My seamstress mom and I butted heads a lot when it came to her teaching me how to sew. My sister (who is left-handed as well) adapted so much easier to the right-handed ways, and I was the rebellious and less talented embarrassment. Okay, so it wasn’t entirely heartbreaking for my mom that I couldn’t sew; it just meant that I couldn’t make my own clothes or make money sewing ties the way my sister did. Still, it felt pretty devastating to me. So I came up with these tips for all you struggling left-handed seamstresses with dreams of handmade everything but only have something a friend made for you that one time. And even if you’re right-handed, learn about our struggles. Give us the sympathy we need!
1. Switch the blade on your rotary cutter
This tip is something I only discovered recently and it has changed my fabric cutting abilities drastically. Most rotary cutters are set up for right-handed people automatically; if it allows you to put the blade on the opposite side (which is should!) please. Please. Switch it.
For those of you who aren’t aware, when you cut with a rotary cutter, you're normally cutting a straight line, using a ruler as a guide. When your blade is between the handle and the ruler, you get a straight line. If you’re left-handed and you use a rotary cutter with the blade on the left side, the handle is between the blade and the ruler. Which means there is nothing preventing you from going off into a sort of curved, insane left-field direction on your fabric.
Sure, left-handers can adjust to rotary cutters meant for right-handed people. I struggled for years not making straight cuts; even when I got more practice in, I had to concentrate really hard and would still only be successful 8/10 times.
(Fun story, my right-handed mom never understood how I couldn’t cut straight. It was so simple. So easy. And even though she was the first person to switch the blade for me, she insisted that it wasn’t even that necessary. One day, she picked it up and went to cutting...using my rotary cutter. And her cut was so curved and so off to right field that her reaction was absolute horror. It was great.)
2. Watch Youtube Videos. Learn from Other Left-Handers
There are more of us out there than you think! And as someone who has learned sewing from a right-handed person, it is so much easier to learn from someone that holds and looks at things from the same perspective as you. Learning from a right-handed person, you have to switch your brain around as you watch, and then when you sit down to actually do it, it doesn’t look the way you learned. It took more effort than I ever wanted to spend, and that’s the main reason my sewing abilities are so much lower than my sister (who, even though left-handed, did put the effort in).
3. Buy Left-Handed Scissors
This is something me and my sister agree on. We both have specific, left-handed scissors dedicated to cutting fabric. If you’re like me and have been using right-handed scissors all your life, making the switch may be a little bit confusing (I mean, you’re looking on the side of the scissor that actually faces you!), but trust me. Once you get the hang of it, your cuts will be much more accurate.
4. Quit if You Need to!
Even as someone who sews for a side business, quit if you need to. If sewing frustrates you and nothing you attempt seems to be going right, stop. Quit for a while. Sewing should be fun! You should enjoy the process and being left-handed can cause more frustration than normal, just because you have so many extra things against you. The first time I sewed a tie, it twisted and would not hang straight. Five years later, I tried again, but this time, the tie twisted twice. Another eight years later, here I am, sewing and selling ties. Take the time to step away from what you hate, let time take your frustrations away, and let your love of fabrics or crafting or learning take over and attempt again. There’s no shame in giving up, especially if it’s temporary.
5. Ease Your Way Into Sewing
Whether it be a small project that has tons of videos, projects to hold your hand as you go through the process, or just helping someone that does sew with little things like sewing buttons or cutting loose threads, ease your way in. I actually eased my way to sewing through crocheting. Crocheting was something I picked up a lot faster than actual sewing, and I went from crocheting beanies to baby blankets. One blanket I wanted to make involved sewing fabric squares and crocheting them together, and from there, I got more comfortable with sewing machines and hand-stitching.
Don’t forget, left-handed or right-handed, you can sew! Even if it’s just a straight stitch or simple hand-done blanket stitches, you have the ability to do it. Use all the resources available to you, reach out to those with more experience, or step away and just let your fabric stash grow until you can’t ignore it anymore. I’ll say it again: sewing should be fun! Enjoy the learning process and as you get more comfortable and build your skills, you’ll be surprised to find what’s within your abilities.
I enjoyed your post. Being a left hander certainly is a challenge but you get used to it. At 80 there were no teachers in the Stone Age so you had to punt or learn to write with your right hand. They just didn’t get it!
You missed one of the very important tems: sighting. I cant cut straight, or measure straight. I am left eyed: the left eye is dominant. That means that when I’m using a sewing machine I have to site in a different place than most people. It’s very difficult to remember to reverse the pattern, especially if you learn by looking. And the worst, left handed scissors. The blade is sharpened opposite, which is fine for left handed RIGHT EYED people, but some of us are not. I was told as a freshman in high school, after joining a sewing club that I was hopeless. I have been working for 50 years to prove the instructor wrong. Not sure I will be successful. If we do come back in another life, I’m wishing to be right handed.