LEARN HOW TO SEW - TOP 10 TIPS

Have you ever wanted to learn how to sew, but never took the leap because you thought it was too difficult? Maybe you hesitated because you thought you needed to buy an expensive sewing machine or take a ton of online courses. Well, we are here to show you that it is not that difficult AND we are going to help make it a lot easier. To start, we are listing our top 10 tips for learning how to sew. Trust when we say, you will thank us later!

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase using any of our recommended links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This will allow us to continue making new content and help support OUR MISSION

Tip # 1: Get an affordable, durable and low maintenance machine

Singer Heavy Duty Machine - 4452

When purchasing your first sewing machine, it goes without saying that the learning curve for a machine is the most important thing to take into consideration. Some other qualities to look into are affordability, durability and maintenance. We recommend the Singer Heavy Duty Machine #4452 as a good beginner sewing machine because it tops the charts in all of the above. This machine is a workhorse, easy to use and extremely versatile. You will have the ability to sew multiple layers of heavy fabrics as well as delicate materials. This is important because, as you are learning how to sew, you will want to experiment with different types of fabrics. As far as maintenance is concerned, this Singer Heavy Duty machine has a drop-in bobbin area that allows for easy access to lubricate your machine. Last but not least, this sewing machine is extremely affordable and is on sale quite often. It has three different models that are almost identical and are only $10-$20 difference in price. Based on what your interests are, you can click here to get a more detailed description of all three models in order to decide which one would work best for you. We chose the 4452 for the walking foot alone, which usually costs over $20 in iteself.

Tip # 2: There are different types of fabrics

Surprise! There are so many more fabrics than just cotton, polyester and leather. So make sure you don’t run off to the nearest fabric shop, buy a yard of cotton fabric and try to make a nice comfortable stretchy t-shirt. Chances are, that cotton material is going to be a lot stiffer than you expected. Once you have decided on a project, do the research in advance and figure out the fabric type you will need. We even recommend going to a fabric shop in advance to see and feel the fabric for yourself. You may have envisioned a project looking and feeling completely different than the fabric you ordered online. Click here for a guide on fabrics.

Tip # 3: There are different types of sewing needles

When you buy a sewing machine, more than likely it will come with a starter kit that has needles inside. These are not the only needles out there! There are different sewing needles for different thread types, fabrics and techniques (embroidery, quilting, general, etc). These will determine the needle you should be utilizing. If the needle is incorrect, you run the risk of fabric puckering, broken seams, uneven seams, skipped stitches, etc. The needle may even break or bend and can pose a greater risk to your machine. Make sure to alway choose the correct needle. We have created a guide to help you as you learn.

Note: The average life of a sewing needle is about 8 hours. Be sure to replace your needles to prevent ruining a project that you may have spent hours or days working on.  

Tip # 4: Make sure to have all your sewing essentials

Before you start a project, you want to make sure you have all the tools you need so that you aren’t interrupted. Unless you have a large crafting area or room that is out of the way of everyone else, it takes a lot to get set up before you begin sewing for the day. You have to pull out your sewing machine, clear (and clean) the area, get your iron set up for pressing, and set up your tools. So if you have to stop and go to the craft store to get something, you will have to put the majority of everything away for safety reasons and to assure nothing is damaged while you are gone. This might encourage you to save the project for another time. A lot of items may seem like common sense, but you may be surprised. Click here for a list of essential items before starting a project. 

Tip # 4: Familiarize yourself with basic sewing techniques and definitions

Sewing Terms

This tip is very important! When you are learning how to sew, it will seem like a different world full of words you have never heard of before. If you have followed every step up until now, you are probably fired up and ready to sew. More than likely, you have something in mind that you want to create, so you decide to pull up a video tutorial on how to do it. Even worse, you may have bought a sewing pattern and you opened it up. Now you are spending hours looking up the terms they are using on the video or trying to figure out the hieroglyphic looking marks on the sewing pattern. To avoid all this, we recommend practicing a few techniques before you start a project and learn a few sewing definitions. Click here for our sewing techniques and definitions.  

Tip # 5: Don't prewash all your fabric

This tip is going to come as a huge shock because every sewing tutorial you have read and watched encourages you to prewash your fabric. Some will tell you to prewash your fabric as soon as you bring it home. We are here to tell you the truth. You don’t have to prewash all your fabric and you’re going to save a lot of time and money if you don’t. What these other tutorials fail to mention is that after prewashing your fabric, the grain may become distorted, the project may be more difficult to fold and cut, and you can lose a large portion of your fabric when you wash it due to fraying (see pic above). There are time consuming ways to prevent fraying during washing, but ask yourself this question before you begin: Will this fabric shrink and bleed while being washed? If your answer is yes, then absolutely prewash your fabric. If your answer is no, there are so many more advantages to washing your project after it is finished. You will still want to wash all projects to rid the fabric from dirt and chemicals, but it is more beneficial to wash when everything has been cut, hemmed and complete.

 

Tip # 6: Start with easy projects

When learning how to sew, start with easy projects! You will appreciate the practice and sense of accomplishment. So many people make the mistake of choosing a difficult costume or outfit for their first project and completely give up. This is why we don’t recommend using a sewing pattern for your first project either. Patterns are absolutely amazing and wonderful but do not always make sense to a brand new sewist. Try a pillow case, receiving blanket or leggings for your first couple of projects. This is a great segue to our next tip.  

Tip # 7: Know that you will make mistakes

The reason we recommend starting out with easy projects is because mistakes are inevitable. Even experienced sewists make mistakes all the time. That is why a seam ripper is going to be your absolute best friend. It is important to know that you will make mistakes so that you do not give up. You are learning news skills and new terms. You are watching tutorials of people that have been doing this for years and may go too fast or skip a step. Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t give up if you make a mistake. It will be worth it when you see the project through. 

Tip # 8: Practice with 100% Cotton Fabric

100% Cotton fabric is the best material to learn how to sew with. It is durable and extremely easy to fold, cut and run through a sewing machine. You can also find a lot of cotton fabrics in bulk for very low prices. We have stocked up on 3 yard packs of poly cotton fabric (works well for a beginner fabric as well) from Walmart in all different colors for just $6.50. So even though you might have found some amazing character print that you are ready to sew, we recommend practicing on cheaper fabric first. Another good tip for purchasing fabric is to research where you live and see if you may have a large wholesale fabric market in your town. In Los Angeles, there is a 100 block “Fashion District” full of all types of fabrics and some shops will sell 1 yard for $1 with a 3 yard minimum. Make sure you do your research before going to a place like this and be ready to bargain. 

Tip # 9: Use tracing paper

A good way to save money and get creative is to use tracing paper for all your projects. Instead of measuring your favorite t-shirt, trace it! Now you have your own pattern. On the other hand, if you have purchased a crazy expensive pattern for $20, trace the pattern pieces you need to use first and cut the tracing paper instead of cutting the pattern itself. This will allow you to continue using the pattern in the future for different sizes. This is one of our favorite hacks!

Tip # 10: Listen to your sewing machine

Last but not least, we absolutely could not leave out an important safety tip. We love music as much as the next person, but it is so important to listen to your sewing machine. You will save yourself a potential dangerous situation and a lot of heartache. Trust us when we say, you will be able to hear that something is not right with your machine, your thread or your project. The last thing you want is your thread getting caught, breaking your needle and having a small sharp piece land where you can’t find it, or worse, in your eye. Other issues aren’t as dangerous for you, but maybe everyone else around you when you are enraged to find that you have been sewing a beautiful seam on the top, only to find out that the whole thread has been bunching underneath while you’ve been sewing for 20 minutes straight. Both situations could be prevented by being able to hear that something is about to go wrong or has already gone wrong, allowing you to catch it on time. So if you must listen to your music, make sure you can hear your machine too!

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase using any of our recommended links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This will allow us to continue making new content and help support OUR MISSION

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