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Hand sewing was once the standard method of sewing all garments and fabric items, because sewing machines were not invented until the 1800s. It is therefore possible to sew nearly any item by hand, although there are some uses of hand stitching that are more common than others. The best tips for hand sewing depend on the project being accomplished, but one of the best general tips is to be patient. For all projects, planning ahead and researching all tools needed can make the sewing process much simpler.
Given the time and skill it takes to sew large projects by hand, most people choose to use hand sewing for decorative stitches or small projects. When constructing garments and other large projects by hand, it is important to remember that the order in which pieces are sewn together is not always the same as when working with a machine. If sewing an outfit by hand in order to duplicate a historical item, patterns and instructions may be available specifically for this task. Otherwise, trial and error may be necessary in order to achieve an even and attractive look.
Patience is required in all hand sewing projects in order to maintain the even look of machine stitching. Even with absolute caution, however, it is often not possible to create an attractive finished project without the right tools. Using a needle that is appropriate to the sewing project at hand is important when sewing, but choosing the right thread and stitches is essential as well. Taking a class that focuses on hand sewing can help alleviate some of the major problems beginners often have with hand sewing projects.
There are also excellent tips available for all aspects of the sewing process. Threading the needle, while not particularly difficult, is often easier against a white background or when using a needle threading tool. Different people have wildly different strategies for securing the end of a piece of thread, and there are many tips relating to what types of knots to use. When it comes to specific stitches, most people use the same basic technique to create the stitch, but some people use special tips and tricks that can make particularly complicated stitches easier to keep straight. Even choosing the best stitch for a project is, in some cases, a matter of opinion.
Hand sewing is an art that benefits from practice, and one of the best tips with this craft is to try particular stitches on samplers and other simple projects before attempting to make them functional. Some people learn well visually, while others must learn by actually creating the stitches, so the value of this exercise depends on the person. In all crafts, starting with simple projects and moving on to more complex ones is a great way to avoid frustration and ruined materials.
Hand sewing may not be common for large projects any longer, but it is still a vital skill for people who don't want to spend a great deal of money for alterations. Hand sewing is ideal for quick mending projects which don't necessarily require hauling out the sewing machine – to say nothing of putting it up again. And it's about the only way to sew on a button or reconstruct a worn out buttonhole -- in jeans, for instance.
Everyone should learn basic hand sewing. It's a great thing to know so you can hem your own slacks or mend a ripped seam in a shirt.
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