Sewing Machines/Learn to Sew for Idiots

Updated on October 28, 2010
V.W. asks from Atlantic Beach, FL
7 answers

Hi ladies. I am new to sewing. In fact, I haven't even started. When I was a kid I learned to do some basic crocheting (granny squares, chain stitches) and I've done simple cross-stitch and needlepoint before. No fancy stitching like cruel (sp?) or knitting, but my grandma and my mom let me run some fabric through the sewing machine once or twice, lol. I can do a simple stitch by hand to mend a hole in a sock, or sew on achievement patches... that sort of thing. But I have no clue about actually sewing, with a machine, either with or without a pattern.

My daughter has asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. She is 9. And recently I have become interested in sewing a few items myself (the church needs some paraments and we aren't big enough that we have an altar guild with lots of "little old ladies" who sew everything from scratch). I don't know where to start. My mom lives 5 hours away... so it's rather difficult to have her teach me now. She'll grin to know that I am wanting to learn, but shake her head that I wasted the opportunities to learn from her years ago. :)

So, ladies. All of you experts in the field.... What sort of machine should I look for? For myself and/or for my daughter? Any particular models or brands to look for (or stay away from)? Specific features that would be helpful or really aren't worth bothering with? I'm open for whatever expertise you are willing to share...


Let me add:
We live in a small town. The nearest "JoAnn's" type place that would offer classes, etc is an hour's drive away.

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answers from Miami on

If you have a notions store in your area (a place where they sell fabric, crafts, etc.), then there are probably women who hold sewing classes. Alternatively, your local community education center probably has beginning sewing classes for cheap. If your middle school or high school has a home economics teacher (they might call it "Life Skills" these days), you might ask her (it's usually a woman) if she knows anyone who can give you the basics.

You can learn an awful lot by just reading the manual for the sewing machine. There are how-to books by the dozens or hundreds that can help, too. I learned to sew chiefly by reading books and attempting to sew from patterns. I had very little help from people, although I had a little bit. IIt's really not that hard to learn.

Good luck!




answers from Houston on

I would try to take a beginner sewing class if you can find one. That's what I did and it gave me the confidence to make some things on my own. I just made a skirt for my daughter for her to wear on her birthday and she loves it! I started lessons about a month ago. I got a Brother machine that has worked well for me. It has about 50-60 different stitches it can do, including some fancier ones that help to dress things up a bit and it does automatic button holes, which is great! I got mine from They have several to choose from on there and mine was a great price for me to start with something that was easy to use, but affordable. As I get better and start making other things, I may upgrade, but this is a great machine to start with and so far, I have made an apron, a skirt, some diaper/wipes cases for friends and small wallet/purse organizer for a friend. My next project is a tote bag. All great practice!

If you can at least get a beginner lesson, it will teach you the basics of how to use your machine and make something easy. I learned how to cut and make something from a pattern. These basic skills will help you when you go off on your own and try to make something without the teacher standing over your shoulder. I'm having a blast with it and I'm sure you will too! Have fun!


answers from Dallas on

My daughter got a sewing machine last year. We bought a Babylock ($400). It does a LOT.

One reason we chose this model is because it is the model used in the schools here. That said, it has to be reliable and hold up with students using them daily.

Classes are held weekly from beginner to advanced at the store where we purchased her machine. She got 3 lessons for free when we made the purchase.

Good luck



answers from Norfolk on

Hi! I know that near where I live in VA, there is a sewing shop that offers classes. One is a beginners sewing class. You could sign up for something like that and see what machines they have. They could probably talk to you about sewing machines as well. Maybe you could take the class with your daughter. The store near me will answer sewing machine-related questions if people are having trouble, so I assume they know something about the different sewing machines.



answers from Dallas on

I am not so much an "expert" but I am a competent sewer. I bought myself a sewing machine 2 years ago and very much like the one I decided on! I read a lot about good "beginner" machines, that still offered nice features. I found it very easy to use and figure out on my own. It has held up wonderfully and I now make many things. I have made quilts,legwarmers, appliques, burp clothes, crib bumpers, bibs, etc. It has been a great machine for me and is very affordable. If I remember right, it's in the $80-$100 range.



answers from Boise on

I think that Costco has one right now (and a coupon for it) that was reasonably priced that might be good for beginners. Don't go for all the bells and whistles, you will never use them. If this is for your daughter, make sure it sews straight, has easy access to the bobbin and needle threading, and take a class. Are there any small fabric stores around? They may have something, or know someone that would be willing to show you the basics.

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