How to get started: tips and tricks for sewing for Beginners

Are you eager to dive into the world of sewing but feeling overwhelmed by where to begin? Whether you’re drawn to the idea of crafting your own garments, home decor, or simply enjoy the creative process, sewing can be a fulfilling and enjoyable hobby.

Most people think that a sewing machine runs completely by itself and does not require any additional knowledge to sew with it. The fact that this is not true is immediately apparent the first time you use it.

The sewing machine only supports sewing but does not replace the main part of the work. Disappointment spreads quickly and the desire to sew disappears again.

But that doesn’t have to happen – because with our guides you can get comprehensive information in advance.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through some essential tips and tricks to help beginners kickstart their sewing journey with confidence.

  1. Create the right atmosphere
  2. Understand the materials
  3. sew corners
  4. Sew with fine fabrics
  5. Automatic settings make handling easier
  6. Practice creates masters
  7. Conclusion on handling the sewing machine

Create the Right Atmosphere:
Create the Right Atmosphere:

Setting up a designated sewing area in your home is essential for fostering creativity and productivity. Here are some detailed steps to help you create the perfect sewing environment:

  1. Choose the Right Location: Select a quiet and well-lit area in your home where you can set up your sewing space. Consider factors like natural light, ventilation, and proximity to power outlets. Ideally, choose a room or corner with minimal distractions to help you focus on your sewing projects.
  2. Invest in Proper Lighting: Adequate lighting is crucial for sewing, as it helps you see your stitches clearly and reduces eye strain. Consider installing overhead lights or task lamps with adjustable arms to direct light onto your work area. Natural light is also beneficial, so position your sewing machine near a window if possible.
  3. Organize Your Workspace: Keep your sewing area tidy and clutter-free to maximize efficiency and productivity. Invest in storage solutions like shelves, bins, and drawers to keep your tools, fabrics, and notions organized and easily accessible. Labeling containers and drawers can help you find items quickly during sewing sessions.
  4. Arrange Your Sewing Machine and Tools: Position your sewing machine on a sturdy table or sewing cabinet at a comfortable height for sewing. Ensure that there is enough space around the machine for maneuvering fabric and working comfortably. Keep essential tools like scissors, pins, measuring tape, and seam ripper within arm’s reach for convenience.
  5. Personalize Your Space: Add personal touches to your sewing area to make it feel welcoming and inspiring. Decorate with artwork, photos, or motivational quotes that resonate with your creative spirit. Incorporate elements like potted plants, fabric swatches, or handmade decorations to infuse your space with personality and charm.

Understand the materials

Familiarizing yourself with different types of fabrics and their properties is essential for successful sewing projects. Here’s a detailed guide to help you understand fabrics better:

  1. Natural Fabrics:

    • Cotton: Cotton is a versatile and breathable fabric that is easy to sew and suitable for a wide range of projects, including garments, quilts, and home decor. It comes in various weights and finishes, from lightweight voile to heavyweight canvas.
    • Linen: Linen is a durable and absorbent fabric with a distinctive texture and natural wrinkles. It is ideal for warm-weather garments, table linens, and home furnishings.
    • Silk: Silk is a luxurious and delicate fabric known for its smooth texture and lustrous sheen. It is often used for eveningwear, lingerie, and decorative accents like pillows and curtains.
  2. Synthetic Fabrics:

    • Polyester: Polyester is a synthetic fabric that is durable, wrinkle-resistant, and easy to care for. It is commonly used for activewear, outerwear, and home textiles.
    • Nylon: Nylon is a lightweight and strong synthetic fabric with excellent elasticity and resistance to abrasion. It is often used for swimwear, lingerie, and outdoor gear.
  3. Blended Fabrics:

    • Cotton-Polyester Blend: A blend of cotton and polyester combines the natural breathability of cotton with the durability and wrinkle resistance of polyester. It is commonly used for casual clothing, bed sheets, and upholstery.
    • Linen-Cotton Blend: A blend of linen and cotton combines the softness of cotton with the texture and drape of linen. It is ideal for lightweight garments, curtains, and tablecloths.
  4. Specialty Fabrics:

    • Denim: Denim is a sturdy cotton twill fabric commonly used for jeans, jackets, and skirts. It is characterized by its diagonal weave and indigo dye.
    • Velvet: Velvet is a luxurious and plush fabric with a soft pile surface. It is often used for formalwear, upholstery, and decorative accents.
  5. Considerations for Choosing Fabrics:

    • Stretch: Some fabrics have stretch properties, which are ideal for garments that require ease of movement, such as activewear and knitwear. Fabrics like jersey, spandex, and elastane have inherent stretch.
    • Thickness: Consider the thickness or weight of the fabric when choosing materials for your projects. Lightweight fabrics like chiffon and organza are suitable for delicate garments, while heavyweight fabrics like denim and wool are ideal for outerwear and upholstery.
    • Care Instructions: Check the care instructions on fabric labels to ensure that the fabric is compatible with your project requirements. Some fabrics may require special care, such as dry cleaning or gentle washing.

Sewing Corners:

Mastering corners is a crucial skill in sewing, as it can significantly impact the overall appearance and quality of your finished projects. Whether you’re sewing garments, quilts, or home decor items, neatly sewn corners contribute to a polished and professional look. Here’s a detailed guide to help you sew corners accurately:

  1. Preparation:
    • Before sewing your corner, mark the point where you want the corner to begin and end on your fabric. You can use fabric chalk, a disappearing ink pen, or adhesive tape to mark the corners accurately.
    • If sewing a right-angle corner, ensure that the two fabric edges meet precisely at a 90-degree angle. Use pins or clips to hold the fabric layers together securely.
  2. Adjusting Stitch Length:
    • To sew corners neatly, consider adjusting your stitch length. Shorten the stitch length slightly as you approach the corner to create sharper and more defined corners.
    • Experiment with different stitch lengths to find the optimal setting for your fabric and project. Generally, a stitch length of around 2.0 to 2.5mm works well for sewing corners.
  3. Sewing Technique:
    • As you approach the marked corner, reduce the speed of your sewing machine and approach the corner slowly and carefully.
    • When you reach the corner point, stop with the needle down in the fabric to secure the position. Lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric 90 degrees to turn the corner.
    • Lower the presser foot back down and continue sewing along the next edge of the fabric. Ensure that the fabric remains flat and taut as you sew around the corner to prevent puckering or distortion.
    • Repeat this process for each corner of your project, adjusting your stitch length and sewing speed as needed to achieve crisp and precise corners.
  4. Finishing:
    • Once you’ve sewn around all the corners of your project, backstitch or lock your stitches at the end to secure them in place.
    • Trim any excess thread tails and remove any temporary markings or adhesive tape from the fabric.
    • Press the sewn corners with a hot iron to flatten and set the stitches, ensuring a neat and professional finish.

Sew with fine fabrics

Sewing with Fine Fabrics:

Fine fabrics, such as silk, satin, chiffon, and lace, require special care and attention when sewing due to their delicate nature. While working with these fabrics can be challenging, the results are often stunning, making it worth the effort. Here are some detailed tips for sewing with fine fabrics:

  1. Use Quality Tools:
    • Invest in high-quality sewing tools and equipment specifically designed for fine fabrics. A sharp rotary cutter or fabric scissors will ensure clean and precise cuts without snagging or fraying the fabric.
    • Choose fine sewing needles with a smaller size and sharp point to minimize damage to the delicate fibers of the fabric. Use a needle size appropriate for the weight and thickness of the fabric you’re sewing.
  2. Adjust Stitch Length and Tension:
    • When sewing fine fabrics, adjust your sewing machine’s stitch length and tension to accommodate the delicate nature of the fabric.
    • Use a shorter stitch length (around 1.5mm) to create smaller, more secure stitches that will prevent puckering and distortion of the fabric.
    • Reduce the thread tension slightly to prevent the fabric from being pulled or stretched during sewing. Test the tension settings on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure optimal results.
  3. Use Tissue Paper for Stability:
    • To provide additional stability when sewing fine fabrics, consider using tissue paper as a backing or stabilizer.
    • Place a layer of tissue paper underneath the fabric before sewing to help prevent the fabric from shifting or stretching. Tear away the tissue paper after sewing to reveal smooth and even stitches.
  4. Handling and Pressing:
    • Handle fine fabrics with care to avoid stretching, pulling, or snagging the delicate fibers. Use gentle pressure when guiding the fabric through the sewing machine to prevent distortion.
    • When pressing fine fabrics, use a low to medium heat setting on your iron and a pressing cloth to protect the fabric from heat damage and shine.
    • Press seams gently and avoid pressing too hard or using steam, as this can cause the fabric to become misshapen or damaged.
  5. Practice Patience and Precision:
    • Sewing with fine fabrics requires patience, precision, and attention to detail. Take your time and sew slowly and carefully to achieve the best results.
    • Practice sewing techniques such as staystitching, understitching, and French seams to create clean and professional-looking seams on fine fabrics.
    • Don’t be discouraged by initial challenges or mistakes. With practice and experience, you’ll develop the skills and confidence to tackle more complex projects with fine fabrics.

By following these tips and techniques, you’ll be able to sew with fine fabrics confidently and achieve beautiful results in your sewing projects. Remember to take your time, practice regularly, and enjoy the process of working with these luxurious materials.

Related: Learning to Sew with ‘Sewing For Dummies’

Automatic settings make handling easier

Computerized sewing machines offer convenience and efficiency with their automatic settings and features. While they may come at a higher price point compared to mechanical machines, their advanced capabilities can streamline the sewing process and provide valuable assistance, especially for beginners. Here’s a detailed look at how automatic settings make handling easier:

  1. Stitch Length and Width Adjustment:
    • One of the key features of computerized sewing machines is their ability to adjust stitch length and width automatically. This means you can select a stitch pattern and let the machine determine the optimal settings for stitch length and width based on the fabric and thread you’re using.
    • Automatic stitch length and width adjustment eliminates the need for manual adjustments and guesswork, ensuring consistent and precise stitching with every project.
    • Beginners benefit from automatic settings as they can focus on learning sewing techniques and building skills without having to worry about fine-tuning stitch settings.
  2. Built-in Stitch Selection:
    • Computerized sewing machines come with a wide range of built-in stitch patterns and designs, including decorative stitches, buttonholes, and quilting stitches.
    • With the touch of a button or a turn of a dial, you can easily select the desired stitch pattern from the machine’s menu or LCD screen.
    • Built-in stitch selection simplifies the sewing process and allows you to experiment with different stitch patterns and designs to enhance your projects.
  3. Speed Control:
    • Many computerized sewing machines offer speed control features that allow you to adjust the sewing speed to match your skill level and comfort level.
    • Beginners can start sewing at a slower speed to practice stitching accuracy and
photo: Amazon

Practice creates masters

Sewing, like any other skill, requires consistent practice and patience to master. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced sewist, dedicating time to regular practice sessions is essential for honing your skills and improving your technique. Here’s a detailed guide on how to approach practice in sewing:

  1. Start with Simple Projects:
    • If you’re new to sewing, begin with simple projects that are suitable for beginners, such as pillow covers, tote bags, or basic garments like skirts or pajama pants.
    • Choose projects that involve fundamental sewing techniques like straight stitching, seam finishing, and hemming. These projects will help you build a strong foundation of sewing skills.
  2. Practice Basic Techniques:
    • Focus on mastering basic sewing techniques before moving on to more advanced projects. Practice stitching straight seams, sewing curves, and sewing corners accurately.
    • Experiment with different stitch lengths, tensions, and sewing machine settings to understand how they affect the quality of your stitches.
  3. Gradually Increase Complexity:
    • As you gain confidence and proficiency, gradually challenge yourself with more complex projects that incorporate new techniques and skills.
    • Try sewing garments with features like darts, pleats, gathers, and zippers, or explore techniques like appliqué, quilting, and pattern drafting.
  4. Learn from Mistakes:
    • Embrace mistakes as valuable learning opportunities rather than failures. Analyze what went wrong, identify areas for improvement, and use your mistakes to refine your skills.
    • Keep a sewing journal or notebook to document your projects, techniques, and lessons learned. Write down any challenges you encountered and how you addressed them, as well as tips and tricks you discover along the way.
  5. Celebrate Progress:
    • Celebrate your progress and accomplishments, no matter how small. Recognize the improvements you’ve made and the skills you’ve developed through consistent practice.
    • Share your sewing projects with friends, family, or online sewing communities to receive feedback, encouragement, and inspiration.

Under stitching

Understitching is a sewing technique used to create a professional-looking finish on garment facings, linings, and other enclosed seams. By understitching, you can prevent facings from rolling outwards and ensure that edges lie flat and crisp. Here’s a detailed explanation of how to understitch effectively:

  1. Prepare Your Fabric:
    • Before understitching, sew the seam as instructed in your sewing pattern, joining the facing to the garment fabric with right sides together.
    • Trim and grade seam allowances to reduce bulk, especially if working with thicker fabrics or multiple layers.
  2. Press the Seam:
    • Press the seam allowances towards the facing, away from the garment fabric. Use a steam iron to set the seam and create a crisp edge.
  3. Stitching:
    • With the facing side up, position the fabric under the presser foot of your sewing machine. Align the seam line with the edge of the facing, ensuring that the seam allowances are tucked underneath.
    • Select a straight stitch on your sewing machine and adjust the stitch length as needed. Sew close to the edge of the facing, approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch away, ensuring that you catch the seam allowances underneath.
    • Sew the entire length of the facing, maintaining an even distance from the edge and keeping the fabric flat and smooth as you stitch.
  4. Finishing:
    • After understitching, press the facing and seam allowances towards the inside of the garment. Use a steam iron to set the stitches and create a neat and professional finish.
    • If desired, topstitch along the edge of the facing to further secure the seam and add decorative detail.

Specialty Needles

Specialty needles play a crucial role in achieving professional-quality sewing results, particularly when working with specific fabrics or threads. Understanding the purpose and application of each type of specialty needle can significantly enhance your sewing experience. Let’s delve deeper into the world of specialty needles:

  1. Embroidery Needles:
    • Designed specifically for machine embroidery, these needles feature a larger eye to accommodate thicker embroidery threads.
    • The sharp point allows for precise stitching on densely woven fabrics or multiple layers of stabilizer.
    • Ideal for creating intricate designs and decorative stitching on a variety of fabrics, from cotton to canvas.
  2. Metallic Needles:
    • Tailored for sewing with metallic or specialty threads, metallic needles are engineered to minimize thread breakage and shredding.
    • They feature an elongated eye and a larger groove to accommodate the unique characteristics of metallic threads.
    • Perfect for adding shimmering accents to garments, quilts, or accessories without compromising on stitch quality.
  3. Top-Stitch Needles:
    • Characterized by their extra sharp point and elongated eye, top-stitch needles are designed for visible topstitching and decorative seams.
    • The deeper groove allows for smooth stitching with thicker threads or multiple strands, enhancing the overall aesthetic of the project.
    • Ideal for creating eye-catching details on garments, bags, or home decor items, adding a professional touch to your sewing projects.


In conclusion, mastering the art of sewing requires dedication, practice, and a willingness to learn and grow. By creating a conducive environment, understanding materials, and utilizing specialized techniques and tools, you can elevate your sewing projects to new heights of quality and craftsmanship.

Setting up a designated sewing area in your home, well-lit and organized, will inspire creativity and make the sewing process more enjoyable. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with different fabrics and their properties empowers you to make informed choices and achieve better results in your projects.

As you embark on your sewing journey, remember that practice is key to mastery. Start with simple projects and gradually challenge yourself with more complex ones. Embrace mistakes as learning opportunities and celebrate your progress along the way.

Techniques like understitching and investing in specialty needles contribute to the professional finish of your garments and ensure smoother stitching with different fabrics and threads. By honing your skills in these areas, you can create sewing projects that are not only beautiful but also durable and long-lasting.

In essence, sewing is a rewarding and fulfilling pursuit that allows you to express your creativity and bring your ideas to life. With patience, perseverance, and a commitment to continuous improvement, you’ll become a masterful sewist capable of creating stunning garments, accessories, and home decor items that reflect your unique style and craftsmanship. So, embrace the journey, enjoy the process, and let your creativity soar through the stitches of your sewing machine.