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
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
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
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
And of course the Sewing Machine Q & A stickied at the top of this forum!!
Good luck and Happy Sewing