Did you get a sewing machine this Christmas? Is learning to sew on your list of New Year’s Resolutions? Or, do you have the basics down but want to start making some of the beautiful sewing projects you are seeing online? I talked to six of my blogger buddies to get their tips and favorite resources for going from newbie to sewist, and I’m sharing my own thoughts on this, along with free sewing patterns and tutorials for beginners, so read on for details!
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. Materials for this post were generously provided by Baby Lock and Fiskars.
If you’ve been reading for my blog for a while, you know I used to sew A LOT. I learned to sew a little as a kid but it wasn’t until I had my own machine that I really got into a sewing groove. From about 2005 to 2008, I was cranking out quilts like there was no tomorrow! When I first started sewing a lot, I tried out quite a few machines from different brands, but none felt quite right until I discovered the Baby Lock Quilter’s Choice. When I moved in with MC, there wasn’t a good spot for my sewing machine and then… well, let’s just say, I’ve been getting a lot more crocheting done!
Earlier this year, I reached out to the nice folks at Baby Lock. Since I do a lot of my photography and crafting on-the-go these days, I asked to try one of their newer, portable machines. They sent me a Jubilant.
Since I’ve gotten this machine, I’ve been sewing much more. Starting in 2019, I’ll be collaborating with Baby Lock to bring you more sewing projects on the blog, including a mega, multi-blogger sew along with lots of prizes! Until then, enjoy these tips.
Sewing Tips & Resources for Beginners from Your Favorite Bloggers
- Favorite sewing reference book: I get so much inspiration and am always learning when I leaf through the Better Homes and Gardens: Complete Guide to Quilting.
- Favorite sewing technique or project books: Quilt in a Day: Log Cabin by Eleanor Burns is what jump started my sewing in the mid-2000s, and I’ve made several projects from her Still Stripping After 25 Years. Both are great books if you’re interested in strip quilting. Other books I like to flip through for inspiration are The Quilt Block Cookbook by Amy Gibson, Stash Buster Quilts by Lynne Edwards, and Patchwork Quilted Bags by Reiko Washizawa.
- Sewing book on your wishlist: Just one? (Ok, my birthday is on the way so there are quite a few on my wishlist at the moment.) Though I love my 1972 copy of The Complete Family Sewing Book, I’m looking for an updated general sewing reference guide and have heard good things about The Sewing Book. I’m also thinking about trying garment sewing in 2019 and Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book was recommended as a possible start.
- Best online sewing class you’ve taken: Pictures to Pixel Quilts on Craftsy
- Most important tools for beginner sewists:
- Your sewing machine manual, so you can get to know the ins and outs of your machine. Even if you have a used machine, search for it online as you can often download the PDF manual, even for older models.
- A seam ripper, because, yes, you will be ripping seams, trust me!
- A good pin cushion or pin magnet. Otherwise, you and your loved ones just may end up with pins in your feet.
- A great pair of fabric scissors. My favorites are Fiskars – I use my Softgrip Scissors at home and my RazorEdge Softgrip Fabric Shears when I’m traveling.
- A spare piece of “junk” fabric. I use the spare piece of fabric to test out the machine’s thread tension, new threads, etc. before putting my “real” fabric under the needle. A small piece of fabric can save you from a lot of tragic sewing moments!
- One of my beginner-friendly sewing projects is the DIY Denim Log Cabin Pocket Pillow Tutorial.
Follow Carolina on Instagram as @craftmoore.
Carolina Moore from Always Expect Moore is a crafter and award-winning quilter who likes to take the “mystery” out of creating so that anyone can feel successful! She particularly loves teaching people the basics of quilting, and often includes videos to show people the entire process. I have the pleasure of knowing Carolina in “real life,” and she is extremely talented!
- Favorite sewing reference book: Diane Gilleland’s book All Points Patchwork – it is on English Paper Piecing basics.
- Favorite sewing technique or project book: Make 1 Hour Gifts: 16 Cheerful Projects to Sew
- Sewing book on your wishlist: My book! It will be out in the next year!! – More info to come! (Note from Underground Crafter: I’ll come back to update this post when Carolina’s book is available. Until then, you can check out Hot Glue Hacks and Crafts, a book Carolina co-wrote with Angie from The Country Chic Cottage. I reviewed the book here.)
- Best online sewing class you’ve taken: The Perfect Finish: How to Bind a Quilt on Craftsy
- Most important tools for beginner sewists: Good quality scissors and a comfortable seam ripper.
- Share one of your beginner-friendly sewing projects: I have a whole video series on making quilt blocks with the Cricut Maker here.
Follow Candice on Instagram as @candiceayala.
Candice Ayala is crazy about upcycling and refashion. A good portion of her content is pattern reviews and cosplay sews, but there is also quite a bit of DIYs and refashion posts. Candice and I met online in the Baby Lock Influencers group.
- Favorite sewing technique: Installing invisible zippers and fussy cutting. (Are those even techniques though? lol)
- Most important tools for beginner sewists: Most importantly, you must have a good sense of humor and/or lots of patience. If you have a combination of both, you’ll do great! lol A sharp seam ripper (it might not seem like it, but the seam ripper is your friend), cutting scissors exclusively for cutting fabric, and a good iron! Ironing your seams as you sew is one of the most skipped over steps, but you’ll learn that it’s absolutely necessary to produced a nice crisp garment with clean finishes. Once you’ve created something that looks nice, with clean lines and finishes, you’ll gain more confidence to keep going.
- Share one of your beginner-friendly sewing projects: Transform Your Old Ironing Board Into a Brand New One – DIY Tutorial. If you’re more daring, try How To Install an Invisible Zipper Into a Lined Garment.
Follow Sheri on Facebook as Confessions of a Refashionista.
Sheri Pavlovic is the DIY diva and author behind the book series, channel, and blog, Confessions of a Refashionista, the eco-friendly crafty corner of the internet packed with step-by-step upcycling tutorials for everything from groovy clothing amd accessories to funky home decor + a healthy dose of body-positive, sustainable style inspiration! I don’t know Sheri in real life, but we have been online friends since she wrote this guest post: Crochet Styling, the Refashionista Way. Sheri is also on AllFreeSewing’s list of Favorite Dressmaking Blogs.
- Most important tools for beginner sewists: A groovy imagination, scissors, seam ripper, hand sewing gear + a basic sewing machine. (Thrift & charity shops always have fab machines just waiting to get back to work!)
- Share one of your beginner-friendly sewing projects: How To Add Sleeves to Just About Anything or The Amazing DIY Dress Sweater: An Upsizing Refashion.
Tips from Mary Beth Temple from Hooked for Life
Follow Mary Beth on Instagram as @hooked4lifellc.
Mary Beth Temple’s sewing super power is alterations and clothing, but she shares some small sewing projects as well on Hooked for Life. I have had the pleasure of knowing Mary Beth, who is a multi-talented crochet, knitting, sewing, and all-other-crafts-I-know-of wonder woman, since 2013. You can read my interview with her — when we first met in real life — in the archives here. She is a talented designer, author, and video maven, and a great friend, too!
- Favorite sewing technique or project book: Fabulous Fat Quarter Aprons of course 🙂
- Most important tools for beginner sewists: A good iron. Ironing as you go is one of the steps that people think they can skip, but pressing out fabrics and pattern pieces can make a huge difference in getting a finished project you can be proud of.
- Share one of your beginner-friendly sewing projects: 10 Minute Messenger Bag with video tutorial via AllFreeSewing.
Follow Laura on Instagram as @laura_sewdifferent.
Laura Casey from Sew Different designs simple, contemporary sewing patterns for women with an emphasis on straightforward language and flattering shapes. None of her patterns include zips – they are all easy-to-wear, pull on styles. Laura is on both AllFreeSewing’s Top 25 Sewing Blogs and its Favorite Dressmaking Blogs lists.
- Most important tools for beginner sewists: Top stitching is my favourite technique – a decorative as well as useful addition to a garment that highlights an interesting style line. For best results and a perfect parallel finish, use a twin needle.
- Share one of your beginner-friendly sewing projects: St Tropez Scoop Neck
Follow Stephanie on Instagram as @swoodsonsays.
Stephanie from Swoodson Says is an unapologetic dabbler! Sewing is her first love; her favorite thing to sew is a stuffed animal but she also makes quilts, clothes, home decor, bags, etc. She also blogs about hand embroidery and crafts, and enjoys sharing lots of “round-ups” with a curated list of patterns or tutorials around a certain theme. I have been a fan of Stephanie’s work for years, and I often include her patterns and tutorials in my own roundups on Underground Crafter!
- Favorite sewing technique or project book: Oliver + S Little Things to Sew: 20 Classic Accessories and Toys for Children by Liesl Gibson – the patterns are well drafted and fun to sew. I show what I’ve sewn from it here.
- Sewing book on your wishlist: Stitched Shibori: Technique, innovation, pattern, design by Jane Callender.
- Most important tools for beginning sewists: Patience! Quality scissors (I like Ginghers!), and a seam ripper are most important. Dull scissors make it hard to cut and it’s easier to fix mistakes with a seam ripper 🙂 Don’t get caught up in buying a bunch of gadgets, just buy quality basics and dive in.
- Share one of your beginner-friendly sewing projects: I have a list of some of my favorite beginner patterns here: 20+ Easy Beginner Sewing Projects.
The common threads (did you like that pun?!) from all the bloggers I talked with are the importance of ironing (my least favorite part of sewing, but a necessary evil), having patience and sense of humor, and getting your hands on a great pair of fabric scissors and a seam ripper. I hope these tips, resources, patterns, and projects will get you inspired to sew more and to enjoy your sewing! If you are still looking for more sewing inspiration and support, I recommend AllFreeSewing, which has loads of great resources for sewists of all levels, including 75+ Sewing Questions Answered: Ultimate FAQs Guide.