So You Want to Start Sewing? Here’s What To Do.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you the basic supplies you would need to get started on your path to sewing greatness. This week, I want to talk about what to do now that you have all of these bright, shiny sewing supplies and you’re ready to get to work. Here are some very basic steps you can take to get started sewing.

• Make sure you have good lighting. Most sewing machines come with a small light, but if you want to make this a full-time hobby, invest in a good quality lamp to illuminate your projects as you work. It’s hard to sew precisely in the dark.
• Get to know your sewing machine. Read your sewing machine manual and familiarize yourself with how to thread it, how to wind your bobbin, how to turn it on and off, etc.
• Choose the right fabric. When you’re working on more complicated projects in the future, your project will dictate the type of fabric you want. You may use lighter, more delicate fabrics for pieces of clothing, or heavier fabrics for upholstery. For people just beginning to sew, you want to choose a medium weight fabric that doesn’t stretch a lot (pull the fabric to determine how stretchy it is) and is made from natural fibers, like cotton. Choose a fabric with thin stripes to practice on. You will want at least 18 inches (or half a yard) of fabric.
• Practice making straight stitches. Thread your sewing machine according to the instructions in the manual (or online). Cut an 8 inch strip of fabric. Choose a medium stitch length and set the machine to straight stitch. Start with the needle in the up position. Pull out your top and bobbin threads about 6 inches. Hold onto your threads when you make your first stitch so that they don’t get drawn back into the machine. Position the material on the machine and press down on the pedal foot. Practice sewing straight lines along the lines in the fabric. When you’re done, stop the needle in the up position and trim your threads.
• Remove pins as you go. If you’re using pins to hold together your fabric, pull them out before you sew over them. Many times, the needle will not hit a pin, but you don’t want to take the chance with your safety or the integrity of your project.
• Check your work. Practice makes perfect. See how you did and figure out where you can improve. If you had trouble regulating your speed on the foot pedal, practice going slowly at first but having a consistent speed. Once you get the controls down, you can practice going faster. If your stitch length is even, but your speed was steady, you might have been pulling the fabric layers through the machine faster than you were sewing. Let the machine do the work of feeding the fabric through and just use your hands to guide the material. If you’re having trouble getting your stitches straight, that will also come with practice. 

All this can sound very complicated, but with time and practice, sewing on a machine gets easier. Before you know it, you will be making pillows, following patterns or even quilting! If you need some encouragement along the way, I’m here. And of course, if you need a more complex project done right away, I would be happy to help.

Happy sewing,

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