Fashion has always been one of my biggest passions, and once I realized I couldn’t afford spending a fortune every month on designer items, I started looking for solutions. How could I dress exactly the way I desire, without breaking the bank? You have probably been in the situation where you see a gorgeous dress, or pair of pants on a celebrity, and you realize you would need to save up two or three of your paychecks in order to afford those items. Well, I didn’t want to let money limit my passion towards the fashion industry, so one day I said to myself, why not become my own fashion designer? The second that idea came to mind, I immediately became extremely excited with the prospect. Being able to wear exactly the clothes I desire, and actually afford doing that?! That sounded like heaven to me, so, I decided to buy myself a sewing machine. Of course, my journey towards acquiring advanced sewing skills was not as easy as I pictured it to be, and there were some things I wished I’d known from the start, which could have speeded up my learning process. This is the reason why I thought to share my experience with fellow sewing beginners. The following tips and tricks will help you start your sewing experience on the right foot and avoid making some mistakes.
The sewing machine you use matters
Because I didn’t have that much money to spend initially, I thought that buying a cheap sewing machine would work, at least well enough for me, as a beginner. Oh, how wrong was I! After spending somewhere around 60 or 70 dollars on a cheap plastic model, I brought it home proud of my purchase. It didn’t take me long to realize I had just wasted money on a machine that will never allow me to achieve creating the designs I wanted. After ruining quite a lot of fabrics, and becoming frustrated because none of my projects turned out the way I desired, I made the decision to invest in a sewing machine that actually delivers the performance I wanted. After plenty of research, reading reviews, discussing with more experienced sewing enthusiasts I decided to order the Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist from Amazon, and I can honestly say those were the best couple of hundred dollars I ever spent. I knew the Singer brand was a reliable one, and after I started to use it, I realized how important quality it when it comes to sewing machines. Buying the right one is an important decision you will have to make, and it can influence your entire sewing experience. You don’t necessarily have to choose this Singer model, but there are a few things you have to look for in order for the sewing machine to make your learning process as smooth as possible. Here are the most important characteristics to search for:
- Ease of use – user friendliness is certainly one of the most important selection factors to have. Although advanced pros are able to maneuver any type of sewing machine, regardless how complex it might be, for you, as a beginner, the wrong model can make things extremely complicated. Choose a model that allows you to sew in an easy and pleasant manner, it will make a big difference.
- Stich quality – stitch quality is of course a purchase consideration when buying this type of item so document yourself on the topic and choose a model that excels in this department. The Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist has certainly impressed me in terms of stitch quality.
- Wide range of features – even if at the beginning, you will not need a lot of features, because you do not have the experience necessary to actually use them, as you start developing skills, the features incorporated can make certain projects easier for you, so choose a model that is versatile in terms of features.
One last thing I advise you on, when buying a sewing machine, is to discuss with other users and read reviews. Because you do not know much about sewing machines and what exactly to look for, receiving a few guidelines will make a difference. Regardless of what model or brand you decide on, take some time to research its features and performance before actually buying it, this will save you from investing money in the wrong machine. Also, do not repeat my mistake, and don’t be cheap when it comes to this purchase, because investing in a more expensive, but qualitative model is most certainly worth it.
Read the entire instruction manual
It took me hours to learn about a simple feature of my sewing machine, which was so easily explained in the instruction manual, and that is because I thought I didn’t needed to read everything the manual contained and could discover the features on my own. I quickly concluded that I will not be able to learn every single thing I could do with my sewing machine until I carefully read every single detail written in my instruction manual. This is what I tell everyone who asks me something about their sewing machine – just reread the manual, but with more attention this time. Skipping this step will only make your learning process more difficult, not to mention you might not take advantage of some amazing features just because you didn’t know everything that your sewing machine can do.
Practice on small projects often before moving on to more complex sewing
After getting the hang of sewing, or thinking I did, and handling a few basic projects such as sewing a curtain or fixing the hem of an old dress, I wanted to handle something more complex. I had just seen a cute dress on a celebrity and I decided to give it a try for myself. I bought some satin fabric, did a few sketches of the patterns and started to sew, and it wasn’t long until I realized I had made a big mistake. In less than a minute I had managed to ruin a perfectly good fabric, because I was just not ready to handle that kind of sewing project or that kind of material yet. So my advice for you guys is to have patience and not rush into designing something complex, without learning how to maneuver your sewing machine better. Here are some projects you can practice on, which will allow you to later start sewing more complex clothing items:
- Pillow cases – every beginner needs to start somewhere, and for me, pillow cases where the perfect answer. They are easy to sew, do not require more than basic sewing skills, and you don’t have to spend that much time in front of your sewing machine. Even if the pillow cases don’t turn out exactly as expected from the beginning, they will still look pretty cute. I still keep and use my first ones from time to time, just as a reminder of how much my sewing skills have developed over time. However, even if this type of project is so easy, you still need to follow a step by step tutorial, to get the hang of it, and I found the perfect one for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VYlj6FVOAE
- Circle skirt – if you really want to create an item of clothing (which I perfectly understand, because I was excited to design clothes myself, and not waste time with pillow cases, curtains and other dull items of this kind), you can start with a circle skirt – the easiest and most basic option you have. Here’s a tutorial that can help you master this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gbLsjjmVeI
- Tote bags – these items are cute, fun and practical, and a great project for sewing beginners. When I designed my first tote bag I was so excited and proud to be carrying a bag that I managed to create by myself. This was probably the first item I sewed that I actually loved how it turned out, so I certainly recommend it to everyone who has just recently purchased a sewing machine. This tutorial shows you how to sew a tote bag the easy way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ddb7O4lJms
There’s always something new to learn
One thing I have managed to understand over the years is that there is always something new to learn, regardless of how experienced you might think you are. If you find a sewing course you have the opportunity of attending, take it, if a tutorial pops up on your Facebook feed, watch it, there is always a new trick you can learn, or a tip you did not know about. If you are truly dedicated to this hobby, and want to make something out of it, you need to understand that the more you practice and the more inspiration you acquire, the better you will become. The internet offers you so many resources that it would be a shame not to take advantage of them. I browsed the web in search for some articles and videos that might be useful for you as beginners, and I will leave some here:
- Basic sewing techniques and tricks: part 1, part 2
- Sewing hacks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYFGeusWLS8
- Free sewing patterns: http://so-sew-easy.com/free-sewing-patterns/
- Sewing blogs: https://www.craftsy.com/blog/fashion-sewing-blogs/
Therefore, fellow sewing enthusiasts, these are my few guidelines for you. Although my fashion designs are yet to be perfect, I certainly enjoy creating clothes on a regular basis, and my wardrobe is more crowded than ever, so I recommend sewing to everyone who is passionate about fashion and wants to turn their design concepts into a reality, and with these tips, your journey towards mastering this hobby will be simplified.