Today’s special post comes from my little seamstress sister, Jillian, who, by the way, is still raising funds for her startup. (Nudge, nudge, wink wink.) In this post, Jillian will share her tips on how to get started with sewing. Want to make your own clothes but have never picked up a needle and thread? Then this post is for you!
“How do I start sewing?” This is a question that my sister Courtney has asked me several times, the most recent being about a month ago, and being the bad sister I am I never took the time to explain. “It’s easy, just start small,” is all I would tell her. But for her benefit and yours, here are four tips from someone who’s been sewing for twelve years on how to start sewing your own clothes.
An Inexpensive Domestic Sewing Machine is All You Need
Unless you plan on making twenty dresses in one week, you don’t need to spend the money on a fancy, professional machine. I had a standard Singer for the longest time until it crapped out on me because I was using it a lot more often and doing more complicated things with it. It was a good machine for the here and there use, definitely great for a beginner. I’ve seen them for around $100 at Target and similar stores. Yard sales, estate sales, and your newspaper’s classifieds are a great place to look as well. The costume shop head at my alma mater told me that machines from the 60s and 70s were some of the best because they were built in a time that women sewed a lot more than today. Just make sure that you ask the seller how it works if you buy a used one—it probably won’t come with a manual.
Ask for Lessons and Advice
My mom was the one who taught me how to sew. If you have a relative or friend who knows how, ask them to show you the basics. Seeing someone else do it is a lot easier than figuring it out on your own when it comes to sewing. I still look up YouTube videos when there’s a sewing term I haven’t heard of in the instructions of a pattern. Older books are a great source as well. I have a copy of The Vogue Sewing Book, which is the encyclopedia of sewing. Try any and all learning methods and see which works best for you!
Yes, you may want to attempt to sew your own version of that great top you saw, but as with most things you have to build up your skills. Start with small things until you get the hang of using your machine. Square pillows are probably the easiest, and hey, you’ll get some new décor out of it. Move onto something with curves, even if it’s just a circular pillow. Your first garment should be a circle skirt. There are many tutorials online for making your own circle skirt pattern, and major commercial companies like McCall’s, Simplicity, and Vogue (yes, even Vogue has patterns that they dub “Very Easy Vogue”) have them. Give yourself a new, small project every few weeks.
Take Your Time
This is probably the most important advice I could give. No matter what you’re making, take your time. The more time and care you put into that pillow, skirt, or prom dress, the better it’s going to look. I promise. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The seam ripper is one of your best friends.
My mom still says to this day that if you can read, you can sew. That’s something I still believe and reminds me not to be afraid when choosing patterns that are labeled “advanced.” It has even given me the courage to start up my own sewing business, Past is Present Designs. Just keep that in the back of your mind as you progress on your sewing, and you’ll soon be on your way to making clothes that you are proud to wear and say that you made them–People’s reactions to that response never get old, by the way!
I’m happy to answer any and all questions you might have in the comments. Good luck, and happy stitching!