We have searched high and low and spoken to some real, get-right-to-it crafters to bring you some of the best sewing hacks to make your crafting quicker and easier. So, what do we actually mean by sewing hack? Personally, I would define a hack as using something in a way which it was not intended, often to make something easier.
There are, officially, many different meanings to the word hack, none of which fully describe the way that it is most commonly used these days. In fact, upon searching the closest I could find was actually in the Urban Dictionary, which describes it as:
To jury-rig or improvise something inelegant but effective, usualy as a temporary solution to a problem.The Urban Dictionary – Verb sense 3
The Urban Dictionary also calls it the technical equivalent of chewing gum and duct tape, which seems to explain it pretty well. Either way, we have gathered some hints, top-tips and outright sound advice from people who do this every day. And we’ve put it all together here in one place for you so that you can craft the smart way, rather than the hard way.
The Sewing Hack Handbook
1. Crisp Seams
Malorie Makes told us that using a clapper made of hardwood helps her to get crisp seams with wool. She says that it traps the steam, and makes everything nice and flat. The only thing is that she doesn’t own a clapper…so… time for sewing hack number one.
2. Splendid Sequins
Giusy Nuno told us that when she’s short on time she glues sequins on and stitches them at a later point. Whether glueing or stitching, getting those pesky sequins in place can be tricky, making the white pencil our sewing hack number two.
3. Hot Glue Removal
Gabbie, also known as EllaOfHouseKaplan creates some amazing cosplay. She needed to change the way her armour attached to her costume on the morning of its first trip out! That’s where sewing hack number three comes in.
4. Pin Curlers for Pockets
Errantsewist describes herself as learning to sew by fearlessly doing, and frankly, we love that. She has a great tip for keeping pocket corners flat.
5. Fork Those Pleats
Laura from The Quiet Needle told us that if you don’t have a pleating foot that you can use a fork to measure out a perfect pleat. The mind – officially – is blown!
6. Nose to tip
She then messaged us back to tell us:
It’s kind of a silly one and it’s kind of crazy. If you don’t have a ruler to measure and need a yard of something, hold the cut end between the tip of your pointer finger and thumb, extend the arm holding the cut end as far as you can to your side and hold the other end up to your nose. The distance between your finger tip and nose will be 1 yard 🤯The Quiet Needle
7. Keep it Handy
Connie Takarangi says that her top tip is: when trying to source garments to match a particular colour, tie a piece of the fabric you are looking to match around your wrist. This way you don’t have to keep getting it out of your pocket/handbag, and the bonus is that as you are flicking through the clothing racks your wrist is up close, so it’s easy to get a visual gauge.
8. Iron that Elastic
We’ve all heard of shrinking violets, but did you realise that elastic has a lot of shrinkage too? Enter Annie of Ford_Wardrobe who gave us our eighth sewing hack to counteract this before it becomes problematic.
9. Label Up
Suzy from Sewing_in_Spain gave us a fantastic tip that applies in two different scenarios. If your fabric is the same on both sides, then mark the inside with chalk or masking tape! This same hint helps if you label your pattern pieces with masking tape too. It saves so much time as it stops her needing to keep going back to the pattern and double-check. Perfect for preventing errors too.
10. Tangled…Or Not
Tsuya shares her top-tip to making sure you don’t tangle your thread. Making something a habit is great because you don’t even have to think about it after a while – you just do it!
11. Wash, don’t bleed
Karen from Quilter’s Paradise told us that if you’re using white and black (or other dark colours) in a particular quilt, wash prior to cutting. You don’t want any bleeding of colours after all your hard work.
12. Snacks on Standby
The way to me is definitely through my stomach, so it’s no surprise that this is one of my favourite sewing hacks of all time! For those who live, breathe and sleep crafting though taking a moment for mealtimes can often be pushed waaaayyyy down the priority list.
13. A Clean Line
If you need to mark your fabric but are worried about staining or damage, then why not check out this amazing soap hack from Crafietla?
14. Gotta Get it Straight
Ford_Wardrobe strikes again here. This time Annie gave us a great step by step sewing hack to cutting a straight edge. Invaluable for people like me who can’t cut straight at the best of times.
15. Use a Magnet as a Pin Cushion
16. Mess it Up – Test it Out – Make Mistakes
Sally who runs the amazing Instagram account Secret Life of a Seamstress, gave us not only an awesome sewing hack but a top life tip too! Here’s one we could all do with!
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I used to shy away from trying new techniques and patterns for fear of messing them up but now I realise that my biggest mistakes were actually my biggest learning curves, it’s all part of the process. If you’re afraid of wasting fabric like I often am, make a trial first from an old sheet or fabric from a charity shop before cutting into your main fabric.Sally – Secret Life of a Seamstress
17. Watch Your Fingers
Beth from Beth Smith Textiles uses a small water bottle to hold used needles or bent pins. It is a safe place for them and then they don’t stab the person taking out the trash or poke through trash bags.
18. Stay Organised
Karen from Quilter’s Paradise says to organize and label your cut pieces prior to sewing. This will help, and hopefully avoid, any frustration and seam ripping.
19. Soap it Up
If you’re having trouble penetrating that fabric, then Craftiela is back with another soap-hack-sewing-hack-hybrid for you!
20. If You’re Not Barefoot, You’re Overdressed
Madam Sew uses her foot pedal barefoot to give more control over the pressure. We’d never thought of that before – it’s a stroke of pure genius!
21. Round the Bend
Lucky us! – Tsuya gave us a sneak peek of what is to come in her second Sewing Hacks book! (You can get your hands on the first one here) She gives us a great tip here about how to make tapes (and pretty much anything really) sit nicely in a round shape – perfect for those necklines!
22. Let the band be your guide
Fee from My Sewing Club says if you use a rubber band on the arm of your machine to use a guide to sew straight. Not only does it give you an easily adjusted visual guide, but it also gives you an edge you can push your fabric up against. So cool.
23. Stickerbomb it
Karen from Sew Little Time says if you use small circle stickers on your fabric, you can mark where your button placement needs to be. You can also use this for any other bits like the ends of a dart or pivot points as these should stay in place and are easier than using fabric pencils or pens.
24. Clip it
Sarah Louise Hardwick told us her favourite tip, that she tells everyone is to use these amazing clips instead of pins, they’re quicker, safer, and don’t warp the fabric! Super handy for zips too.
25. Use your geometry!
Karen from Quilter’s Paradise pointed out that if instead of cutting individual bias triangles, cut the triangles out of squares, you will be much more accurate and efficient!
Sewing Hack Handbook
So there you have it, your very own Bags of Love Sewing Hack Handbook. Now you have an abundance of hints and tips to make everything that little bit easier, why not design your very own sewing fabric to get started on your own unique projects. It’s time to put your hacks into action.