I have talked many times about sewing projects that can have either a “bless your heart, you made that yourself, didn’t you?” look or a professional look. Many times, the difference between the two is simply how attentive you are to the details. For instance, are you using the correct size and type of needle for the fabric you are sewing? If you are sewing a woven fabric using a knit or stretch needle, you will not be pleased with the amount of skipped stitches you get. It will probably be so noticeable that you will think something is wrong with your machine! On the other hand, if you are sewing a knit fabric with a universal needle, you may find the fabric develops little tears or runs in it, like pantyhose tend to get. There are some fabrics such as vinyl, leather and some less expensive cotton fabrics (such as some Christmas prints), that simply will not heal once you put a pin or a needle through them. These fabrics necessitate clips, pinning inside the seam allowances or even just holding the fabric as it goes through the machine.
Stabilizers are not just for machine embroiders. If you are using a thin quilting fabric or you are using any type of decorative stitch or buttonhole, you need to stabilize the fabric in some way. For example, silk dupioni simply cannot be stitched and have a professional look to it without some attention being paid to stabilizing the fabric: it tends to pucker. Knowing your fabric and the end result you are hoping to achieve is important when choosing how you will support your fabric.
Since needles, threads and stabilizers are so important to your finished project, no matter what that project might be I have included some websites that you may find interesting. Once you find what you like, stick with it!
Schmetz Pocket Needle Guide
Inspira Stabilizer Guide
Superior Thread Company Education Guide