Sewing Tips For Beginners: How To Use A Sewing Machine For The First Time
Honestly, I’m not necessarily the person who should be writing an article instructing beginners how to do things the right way. Don’t click away just yet! I, just like you, have an interest in sewing. I have been spending some time recently trying to get to know techniques and, well, how to use my sewing machine. When I was old enough to develop an interest in fashion– which trust me, can come young– my grandmother let me help her out with her sewing projects. This grandmother of all grandmothers was a skilled seamstress with literal awards in dressmaking. When I was younger, and even now, I think that’s so cool. I eventually (when I was of an appropriate age) started sitting in her stool in the laundry room sewing away and away and away. I did all the simple stuff. Hemming the edges of things, doing long, methodical stitching, stuff like that. She did all the measuring, mapping, and pinning necessary to turn sheets of fabric into puzzle pieces for a stylish 4D project. I learned that sewing machine long, methodical sewing… I did not, however, learn much else. So, read on if you’d like to hear a little bit of what I’ve retained (and researched, of course) of sewing machine basics and some sewing tips for beginners.
Threading Your Machine
To me, it’s like half the work is making sure everything is threaded correctly. Coming from a beginner trying to get into sewing, it is insanely frustrating to try to finish this out on your own. So, here are some tips for threading everything right so you’re ready to actually get sewing.
First, release the tension from your machine to make sure everything is loosey goosey and ready to thread. Because there are two places your thread is stored on a sewing machine (the bobbin underneath the sewing surface and the normal thread holder). For me, making sure both of these are threaded correctly can be the trickiest part. As for the normal thread, you’ll mostly just take the spool onto the rod and wind your thread through the system of arrows and numbers along the front of your machine (being careful not to skip any steps). As for the underneath bobbin, different machines may work differently, but usually you’ll have to slide up a piece of plastic to then insert and wind the thread.
If you’re a visual learner, here is a great YouTube video that lays out some of the basics for you:
Measuring and Planning
When I first started trying to pick up sewing again, I neglected this very important step. Making sure everything is planned out and measured correctly is a BIG DEAL. If you just wing it, your hems might turn out wobbly, you might make things way too short, small, wonky, whatever. Utilizing all the resources available to sewers looking to make their own clothes is key for perfect fitting projects. Knowing all your measurements, or working with a dress form that is your size can make a world of difference, especially when you don’t want to do any measurements on yourself, sticking pins into fabric laid across your own body.
On top of using measurements or a dress form, other tools that are SO helpful include fabric pencils to help draw out your designs, a cutting/ measuring mat, pins to keep your project in place before the thread goes in, and more. Honestly, the more care and precision you put into your planning and measurements, the more satisfied you’ll probably be with the final product.
Using different settings
One of the reasons starting out with sewing can be so overwhelming is because sewing machines tend to be decorated with tons of symbols for different settings and when you first look at it, these symbols pretty much seem like a foreign language. Fret not, we’ve got you. Different settings often correspond to different types of stitches your machine can do. Knowing when you might need a different kind of stitch can be helpful, but for the most part, understanding that a more complex stitch will likely be more reinforced and a simple one will likely be more basic is a good place to begin. Playing around with the different settings on some scrap material can be a good way get your footing with some of the different settings.
Take it slow
Sewing isn’t one of those art forms that can produce a final product all that quickly most of the time, especially if you’re building a piece from scratch. Don’t let the hours and hours of work you put into your projects discourage you. There is a HUGE learning curve when it comes to sewing, and like pretty much everything, practicing helps. But, don’t try to rush your way into being the best. Remember, this is delicate, methodical work. Taking things slow when you actually get sewing will not only help keep your hemlines straight, but it’ll also give yourself the opportunity to make the project the best you can possibly make it! Don’t pressure yourself into having a finished product in a few hours, sometimes projects can take weeks and months. Trust the process.
We hope these sewing tips for beginners help you out! Have any other tips? Comment them down below!