Frustrated beginner needs guidance, mentor or buddy! - Mothering Forums
Arts & Crafts > Frustrated beginner needs guidance, mentor or buddy!
BaBaBa's Avatar BaBaBa 11:46 PM 07-28-2009
I REAAAALLY want to be able to use my sewing machine.

It was a birthday present over 2 years ago but since DD was born on my birthday it stayed in the box until just a few weeks ago

My experience is limited. I sewed in home ec class is highschool, mad a stuffed animal and that's it.

So far I've managed to make some bean bags for DD but that's gotten tired. I ordered a simple easy peasy pattern from Burdastyle but I found figuring out the terminology and techniques frustrating and I gave up.

I wish someone could come to the house and teach me but that's not going to happen.

I really want to learn 'by doing'. I'm interested in making toddler clothes or toys or even something for myself.

Can anyone recommend any good books or other ways to get started? Anyone want to take me under their wing and help me with a project you think a newbie could do?

lightheart's Avatar lightheart 12:45 AM 07-29-2009
Have you thought about calling the local senior center (not old-folks home, but where seniors go to be active) and asking if they had someone who might want to take someone under their wing (even for pay)

The best books that I can recommend is everyone that your library has. , go in check out as many as you are allowed and think you will get through and just start flipping through them, looking at the pictures, and paying close attention to their glossary section. Some books can explain one thing better than another or it just hits you what they are saying when you are reading the same term but for the 15th time in a slightly different way.

I quilt mostly so don't really know in practice all the clothing sewing terms.
sabrinat's Avatar sabrinat 09:49 AM 07-29-2009
Good for you for wanting to learn. Can you take a class either through the community college or a local sewing shop? What about posting an ad on CL?
Feel free to pm me. I'd be happy to mentor you. I sew tons and mostly for my kids.
MittensKittens's Avatar MittensKittens 08:39 AM 08-07-2009
How about getting some cheap fabrics, and just doing? Yeah, you'll mess up, but that is OK. I never read the instructions in the pattern books so that way I don't get confused either. If you are looking for something specific like how to put in a zipper or something, you can find it on YouTube. Good luck
Therese's Mommy's Avatar Therese's Mommy 09:56 AM 08-07-2009
I agree with jumping in and doing. I took home ec in 7th grade and remember next to nothing from that. I got a machine to shorten pants for dh and decided to try other things. I guess I started mostly with tutorials and moved onto patterns that I purchased. But either way, the most important thing was just doing. I am by no means the most skilled seamstress, but I am not afraid to try patterns anymore. What I often do when I get a new pattern is read it over a bunch of times before I have the chance to actually sit down and do it. I will read it over while I am eating or just when I want to lay down and rest a minute. This way when it is time to actually do some sewing the pattern is pretty familiar to me and I also know what things might give me trouble and what I might want to look up on the web for further clarification.

Good luck and have fun!

sewchris2642's Avatar sewchris2642 03:33 PM 08-07-2009
Some books to start with are: The Singer Reference Library; Reader's Digest sewing books (not its exact name), Simply the Best Sewing Book by Simplicity, and The Bishop Method of Sewing Construction. The Bishop Method is out of print and the pictures are dated but it's like having your own private sewing instructor in a book. Also check out your local fabric store/quilt shop, community college, city recreation, or adult education. Look on Craigs List. Ask a local dressmaker or alteration shop/dry cleaners and see if they give private lessons or can refer you to someone else. Do you go to church/temple? Ask at your house of worship if there is a member who sews who could teach you. I've taught several girls (and later their friends) from my church how to sew that way. Also call Girl Scouts or other non-profit girl's/boys clubs. Find out who teaches them. See if there is a sewing guild near you.

For instruction on how to operate your sewing machine, read the owner's manual. If you don't have one, get one. Ask a local sewing machine dealer if they give classes or know of someone who does. And practice, practice, practice.
leighi123's Avatar leighi123 06:34 PM 08-07-2009
What helped me figure things out was tutorials.
There are a ton online - you can find patterns and stuff for thigns to make - with pictues, instrutions, measurments and all that.
And you can find tutorials for things to do with your machine - for example I found one on how to thread my serger, which made a lot more sense than looking in the book!

The pictures and step-by-step explination really helps!

There are some easy clothes you can make like pillowcase dresses and those 3 teir skirts.

I sew a lot and patterns still take me forever - I usually do better using a tutorial, making my own pattern or just making something up!
cupcakeladybug's Avatar cupcakeladybug 11:34 PM 08-07-2009
Another sewing newbie here I love sitting down and thinking of ideas on what to make. I just need easy, beginner patterns

BaBaBa's Avatar BaBaBa 10:19 AM 08-08-2009
Thanks for all the replies

Lessons aren't a possibility as I have no one to watch DD for me. I can't even use the sewing machine in front of her without her wanting to help: lol

I do get discouraged when I mess up. I just need to get over it and pick the easiest simplest projects I can find to my confidence.

I'm going to try making some cloth reusable shopping bags. I saw someone selling them for $40 last week and thought that was outrageous! Surely I can do that too!
BaBaBa's Avatar BaBaBa 10:29 AM 08-08-2009
Originally Posted by cupcakeladybug View Post
Another sewing newbie here I love sitting down and thinking of ideas on what to make. I just need easy, beginner patterns
Hey! Do you want to be beginner buddies? Interested in making a shopping bag Or do have anything you're interested in?
lightheart's Avatar lightheart 05:54 PM 08-10-2009
Lessons aren't a possibility as I have no one to watch DD for me. I can't even use the sewing machine in front of her without her wanting to help: lol
let her is the solution to that I found a backpack carrier and a stool instead of a chair gave the kiddos a birds eye view of what I was doing at the machine yet kept their fingers out of the way. It can get tiring and heavy having the weight on your back while you sew, but it does help with keeping good posture.

Fabric scraps are fun for the little ones to play with, empty thread spools, if they are old enough to do the lacing cards then those are a fun, sorta like what mama is doing for them to do.

Something I did early on when I went fabric shopping was to pick a theme, cats and chickens was what my 2 boys wanted and they needed to search for that fabric for themselves, it was like a treasure hunt. I only bought a small piece, 6 inches or so, when they did find the fabric, but it gave them a mission while I was able to really look.
WC_hapamama's Avatar WC_hapamama 06:06 PM 08-10-2009
Check out somewhere like or Both were an immense help to me when I was in my "beginner" stage of clothing sewing.

Or, if you have a question about a specific technique or term, you can post a question here or google it.
Om Girl's Avatar Om Girl 01:57 PM 08-20-2009
I just started sewing and the best book recommended to me was this book S*E*W Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp
Great tutorials and photos and clear instructions for learning to sew, plus easy beginner patterns.

Originally Posted by cupcakeladybug View Post
Another sewing newbie here I love sitting down and thinking of ideas on what to make. I just need easy, beginner patterns
I adore Frog Legs and Ponytails patterns (not tradition "patterns" they're PDF downloads with tons of photos and no confusing sewing lingo! The Caroline dress is a great first project and it's cute too
martinajilek's Avatar martinajilek 11:19 PM 08-20-2009
I would like to help you learn to sew. I took four years of sewing in high school. Making a bookbag that people today call a reusable shopping bag, two women's tailored coats, many dresses, shirts, blouses, men's shirts, men's ties, and a man's suit jacket.

I have been trying to figure out a way to teach someone what I know before I forget most of it.

If you are interested get back to me.
cupcakeladybug's Avatar cupcakeladybug 07:42 PM 08-21-2009
Originally Posted by BaBaBa View Post
Hey! Do you want to be beginner buddies? Interested in making a shopping bag Or do have anything you're interested in?
Sorry for being so late on the reply! Love to be beginner buddies. I am going to have to try those shopping bags. I also seen a pattern for baby blocks that I am wanting to try

Incubator's Avatar Incubator 07:56 PM 08-21-2009
I go to VegBee when I need help figuring out something new. I've gotten pretty good at sewing but I still don't like to use patterns.
She's good. Just jump into something and if it doesn't work out, I sometimes just start over. completely. just toss the one I've messed up into a pile for when I'm more patient and start over on fresh fabric.
When my little ones get a little overzealous in their attempts to help I put the one y/o in a high chair next to me with some empty spools and fabric scraps. I keep an eye on the 3 y/o while he chops away at some scraps with some dull scissors. Eventually they lose interest and wander off.
I've always been told to start with something that interests you, something you really want to make, even if it seems too hard at first. Take it slowly. If you find yourself messing up repeatedly, like sewing something on the wrong way and then using the wrong stitch) put it down and come back to it later, cause it always seems the more frustrated you get with a piece, the more you'll mess it up until you're too mad at it to care anymore. At least, that describes me to a T

Sometimes when I'm working on something that seems too hard, I practice it on muslin. I buy large amounts of it at JoAnns and use my 40% off coupon. After I do it once and see what I need to do, then I make the real thing on nicer fabric.
isign's Avatar isign 08:28 PM 09-12-2009
Joining in - I want to learn to sew. I have an old machine - it was my mother's. I have 2 little ones and no one to watch them, so classes are out. I want to learn to do basic dresses for DD and jon jons for DS.
honeybunmom's Avatar honeybunmom 12:28 AM 09-13-2009
Another newbie here! I could have written the OP. I've not sewn since HS, either. Made a skirt, dress with cap sleeves and darts (loved it!) and jodphur style pants with top stitching and belt loops. I was sooo proud of those pants! The year ended before I could finish my lined blazer. So, Monday, I went to JoAnn's and bought a machine. I've got a soon to be 4 year old, 5 mos old and I go back to work in 2 weeks. And we're moving between now and then. But, I want to sew!!!!! I go for the free class tomorrow afternoon while hubby watches the kiddos. I want to make pj's, pants, dresses, drapes and maybe diapers. And I want a serger. And more time. And the ability to sew without a 90 degree learning curve.

I'd love to see how our plans unfold!
Noelle C.'s Avatar Noelle C. 02:42 PM 09-14-2009
A good first apparel item is pajamas. You may mess up, but pjs can be worn anyway. If you're going to make mistakes learning, may as well have it be a piece that no one else will see but you can still use!

Look for simple patterns right now without zippers, buttons, or darts, and avoid right now any pattern calling for knit fabrics.