Once you've got all your sewing equipment and csarefully selected your sewing machine, it's time to get down to work. But where to start?
As Machiavelli said, "Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great. "
Nevertheless, when you start, make things easy for yourself by opting for sewing patterns that are straightforward.
With effort and determination, you will be able to get there faster but do not skip any steps in case you end up giving yourself complicated mistakes to correct.
Before making a couture collection, unfortunately you have to start with simple pieces like pillow cases, pockets and bibs.
Below you'll find some useful tutorials to give you some inspiration.
Sewing for Beginners: The Pillowcase
The pillowcase or cushion cover is the perfect exercise to learn to sew the machine because it teaches you all the basics: sew straight. You can find this tutorial on the Craftsy website.
- Cotton fabric:
- 3/4 yard (27″ x width of fabric from selvage to selvage) of the main fabric
- 1/4 yard (9″ x width of fabric from selvage to selvage) of coordinating fabric for the cuff
- 2″ x width of fabric (from selvage to selvage) strip of solid fabric for accent, pressed in half lengthwise to make a 1″ folded strip
- Matching thread.
- Lay out the fabric for your pillowcase: place the 9″ coordinating fabric right-side up. On top of that, place the 27″ main fabric right-side up, aligning the top raw edges. On the very top, place the folded accent strip, so that the raw edges are aligned with the top raw edges of the other pieces.
- Roll the 27″ main fabric panel into a little tube or “burrito.” Stop rolling when you get about to the center of the 9″ coordinating fabric.
- Take the bottom of the coordinating fabric and bring it up over the burrito. Align the raw edges with the raw edges of all the other fabrics. Pin in place along the raw edges, making sure to trap the skinny accent strip as well.
- Sew with a 1/4″ seam along the raw edges, or you may use a serger.
- Unroll the burrito and press.
- Trim the pillowcase so it is 28″ from the accent strip to the opposite end.
- Remove the selvages so the pillowcase is only 40″ wide.
- Cut the 40″ length (which means trimming to 20″ when folded in half).
- Finish with a serger or sewing machine.
Discover our tips for using your sewing machine or look for "sewing courses London" in your browser to find a sewing workshop near you.
Learning to Sew: The Origami Pouch
Another good way to practise sewing is to sew a range of pouches in different colours and materials. This way you learn a number of skills like how to change the needles according to the thickness of the fabric for example.
You can find this free pattern and tutorial on the Quiltsalott blog.
- Two pieces of 18.5" square of fabric,
- Two 30" lengths of cord,
- Two beads,
- Matching thread.
- Sew the two pieces of fabric, right sides together around all four sides but leave a three inch gap in the middle of one side for turning. Back stitch all seams.
- Turn right side out, hand sew the opening closed and press.
- Fold the square in thirds, making sure the corners touch each other in the middle and press the folds with an iron.
- Open the square out and fold in half diagonally.
- Draw lines on the folds three quarters of an inch from the top, right to the bottom and sew on the lines. Remember to back stitch.
- Take one side of the triangle and fold towards the other side.
- Take a couple of tack stitches by hand right at the corner to hold it in place. Repeat for the other side.
- Turn the whole thing inside out.
- Fold and pin the corners to box them. Mark in an inch from the corner and sew.
turn it right way out and check those corners are sewn neatly in.
- Fold the top flaps of the pouch over and pin as below.
- Sew a 1/4" seam from the top edge all around and then another one a generous half inch below that.
- Hand sew the pocket closed from the top to the bottom corner with a slip stitch. Repeat for the pocket on the other side.
- Take one of the cords and thread the cord from one side, around and back to the same side you started at. Repeat for the other cord, this time thread starting from the other side of the casing and back. Thread both ends of each cord through a bead and knot the cords.
Easy peasy! Once you have understood the main method, there's nothing stopping you from adapting the dimensions to make it larger, smaller, adding different sections, etc.
Join the discussion: is it really easy to learn how to sew?
The Peter Pan Collar for Sewing Newbies
This removable collar can be worn with a variety of different clothes, whether it's tops, shirts or dresses. Practical, right?
That's why the blog Transient Expression gives you a free pattern so you can make your own, perfect for a beginner wanting to learn to sew straight as well as curved and to do a slipstitch.
- Crew-neck t-shirt or dress
- Woven fabric (cotton is a good choice)
- Matching thread
The Easy-To-Sew Bag
If taking sewing classes near me, chances are my teacher will start on an easy sewing bag. Here is an example of one, pattern and tutorial are curtesy of Mollie Makes: the tote bag. Sewing a bag is easily accessible for beginners.
- 1/2 yard of fabric
- 2 yards of 1-inch cotton webbing to complement your fabric.
- Matching thread
- Contrasting thread
- Cut two 16-inch tall by 14-inch wide panels from the fabric.
- Cut two 22 1/2-inch long pieces from the webbing.
- Pin the handle pieces to the top raw edge of the right side of each panel 3 inches from the sides.
- Using the contrasting thread, sew a zig zag stitch across the top edge, sewing the handle to the top edge in the process.
- Turn the panels so their wrong sides are facing up. Press and pin their top edges with the handles down 1 1/2-inches.
- Sew this fold down with the matching thread a 1/4 inch from to top edge and then with a second seam 1/4-inch from the bottom zig zag stitch.
- Pin the panels right sides together and sew along the sides and bottom 1/2-inch from the raw edges using the matching thread. Back stitch at the beginning and end of each seam. Snip off the bottom corners.
- Using the contrasting thread zig sag stitch along the raw edges of the sides and bottom of the bag.
- Turn the bag right sides out press the corners and you’re all done!
With these simple instructions it's easy to make a bag in only 20 minutes so you can carry all your sewing essentials everywhere you go!
Also discover online classes for learning how to sew!
How to Sew a Dress for Beginners
There's no need to take sewing lessons online to be able to sew this little swing dress, with a V neckline, available on the Vanessa Pouzet e-shop at the small price of £6.90.
- Fabric 210 * 140 cm,
- Lining 120 * 140 cm (from 34 to 38), 190 * 140 cm (from 40 to 48),
- Matching sewing thread.
The PDF pattern is available for download. It is available in eight sizes from a size 8 to a size 20, ready to sew, seam allowances included.
It's up to you to choose your fabric, printed or not printed, at your local craft shop for example, to make this dress in a flash!
A Beginner's Guide to Fabric Baskets
For this tutorial, we turned to the blog Threading My Way and her baskets in fun fabrics. Of course, if you are not a fan of these prints, nothing is stopping you from opting for plain cotton for a more traditional look.
- 2 pieces 10 inches x 8 inches - main colour for the outside of the bag
- 2 pieces 10 inches x 8 inches - contrast colour for the lining
- 2 pieces 10 inches x 8 inches - interfacing
- Matching thread.
- Sew the interfacing to the wrong side of each outside piece of fabric. Sew close to the edge of the fabric.
- With right sides of the main fabric together, sew the side and bottom seams.
- Make boxed corners.
- Mark out 1.5 inch from the corner seam in both directions and on both sides.
- Pull out the sides of your bag and place one seam on top of the other seam.
- Put your pin through the top mark. If the pin comes out through the mark on the other side, your boxed corner will line up.
- Take the pin out and hold the fabric in place. With a ruler, draw a line across the fabric and sew across the line.
- Cut the fabric and neaten. Repeat for the other side.
- Sew the two side seams.
- Sew the bottom seam, leaving a gap of 3 inches.
- Make boxed corners as per the outside of the bag.
- Turn the bag right side out:
- Attach the lining to the outside of the bag
- Turn the bag right side out:
- Push the lining back into the bag.
- Topstitch 1/8inch (3mm) from the edge, around the top of the bag.
- Fold over the top about 1.5".
And there you go! Now you've got yourself a new sewing box.
Discover how you can learn to sew anything fast!
- To learn how to sew quickly you must start with the basics just as you would when learning to dance or play an instrument. Although it may seem daunting at first, all learning requires hard-work and discipline. This is how you improve. If you need extra help, consider taking classes online or locally.
- Sewing a pillowcase, tote bag, or pouch can be fun, as well as teaching you how to sew correctly, how to use your sewing machine properly, how to cut patterns, or how to make a zigzag stitch.
- Before moving on to more complicated tasks, get your head around the simple things and redecorate your home with baskets or make someone's day with a handmade swing dress.