When I was younger, I had a doll that I loved to dress up, but clothes that fit her were expensive, so my grandmother would sew clothes for this doll and give them to me for Christmas or my birthday.
As I've gotten older, I've starting sewing myself. With the help of a family friend, I've learned to sew several suits, dresses and just about anything else you can imagine.
Sewing can be time consuming, but it's one of my favorite hobbies and can be very rewarding. Here are a few helpful tips about how you can get started sewing.
Sewing machines can be expensive, especially if this is the first time you've sewn; they range in price from $75 to $400 and more. However, using a borrowed machine from a neighbor or relative is an economical way to try this hobby. Or if you're a little bit more serious, machines can be purchased from retailers like Jo-Ann's or even Walmart.
Because of the expense, think about what your future use of your machine will be. If you plan on studying fashion design at college, you might want the more expensive machine. If you're sticking to more basic techniques, an inexpensive machine would work.
No matter what, always read the owner's manual. Details of functions as well as how to use and maintain the machine can be found there.
Just for starters
Easy techniques like a straight seam and zigzags are a good place to start. Straight seams are most easily accomplished by following the guide lines on the metal plate beneath the needle and presser foot, and keeping the edge of the fabric in line with the guide line.
With a zigzag stitch, you'll want to keep the edge of the fabric in line with the guide again, but change the width of your stitch according to how wide you'd like your zigzag. If you can't find the width knob, look in the owner's manual for your machine. When in doubt, read the manual!
Picking a project
For your first project, pick something easy. Things like pillows, a place mat or a potholder are ideal for first-time sewers. After you've mastered one of these items, try something a little harder. Pajama bottoms, scrunchies, or an elastic-waistband skirt are good projects to practice skills like seam finishes and casings.
If none of these project ideas sound appealing, check the Internet or look at your favorite fabric store for other skill-building projects.
All scissors are not created equal
When you've got a project selected, you're going to need fabric, equipment and notions such as thread or buttons. For equipment, most fabric stores have starter packs put together by manufacturers that work well. At the very least, make sure you've got a pair of good fabric scissors and a set of pins.
Remember, you'll need fabric scissors, not paper scissors. Paper scissors aren't sharp enough to cut fabric. Other types of notions and equipment like zippers and bias tape are used in more advanced projects.
Patience, young Padawan
True, sewing isn't the easiest hobby to pick up. It takes patience and practice. Patterns don't always turn out well the first time you sew them either. It may take three or four tries at the same pattern before you can get it right. Don't worry, this is normal! The more you bond with your sewing machine and understand how to run it, the easier sewing becomes.
Ask a friend
When I started sewing, I had no idea what I was doing, so I enlisted the help of a family friend. She's sewn for years and knew all the little ins and outs of the sewing techniques I wanted to learn.
If there's someone in your neighborhood who sews, asking them for help on a project isn't a bad idea. The employees at fabric stores are also very helpful and knowledgeable. They can help you decide what pattern is in your skill range, what fabric would work well for a project, or answer any sewing-related questions.
Have fun with the possibilities and the savings
The No. 1 thing about sewing that lots of people miss is that it's so fun! With enough patience and skill, you can make anything you could buy at the mall for a fraction of its retail price.
You can decide, for example, what color or style your dress for the upcoming dance will be, instead of some big brand telling you how to dress. You can also learn, through sewing, to change clothing articles that you buy so that the shirt that just doesn't quite fit right will fit perfectly.
And sewing can also save you money. A cute tablet cover that costs $35 online only costs the price of a handful of fabric and an hour or so of bonding with your favorite sewing machine. The possibilities are endless!
Abby Payne is a senior at Bear River High School. When she's not singing, writing or talking a million miles an hour, you can always find her reading. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.