Learning how to sew can be a useful skill in the home. Not only can it save you money on clothing repairs, but sewing is also an excellent hobby. Sewing can allow you to get in touch with your creativity and use fabrics and threads to explore your artistic side.

How to Organize Your Supplies

A place to keep your sewing supplies is a must. Sewing kits are composed of many small parts that can be easily lost without a proper location to keep them organized. Some people use boxes designed specifically for sewing kits, but any container that will hold all of your tools in an organized manner will do. Some people even choose to make their own sewing kits.

What’s in the Basic Sewing Kit?

Before beginning any new sewing project, it’s a good idea to make sure you have all of the necessary supplies. Most sewing kits will need a needle and thread, a good pair of sewing scissors, pins and a pin cushion, a seam ripper, a soft tape measure, and marking tools. Other tools can be helpful, but these items will give the sewing beginner a start on basic projects.

Choosing the Right Sewing Scissors

A basic pair of sewing scissors with a bent handle to work on a flat surface is a necessary piece to a beginning sewing kit, but there are other options more suited for specific situations. Pinking shears, for instance, are useful for cutting serrated edges. Tailor’s shears are longer and can be used for making long cuts in almost any fabric. Meanwhile, appliqué scissors are used specifically in appliqué work.

How to Sew a Button

Sewing a button is one of the first skills a sewing beginner should acquire. The average cost for a seamstress to repair clothing for women can be very high, so repair skills can help to save money. With practice, sewing a button can be simple and cost-effective. Start by holding the button in place where you would like it to be positioned. Working through the fabric first, pull the needle and thread through the front of the button. Place a toothpick over the button and work the needle and thread over the toothpick, down into the adjacent buttonhole. Continue with this process until each hole has been worked through five to six times. With the needle between the button and fabric, remove the toothpick and pull the button taut with the resulting thread loops. Wrap the needle and thread around the exposed threads beneath the button, and tie off the thread. Cut off the excess thread when finished.

How to Patch a Hole in a Piece of Clothing

Patching a hole in a piece of clothing is another way to save money on clothing repair costs. With enough practice, not only can you save money on your own clothing repairs, but you could also start a lucrative business repairing clothing for women and men.

Begin by finding a piece of matching fabric for the article of clothing. Once you have your fabric for a patch, use a pair of scissors to cut the hole into an even square, snipping each corner at a 45-degree angle. On the back side of the fabric, pull back each side of the square and use an iron to press the excess fabric flat. Still working on the back side of the material, measure your hole and cut out a piece of the repair fabric, leaving enough excess for about a half-inch on each side. Place your repair fabric over the hole and pin it in place. Next, use a slip-baste stitch around the pins to bring the two pieces of fabric together and remove the pins. Fold the excess fabric from your repair piece to bring the edges even with your slip-baste. Using a diagonal stitch pattern, work your way around the edge of the repair fabric until all sides are complete. Remove your slip-baste. On the front side of the garment, use an iron to press the new patch in place. Feel free to use a cross-stitch on the excess fabric on your patch to keep it in place on the back side of your garment.

How to Make Crisp, Even Hems

Hemming a piece of fabric provides a smooth, even edge to your project. Accuracy is everything in this skill, so having simple ways to foolproof your project is helpful. To make an even hem, grab a piece of standard card stock. Card stock is useful because it is flexible but can still provide a sturdy frame to work with. Decide how deep you would like the hem to be, and measure this distance from the edge of the card stock. Draw a smooth, even line at this depth across the piece of card stock. Place the card stock on the back side of your fabric, with the edges aligned. Fold the edge of the fabric down over the edge of the card stock to the line you have drawn. (The card stock will need to move to allow the edge to be folded over.) With the fabric folded over the piece of card stock, use an iron to press the fabric. Remove the card stock and stitch the hem into place.

Choosing the Right Fabric

Choosing the right fabric is the foundation of a successful sewing project. Although some fabrics are more visually appealing than others, there are several factors to consider. First, consider the project. Different fabrics are used for household items than for clothing. Another quality to consider in choosing a fabric is pattern. In projects such as patching an article of clothing, matching colors and patterns may be necessary. Finally, consider your skill level. While satins and chiffons are beautiful, these fabrics can be difficult to work with and should typically be avoided by beginners.

How to Cut Woven Fabrics

When cutting fabric, straight lines may not always be necessary. But when the line absolutely needs to be straight, there is a trick to woven fabrics that can be useful. Locate the point on the fabric where you wish to begin your cut. At that point, tease a few threads from the fabric by pulling on them gently. Once the threads begin to pull from the fabric, continue pulling them to reveal a straight line through the fabric. The line created by pulling out these threads can act as your guideline for cutting the fabric.

Basic Hand Stitches

Although there are several types of hand stitches that can be used, three basic techniques are typically adequate for sewing beginners to get their start.

The slip-stitch is a technique often used in sewing hems because of the ability to sew without leaving visible threads. Learning how to slip-stitch is vital if you wish to create eye pleasing clothing.

The back-stitch is used as a method to mimic the sewing pattern left by a sewing machine. By proceeding along a seam in a uniform fashion, overlapping each previous stitch, the end result will be a uniform stitch similar to a sewing machine.

The running stitch, also called a basting stitch, is the most basic method of the three. This is usually used as a method to keep pieces of fabric together before adding a more permanent stitch. With two pieces of fabric together, pull the needle from the back through both pieces of fabric. Advance the needle and push back through. Continue this process with even spacing.

Understanding a Sewing Machine

While some sewing machine models can cost thousands of dollars, beginners can find everything they need in a basic mechanical sewing machine. This machine will allow its user to stitch forward, backward, and sometimes even in a zigzag pattern. While machines may differ in design, there are some parts that are common to all models.

Similar to hand-stitching, sewing machines have a needle to apply the thread to fabric. Near the needle, a sewing machine has a foot to hold the fabric in place for applying the thread. A bobbin is a spool that provides the bottom thread for stitching applied to the fabric. The thread feed is a system of loops and hooks to guide the thread to the needle. The hand wheel is usually located on the side of the machine and allows the user to manually move the needle.

Which Sewing Machine Is Right for You?

Sewing machines come in many different forms. Some are built for more advanced sewers, and some are more basic for the beginner. Knowing your own skill level is an important part in deciding which machine is right for you. Typically, a beginner can achieve everything for basic products with a simple mechanical sewing machine. As your skill level increases, you may consider switching to more advanced machines.

How to Sew a Seam

Sewing a seam is a great place to start when getting accustomed to using a sewing machine. To get started, place two pieces of fabric together with their front sides facing each other. Pin the two pieces of fabric together to keep them secure. Decide on a seam allowance, or the distance between the seam and the edge of the fabric. Back-stitching is a good idea when starting to sew a seam to prevent unraveling. Begin approximately a half-inch from the edge of the fabric with the foot and needle raised. Pull down the foot and back-stitch to the top edge of the fabric. Then, begin to stitch down the seam, making sure to work slowly and keep your focus on the material. After mastering a straight seam, try your hand at something a little more creative.

Adding Embellishments

Embellishments can be a great way to add a visually stunning component to any sewing project. They allow for an added level of creativity and inventiveness for sewers of all skill levels. Embellishments support the use of different colors, patterns, and textures on a sewing project. Allow yourself to experiment and get creative!

Additional Sewing Information

  • Easy Sewing Projects: Better Homes and Gardens can be a great resource for any project, but here, they provide ideas for sewing projects to try.
  • How to Hand-Sew: Watch this video to learn more about how to do some simple sewing projects by hand.