Learning how to sew is not something you can learn overnight, but regardless of how you learn or who teaches you, there are some basic sewing skills that all sewers learn, at least in the beginning. In fact, these basic skills are usually considered the foundation for learning all other skills as you progress and turn into an accomplished seamstress.
Most of these stitches are harder to master than they are to learn, and if you’re wondering, what are the basic sewing skills a beginning sewer needs to know, you’ve come to the right place.
What Are the Basic Sewing Skills a Sewer Needs to Know?
Some of the basic sewing skills that all sewers need to know include how to insert a needle, how to thread a needle, how to adjust the sewing machine tension, how to hand-sew, sewing a straight stitch, sewing a zigzag stitch, plus a few others. Many of them are described below.
Basic sewing skills are taught because many of the patterns you’ll be working with later on once you become a better sewer will require that you know a lot of these skills to complete the project successfully. When you’re new at sewing, all of these skills may feel awkward or difficult, but once you practice them and do them over and over again, you’ll become a pro at them before you know it. You should never underestimate their importance because from now on, you’re going to be surprised how often you use these basic sewing skills.
If you’re curious about some of the most common basic sewing skills that are a must to learn, below are 10 of them to look at.
1. How to Insert a Needle
Inserting a sewing machine needle isn’t that difficult because most of them have a square-like top that fits instantly into the hole above designed to hold it. You simply unscrew that top portion to loosen up the hole, stick the needle in there, then tighten up the screw to keep the needle nice and secure.
The only thing you have to remember is to make sure you get the right needle, which is very easy most of the time because there are standard sewing needles that will fit almost any sewing machine you buy.
At the same time, you should practice removing the needle as well. After all, you’ll be replacing more needles than you might think, so you might as well learn the skill as soon as possible.
2. How to Thread a Needle
Threading a needle takes time because the needle is in the machine as you start to thread it, which makes some people a little nervous. Nevertheless, many sewing machines have the “pattern” printed on the machine itself, so all you have to do is look at that pattern as you thread. Once you thread the needle on your machine a few times, it should get easier.
The other challenge for beginning sewers is that you’ll be working with two different threads – the sewing thread and the thread in the bobbin, but again, you shouldn’t have to thread them too many times to get comfortable with the process.
3. How to Adjust the Sewing Machine Tension
If you’re sewing and the fabric starts bunching up or your thread keeps breaking as you sew, it could very well be a problem with your machine’s tension. All sewing machines have a tension button, and even though they each work a little differently, this is yet another skill that you won’t have to practice too many times to get it right.
Tensions on sewing machines periodically need to be adjusted, but your sewing machine manual will explain how yours works, and it’s good to practice with it every now and then to make sure you understand what it does.
4. How to Hand-Sew
You’re likely asking yourself, why do I need to learn how to hand-sew if I have a sewing machine? The truth is, some tasks are simpler and even faster if you sew them by hand. In addition, it is good to learn because you never know when you’ll need to sew something by hand.
When learning to sew by hand, your work has to be very detail-oriented, and it is this attention to detail that can further develop your skills as a sewer. Fortunately, there are many resources out there to help you learn to sew by hand much better, and once you get used to sewing by hand, it will stop being something you dread.
5. Sewing a Straight Stitch
Okay, sewing a straight stitch is always included on the list when you need to know, what are the basic sewing skills, and it may sound like a super-easy task. Although not extremely difficult, it is still a stitch that you’ll have to practice to get it right. If you think a straight stitch is a basic stitch, you’re absolutely right.
But if you think it’s a stitch you won’t use that often, you’re wrong. Straight stitches are very versatile stitches, and you’ll be using them in tons of projects, which means becoming an expert at them is a must. They’re easy to learn and even easier to get good at because project after project, you’ll be using this stitch an awful lot!
6. Sewing a Zigzag Stitch
Not only is a zigzag stitch a decorative stitch that you’ll enjoy using time and time again, but it is also a very sturdy stitch that you can use to hold seams together better or in fact, have any two pieces of fabric that you want to make certain are sewn together securely.
These days, they are super easy to learn because most sewing machines have a stitch feature that allows you to set the control button on the zigzag stitch then sew as you normally would. There are also special “feet” that make this type of stitch even easier, and they can be found in most fabric stores and online at sites such as Amazon.
7. Sewing a Button
Sewing a button onto a pair of pants or a shirt is something you’ll find yourself doing quite a lot, but it is definitely not a difficult skill to perfect. It’s usually done by hand because each button is different and therefore must be sewn differently onto the fabric. Once you sew a couple of buttons onto articles of clothing, the task becomes super easy. This is a good thing, because buttons fall off of clothes all the time.
Not only is it a simple task, but it is very fast once you learn what you’re doing. If you need some tips and suggestions, you can check out a number of resources online, but this is not a sewing skill you need to be afraid of.
8. Sewing a Zipper
As you can imagine, the skill of learning to sew a zipper will never go to waste. Zippers are found in dresses, pants, jackets, skirts, and many, many other clothing items. They come in lots of different sizes, designs, and colors, but overall, they are very easy to sew.
You do have to learn how to match up the pieces of the zipper so that it works the way it’s supposed to work when you’re done, but this part of the task is actually a lot easier than you think. The best part is, once you’ve sewn just a handful of zippers, it becomes second nature to you, which means in no time you will be sewing zippers like a pro.
9. How to Sew a Blanket Stitch
So, the answer to the question, what are the basic sewing skills, doesn’t always include the blanket stitch, but it is still a great stitch to learn. The blanket stitch is actually a basic embroidery stitch, and it can be used in quilting, basic sewing, and also in embroidery projects.
It got its name from the fact that it is often used to stitch the edge of a blanket, and when the stitch is completed it looks like a straight line on top with a bunch of vertical lines below it, with some space in between each vertical line. Normally, you’ll need two strands of thread to accommodate the stitch, but it is yet another sewing stitch that won’t take you very long to learn.
10. How to Sew a French Seam
French seams sound complicated, but they really aren’t difficult at all. With a French seam you’ll tuck in all of the frayed and raw ends of your fabric before sewing the seam shut. Because you’re tucking the seam in before sewing it, the result is a cleaner and neater appearance.
In fact, this type of seam looks downright fancy and ornate, and you can learn how to sew one of these seams in no time. In fact, once you learn how to sew a French seam, you’ll wonder why you’ve never done so before, and you’ll also wonder how all of your seams in the past survived without it.