Sewing Moms: I'm a Beginner and Need Help!

Updated on January 01, 2012
C.D. asks from Pflugerville, TX
14 answers

Hubby bought me a sewing machine for Christmas! Yes, I asked for one. I'm about to have my third girl and it was about time I learned how to sew. Now...where to begin? I do have an instructional DVD...what do I need to get started? What should I start out with for a first time project?? Any tips? Thanks!!!!

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answers from Appleton on

Contact a local continuing education school and or a fabric store and see if they offer basic sewing classes.

Someone mentioned you will need straight pins ---lots of them --remember to get two kinds ball point for knits (like tee shirt fabric) and regular for regular fabric. My sewing sissors cost $25 about 15 years ago, you need a good one also a pinking shears to finish edges of woven fabrics. Universal needels fro the machine, sews any fabric.

I only took two sewing classes and that was way back in 1969. but I sewed and sewed a lot over the years. I have long legs and arms and a short torso so back in the days when I was in high school I couldn't find many pants with long enough legs and the rise usually hit me too high. So I had to learn to custom fit the patterns. It's actually quite easy. But take a little off the rise on pants and jeans and add to the leg. I could have what looked like expensive tailor made clothes, but I did it all by myself. :-))

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answers from Amarillo on

For all you beginning sewists here is a list of things for you.
a good pair of scissors for fabric use only
straight pins
seam ripper
ruler plastic 3 or 4 inch by 12 to 18 inch in length
tape measurer
extra bobbins
thread spools color of choice usually basics in beginning (white/black/brown)\
sewing machine needles
hand sewing needles
color pencil or two or a regular one
basic pattern (a "Dummies" will do they are super easy)
blank copy paper to use as a guide for learning your sewing machine*
dinner plate
a corner or spot for your sewing nook or use of the dining room table
iron/ironing board (for pressing your seams as you go)

*draw on the copy paper curved lines with your pencil and some straight lines. Practice following these curves and lines with your machine and no trhead. By doing this for a hour or so you get the feel of what your machine can do. You get the "feel" of the paper being pulled by the feet and moving without you "helping" by pulling -- too many sewers today pull the fabric and it messes up their machines. If the machine can't sew it, it should be tried or you need a different machine. You get coordinated foot and hand control doing this.

Use all of the features your machine comes with. Do a special piece of fabric with them and list them so that you can see what they are. Get familiar with your new friend -- it won't bite you.

Also contact a local quilting guild in your area for further help. Once school starts back up contact the consumer science department, your local community college or a local cleaners.

Just practice and go slow at first. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a good seamstress. When you do get frustrated just put the project down, get up walk away, have a drink of soda or stronger and leave it alone. Come back to it later in the day or the next. You will be glad that you did.
Keep a notebook of your adventures in sewing. The more you sew the better you will become. There are days I see how much I have improved over the many years I have sewn.

PM if you have any questions I will be sewing today on several mid sized projects.

Welcome to the world of sewing and creativity where what you make does not meet and greet you coming down the street.

Happy New Year!

The other S.

PS Just keep practicing and you will do wonderful things you never thought you could do.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I have sewn off and on most of my life, but I learned how to sew in a Home Economics class in the early 70's in Junior High School. You are probably from the generation that did not receive this extra curricular?

My basic recommends:

Watch that tutorial video about 3x...and pay very close attention to how the bobbin is thread and how your machine is threaded. Than practice those 2 skills - a lot. When you're working on a project, and the thread breaks, you need to be confident in your re-threading technique, otherwise, if you have to stop and look at a video or read the instruction will lose speed and ultimately interest. I can thread my machine with my eyes closed.

Go purchase different weight fabrics from the sale thin cottons, thick cottons. Did you machine come with different size needles? You might want to pick up a set of needles.

Practice, practice, practice on your machine sewing just straight and zig-zag lines back and forth so you become accustomed to the speed of your pedal and the stitch length as you guide and pull the fabric through.

Have fun with this...go fast, go slow. Change the stitch width and length so you can visualize how it all looks and feels.

Very important tip - use only high quality thread...don't buy cheap thread out of a sale bin, it will gunk up your machine. Ask the store clerk for the best. Believe me, it is worth the pennies.

Choosing a project.....Yikes....that should be fun. I would recommend pillows or curtains first. Something with straight edges. Don't do zippers or button holes quite yet. Even though those are 'automated'...they also need practice before committing to a project that needs to look finished or one that you want to wear.

Depending up your time and interest you can find sewing groups at churches, quilt shops, fabric stores, craft stores and on-line too. I joined one years ago in TX and would pack up my machine and go sew with the ladies 1xweek. I learned more about men in that group than sewing I gal was a whiz on her machine. I learned a lot of fantastic tips from her and sage advice from the others. Those were the days before the internet.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I would recommend going to the store where hubby bought the machine and get lessons. If that is not an option, then any fabric store should offer lessons. Or, if you have any friends who sew, I bet one of them will teach you some basics. My daughter took a couple of lessons. The first thing they had her do was learn how to thread her machine. Then, they had her sew (without thread) on a lines sheet of paper. She had to follow the lines. Next, they drew wavy lines on the paper for her to follow with the needle. Finally, they sewed a simple pillowcase. The next class, she followed a simple pattern to sew some lounge pants. She loved it. You might youtube it also. Oh! I just remembered that I have a pinterest link for sewing tutorials that looks really good. Here you go:

Enjoy! Don't be afraid of your machine. It's a wonderful tool, and you will get better as you practice. You most likely can't hurt anything. :)

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answers from Detroit on

Definately get in store lessons! Joann fabrics has them all the time AND for super easy instructions/projects check out !!

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answers from Rochester on

It's nice to feel success with your first projects so you don't get discouraged. Throw pillows are the easiest things to make in the pattern necessary. If you'd like, pm me and I'll give you basic instructions.

You can also get simple patterns for free online...I found one for a teddy that is SO cute and was only two pieces.

After you build confidence and really learn your machine, you can start buying patterns. Just follow the directions exactly...they can be a bit cumbersome.

As far as advice...I recommend you learn to wind bobbins and thread your machine so it can be done quickly. Do it over and over until you know how to do it without looking at your will be a big help, I promise.

And as far as tools don't need to rush out and buy everything when you're just a beginner. The most important thing to have is a really nice pair of scissors to cut material with, and remember not to EVER use them for anything else, especially paper. It will dull your scissors right away and you won't get nice clean cuts.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I got a sewing machine too! I also asked for it because I wanted to try my hand at creating things that I would really like. I'm more of a retro clothing girl and finding clothing can get expensive. I'm a beginner and also don't know where to start. I know that I'll be hitting the sewing shops in our area to get ideas and patterns to try. I've also looked at utube videos on how to's. Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I am a total novice as well. I bought my machine last fall, and have done only a couple of very small projects. Why? Because I had grand plans and bought lots of stuff at first, plus some cheap (Salvation Army/Goodwill) fabric to "play" with and practice stitches. I played a bit, got bored sewing a straight line on something I would never look at again, and went full bore to fabric to make a quilt for my daughter. I planned it, ironed and cut fabric, etc.... then got overwhelmed and it still sits... on top of my ironing board. A year later.
BUT, I also was (more or less) forced to finish a simple small project in the past 3 months, and I did. Just made myself. Then I repaired a few items that had ripped seams. Then I sewed on a couple of patches on a uniform for my son and my daughter. Then I made what amounted to some table runners. And now I am all excited again, with a tiny bit of experience under my belt, and bit of confidence and competence with filling bobbins and threading the machine. (thread breaks and it must be rethreaded, or you change projects or parts of projects and want a different color thread).

So my suggestion is to not let yourself be intimidated. Don't jump into a huge project, but don't think you need to know everything to get started, either. Find a simple small thing to do (something you will actually DO, and have something worthwhile when you are finished--not just a throwaway piece of fabric)... whether it is making a pillow for your sofa, or a double sided baby blanket. Or a table runner. Or whatever. Just make SOMETHING, so you can say "hey, I DID it!" Then make another one. Then maybe try another simple project of a slightly different kind.
Then, when you have a little confidence, you can play with fancier fabrics and bigger projects.

If you have a friend who sews, take her with you when you go shopping for fabric or ideas. They can help guide you, too.

Good Luck and have lots of fun!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Several people have said it adn i'll say it too, read your manuel and get to know your machine, play around a bit.

I made a cover, for pocket tissues as stocking stuffers, it look less than an hour, if i was experienced it would probably only take 15 mins and most of that would be cutting the material. The weren't perfect i should have measured and cut better but they were cute enough and i had such fun doing it.
There are tons and tons and tons of blogs out there and pinterest has lots of great inspiration too. just have fun!

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answers from Austin on

I was told to start with something simple. There are a lot of nice EZ SEW patterns like at WalMart or hobby lobby, fabric store, etc to start off with. U don't wanna start off with anything fancy or difficult which may end up frustrating you or making you to lose interest. Find a pattern, open up the direction booklet inside the pattern and see how complicated it'd be to make. Also, at Hancock fabrics, i know they sell really great variety of learn to sew books too. Hope this helps and feel free to write w/any questions u may have. I'm no expert but will be glad to try and help u. Good luck!!



answers from College Station on

Check with your local sewing shop. They more than likely offer classes for free or a small fee.

Get some fabric out of the clearance bin and just play! Test out all the stitches, the buttonholer, making a proper bobbin, etc.

Have fun!



answers from Houston on

Halloween costumes are fun: ghost, clown, tutu, angel.
Doesn't have to be perfect. Enjoy your creations. Your
children will. Good luck.



answers from Kalamazoo on

1. try a pillow cases for your kids - get a fun patterned fabric and stitch away (so easy and so rewarding!)
2. has lots of simple projects that may help build your confidence. (try the kids capes - omg so popular in our house...and made me pretty proud of myself - lol!)

Good for you for picking up something new!


answers from Pittsburgh on

I, too, got a sewing machine for Christmas! YEAH!!

I've done some sewing, but mostly winging it for things like Halloween costumes, pillows, etc... nothing that really required a pattern or that needed to be 'perfect.'

So I'm looking forward to reading your responses!!

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