how do you sew

How Do You Sew? Learning the Basics of Hand and Machine Sewing

Sewing can seem daunting to beginners, but it doesn’t have to be! Individuals can learn sewing by hand or machine using uncomplicated tools, fundamental abilities, and moderate repetition. The rewards of sewing are genuinely boundless. Let’s explore the fundamentals and see how you can get started on your sewing journey.

Hand Sewing vs. Machine Sewing

Before you thread your first needle, it helps to understand the difference between hand sewing and machine sewing. Hand sewing uses just a needle and thread. It allows tiny, intricate stitches perfect for details like hems and repairs. Hand sewing provides tons of control but can be more time-consuming.

Machine sewing uses a powered device for efficiency and consistency. However, machines can’t duplicate the finesse of handwork. Most sewing projects utilize both methods. Hand sewing excels at finishing touches after the machine constructs the bulk of the item.

Must-Have Sewing Supplies

Specific tools and materials are essential no matter your sewing method:

  • Needles: Sharp hand needles or heavy machine needles. Double-check size for project needs.
  • Thread: All-purpose is ideal for beginners. Match weight to fabric.
  • Fabric: Natural fibers like cotton or linen behave best for learning.
  • Patterns: Start with simple commercial patterns before drafting your own.
  • Notions: Pins, tape measure, seam ripper, scissors, clips – you’ll need them all!

Quality supplies do make a difference both in the process and product. Invest in the basics as you build your sewing toolbox.

Hand Stitches to Master

Hand Stitches to Master
Photo credit: freepik

Here are five hand stitches to start with as a beginner:

Running Stitch – For quick seams. Weave the needle evenly in and out.

Backstitch – Reinforces seams. Sew a few stitches forward, then backward.

Blanket Stitch – Finishes raw fabric edges with a decorative look.

Slip Stitch – Nearly invisible stitch for hems or joins. Slip through the fold.

Whip Stitch – Simple for sewing pieces together. Move the needle diagonally across the seam.

Practice makes perfect with hand stitches. Sample each on spare fabric before incorporating it into projects.

Sewing Machine Skills

While hand sewing provides control, machines offer speed. Here are sewing machine fundamentals:

Threading – Follow the diagram or manual closely to thread correctly.

Bobbin winding – Evenly wind bobbin thread for lower loop formation.

Stitch selection – Straight and zigzag stitches cover most beginning needs.

Seam guides – Properly align the edges of the fabric and sew with precision; when sewing, make sure to keep a distance of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the raw edge of the fabric.

Hemming – Fold edge under, press, pin, and topstitch near fold.

Buttonholes – Use stitch setting and foot. Measure the diameter before cutting the opening.

Be bold and refer back to the manual often! With some test samples, machine skills will become second nature.

Tips for Sewing Success

Follow these tips for learning to sew without frustration:

  • Start with simple projects and work up to complex patterns.
  • Select medium to heavy-weight fabrics that are more forgiving.
  • Work slowly and carefully as you perfect technique.
  • Keep the fabric taut in the embroidery hoop for hand control.
  • Check thread tension often to prevent puckering.
  • Have patience! Sewing is a skill developed over time.

Stay positive, get hands-on practice, and tap into the fantastic sewing community for guidance. Nothing beats that feeling of completing your first hand-stitched or machine-sewn project!


What are the basic hand-sewing stitches I should learn first?

Some essential beginner hand stitches are the running stitch, backstitch, slip stitch, whip stitch, and blanket stitch. Master those before moving on to more advanced stitches.

What kind of thread and needles work best for hand sewing?

Use sharps needles and all-purpose thread in a weight-matched to your fabric for hand sewing. The cotton thread has a nice feel.

How do I thread a sewing machine?

Consult your machine’s manual for a step-by-step visual guide on threading. Follow the path from spool to needle closely.

What are the most valuable stitches for a sewing machine beginner?

Focus first on mastering the straight and zigzag stitch. They’ll cover most basic project needs for seams, hems, and finishing.

What fabrics are best to start with for beginner sewing?

Natural fiber wovens like cotton and linen with a medium weight work well. Stay away from silky or stretchy material initially.

Do you have any tips for avoiding frustration when learning to sew?

Take it slow, start simple, use quality supplies, and don’t expect perfection immediately. Sewing is a skill developed over time.

Sew On!

Now that you know sewing basics, isn’t it time to start? Hand sewing and machine sewing open up a creative world of making and mending. Begin with small steps, be diligent yet patient with yourself, and incorporate skills as you go. Most importantly, enjoy the journey! Where will sewing take you?


Main image: pexels

Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
Articles: 169

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