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How do you improve your hand sewing skills?

I do not have a sewing machine, and I use hand sewing to put in elastic waist bands, etc, but my stitches are too big and crookedy. How do I improve my hand sewing?

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2 Responses to “How do you improve your hand sewing skills?”

  1. Chirp says:

    Basically, it comes down to practice, but there are a couple of tricks you can try.
    You can use a chalk marker (a sewing notion available just about anywhere that sells fabric, but avoid yellow as it can sometimes stain) and use it along with a ruler to mark a straight sewing line on your fabric – sometimes, just sewing in a straighter line can make your stitches more even in size. The chalk should brush off easily when you’re done (if it hasn’t already just while sewing).
    If that doesn’t help enough, there’s a quilting notion called ‘tiger tape’ – it’s a special 1/4″-wide masking tape with regularly spaced marks (several different spacings are available, depending on how big you want your stitches to be – sold at Joann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, etc, and on-line). You stick a piece 2″-3″ long along where you want the seam, then you sew right next to the tape, with your needle coming up at one mark and down at the next (or at the second mark, or whatever gives you the spacing you want) – do each stitch the same and you’ll have a straight, even seam. A piece of the tape can often be used a few times before it loses its ’sticky’ and you need a new one – just peel it off when you get to the end of a section and stick where you want to sew next.
    Good luck!

  2. kay says:

    Practice. When I was learning, my mom put a piece of tape on my left thumbnail and marked a good stitch length on it that I could use for comparison to what I was doing.

    Me, I start beginners off on a piece of aida cloth (normally used for cross stitch). It’s got definite holes so you can see where the needle belongs. Start off on a piece of 10 count, and work your way down to 14 or 18 count and you’ll train your muscle memory. This is what it looks like:
    http://yarntree.com/zweigart-fabric/aida.htm

    It’s typically heavily starched, so run it through the wash a few times before using it for sewing practice.

    1893 book on hand sewing — the basic stitch for construction sewing is called “stitching” here, but is usually called backstitch now: http://vintagesewing.info/19th.html
    http://mktag.org/projects/sorchaBlackwork101/content.html

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