How To Start Sewing

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Sewing is a fabulous hobby to start. Are you wanting to start sewing yourself and don’t really know how to begin sewing as a hobby? I want to share with you some of the tips and tricks to getting started with sewing, and share with you how I got started learning to sew. These are some of my top sewing tips when you are thinking how to start sewing.

*This post has been updated, it was originally posted in November 2022. This is a collaborative post – for more details please see my Disclosure Policy

How To Start Sewing For Beginners

It can be really useful to learn how to sew. It actually never occurred to me how many applications there were for using sewing in the home when I started, and how much money that I could save just by learning a few new skills.

Sewing gives me a great deal of pleasure. I love seeing the finished results, getting compliments from others on my skills. And the knowledge that I can make my own clothes and clothes for my daughter gives me such a buzz. 

Plus it really has opened a new chapter for me. Without sewing, I probably would never have started writing and creating content around my hobby. This has been a source of income and joy for me. And I truly hope that it will for you too! So here are my biggest tips when thinking about starting to learn to sew.

Find Your Why 

I would always suggest before you start a new hobby that the first thing you should ask yourself is why you actually want to do it.

Do you want to make new friends? Do you want a new creative outlet? Are you looking for a way of extra cash by selling your new creations? Are you wanting to know how to start sewing a hole in your clothes? Or are you wanting to learn how to start making your own clothes? These are all strong motivations for starting a new hobby. 

I got into sewing (and subsequently blogging) because I just wanted to learn how to start making clothes for my little girl, who was just over a year old at the time. As a new Mum, I bought WAY too many clothes for her. The trouble is, there are just SO many pretty dresses for little ones out there on the high street. I realised I had an addiction. Worse still, I was addicted to the high end brands, such as Joules and Boden, rather than high street brands. My biggest addiction was to Cath Kidston. I needed to find a solution. The solution was beginning my sewing journey.

When I was a little girl years ago, my mum had been a keen seamstress. She had made several dresses for me growing up, and still had her old sewing machine. I had never really shown much of an interest beyond sewing my Sindy dolls clothes in the early 80s. I wasn’t very good, so I gave up. These days I love encouraging my daughter to sew.

But the promise of saving myself a bit of cash whilst learning a new skill was a real motivator. And it would be nice to be able to fill my little girl’s wardrobe with clothes that nobody else had. Moreover I wanted to learn to sew my own clothes. I was keen to try out a new hobby.

What is your why?

To Buy Or Not To Buy A Sewing Machine?

Next thing to think about when you are thinking about how to start sewing is what kind of machine do you want to  use? And should you buy one?

The only thing about starting a new craft hobby is that we often outlay lots of cash on equipment, only to find it cluttering a corner unused a few months later. So I would always suggest getting a cheaper machine, or even borrowing one first. This will save you money and is far more sustainable for the planet.

I was lucky enough to be able to borrow my Mum’s machine at first, so it is definitely worth asking friends and relatives if anyone has a machine gathering dust in a corner. It is amazing how many of them there are tucked away in spare rooms and attics.

Also, you could try

  • Charity or Thrift Shops – they sometimes have them in, as people clear out any unwanted machines from their homes
  • Ebay, Selling sites and Facebook Marketplace – Right at this moment there are over 3000 used machines on Ebay alone. Often they are going for a song, so it is well worth a look.
  • Car boot sales and table top sales – though this can be a bit risky as it is often not possible to check that they work before you get them home.

Once you start really enjoying and getting into sewing,. you may also wish to think about getting other sewing machines that are more advanced and do other roles. Thinking of buying a new machine? See my post of recommendations of what worked for me.

Someone using a sewing machine

What Else Should You Buy To Start Sewing?

My tips for a basic set of things to buy when you are wanting to know how to begin sewing are

  • A tape measure
  • Some good fabric scissors
  • Good thread – there are quite a lot of cheap threads out there. I swear by Guttermann, but here is how to choose.
  • A seam ripper
  • Some pins and a pin cushion
  • A few hand sewing needles

Once you get more into the hobby then there is a world of other things to buy, but really you don’t need to spend too much at first. After all, if you buy too much you need to find the space to put them all, and you will need to organize them all!

Learning Basic Sewing Skills

Starting to sew can be a little like learning to drive. Getting the hand/eye/pedal coordination and learning the basics can possibly be the first hurdle. But once you overcome this initial step, everything else just gets that little bit easier.

My first tip for beginners getting started is know a few basic hand sewing stitches. Even though you will be using a machine most of the time, learning how to do basic hand sewing and stitches will still be needed.

You may need to baste a seam before sewing it, so you will need to know how to start sewing with a needle and how to do a running stitch. 

Sewing up a hem or closing a gap may require you to learn how to do a ladder or invisible stitch. This is a really important basic skill.

I learnt a lot of these basic sewing techniques that I hadn’t come across before on YouTube and reading sewing books. And it is really important that you learn how to start sewing by hand before moving onto using a machine. Once you learn how to start sewing with needle and thread then that may give you more of an idea whether getting started sewing is for you. You may want to learn how to start sewing clothes by hand, or may want to know more about how to get into sewing clothes on a machine.

When it comes to machine sewing, one of the first things to learn is how to use a straight stitch and sew in a straight line. I found a magnetic seam guide to be invaluable at this point. But there are lots of ways to learn to sew straight lines and curves. 

Maybe it is worth looking online for a course that covers your needs? Websites like ClassBento have a fantastic selection of sewing and embroidery classes to help get started as well.

Finally, it is worth looking in your local area for any sewing classes or workshops. Booking onto an introduction to sewing course is a great way how to learn sewing fast and how to learn the basics of how to start sewing machine use correctly. The group sizes are often small, and you get to try out a sewing machine before you have to actually part with your cash and buy one. It is also a great place to get started when learning how about reading sewing patterns and if you are thinking about how to start sewing clothes. 

Sewing with a sewing machine

Finding Fabric – What Is The Best Beginner Fabric?

One of the biggest questions I see on the sewing chat and forum pages is what fabric should you choose when you are starting to sew?

When I started sewing I popped down a local fabric shop and bought a metre of very Cath Kidston-esque cotton fabric. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but it was a start. I would always recommend going and looking at fabrics when you start sewing, so you can feel and see them for real before you buy. This way you can get to know how easy they will be to work with. 

Once you get more experienced, buying fabric online will become much easier. You will know which fabrics you like to work with the best and get an eye for buying the ones you need. Are you in the UK? Here are my favourite online fabric shops

You could also buy smaller pieces of fabric, or use upcycled fabrics when starting out. 

Being a big Ebay fan, I had searched on the site and to my delight I found that it was possible to buy small pieces (fat quarters) of genuine Cath Kidston fabric that were perfect for small dresses to fit my 15 month old daughter for a fraction of the price that a full garment would cost in the store. Once I started sewing I discovered all rather wonderful fabric shops that there are available, but smaller pieces were best to start. 

Another option is using old bedding.

My tip as a beginner sewing fan, is to start by sewing cotton or polycotton first, before moving onto the slightly more advanced floatier fabrics such as viscose ,crepe and chiffon. And getting comfortable with woven fabric before moving onto to stretch fabrics. 

Stretch is not scary though. See my tips on how to work with it here, and if you gan do a zig zag stitch, you can sew stretch fabric.

Now It Is Time To Begin

My last tip would be just to get stuck in and have a go! Personally I think that the only way to learn is to make mistakes and try it.

Once you get your first piece of fabric and have the tools needed to make something, you just need to find a simple first project to get you started. 

I have a lot of easy sewing patterns on my site, but my first project was Making a Simple Skirt

`And here are a few more beginner friendly sewing projects you can make when you are just starting out. Making easy things increases your confidence to move onto the harder projects such as making clothes and using more difficult techniques and fabrics. 

Happy sewing!

Love This Post About How To Start Sewing? Why Not Read Some Of My Other Sewing And Craft Posts?

I love to show you really easy sewing projects that you can make. I have quite a few free sewing patterns here in my content. So why not read these other posts I have written?

I hope that this has given you some good ideas and tips on how to start sewing yourself. I would love to hear how you get on! Let me know in the comments, or find me on social media

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