If you’re ready to learn to sew and you already have a good sewing machine, getting started is easier than you think.
While it’s true that there’s a learning curve when learning how to start sewing with a machine, most people find it a breeze to develop this skill.
There are, however, some tips that can make the task a little easier on you, starting with the following tips:
- Become familiar with the sewing machine
- Learn what each part of the machine does
- Making sure your machine is set up correctly
Getting Started the Easy Way
The main thing you have to remember about sewing is that it takes a bit of preparation before you press that pedal for the first time. This includes learning the parts of the machine and learning to set it up properly, which both have to be done before you sew the first stitch.
The smartest thing you can do if you’re a beginning seamstress is get a sewing machine that is super easy to use. This usually means one without all of the bells and whistles, which means they’ll be less expensive as well as less complicated. Avoid computerized ones or machines that offer dozens of stitches because these are usually a bit harder to learn than a basic machine.
Become familiar with the sewing machine
You have to learn what each part of the machine does before you start working with it. Some of the most important parts include:
- The power switch, which is the “on” and “off” switch
- The spool pin, which is where your spool of thread will go
- The thread guide, which directs the thread from the spool to the bobbin winder
- The bobbin winder, which will contain the second piece of thread you need to sew something
- The stitch adjustment buttons, which are usually located on the right-hand side of the machine
- The thread take-up lever. This is usually located on the top left-hand side of the machine and has two cut-in grooves
- The tension dial, which makes sure your thread isn’t too tight or too loose and has numbers on it
- The needle clamp screw, which is made of metal and holds the needle in place as you sew
- The presser foot. Made of metal, it sits underneath the needle clamp screw and holds the fabric in place as it glides through the machine
- The presser foot lever, which raises and lowers the presser foot
- The needle plate, which is silver in color and located right underneath the needle
- The feed dog. A small metal guide located on the needle plate under the presser foot. Its job is to help move the fabric along as you sew
- The bobbin cover and bobbin release, located in front of the needle, with the bobbin itself found underneath the cover
Making sure your machine is set up correctly
After you get familiar with the parts of your sewing machine, you have to make sure it is set up properly. Although this can involve some very basic and simple steps, they are important nonetheless. To get started, make sure your sewing machine is sitting on a sturdy, level fixture, such as a table made specifically for sewing. The needle should be to your left, and it should be installed by pushing it all the way into the needle-holder then screwing it in tightly.
The bobbin is important because your machine is going to use two pieces of thread, and the bobbin holds the thread that is used at the bottom of your fabric. You have to insert the bobbin and wind it so that it is full of thread, and there is usually a special button or device that you have to use to get it into a “winding” position, which your user’s manual should be able to help you with. After the bobbin is filled with thread, you can go ahead and insert it underneath the bobbin cover.
Next, you have to thread the machine, and this is easier than it sounds because a lot of times, the thread pattern is printed on the machine itself. There are also only a few patterns used regardless of the sewing machine brand you’re using, so once you learn the pattern on your own machine, you can thread many others as well. At this point, you’ll need to pull out both pieces of thread before you start sewing (the thread from the spool and the thread from the bobbin), and you’re ready for the next step.
Are You Ready to Start Sewing?
If you don’t have a pattern yet, you can still learn the basics of sewing on your machine. You should start with the basics first, such as a straight stitch, and practice it using many different lengths. Naturally, you can plan on using a straight stitch quite often on your various projects, so you might as well learn this stitch first.
After you feel like you’ve mastered a straight stitch, you should start learning the zig-zag stitch. This stitch is the second most common stitch and is used mostly on seams so that the edges of your fabric won’t fray. All sewing machines will have a zig-zag stitch, even the inexpensive and very basic ones.
As you practice, you should use fabric that is easy to work with, such as cotton or some type of woven material. Don’t start with thick fabric such as flannel or denim because they tend to be hard to work with, and you’ll want something simple in the beginning.
While we’re on the subject, you should always practice on scrap material before you start your very first project. Even your first project will have some mistakes in it, but there will be fewer of them if you’ve gotten enough practice with the basics.
The steps to sewing are really pretty basic, and they include the following:
- Line the fabric up underneath the needle.
- Lower the presser foot on top of your fabric.
- Hold onto the ends of both pieces of thread.
- Press on the foot pedal.
- Practice using the reverse button.
- Using the hand wheel on the right-hand side of the machine, raise the needle to the highest position possible.
- Cut the thread.
These are the basics of sewing a piece of fabric, and once you get this down, you should practice sewing a seam. After all, most items you’ll sew will require a seam of some type, so practicing ahead of time is always a good idea. After you practice seams, you can practice other common tasks, such as moving to another part of the fabric and sewing a sharp corner.
At first, you shouldn’t expect perfection with any of your stitches because it takes time to get really good at them. Practicing your basic stitches, however, will allow you to feel more confident when you start that first project. Speaking of your first project, make sure it’s a simple one because you don’t want to get discouraged when you’re a beginner.
What Else Will You Need?
Okay, those are the basics when you’re trying to become familiar with how to start sewing with a machine, but you’ll need some basic materials as well so that you can have what you need to start a project. Essentially, all of your sewing projects are going to use the following materials, so you might want to stock up on them as soon as you can.
- Fabric pens or pencils
- Iron and ironing board
- Painter’s tape
- Pins and pin cushion
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Tape measure
If you’re going to be a seamstress, you’ll likely be looking for deals at the fabric store on a regular basis from now on, but not to worry because the more you learn about sewing, the more you’ll look forward to your next project.
There are other tips and suggestions that can help you sew like a pro even in the beginning, and they include:
- Learn your different fabrics, which include natural textiles such as silk, denim, leather, wool, flannel, and velvet; as well as synthetic fabrics such as spandex, polyester, acrylic, and nylon.
- Make sure you wash your fabric before you start the project. All fabrics shrink a little when washed and dried, and this can affect the fit of your fabric if you don’t wash it first.
- Always turn the fabric inside-out when you’re done and iron your seams flat so they don’t stick out too much.
- Ideally, you should have needles for both hand-sewing and for your sewing machine, because you never know when you’ll need to sew something small by hand.
- Make sure you take good care of your sewing machine so it will last a long time. This includes regular oiling of the parts and performing all tasks according to the rules listed in the user’s manual.
- Your scissors are one of the most important tools you’ll use, so make sure you invest in a good pair of “fabric” scissors so they’ll do their job well.
- Save ALL of your extra fabric, regardless of how small it is. You never know when you’ll need to practice another stitch or when you’ll need extra fabric for a project.