Expert Sewing Tips

With the explosion of fabric and patterns taking the craft world by storm, The Oz Material Girls and Patterns Only are at the cutting edge of the sewing world.

If its patchwork and quilting, wall art, soft toys,clothing or home decorating you want to make, then The Oz Material Girls and Patterns Only have the fabric and patterns to inspire your creation.

What is a simple sewing project to make if I am just starting out?


Most types of patterns will have a beginners range and will state whether they are easy sew / beginners. You can find easy sew patterns which include things like handbags, cushions, tote bags, softies (soft toys) , pre-cut quilt kits and clothing.

Practice by making a sampler, this means learning all the different techniques found in most quilting magazines.

Girl and a sewing machine on a light background

How do I know which fabric to buy?

Quality always! This means your project will always look like it was meant to look. Good quality cotton fabric is easier to sew than some flimsy cheap cotton fabric. It is important to familiarise yourself with fabric lengths as fabrics can be measured by the yard or metre.

When you start with a pattern it will have all the fabric requirements needed. Make sure you read through the whole pattern and then purchase fabrics according to the amounts required – a good tip – always purchase a little extra in case of error and if you don’t use it can be put into your “stash” which is a must for sewing .

A stash is a selection of various designs, shapes and sizes that you can refer to when you need a new piece, as many projects may only need a small piece of a few designs

Do I need a sewing machine or can I sew by hand?

This is your own personal preference. Machine quilting is quicker, but to start out hand sewing is ok too, just a little slower. Most of the beginner patterns on the market can be hand or machine sewn. More advanced and detailed designs are easier done by machine.

There are so many machines on the market, but you only need a basic machine to start with. You can purchase them for around $200-$300. Or better still ask around, you may be surprised to find your mum/sister/friend has a machine she is not using.

What is the process of making a quilt?

There are three processes of the final quilt. The quilt top is the main design, then there is the batting (this goes between the top and bottom) and lastly there is the backing fabric for the back and should be the same quality as the fabric used in the top.

Quilting is basically cutting up selections into various sizes and shapes and then sewing them all together. This in itself is quite a funny concept – Why would you cut up fabric and then sew it back together? This process gives depth and dimension to a design, allowing the sewer to create a picture from various designs.

Is all cotton the same?

Definitely not, as like everything there is varying degrees of cotton on the market. You can purchase 100% cotton or Cotton Blends. For quilting 100% cotton is best. Cotton comes in various weights including light weight, medium weight and heavy weight. Quilters cotton is generally a medium weight, cotton.

When purchasing cotton fabric for sewing you want to ensure that the quality is excellent so purchase from reputable sellers who specialize in 100% cotton and like everything in life you really do get what you pay for.

You may see a fabric that is the same design but is a cheaper price, there are always 1st and 2nd grade fabrics produced, always go with a 1st grade cotton – again use trusted sellers to purchase your fabrics from as you want to ensure your creation lasts after all the work you put in.

What essentials should be in my sewing kit?

As with the fabric, good cutting tools are a must; scissors, rotary cutter, cutting board, quilters rulers etc. It may seem expensive when starting but these tools will last a life time. Also include threads and needles.

Why does the price of material vary so much, how do I know I am getting a bargain?

As stated above, fabrics can vary in quality. If you want something to last, ensure you purchase 1st grade cotton – it will be a little more expensive but who wants their masterpiece to full apart after all the hard work they put into sewing it.

Remember handmade items are like treasures, and can be passed on to generations to come if made with quality fabrics. It is always a good idea to stock up on fabrics when they are on sale, you are getting a bargain but not compromising the quality.

Should I keep my fabric scraps, and if so what can I make with them?

Absolutely. Scraps make fabulous quick handmade goodies. A huge craze is the scrap quilt, just sew squares together in any order/design. Strips of fabrics are also a great way to make a tote bag, just sew them all together. Quilts can be made from as small as 1″ squares…

What is the easiest material to work with and what should I avoid?

This really depends on the project. Patterns will advise what fabrics to use as well as how much you will need. Cotton is one of the easiest fabrics as it is durable and can be well handled and holds its form, where as something like silk which is soft can loose its shape and mark easily and is really for the experts.

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