This sewing 101 article will help point you in the right direction and get you sewing with ease in no time. If you have just bought a new sewing machine or are about to buy one, it can be a little bewildering knowing where to start learning to sew.
You will all be at a different stage of your sewing 101 journey so start at the section that best applies to you.
Here I will go through the following topics and give you links and resources for my more in depth articles.
- Buying a machine
- Essential tools
- Getting your machine ready to sew
- Reading a pattern and cutting
- Sewing Basics
If you came to this article looking to hand sew, then read how to hand sew instead.
Buying a Machine
The first thing you need for your sewing 101 introduction is a machine. You can pick up beginner sewing machines for $100-300. Look for popular brands such as Singer, Brother, and Janome. You don’t need a lot of fancy stitches when starting so even a second-hand machine will do the trick if it does a basic straight stitch and zig-zag. Some really old machines only do straight stitches and that will still work for the majority of projects. Zig-zag stitches are used for sewing stretch and for finishing seams mainly.
A serger is a nice tool to have once you have a little experience but not essential when you are starting out. It will neaten the inside seams of your garments but you can easily create durable seam finishes with a regular machine or with a pair of pinking shears
- Best sewing machine for your budget
- Best leather sewing machine
- Sewing machine vs serger vs coverstitch machine
Once you have purchased, found or borrowed your first sewing machine, it is time to get a sewing kit together, containing all your supplies. Try getting a combined kit of basics to cut down on costs. You don’t need a lot of fancy tools to start off with.
The one thing I probably would invest in is a good pair of sewing scissors as this will be your most used tool. Sewing feet are cheaper and kits and you probably have enough that come with your machine to make do when you are starting.
Have a read of my article on beginner’s sewing kit on a budget with a basic list to get you started.
At a minimum, you will need:
- Sewing Needles – both hand and machine needles
- Thread – If you are not sure what you will be sewing then get an all-purpose thread
- Scissors – for fabric and cutting paper
- Chalk pencil for marking
- Ruler or measuring tape
- Iron and ironing board
- Sewing feet – the most used ones are an all-purpose foot and the zipper foot
And don’t forget a seam ripper (unpicker). Even experienced sewers sometimes need to remove stitches that haven’t worked.
- Beginners sewing kit on a budget
- Cutting tools
- Marking tools
- Pressing tools
- Measuring tools
- Sewing machine needles
- 10 Best sewing machine feet
- Types of thread
Getting your Machine Ready
So you have a machine and some basic tools – what’s next in your sewing 101 plan? First, prepare your machine by learning how to thread it and wind bobbins. You should also have a read through the sewing safety section before starting to protect yourself from injury.
If your machine didn’t come with a sewing machine manual then see if you can get a PDF download from the manufacturer.
- How to thread a sewing machine
- How to wind a bobbin
- How to use a sewing machine – the basics you need to start your first stitches
- How to use a serger or overlocker
- Sewing safety
Starting to Read a Pattern and Cutting
Check out my article on sewing projects for beginners for over 50 easy ideas. One of the absolute easiest things to make is a cushion cover. It is all straight sewing and the envelope style cover has an overlapped back so there are no tricky buttons or zippers. Elastic skirts are a satisfying first project and I have an easy pattern for a baby skirt and a girl’s skirt.
You will need to learn to read the pattern instructions first and learn so new terms that you may not have heard before. I have a sewing glossary that will go through the common sewing terms. There will also be new sewing symbols on the pattern to learn.
These articles will help with some of the basics once you have your pattern.
After a read-through of the pattern, it is time to cut the fabric and mark the symbols.
- How to pin the fabric
- How to cut fabric
- How to add seam allowance to sewing patterns
- Cutting notches
- Fabric marking
The Basics of Sewing 101
So now for the exciting part of sewing 101. Actually starting to sew. You will quickly learn that on the majority of sewing projects, the preparation takes far longer than the actual sewing. Plan ahead, take your time and it will all go smoothly.
- How to start and stop stitching a seam
- Sewing straight seams
- How to press fabric
- How to clip corners and curves
- How to use a seam ripper
Sewing Specialty Fabrics
Once you have sewn a few small sewing projects, you will start to broaden your skills by learning how to sew different fabrics. The right needles and settings on your machine make all the difference and can turn a beautiful but hard to sew fabric into a work of art.
- CHIFFON – Sewing Chiffon
- BATIK – What is Batik
- CANVAS – Sewing Canvas
- COTTON – Sewing Cotton
- DENIM – Sewing Denim
- FELT – Sewing Felt
- FUR – Sewing Fur
- KNITS – How to Sew Stretch Fabric
- INTERFACING – Types of Interfacing
- LACE – How to Sew Lace
- LEATHER – Sewing Leather
- RAYON – Sewing Rayon
- SHEER – Sewing Sheer Fabrics
- SILK – How to Sew Silk
- THICK – Sewing Thick Fabrics
- VELVET Sewing Velvet
- WOOL – Sewing Wool
Hopefully, all goes well and you only need a minimum of sewing machine troubleshooting. But if things do go wrong, take a deep breath and read how to fix some of these common problems. Even experienced sewers still run into problems occasionally so you are in good company.
- Sewing needle keeps breaking
- How to clean a sewing machine
- Sewing machine thread keeps breaking – Top 10 TIPS
- Sewing machine skipping stitches
- Seam puckering when sewing
- Sewing machine tension
Sewing 101 – In Conclusion
So that’s it for your sewing 101 introduction. My blog currently has over 300 sewing tutorials so you will find lots of helpful information to get you started. Good luck on your sewing 101 journey. You’ll never go back!