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  • Kelly Richardson

Sewing Tips for Beginners

Learning to Sew for Beginners


Suggested Supplies Needed (Minimum to Get Started):

· Sewing Machine with Needle, Bobbin, and Foot

· Sewing Scissors (sharp)

· Pins

· Thread

· Measuring Tape

· Seam Ripper

· Fabric


Suggested Supplies (Additional Beyond the Basics):

· Cutting Mat

· Rotary Cutter

· Rotary Cutting Ruler

· Additional Needles

· Additional Bobbins

· Pin Cushion

· Marking Instrument

· Pinking Shears

· Storage


Suggested Supplies (For Those that Sew a Lot):

· Serger Machine

· Cover Stitch Machine

· Embroidery Machine

· Additional Sewing Feet




Tips to Get Started


Getting to Know Your Machine:

1. Read the owner’s manual for your machine.

2. Know the machine’s model number when purchasing accessories (needles, bobbins, etc.)

3. Consider starting out with the default settings, sewing a 100% cotton simple project (pillow, pillowcase, skirt, etc.)



Just Good to Know:

1. Don’t think that making your own clothes will be cheaper than buying them at the store; however, they should last much longer and thus result in long term savings.

2. The seam ripper is your friend.

3. More pins is better than fewer pins.

4. Pay attention to patterns on the fabric (avoid sewing them such that the pattern is upside down or doesn’t match up).

5. If you do not have a serger machine use pinking shears to prevent seams from unraveling.

6. Pre-wash and iron (as needed) fabrics before sewing. Iron seams, as you go, after they are sewn for a more professional finish. Press your seams open or to one side.

7. Prevent seams from coming apart at the ends by adding a back stitch.

8. Avoid ruining fabric by first testing out stitches on scraps of fabric.

9. To turn a corner when sewing place the needle down and rotate the fabric by hand then begin sewing again.

10. If your stitches are not sewing properly first re-thread the machine and also remove any built up fabric dust from the bobbin area.

11. Utilizing YouTube and Google Searches to learn new tips and techniques.




Sewing Projects for Beginners:

1. Pillow

2. Pillowcase/cover

3. Drawstring Bag

4. Blanket

5. Skirt

6. Tote Bag

7. Pajama Pants



Purchasing Supplies:

1. Buy items in the store when on sale. The stores often rotate what is on sale from week to week. For example, one-week denim may be on sale, the next week flannels, and the next patterns.

Finding Patterns in the Store:

1. While at the fabric store locate the pattern books (McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick, etc.)

2. Determine which type of garment you wish to sew (pants, tops, outerwear, etc.) and find that section in the book. An index of the sections should be provided at the beginning of the book.

3. Identify the clothes that you would like to sew. Be sure to check that the pattern is available in your size. Make note of the pattern number.

4. Go to where the patterns are stored in the store (usually a filing cabinet) and locate your pattern using the pattern number.

5. Check the pattern package and ensure you have the correct size. Check to determine what types of fabrics are recommended. Check to see what additional materials you may need to complete your garment (buttons, elastic, interfacing, etc.) Check for any additional notations (not suitable for diagonals, plaids, etc.)



Finding Patterns in the Store:

1. While at the fabric store locate the pattern books (McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick, etc.)

2. Determine which type of garment you wish to sew (pants, tops, outerwear, etc.) and find that section in the book. An index of the sections should be provided at the beginning of the book.

3. Identify the clothes that you would like to sew. Be sure to check that the pattern is available in your size. Make note of the pattern number.

4. Go to where the patterns are stored in the store (usually a filing cabinet) and locate your pattern using the pattern number.

5. Check the pattern package and ensure you have the correct size. Check to determine what types of fabrics are recommended. Check to see what additional materials you may need to complete your garment (buttons, elastic, interfacing, etc.) Check for any additional notations (not suitable for diagonals, plaids, etc.)


Note: The pattern will be accompanied with instructions. Read the pattern before starting.



Working with different materials:

Note: Most machines when newly purchased are equipped for you to work on non-stretch cotton fabric of an average thickness.


1. Make sure to use the proper needle depending on your fabric. Fabrics such as denim and knits require a different needle. You will need to select needles that will work with your machine model.

2. There may be times when you will need to use a different foot. For example, there is a button foot for sewing on buttons and another foot for sewing button holes. Read your machine’s manual to learn about which feet are included and how to use them. You can purchase additional feet for your machine; make sure they will work with your machine model.

3. You may also need to use a different stitch depending on the material. For example, you may need to use a zigzag stitch on stretchy fabrics.


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