Sewing Tips for Beginners from a Novice Seamstress Herself

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hi. My name is Laura and I'm a novice sewer. And as a novice in the sewing field I thought it would be appropriate (and interesting) to give my personal beginners take on some the best tips and tricks for someone who is learning to sew. I have read a lot of tutorials online and find that even those who categorize a project as "beginner" or "easy" seem to forget how hard sewing can be for someone who has never done it before.

So here goes my tips and things to keep in mind when you're ready to throw in the towel you've been trying to turn into a soap bar holder for the past 2 hours...

If at first you don't succeed, read the manual...
Ok, this first tip may sound silly but it's true - right? You know the manual is there and that it contains all the help you need to get past your problem. But come on, who reads manuals when they're frustrated? They usually read like stereo instructions anyways. But if your sewing machine manual is anything like mine, it should be able to spell things out for you in a simple and effective manner. I've sewn on it about a dozen times now and I've made it a habit to pull the manual out to make sure all my settings are correct. It's easier than screwing up and having to redo my work. And the one or two times I haven't done this, I've ended up doing something wrong and wishing I had just checked everything before I even got started. So bottom line, use your manual!

The bobbin is the "B" word.
Whenever I have an issue in the middle of sewing something, 95% of the time it has something to do with the bobbin. Either it gets tangled up in the top thread, won't thread with the top thread, or gets caught on itself. The first few times I had ever sewn anything I never understood what the issue was, and then I caught on it was that darn bobbin! And of course no one ever mentions to check this if you're having any problems. Bottom line is, if you're having issues check that "B" of a bobbin so you don't end up cursing it to death like I do.

Sew what?
So the next thing I thought I would share was what a beginning seamstress should sew. A lot of bloggers and sewing experts always claim that their project is "super easy", "great for beginners", "anyone can do it", etc. But what they tend to forget is they were once first time sewers and would have never attempted some of these "beginner" projects. My mom was very realistic when she was teaching me to sew and told me to look for the simplest projects I could find to just learn how to use the sewing machine, how to fix mistakes, and how to build my confidence so I don't give up in the future!

Here are a couple tips in what to look for in easy, beginner sewing projects:
•Look for patterns with straight lines. Anything else will be way to advanced if you haven't sewn much before.
•Don't attempt to sew clothing until you're really comfortable with cutting fabric, using your machine, and measuring correctly. Unless you have someone guiding you along the way, clothing can be really, really tricky to make.
•Start small. If you make a small project like a washcloth soap pouch it will be easier and faster than attempting to make a floor pillow on your first try.
•If you think it will be too complicated, it probably will be. Stick within your comfort zone and gradually work your way up. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I've posted a few links below as things I would consider easy, peasy, lemon squeezy projects :)

"Oilcloth" Coasters
Terry-Cloth Caddy
A Simple Baby Blanket

Take your time...
Again, this may seem like a silly tip but it's something I constantly have to remind myself of! When it comes to projects, I'm a rusher. I get impatient and want to get to the end result because I get so excited with what I'm doing that I literally have to remind myself to slow down. At the end of the day, taking your time will only improve your skills and your final project and rushing it simply won't!

If you and the sewing machine were to get into a fight, the sewing machine will always win...
One fabulous piece of advice my mother gave me when teaching me how to sew was - by the time you hit your second mistake, walk away from whatever it is you're working on!

Take a break, watch tv, go outside, do whatever as long as you leave the sewing machine and project alone for at least 30 minutes. It gives your brain enough time to relax, regroup, and realize what you're doing wrong. If you don't do this and instead choose to continue to fight with the sewing machine, you will lose. Every time.

Practice makes perfectly good examples of how to do something wrong (and later do it right).
Okay, so I have one last tip up my sleeve. But before I tell you what it is, I have something else to share. Are you ready for this? Okay, here it goes...

As a beginner, you will make mistakes. Guaranteed.

With that said, my last piece of advice is don't be afraid to practice sewing things you don't really care about just so you can better your skill. You don't always have to make something to use around the house, or to gift, or whatever your sewing intention is. For example, my husband asked me to turn a pair of his work pants into shorts and I was excited because it was a perfect opportunity for me to practice my novice sewing skills. I knew he was only wanting them to do work around the house in or to lounge on the weekends, so it didn't truly matter how perfect the hem was. But I still worked on making them as great as possible because I knew I would make a few mistakes and with mistakes can come corrective behavior :).

Need some ideas on sewing practice projects? Try your hand at a bean bag with some old materials such as sheets or leftover fabric, turn a pair of old tattered pants into shorts, or just take an old piece of fabric and practice making hems and stitches. I promise it will be worth your time!

So there you have it. A novice's perspective on important beginning sewing tips. If you have any tips, easy patterns, or any sewing advice to share for beginners, feel free to comment below! I love hearing other's perspectives too!

Happy Sewing,


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