There are some things I (almost) ALWAYS do when I’m preparing to sew something. They are…
- Zig zag the ends to prevent fraying.
- Wash fabric. If it’s going to shrink, I want it to do that before I cut it up and sew something that I’ll only be able to wear once because it shrunk too much. Always wash fabric before sewing.
- After it’s dried, I iron it. If the fabric is wrinkled, it won’t lie flat and you won’t be able to cut decently straight lines and you’ll have problems sewing it decently as well.
- Get a straight line at either end to line up the edges properly. You can do this either by pulling one thread from one selvedge to the other or, if the fabric allows for it, by ripping the fabric one selvedge to the other. Do this as close to the cut edge as possible – you don’t want this line to run through your garment.
- Make sure the fabric hangs properly by lining up the selvedges with someone helping you (I use Fahim :)). He holds his two corners at his ends, I hold my two corners at my end, with the selvedges matched. If it wrinkles one way or the other, it’s not going to hang properly. I fix it by pulling – gently – on the opposing corners to stretch it a bit.
- Iron on low heat – with no steam – the pattern pieces I’ll be using. It’s easier to use them when they’re not wrinkled.
- Lay out pattern pieces on fabric and pin down. Make sure to get the grain lines straight and, because I’m OCD me, maximize on compacting the fabric area I’ll be cutting out. I like having leftover fabric to play with – I’ve recently been dreaming of making handbags to match my outfits, but in the past, I’ve quilted, make hair scrunchies (yeah, it was a long time ago, so what?) and stuff like that. If there’s enough leftover fabric, I might be able to squeeze another garment for someone out of it.
- Cut ’em out. And from this point on, handle all fabric pieces with care so as to not stretch any of the curved edges which will stretch if you’re not careful, and all of a sudden, you get sleeves & sleeveholes that don’t match or gaping necklines. Really, you want to avoid those problems. Trust me. If you don’t, you’ll learn soon enough.
- Use a scrap of fabric, folded over to two thicknesses (because you’ll be sewing – for real – with more than one thickness) and test tension. Adjust bobbin or top tension as needed. Consult your manual for help as needed.
Okay, that’s the condensed version.