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Learning To Sew: What You Need To Know About Sewing On Fabric

 This article is brought to you by Lizzsews.

Are you interested in learning how to sew? This article is the fourth 'unit' in the learning to sew article series. Follow along, let's learn how to use your sewing machine together!

Recommended read: Learning to sew article series

Here are some of the main topics that you’ll want to know about fabric, that you’ll need to know to sew on fabric.

   - There are different types of fabric 

You most likely know that there are tons of different types of fabrics, from denim in jeans to polyester in dry-fit shirts. 

The most common fabric used for sewing is cotton, it is probably one of the easiest materials to sew with too! Even just saying “cotton” fabric is quite vague because there are a few different types of cotton fabric, for example, quilting cotton and cotton jersey fabric. 

Quilting cotton: 100% cotton, has a plain weave and often keeps its shape after being washed. It is the most common type of fabric to be used when sewing and tends to not stretch. Quilting cotton is also the fabric recommended to be used in handmade masks. 

I recommend that beginners start by sewing with quilting cotton rather than any other type of fabric.

   - Tension 

Tension is very tricky; it has the potential to easily screw up your project. I recommend only changing the tension if you have to!

Here are the steps that I recommend taking before changing the tension: 

  • Clean the race 
  • Rethread the upper thread
  • Make sure the bobbin is not upside down
  • Rethread the bobbin
  • Make sure the needle is placed in the machine correctly
  • Make sure the presser foot is on correctly
  • Make sure you are using the correct stitch (explained below)
  • Rethread the needle
  • Replace the needle
  • Replace the bobbin 
  • Replace the upper thread
Recommended read: How to understand tension

   - Presser foot

It is quite common for new sewers to be unaware that they need to lower the presser foot. You can do this by lowering the presser foot lever. If you don’t lower the presser foot, the threads will get bunched up, the fabric will stay in place and the needle might break. 

   - Make sure you use the correct stitch

You might not know this, but each stitch on your machine is meant to be used for different purposes. For example, decorative stitches, on a certain type of fabric, topstitching, to allow for stretch, etc. 

Recommended read: What is topstitching

If you are sewing a stretchy fabric like stretch cotton or some types of fleeces, you will want to use a stretchy stitch, for example, the zig-zag stitch.

If you sew a straight stitch on a stretchy fabric, when the fabric is stretched or pulled, the stitches will all come out and break. 

If you are sewing quilting cotton, you only need to use the default stitch known as the straight stitch. Just make sure that you are reverse stitching. 

   - Reverse stitching

When sewing on fabric, you should almost always use a reverse/reinforcement stitch. This will ensure that your stitches do not start coming undone. 


Once you're ready, head on over to 'unit 5' where you will learn to sew a straight line on fabric!

Recommended: Learn sewing

Recommended: Sewing projects

Leave a comment below and let me know if you learned more about fabrics! And don't forget to subscribe to stay up to date with all of Lizzsews new articles. See you next time!


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