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Sewing 101

Martha Stewart Living, February 1997

To those who have the dry cleaner replace every lost button and tack every loose hem, the world of sewing can be intimidating. But a little knowledge can turn someone who doesn't sew into someone who does. With some basic sewing supplies and some simple hand stitches, you can mend a seam, hem trousers, and sew on a button. And with nothing fancier than a straight machine stitch, you can make napkins, pillows, and curtains.

A sewing machine can cost a few hundred to thousands of dollars. At the lower end are machines that do straight, reverse, and zigzag stitching, plus a few other stitches. At the top end are computerized models, which create elaborate decorative stitching. For most sewing projects, a simpler model is sufficient. Before beginning a project, it's important to familiarize yourself with your sewing machine. Then start with a simple project, like a knife-edge pillow. For some things, you don't even need a machine; basic hand stitches are surprisingly versatile.