If, like me, you barely know how to sew a button, it is easy to think that learning to sew a dress, a zipper or even customise a handbag is very complicated.
Enough with all these rumours!
Learning how to sew is not that difficult but, like most things, it requires a lot of motivation, training, discipline and hard-work.
Sewing has become rather popular in recent years. Ready to jump on the band wagon?
Why not learn to sew with online sewing classes?
It's easy to learn how to sew as long as you have a good sewing machine
At the start you probably won't feel like investing in expensive sewing equipment; however, to be able to make the clothes you've always dreamed of, you'll have to pay a price.
First prize or runner up sewing machine?
Instead of opting for the most expensive model on the market, it is better to have a price in mind in case you end up with a poor quality machine that makes sewing a nightmare.
First prize, yes but make sure it's from a well-known brand like Janone Harmony. Anything less than £200, it's hard to find a sewing machine that will last the test of time and sew properly.
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Manual or automatic?
It's a matter of preference! An automatic will be handy to manage the tension by itself and offer many different options (automatic buttonholes, alphabet, etc.). But be aware that an automatic will also cost more.
Same advice as before, a cheap automatic will not last very long.
Get a serger or not?
A serger is a special type of sewing machine that can cut, stitch and overcast in one go.
Obviously at the very start it isn't essential to invest in a serger. It's better for you to learn how to work your sewing machine first. But if you become addicted to sewing, a serger will quickly become your best friend!
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Learn how to use it
This may seem obvious but it is absolutely vital that you know how to use your sewing machine to make the most of your abilities.
It is not always clear to everyone how to use a sewing machine. If you take sewing classes, your teacher will show you and explain how to use them properly but if you have decided to start alone, take a good look at the instructions or online tutorials!
Another tip: in store, when you buy your sewing machine, the seller usually offers a demonstration and test. Say YES! And if they do not offer it, do not be ashamed to ask for advice and say it's your first sewing machine and you don't know how it works.
Maybe there are seamstresses in your family or friends? Get close to them for advice.
Discover where else you could turn for sewing tutorials...
Learn to sew: Take a trip to your nearest haberdashery
Before making your first work, it is important to fill your sewing box with some must-have sewing accessories. Here are all the essentials for learning to sew with confidence.
It is better to pick polyester yarn. Cotton tends to shrink in the wash and your seams will not be perfect.
Remember that sewing machines are tempermental and it will not accept all types of yarn such as lower quality yarn purchased from Ikea.
Don't hesitate to visit your local pharmacy to buy quality thread. Some examples of trusted brands are Gütermann, Coat, DMC.
To help you with your choice, a 200m reel from these brands should cost around £3.50. If it is much less, you should really question the quality of the thread.
Without sounding like a broken record, choose good quality needles! Don't forget as well that needles have a tendency to become blunt and therefore need to be changed regularly.
Be sure to have several sizes of needles as well (from 60 to 110. Expressed in 100th of a millimeter) according to what you're working on. The higher the number, the better the needle works with thicker fabric.
There are also different types of needles to sew different fabrics: standard, jersey, stretch, leather, jeans, microtex, etc.
Your trusty sidekick! Make sure to get a pair made for cutting fabric and another for cutting paper.
Using your scissors made for fabric to cut paper will gradually dull the blade and mean they do not cut very well and don't cut straight anymore.
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- A seam ripper: a must-have, especially when you start! As the name suggests, this tool unravels pesky seams,
- A graduation ruler: to add seam margins, mark hems, etc.,
- A tape measure: to take measurements,
- A chalk pencil: to draw markers. Several colours are available so they show up no matter what the colour of the fabric,
- Pins, lots of pins: fine ones so they do not damage the fabric,
- An iron: it is important to iron the fabric between all the steps of sewing. This is a step often avoided by beginners and yet, it makes the work far easier!
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Learn how to use a sewing pattern
Although it is essential to know how to use your sewing machine, it actually represents only about 20% of the time to create a garment. The remaining 80% is dedicated to preparation: copying and cutting the pattern, transferring and cutting the fabric, pinning, drawing markers, etc.
As a beginner these steps can seem tedious; but they actually make your work as easy as possible.
Opt for free patterns. The pdf patterns make it easier to find a range of clothes but for beginners, start off easy with readily available free patterns.
Magazines such as Simply Sewing or Threads Magazine offer plenty of models with different levels of difficulty. The explanations provided are very detailed. You can easily learn how to draw, make a hem, knit or embroider.
When you're starting out, it's better to choose patterns with the seam allowance included. No need to trace them and therefore less risk of making a mistake.
Then, you choose either to trace and keep the pattern intact so you can use it again, or cut the pattern directly. It's up to you!
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Start with simple clothes
So I know, it can be frustrating to have to start with the basics when you want to sew a whole haute couture collection but I assure you, it is important to not get discouraged.
You don't start off dancing a whole Russian ballet when you take your first dance class, it's the same for sewing.
Set aside some of the toughest technical things like fitted sleeves, gathering and all clothes and accessories with a hard-to-use fabrics like leather or poplin.
If you or someone you know has had a baby recently, go for bibs, cushions (cushion cover), blankets, etc.
And if you want you to treat yourself, choose simple patterns like a scarf, a simple dress or a top, for example.
Here are some examples of patterns that are easy to make but still very pretty:
Arum Dress: The website Deer and Doe offers many patterns to choose from which come with handy tips and advice. Perfect for beginners. It's so simple to make this dress, all you have to do is add the perfect accessories,
Scout tee: here's several choices of tops rolled into one, what more could you ask for? Easy to make tops for beginners, go for the basic version or have a go at the more technical versions for fun. Time to get sewing!
Rae skirt: super easy to make and perfect for sewing by hand. Why not make it in an array of different colours and fabrics for your daughter, sister or even yourself!
Also take a look at sites like So Sew Easy or Sew She Can to find new creative ideas for sewing newbies.
To start sewing is like everything: a dash of fabric, a lot of motivation and a pinch of hard-work and you can do it without a problem.
It is important to be sure of yourself before starting. Indeed, sewing, like music and learning an instrument, requires investing in good quality equipment. Spend a minimum of £200 on your first sewing machine. Don't worry if after a few months you get sick of it. It is always possible to sell on your equipment.
Do not skimp on the thread and needles either to avoid damaging your beautiful sewing machine.
Feel free to take online sewing classes or free tutorials on the internet.
Learn quickly how to sew using a pattern and start with simple clothes before you embark on more technical endeavours.
Find out how you can quickly sew easy patterns...