Advice for the Beginner Sewist
So you've decided you'd like to give this sewing thing a go - read on to learn how.
Purchase a sewing machine and get to grips with it
Don't be tempted to buy an all singing, all dancing machine. Start with something that has straight stitch, back stitch and automatic buttonholes. You can (and probably will) upgrade later on if you catch the bug and want to try more advanced techniques out. At the same time don’t get a really cheap machine, it will drive you crazy as it probably won't have the weight and power you will want to sew accurately. Around the $500 AUD mark is a good compromise. The machine here (Janome DC2150) is a good starting point. If you’re buying a new machine most shops will offer a free lesson on how to use it. Definitely take them up on this! Make sure you know how to thread it, wind a bobbin, how the tension works, which way round the bobbin goes in the case. All the basic stuff for making sure your machine will work well. It will come with an instruction manual - keep it close by. Failing that Google and YouTube are fantastic resources. Take the time to get the familiarisation bit right as everything else will be a whole lot easier if your machine is working well and you know how to troubleshoot basic problems. The same goes for a second hand machine.
Make sure it has an instruction manual and has been recently serviced. If possible, actually try the machine out before buying.
Start by making something small
Children’s clothes or small items are a really good starting point when you are learning to sew. If you make a mistake you have only wasted a fraction of the material, but you are able to learn most techniques used in adult clothing. (Plus they are pretty cute.) If children’s clothes aren’t for you, think simple tote bags, place settings, doggie bandanas… you get the idea. Take this time to make sure you are sewing consistently - are your seam allowances correct? Is your stitching straight? Do you know how to pivot round a corner? The list goes on. But again, get the basics right and you’ll find the trickier stuff further down the line much easier.
Find an easy to follow, well illustrated pattern
Don’t start by following a difficult or complicated pattern, especially the first time you use your new machine, or any machine for that matter. Read the pattern from beginning to end before you start and make sure you understand it. This will also highlight whether there are any notions you will need that you weren’t expecting. There is nothing worse than having to stop when the creative juices are flowing because you forgot the interfacing!
If you’re making children’s clothes Tadah! Patterns are fantastic, particularly for those new to sewing. Super clear instructions and diagrams with handy tricks and tips along the way. This particular pattern would be a great starting point. Of course, there are lots of great free patterns online too. Chose one that comes with clear instructions and lots of photos or visuals.
Consider attending sewing workshops or classes
This is a fantastic way for furthering your skills. You’ve managedto learn a lot from google, you tube and instruction manuals - now is the time to extend your skills. Sewing classes can be a great way to do this. Perhaps you found something tricky in a pattern you’ve been following and need assistance. It will enable you to learn from the experts, often using industry techniques, in either a one on one or small group setting. This process might help with learning how to read a commercial pattern, fitting and altering patterns or learning how to give your garment the professional finish. If there’s a technique or skill you aren’t quite able to master ask to cover it is your lessons. As sewing is a highly practical skill learning in person with a good teacher really is the most effective and progressive way to learn.
Consider online classes through Craftsy or similar platform
If sewing lessons aren’t an option (or you fancy both) then try online learning platforms. This really is a great way to learn and enhance your sewing knowledge whatever level you are at. Not only is it cost a effective way of learning various sewing skills you can also pause and play in your own time. There are many classes available covering a variety of topics.
Practise, Practise, Practise!
Lastly and perhaps most importantly keep sewing. Before you know it you'll be considered an intermediate and then advanced sewist wowing friends with your gorgeous me made wardrobe. Whoop whoop!!