5 Sewing Tips For Beginners

I’m sharing 5 sewing tips for beginners that will help take your sewing from homemade to professional in no time.

5 sewing tips for beginners

When I first began home sewing I would get frustrated when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted from my sewing projects. It wasn’t until I attended fashion school that I discovered a bunch of professional sewing techniques.

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5 SEWING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS

Below are my 5 valuable tips for beginners to help improve your sewing from home to professional without needing to attend fashion school like myself.

PATTERN NOTCHES

If you have been sewing for a little while now chances are you’ve used a sewing pattern by the likes of McCall’s or Simplicity to name a few.

5 sewing tips for beginners sewing patterns laying on table with spools and snips

These are great patterns to start with but they don’t necessarily teach you the best or simplest ways to sew.

Commercial home sewing patterns often suggest cutting big, clunky triangles into your seams as notches so you can match up your fabric pieces while sewing.

I really dislike this technique as you can easily cut past the sewing line and end up making a garment with holes along the seams or too small. 

5 sewing tips for beginners patterns laying on table with pattern notcher

To avoid this a professional seamstress will cut small nicks into the seams about 5mm long. This method is much more accurate than oddly shaped triangles as you are not removing any of the fabric in the seam line.

You can also use a special notcher tool to cut even notches into your paper pattern pieces so you can quickly nick your fabric when cutting out.

I use this nicking method in my pdf sewing patterns making your sewing experience much more enjoyable and accurate. 

GRAIN LINES

This is often a confusing term to wrap your head around when starting to sew.

A grain line is a guideline on your pattern showing which way to place your pattern piece onto the fabric. You can read more on sewing terminology in my recent blog post Sewing Terms A-Z Glossary.

5 sewing tips for beginners laying up a sewing pattern onto fabric using weights

Fabric is made up of a weave, the weaves on woven fabrics are called the warp and weft thread. The warp threads run up and down the fabric and the weft threads run across the fabric.

weaving

Usually, a woven garment grainline will be parallel to the selvedge of the fabric. The selvedge is the uncut edge of a roll or piece of fabric. 

I suggest taking the time to fully understand how to lay up the grainline to ensure your garments will sit better against your body. A book I would suggest investing in is How Patterns Work by Assembil Books. This is full of so much valuable information for beginners.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT BIAS GRAINS

The bias is another term used in relation to the grain line. This is when a garment is cut out on a 45-degree angle to the selvedge…this sounds confusing.

Basically, you still layout your pattern with the grainline parallel to the selvedge of the fabric but the pattern will be on an angle.

The reason some garments are cut this way is to allow the fabric to have more stretch and drape. You can see this technique being used in my sewing pattern the Rachel Bias Skirt.

rachel bias skirt

You can also follow my in-depth tutorial on how to cut out fabrics on the bias.

USING AN IRON

If you don’t have an iron yet I would recommend investing in one. Pressing your garments is a real game-changer for the quality of your sewing.

I find that this adds a huge difference to my garments, sometimes things just look too homemade but pressing at all stages of your sewing can really improve this.

pressing

Pressing can also help with sewing accuracy. You will find it will allow you to get your seams, hems and details much more accurate.

Bonus Tip: If you are sewing with wool, like making a Winter coat, steaming with a really hot iron and hitting it down with a wooden rolling pin is key to getting beautifully pressed seams. (This is also a good stress reliever!!!)

USING PAPERWEIGHTS AND CHALK

Pinning patterns to fabric seems to be the standard practise for home sewing but in reality, professional sewers cut out a bunch of garments at once.

Using paperweights and a quality tailor’s chalk is key to getting accurate pattern pieces.

chalking off pattern

By pinning a pattern to fabric there is room for movement of the fabric meaning the grainline may be off. The fabric could be pinned in place but it is actually folded up without you realising until it is cut out incorrectly.

When using paperweights the fabric is able to sit flat this will allow you to correctly trace around the pattern pieces onto the fabric.

My paperweights are handmade by my lovely dad! One day I will share a tutorial on how to make them with you. This can be an inexpensive option.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT FABRIC

Choosing the right fabric for your sewing projects is one of the most important aspects of getting things right from the get-go.

Although sewing is about playing around with fabrics and sewing fun projects, it is important to always keep the end product use in mind when planning.

If I was sewing a knit top from stiff cotton I would soon discover my top won’t be the right size.

choosing the right fabric

I know it can be really exciting to start creating your own garments. You may find you want to use a certain fabric that isn’t suggested on the pattern recommendations. My advice is to stick to the fabric suggestions until you become a confident sewer.

It’s so important to learn the basic skills first without the added stress of trying to sew tricky fabric.

Once you nail the basics, focus on trying to follow a sewing pattern from start to finish. Finishing your very first project is so rewarding and motivating.

fabric types

Below are some great book resources that I personally use all the time. All of these books share information on lots of fabric types from yarn to fabric.

The swatch book has fabric cuttings so you can feel and see the fabrics. This is really great if you are just starting to learn about all the different types of textiles. Sometimes different fibres can be mistaken for others so its great to have swatches on hand.

Fabric for Fashion – Swatch book
Fabric for Fashion – No swatches

I hope you found these 5 sewing tips helpful. The smallest adjustments to the way you sew can make a huge difference in the end results.

If you want to jump into a fun sewing project and put these tips into practice check out some of my free tutorials below or you can find my pdf sewing patterns here. 

EASY SEWING PROJECTS

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