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5 Common Sewing Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

A lot of us start our sewing journeys just by ourselves, without a teacher guiding us, so sometimes we make mistakes that we don’t even think are mistakes (at least I know I did!). In this post, I want to share 5 common sewing mistakes and how to avoid them. Rest assure, all these mistakes are practice based! :) 

This post is create in partnership with Mettler - manufacturer of high quality threads that I’ve been using for the last 4 years.

Click image below to watch video version and scroll down to read the list of 5 common sewing mistakes!

5 Common Sewing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them


One of the golden rules of sewing that is often overlooked is testing seams, before sewing them on the final garment. While sewing a seam right away on the garment seemingly saves time, in reality, if we take a moment to test the seam, we can fine tune the seam settings and select the right seam for our design.  

Let’s do an example of how testing seam works: I’m currently planning on sewing a pair of jeans, so I’m going to make that signature topstitching seam. To select the perfect topstitch seam, I made a few sample seams: the first seam is made using a single all-purpose thread - while it does hold fabric layers together, the signature jeans seam effect is not fully there. Second seam is sewn with a same all-purpose thread and a triple straight stitch (which is usually called elastic stitch) - now we get a more thicker effect, but the downside is that it’s going to take 3 times as long to sew, because we are making same stitch 3 times. For the third seam, let’s try combining 3 threads at the top and pair it with a topstitching seam - and this is the effect that we get:

Test seams for denim, made using all-purpose thread: single straight stitch, triple straight stitch and 3 top threads

Additionally, let’s try to sew using a special thread for sewing denim - Mettler DENIM DOC. It's made from polyester core and cotton covering, which ensures sewing ease and seam performance. It has a bit of a matt look and comes in 10 classic denim colors. While making test seam using this thread, we can select the best color for our design, and also fine tune the thread tension. 

Test seams for denim, made using Mettler DENIM DOC thread
Mettler DENIM DOC thread kits

For seemingly simple seams, we have lots of choices - some work better than the others, some give us the look of what we need. By testing the seam first, we can select the best option of our particular design, and fine tune all the settings - find the right thread, right color, right stitch, tension, needle - to get perfect seam results. As much as it might feel like an extra step - I promise this step is worth taking!


One of the most common sewing mistakes is not following the grainline when cutting out pattern pieces. This is one of those tiny things that’s not talked about enough and if the grainline is not followed correctly, we will face challenges when sewing our garment and it will not look good while wearing; not to mention it might wear out far too quickly. 

To understand the importance of the grainline, let’s take a look at the anatomy of fabric: fabric has a lengthwise running edge which is called selvage. Parallel to selvage, we have vertical running threads, called lengthwise grain (warp); crossing vertical threads we have horizontal threads that are called cross grain (weft). Diagonally from selvage, at 45 degree angle, we have bias, which is where the fabric has most stretch.

Anatomy of the fabric: selvage, lengthwise grain, cross grain and bias

During the weaving process, the vertical threads are stretched on the loom, making them the strongest part of the fabric. Because of that, every pattern detail has a line, called grainline marking, showing how to position pattern detail parallel to the fabric edge, to get the proper wear of the garment. If the grainline marking is not followed, the detail is then cut on bias, making it twist, stretch and drape differently than intended. 

Pattern grainline positioned parallel to selvage, following the lengthwise grain

While following the grainline might seem as a very miniscule detail, it has a massive massive impact towards garment quality. In fact, not following the grainline is one of the sewing errors that in many cases cannot be fixed at all. 

So, as much as it might be tempting to squeeze as many pattern details in one fabric piece, make sure to follow the grainline properly to get the best cutting results and avoid frustration later.   


Now that we are on the topic of grainline, let’s also discuss another very common problem and it’s not following the grainline arrow. This one is 50/50 - it’s not necessarily a mistake and in theory you can cut fabric with a grainline arrow facing up and down, this needs a huge big disclaimer, because it won’t work with lots of fabrics. 

The grainline arrow shows how pattern pieces have to be positioned on the fabric, to get the same nap direction, print direction or even shine. 

Grain line arrow (circled) shows pattern layout direction

The best example is to explain it using fur - fur has a nap, which has a very clear direction. When cutting fur, we position the pattern detail so that the grainline arrow is pointing downward and the nap is laying flat and nice. Now let’s imagine we cut fur with an arrow facing upwards - then the nap is also facing upwards, making it look very strange. 

Faux fur, positioned so that nap follows grainline arrow

Following grainline arrow will ensure that all your fabric details are facing in the right direction, the nap is always facing downwards; if fabric has print - the print will be pointing in right direction whether it’s sleeve, bodice or collar; and especially tricky part - if you work with solid color fabric - all details will have same shine, because the fabric is facing same direction. 


Sewing knits can be a challenge, or at least that’s how the popular sewing myth says. In reality, with a little preparation, you can successfully sew knit fabrics at home, using any sewing machine that you have (as long as it has a working straight stitch!).

Let’s do a little experiment and sew thin jersey fabric using regular settings: straight stitch, all-purpose polyester thread and universal needle. The result: wavy seam that will break the moment fabric is stretched. That’s because the seam has no elasticity, while the fabric does. 

Now let’s make a second seam, but this time make a few adjustments: first, switch from regular all-purpose polyester thread to elastic thread Mettler SERAFLEX. Thanks to its innovative composition, this thread can be stretched up to 65% (compared to about 20% stretch of all-purpose thread). SERAFLEX is used both as top and bobbin thread, and thread tension is reduced to ensure max elasticity. Second, switch from universal needle to Jersey (stretch) needle - this needle has a rounded tip, which will help prevent knit fabric loops from getting damaged, thus ensuring stable stitching results. Thirdly - and this is optional - with delicate knit fabrics, slip tear away stabilizer under the fabric, so that the fabric is being evenly feeded through the feed dogs. Tear away stabilizer is removed once the seam is finished. Sew a seam after these adjustments and the result is a beautiful seam on knit fabrics, that is laying completely flat and has plenty of stretch thanks to elastic thread SERAFLEX.

Elastic seam, made using Mettler SERAFLEX, jersey needle and tear away stabilizer
Mettler SERAFLEX elastic thread color range

3 small changes, but what a huge difference! Don’t miss out on sewing knit fabrics, as they are so comfortable to wear!


Let’s talk about the most difficult to avoid mistake: not fitting patterns before cutting them from fabric. It’s a big topic that we won’t fully cover in this post, but note that every commercial pattern needs to be adjusted before sewing.

Here’s a harsh truth: commercial sewing patterns are drafted for ‘standard’ figure, while our bodies rarely match those ‘standards’. Let’s take one example: commercial women's patterns are usually drafted for 168cm or 170cm height and B cup. If you aren’t these measurements - for any closer fitted design you’ll have to make quite a few adjustments for a garnet to actually fit. Let’s take another example and I’ll take my own figure as an example: my torso is about 2cm longer than standard and my hip line is about 2cm lower than standard, while my waist and hip sizes are 2 sizes apart. Because of that, no pants, skirt or fitted dress pattern will ever fit me right from the start, unless I made changes according to my figure. 

When I’m working with a commercial pattern, I follow X step fitting routine: first, I take my own accurate measurements. Take not only bust, waist and hips, but also take measurements like bust height, shoulder length, back length, etc. - the more measurements you have, the better fitting garment you’ll make. Second, measure the pattern and see how it correlates with your body measurements (keep in mind that pattern will have an ease). Before cutting the pattern out, I adjust the pattern according to my figure. Third step, once the fabric is cut out, I first assemble the garment using hand baste stitch - this allows me to try the design on and see if there are any additional fitting issues to tackle. And only after this third step I’ll start sewing anything on a sewing machine. 

While this process may seem a bit excessive, it allows me to professionally fit clothes from commercial patterns that aren’t drafted specifically for my figure. I plan on making a more detailed post about fitting in the future, so stay tuned!


Here are all 5 common sewing mistakes and how to avoid them. I've made all of these mistakes along my sewing journey and once I learned how to avoid them, I've improved my sewing quality and enjoy sewing more.

If you enjoyed reading this list, you may also be interested in this video, where I share 5 more sewing mistakes I've made in the past:

Thank you for reading and wishing creative week ahead!



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