Sewing For Dummies book cover

Sewing For Dummies

By: Jan Saunders Maresh Published: 08-31-2010

The most complete guide to sewing basics

People are always looking for ways to cut expenses and be creative and stylish at the same time. Learning to sew is a great way to arm yourself with the skills to repair and create clothing and furnishings for yourself and your family for little to no cost. But learning how to sew and how to choose the tools and supplies to begin sewing can be confusing.

Now, you can turn to this hands-on, friendly guide for the most up-to-date information, the best techniques, and fun projects for learning (or brushing up on) the art of sewing.

  • Easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step illustrations make it easier to learn
  • Fresh new patterns, projects, stitches, and techniques for fashion and the home
  • Budget-conscious tips for breathing new life into existing garments

Complete with a section on common sewing mistakes and how to avoid them, Sewing For Dummies, 3rd edition gives you the confidence and know-how to sew like a pro.

Articles From Sewing For Dummies

6 results
6 results
Estimating Fabric Yardage Needs for Common Misses Garments

Article / Updated 11-04-2021

When shopping, you may find the fabric you’re looking for...and a whole lot more to inspire you. When you don’t have a particular pattern in mind but find fabric that would, for example, make a great pair of dress pants, you can use this guide to help you buy enough fabric when the creative mood strikes. Because fabric also comes in several widths, and your pattern envelope may only give you yardage requirements for two widths, you can refer to this guide to buy the correct amount for the width of the fabric. This project chart gives you a quick reference and approximate yardage requirements for Misses sizes 10 to 14 at an average height of 5 foot 4 inches. Other sizes will vary from 1/4 to 1/8 yard. For fabrics with a nap and/or one-way designs, add 1/4 yard for each yard specified. For plaids, add the length of one plaid repeat for each yard specified. Garment Fabric Width 35-36 inches Fabric Width 44-45 inches Fabric Width 50 inches Fabric Width 52-54 inches Fabric Width 58-60 inches Pants, full length (add 1/4 yard for cuffs) 3-1/4 yards 2-5/8 yards 2-5/8 yards 2-1/4 yards 2-1/4 yards Pants, capri length 2-3/4 yards 2-1/4 yards 2-1/8 yards 2 yards 1-1/2 yards Shorts, bermuda length 2-1/2 yards 2-1/8 yards 1-7/8 yards 1-3/4 yards 1-1/4 yards Skirt, straight 2 yards 1-5/8 yards 1-1/2 yards 1-3/8 yards 1-1/4 yards Skirt, A-line 2-1/4 yards 1-3/4 yards 1-5/8 yards 1-1/2 yards 1-3/8 yards Skirt, softly gathered 2-1/4 yards 1-3/4 yards 1-5/8 yards 1-1/2 yards 1-3/8 yards Shirt/blouse, short sleeves 2 yards 1-5/8 yards 1-1/2 yards 1-3/8 yards 1-1/4 yards Shirt/blouse, long sleeves 2-1/2 yards 2-1/8 yards 1-3/4 yards 1-3/4 yards 1-5/8 yards Blouse, long sleeves with tie 3-3/4 yards 2-7/8 yards 2-5/8 yards 2-3/8 yards 2-1/4 yards Blouse, capped sleeves 2 yards 1-5/8 yards 1-1/2 yards 1-3/8 yards 1-1/4 yards Camisole, bias cut 1-1/3 yards 1-1/3 yards 1-1/4 yards 1-1/8 yards 1 yard Dress, short sleeves with straight skirt 4-1/4 yards 3-1/8 yards 2-3/4 yards 2-5/8 yards 2-3/8 yards Dress, long sleeves with straight skirt 5 yards 3-5/8 yards 3-1/4 yards 3-1/8 yards 3 yards

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How to Get Your Accurate Body Measurements for Clothing Sizes

Article / Updated 10-08-2021

Many people have an idea what their measurements are, but rather than assume you know, it's best to get an accurate measurement. Going to a tailor will give you more accurate measurements, but you can certainly get a close approximation handling the measuring tape yourself. The measurements you definitely need are your chest, waist, hips, and inseam. You may also want to take your thigh and upper arm measurements. The process for getting your body measurements is simple. For example, knowing how to measure waist and hips is common knowledge, but many folks don't know exactly where to start and stop the measurement for a more accurate result. When taking these measurements, use a cloth tape measure, not a metal one. Make sure that, when you circle your chest, waist, or hips, the tape is level and neither too tight nor too loose. Also measure yourself on your bare skin, not over clothes. And this may sound silly, but don’t trust your memory — write the measurements down! Place the tape measure at these locations to get accurate measurements. How to measure waist, hips, chest, and more The diagram above depicts the most appropriate locations to begin and end measurement for the different areas of your body. Often, people will measure at the wrong location and get false results. For example, when measuring your waist, some people take the measurement below the belly button when your natural waistline is located above the belly button! Check out the easy-to-follow instructions for getting accurate measurements for each body part below: Chest: Measure the circumference of your chest. Place one end of the tape measure at the fullest part of your chest, wrap it around (under your armpits, around your shoulder blades, and back to the front) to get the measurement. Waist: Measure the circumference of your waist. Use the tape to circle your waist (as a belt would) at your natural waistline, which is located above your belly button and below your rib cage. (If you bend to the side, the crease that forms is your natural waistline.) Don’t suck in your stomach, or you’ll get a false measurement. If you generally fasten your clothes below your waist, take that measurement as well. Hips: Measure the circumference of your hips. Start at one hip and wrap the tape measure around your rear, around the other hip, and back to where you started. Make sure the tape is over the largest part of your buttocks. Because making sure the tape is level back there can be hard, do it in front of a mirror if you can. Inseam: This is the distance from the uppermost inner part of your thigh to the bottom of your ankle. You can measure your inseam in two ways. With help: While you’re wearing a pair of pants, have a friend stretch the tape from your crotch to the bottom of your ankle. Without help: If you have a pair of pants that fit you perfectly (they shouldn’t be too loose around the waist), measure the inseam of the pants, again from the crotch to the hem. The proper inseam on a pair of pants you’re going to purchase will depend on the height of the heel you’ll be wearing with them. Thigh: Measure the circumference of the fullest part of your thigh. Wrap the tape measure around your thigh from front to back and then around to the front. You may be tempted to cheat by lowering the tape measure a few inches, but then you won’t get an accurate measurement. Upper arm: Measure the circumference of your arm. Wrap the tape measure around the widest part of your upper arm from front to back and around to the start point. Sleeve length: Get help for this one; it’s hard to do yourself. Place your hand at your waist (your elbow should be bent at a 90-degree angle). Then start at the middle of the back of your neck and measure to your shoulder, down your arm to the elbow, and then on to the wrist. You may need a family member or friend to assist you with the measurements. If you have a garment that fits perfectly, measuring the garment rather than your body can be a good substitute.

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Sewing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 09-14-2021

When starting a sewing project, “measure twice, cut once” is essential to your success. Follow these guidelines for taking accurate body measurements and buying enough fabric for your project. And remember, the best needle for the job is a new one, so choose the right type for the fabric and get sewing.

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Taking Accurate Body Measurements for Sewing Garments

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

When you want to sew clothing, you start with a pattern. Determining your pattern size can be a humbling experience because it requires you to measure your body, but it’s an essential step in making sure the finished garment fits properly. Here are some tips on taking accurate measurements so your project ends up the right size: Get someone else to take your measurements. It is impossible to take them yourself and get an accurate read, so find someone you trust, swear them to secrecy, and start measuring. Dress in your underwear or a leotard, and tie a narrow ribbon or a piece of elastic around your waist, but not too tight. Move around a little bit until the elastic or ribbon finds your natural waistline. Note that this may not be where you wear the waistband of your favorite pair of slacks or jeans. Measure by placing the measuring tape around the torso as parallel to the floor as possible. Have your helper take the following six measurements: Height: ____________ High bust circumference at the crook of the underarms approximately 2 inches above the full bust: ____________ Full bust circumference at the widest part of the bust: ____________ Natural waist circumference (the narrowest part) at the ribbon or elastic: ____________ Hip circumference at the widest part and approximately 7 inches below the natural waistline: ____________ Back waist length measured from the bone at the base of the neck to the natural waistline: ____________

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Sizing Up Fabric Needs for Pillow Covers

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

For beginner sewers, pillow covers are some of the easiest, most affordable sewing projects that require the least amount of time and commitment. This table tells you how much fabric you need for typical pillow projects. Type of Pillow Dimensions (Length by Width) Amount of Fabric Needed for 1 Pillow Cover (Using 54-inch Wide Fabric with No Pattern Matching) Standard bed pillow 20 x 26 inches 5/8 yard Queen-size bed pillow 20 x 30 inches 1-1/8 yards King-size bed pillow 20 x 36 inches 1-1/4 yards Square pillow forms 12 x 12 inches 1/3 yard 14 x 14 inches 1/2 yard 16 x 16 inches 1/2 yard 18 x 18 inches 5/8 yard 20 x 20 inches 3/4 yard 30 x 30 inches 1 yard

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Selecting General-Purpose Sewing Machine Needle Point Types

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you use the wrong type of needle for your sewing machine and project, the results could be very bad indeed. Use this table to determine which needle is designed for use in your sewing machine and for your project. Needle Point Classification Needle Point Type and Use 15 x 1H (American); 130/705H (European) Multi-purpose or Universal: Used for most fabrics for general sewing Blue Tip (American); 130/705HS (European); 130/705HPS (Pfaff); Q Needle (Sears); Singer 2045 Stretch: Used for knits and microfibers and designed to prevent skipped stitches and snagging 15 x 1DE (American) Denim or Jeans: A sharp needle designed for sewing heavier fabrics 130/705HJ (European) Tightly woven fabrics, such as heavy corduroy, denim, and upholstery fabrics

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