Sewing is a timeless skill that anyone can pick up. Whether you mend your existing clothes, sew household accessories, or create clothing from scratch, sewing will help you get there. You don’t have to be an amazing seamstress to understand the benefits of sewing. Instead of throwing away that pair of socks because they have a hole in them, patch it up with some thread. If those jeans don’t fit you as well as they used to, take some fabric and expand the waistline or trim it down to fit you better. 

The point is that sewing is an eco-friendly way to upcycle existing clothing and ensure the items in your closet are pieces you actually want to wear. My favorite part about sewing is that it occupies your mind and actions. It’s a mindful activity where you have to pay attention and give care to what you’re doing. The reward of seeing your finished product is so fulfilling, and getting started is not too difficult. Let’s get into this beginners guide to sewing. 

The Basics: Tools and Supplies

To begin, you’ll need some essential tools. Once you become more familiar with sewing and what you want to get out of it, you can upgrade these but here are some tools you’ll need when you start: 

The biggest one is the actual sewing machine. If you’ve done any research, you know that sewing machine prices range from $20 to $5,000+. Most people recommend getting a mid-range sewing machine that costs around $100–$300. The best thing you can do is invest time in researching which sewing machine will fit your needs. You don’t need an overly expensive machine. However, if you’re confident that you want to pursue sewing, you should probably invest in a higher quality machine because it will last you longer than a more rudimentary machine. 

Some of the most popular sewing machine brands are: 

Additional supplies you’ll need: 

  • Fabric scissors 
  • Pins 
  • Thread 
  • Iron 
  • Seam rippers 
  • Tape measure
  • Rotary cutter and mat 
  • Fabric chalk

This list can expand depending on what project you’re undertaking, but these are the basics that will set you up for success when starting your project. The next step is becoming familiar with your machine and how it works. 

Understand Your Sewing Machine

Before you jump into complex sewing projects. You need to understand the basics of how your machine works. Learn how to thread the machine, what the different speeds are, how to raise and lower the presser foot, how to change stitches, etc. If these terms are confusing to you, take a moment to read the manual or watch YouTube videos about your machine.

Once you understand how to properly operate the machine, you can move onto the different stitches the machine can do. Here are common stitches you will use:

Straight stitch: This is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the most common stitch and you can adjust the length of the stitch to fit your needs. 

Back stitch: This stitch secures your thread by reversing over the previous stitch. To do this, sew forward one or two stitches, and then reverse the stitch one or two stitches. 

Zig zag stitch: This is a durable stitch that can be used to prevent fraying and hold fabric together. 

There are many other stitches you can explore, but these are the basics and will help you with your first projects. 

Get to Sewing!

Now that you have the basics on what tools to buy, how to operate your machine, and how to start with stitches, it’s time to actually get behind the machine and begin sewing. The best advice is to start small, simple and slow. You don’t have to take on large projects because you might grow frustrated if it’s not as simple as you expected. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Get scrap fabric from local thrift stores. Fabric is expensive to buy in stores, and thrift stores have a great selection of different kinds of fabric to choose from. 
  • Start with linen or cotton fabric. These fabrics don’t have much stretch and are easier to learn to sew on. 
  • Use patterns and read them all the way through before beginning. There are countless free patterns online to choose from: Fibre Mood, Fabric–Store, and Lekala Patterns.

Lastly, enjoy the process! Sewing is a mindful activity that should inspire your creativity. Even if you aren’t perfect at the beginning – and you won’t be – watch your skill and expertise grow over time. I hope this helped give you a basic understanding of where to start when you want to sew.