Bad Sewing Habit Confessions

Being mindful of one’s bad habits is the first step toward breaking them, right?
These are my 15 bad sewing habits. Yes, 15.. I thought I would have a hard time coming up with 10 habits– but look, I’m guilty of the following 15 habits….

1. Only changing my needle when I break it.

I forget and I’m also economic. Manufacturers recommend that you change your needle per every 8 hours of sewing, but I lose track. Did I change my needle last week? I didn’t sew that many hours, did I?

I also forget what kind of needle I have on my machine. Most often I use regular needles but when I change to a jersey needle, I forget about that the next day.. How do you keep up?

Needles do go through wear and tear. Apparently, while the thread passes through a needle, it rubs against the metal. This creates microscopic saw-like teeth on the needle. These teeth scratch the thread and thin it out. Your thread becomes weak and it tends to break more easily. To avoid this - note to myself - you should change out your needle after using it for 8 hours.

2. Only cleaning my sewing machine when something is wrong.

You have to take care of your precious machine if you want it to last, perform well, and sew beautiful stitches. Are you also familiar with bird’s nests?

Apparently your machine can even catch on fire if it’s too dusty. So, take your screwdriver and a little brush and open it up regularly. Remove the lint, dust, and little thread ends and also bring it in for maintenance at your local repair center once in a while. A good professional check-up can do wonders! Tomorrow I’ll take mine in for a thorough check-up!

3. Not laundering my fabric before I sew.

When I want to start a project I want to start immediately! When the fabric hasn’t been prewashed I can get very frustrated and skip this step. As everybody knows, fabric shrinks and sometimes a lot! The second problem is the stiffness. Fabrics have finishing treatments applied to them which make them firmer. Washing softens the fabric and makes it easier to handle and cut. It also removes all of the folds and creases. So, when you buy fabric, wash it and then store it away so your stash is completely prewashed!

4. Unthreading my machine thread by pulling the spool out.

I didn’t know until recently that the proper way to un-thread your machine is to lift up the presser foot and clip the thread at the spool, and then pull the cut thread from the needle end. I always pull the thread all through the machine by pulling the spool. Apparently this can mess up the tension disks on your machine.

5. Not reading the pattern instructions thoroughly.

How many times have I made mistakes and had to unpick a lot of stitches just because I wanted to move too fast and I assumed I knew what was coming next? Reading the whole pattern first gives you a sense of what is coming and can help you avoid a lot of frustration afterwards.

6. Buying fabric without a project in mind.

How big is your stash? Do you know what you have stashed at home? Do you check your stash when you have a new project in mind?

The covid lockdown helped a bit on this end. I couldn’t accidentally walk past my local fabric store and before ordering online, I checked my stash. I also made lots of face masks with my fabric leftovers. I find stash busting projects very satisfactory, but I also loooove to buy fabric.. Are those 2 compatible??

7. Throwing threads on the floor while sewing.

Yes, guilty, raising my hand! I really don’t know why I don’t just chuck them in the bin next to my sewing table?

8. Laying down scissors and seam rippers everywhere.

Where are my scissors? Where is my ripper? The time I lose looking for scissors and seam rippers …

A little confession: The Magic Holder I got a couple of weeks ago is a big help. Thread snips and a ripper at hand– all attached to my machine where I can’t misplace them!

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9. Not cleaning up my sewing room after every sewing session.

Yes, my sewing room is often a very huge mess and it is not very motivating to continue a project in such a disorganized space.

Don’t you just love to work in a clean room with all of your tools at hand? If you have good storage solutions and a well organized room, cleaning up is easy and goes much faster. If you don’t know where to put all your stuff (especially all that fabric :-)), it is way more difficult.

Interested in some MadamSew storage solutions?

10. Walking around barefoot in my sewing room.

Yes, that’s me.. Sewing fast and barefoot… in a messy sewing room. Living on the edge!

11. Licking thread to thread a needle.

Is there any other way? Why is it bad to do this?

Because your needle can rust, because it’s not hygienic... These reasons don’t convince me, actually. Do you know of any other reasons why you shouldn’t do this?

Interested in buying needle threaders?

12. Threading my machine and changing the needle while it’s switched on.




13. Not measuring my model before I start.

I often sew in the evening when my children are sleeping and oftentimes I’m sewing clothing for them! I always forget to take their sizes before I begin my project, so I kind of guess what size will be best... which works out fine, most of the time….

14. Not transferring all pattern markings to my fabric.

When I’m in a rush to finish my sewing project, I forget to transfer some markings thinking that I will manage just fine without them. But in the end, it takes me more time (unpicking puckered and lumpy darts) and the result is often less satisfying.

15. Swearing at my sewing projects.

Sometimes … it’s never my fault, right? But, does it make a difference?

When you read this list it’s a miracle that I even finish any sewing projects at all!

Luckily, there are also 4 common bad sewing habits that I’m not guilty of :-)

1. I press as I go, way more than I used to, thanks to my brand new iron!
2. I never use dressmaking shears on things other than fabric. My shears are labeled, and my family knows that the labeled ones are off limits.
3. I use a lot of pins when I sew. Pinning is winning! I have 3 pincushions –1 next to my machine; 1 where I mark, measure, and cut fabric; and 1 on my ironing board along with a little basket of sewing clips. It helps to have pins around to actually pin more!
4. Very rarely, out of habit, without thinking, I put a pin in my mouth for just one second and then I think of my friend that had to go through surgery to have a pin removed from her lung. I’ve almost kicked the habit of putting pins in my mouth!

What are your bad habits?

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