In my Sewing for Beginners series, I’ve already discussed what tools you need, and where to buy fabric. This is all well and good, but what do you actually make when you are a beginner?
I’ve said before that I truly believe anyone can learn to sew; some of us will take to it more easily than others, but essentially using a sewing machine is no different to learning how to drive a car, or operate the washing machine. The key to getting the hang of it is picking the right project to start with; something simple enough to complete in a short session, but impressive enough that you are left with something that gives you a real sense of achievement.
Before you tackle clothes of any kind, I’d recommend starting with something for the home. Clothes can be simple to make, but when you throw fitting into the mix, it can be a real headache!
If you’ve just bought a new machine, or are using one for the first time, my number one recommendation for beginners make is bunting. I wrote a tutorial last year, which talks you through it step-by-step. The great thing with bunting is that it’s small, it doesn’t take long, and it’s forgiving. It’s also a great way to practise both straight and zig-zag stitch. This is the project that I used to teach Mr Makes how to use a sewing machine, and he aced it! Once you’ve finished it, make sure to hang it somewhere with pride!
Cushion covers are also a great make and can easily be completed in an afternoon. I’m a fan of this tutorial by Claireabellemakes who shows you how to make the simplest of cushion covers, an envelope cover with no tricky zips involved!
Taking it to the next level
Once you’ve tackled one of these simpler projects, why not try my tutorial for some fabric storage baskets (a great excuse to buy lots of amazing fabric). These would be perfect to make, fill with treats, and give as presents!
After you’ve got used to your machine and the general principles of sewing, then I would wholeheartedly encourage you to consider making your own clothes. There is nothing more satisfying than being complimented on your outfit and being able to respond with ‘oh, I made this’.
Patterns can be confusing, and so my recommendation for anyone starting out with dressmaking is always Tilly and the Buttons, they are pretty much the only patterns that I make!
If you’re looking into getting into dressmaking seriously, I’d recommend investing in Tilly’s first book Love at First Stitch, which is essentially a dressmaking course in a book. Starting with a simple scarf, the projects increase in complexity and include dresses, blouses, and skirts. The second project in the book, the Margot pyjama bottoms are a really simple, yet satisfying make.
Alternatively, Tilly’s Dominique Skirt pattern is one of the easiest things I have ever made, and I was so impressed with it that I wrote a whole blog post about why it is the perfect project for beginners. Again, no fiddly zips or fastenings, this skirt can easily be made by even the most inexperienced sewer.
Where else to get ideas
There are a number of places to get ideas for sewing projects. Blogs are of course a good resource, but I also love magazines like Mollie Makes.
Taking a sewing class in person can be a great experience. Admittedly they can seem pricey, but they are a good idea for Birthday and Christmas gifts and generally everything you need is provided in the cost. If you’d rather be coached through a project from the comfort of your own home, online sites such as Creativebug offer virtual classes (although you will need to source all of the materials yourself).
Finally, Pinterest is a fantastic resource for crafters but at times there can be too much choice. I’ve created a board with lots of ideas for simple projects for you to try.
I hope this is a useful post, if you give any of these tutorials a go, be sure to let me know. Alternatively, if you know of any other projects which I should be including on this list, drop a link below and I’ll be sure to add them to my Pinterest board.