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Getting Started With Sewing


I’m assuming, since you’re here, that you have at least a slight interest in learning to sew. Either that or you are very lost :)


So what do you do now?

Maybe you’ve read some blogs, bought a couple of sewing books, and maybe even splurged on fabrics and buttons. If you’re anything like me, this has all happened before you’ve sewn so much as a dishcloth. But how do you get started once you have bought what you need and you’re itching to start making things?


Well, I found that the best thing for me was to hunt down a sewing kit where the end product was something I liked and it didn’t take only a mere hour to make. I recommend finding a project that is challenging for a beginner and will take a few hours to complete. Kits for lined bags are a good place to start, I think, as well as patchwork cushions or similar.

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Sewing supplies at the ready! Photo by 190.arch.


The great thing with a kit is that they provide everything (or almost everything) you need, so you don’t have to go shopping for different bits and pieces, and there’s also no waste. Sometimes you don’t even need to cut anything out and you can get straight on with the actual sewing, which is the whole aim of course!


Another activity I recommend is browsing the internet for sewing projects you like the look of, where the pattern is provided free of charge. Blogs are a great source for these freebies, as well as a source for inspiration. Save the web addresses of the sewing projects you’ve found that you would like to try (in a Word document or similar) and then you’ll have them at your fingertips when you want to start something new.  If you always have a new project lined up to try, you will never be stuck for ideas or be at a loss for what to sew.


Buying a good amount of cheap fabric is another tip for beginners. This is so that you have something on hand to practice with without worrying about messing it up and wasting it. It can be very hard to immediately start sewing with your ‘best’ fabrics; therefore having a cheap material to practice on is highly useful. A good choice for this fabric is cheap polycotton, although if you can sacrifice some old clothing or bed sheets then you don’t need to buy anything new at all.


I recommend using a plain & light-coloured fabric for your sewing practice, since this allows your stitches to be clearly visible, especially if you use a contrasting thread. This way, you can see where you are going wrong and can more easily see your progress. The fear of ruining expensive fabric is often a hindrance to newbies, so ‘practice fabric’ should help you to get started if you are struggling.

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These cute owls were made using a kit that provided all of the material required.

Photo by Emily Orpin.


To my mind, there are two ways of doing things: throw yourself in head first, or methodically learn the basics step-by-step and build up your skills and knowledge gradually. The route you take is entirely up to you; just do what you need to do to maintain your motivation and interest in sewing.


I’m usually a methodical person, so at first I tried to work through the basic sewing techniques step-by-step, but my motivation was waning so I ended up throwing myself in head-first by attempting a simple skirt after very minimal practice on my sewing machine. I found that actually I needed a challenge to keep me going, and I preferred to learn the skills whilst I went along.


What works for one person might not work for another, so just do what you feel like doing…it’s a fun hobby after all, not to be taken too seriously!

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I love this perfectly organised sewing area! If you have the space to set up your sewing machine permanently in one place, that would be ideal.

Photo by Valerie Williams.


This next point may seem very obvious, but only sewing items you actually like and will use is another important factor in keeping your motivation up. I’ve fallen into the trap of sewing something I didn’t really like, and had no use for, just for the sake of practice. But this takes my enjoyment out of it, so now I aim to only ever sew things I like.


Other ways to get started with sewing include taking a sewing class, joining a sewing group, or asking a friend or family member who sews to give you a quick lesson or two. Involving other people, especially if you are a sociable person, can be a fun and inspiring option which will also help you stay on track with your learning.


Have an aim: think about the reason you are learning to sew. For example, your end goal could be to make pillows and curtains for your new home. Or perhaps you want to make an ambitious Halloween costume for your daughter? Or maybe what you really want is to make clothes that perfectly fit your figure? Whatever the aim, make sure you have one. Sewing for sewing’s sake will probably get old fast. Having a goal is key in maintaining focus and keeping motivated.


In conclusion; find what works for you. Do you work best alone or with other people? Do you only stay interested if you’re constantly challenged, or do you prefer to stick with easy projects until you’re confident enough to make something more advanced?

However you operate, the crucial part of getting started is to actually…get started. There’s only so much reading and watching YouTube videos you can do before you reach the limit of what that can really teach you. So get stuck in!

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