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Beginner's Sewing Lessons | Learn How to Sew with Easy Projects & Online Tutorials

Updated on November 7, 2015

Get Started With This Very Handy Hobby

If you haven't sewn before at all, or you are just beginning, then I hope this page will help you out. I've listed lots of basic information which you need to know to get started, as well as advice on buying a sewing machine, what tools you need, how to add zippers and much more besides.

Then there is a list of the best online sewing lessons on the web to guide beginners on everything from sewing hems to understanding the different stitches.

I have also listed some excellent tutorials for items which you can sew after you've learned the basics, then more challenging sewing how-tos after you have had some practice. The best way of learning to sew, after all, is to practice, practice, practice!

Home Decor

There are so many items of home décor which can be sewn yourself - such as quilts, pillows, throws and garlands - which save you money as well as letting you stamp your own personality on your home.
There are so many items of home décor which can be sewn yourself - such as quilts, pillows, throws and garlands - which save you money as well as letting you stamp your own personality on your home. | Source

Basic Sewing Info

A Little Introduction

Sewing is a skill that I think everyone should have basic skills in, because it opens up a whole world of opportunity to you; from making home furnishings like pillows and curtains, to sewing your own clothes which are custom-made for your exact size and preferences. If you can't find something in a shop, you can make it!

If you are worried about budget, then you could learn to hand sew first, which only requires only a needle and thread. Hand-sewing is quite a lot slower than machine-sewing however, but is a good choice for fixing rips and tears or for small sewing jobs like sewing on name tags or buttons.

Nowadays you can actually find a basic sewing machine for a relatively low price ($80 is a good starting price). Basic machines allows you to sew with the most popular types of stitches - such as straight and zig-zag - and make sewing much quicker and easier, which would make a much wider variety of projects available for you to try.

At the other end of the price scale are heavy duty machines that can handle thicker materials and provide a huge array of stitches, tools and extras. You don't need to worry about these unless you become very experienced and perhaps want to sell your sewn goods.

Sergers (also called overlockers) are different to sewing machines and are used by professional or very keen sewers to give a professional finish to their products (especially on clothes). A serger cuts fabric at the same time as encasing the newly-cut edge in stitching ('overcasting') in order to finish it neatly and stop the material from fraying. You'll see this on the edges of sewn products you buy in shops. They are relatively expensive so I wouldn't worry about these if you are a beginner.

Seam allowance: When the edges of 2 pieces of fabric are sewn together they form a seam. The distance between the sewn line of stitches and the edge of the fabric pieces is the seam allowance. It's normally between 1/4" and 5/8".

- Interfacing: this is a material that is either sewn or ironed onto the back of a fabric is order to stiffen or add body to fabric, prevent stretchy fabrics from stretching out of shape, or add extra strength where required. Interfacing is used in many sewn products such as tote bags and shirt collars, and it is available in different weights and stiffnesses.

- Batting: this is a sheet of fibers which is usually sandwiched between two outer layers of fabric to add thickness and warmth - such as in a quilt. Batting is essential for quilting, and the 3 layers (fabric, batting, fabric) are sewn together all over (in parallel lines or more irregular patterns) to produce the traditional quilted effect. Batting can also be used in other products apart from quilts to give a padded effect.

Neither interfacing or batting is seen anywhere on the finished product - it's all hidden away.

Affordable Brother Sewing Machine

This machine is a great entry sewing machine at a good price; it lets you achieve the basic stitches that you need to complete most projects, and (judging by the excellent reviews) it is reliable too.

Patchwork Curtains


Cuddly Toys


Helpful Sewing Videos

Sewing Machine Feet


There are many sewing machine feet available and they can be quite intimidating, however most of the time you will only need to use one or two of these; usually the zig-zag foot and the straight stitch foot. If you move onto different kinds of techniques you will need other feet such as the 1/4" quilting foot for making quilts, the buttonhole foot for sewing on buttons, the zipper foot for sewing on zippers, a piping foot for adding a piped edge etc.

Bicycle Lunch Bag

Click here to see the tutorial for this cute bag.

Photo from Lenore Edman.

Handmade Pillows

Pillows are an ideal starter project.
Pillows are an ideal starter project. | Source

How to Sew an Envelope Pillowcase


This is the easiest style of pillow you can make, and is often a beginner's first project. Enjoy!

What You Will Need:

* A square pillow form; I will use a 18" square pillow form in this tutorial as the example.

* Fabric; For beginners I would recommend a plain cotton fabric which is medium weight - nothing too thick.

The size of fabric you require will be: (width of pillow form) x ((2 x width of pillow form) + 4"). So if you're using an 18" square pillow form, the piece of fabric will need to be 18" x 40". Simple!

* Sewing machine loaded with a thread that matches your fabric.

* Iron & ironing board

* Rotary cutter and cutting mat

* Scissors

* Ruler

* Sewing pins

Be sure to pre-wash your fabric before you start so it doesn't shrink at a later stage

- I'll assume you have cut out the size of fabric you require (see above if not), so the first step is to hem the short sides (labelled 1 and 2 on the diagram).

To do this, fold 1/4" of each of the edges over onto the wrong (reverse) side of the fabric. Iron the folds in place. Then fold each edge over by 1/4" again, and iron the fold. This will mean that the raw edge will be enclosed by the hem, making it neat and tidy and stopping it from fraying.

- Pin the folds in place and sew a straight stitch along each edge to secure the hems.

- Now lay the fabric flat on a table, right side up with one of the long edges nearest you.

- Fold the hemmed edges inwards so that one overlaps the other. Adjust how these sides are folded over until the fabric measures 18" across in total. The overlapping edge should lie further towards one side than the other, rather than being central, and the sides should overlap by approx. 3". As a guide, one side of the fabric should be around 11" wide and the other around 7" wide as you view it. It doesn't need to be exact.

- At this point you should have an 18" square shape. Pin the open edges in place.

- Sew along the pinned sides with a straight stitch and 1/2" seam allowance. You may notice that this will mean that the 16" pillow form will need to fit into a 15" gap; this is correct, and the snug fit will produce a better looking pillow :)

- Turn it the right side out now and insert the pillow form.

- Finished!

More Sewing Tutorials

Bias Tape Maker

Bias tape is used quite often in sewing, as either a way of finishing an edge or seam neatly, or as embellishment. If you find you make your own bias tape quite often, a machine will really help you to make the job quicker and more efficient:

You Will Be Addicted.... fabric! I have already hoarded two boxes full myself since buying a sewing machine - whoops! fabric! I have already hoarded two boxes full myself since buying a sewing machine - whoops! | Source


A sewer's best friend.
A sewer's best friend. | Source

Zipper Tutorials, Buttonholes and Other Useful Tips

Sewing closures consist of zippers, buttons and fasteners.

- Zippers can be plastic or metal and can be found in a range of colours and lengths. Zippers come in a range of styles including invisible (where only the tag is showing), jean zippers (usually brass and are more heavy duty), and separating zippers for things like jackets where the zipper halves separate completely. All-purpose zippers are used for most sewing projects.

- Fasteners are often hidden within the sewn item and examples include Velcro, magnetic snaps, toggles, hook and eyes, and press studs. There is a variety of these notions to choose from depending on what you want them to do and how strong they have to be.

- Buttons obviously are attached to one piece of fabric and a buttonhole is sewn into the other piece of fabric which needs to be connected. Buttons are on show, so different decorative styles are available. Buttons can be pretty much any material, and can even be covered in the same fabric as the sewn item to produce a professional finish.



Handmade Bias Binding

This photo shows how neatly bias binding finishes edges on different fabric creations such as quilts and purses.
This photo shows how neatly bias binding finishes edges on different fabric creations such as quilts and purses. | Source


Measure Twice, Cut Once!

Can you sew?

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Please Leave a Comment!

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    • thebiologyofleah profile image

      Leah Kennedy-Jangraw 

      21 months ago from Massachusetts

      Wow what a great resource for sewing! Thank you. I am a novice and I really want to get better, will definitely be checking out a lot of the resources you provided here.

    • poetryman6969 profile image


      4 years ago

      The patchwork curtains are clever.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very nice Lens! There are some projects for which I'm going to have to learn to sew. This Lens is a great resource. Thanks :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      back again...I love those patchwork curtains....I think I shall make myself a set for my craft room!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      5 years ago from Colorado

      I haven't sewn for years, but recently bought a new sewing machine. Looking forward to getting back in the saddle. Going to need a little refresher, so these resources are especially helpful. Cute projects. I see several I would enjoy making.

    • knitstricken profile image


      6 years ago

      Doubly impressed with the two sewing lenses I've visited of yours today, so here's a twin SquidAngel blessing to pair with the blessing I just gave your "Sew Your Own Clothing" Lens. Two in one day? Why not? This lens certainly deserves it! Thank you for inspiring me to be brave and try to learn to use the sewing machine I bought over twenty years ago! :o) SquidAngel blessed!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Good one

    • mandeep01 profile image

      Mandeep K Grewal 

      6 years ago from San Lorenzo, Ca

      Great lens! Lots of good information about sewing. I had fun reading about it. And it was like wow for me.

    • Cheryl  D Thomas profile image

      Cheryl D Thomas 

      6 years ago

      great lens. I'm saving this, could really use a lot of the information you included!!!

    • cakeandpie profile image


      6 years ago

      fabulous lens!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • viryabo2 profile image


      6 years ago

      Awesome and detailed lens Studentz.

      I so love the soft cuddly toys.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      hi, the link - Sewing Machine Setup & Getting Started, Tools to Get Started - is incorrect. it links to a young girl talking about a backpack she made.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I really like the bicycle lunch bag idea--- very creative! :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      awesome lens! I am featuring this in my blog post today.

    • Aster56 profile image


      7 years ago

      Very good lens .

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I always use these tips when I sew... It helps me alot

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent information. Thanks for taking the time and effort to put all of this together for us. It's extremely helpful! Now I can teach myself how to sew!

    • jenniferteacher1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for this! BTW that quilt at the top is beautiful!

    • jenniferteacher1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for this! BTW that quilt at the top is beautiful!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      So good ideas for learner. thanks!!!


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good info for the beginner sewer.

    • GreenfireWiseWo profile image


      7 years ago

      Really helpful and informative - thank you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      nice one. thanks!


      get the perfect DIY conservatory to improve the look and feel of your home!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm hoping to give sewing a try soon, so I'll be checking out some of these links. Thanks for a great lens!

    • squid-janices7 profile image


      8 years ago

      GREAT sewing videos and this lens has an amazing amount of information. My neighbor was having a garage sale about 10 years ago and I saw that she was selling an almost new machine for $20 so I bought it even though I had no idea how to use it. Bought a book, taught myself how to sew, and made lots of stuff - curtains, pillows, place mats, clothes, etc. I love it!

    • Lemming13 profile image


      8 years ago

      Very useful lens; blessed!


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