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MAGAZINE GIVEAWAY: What advice would you give to someone learning to sew?

You could win Threads issue #164!

Learning any new skill–including sewing–can be difficult. Beginners benefit greatly from those who are further along in their sewing journey. In the latest issue of Threads (#164, January 2013), we asked our contributing authors (Norma Bucko, Pamela Leggett, Claire Shaeffer, and Kathleen Cheetham) to tell us what advice they would give to someone learning to sew. These talented individuals had terrific suggestions to share.

Our featured contributors each had different advice to give. One suggested taking advantage of sewing classes; one gave specific advice for handling your sewing projects; one advised buying the best tools you can afford; and another suggests making alterations on ready-made garments to practice sewing skills and learn from observing how clothing is put together. The variety of advice demonstrates how much is involved in learning this craft as a beginner. 

Tell us what advice you would give to someone learning to sew. By leaving a comment below before the deadline (Tuesday, November 20), you could win a copy of our latest issue! A winner will be randomly selected on Wednesday, November 21, and announced during the week of November 26.

Good luck!


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  1. Inawillis | | #1

    My advice to someone learning to sew is for best end results do not take any short cuts. Read the pattern instructions and check your measurements, make neccessary adjustments before you start, get help if needed.Take notice of all the pattern markings and tips.Good results will encourage, which is very important.
    Happy sewing
    Ina Willis

  2. User avater
    WillaMcNeill | | #2

    I would suggest reading thru the directions carefully. Then follow them carefully. Sometimes they seem not to make much sense but following carefully and deliberately generally works out in the end.

  3. mub | | #3

    Don't ever skip the ironing step in your sewing! It makes such a difference in how polished the end result looks.

  4. Kellym90 | | #4

    Start small and make sure you have a teacher or buddy who can help you with the small and big questions. A little hand holding in the beginning helps with confidence building.

  5. Acadianwoman | | #5

    i'm a self taught sewer and not an expert. 3 things I've learned: iron every piece as you go, read and follow directions carefully and if you make a mistake, no matter how small, it's better to unsew it and redo than to run with the mistake cause it'll come back to bite you.

  6. Leesy | | #6

    Slow down! There's no race to the end of the seam. There's no race to finishing the pattern preparation. There's no race to the end of the cutting.

  7. user-2002575 | | #7

    Take it slow and enjoy the steps of the learning process. Be patient with yourself and your machine. Read all that you can - basic sewing books, sewists blogs and, of course, Threads! Search for video tutorials on topics as you go. There is a lot of great info out there. Pratice, practice, practice and, most of all, have fun!

  8. JillyBe | | #8

    Take advantage of the online sewing community! It is filled with helpful people who are ready and willing to answer any questions that come up while you're learning. If you can find a local group of sewists, or friends who sew, that's even better! Sewing can be a wonderful solitary activity, but the community is large and golden. :)

  9. User avater
    2tango | | #9

    I would say get someone patient to teach you all about your machine and a few very simple projects, tote bag, straight skirt etc. first. Then move up to something more difficult, read your directions at least ten times and then visualize putting your project together before you go to sleep (kooky but it really helps) take your time and be proud whatever the results. Also get a subscription to Threads!

  10. pathersl | | #10

    I would tell them to take classes, lessons, whatever they could do. Actually seeing a demonstration, or great photography, is so helpful. Take your time when sewing. It does not have to be a race.

  11. Redeva007 | | #11

    First and foremost...be patient! With patience, you really can achieve the best results. With that in mind...there is nothing wrong with creating a mock-up, or muslin, to ensure the best fit, plus you will be so much happier with your clothing in the end! But...never forget to have fun! If sewing starts to be a chore, take a break! Happy sewing!

  12. user-2070209 | | #12

    DO NOT try to cut corners. It will always show up in the final garment and you will not be happy with how it looks. Always use the appropriate support notions and take your time. That's what makes it look professional. It will pay off in the compliments you receive.

  13. natsunoyoru | | #13

    Start from something small and quick to finish, but take all the time and efforts necessary for that project. Work with someone who is also sewing, or get as much as information from the web community. Magazines, or sewing books are also very good resources.

  14. terileeb | | #14

    Enjoy yourself! Pick patterns and fabrics you like and be as kind to yourself as you would be to someone else who is just learning! Read the information on the pattern envelope about what types of fabrics work best with the pattern you have. It really does make a difference!

  15. Sambo | | #15

    Keep sewing even if you make a mistake, it is all part of learning and the more experience you get the better sewer you wil become.

  16. somethinglisa | | #16

    Read through ALL of the instructions first and look up any terms you don't understand. Also, don't be afraid to "unsew." The seam ripper is your friend and it's okay if you make mistakes because you can't make a mistake if you aren't trying!

  17. sweetangelpr | | #17

    Pick the patterns and fabrics that you love but make sure the fabric is the correct one for your project. Read lots of magazines and visit blogs for ideas and advice. Above all, have lots of fun!!

  18. User avater
    Luxiraj | | #18

    just go for it, once you get started, it is addictive and sewing will take care of itself, do it with passion !

  19. SewGirl86 | | #19

    My advice is to be passionate about sewing. The more passion you have for it, the easier it will be to learn the skills you need to succeed as a seamstress. Second, I would advise you to learn the fundamentals first. I know it is exciting when you first start sewing, but I highly recommend you learn the fundamentals to prevent stress and wasting fabrics and patterns. Lastly, turn to the internet especially Youtube to help you visually execute techniques. Youtube is a goldmine for sewing videos if you can’t afford sewing classes.

  20. bajjmayer | | #20

    Practice your craft or patten on scrap fabric first...that helps in understanding the pattern directions, your techniques and skills.

  21. User avater
    Madilyn | | #21

    Threads mag. seriously. nothing out there like it.
    and good tools. the investment pays for itself.

  22. User avater
    Sewista | | #22

    I would give the following advice:

    1. Expect to iron as much as you sew. Pressing properly is a needed skill through every part of the sewing process. Learn it well and use those skills to get professional looking clothing. Expect to do it. Pressing is Sewing

    2. Expect to alter every pattern you ever make. You may not be the one in a thousand five foot six woman with the B cup bosom and perfect proportions. Fitting is sewing.

    3. Get in the habit of making muslins and taking pictures of yourself in them. It will end wasteful (time and money) wadders and teach you so much about your body and how it needs to be fit. Every muslin I've made has saved me time in the big picture and the final garment fit better. Muslins are necessary.

    4. But the best fabric you can. It will force you to focus and do a great job.

    5. Go s l o w. You are not in a race. Enjoy the wonderful process and its many twists and turns.

    Advice from someone who has been sewing for 52 years.

  23. doodlebug67 | | #23

    So slowly, don't rush. It is a skill that takes practice!

  24. User avater
    darcibeth | | #24

    Have patience with yourself -- even experience sewers have to rip their stitches out more often than you'd imagine!

  25. user-2259897 | | #25

    You will never be happy with your sewing projects unless you learn how to adjust and fit your garment patterns. No matter how well you sew a seam, how great the fabric is or the design of the pattern, without a personalized fit your results will be lacking the perfection sewers seek.

  26. Pearlprincess182 | | #26

    Don't get discouraged if something doesn't turn out perfect the first time you attempt to sew.

  27. Afletcher770 | | #27

    Just relax, have fun and follow your creative eye :-)

  28. Depnomore | | #28

    Keep it simple for a long time, this will build confidence and experience. Learn to embellish and use a wide range of fabrics while keeping it simple. Never start a project until you finish the current one.

    Best of luck!

  29. lemmonsc | | #29

    Find someone who sews well and ask if they would be willing to do a sew-along with you. Select a simple, but wearable pattern. Carefully watch your mentor/teacher do each step and then give it a go yourself. There's no better way to learn sewing than to just do it. If you don't know someone, there are plenty of on-line sewing classes (Susan Khalje has an excellent class on Craftsy . . . and there's no reason you can't learn couture techniques from the start). Be bold and go for it!

  30. memaha512 | | #30

    Always be patient; don't be too upset if you don't get perfect results the first time. A good resource (besides this website) is SewingPatternReview.com -- they have info on most patterns from the major companies and will help you through any stumbling blocks you may find.

  31. soexperimental | | #31

    • Don't cut material before you've checked your measurements against the pattern paper's measurements,
    • do read everything through carefully until you have a picture in your head of what you are about to do, for each step.
    • do first run in cheap material
    • press often
    • make mistakes, and think about how they could be avoided next time, or be an opportunity to improve the design or the sewing.
    • Keep a journal with pattern number, date, material, steps you took at each stage, eg how you adjusted the pattern, changes you made as you sewed, things you wish you had done differently, and your summary of how it was to wear and how you should change it next time to get a better result. This is the most helpful thing that I still do after many years of sewing. First thing before I start a new project is to look back over previous related ones for my advice to me. Invaluable!!

  32. marlocraft | | #32

    Pay attention to instructions for fabric care & prep. That means prewash & iron for the best results. Have fun!

  33. stillsuesew | | #33

    Use your hand wheel. Always raise the take up lever to the very top (it also raises the needle). Then raise your presser foot. This will allow you to be able to pul your sewing from under the needle easily. Pull it about 6" and let the threads relax before you cut them, leaving that 6" tail. If you do this you will not have to rethread the needle hundreds of times.

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