How to Start Sewing

How to Start Sewing

Nothing excites me as much as the ever increasing number of people who want to start sewing and dressmaking. Thanks to a thriving online sewing community, craft and sewing focused TV programmes and a wider understanding of how these activities can benefit your mental health and general wellbeing more and more people are getting the bug. Ok, you're sold, but just how do you start sewing?

Borrow or Buy a Sewing Machine

If you're going to sew anything you're going to need a sewing machine. Ok, this sounds expensive and like a big commitment, but here are a few words of advice.

You probably know someone who already has one, how about asking if you can borrow it? That way you can start sewing, see how you get on and then make an investment in your own machine at a later date.

If you don't know anyone who has a sewing machine you could book yourself onto a local sewing class where the machines are provided to test the water first.

Either way we're pretty confident you'll probably be desperate to buy your own sooner rather than later because you'll love it so much. Did we mention sewing is highly addictive?!

Sewing Machine

If you're looking to buy your first sewing machine there are some great options for beginners out there. It can be a bit of a minefield with so much choice on the market, but our video 'how to choose the right sewing machine' will help you to understand the most important things to consider.

If you need any further advice or support give us a shout and we will always be happy to help.

You can find our full range of sewing machines here.

Learn How to Use a Sewing Machine

Once you have your hands on a sewing machine you'll need to know how to use it. I remember thinking this was going to be the most complicated process ever. Guess what? It really isn't!

In very simple terms there are three key steps to setting up a sewing machine:

  1. Plug in the power lead and foot control (the foot control is the thing you press with your foot to make the machine sew).
  2. Thread the bobbin.
  3. Thread the needle.

The overall concept for threading the needle and the bobbin is the same for the majority of machines.

Threading a Bobbin

The path you need to send the thread through is usually marked on the machine with a series of arrows and it is usually very instinctive and easy to do.

Threading a Sewing Machine

Having said that there are sometimes slight nuances with different makes and models of sewing machines so it's a good idea to refer to your manual when threading your machine the first few times.

Here's a video of us threading the Janome 725S sewing machine, one of the most popular models on the market so you can see how easy it is to thread a sewing machine.

Once your machine is threaded you can start sewing. Use scraps of fabric or cheap fabric you aren't too worried about to make sure you are happy with the stitches.

Starting to Sew

If you encounter any issues with the stitch quality you can refer to our handy troubleshooting guide here. Also always remember there are a huge amount of helpful videos and tutorials on YouTube and sewing blogs you can refer to if you are experiencing any problems.

Choose a Project

Next the really exciting part - deciding what you're going to make! You will need a basic toolkit, but if you choose your project first you might even be able to order everything from one place.

It's a good idea to start with something nice and simple to begin with. A simple skirt is a great starting point.

Here are some tried and tested simple skirt patterns I have used and can highly recommend.

Beginner Skirt Sewing Patterns

Skirts Beginner Sewing Patterns

The Rae skirt by Sewaholic patterns. This simple skirt has an elasticated waist making it very easy to fit. The skirt is also made from several panels of fabric so it gives you plenty of opportunity to practice sewing straight lines.

This simple A line skirt Simplicity 1370 has a waistband and a zip if you want something a little more challenging, but is still a relatively straightforward sew. Alternatively you could try Simplicity 1200 a classic circle skirt with waistband and zip.

Jalie 3883 is also an incredibly simple sew, it is a pull on skirt with an elasticated waist. It does have to be made in a knit fabric so you would need to use a stretch or ballpoint needle and a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine.

Tops Beginner Sewing Patterns

Tops Beginner Sewing Patterns

If skirts aren't your thing here are a few simple top patterns you could try:

The Scout T shirt by Grainline Studios - no darts and no fastenings make a very easy sew.

The Cielo dress or top by Closet Case patterns. As above there are no fastenings, but there is a bust dart and a yoke (a design feature on the shoulder) which would allow you to get to grips with a few more sewing techniques. There are also lots of options for sleeve and neckline variations and a dress so you could develop lots more skills off the back of your first project.

If none of these suggestions float your boat there are plenty more options on our site. Just look for simple designs with minimal fuss. You can view our full sewing pattern range here.


Once you've selected your project you'll need to choose a suitable fabric. Some easy fabrics to try sewing with as a beginner are cottons and denim (although a denim needle is required).

Check the pattern packet where you will find a list of recommended fabrics for the pattern you've chosen.

Choosing a Sewing Project

Try to avoid anything slippery or very fluid because these can be a little tricky to control without any sewing experience.

If you want to try sewing with a knit try and choose one that isn't too super stretchy and check out our top tips for sewing with knit and jersey fabrics here.

If you want to really geek out you can read our super in depth article all about choosing the right fabric for your sewing project here.

You will also notice a list of 'notions' these are things like zips and thread and you can order these at the same time so they match your fabric.

You can view our full range of fabrics here and haberdashery here.

Basic Sewing Toolkit

Finally it is time to order your basic sewing toolkit. Once again there is no need to break the bank here and we've written a blog post to help you understand the bare essentials you need, what you will use them for and how much to spend here.

Your First Garment

Go Sew!

Right now you have everything it is time to take the plunge and have a go!

The most important advice I can offer anyone here is to go easy on yourself, take your time and don't be afraid to ask for help.

Have fun sewing!


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