Sewing For Beginners, Where To Start

For a lot of people just figuring out where and how to start a new hobby can help the motivation and keep you involved.  I started the wrong way of trying to teach myself with no help at all.  The internet back then wasn’t known for learning how to do things like when I was beginning to sew.  I took on not only sewing one renaissance Halloween costume but two, One for me and one for a friend. The first sewing I ever did was with helping my grandmother and great-grandmother piece together quilt blocks when I was young.
Where to start for beginner sewers?  First off figure out what type of sewing you will be mainly doing, i.e., Fashion (clothing), Home Decorating, Crafting, Embroidery, etc.  By figuring out what you want to sew will help determine what type of sewing machine you should buy.  It gives you an excellent place to start.

What do I need to get started sewing?

Don’t go overboard.  Start with a primary sewing machine that will do all the things you want to learn to sew.  I recommend you to purchase this type of sewing machine instead of dropping a lot of money for an expensive sewing machine to start.  You may get into sewing and realize it isn’t for you.  That way at least you are not out a lot of money in the beginning.
Sewing for beginners supplies to start with
Measuring Tape
Sewing Thread
Cotton Fabric
I would recommend purchasing at least these sewing notions.  A good set of sewing pins.  I love the glass head quilting pins the best.  They are very sharp, more extended than regular pins, and have the glass heads so you can iron on top of them without the heads melting.
Next, I would purchase a set of scissors.  I have multiple pairs of scissors.  Fiskars makes a nice pair for sewing.  One the nicer side of things Gingher makes a nice set, they are just more expensive, but they are quality scissors.  You will need a fabric measuring tape to measure fabric and other dimensional items.  You will want some cheaper cotton fabric to practice on when you are beginning to sew and can use to practice.  Sewing thread is also a good thing to purchase to start off learning how the sewing machine works.  Get a contrasting thread color to the fabric color to start using.

What is a good sewing machine for beginners?

First of all, you will want to figure out what type of sewing you want to do.  By doing this, it will determine the kind of sewing machine you will want to buy.

Basic sewing

If you want to start with learning the basics of sewing and make some home decorations or try sewing some outfits for yourself, then a basic sewing machine will work great for you.  You will want the sewing machine to have a small variety of stitches available to choose from.  I would look at spending around $200 to $300 for a decent sewing machine.  Whatever you do, DO NOT buy the little cheap $50 some dollar sewing machines you see advertised.  They almost look like a toy sewing machine.  They are great for kids to play with but not if you want to sew anything with it.

Embroidery and Sewing

If you want to use it for embroidery and crafting, then you will not want a simple basic sewing machine that just straight stitches.  You will want a combination sewing and embroidery machine.  It’s the best of both worlds having the ability to sew or embroider with a single machine.  If this is the type of sewing machine you want then, a good entry model will cost you around $600.  They make sewing/embroidery machines that cost upwards of $10,000.  So there is quite a rang out there.

Quilting sewing machine

If you want to learn how to piece and sew quilts, then you will want a sewing machine that can sew different quilting stitches as well as a more massive clearance to be able to roll the quilt up to quilt it through the sewing machine.
Another thing you will want to look for in a sewing machine for quilting is if the feed dogs drop down for free motion sewing.  Free motion sewing is where you freehand sew a pattern with the feed dogs dropped into the sewing machine.  You are moving the fabric around the sewing machine and not letting the sewing machine guide the fabric for you.
Once again, a good entry quilting sewing machine will run you around $200 to $300 just like the basic sewing machine.  But the good thing about the sewing machine that has functions for quilting means it is also a good basic sewing machine for regular sewing.
A serger is great for sewing clothing and home decoration items.  I would strongly suggest you start with a sewing machine and learn how to do some basic sewing before you dive into the world of using a serger.  If you think threading a regular sewing machine might be complicated than threading a serger will scare you.  You use up to 5 different spools of thread.  There is no bobbin thread.  You have to thread the serger precisely right, or it will not create a stitch for you.  With all that said; I love my serger, and it is a great companion to go along with my sewing machine in my sewing room.  A serger will probably run you around $300 to $400 for a good basic model.

How do I start learning to sew?

Start with the basics of your sewing machine.  Read the manual for your sewing machine.  This way you will learn the functions of the sewing machine and have a better understanding of how the sewing machine works, and it’s functions.  Next, I would watch some youtube videos on learning how to start sewing.  You can even take a sewing class locally.  Google local sewing classes in your area.  Some Jo-ann fabrics and Michaels stores offer sewing lessons.  If you want to get more involved with sewing, you can find someone to teach you one on one classes.  These can get expensive but in the long run, will provide you with individual attention and you will always learn something new every time.
Take some scrap fabric and stitch out every stitch in your sewing machine.  By doing this, you will know what each stitch looks like when stitched.  Sometimes the tiny picture on the sewing machine isn’t enough to tell what it looks like.  Some of the decorative stitches are really fun to play with, and you can use these to top stitch on a garment, pillows, etc.   When straight stitching is sure to make sure the tension on the thread is correct.  It should not pucker the fabric but lay nicely going through the material.  If it is too loose, the threads will look like they are just sitting on top of the fabric and even might create little loops.  The puckering of the fabric is when the thread tension is too tight.

Should I learn to hand sew before sewing with a sewing machine?

Learning how to sew by hand before learning to sew with a sewing machine isn’t necessary.  Learning to sew by hand does come in handy when you need to whip-stitch some seam closed or sew up a seam you can’t get to with a sewing machine.  Anything you can learn that goes hand in hand with sewing will help you increase your sewing skills.

Good first project sewing for beginners

Simple Pillow Case

There are two types of pillowcase styles you can make. A regular pillowcase or the envelope style pillowcase.  The regular case is just like you would buy in a sheet set from the store.  This standard pillow case has one side open.  The envelope style pillowcase is more like the decorative throw pillow on top of the bed.  This pillow usually has a decorate flange all the way around the pillow.  The insertion point of the pillow is in the back instead of the side of the pillowcase.  The two ends actually overlap by a couple inches, this way it will totally cover and keep the pillow inside the case.

Skirt from a pattern

Simplicity brand pattern company makes patterns for dummies brand.  I really like these patterns for beginners.  They break everything down into simpler terms and define all the terminology they use in the pattern.  There are other things you will need to purchase along with the pattern, fabric, thread, and notions.  If you can’t find this brand, then choose a simple A-line skirt to start off with.  This is one of the more uncomplicated skirts to make, and you will have a sewn garment item in no time.  It is very gratifying to cut out fabric and sew a couple seams into that cutout piece and end up with a skirt that you can wear.

Sewing can be a lot of fun.

Learning how to sew in the beginning can be overwhelming but stick with it.  Figure out where you want to start and go from there.  There are many resources out there for help on learning to sew;  Anything from local classes, to one on one lessons, online courses, and even how to books or ebooks.