5 Useful Tips on How to learn to Sew

A few important questions about clothes and sewing


  • Have you always wanted to create your own fashion designs?
  • Have you inherited your grandmother's sewing machine, for a long time desired to try it out, but no one has ever showed you how...?
  • Do you have a problem when shopping for clothes - you don't fit into regular sizes, clothes that you buy never suits you as good as your perfectly shaped friend?
  • Do you wish to own some piece of clothing that you've seen somewhere or on someone, but it is too expensive, difficult to get, they don't sell it in your town?
  • Do you admire that acquaintance of yours who makes her own gorgeous and unique shirts and dresses and forever looks as if she's just got out of a fancy boutique?
If your answers to some of these questions were YES, then you might be interested how to learn the basics of sewing, but also how to reach a good level of sewing skills. These 5 simple steps reveal answers to the questions given.

Step 1.

Where do I begin?


In order to learn to sew your own clothes, it would be nice to obtain a sewing machine. This is not absolutely necessary, but it significantly makes your sewing process a lot easier and faster. In case you inherited a sewing machine, make sure you take advantage of it as much as you can.

If, however, you don't own one, you can try and buy a second hand one on the internet. You won't make a mistake with Bagat sewing machines (Croatian production), Singer machines are excellent but a bit more expensive, and newer generations of machines deserve equal respect. Ask your creative friend what she recommends. For a start a simpler and cheaper sewing machine will to the job.

Step 2.

Are you the kind of person who likes to learn on his/her own or do you prefer attending courses?


Anyone can learn any skill, hence, sewing too. There are many self-taught sewists or those who have mastered sewing basics with the help of a mother, granny, aunt, and so can you. First of all ask yourself what type of student lies in that pretty head. Do you like to learn alone, with the help of books, tutorials and videos, or do you make better progress if you enrol a course. You can recall your easiest and most effective ways of learning when you were at school.

After that, get acquainted with your sewing machine. Every one comes with instructions manual, written for an absolute beginner, therefore, there shouldn't be any problems to understand how this "bucket of bolts" works. You can also "google up" the manual if by any chance it didn't get into your hands along with the machine.

For a start, take a piece of some old cloth, sewing thread and - go exploring! Learn how to turn on your machine, how to adjust the upper thread and insert into needle, how to set the lower thread to the bobbin (yeah, that's right, there's upper thread and lower one too). Adjust the machine to the usual straight stitch and make a few lines of stitching in various directions to get the feeling. Try out the zigzag stitch as well, check out those decorative stitches, and... well, whir away surprise the neighbours!

In a Magazine about sewing and cutting Anita Mei you will find detailed explanations about using a sewing a machine and its functions. Here's where you can find different tutorials:
No. 3 - take a look at a classic Bagat sewing machine and find out its basic functions
No. 4 - learn how to set the upper thread
No. 5 - master the setting of the lower thread into the bobbin
No. 6 - how to sew using straight stitch

Step 3. 

Useful books, magazines and websites 

On the Internet, of course, you can find a looooot of books, sites and tutorials for sewing. Instead of playing games, hanging around on social networks and downloading films or the new season of a favourite third-rate series, download some useful books in pdf format, watch a few videos (only a few, don't over do it) and find blogs which deal with sewing and tailoring. Save these to your bookmarks for later. Make sure you buy a proven sewing magazine - it is a cheap investment but will pay of ten times more.

You'll find a list of recommended websites about sewing at the bottom of this post.

An excellent recomendation are these two books that I have used over the years:

Step 4. 

Simple patterns to begin with


a) Chose a simpler blouse pattern, e.g. bat sleeves!

When you have mastered machine stitching, you can get on to tailoring something you will really want to wear. Maybe the easiest cutting and tailoring pattern, and at the same time the one you are least likely to ruin, is certainly the so called bat-sleeve blouse. Only a few seams and hems and a unique little top is ready to be shown off to your friends who still haven't had the guts to do this kind of challenge like YOU!

The fabric is folded in half, just measure around your hips and 1/2 of that measurement will be the width of the lower edge. You'll have a casual short sleeved top. If you manage to draw something on it - you'll get the WOW effect! This kind of blouse can't be found in any shop!

b) Try out another simple pattern - half-circle skirt!

For this adventure you might want to buy some well known sewing magazine which you'll use for the pattern and also treasure it for later. There you'll learn how to sew in a waistband and most of the basic sewing techniques are done. Here is also my suggestion; follow the link above to learn how to tailor a skirt for your size.

c) And finally another pattern that can be sewn by hand, no need for sewing machine - Greek Dress.

Step 5. 

Play with details!

When you make your first blouse or skirt, you'll be aware of the mistakes you've maybe made, so you'll be able to correct them next time. Use the same pattern to sew a new piece but change the material, make the sleeves longer or shorter, narrow the neck opening or make it wider, add a bow, a ribbon, decorative buttons, - no one will guess that you have two identical blouses, tailored by the same pattern.

Extend the length of the blouse and you'll get a bat-sleeved dress, like shown in the photo above...

You can draw a simple picture using fabric markers...
This blouse is Bat, Town, Moon and Cat

Onto your new skirt sew a ruffle, cut the waistband from a contrasting fabric, add some buttons, pockets, and every garment will be your unique masterpiece. Ideas are endless!


After your first sewing attempts, you may wish to improve yourself and learn to tailor some more complexed items of clothing. Or you might feel these beginner steps are quite enough to flash around with you imagination, to show your new skill, always look different and more modern than others. However you creative mind evolves, you'll get a new experience, and enjoy extraordinary innovative adventures...

Useful sites and blogs:

DIY Outbox Fashion and Stuff