5 Must-Have Sewing Skills

We show you the easy way to tackle sewing basics, from hemming jeans to sewing on a button.

2019 Mother's Day - Sewing

Photo by: Sarah Busby

Sarah Busby

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Sewing Skill #1: Tightening Jeans

What You'll Need:

  • upholstery thread
  • needle
  • thimble
  • fabric scissors

An easy, seamless way to tighten jeans is to put a dart in it. First, cut the top of a belt loop in the back of your jeans using fabric scissors (Image 1). Double thread a needle using upholstery thread (so it holds), and tie a knot on the end. Pull through the jeans so the knot is on the inside. Use a thimble since you're working with thick material. Tie a ladder stitch up the jeans — the closer the stitches, the better (Images 2 and 3). Pull the thread, so the stitches disappear and the material gathers (Image 4). Tie a few knots on the inside to secure (Image 5), and cut off the excess thread. Sew the belt loop back on.

Sewing Skill #2: Hemming Jeans

What You'll Need:

  • upholstery thread
  • needle
  • fabric scissors

Cuff your jeans to the correct length, and iron to crease the seam (Image 1). Roll the original hem back down, and iron (Image 2). Open up the hem and stitch a running stitch along the inside crease line all the way around (stitching about a quarter of an inch apart) using a double-threaded needle (Image 3). When you reach the end, tie a knot on the inside and cut the excess thread (Image 4). Fold the hem back over, and iron (Image 5).

Sewing Skill #3: Sewing a Hole

What You'll Need:

  • cotton embroidery thread
  • needle
  • fabric scissors

Double thread a needle using cotton embroidery thread. Turn the garment inside out where the hole is, and sew a ladder stitch as you did to dart the jeans (Images 1 and 2). Pull the thread until it disappears and the garment gathers (Image 3). Tie a few knots on the inside to secure (Image 4), and cut off the excess thread. The hole is no longer there (Image 5)!

Sewing Skill #4: Sewing on a Button

What You'll Need:

  • a spare button
  • 100% cotton thread
  • needle
  • fabric scissors

Double thread the needle, come up through the back, and sew an X at the original anchor point (Image 1). Add the button (Image 2), and sew an X through the holes in the button a few times. Place an additional needle on top of the button to give the button some slack (Image 3). Sew through the button five to six times, and pull the spacer needle out. Now, bring the needle through the sweater from the back but not through the button. Wrap the thread around the base of the button a few times (Image 4). Then, tie a knot in the back and cut the excess thread (Image 5). This creates a shank.

Sewing Skill #5: Shortening a Sleeve

What You'll Need:

  • cotton embroidery thread
  • needle
  • fabric scissors

Cuff the sleeve up to the desired length (Image 1). Sew the same ladder stitch you did for the jeans, but in the other direction (Images 2 and 3). Pull the thread so it disappears and the fabric gathers (Images 4 and 5). Tie off a knot on the inside, and cut the excess thread.

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