Sewing Tips For Beginners
The COVID-19 pandemic really gave sewing a boost in popularity. Sometimes a lack of commute is all it takes to find more time for a hobby! Extra time at home allowed many of us to dust off some crafts and projects that we wouldn’t normally have time for. A lot of people picked up sewing, or dusted off their old sewing machine– planning to make face masks at home or to use their newly found free time to be creative. With all the resources online, anyone can start making fun things with fabrics and a sewing machine.
In this blog post I’ll give you my personal tips, beginning with some things that you might not realise on your own, to some essential tools and nice free beginner projects.
3 General Sewing Tips.
1. Good preparation takes time
If you subscribed to our mailing list, you probably realize that sewing is not quite as simple as only sewing straight and curved lines with a sewing machine. The sewing preparations often take a lot more time than sewing in itself: Choosing a project, finding the pattern, choosing fabrics, matching fabrics, cutting the different pieces, marking the fabric pieces, ironing your fabric… Good preparation is half the work! I didn’t realize this when I started 12 years ago.
2. Don’t rush
Don’t be sloppy…try to be accurate, cut accurately, iron carefully, measure twice and cut once, read instructions thoroughly… Take your time, enjoy the whole process, and don’t rush to have the finished project in your hands. This will avoid a lot of errors, seam ripping, and frustrations– believe me. I speak from experience! I really had to learn myself to not rush too much when working on a project. Nowadays, I don’t cut and sew on the same day, except maybe during my sewing class, or when I have all day– which doesn’t happen a lot with 2 young children at home.
A great thing about sewing is that you can learn new things everyday. You don’t become a pro at sewing in a day. There are so many things that I know I would still like to learn, or do better, or make. The possibilities in sewing are endless. If only I had the time!
Start with some simple projects, like objects that you will get a lot of use out of. Think pillows or tote bags–I know, you want to make really cool stuff, there are so many fancy projects floating around in your head! … One day you’ll make that cool designer dress or that great bikini, but not today. Starting with some basics will give you courage to continue. Set yourself up for success! If your projects are too complex straight out of the gate,you might get discouraged. That would be a shame. Sewing is soo wonderful.
Here are some super easy and cool beginner sewing projects or go to the MadamSew sewing blog for more free projects.
And don’t forget to laugh with your mistakes. If you have to rip a whole seam out, take a glass of wine, put some nice music on, and accept that it’s all part of the sewing process :-)
3. Test with scraps
Use scraps to test fabric markers and the stitch length, width and thread tension on your machine. Some fabrics respond differently to some marking tools. You can wipe them off easily on one fabric and can’t remove them on the other. It’s tempting to jump right in, but it’s even better if your stitches look great on your new skirt and you don’t have to rip the crooked ones out.
Meet my scrap box :-) I know, you don’t need that many scraps, I’m not good at throwing things away.
Useful Sewing Tools.
So when you start, you will need… a sewing machine and some sewing tools. I think these are 11 essential tools you need to have:
- A good pair of fabric scissors
- a seam ripper,
- measuring tape,
- a temporary fabric marker,
- sewing pins and clips,
- a pin cushion
- good quality sewing thread in a couple of colors
- some spare bobbins
- a hand needle and
- extra sewing machine needles.
Before I forget, it's really important– you need an iron and ironing board or wool pressing mat near your sewing machine when you are sewing. Sewing and ironing go hand in hand. Good sewing is ironing … a lot.
If you want to take your sewing to the next level, there are some tools that will make certain tasks easier, faster, or will save you some money.
- Certain specialty presser feet have built-in guides that help you to keep on track– like the quilting foot with guide, the stitch in the ditch foot, or the border guide foot, for example.
- Other presser feet allow you to skip certain steps like the wide hem feet. If sewing straight is your main concern, check out our sew straight set.
- If you are into garment sewing, you will want to finish your seams neatly. You don’t have to buy a serger right away. There are other more budget friendly options. There is the overcast foot that you can attach to a household sewing machine and get great results with, but also pinking shears that do a nice job! Check out my blog post about the overcast foot for more details.
- A rotary cutter, cutting mat, and ruler are indispensable if you are a quilter; but as a sewer, I also use this tool for a lot of my little sewing projects.
Did you know you can make your own bias tape with a bias tape maker? You can make bias tape from any fabric that you have lying around. Just cut some strips and use the bias tape maker to iron the folds easily.
If you are looking for a full tutorial, check out our online manual page:
- Did you know you can make your own bias tape with a bias tape maker? You can make bias tape from any fabric that you have lying around. Just cut some strips and use the bias tape maker to iron the folds easily.
- Or make your own piping with a piping foot. You can find this foot in the 32 pcs presser foot set.
Find Help and Inspiration Online.
Looking for some fun beginner proof projects?
We have a lot of fun free projects on our Sewing Blog with step by step instructions, tutorial videos, and clear pictures.
Start with simple projects
Be a part of a virtual sewing community to keep learning
Subscribe to the MadamSew Facebook Group. We have a big and lively online sewing community with a lot of lovely sewers that are very happy to help you out when you have a sewing issue. Don’t hesitate to ask your question there!
Writing sewing tutorials for MadamSew.com
Every week new sewing or quilting content on the MadamSew.com sewing blog!
I found it quite useful when you recommended that we use scraps first to test fabric markers and the stitch length, width, and thread tension on your machine since fabrics respond differently to certain stools and will affect the results. I’ve been interested in sewing recently, and I’m thinking of trying it out since we have a sewing machine at home. I’ll be sure to remember this while I look for a sewing machine repair company to fix it so I can use it soon. http://www.singerfactorydistributor.com/services.htm
I’ve been sewing for 40 years. I’m still learning. Love sewing notions! Thank you for all the advice.
there was a video of a mask making. I could not find the instructions and measurements. would it be possible to get the instructions as I am in the age group that the virus hits hard. my glasses fog up so it is hard to wear the masks I have.
had to smile about special foot to make bias tape. Back many years ago, my mom made LOTS of bias tape just using two hat pins(remember those) and an iron. What memories.
Thank you for reminding us to laugh with our mistakes. I needed that reminder. I use my seam ripper more than almost anything else, am just learning to quilt, and my machine isn’t ready to use, yet, so all is by hand!
Thank you for ALL your tips, but LAUGHTER is a GREAT one!