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sewing for beginnersSewing For Beginners
by Handmade Adelaide

Just getting started with sewing?  Thanks for stopping by!  I've been sewing for over 20 years, and I'll give you my best tips and advice for getting started including the Do's and Don'ts,  and how to make your projects look professional.  Find more valuable advice about how to save money if you're sewing for beginners.  It includes lots of good details on what to look for in your first sewing machine and other essentials.  Learning to sew is a valuable skill that can be very fun and profitiable!



Sewing For Beginners
Whether you want to learn to sew for profit, or just for your own enjoyment, remember the old addage "K.I.S.S.": Keep It Slow & Simple.  
Sewing, like driving a car, does not require special skills or talent.  It simply requires some time and patience and a willingness to carefully follow instructions.  If you are willing to take it slow and invest some time in learning the basic skills, you’ll soon discover that it is second nature to sit down, thread the machine, and stitch away! 

There are a few major Do's and Don’t's         when it comes to sewing for beginners:

Do get a book Sewing for Dummies is a great book to get started, and I even learned a few things about hand sewing while looking through my daughter's Klutz book called Simple Sewing.  You'll need to know the basics of some hand and machine sewing for most projects.  It pays to have a good resource book with photos to refer back to when you encounter something new.  There are also a lot of great little tricks that make sewing for beginners easier that can only be had in a good sewing book.  
Do start with easy projects like making a pillow, apron, or a nursing cover. 
The ‘
sew easy’ patterns are also a great way to cut your teeth on a new sewing machine. Start with a project that you can complete in a couple of hours.  Instant gratification is a great thing!
Do read the back of the pattern while in the store: Most packaged patterns list the fabric yardage and the notions that are required for the project on the back.  Find and use this information so that you can leave the store with everything you need to complete your project, including thread, elastic, interfacing, lining fabric, etc.
Do ask for help.
 Don't be embarrassed to ask questions to the person who works at the craft or fabric store.  They are usually very qualified seamstresses, and are happy to answer questions about sewing for beginners!

Do research your machine
options and reviews, and get one that will grow with you if you plan to sew long term. 
See my recommendation for a great sewing machine (at a great price!) in Frugal Fran's article Strategies to Save Money on Sewing.

Don’t begin with a project that is above a beginner level see my suggestions about starting with easy projects above.
Don’t have a lead foot.  Go slowly when starting out.  You can even use the hand crank to get started with your first few seams, while you get adjusted to how sensative your presser foot pedal is.  Sewing 'fast' doesn’t allow you to get the feel of the machine. Keeping a slow and steady pace on your machine is very important for learning to sew straight and even seams.  You’ll want to go pretty slowly at first so that you can learn the feel of feeding the fabric in and keeping it lined up straight.  Sewing too fast can also be dangerous to your fingers!  Once you get comfortable with your machine, you’ll know when it’s time to speed up.  And your machine will make awful noises if you start approaching warp speed.
Don’t begin your sewing career with an important project with a tight deadline(i.e. a wedding dress or a formal for an event that is a month away.)  This will only cause frustration and kill your creative spirit.  It is also pretty much guaranteed to waste massive amounts of money, and you'll swear off sewing for beginners.  Save your sanity, and resolve to learn to sew at a less stressful time, and on a smaller beginners project.  If you want a custom look on a budget, try getting a used gown and having it altered professionally.
Don’t spend a lot on a fancy machine or impulse buy a machine.  
See the the article above about choosing a good machine without breaking the bank.
Don’t buy pricey fabric for your first few projects.  If your local big box store has a sewing department, they may have a one or two dollar a yard section.  It may not be gorgeous, but it’s perfect for learning!  Do buy a little extra fabric in case you make a mistake.
 Be sure to read Strategies to Save Money on Sewing for some great ways to save on fabric!

Sewing for Beginners: Tips on a Professional Looking Project

It's so fulfilling to create an item with your own hands that looks nice..and you also want it to last and fit properly or be useful.  Considering all the time and money you'll put into your projects, it's important to do a really fine and careful job so you can be proud of your projects.  You'll want your sewing project to last, so that you can admire it and use it over and over. Here are some of the best tips on sewing for beginners.  These have been passed along to me by my sewing teacher in Home Economics, my Mom, and my Mother-In-Law.  I have had the priveledge of being surrounded by wonderful seamstresses!  I admit that I sometimes don't follow all of these suggestions.  But  I sure wished that I had many times...after it was too late.

  • Prewash and Iron your fabrics before you cut out or sew with them.  This is especially true for fabrics that contain cotton or natural fibers.  Check the care instructions on the end of the fabric bolt and note the washing instructions if needed.
  • Iron and trim down your seams as you go.  This gives a nice clean smooth appearance, and you can spot any problems early on if you do this faithfully.
  • Trim the extra threads at the beginning and end of every seam as you go to avoid a 'hairy' project. :)  This is the quickest way to tell if something is (poorly) homemade.
  • Don't buy low quality fabric.  It might look nice on the bolt, but cheap quality fabric will never look nice, no matter how good of a job you do on the sewing. I have found that cheap quality is not always low price, and low price may not mean cheap quality.  This is something that you'll get an eye for as you go.
  • 100% cotton usually wrinkles worse than blends.  Choose your sewing fabric with the same eye that you use when selecting clothing in the stores if you have an aversion to frequent ironing. (Guilty)
  • If your sewing machine is making ugly loud sounds, then you're sewing too fast!  Slow down a bit.  Go just fast enough to be able to easily keep the seam lined up straight.  Slow down when you come to turns, corners, or difficult areas.  You can even 'walk' the machine through tricky steps.
  • Don't get discouraged.  The first few projects are learning experiences.  Give your mind and hands time to slowly work through the process...you'll pick up speed and confidence quickly.  Don't set the bar too high too quickly, or expect first time perfection.  If you're getting frusterated, take a break.  Make a sewing date with a more experienced seamstress friend or relative, or sign up for a sewing for beginners class at your local craft store.
I hope you've found sewing for beginners helpful and that you enjoy learning your new craft!  While you're here, please bookmark the site, and enjoy the free baby patterns and homemade baby gift ideas.  There are several that are great sewing for beginners projects.  Best wishes for your sewing projects!

Kind Regards,
Handmade Adelaide