Beginning any new project or skill can always seem a bit daunting, but if you think of the process as a journey, it may help you with getting started. Here are 20 essential tips for learning to sew for beginners that will help you to start your sewing journey today.
Lao Tzu who was an ancient Chinese philosopher said: …‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’…
Well, a sewing journey will surely start with…one stitch! So take the first step and stitch!
Learning to Sew for Beginners: Before you Start
Check that you have your basic sewing tools:
- Sewing machine
- A pattern to sew (Shop for sewing patterns)
Here are a few articles to help you along and make sure you read my absolute beginner guide to how to use a sewing machine.
Sewing for Beginners – 21 TIPS
Read some of the best sewing for beginners tips below and cross reference to the detailed articles. Soon you will be well on your way to making that journey towards sewing success. Don’t worry, you are going to learn as you go along!
Measuring for sewing:
Map out your body measurements before you start your sewing journey. Take a look at the chart of what to measure and then draw up a body map for yourself. This will help you get the most accurate measurements and ensure well-fitted garments every time you sew. (Read sewing measurements)
- How to cut fabric:
Once you have chosen your pattern and the perfect piece of fabric, the first step to making a successful garment must be learning to cut accurately. Learn about prepping the fabric, sizing your article, the grain of the fabric and the best cutting tools to use in this article. (Read how to cut fabric for sewing and Napped Fabric, What is Nap in Sewing)
- Understanding sewing pattern symbols:
The symbols on the pattern pieces can look a bit like a foreign language to the novice seamstress. Take the mystery out of sewing pattern symbols by reading my article on sewing pattern symbols.
- Fabric marking with pins and chalk:
This is a great way to mark out all the little details on the pattern. Highlight any darts, symbols or tucks before you start to sew. Find out how to mark fabric with chalk in 3 easy steps.
- How to pin fabric before sewing:
Everyone needs directions. Do you pin horizontally or vertically? The way you pin and cut can make all the difference to your garment. What is the ideal way to go? If you have asked yourself this question then here is the answer….read how to pin fabric.
- How to baste a seam for sewing:
Basting is a basic technique that makes the world of difference to the item you are going to sew. Find out about different types of basting to secure your fabric before you start. Pinning, taping, clips and machine basting methods are explained in detail for the beginner seamstress. (Read how to baste a seam)
- How to thread a sewing machine:
The essential part of using a sewing machine is obviously the threading part! The machine’s manual is the reference book to use but some added tips will always help. Practice on a scrap or two before you are ready to launch into the real deal…sewing with your machine. (Read how to thread a sewing machine). Don’t have a manual to consult? Find out how to download free online sewing machine manuals.
- How to sew a seam:
Practice makes perfect they say and so it is with sewing a seam. Read all the ways to do this essential skill and practice on some scraps to build up your confidence. Always try a seam on the same fabric you are going to use for your finished product. Don’t forget the back stitch to secure the beginning and the end of the seam. (Read how to sew a seam and how to backstitch)
- How to clip corners and curves:
No more puckering or wrinkling when you learn how to clip curves and cut corners. You will have a truly professional look every time you sew. (Read how to clip corners and curves)
- Sewing darts:
There is an art to sewing darts that will give a flattering finish to your garment. Different types of darts need different techniques and different ways to be pressed to achieve the best-finished dart. (Read how to sew darts, how to mark darts)
- Six seam finishes without a serger:
Not every seamstress is lucky enough to have a serger. However, there are many other ways to neaten a seam and make sure your work looks professional and neat with edges that will not fray. (Read seam finishes)
- How to sew a French seam:
This is the perfect seam for delicate fabrics as the seam itself hardly shows through the sheer material. It is professional and soft for a really neat finish. Learn to do this seam and you will always be delighted with the end result. (Read how to sew a French seam)
- How to press fabric for sewing:
Pressing every step of the way is definitely the secret of success for any well-made garment. Learn this essential basic skill and you will always have a professional end result. (Read how to press fabric)
- Sewing bias tape:
Bias tape is an amazingly versatile accessory to enhance every sewing project. Learn how to use this creative trim and how to neaten, bind or just decorate your sewing projects. (Read how to sew bias tape)
- How to gather:
This is a good decorative skill to use to add something extra to the item you are making. Learn the easiest way to create the quality look you want for the finished item. Gathers can add ruffles, shape and extra decorative accents to your garment. (Read how to gather)
- Alternatives to buttonholes:
If you are just starting out with dressmaking, don’t despair as there are alternatives to the challenging buttonhole. You don’t need to ruin a garment with a messy buttonhole. Try some other ideas while you gain confidence with the machine stitched button hole. (Read alternatives to buttonholes)
- How to sew a zipper:
This method of fastening a garment can be decorative, functional or even invisible. Find out the best way to tackle a zipper with step by step instructions and diagrams to illustrate. (Read how to sew a zipper)
- Five easy ways to sew a hem:
Now we are getting to the end of the garment. The hem must be finished off neatly otherwise your garment will not hang gracefully. Find out about the best hem to suit your garment and the fabric you are using. (Read how to sew a hem)
- Top stitching:
Top stitching can really add the finishing touches to your garment. It is decorative and adds durability too. There are 9 tips for great top stitching. Try them out on a scrap before you apply them to the garment you have made. (Read how to topstitch)
- Easy hand stitches:
The work is done and the journey almost complete. It is time to stand back and add some finishing touches. Using a bit of imagination and following the basic lines of the garment can lead to another dimension of decorative stitching. Simple but effective ideas can make the world of difference. Try some easy hand stitches and admire your creation – something original with a loving touch. (Read hand embroidery stitches)
No sewing for beginners list would be complete without a link to troubleshooting. If you have sewing machine problems don’t feel bad, just look up some of these easy trouble shooting tips and get back to sewing smoothly. (Read sewing machine troubleshooting)
Learning to Sew: The End
Beginners and seasoned sewers alike will definitely enjoy these 21 helpful tips. It is very possible that the journey that goes down the sewing route may never stop! Never stop learning to sew.
Enjoy the ride! Make sure you follow along for more sewing tips and tutorials.