Hello and welcome to Beginner Sewing Club! I’m Laura, and I have to say I’m simply crazy about sewing. I started sewing at the tender age of 12. I won’t give my age away, but I will say that back in my day, sewing was more than a hobby, it was a way of life. We sewed to make our own clothing because clothing simply wasn’t massed produced as it is now, and if you wanted something of a particular style, you had to make it yourself.
Sewing is Making a Comeback!
Throughout the years, I’ve sewn all kinds of things, and I eventually became a sewing instructor. My favorite students aren’t the advanced or even expert seamstresses, but it’s the new sewers who really warm my heart and give me such immense passion for what I do, because sewing was really becoming a lost art. However, I’ve noticed that within the past 5 years or so, sewing has made a comeback. The surge in do-it-yourself types of people and shows like Project Runway have really caused sewing to soar. Additionally, after decades of massed produced clothing, more people simply want to define their own style and make their own one-of-a-kind garments, and I love nothing more than introducing people to sewing and helping sewing beginners achieve those goals, hence this site.
Sewing for Beginners
Whether you want to sew your own garments or make elaborate quilts, I’m here to tell you that you can learn how to sew. I believe that anyone can learn how to sew, and my ultimate goal is to help beginner sewers master the sewing basics as soon as possible. Below you’ll find the key steps I give to my students to help them master sewing and go from a novice to a sewing pro in no time.
Start With a Good Beginner Sewing Machine
The sewing machine you choose will make or break your sewing experience. I’ve seen it time and time again; A student purchases a subpar sewing machine, and when problems eventually occur (because they will happen more often than not if you use an inferior machine), they think the problem is them and they’re simply not cut out for sewing. I tell my students that to keep this from happening, simply purchase a tried and true, high-quality, yet affordable, sewing machine. Here are some of my favorites:
Best Brands for Beginner Sewing Machines
In most industries, there are certain brands that stand out and are known for their legacy and quality, and the sewing industry is no different. When it comes to beginner sewing machines, the Big 3 sewing brands, Brother, Janome, and SINGER, are the safest bets for your first machine.
Brother Sewing Machines
Known for their innovative yet affordable sewing machines, Brother International made their 50th millionth home sewing machine since the companies 1908 inception in September of 2012. Brother sewing machines are easy to use and are perfect for sewing beginners. My two favorite brother sewing machines are:
Brother CS6000i Computerized Sewing Machine
This versatile sewing machine packs a lot of value for a great price. Whether you want to sew complex quilts or make your own fashionable clothing, whatever you can dream of, this sewing machine will allow you to do it all. With a simple to use LCD display and an easy, automatic needle threading mechanism, you’ll be ready to sew with the Brother CS6000i straight out of the box. For a thorough review of this robust sewing machine, click here.
Brother XL2600I Sew Advance Sewing Machine
A high-quality, durable sewing machine is hard to find for under $100, but this sewing machine offers that and so much more. With an uber easy bobbin winding system that winds your bobbin for you and a built-in automatic needle threading, the Brother XL2600I couldn’t make sewing any easier for beginners on a strict budget. Find out more information about this ultra affordable sewing machine here.
Janome Sewing Machines
As the manufacturer of the first computerized sewing machine and the first home embroidery sewing machine, you can count on Janome sewing machines for cutting edge technology and optimal performance. My top choices from Janome are:
Janome 11706 3/4 Size Hello Kitty Sewing Machine
Isn’t this a cutie? If the Hello Kitty theme isn’t enough to make you want to sew fun and cutesy things, then its free-arm and portability certainly is. The Janome 11706 3/4 Size Hello Kitty Sewing Machine is designed to sew hard to reach clothing areas and make more moderate to advanced sewing concepts a breeze for beginners. Check out a review of this compact yet heavy-duty sewing machine here.
Janome 2212 Sewing Machine
From buttonholes to quilting, the Janome 2212 Sewing Machine allows beginner sewers to accomplish any of their sewing goals with ease. With a foot pedal controller that works similar to a car, meaning the harder you press the pedal, the faster the sewing machine sews, this high-quality, entry-level sewing machine is perfect beginners and even advanced sewers and can be easily adapted to each sewer’s style and capabilities. Find out what I think about this tried and true sewing machine here.
SINGER Sewing Machines
Since it’s patent on the first practical, efficient, and portable sewing machine, SINGER has remained ahead of the curve in the sewing industry. With their easy-to-use sewing machines, it’s no wonder SINGER has introduced millions of people to sewing and is the most used sewing machine brand around the world. My top choices from SINGER are:
SINGER Heavy Duty Extra-High Sewing Speed Sewing Machine
There is no sewing project you can throw at this machine that it can’t handle. With it’s automatic presser foot pressure control and high presser foot lifter, you can place multiple layers of bulky fabrics under the presser foot and sew them with the same amount of ease as sewing the lightest fabrics. The SINGER Heavy Duty Extra-High Sewing Speed Sewing Machine’s automatic bobbin winding clutch and automatic threader makes this machine perfect for beginners as it saves them time and frustration. Click here for more information on this sturdy sewing machine.
SINGER Fashion Mate Stylist Computerized Free-Arm Sewing Machine
There’s nothing you could ever want to do as a beginner that this sewing machine can’t do. From garments to quilting, to even embroidery, the SINGER Fashion Mate Stylist Sewing Machine is the sewing enthusiast’s dream. As the Consumer Digest “Best Buy” in America’s Best Home Sewing Machines, this elite sewing machine’s features and ease of use makes sewing so much fun and addictive for beginners, you’ll have to pry yourself from it. For more on America’s best home sewing machine, check out this review.
How to Choose the Best Sewing Machine for You
The chart above features some of my favorite and some of my students’ favorite beginner machines, but when it comes to your first sewing machine, you have to find the best sewing machine for YOU. Well how does a beginner know the best sewing machine for them if they’ve never sewn before? Well here are some guidelines to help you find out.
What Type of Sewer are You?
There are all types of machines out there, from computerized sewing machines to mechanical sewing machines that do nothing more than going back and forth, but the most important factor for picking your sewing machine is to determine what type of sewer you want to be? Do you want to sew your own garments and fashions? Is quilting your primary reason for wanting to sew? Do you plan on doing lots of embroidery? Or do you want to do it all? Some sewing machines may be more machine than you actually need, and others may be unable to serve your sewing goals.
Don’t Blow Tons of Money On Your First Machine – Stick to a Budget!
I don’t recommend that my beginner sewing students spend a huge fortune on their first sewing machine. The most expensive machine isn’t always the best, and the more expensive machines are more than likely outside of your capabilities and needs as a beginner. You can find an average starter sewing machine these days that offers a lot of value for less than $200, and these machines can last you for several years, even decades. As you get better at sewing and begin to sew on a frequent basis, then you can trade up your beginner machine for one of the more functional, professional sewing machines, but for now, keep it simple.
Mechanical vs Computerized
Ahh, the mechanical vs. computerized debate. This is a popular one in the sewing community. All I will say is that some beginner sewers find mechanical machines not so much easier to use but more enjoyable to use because they like going through the old timey process and feel of setting up their machine. Others prefer computerized machines for the convenient features, such as automatic threading and automatic thread cutting. As far as durability, contrary to what some people may say, you can easily get a decade of use out of both types with the proper maintenance. At the end of the day, both types of machine have the same basic structure and parts, and both require that you manually place features such as bobbins and thread spools. It all balls down to your personal preference and desire for extra bells and whistles or the bare bone essentials of sewing.
Lightweight vs Heavyweight
If you plan to take sewing courses outside of your home or you plan to transport your sewing machine back and forth to different locations, a lightweight sewing machine is the best choice for obvious reasons. If you only plan to sew within the comforts of your home or one particular location and you prefer a sturdy, solid machine, then a heavyweight sewing machine is the better choice. Either way, both types are durable, and the type you choose ultimately boils down to where and how you’ll be using your machine.
This is a biggie that too many beginner sewers overlook. You want to purchase a sewing machine that has a good warranty. Most of the machines I’ve recommended above have a 25-year limited warranty; if something goes wrong with particular parts, you can be confident that they’ll be fixed or replaced without any additional money out of your pocket!
Five Tips for Sewing Mastery
There is no doubt I think sewing is fulfilling, and it can be so for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be effortless for beginners. As with anything new, there is a threshold or a learning curve you have to work toward until that new thing becomes easy, but with sewing, I believe far too many people give up before they reach that point. So here are the five tips I give my students to lower the barrier to sewing with ease and to motivate them to stick with sewing.
Fill Your Sewing Kit With The Proper Tools
When it comes to sewing, the right tools make all the difference. There are certain tools that are absolute essentials, and in many cases you simply don’t want to go cheap on them because cheap tools are the culprit behind more sewing projects gone wrong than people realize, not an inexperienced sewer. Check out the sewing resources page to discover which tools you need in your sewing kit to smoothly jump over the beginner sewing hurdle.
Keep Your Beginner Sewing Projects Simple
We all aspire to sew complex projects someday, such as a Chanel Jacket, but when you’re starting out, complex projects will do nothing but overwhelm you and increase your likelihood of giving up. I instruct my students to stick with easy sewing projects that are virtually fail-proof so they can finish them in a timely manner, get some quick gratification, and boost their confidence in their sewing abilities. Trust me, even sewing a simple headband without errors is enough to keep you going. Search among our gallery of over 100 easy beginner sewing projects to choose your first sewing project.
Make Sewing Fun
Sure, there are technical things you need to know to master sewing, but at the end of the day, sewing should be fun! I don’t force my students to sew things they have no interest in and you shouldn’t either. If you want to sew baby clothes, then learn to sew baby clothes. If you want to be a quilter, then sew quilts. Still keep it simple as you’re starting out, but I believe in focusing on the types of projects that interest you most to make sewing feel as exciting, liberating, and relaxing as it should be.
Practice, Practice, Practice
This goes without saying, you have to practice at anything to master it. However, what I think is more important than practicing all the time is consistency. So if you can only afford the time to sew Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00pm to 6:00pm, then stick to those times. I believe that consistency in practice is more important than cumulative hours. I know first hand that my students retain more when they stick to a schedule that works for them than going on long sewing binges that ultimately results in them getting burnt out. So as I tell my students, practice makes perfect, and consistency is practice.
Sew By Your Own Rules
As I tell my students, there are many ways to skin a cat and there are many ways to sew a zipper. Sure there are recommended ways to execute certain sewing concepts, but there is no right way, so sew by your own rules! If you find an easier way to sew something that seems unnecessarily complex when explained by someone else, don’t worry about what the instructor says if sewing it your way is easier; even if it’s a seasoned sewer who has given you instructions, even if the instructions are coming from me. As a beginner and hobby sewer, your sewing has to please no one but yourself, so as long as the end result looks good and is structurally sound, stick to your unique methods and trust your own natural sewing abilities.