Learn How to Sew

Starting out in sewing can be tough. A lot of beginners get discouraged when they see lovely patchwork or a well-made dress, and think they’ve got too much to learn. But like any other hobby, it’s really about pacing yourself. Many of those who give up are simply trying to do too much too soon. If you want to learn how to sew, the first rule is to start small.

Think of something small you’d like to make for yourself or someone else—even if it’s an old pair of pants that’s torn at the seams. Starting with the easy stuff helps because you master skills, like straight stitching, that will come in handy when you start making bigger projects. It also keeps you motivated because there’s “instant gratification,” meaning you can see and use your finished product right away.

You’ll also want to work with materials you personally like. Don’t think that just because it’s your first sewing project, it’s no use wasting good fabric on it. On the contrary, working with cheap fabric with an unattractive pattern will make the job boring and kill your motivation to see it through. Even experts agree to this. Invest in good materials that make the job easy and enjoyable.

This also applies to your tools, from your needles and thread to your first sewing machine. You don’t have to splurge, but don’t go for the cheapest brands either. You can save on high-quality gear by renting or buying second-hand. You don’t need all the accessories just yet, but some may come in handy when you’re starting out, such as a seam ripper (since even professionals have to pick out stitches once in a while) and extra bobbins for your working thread.

If you’ve never picked up a needle before, consider taking a sewing class. It doesn’t have to be anything advanced; even one-day sessions can be a lot of help. The point of taking classes is that you learn from the bottom up, often doing things by the book. This will give you some direction in your first few projects and the confidence to experiment later on.

Finally, don’t expect too much—perfectionism has its place, but it’s not in sewing. Remember, you’re starting small, so it’s not that big a loss if you make a lopsided pillowcase. As you go along, you’ll notice that most of the flaws aren’t really that noticeable, and if they are, they often look more quirky than unattractive.

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