Start your sewing adventure with us.

Join Seamwork Now

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Sewing

Insider tips for sewing newbies.

Posted in: Creativity & Mindset • May 15, 2023

Here’s the thing about sewing (or any craft, really): You don’t know what you don’t know.

Do you ever wish you could go back in time and give your past self a little advice? Sewing is filled with lessons, some more obvious than others (like always turn off your iron!)

In this YouTube video, Sarai and Haley share 10 things they wish they knew as beginner sewers.

Check out the article for their talking points, watch the video, and comment with the lesson you wish you could share with your beginner self.

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Sewing

  1. Embrace your seam ripper. You're going to make a lot of mistakes. You’re never going to stop making mistakes. Sewing a project from start to finish without using your seam ripper is like finding a unicorn. You're also not going to love everything you make. Sometimes you’re going to finish a project, try it on in front of the mirror, take it off, and immediately donate it or give it away. When that happens, instead of getting mad that you made it in the first place, try to think about all the new things you learned. Maybe you picked up a new technique, or you can avoid buying that kind of fabric again.

  2. Don’t give yourself arbitrary deadlines. Slow down and enjoy the process rather than turning your sewing queue into an unforgiving calendar of to-do items. Here are 10 tips for slowing down.

  3. Learn how to read a pattern. Understanding the anatomy of a sewing pattern before you even start sewing is the best way to set a strong foundation for your entire sewing practice.

  4. Tackle a new skill with every project. Don't be afraid to repeat projects so you really learn the skill. It can help to document your projects so you can look back on all you’ve learned.

  5. Learn about fabric. Your fabric choice will impact your finished garment more than anything else, so get to know your fibers. Read about 10 fabrics that are ideal for garment sewing here.

  6. Don't take shortcuts. Don't skip pressing, staystitching, clipping, testing, pre-washing, or marking. Trust your patternmaker to guide you through each step so you learn all the rules before bending them.

  7. Find a trustworthy source to use as you are learning. There are so many options for sewing books out there that it can be overwhelming. Pick one book, one sewing class at a fabric store, or one online sewing class, and use that as your guide while you are just getting started. If you are a total beginner, take our Learn to Sew: For Absolute Beginners course! In this course, Sarai and Haley walk you through each component skill you need to make your own clothing, from using your machine to sewing seams of all kinds to sleeves and facings. It’s perfect for anyone who is brand new to sewing, or for anyone who’s taken a break from sewing and needs a refresher.

  1. Your body measurements are just data. Learning how to take accurate measurements is the best trick to getting a good fit. Many feelings can come up while taking measurements, so if you can learn to treat your measurements as data, it helps. And while you’re sewing, don't wait until the end to try it on to see if you like how it fits. Instead, try it on along the way so you can adjust as you go.

  2. Take care of your machine and tools. You depend on a lot of stuff to help you sew. If something’s going wrong, it’s either your technique or your tool. So change your needles, clean your machine, and invest in notions that work so you don’t get frustrated by subpar tools.

  3. Have fun! Make stuff that excites you. Use that wild quilting cotton until you get a handle on other garment fabrics. There is so much room for fun in this craft.

We want to hear from you! What advice do you wish you knew as a beginner? Let us know in the comments below.

Join the Conversation

Sign in or become a Seamwork member to comment on this article.

Sign in            Join Seamwork

You May Also Like

Explore More Seamwork

Seamwork members have access to hundreds of patterns, with two new patterns available each month. Membership starts at just $15 per month!