How to start sewing: a guide on how to sew for beginners
I’m available to help you if you are interested in learning how to sew. If you’re looking for a new hobby that’s useful, creative and rewarding, then this guide get you started. This guide will help you get started sewing for beginners.
Sewing gives you the ability to create unique, beautiful and fitting clothes. Nowadays, sewing is not just about making and repairing clothes. With the same skills you can create custom quilts and art projects. To find out what technology you might need, read our guide to the best Cricut machines and the best sewing machines.
Besides the benefits of being able to create bespoke garments and craft projects designed specifically for you, when you learn to sew you can enjoy a hobby that’s fantastic for your mind, wellbeing and confidence. You will enjoy the process and feel fulfilled.
It can be daunting to learn how to start sewing, but I’ve got everything covered in this guide. You will find everything you need: how to start sewing, the best sewing projects for beginners, and tips on choosing a machine.
There are certain essential items that every beginner sewing project should have. Although they may seem costly at first, these items will last you for many years. There are also good kits that combine everything such as Hobbycraft’s Professional Sewing Kit. (opens new tab) Singer ProSeries Sew-It-Gos Sewing Kit from Michaels (opens in a new window). Here are the basic elements of every sewing kit.
- Pins are important for holding material in place while sewing. They come in three types: flat-, plastic, and glass-headed.
- A pin tray or cushion (I prefer the magnetic trays because they are easy to use and pick up pins that have fallen).
- You’ll begin with all-purpose, basic threads, but you’ll soon be experimenting with overlocker, quilting and metallic threads.
- A hand sewing needle; you will need a general needle, but there are different sizes and shapes that can be used for different tasks.
- Fabric markers such as tailor’s chalk or an erasable pen (my fabric marker of choice is a Frixon pen),
- Fabric scissors (not to use on fabric)
- Use scissors to cut your pattern.
- You will need an iron and ironing board. Or, you might want to use a Cricut EasyPress Mini with heat mat for complex seams.
How to sew: Choosing your sewing machine
There’s an overwhelming amount of great sewing machines for beginner sewists available on the market, so it can be difficult to know how to narrow down your search and to make your final choice. In reality, the only two stitches you absolutely need your machine to be able to do when you’re starting to sew is a straight stitch and a zig-zag stitch.
These two options are available on all machines so you can argue that any machine could be used. However, you need to consider your budget and what it is that you’d like your machine to be able to do as you progress.
A basic mechanical machine with just a few utility stitches is enough to start sewing clothes with, but if you already know that you’d like to embellish garments with a range of decorative stitches than a computerised machine might be a better investment.
Check out my guide to sewing machines for beginners. It features my favorite machines to learn to sew, as well as some questions you should consider when choosing a machine.
How to start sewing: easy sewing projects for beginners
While you may be ecstatic to impress everyone at an event with a stunning handmade dress, it is likely that this will end your new hobby in tears and frustration.
Start sewing as a beginner and try to master each new skill. Start slowly and you will feel the achievement of progress.
I always teach beginners how to sew a simple tote bag as their first project, as it’s a great way to get to grips with simple stitches and sewing straight seams. Then, I recommend that you move on to a zippered cushion to learn how to insert zips properly before sewing your first garment.
How to sew: how to make sure you succeed
Fitting and sewing are two completely different skills. I suggest choosing garments that only require minimal fitting when you start learning to sew. My first garment that I teach is a simple pair pyjama pants with an elasticized waistband.
You could also start with a girl’s pull-on skirt for the same reasons. I then recommend progressing to a simple skirt pattern, as you’ll learn how to sew darts and can insert the zip with ease if you practised with the cushion.
How to start sewing: Select the right pattern
Printing patterns for beginners can be found in a variety of formats, including in books, sewing books and PDF files. You can print them at home or have them printed for you. PDF patterns have the added benefit of being able to print them again, even if you make a mistake. If you print the pattern at your home, however, it will require you to put together many A4 pieces in order to assemble it. This can make the process very time-consuming.
You can avoid cutting out the wrong size by measuring accurately and carefully reading the back of your pattern envelope before you begin to cut. It’s important to select the size to cut out using the measurements given on the envelope and not what size you usually wear in ready-to-wear items.
How to sew: Choosing the right fabric
Stepping into a fabric store when you’re starting to sew is both exciting and a little overwhelming, thanks to the tantalising array of colours, prints and fabrics available. Start by choosing a woven fabric that is stable and easy to cut.
You can refer to the fabric suggestions printed on the back of the pattern envelope until you feel more confident. You can always ask store assistants for assistance. They are happy to help and will often be more than happy to.