic 3 Ways - Beginners Tutorial

With this method you overlap the ends of the elastic by  a couple of centimeters (almost an inch) and zigzag up and down a few times over the double layer to secure it.  I like to do this twice to be sure it’s caught well.

Pros: Very easy to do, nice and secure, easy to adjust the size later and even has a little room to let it out if need be.

Cons: The doubled up area is a little bulky, not the neatest finish if your elastic band is visible.

2. Exposed Elastic Join

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This method works great for creating a tidy looking join if the elastic will be visible in your garment.  As it is in circle skirts or some boxer shorts.

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Stack the two ends on top of each other lining up the cut edges and sides carefully.  Sew a straight line across, I have used a 1/2″ seam allowance (use the guides on your machine – See this Learn to Sew Tutorial).  Remember to reverse over a couple of stitches at the start and end to prevent it coming undone.

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It should look like my example above.  Go ahead and trim off any excess thread.

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Fold the seam open as shown above.

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Sew down the folded sides about 1/4″ from the middle. Don’t forget to do a little reverse or use your lock stitch at the beginning and the end.

You can trim off any extra overlap to reduce the bulk a little if you like.

Pros: The finish is very tidy on one side great for when the elastic is exposed.

Cons: A little more time consuming, and still a double layer but it doesn’t feel as bulky as the overlapping option.

3. Flat Joined Elastic

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To start the flat join just butt the two ends of elastic together (double check that they are cut straight!) and place them together under you presser foot.

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Making sure the cut is in the center.  I like to use the biggest zigzag stitch I have to ensure that both sides are caught.  I go over this two or three times to be sure all edges are caught securely.  This method is a really good option for items where the elastic will be sewn to the fabric also, like leggings waistbands.

Pros: Very flat join, quick and easy.

Cons: Doesn’t feel as secure.

Happy Elastic Joining!

Updated – 22.09.2016