Welcome back to the FINAL week of our tips and tricks recap from 2019!  We will be reviewing tips from letters R-Z and then we will post a GIVEAWAY at the end... so lets get started!!

R is for a Rolled Hem!  A rolled hem is a very narrow finish and can be made on a regular sewing machine or using a serger!  

If you are sewing on a serger, you will only use three threads.  The settings may vary from machine to machine, and on some you may need to remove the stitch finger.  You may want to consult your manual for the correct settings for your specific machine.  If you are sewing a rolled hem on your regular machine, there is a specific foot you can use (although they come in several different sizes).  It features a groove on the back and a funnel on the front side.

This is where your fabric will roll up into and will go out through the back, running through the groove while the needle goes through it, creating a very small hem.  Rolled hems are usually done on a regular machine when working with light-weight to medium-weight woven fabrics, but is most common with delicate fabrics.  On either the regular machine or serger, it is a beautiful finish and can be especially helpful if you need to squeak out a hem that takes up less than a 1/2" of fabric.

S stands for Selvage!  A selvage is the side of fabric where the finished edge stops the edges from fraying.  The warp threads run parallel down the length of the fabric and the selvage is created when the weft threads are folded back on themselves at the end of each row as the fabric is woven.  

The selvage has become a beautiful part of the fabric design, and holds a wealth of information, such as the name of the fabric manufacturer and fabric make up.  We have seen people use them on quilts and in other small projects.  Another great use for them is as size tags on your projects.  The color swatch circles usually have numbers printed inside of them and, since they don't fray, they work well for small size tags.

T is for tension! In the sewing worth this can easily bring on a headache if you do not understand it properly. If you are somewhat new to sewing, you may be asking what in the world it is?  Tension is what keeps your bottom and top stitches in equal timing with one another.  This ensures that the stitching on the front and back of your fabric looks the same, and that neither the upper nor the bobbin thread shows up on the opposite side of the fabric.

When the upper thread (what's going through your needle) is showing on the wrong side of the fabric, this means your tension is too low.  In order to fix it, you raise the tension little by little, by rotating your tension knob to the right.

If the bottom thread from your bobbin is showing on the right side of the fabric, then it means that the tension disk is too tense.  Slowly begin rotating your disk to the left, checking with each movement of the dial to see if the thread tension has evened back out when you're sewing.  

If you have tried troubleshooting using these tips above, but are still having issues with your thread tension, your problem might be with your bobbin.  The bobbin case also has some tension for the thread, and depending on what machine you use, you may be able to adjust it slightly by tightening or loosening a screw located on the side of your bobbin case. It is definitely a trial and error situation, but once you get the settings adjusted to the proper tension, you will notice right away if something is off again in the future! 

U is for Universal Needles!! Whether you have the newest model sewing machine or a basic, entry level machine, the most important tool used is your needle! 

Did you know?  The sewing life of a needle is 8 hours!  After that, the point will become worn and stitch quality may become compromised.  We always keep some on-hand to change regularly.  A good rule of thumb is to use a new needle at the start of every project.  

Now, on to the Universal needle.  The name says it all - universal - because it can be used on the majority of projects.  We can use universal needles for both woven and knit fabrics because the point of a universal needle is both sharp and rounded, allowing the needle to have the characteristics of both sharp and ballpoint needles alike.  They are not optimal for knits though, like true ballpoint stretch needles.  Here is a great guide to knowing what needles you have and/or need!


V is for Vinyl!  One of the latest and greatest things to enter the craft world over the last several years. With the Cricut, Silhouette, Brother Scan & Cut and other home vinyl cutting machines available, we've seen all sorts of great uses for this product.  

We have seen so many creative ways that our members have incorporated vinyl into their at home sewing projects, to include details for princess costumes, wording for special occasion tops/dresses, and even adding size tags inside clothing with the vinyl!  One of my personal favorites though, is how Ashley Cowan used vinyl to create the face for her blushing bunny! 

You can use a vinyl machine to add so many personal touches to your sewing projects!  The options truly are endless!


W is for the Walking Foot!  The walking foot is a presser foot that allows even sewing over lots of layers or thicker fabric.

It grips the fabric on the top, while the feed dogs grip the bottom, and they work together to help the fabric to walk through when sewing.  It is a very bulky and strange looking foot, but has a few different uses. 

Many people use it to sew knits, but we don't think they are necessarily helpful on all machines.  Some machines sew knits just fine without it, but there are people who have lots of success sewing knit with the aid of this foot, so it may be worth experimenting.  It can also be very useful when sewing multiple layers, like on straps or binding.  It will keep those ripples that can sometimes show up from happening because all layers of the fabric will be fed evenly through.  Whatever you decide to use your walking foot for, it is a very handy foot to own!

 X is for X-tra! We are getting close to the end of the alphabet, and finding "sewing" themed tips for each letter has been a lot of fun...but the letter "X" had us stumped!  Not being able to come up with a term that started with the letter "X" we decided to get a little creative!!  Letter "X" for our tips and tricks is going to stand for being a little "X-tra" = something we always encourage!!  We provide the patterns, and what's great about them is all the room for creativity you have with them!  We love it when we see designs that have gone the extra mile: put on that extra trim or those special buttons.  Sometimes it's the extraordinary touches that brings an outfit from great to spectacular!  So, don't be afraid to be a little "X-tra!" Make your garment unique to you and "X-tra" special!! 

Y is for a Yardage Chart!  When you are out and about at a fabric store, having a handy yardage chart for easy access can make deciding on how much you need cut a simple task!  Just print (or save a screen shot) of this cute little chart below and keep it for a quick reference!  

And moving on to our FINAL letter of the alphabet - AND our giveaway as well.....

Z is for ZIPPERS!!!  Zippers are something we are ALL familiar with using in our day to day lives, but did you know there are many different kinds of zippers? Depending on what project you are working on would decide which type of zipper you should purchase?! 

Although there are many types of zippers, for times sake, we are going to cover the 3 most commonly used zippers!

The first type of zipper (shown above) is the Nylon Coil Zipper (also knows as an all-purpose zipper) and is the most common zipper option and can be used to make a variety of projects. Coil zippers are thin, lightweight zippers with small teeth. They are made of plastic with polyester sides and come in a variety of colors. The endless varieties of colors available make this zipper a great choice when making our patterns, since you can usually find a match for the fabric you’re working with. This lightweight zipper can bend and flow with the garment and doesn’t weigh down the material like a heavier type of zipper would.

The second type of zipper (shown above) is the Invisible zipper!  Unlike the nylon coil zipper, the coil for an invisible zipper is located on the back of the zipper, which hides it from view. The only part of the zipper that is exposed is the tear drop pull at the top of the zipper. This zipper is also lightweight and has very fine teeth. An invisible zipper can be tricky to sew, and I recommend ironing the zipper open before pinning it to your garment. You can also use an invisible zipper foot which helps to create the best seam.

The third type of zipper is the metal and plastic molded zippers.  Both molded plastic and metal zippers have teeth that have been molded at regular intervals on both sides of the zipper tape.  Both of these zipper options are very sturdy and do well when using heavier material, so better to be used for jeans, bags or jackets versus lightweight dresses.

And there you have it - our A-Z Sewing Tips & Tricks Roundup!! We hope you enjoyed these helpful tips and tricks being posted in one handy location for future reference!  And to end it with a bang, we would love to do a GIVEAWAY for one lucky reader to be able to choose ANY 3 of our patterns to download, FREE OF CHARGE!!  All you have to do to enter is comment below with your 3 favorite tips we have shared (they can be from any of these 3 past blog posts from our A-Z roundup!) and we will choose one random winner to receive the patterns of their choice next week! 

Edited to add:  CONGRATULATIONS to our winner = Lindsay Gibson!! 

 We will be sending you an email so you can claim your prize!



January 17, 2020 by Jessica Herning


Valeri Rhea

Valeri Rhea said:

Well my favorite is S because I had never thought to use the numbers on the selvedge as size tags! How cute! LOVED N because I’m always calling my friend to remind me abt “nap” every time I sew with one! Will save this for sure. Annnnd, finally C tip for NOT stretching the clear elastic when applying…made all the difference! Love what u do!!

Donna Irby

Donna Irby said:

I love the S for selvage ideas, the K for knits info and the X for extras – that makes each item unique!



Knit. Ballpoint needles, and tension (super helpful image!)! I love working with knits and enjoy new tricks for them!


Kathy said:

My favorite tips were french seam, rolled hem and knits.


Charity said:

My favorite three tips are; zippers, the yardage chart, and the trick about using selvage edges for small tags!

Kaylea Elliott

Kaylea Elliott said:

I loved S for using selvage as tags, rolled hem and the X-tras are always my favorites


Juli said:

I like K, I, and X! I’m still afraid of knits but the K section has me ready to try😁


Alesha said:

My favs were vinyl, knit, and walking foot. All new things I hope to work on this year!

Lindsay Gibson

Lindsay Gibson said:

My top three favorite tips were the section on knits! I see a lot with knits but this was a great recap. Hong Kong hem I have never heard of. Looks so nice for those special projects! The yardage chart is super handy. I screenshotted several of the tips to have handy! Thanks for the great blog post.


Beth said:

K for knits, M for Muslin, I hadn’t thought to do that before and will be doing it before making a Seraphina. S for the size tag idea from the selvage.

Kelly Ivey

Kelly Ivey said:

I liked Quilting and Vinyl for inspiration and Knits for help during Amelia sew along!

June Wheat

June Wheat said:

Loved all tips and tricks! My favorites were rolled hems, Hong Kong seams, and needles.

Katie Dorman

Katie Dorman said:

I found the French seams, the Hong Kong seams, and the rolled hems sections especially helpful. Thank you for including these. The best thing about the VFT pattern community is all of the tips and help offered.

Jennifer pressgrove

Jennifer pressgrove said:

I had never heard of a Hong Kong seam before, so interesting, but looks like a lot of extra work 😜 Also I loved the breakdown of different types of knot because I am always so confused when I go to purchase knots what I should be getting. Also the nap cutting was something new for me! Thanks for all the valuable tips!


Samantha said:

My favorite tips were the Tension, walking foot and Universal Needle.

Jamie Deem

Jamie Deem said:

My favorite tips were Tension, grain-line and french seams! Thank you ladies for wonderful patterns.

Sandra Butler

Sandra Butler said:

3 Favorite are Needles, Zippers and the reminder of X-tra! Thanks for this extra help and reminders!


Rachel said:

Knits, tension and zippers. Things I can use more practice with!


Shasta said:

Selvage, rolled hems, and extras

Isobel Maguire

Isobel Maguire said:

I found the zippers, needles and rolled hem points very informative


Kim said:

I’ve just started back sewing after many years away so this is a great refresher! I love the tension guide, Yardage Chart, and the Universal needles guide! I’ve saved them all.

Courtney Shugart

Courtney Shugart said:

Definitely embroidery, rolled hems and zippers for me!!! I used to be terrified to sew a zipper!! Not anymore!


Kim said:

I liked Knit, Zippers and Selvage Seams, VFT always helping me be a better sewer with amazing patterns and small tips that make a big difference. Thanks!!

Rachel N

Rachel N said:

Learning about needles, Hong Kong seams, and knits!


Cindy said:

Tension, rolled hem, zippers. I struggle with tension the most. 🤣


claudia said:

my favourite were the s , the xtra love to add extras and the explanation on needles!!!!!

Adrienn Sándor

Adrienn Sándor said:

My favourite was muslin, yardage scale, and the extra 😘

Laurie P

Laurie P said:

C for clear elastic, this is on my to try list for 2020. Rolled hems, I think I’ll try this on my regular sewing machine just for fun. And lastly, the Walking foot. Thanks for all the useful info from these tips. VFT is the best!


Casey said:

These are great tips! My favorites are:
Rolled Hems
Selvage size tags
French & Hong Kong seams (tied)

Stephani Hammon

Stephani Hammon said:

I loved the tips on clear elastic, linings, and just do your best. That’s what I always tell my sister, who has high anxiety. When she started sewing with Knits, she kept calling me in a panic because she was overwhelmed with information online. I keep reminding her to do her best and that she doesn’t need every fancy tool to sew knit!

Jessica Loewen

Jessica Loewen said:

Great tips! Making a muslin, preshrinking and just do you best we’re all really good reminders.


Krissy said:

The Hong Kong seam, the selvage, and the rolled hem. I’m a total noob and have been wanting to try and sew clothing for my family for the longest time


Mary said:

I liked the explanation of the different kind of knits, using the numbers on the selvage as tags (why didn’t I think of that) and the Universal chart for needles. Schmetz has an app for this – but I think your chart was more helpful.

Carey Latsko

Carey Latsko said:

I loved all the tips and tricks but my favorites were the Yardage measurement conversions, the info on knits (which I’m scared of! ) and the tip about using the selvage edges as sizing tags on garments!

Kimberly Chidsey

Kimberly Chidsey said:

Vinyl (because I got a new cricut machine), selvage, and tension

Caitlyn Westfall

Caitlyn Westfall said:

Rolled hem, universal needles and zippers
Great tips!!!

Valerie Bonilla

Valerie Bonilla said:

For me the little graphics in the T- Tension tip were a great visual, the K tips for knits, and the R above for rolled hem even though I have used my rolled hem foot for a while, reminded me that I want to get another rolled hem foot for a wider hem 😁

Melissa Dillion

Melissa Dillion said:

Grain line, Interface, and Knits! Although so many of these are things as a beginner I need to come back and review a lot!!

Natalie Clemens

Natalie Clemens said:

I learned about French and HongKong seams and needles!


Maggie said:

Grainline, muslin, and selvages as tags

Stacey Sperry

Stacey Sperry said:

I loved loved loved the pictures and descriptions in the knits, the info about creating a Muslin and that a needle has an 8 hour life! I had no idea! I clearly haven’t changed my needles enough.

Stacey Sperry

Stacey Sperry said:

I loved loved loved the pictures and descriptions in the knits, the info about creating a Muslin and that a needle has an 8 hour life! I had no idea! I clearly haven’t changed my needles enough.

Cristen dillard

Cristen dillard said:

Wow! R, s, t were huge. The selvage tags were genius!! Im going to do that. I meed a rolled hem foot for sure, and i just learned teo wks ago the bobbin had a tension screw!


Cristina said:

Knits! Needles! And rolled hems tips were awesome!!! Thank you for the A-Z tips!!!


Elisa said:

I liked the yardage chart, tension guide and universal needle. All great tips.


Samantha said:

My first is Aurifil! I’ve never noticed they were who you reccomend and I’m excited to try their threads. Second would be Hong Kong seams, which are new to me and a fun read. My third was in universal needle, the color chart for the needles will definitely help me sort through my pile of needles!

Megan B

Megan B said:

Clear elastic, grainlines and Just do your best we’re my favorites

Jessi Christianson

Jessi Christianson said:

I love reading all of the tips! The encouragement to make a muslin is the one I felt encouraged to to do. I printed the tension guide for reference and the clear elastic info I will try. Thank you for expanding my sewing fun.


Cathy said:

I loved the idea of using selvage numbers for size tags…so cute! And the chart with the band colors on different types/sizes of needles, and lastly the cute printable with yardage measurements 😊


June said:

I loved the universal needles, salvage ideas and walking foot. Thank you for all the tips.

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