Learn how to sew with needle and thread or by machine with this great tutorial that includes tips and projects aimed at beginners. Sewing is a fun and useful skill that you can master at any age. The internet and my blog are full of sewing projects and patterns for you to try, so start today! Once you know how to sew step by step, what is your first sewing project going to be?
How to Sew Tutorial
Start at the beginning, or just click on the how to stitch tutorials you need. I have divided this article into hand sewing with a needle and thread and machine sewing since most people want to do one or the other.
New sewing tutorials are added every week, so make sure you follow along and learn how to sew. My sewing blog now has 600+ sewing tutorials with step-by-step photos and video instructions.
There are 2 main ways you can learn how to sew:
- With a Sewing Machine
- By Hand
This article will first go through machine sewing, giving you lots of links to articles on different topics that will help you. The second part of the article will deal with hand sewing with a needle and thread. Hand sewing can be decorative or a quick and easy way to sew or repair a simple seam.
How to Sew By Machine
Ready to pick your "how to sew" adventure? Choose from some of the most popular topics below to get started.
Step 1 - How to Sew Tools Needed
You will need a sewing machine and a basic sewing kit when you learn how to sew.
Your Sewing Machine
When learning how to sew with a machine, you will first need to ensure you have all the necessary tools and equipment. Don't go for a fancy machine if it is not in your budget. Borrow one or check out second-hand deals in your local paper. If your machine can do a straight stitch and preferably a zig-zag, you can sew most projects successfully.
If you do want to invest in a new machine, read my article on the best sewing machine for your budget. This will lead you through some different options and price points to get you on your way. When purchasing a new machine, look for a balance of stitch types and functions vs price and build quality. I do most of my sewing on a quite basic Janome that doesn't have hundreds of fancy stitches.
However, what it does have is a metal internal body that can withstand a lot of sewing hours without hassle. Most of you will rarely use stitches other than a straight stitch, zig-zag, or buttonhole stitch.
Sewing machine vs Serger vs Coverstitch. Different machines suit different purposes. Your main machine will always be a regular sewing machine but sergers and cover stitch machines can be used in addition to getting professional results that are really satisfying.
A sewing machine will do all your seams, hems, and basic sewing, whereas a serger will finish the seams professionally. Don't worry if you can't afford a serger, as you can get many great seam finishes with a regular machine.
Find out which is the best machine for your needs. A cover stitch is only needed if you plan to sew lots of stretch fabric. It finishes hems with those double rows of stitching that you see on all your t-shirts. Cover stitch machines are not for daily sewing.
Your Sewing Kit
After you have a sewing machine, next on your list of how to sew should be a basic sewing kit with thread, scissors, pins, and needles. Many of these items are inexpensive and can be purchased in bundles.
Here are some links to some more in-depth articles:
- Beginner Sewing Kit – This article deals with the essential basic tools needed to start sewing. Forget the fancy gadgets for now and just build a simple kit that won’t cost much money. The basic tools for your kit include measuring tapes and rulers, threads, pins, needles, and sewing scissors. Also necessary will be a seam ripper to fix mistakes and a cheap pair of paper scissors for your patterns.
- Sewing Machine Needle Size Guide – Which sewing needle should you use for your project? Always ensure you have a packet of assorted-sized universal needles, as these will be your most used.
- Sewing Machine Feet – Best 10 sewing machine feet to buy. Many of these will come with your machine. For most projects, an all-purpose machine foot can be used. These always come with your machine. My second most used foot is a Teflon foot. This foot has a coated bottom to glide over sticky fabrics such as Lycra to create even stitches without skipping.
- Types of Sewing Thread - There are many types of threads in different weights, but your most used type will be an all-purpose polyester thread. Always buy good quality, as it will save snags and tangles caused by cheap threads.
Step 2 - Set Up Your Machine
When you are thinking about how to sew, you first need to get all your tools and then find a piece of fabric to test some straight stitching. Always test your machine and stitches on some scrap fabric first.
If you have your machine but are not sure how to operate it, here are some articles to help. I also have links to sewing machine manufacturers you can contact if you have lost your sewing manual. You can get a PDF copy of the manual for most recent machines free or cheaply.
Step 3 - Practice some Sewing Skills
You will want to first try straight stitching before moving to corners and curves. Also, practice starting and stopping. Always go slowly when you start so the sewing machine doesn't feel like it is running away from you.
How to Sew with a Machine Articles
Step 4 - First Beginner Project to Try
So, you are all set with a machine and equipment. What next? Read my article on 67+ sewing projects for beginners for lots of ideas. You will also see the free projects link in the menu at the top.
These are all free patterns and tutorials, so you can practice with confidence. Purchase some cheap fabric for your first projects so you can get the hang of sewing.
Most of my sewing projects have a video as well as detailed photos, so you should have no problems following along, even if it is your first time.
These are my 3 favorites for beginners to learn how to sew.
- Cushion Covers – This is one of the easiest cushion covers and sewing projects you can make. Imagine how satisfying it will be to look at your handiwork on the couch each day! Includes video.
- How to Make a Scrunchie - Scrunchies are made from a simple rectangle and don't take much fabric. If you can straight stitch, you can make a scrunchie! This also includes a video.
- Baby Skirts - These skirts are made from 2 rectangles and have a simple elastic waist.
Once you have made a couple of simple items, take a look at the Treasurie sewing pattern shop for some more great beginner options. Treasurie patterns come in multi-sized patterns and detailed instructions aimed at beginners.
Step 5 - Learning More Skills
Once you can sew a simple seam and have all your tools, it is time to start learning some simple how to sew techniques.
Popular Sewing Techniques
You will need to know many common techniques when learning how to sew, including gathering and sewing hems.
- Gathering Techniques - Different techniques are needed for different purposes. Learn different ways to gather.
- Sew Stretch Fabrics - Here's a secret! Did you know sewing stretch fabric is easier and faster than woven fabric, as there is minimal ironing? Learn the best stitches to sew stretch on your regular machine.
- Sewing Leotards - This is one of the most popular sections on my website. Learning to sew leotards is fun and easy with my video instructions.
- Sewing Bias Tape - Learn how to make and sew bias tape, including single fold, double fold, and continuous.
- Sewing Hems - This section covers wide hems, narrow hems, circular hems and more.
- Ruching - Learn how to do ruching using 4 different techniques
Once you know how to sew, you will be looking for new ideas to decorate, manipulate and embellish your work to create truly individual pieces.
- Sewing Pleats
- Pintucks (Tiny little pleats)
- Ruching (This is a type of gathering done with elastic)
- Shirring (Sewing with Elastic Thread)
- How to Fray Fabric
TRIMS AND DECORATION
Step 6 - Troubleshooting
When you are starting to learn how to sew, and even when you have some experience, things don't always go to plan.
Here are some common troubleshooting articles that might help. Before you start reading or tearing your hair out, I want you to breathe and just try one simple thing.
RETHREAD your machine both top and bottom. I know that sounds way too simple but it is like turning your computer off and on again. Sometimes, the problems magically disappear. The important thing is that you rethread the top and bottom and not just one.
So, if that didn't help, here are some more specific links -
- Sewing Needle Keeps Breaking
- How to Clean a Sewing Machine
- Sewing Machine Thread Keeps Breaking
- Sewing Machine Skipping Stitches
- Seam Puckering when Sewing
- Sewing Machine Manuals
- Sewing Safety Tips for Beginners
- Sewing Machine Troubleshooting
- Sewing Machine Tension
- How to Thread a Sewing Machine
How to Sew by Hand
Sewing with a needle and thread can be done for functional purposes such as sewing a seam or decorative purposes. Often beginners may start hand sewing before they move to purchase a machine. Hand sewing can also be very relaxing and is a hobby in itself, separate from machine sewing.
Step 1 - How to Thread a Needle
Before you start to learn how to sew by hand, you should learn how to thread a needle and all about needle threaders. In a nutshell, you need to get the thread through the eye of the needle. Easy right? Well, most of the time, it is. Just cut the thread with sharp scissors and poke it through. Grab it on the other side and pull.
Needle threaders are a dream if you have trouble getting the thread through the tiny eye of the needle. They come as a bonus with most packets of hand needles, so keep one next to where you sew. You can see the little triangle piece of metal does all the hard work and pulls the thread through for you.
Single vs Double Threaded
You can thread the needle with the thread doubled or just single. As a general rule, if sewing a seam or repair, then thread the needle double, and for embroidery, use a single thread since the threads are thicker.
Knotting the End
Just do a simple knot for the end. If you have the double-threaded needle, grab both ends and knot them as one. Don't separate them, as that is much harder. (how to thread a needle)
Step 2 - How to Sew Seams by Hand
The strongest hand stitch for sewing seams is the backstitch. This stitch looks like a continuous row of stitches, much like a sewing machine produces, although, a little more irregular and messier on the back. The smaller your stitches, the stronger the seam will be.
My article on how to sew backstitch will show you how to stitch lines, corners, and change threads. It includes a video for visual learners and lots of photos.
Fastest and Easiest Seams
If you are looking for a quick and easy hand seam, then running stitch will be your best bet. This simple up-and-down stitch is by far the easiest you can do and takes very little time. Like the backstitch, the smaller your stitches, the stronger your seam.
Step 3 - How to Sew Hems by Hand
Even when you have a sewing machine, there are times you will want to sew a hem by hand, especially if you are looking for an invisible stitch or if you have a difficult fabric. Blanket stitch is lovely for a textured contrast hem. Fine rolled hems can be created by hand as well and are better than machine ones for fine fabrics such as chiffon.
Further Reading: Hemming Stitches
Step 4 - How to Sew with Decorative Stitching
You may be learning how to sew by hand in order to decorate clothing or other sewing projects. Embroidery is also a good option when repairing clothing, as you can use it to cover holes and stains.
MORE EMBROIDERY ARTICLES
- Blanket Stitch
- Buttonhole Stitch
- Chain Stitch
- Couching Embroidery Tutorial
- Cross Stitch
- Double Herringbone Stitch
- Embroidery Basics
- Faggoting Embroidery
- Feather Stitch
- Fern Stitch
- Fishbone Stitch
- Fly Stitch
- French Knots
- Herringbone Stitch
- Lazy Daisy
- Running Stitch
- Sashiko Embroidery
- Satin Stitch
- Seed Stitch Embroidery (Rice Stitch)
- Stem Stitch
- Straight Stitch
- Web Stitch | Embroidery Tutorial
- Whip Stitch
Step 5 - How to Sew with Invisible Stitching
There are times when you will need an invisible stitch to repair a hole in a seam of clothing or a stuffed toy for your kids. This stitch is commonly called a ladder stitch or slip stitch. If you use a matching color thread, this hand stitch will be almost unnoticeable when you have finished.
How to Sew for Money
Do you want to learn how to sew and make money from sewing? Of course you do! Sewing can be a great way of making a bit of extra money doing something you love. Best of all, it can be done from home, which is extremely convenient, especially if you have a young family.
Exploring How to Sew
Good luck on your how to sew journey. I hope my sewing blog helps you get started. If you are looking for something in particular use the search bar up the top.