The more I sew and share my creations with friends and readers, the more questions I receive about how I got started sewing and the best way to learn.
I realize that from the outside, sewing can be incredibly daunting when you see a finished project and think, “I have no idea where to begin to make something like that.” Don’t be afraid to try new things because of course, you’ll never learn without trying. Not to mention that we often learn more from our failures than our successes. Do not let fear of failure deter you from trying new things!
How I Learned:
I was just like those of you with no knowledge of sewing and combination of awe and admiration when I saw an amazing creation someone on social media had sewed themselves. Eventually, these adorable outfits got the best of me and I simply HAD to learn to sew. I tried and tried to get into an introductory sewing class at a local quilt shop, but they booked up every session before I was able. Eventually, I decided I was going to figure this out on my own. I taught myself how to cook. I could do this too.
The most intimidating part for me was figuring out how to operate a sewing machine. Even though not all of us grow up in a family with an experienced sewist, most of us know someone who is. Even if they are just an acquaintance, they can certainly explain the basics of using a machine. My sweet friend Kelly taught me the basics: how to fill and load a bobbin, how to feed the fabric through the machine, how to backstitch at the beginning and end of rows to lock the stitches in place, and importantly, placing my pins in the direction so that they could easily be removed from the fabric as I sewed. It probably took no more than an hour but this was incredibly valuable and I think of Kelly every time I do a lot of these things! While an intro to sewing class would certainly be helpful, don’t underestimate the importance of a knowledgable friend.
I went to Joann Fabrics and talked to the salesperson about my needs. She suggested a machine for me that was within my budget and would be able to do all that I wanted it to. Once I had the machine home, I familiarized myself with it using the manual and a few YouTube videos though, to be honest, I have little patience for tutorials like that and prefer to jump right in with both feet. I started out with simple projects like throw pillows, pillow cases, and progressed from there once I felt I had the hang of using my machine. Scroll down to see some of the earliest projects I made that I think would be good for beginners.
What I Love About Sewing:
Learning to sew has been one of the most empowering skills I could have imagined, right up there with being competent in the kitchen. Being able to make a garment from start to finish has helped transform the way I view my clothes and potential clothing purchases. This is something I could write much more about (and plan to!)
Not to mention, sewing has come in handy for much more than clothing. I’ve made countless un-paper towels for use in my kitchen, last minute placemats for a dinner party, and a vastly cheaper homemade version of some curtains I wanted badly from Anthropologie. I also love that I’m able to repair clothes I might have previously thrown out and extend their life significantly.
Also, I love sewing for what it is! I love the planning that goes into a project, plotting out the details to ensure I have exactly the outcome I want. I love that I learn a new skill with almost every single project I make. I love the whir of the machine as I work, and I love the piecing together of a garment as if it were a puzzle. And of course, nothing compares to the feeling of being at work, a restaurant, or the airport and having a random stranger say, “I love your dress!” and knowing you made it yourself! Seeing my daughter almost always choose homemade clothing before store-bought is also totally unexpected and extremely rewarding.
Tips and Resources:
While I don’t consider myself an expert sewist by any stretch, I do think I’ve acquired some useful tips and strategies over my time with this hobby so far.
My Top Three Resources: