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Topic: So you want to learn how to sew on a machine? A beginners checklist  (Read 19767 times)
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SpottedFrog
« on: May 15, 2008 08:07:33 AM »

I find myself repeating the same thing over & over, so I've cleaned it up & embelished it a little & it's here for the taking Smiley

You want to learn how to sew on a machine? Great! Once you get through the initial learning phases it's pretty easy. Sewing on a machine is very much like learning to drive, at first it can seem very daunting because there is so many different things to learn, some dealing with the machine, the machine itself, some seemingly having nothing at all to do with the machine (cutting, pattern reading, etc). Just like adjusting your seat and mirrors & finding the wiper and light switches before you pull out onto the road, getting to know the machine itself is the first step in sewing. Working from patterns is more akin to learning all the laws of the road, merging, yeilding, what to do in an emergency- all terms that you need to understand the proper definitions in order to carry them out correctly.

Actually the first thing I reccomend doing is just grabbing some scrap fabric & playing with the machine.  If it's been sitting it likely needs to be cleaned & oiled, break out the manual & look up the tutes for both those functions & do 'em. Grab that scrap and go through all the things the machine has, try out all the stitches, see what the feet do, make a button hole, whatever. Spend a day with just the machine.

Now your first real sewn item, a pillow. Either get a pattern or follow a tute, there are lots to be had out there, find something simple in a fabric you really like. Next, I reccomend aprons as the next 'non-sized thing but involves more than a square' project (and they are useful!). Use a pattern if possible to get familiar with them. Terms, phrases & things like cutting layouts are going to follow the same style whether you are making dresses or chair cushions.

Next, get a measuring tape & paper to make notes, find a willing accomplice and practice measuring them, and get them to help you measure yourself. This is a BIG part of sewing is knowing your measurements so you can find the right pattern. Go just look at patterns (not the picture book), open a drawer & grab any ol' anything & read it. Using that, figure out what pattern size you are. Read the fabric requirements, read the notions list, write down any terms or phrases you don't understand. Grab a few patterns you like & read them, too, even fancy or complicated looking things (just looking, remember?). Go home & look up the stuff you took notes on. Yes, I'm telling you to do homework Smiley But it's worthwhile, I promise.

Now you are ready to go pick a simple pattern & try it.
Hit the store for an "Easy" or "beginner" pattern. Wraps and elastic waist items are obviously more forgiving than fiited garments requiring zippers.

I know this looks like a six week course 'just' for a simple dress, but sewing has a much larger learning curve than most realize. If you are off school & work (i.e. have all day free for a significant period of time), you could easily go through all my reccomendations in a week and have a dress for Saturday night.

Buying a machine:  http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=214760.0
Following patterns: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=234650.0
Cutting: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=222004.10
And of course the Sewing Machine Q & A stickied at the top of this forum!!

Good luck and Happy Sewing Smiley
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Aislynn
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« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2008 02:33:45 PM »

This ought to be stickied at the top of the forum!  You are my hero, Penlowe, and this is why.
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angeltreats
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2008 03:19:43 PM »

What a great post, Penlowe!

I just wanted to add - when I took a class, at the very start our teacher had us sew on lines drawn on sheets of paper, with the machine not threaded.  It was very helpful to learn to sew in a straight line following seam guides, to be able to follow smooth curves etc.
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SpottedFrog
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2008 04:42:09 PM »

Good point Angeltreats! I remember doing spiralss & squares as practice as a kid. I'll add that in but not this second.
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Aislynn
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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2008 07:14:27 PM »

Oh, something else that people first approaching patterns get freaked out about: the sizing differences.  It's not only disheartening, but frustrating, trying to find your RTW 10 in a pattern line-up and end up halfway between a 16 and an 18.  Being prepared helps.
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2008 08:34:43 AM »

Good point Angeltreats! I remember doing spiralss & squares as practice as a kid. I'll add that in but not this second.
I did that too! Now I know how to ease my daughter into sewing with a machine. How old is a good age? She is 8 and very intelligent...but very proud and doesn't take direction well.
I love that I now have the instructions written down and it isn't just something Mom is saying.
She is one of those who loves structure...she will see you as the world's sewing expert who has shown the way.
You are wonderful for writing all of this out.
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SpottedFrog
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2008 11:32:34 AM »

Quote
...but very proud and doesn't take direction well.
I have one of those too, she's more likely to want to learn to sew than my older daughter too... sigh.
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pino_i
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2008 07:38:10 PM »

i love the direction you have given me. i just started sewing and the day i got my very first sewing macchine (on 7/5/08) i started making pillows. i made 4 pillows for my front living room couch and now I'm stumped. i thought f making an apron but didn't know. well now i know. thank you so much  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
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dpbluec
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2008 01:31:30 PM »

One thing my teacher had us do was thread, then sew on scrap - over and over again, with a different stitch type and length each time.  Got used to the buttons and dials and threading with ease really quickly.

Great list by the way - wish I had that a year ago LOL
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KimberlyD
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2008 07:27:03 AM »

Thank you, This is just what i needed!
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kurtthesnail
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2008 10:47:52 AM »

This is perfect! Thank you for the much needed direction! Smiley
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Kitten1318
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2008 07:21:56 PM »

I am new to sewing and just got machine yesterday.  It is still in the box because I am VERY intimidated.  Thank you for this list, I now know where to start!
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New to it all...
44sunsets
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2008 09:22:02 PM »

Thank you for this post!  I just picked up a vintage Singer, and was sort of at a loss for what to do first.  I'll definitely spend some time with the machine now and make some fit-free items before starting a pattern.

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Sew-Classic
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« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2008 03:26:45 PM »

Below is a link to a PDF from Threads magazine call "Drivers' Ed for Sewing Machines".  I've given a copy of it to every new sewist I know.

http://www.taunton.com/promotions/pdf/Threads_DriversEd.pdf
 
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Jenny
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Michelle Creates
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2009 10:40:11 AM »

This is VALUABLE info! I got a machine as a gift for my bday a couple days ago. I'm nervous, to say the least. I'm off to the store now to buy some material and try to make some pillows!!  Thank you!!
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tcornell
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« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2009 10:02:35 PM »

I just got my first machine today! I am soooo excited! Thank you for all the valuable info! It's all high-tech, computerized, and VERY intimidating!
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Tracy Cornell of Braggin' Rights!
singermachines
« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2009 04:27:27 PM »

Thank you.  It's nice to have a simple place to start! I will have a question soon about finishing my first "train wreck".  I only know how to do basic sewing by hand as taught by the Marine Corps, but I would like to learn machines now that I am retired and want a zero stress environment! lol
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cchellez
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« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2009 05:47:18 AM »

This thread will quite possibly save me a ton of time and heartache. Thank you.

I bought my first sewing machine this morning at a yard sale for $20. It doesn't have a manual but I'm pretty sure I can find one online.

 Cheesy
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QuantamSinger
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2009 12:02:37 PM »

I find myself repeating the same thing over & over, so I've cleaned it up & embelished it a little & it's here for the taking Smiley

You want to learn how to sew on a machine? Great! Once you get through the initial learning phases it's pretty easy. Sewing on a machine is very much like learning to drive, at first it can seem very daunting because there is so many different things to learn, some dealing with the machine, the machine itself, some seemingly having nothing at all to do with the machine (cutting, pattern reading, etc). Just like adjusting your seat and mirrors & finding the wiper and light switches before you pull out onto the road, getting to know the machine itself is the first step in sewing. Working from patterns is more akin to learning all the laws of the road, merging, yeilding, what to do in an emergency- all terms that you need to understand the proper definitions in order to carry them out correctly.

Actually the first thing I reccomend doing is just grabbing some scrap fabric & playing with the machine.  If it's been sitting it likely needs to be cleaned & oiled, break out the manual & look up the tutes for both those functions & do 'em. Grab that scrap and go through all the things the machine has, try out all the stitches, see what the feet do, make a button hole, whatever. Spend a day with just the machine.

Now your first real sewn item, a pillow. Either get a pattern or follow a tute, there are lots to be had out there, find something simple in a fabric you really like. Next, I reccomend aprons as the next 'non-sized thing but involves more than a square' project (and they are useful!). Use a pattern if possible to get familiar with them. Terms, phrases & things like cutting layouts are going to follow the same style whether you are making dresses or chair cushions.

Next, get a measuring tape & paper to make notes, find a willing accomplice and practice measuring them, and get them to help you measure yourself. This is a BIG part of sewing is knowing your measurements so you can find the right pattern. Go just look at patterns (not the picture book), open a drawer & grab any ol' anything & read it. Using that, figure out what pattern size you are. Read the fabric requirements, read the notions list, write down any terms or phrases you don't understand. Grab a few patterns you like & read them, too, even fancy or complicated looking things (just looking, remember?). Go home & look up the stuff you took notes on. Yes, I'm telling you to do homework Smiley But it's worthwhile, I promise.

Now you are ready to go pick a simple pattern & try it.
Hit the store for an "Easy" or "beginner" pattern. Wraps and elastic waist items are obviously more forgiving than fiited garments requiring zippers.

I know this looks like a six week course 'just' for a simple dress, but sewing has a much larger learning curve than most realize. If you are off school & work (i.e. have all day free for a significant period of time), you could easily go through all my reccomendations in a week and have a dress for Saturday night.

Buying a machine:  http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=214760.0
Following patterns: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=234650.0
Cutting: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=222004.10
And of course the Sewing Machine Q & A stickied at the top of this forum!!

Good luck and Happy Sewing Smiley







Thank you I'm new here and this is much appreciated!
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joygoddess
« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2009 05:58:02 PM »

Just came across this as I was browsing around. This is going to be SO helpful, as I am thinking about getting into sewing and have been researching machines and all kinds of tips online for several days now. Thank you so much! I'm very much looking forward to expanding my crafty horizons.  Grin
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StarrySkies1
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2010 04:32:19 PM »

Hi SpottedFrog,
I just wanted to thank you for the your insight and information that you are sharing with us. This is my first time on the Craftster website/forum. I checked out the first link which gives the car analogy (I like that!) I know this was posted in ''07 but hopefully you or someone else will spot it.

Let me share a little bit about my interest in sewing. I have only ever really sewed once before and that was when I was in sixth grade and I am now 25. I remember being excited to learn but when it actually came time to use the machine I was afraid of the machine''s needle stabbing my fingers or something. I did like hand sewing some stitches and the satisfaction of completing the (one) project I got to do.

Fast forward and I''m still curious and hoping to give sewing another try. I really, really want to purchase a machine and then, hopefully, take a class. I love to watch the red carpet pre shows and browse through fashion mags like InStyle and Vogue for beautiful dresses and dream of making gowns (or even clothes of my own). Ok. Let''s go with the car analogy. I''m kind of a luxury girl so the Mercedes Benz interests me (even though I hear Lexus is better and the high end brand of Toyota''s).

I want something that is portable (it seems that sewing center and anyone that teaches request  or suggest this). I really, really want to get something brand new but if I have to I will consider one that is used. I heard plastic is bad and I certainly want something that is mechanical. I''ve heard that it''s best just to get a straight stitch, that I''ll learn more from it due to limits (force me to be creative or something). I''m not sure if you or anyone wants to chime in with your opinion on that but I''d love to hear your suggestions.

Thank you and I''m glad to have found craftster as well as your thread!  Cheesy
« Last Edit: January 07, 2011 06:35:01 AM by Aislynn - Reason: Edited to remove off topic section. » THIS ROCKS   Logged
sarah_jones
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2010 04:15:12 AM »

Thanks for the post. This is really great. It helps me in the basic level. Looking for something advance.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010 07:12:22 AM by Aislynn - Reason: Edited to remove advertising link. » THIS ROCKS   Logged
Biochic
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2011 08:45:58 PM »

Yay, thank you! I just sewed two throw pillow cases on my very first sewing machine. I even got all fancy and sewed some felt cutouts of atoms on one and mitochondria on the other to go with my science-themed living room. Eeeeee can't wait to sew more!
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