Aug 4, 2011

Thursday Threads: Sewing Basics

Several readers have asked ‘How do I learn to sew’? 
Here are some pointers on how to START!

I learned how to sew from my MOM! She is an amazing seamstress, award winning quilter, and also creates unbelievable surface design! My sisters and I all participated in 4-H, mainly with sewing and needle crafts. Each year, we were challenged just a bit more and always judged to perfection! Every seam HAD to be straight and every crease HAD to be pressed. 4-H taught us to be meticulous while still challenging our sewing knowledge and skills. Sometimes it was a bit ridiculous, but it taught me to be accountable for the effort and quality I put into my projects. To this day, we all still joke, “Good thing this isn’t for 4-H judging”!
So, where do YOU start?

Pick a project! Pick something you WANT to do and that is a beginner level. The best way to learn is through experience! My first actual project was the elasticized skirt in first year 4-H. It was a hideous pattern and I didn’t love it, but I learned how to make an elastic waistband and how to hem!

Gather your goodies! Be sure to have the basic supplies you will need to start a project. A few include: Fabric, matching thread, seam ripper, needles, rulers, good sewing scissors, straight pins, iron/ironing board, and a sewing machine if you are machine sewing. Many patterns also require certain notions {elastic, buttons, zippers, etc}. Requirements will be listed on the outer pattern envelope.

Once you pick your project, do a few practice exercises. Get to know your machine. Yes, I said it! Do the boring dirty work of reading the user manual. You will learn SO much and be better for it. My machine does things I used to dream about…go figure I CAN do that! {Here is a good resource for learning machine basics}

Start by exploring types of stitches…straight stitch and zigzag are ones you will use the most. Straight stitch is for basic seaming, while zig zag can be decorative or used to finish raw edges so they do not ravel. {Here is a step-by-step how-to for sewing a basic seam}

Source: via Alyssa on Pinterest

Next, explore stitch length and tensions. Some machines have dials for these features and others are more computerized with buttons. Again, refer to that handy manual!
Familiarize yourself with the lingo! Get to know words you will see on patterns and tutorials. Most pattern companies will include a glossary of terms on the main page of the sewing instructions pamphlet. Words like topstitch {To sew a row of stitching close to the seam or edge of (a garment) on the outer side of the fabric} and stay stitch  {a single line of stitching, through one layer of fabric, to stabilize the fabric}. Facing {a piece of material used esp to conceal the seam of a garment and prevent fraying} and hem {made by folding an edge under and stitching it down}.
Don’t forget about the internet! I still use the mighty world wide web to find the best way to sew this or that. It is also a great resource for tutorials…for the novice or expert!
Over time, you will gain knowledge of HOW TO SEW. Not just sewing projects, but you will be able to look at a garment or item and just KNOW how it was sewn together. There are endless techniques, tips, and tricks out there. If you jump right in and challenge yourself, you will soon be a pro!

Source: via Alyssa on Pinterest

Know that YOU CAN do it! Many projects have left me high and dry without knowing how to save the mess I made. There is ALWAYS a way out…you just have to be creative {and own a seam ripper}!
I hope this will inspire you to pick a project and GO FOR IT! It is never too late to learn. Once you have the basics under your belt, you can sew most anything.


  1. My Mom taught me also over 35 years ago. I am recently back at it. Great post!!

  2. I learned in Home Economics class and also had help from mom too!

  3. Thanks for the tips! I just completed my first sewing project and I can't wait to do more!

  4. Excellent advice and although I have been sewing on and off for far too many years than I care to think about, my hand sewing is frustingly not as good as I want, I know it just takes practice, so I think I shall pretend I am beginner again and do some starter pieces

  5. Great tips i am a self taught sewist, taught myself by online sewing tutorials. As long as one has the determination to sew and enjoys every stitch the sky is the limit.

    I am so glad i stopped by your blog today! From your newest follower

  6. This post made me smile. Thanks for inspiring me and many others to even attempt this feat. Really appreciate that you linked up at the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop.

  7. Thanks for sharing these great tips at Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays :)


Leave a Note...