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Where does one start if one wants to learn to sew? I shoulda listened 45 years ago when my aunt and grandmother wanted to teach me but noooooo - I had to go play the French Horn.



I've been through the topics and the pinned "learning to sew" but the links are bad and most of the posts are 2 years old. I need some suggestions for book titles and what would make a basic sewing kit. There's a recent thread on machines (electric or treadle) which is good, but that's a bit down the road for me. Right now, I'd like to put together something a rank beginner could deal with. I'm also going to check out the SCA links for needle arts in the middle ages. That way, if SHTF and we end up with a 'grid-down' situation, I'll just make believe I finally got to an SCA event.

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I would see if you have any local county extension programs, community programs, etc. that teach basic sewing skills. Do you go to a church or other social groups where there are people who may teach you ?

You will need some good scissors just for fabric. They don't have to be expensive, either. JoAnn's usually have some good ones for a reasonable price. I like the magnetic pincushions, (Grabbit is one brand), I like longer pins with larger heads, not those dinky little pins that drive me crazy. A seam gauge ruler ( they are six inches long and will have a slide adjustment for measuring seams, hems, things like that. They help when pressing the hems. There are some nice fabric marking pens that you mark on the fabric, then just spray with water and the marks come off.

A good iron. Pressing as you go along makes all the difference in a professional looking job and a messy homemade look.

I would start with pillowcases. They are easy and will teach you how to sew straight seams, plus make a nice even hem on the top. Just measure one at home and use it as a guide. Normally they are about 33 inches long, and use the 45 inch width of the fabric as the total width of the pillowcase. Just take a yard of 45 inch wide fabric. Sew the fabric together to make a tube. Then sew across the bottom. Then, you finish the cut edges with a zig zag stitch. Turn down 3 inches for the hem and stitch it down on top to make the top border of the case. Voila ! Instant pillowcase. If you want a wider hem at the top then buy a little more than a yard and just make the hem wider when you press it down.

I don't know of any good books. I learned the basics in 7th grade and have been sewing ever since. Sort of self taught myself the rest of the way.

There are other gadgets and things you can buy, but to start with that is really all you need. Oh, and a tape measure.

Ask if you need more help.

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  • 7 months later...

I see that this topic was started in January but you only got one reply and I thought you might still be interested. First, as to books, find yourself one of the Singer Sewing Books for beginners. You can self teach from it. Although I had my Grandma and Mom to go to for help, I pretty much taught myself out of one of these books back when I was a kid. Also, find a Sew Easy Simplicity pattern for something simple such as an apron. The instructions in with the pattern will get you through the process of pinning, cutting and sewing the apron. (I started with an apron, Grandma had me use one of her patterns and her treadle machine which is why I am so partial to treadles I guess).


Basic sewing box:


1. A box or basket, one that has a lid that latches is best so it won't spill, a handle on top to carry by is also good.


2. A good 60" long tape measure


3. Good sheers as mentioned in the previous post. For now, you can get a nice pair of Fiskars for about $10.00 but, if you take to sewing I would recommend investing in a really good pair. Mine are Ginghers and 20 years ago they cost about $35.00 but, worth every penny. Sheers are for cutting out the pattern from the fabric.


4. Scissors, smaller than sheers and used for cutting thread, clipping seams allowances, cutting open buttonholes, etc.


5. A selection of good hand needles, get a variety pack of different sizes so you will have a selection for whatever project you are working on.


6. Pins, I too like the longer ones with the colored heads on them, commonly called quilting pins. However, if you ever work with silk you will need to get fine silk pins since the larger pins will mark silk permanently.


7. A good pin cushion with an emery cushion, the big tomatoes with the strawberry emery attached to them are good for starters.


8. A seam ripper--even after 40 years of sewing I still have to use one too!


9. Dressmaker's chalk or marking pens for transferring pattern markings to your fabric.


10. Do be sure to get a gauge as stated above, invaluable.


11. Get a few spools of All Purpose thread in common colors like black, white, beige, brown, etc. whatever you think you will use the most.


This will get you off to a good start, hope this helps and Happy Sewing!



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Glad you want to learn to sew! I've been sewing since I was about 9-a lifetime ago it seems-I got a blue ribbon at the fair on my first dress when I was 11.Made all my clothes for high school and prom dresses and wedding and brides maid dresses for my daughters 20 years ago-mostly now I sew for babys for charity, the ladys have given you a lot of good info but if you have a JoAnns fabric store near they teach beginning sewing and so do the Viking stores.Just make sure you start with something you love,I've seen several start with something they don't even like and give up after that.I wish you well.

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