Beginner's Guide to Sewing

Beginner's Guide to Sewing

If you’re drawn to the idea of creating your own clothing, home decor, plushies, or something else - sewing is a rewarding skill to develop. This guide is a great place to start - we’ll walk you through the essential materials, practical steps, and tips and tricks you’ll need to kickstart your sewing journey 😊 

Table of Contents:
1: Gather your tools and materials
2: Set up your sewing machine
3: Understand basic sewing terms
4: Practice basic preparation and sewing
5: Select your first project
6: Start sewing
7: Learn and Grow
8: Tips & Tricks
9: Conclusion

1: Gather your tools and materials

Before starting your sewing journey, you’ll need a set of essential materials. The following list provides descriptions and links to our personal recommendations. Be sure to research and evaluate quality before purchasing any materials.

Sewing Machine:
Our favorite is the Singer Heavy Duty Sewing Machine. Singer is one of the most well-established and trusted sewing machine brands, and the Heavy Duty machine combines durability, speed, versatility, and user-friendliness, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a reliable and efficient machine. You can use it to sew clothes, hats, stuffed animals, and a wide range of other items.

🌟 This Singer Heavy Duty Sewing Machine comes with all the necessary accessories you’ll need such as the all-purpose foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, seam ripper/lint brush, quilting guide, needles, bobbins, screwdriver, auxiliary spool pin, spool pin. 

Needles, Threads, Pins: 

  • Needles: Sharp, pointed tools used to stitch fabric together on a sewing machine.
  • Thread: Opt for a premium cotton or all-purpose polyester thread for your basic sewing needs. Choose a color that complements your project fabric, or opt for a contrasting shade if you're incorporating decorative stitching.
  • Pins: Thin, pointed metal objects used to secure fabric pieces together before sewing.

🌟 This Gutermann Sewing Needle, Thread, and Pin set comes with 10 universal sewing machine needles, 12 reels of polyester thread in assorted colors, and a set of pearl head pins. Gutermann is a well-known, reputable brand recognized for quality and versatility. Many sewers and crafters (including us!) prefer Gutermann threads for their durability, smoothness, and consistent quality. 

Sewing Ruler, Rotary Cutter, Cutting Mat:

  • Sewing Ruler: A measuring tool with calibrated units designed for accurate measurement and cutting of fabric.
  • Rotary Cutter: A circular cutting tool featuring a sharp blade, utilized for accurately cutting fabric.
  • Cutting Mat: A durable mat used as a surface for cutting fabric with a rotary cutter. The cutting mat protects the work surface from damage and prevents your knife from dulling. It’s usually marked with a grid guide for precise measurements. 

🌟 This 3-piece crafting set from Fiskars includes a high-grade rotary fabric cutter, a self-healing cutting mat with measuring grids and bias lines, and a large clear acrylic ruler with highlighted seam allowances. Fiskars is widely recognized as a top-tier sewing company, backed by many reviews affirming their quality.

You’ll need a pair of precision-crafted cutting tools specifically designed for fabric materials. With a longer blade and a handle that allows for smooth, controlled cuts, these scissors ensure clean and accurate edges, making them essential for a variety of sewing and crafting projects.

🌟 These Fiskars fabric scissors are our top choice for everyday use. They have premium-grade stainless steel blades for clean cuts and a unique handle design ensuring the fabric remains flat on the table.

Iron, Ironing board: 

  • Ironing Board: You can use any iron for your sewing endeavors - consider factors like size, height, and durability to determine which kind will work best for you.
  • Iron: You’ll use your iron quite often to remove wrinkles, make smooth seams, make professional finishes, etc., so it’s worth it to invest in a good one.  Specifically one that’s designed for a sewist.

🌟 This Singer SteamCraft Iron is our preferred choice for everyday use. With Singer's renowned reputation, you can trust the quality of this iron. It has a digital display with five fabric-specific heat settings, vertical steam mode, 12-foot 360-degree cord, rapid-heating stainless steel surface, and numerous other features. 

Choose a simple, light-weight fabric (like cotton) to practice with. We prefer to buy fabrics in person at independent fabric stores or JoAnn Fabrics so we can feel them and get the best sense for quality, but if you’re looking to purchase fabric online, Spoonflower is one of our favorite places to do so.

Quick Links for recommended materials: 
-Singer Sewing Machine:
-Gutermann Sewing Needle, Pin, and Thread Set:
-Fiskars Rotary Cutter 3-Piece Set:
-Fiskars Fabric Sheers:
-Singer SteamCraft Iron:

If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products we genuinely use and like. Thank you ❤️

2: Set up your sewing machine

Follow the step-by-step instructions provided by the manufacturer for all setup requirements such as threading your machine, winding the bobbin, and adjusting settings like tension and stitch length. This manual will have all the information you need, so be sure to use it as a resource!

If you need extra assistance, we recommend watching YouTube tutorials on setting up your specific make and model of sewing machine. There are hundreds of videos out there that will walk you through exactly what you need to do. Sometimes, it’s easier to have a visual 😊

3: Understand basic sewing terms 

It’s important to understand basic sewing terms as you set up your machine, watch tutorials, use patterns, etc. Some of the terms you’ll see most often are:

  • Seam: The line where two pieces of fabric are sewn together.
  • Hem: The edge of a piece of fabric folder over and sewn to prevent unraveling.
  • Backstitch: Sewing backward at the beginning and end of a seam for reinforcement. 
  • Turning Corners: The technique of pivoting the sewing direction at a corner, allowing the fabric to change direction smoothly. 
  • Thread Tension: The tightness or looseness of the thread while sewing, affecting the appearance and strength of the stitches.
  • Stitch Length: The distance between stitches, usually measured in millimeters or stitches per inch. It determines the overall appearance and strength of the seam.
  • Bobbin: A small, flat cylinder or spool that holds the lower thread in a sewing machine. It works in conjunction with the needle and top thread to create stitches
  • Needle Gauge: The measurement indicating the size or thickness of a needle. Different fabrics and projects may require different needle gauges for optimal results.

4: Practice basic preparation and sewing

A few preparation skills that are important to have before getting started on a project are:

  • Making sure you have the right needle, thread tension, and stitch length
  • Threading your sewing machine, both needle and bobbin
  • Taking measurements, marking seam allowance
  • Pinning a pattern to fabric, joining layers of fabric for sewing, placing pins
  • Cutting fabric with long, smooth strokes 

A great way to practice sewing is basic stitching. Start with straight seams, and graduate to curves. Don't push or pull fabric under the needle; just guide it along and let your sewing machine do its job. Keep fabric scraps handy so that you can explore new techniques and test out the different stitches your machine offers. 

5: Select your first project

It’s time to choose your first project, find a pattern, and figure out what kind of fabric you’ll need! We recommend starting with a straightforward project with minimal pieces and simple seams, like a tote bag or pillowcase. You can find basic patterns at fabric and craft stores.

To decide which fabric is best suited for your project, read the pattern instructions. They usually specify the type of fabric that works best for the design. To further evaluate which kind of fabric to use for your projects:

  • Understand the project requirements. Identify any specific characteristics the fabric must have, such as stretch, drape, opacity, or breathability.
  • Consider the fabric weight. For example, lightweight fabrics like cotton are suitable for airy garments, while heavyweight fabrics like denim are great for structured items.
  • Assess fiber content. Fabrics are made from natural fibers (cotton, linen, silk), synthetic fibers (polyester, nylon), or a blend of both. Each fiber type has unique characteristics, so choose based on your project needs.
  • Consider care requirements. Some fabrics may be machine washable, while others require delicate handling or dry cleaning.
  • Factor in your skill level. If you're a beginner, choose fabrics that are easier to work with. Cotton and linen are generally more forgiving and easier to sew than slippery or stretchy fabrics.

6: Start sewing

Familiarize yourself with the pattern’s instructions; take the time to understand each step before you get started. Assemble all your essential tools, cut, pin, and clip your fabric, prepare your machine for use, and then get sewing!

Remember, your first project is about learning and enjoying the process. Don’t be afraid to unpick and redo. If you encounter difficulties, don’t hesitate to seek help from online tutorials and sewing communities.

7: Learn and Grow

As you build up your skills and gain confidence - challenge yourself to learn new techniques, repeat old projects with new ideas, try more intricate projects, and explore different materials and fabrics.

The key to continuous learning is determination, regular practice, and most importantly, enjoying and connecting with your creative process 😊

8. Tips & Tricks

Troubleshooting common issues
Basic sewing machine maintenance and troubleshooting are absolute worthwhile skills to learn if you plan to sew often. If you encounter skipped stitches, tangled thread, or something else, that’s 100% okay. The below actions generally solve most machine mishaps and are good first steps to take when an issue arises.

  1. Rethread your machine: Check your bobbin, needle, and thread to make sure everything is in the right place.
  2. Clean it out: Dust and lint can quickly accumulate in the bobbin area and tension assembly, so make sure you’re regularly brushing it out/cleaning it frequently.
  3. Check your needle and thread: Make sure you’re using high quality thread and the right size and type of needle for your project. Ensure that your needle is not damaged. 

If none of these do the trick, search for a more specific resolution on YouTube. YouTube has been an asset over the years as issues and questions came up for us. Sewing machine issues can be frustrating to navigate, but take a deep breath, and use the resources available to you! 

Join sewing communities + learn from others
Connect with fellow sewing enthusiasts online or locally. Communities offer valuable advice, recommendations, inspiration, and a sense of camaraderie - and can be incredibly helpful resources especially when you’re entering into the sewing world. Additionally, look for local sewing workshops or classes, find bloggers to learn from, and visit fabric stores where knowledgeable staff can assist you.

Keep your scraps
Keep fabric scraps handy so that you can explore new techniques, and experiment with different features to repurpose them. Fabric scraps are great for upcycling clothing, accents, pillow stuffing, and my favorite, fabric collages!

9: Conclusion

Remember, every stitch is a step toward growing your skills in the art of sewing. Learning to sew takes a lot of time and practice, and it’s okay if you make mistakes. Experimentation is part of the process. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Much love, 
Brian & Natalie ❤️

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Such a fountain of knowledge right here. going to send this to all my friends that are just starting!


It has been truly inspiring to watch yall grow and flourish on your Reddy Threads journey! I have been wanting to learn the basics for a while now. Who better to learn from than a good friend! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience 🙏 I can’t wait to see what the future holds. If yall had a virtual sewing class I would totally purchase that content! Much love ❤️


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