No idea how to use my new sewing machine - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 10-21-2010, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey ladies

My husband bought me a very basic Singer sewing machine from Target as a gift one month ago. It is my first machine ever.

I want to hem pants, make curtains, do cute projects, make some clothes, use patterns etc.

I have LITERALLY no idea how to use a sewing machine.

Do I need to take a class? How can I learn?


Mothering my two little boys the best that I can!
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#2 of 10 Old 10-27-2010, 01:46 AM
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There are some great youtube tutorials, thats where I'm starting. I found that threading the machine was really intimidating, but it went just fine. After that, it was recommended that I start with a 'kwik sew' pattern first. Good Luck!
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#3 of 10 Old 10-27-2010, 01:59 AM
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I started with the user manual and one of the Sew So Easy patterns.. Sew So Easy isn't so easy, I found that the skirt pattern I bought after that was WAY more easy than anything else. Pants/shorts are easy first patterns to use.
Sewing for Dummies book was great for common problems/advice as well. Curtains is a great first project by the way. All they need are straight lines and some measurements so they are easy and quick to do (unless you want to get all fancy, but my house is the opposite of fancy so I didn't). Other good first projects if you don't want to start with a pattern are: placemats, pillow cases, pillows are a little harder but still not terribly hard, bookcovers are pretty easy as well... You can google "whatever" tutorial and find tutorials on making whatever it is you want. The same goes with whatever sewing problem you are having. Im horrible at remember what it is that I need to do to gather (me and gathering don't get along, Im not sure why since its easy but yea) so I google it at least once per pattern that needs gathering.
Also, ask around your friends, playgroups, church etc to see if anyone sews that will be willing to give you some pointers. If you really want to take a class check our your community center, a seniors center (my hometown the seniors offered free "homemaking" classes to young ladies/men in the community that wanted to learn), community college or something like that. A lot of those places offer free or low cost classes. My community college offered free tailoring classes, I wish I took advantage of that since DH and I spend a ton on tailoring his uniforms!

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#4 of 10 Old 10-28-2010, 01:14 PM's Avatar
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What others have said; read the manual to understand threading your machine. And then practice on something easy.

And as others have noted, just because a pattern is labelled "Easy" does not necessarily mean it will be; I was looking at the Vogue patterns online, and the "Very Easy Vogue" patterns for example, are not something a beginner should try. IMO, an easy garment pattern is a pull on type, with no zippers or button plackets, etc.

I think it is better to learn to sew to start, and learn to follow a pattern once you have a basic understanding. My favorite recommendations for beginner projects are pillowcases and simple bags, which you don't need a pattern to make.

I also think that playing with making patchwork is good practice for a beginner.

Good luck!

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#5 of 10 Old 10-28-2010, 01:28 PM
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As others have said, start with the manual. Then thread your machine with one color of thread in the needle and another color (but the same brand) in the bobbin. Take a sturdy square of fabric, doubled (or lightweight fabric with iron on interfacing between the 2 layers) and sew a straight stitch down one side. Play with with stitch length as you sew. If you have optional left/right needle settings, play with them as well. Check out the tension--the needle thread only should show on the top and tiny dots of needle thread on the bobbin side. Then do the same with the zigzag stitch, play with both length and width. And so on with all the stitches that your machine does. Make a buttonhole, sew on a button. Take more fabric and sew a zipper. Take notes on the settings for each stitch and variation that you like best. Put everything into a notebook and keep it handy along with your manual and a good sewing book (or more than one). Check out the sewing books in your library for which ones will work for you best. I like the Singer Reference Library books (, the Simply the Best Sewing Book by Simplicity ( If you can find it (it's discontinued), the Bishop Method of Sewing ( is a fantastic step by step sewing course in book form.

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#6 of 10 Old 11-12-2010, 06:10 AM
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If you can thread your machine properly, you can sew!  Once you get the threading down, just play with the stitches and settings to see what you can come up with.  I bought a couple of books when I was learning that were very helpful - Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol and any of the Lotta Jansdotter books are great because they include very detailed explanations of sewing techniques and some simple patterns that most beginners can use.


Happy sewing!

hh2.gif Proud Mama to DS1 09/07 ribboncesarean.gif, DD 07/09 hbac.gif, and DS2 06/11 uc.jpg.  Feeling more and more blessed with each day!



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#7 of 10 Old 11-16-2010, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tracymom1 View Post

If you can thread your machine properly, you can sew!  Once you get the threading down, just play with the stitches and settings to see what you can come up with. 

Yes! This! I spent my first year struggling with threading my machine and keeping it threaded correctly... turned out it was kind of a crappy machine. There can be A LOT of machine related frustrations in the first few months of sewing so if you can master the mechanics of your machine that is half the battle.


If you have someone who can come over and just kind of walk you through pattern reading that can be helpful. The first time I opened a pattern I looked at it and folded it right back up; those suckers can be confusing! And if they can help you interpret the back of the envelope WRT fabric amounts and notions that would be great.


My advice to everyone, be it sewing or knitting, is to keep trying! Don't give up. Your first creations may be monsters (my first diaper looked like an oven mitt) but you will get better.

Amy: Certified Professional Midwife and mom to Max (11) and Stella (6).
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#8 of 10 Old 11-19-2010, 06:45 PM
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I agree with everyone else, the manual is the best starting point.


A square or rectangle pillow is a really easy starting project, to just get an idea of putting things together.


For hemming pants, I've found the easiest way to learn is to just look at how different pants are hemmed to get an idea.  There are many ways to do it.

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#9 of 10 Old 12-06-2010, 07:22 PM
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I agree with everyone who said that getting the machine threaded is half the battle, once you get that down all you need to do is to start playing with it to see what it can do. Where did your husband get it? I know that most sewing machine dealers will show people how to use a new sewing machine that was purchased through them. If that's not the case, do you know anyone who sews? My mom sews, and with a little bit of her guidance, and the book Sew Everything Workshop, I was able to teach myself how to sew. I've now sewn my self lots of clothes, and just this fall I took the plunge and bought a serger, which I have taught myself how to use. Don't be intimidated by it, once you get the hang of it it's so much fun!!biggrinbounce.gif

Double majoring Philosophy/History single student mommy geek.gif to DD(4yo)dust.gif. I heartbeat.gif reading (mostly feminist philosophy, Simone de Beauvoir and Jane Addams are my intellectual heros. I'm a dork pinktongue.gif), and sewmachine.gif.
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#10 of 10 Old 02-10-2011, 07:34 PM
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I learned when I was a kid in 4H and we first sewed over patterns drawn onto paper, with no thread.  This gets you familiar with controlling the machine.


And also, re: threading: if you miss just one place in the threading path, the sewing tension will not be right.

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