From understanding the difference between a thread Serger and a Janome sewing machine to knowing what in the world a bobbin is - learning how to sew can be an overwhelming experience. Whether your goal is to become a seamstress or you simply want to make a cute tote bag, the world of sewing is a territory that comes with a lot of confusing jargon. You can start by learning the basic definitions and principles behind the art of sewing.

beginner sewing supplies
You can get supplies from any crafts or retail store (Photo credit: Annie Spratt via Unplash)

How to Sew: Where Can You Start?

If you’re interested in learning how to sew, you’ve probably already started to notice how much more important sewing is than appears at first glance. From zippers, knit fabric and dressmaking to those cute buttonhole stitches - sewing is involved in every stage of making apparel for all occasions in life. This is why learning how to thread a sewing machine or using an embroidery machine can become unlikely but practical skills to have in your arsenal if a clothing-related emergency ever arises. On the other hand, as mentioned, the demand for clothes is changing. While buying a quilter or appliques to start on your free motion quilting project or investing in Baby Lock and Bernina sewing machines may not seem like the most frugal decision, starting your own business in the clothing industry has become more accessible than ever before. While some actors within the fashion industry are more concerned with preserving high fashion’s reputation as art, others are taking part in supplying clothes and materials for the growing demand in handmade or sustainable apparel. A quick history of sewing will put you on the right track towards buying the materials or classes you need. Sewing is one of the most ancient arts on earth, necessary in the stone age for making rudimentary clothing out of animal hides and transformed in the industrial revolution with the invention of the sewing machine. From the drawstring in your pajama waistband to the invisible zipper and bias tape lining your formal wear - this craft has become not only a staple of daily life but a symbol, for many, of rebellion and expression. While this isn’t meant as a complete guide to the basics of sewing, it will serve to give you an idea of what you want to get out of learning how to sew. The main techniques you will learn, whether you’re teaching yourself how to sew or are taking a class, are these different types of stitches:

  • Hand sewing stitches;
  • Machine sewing stitches;
  • Seam finishes.

The Cost of Beginner Sewing

Sewing can be a relatively expensive hobby to undertake, which is what stops many people from wanting to give it a try. Understandably, there are many different materials available on the market for those looking to start to sew, from the rotary cutter to stabilizer fabric. Learning how to sew by yourself online can already rack up to be an expensive enterprise even without taking lessons. Here’s some tips to make sure you make the most out of your budget, no matter the size.

Know What You Want to Learn

Be it that you want to make a new table runner out of muslin or want to add embellishment to your drawstring bag, knowing what you want to make isn’t the only thing you’ll need in order to start sewing. Before you look into materials like a ripper, fusible material or a Serging machine, you should identify what level of sewing you would like to learn. Those who simply want to learn the basic skills will have different needs than those looking to make sewing part of their business. If you’re wanting to learn sewing to create a patchwork, know how to repair your pillowcase or do it in order to step up to hand embroidery - chances are you probably will only need to buy the essential materials. If you’re in it for the long haul, establishing the goals you’d like to accomplish with your new skills is important to understand the time and costs that will be involved. For example, if you want to sew and also start embroidering for a living, you might want to consider adding machine embroidery to the skill set you’re looking for out of a class.

products of sewers
Making your own clothing can be a timeless treasure! (Photo credit: Anna L. via Unplash)

Buying Materials

While a needle and a thread are really all you need to get started, it can be helpful to have a supply list that will allow you to get creative and crafty. Some of the physical stores you’ll want to look into, no matter what level of sewing you’re at, are:

  • Michael’s
  • Joann

If you’re more a fan of shopping online, make sure to browse these websites for your sewing haul:

  • Offset Warehouse;
  • APC Fabrics;
  • Loom and Stars.

Along with knowing where to shop, you’ll need to know what you’ll need to get started making your creations. Here are are some of the materials you can start with at all levels of your sewing hobby.

Hobby Sewing

At the beginning stages of your sewing hobby, you’ll need a couple of basic materials:

  • Fabric cutting shears;
  • Sea ripper;
  • Tape measure;
  • Sewing pins;
  • Sewing needles;
  • Thimble;
  • Sewing thread.

All of these items can be bought separately at most crafts stores in your community. However, you can also get them in a kit which can also be found online for prices ranging from 2 to 15 dollars.

Making Clothes, Totes and Household Items

Sewing at the intermediate stage, you’ll need some or all of the following items in addition to the beginner’s items depending on what you like to make:

  • Sewing machine;
  • Thread snips;
  • Cutting mat;
  • Rotary Cutter;
  • Fabric pencils;
  • Rulers;
  • Presser foot;
  • Cotton fabric or other fabrics.

Sewing as a Business

If you’re interested in creating an online shop for your clothes or want to run your own store, you should consider dedicating a space in your home or renting a place specifically for making your creations and storing your materials. At this stage, you will need materials like:

  • Yardstick;
  • Seam gauge;
  • Presser feet;
  • Cutting machine;
  • Conductive thread;
  • Torso or dress forms.
buying sewing supplies and classes
Understand what you need: thimbles, pincushions and more! (Photo credit: Pina Messina via Unplash)

Classes to Learn How to Sew

Whether you’re looking for a refresher sewing adult classes, kids classes for sewing, or simply want to try out sewing as a beginner - having a one-on-one course with a sewing professional can help you gain confidence in your favorite hobby. Whether you want to make your own pajama pants or want to help your kids make doll clothes, sewing classes come in all varieties. One of the best resources you can use to browse classes in your area is Course Horse. On this platform, you will be able to search for sewing courses in 14 cities across the US with most courses ranging from 15 to 100 dollars per session. The types of courses you can join are vast and diverse, ranging from instruction on alteration and needlework to zipper pouch and garment construction. Another great resource to check out if you’re interested in sewing is Superprof. With one of the largest communities of tutors in the world, you’ll be able to find a sewing teacher in person or available online at an average price of 21 dollars an hour. Always make sure to check out your local library for ads that stem from your community, you never know who might be teaching sewing near you!

Learning to Sew Online or at Home

If you want to learn how to straight stitch, zig-zag or implement LilyPad pieces into your clothes but are on a tight budget - learning at home or online can be the perfect solution. If you want to start learning at home and have a bit more flexibility in your hobby budget, make sure to check out Bluprint. Selling a range of products and classes, you can buy lessons on everything from pleats and drapery to fashion design depending on what you want to learn. Learning at home from professionals can have the advantage of being able to go at your own pace while giving you the flexibility of learning what you want. If you have no experience and don’t want to invest in a bodice, sampler or sewing machine just yet - finding online courses for free can be the perfect way to get an introduction to sewing without the heavy price tag. The Stitch Sisters in the UK offer an 18 part beginner’s sewing lesson online with absolutely no cost. This can allow you to build up confidence in the hobby and understand the basics of the craft before diving into spending at your local arts and fabric shop.

Sewing Tips and Resources

While sewing resources are many, there are some that can help you no matter what stage you are in your sewing journey. Here are some you should check out:

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