Okay, so don’t really lose the sewing machine – they can still come in handy for even the most advanced “do it by hand” seamstresses.
If you’re still learning to sew, whether it be by machine or hand, learning something new can be disheartening, especially if you’re trying to do it on your own.
But you got a sewing machine, with the intention that you’d learn how to use it. You dream of being able to create amazing Halloween costumes, hem that favorite pair of pants that has always been just a little too long, or maybe sew some adorable tiny pants for your baby. Who wouldn’t want to have one-of-a-kind clothes that fit perfectly?
Add in the need for a machine with lots of moving parts, words that you don’t understand, and those very flimsy tissue patterns, and learning how to sew has just become downright scary.
The problem, of course, you don’t know where to start.
I promise that you can learn how to sew! But before you can dive in and start sewing yourself a coat before the cold weather gets here, there are a few basics you have to start with, first.
Learn the Proper Terms and Definitions
Sometimes it can seem like another language, but you have to know sewing terms in order to understand patterns and instructions and to be able to take care of your machine. You’ll find sewing a lot easier if you brush up on the terms first. A quick google search will probably be the easiest way to find the most important basic sewing terms.
Sewing Machine Manual
Like any other machine, your sewing machine will require some basic upkeep to keep stitching, Make sure that you look at the manual to learn about oiling and cleaning it. If you are a visual learner, you can find video guides on YouTube. They might not match your exact machine, but the basic idea should be the same.
You also need to look inside the manual to learn how to thread the machine properly, because if you don’t do it right, the machine won’t sew!
Get Started (Slowly)
I’m sure that you’re eagerly awaiting the day you can just throw some fabric into the machine and start sewing away, but you’re going to have to start slowly. The very first thing you need to practice is how to sew a straight stitch.
Cut two pieces of fabric, and put them with the right sides (aka the pretty sides) together. Thread your machine with thread and a bobbin, and then practice stitching a basic stitch, as per the settings found in your machine’s manual. Pay attention to the seam allowance (you learned your basic terms, right?!) and practice keeping it the same the whole time. It might help to stitch in a contrasting color of thread so that you can see it against the fabric.
Practice Makes Perfect
I know it seems mundane, but keep at it until you can finally get a straight seam for a good length. That basic stitch is the building block of everything you’ll ever sew! If you find that you need help, look to YouTube again. There are so many people out there that have made videos to help.
Your First Project
Once you’ve mastered your straight stitch, it’s time to actually sew something! No, you can’t start with an entire costume just yet.
You need to start with a really simple project at the beginning. When I taught my daughter how to sew, She made an easy rectangular pillow. There are also patterns for simple tote bags, scrunchies, or pot holders that make good beginner projects, too. Aside from patterns you can find online, McCall’s and Simplicity also make easy beginner patterns.
If You Get Stuck or Frustrated
Don’t be ashamed to reach out for help if you can’t seem to get the hang of it. If you have a friend who knows how to sew, sweet talk them into coming over for some one-on-one lessons. If you don’t have any avid seamstress friends, check around at local fabric, quilting, or craft stores to see if they offer lessons. It might be an inexpensive way to get your (presser)foot in the door.
There are also a ton of Facebook groups for people who like to sew, so it might be worth it to look for a local group of individuals that you can discuss things with. You’ll be picking up knowledge and skills in no time!