Sewing for Beginners: Corners


Today, we are going to start our first small sewing project! We are going to learn how to make a cloth napkin (which means we’re going to practice making corners)! This is actually something I did in my first sewing lesson and it was much easier than I thought!!! The materials you will need for this project:

  • pins
  • cloth:a couple of yards would be fine-the amount depends on how many napkins you plan on making; cloth napkins can differ in size, measure out a scrap piece of fabric if you need to visually see how large or small you would like your napkins to be. Use some good ol’ multiplication/addition to figure out how much fabric you need to purchase. I sometimes like for my napkins to have different patterns on both sides, so purchase different patterned fabric if you would like! If you have some scrap fabric to practice on, great. I have found some really cute patterned fabric here.
  • coordinating thread
  • iron

I am going to make some napkins for Easter (I love decorating my table for whatever holiday is coming up)! I want my napkins to be around 12” x 12”.  I also like to have 6-8 napkins in a set. I will probably purchase 1.5 to 2 yards of fabric so that I can make around 8 napkins and also have leftover fabric in case I decide to make additional napkins later.

We will begin our project by cutting our fabric. For each napkin, make sure you cut two pieces for the front and the back (I will cut both of mine 12” x 12”).  Use your fabric scissors and cut as carefully and evenly as you can.

If need be, iron each piece prior to sewing to smooth out major wrinkles.

Now we have to pin our pieces together before sewing. Make sure the heads of your needles are toward the middle of your napkin, not the outside edge. Start by putting the right sides together (making your project look inside out). I begin by pinning mine in the middle and put a few pins on each side to hold it into place.

Begin in the middle of one of your sides. Don’t forget to put down your presser foot! Begin by stitching a few stitches, and then DON’T FORGET TO BACKSTITCH! Sew the rest of that side until you reach your first corner. When you get as close as you feel comfortable with, stop sewing but make sure your needle is in the cloth (if the needle stops and is not in the cloth, simply roll the balance wheel on the side). Lift up your presser foot and turn ninety degrees and put the presser foot back down. Continue sewing down the next side in as straight a line as you can. Use the lines beside the needle to help guide you.  Continue doing this with all of the remaining corners.

Leave a few inches of space from your first stitch because you will need to turn your napkin right side out.  After you have reached a few inches from the beginning stitch and have turned your napkin right side out, carefully hand stitch the remaining area. Iron out your napkin and you are finished!!!!!

 



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Sewing For Beginners: Sewing Your First Stitch

Sewing For Beginners: Sewing Your First Stitch

Let’s actually get to the point!!! We’ve all been waiting to get our machines up and running and sewing!!! We are going to start small, and just like before, if you’re already a bit experienced, just hang in there with us until we all catch up! In this fourth lesson, I am going to practice several times sewing a simple  line. Seems simple, and it will be once you’ve practiced a bit.  After your machine is threaded (Sewing Lesson #3), take a scrap piece of all cotton cloth.  A cotton cloth is going to be the easiest to start learning with. Notice the grooves under your presser foot (at the needle).

 

Very carefully, run your fingers underneath the presser foot to feel the rough “teeth” (these are called feed dogs).  These feed dogs will be what helps pull your cloth.  One of the most important things to know is that when you sew, there is no need to pull or tug your cloth.  The feed dogs pull it for you (in fact, you can actually mess up your project and worst of all parts of the machine if you pull and yank too hard).

We are going to begin by sewing without using our hands just so you can see for yourself. Put your cloth underneath your presser foot.  There is a lever toward the back that is going to lower the presser foot down tighter around your cloth-your sewing project will not work if you don’t lower it. Just to see the machine in action, we are going to zip a scrap piece through. Once your cloth is under your machine, lower the presser foot, simply press your foot pedal and see what happens (don’t hold the cloth). You will see the cloth move in a fairly straight line all by itself!!!

*The video tutorial will show you, but whenever you begin sewing, you have to do something called backstitching. When you have sewn the first few stitches, you are going to actually reverse your direction and sew back over your first few stitches so they never come loose.

Sewing for Beginners: How to Thread a Sewing Machine

How to Thread a Sewing Machine

We are going to learn how to thread a sewing machine today! I am going to use a red thread to show you how to thread it today so you can hopefully see a bit better. I am going to give descriptions with pictures…but there’s a video above if you would rather just watch. When learning to sew as a beginner, this may take you a few times to learn how to thread a sewing machine correctly, but know that this is one of the most difficult hurdles when you are first starting out.

I have learned that sewing is 90% getting things ready and 10% sewing-it takes a lot of prep work to get a project started!!!

**Before I show you how to wind your bobbin and how to thread your machine, let me start with the basics of how to properly cut on your machine. I have one cord that goes with my sewing machine. One part is the pedal, one part plugs into the wall, and one part plugs into the machine. The part that plugs into the sewing machine is specially made so that you cannot put it in the incorrect way. If your sewing machine is different than mine, just scan through the directions that came with it carefully to figure out where you need to plug things in at. My sewing machine also has a switch on the right hand side that turns it on and off (I know mine is on if my sewing machine light comes on). If my light is on, and I press the foot pedal, the needle will start moving! So be careful!

We are going to start by getting your spool of thread and your bobbin ready. You need both of these to sew; a portion of the thread will be what you see on the top of your cloth and the other will be what you see on the bottom of your cloth once we get going. To begin, put your large spool of thread on the spool pin at the top of your sewing machine.

You will need to wrap your thread around the top silver portion of your machine. On many sewing machines, there is a diagram at the top that gives you an idea of where to put your thread.  We are going to thread your empty bobbin. When you thread it, make sure the loose end is sticking out of the outside of the bobbin.

Now we will put the threaded bobbin onto the bobbin winder at the top and shift it over.

I tend to hold on to my loose end for just a second to make sure it doesn’t pull off.

Press down on the foot control/pedal. Let the bobbin wind until your machine automatically moves the bobbin winder back over (my machine does not do this, so I just have to keep an eye on my large spool-when it stops winding on the bobbin I have to manually move mine over-this is perfectly fine!). When it is done winding the bobbin, cut the thread.

Take your bobbin off and put it to the side. We will put it in the sewing machine in just a minute. Let’s thread the spool left on the top of your machine! I will show you on my machine-yours may be a bit different (once again, if yours is different, just check your directions that came with your machine-and many newer machines have directions drawn on the top of your machine).

It’s time to thread the sewing machine!

Take the loose end of your spool and wrap it under and around the thread take-up, take your thread down and wrap it around and back up through the thread guide. Take your thread back down toward the needle and make sure the thread goes around the back, and then through the needle. This is way more confusing in words–much easier to view the pictures/video!!!

Bobbin time!
At the bottom left of your machine, you will be putting your bobbin in underneath the large needle you just threaded your thread through. I have a case that I have to pop off of my machine. Take the bobbin case out of your machine.

Put your newly threaded bobbin into the bobbin case and wrap your bobbin thread as shown below.

Place the bobbin back into your machine.

You are going to turn the balance wheel now to make your large needle move up and down very slowly. You are actually going to ‘catch’ your bobbin thread with the spool of thread to bring it up top. This can take a bit of practice, and you may want to get your scissors ready-sometimes you need them to help bring up your bobbin thread.

Once you have your bobbin thread pulled up to the top, put your machine back together and you are ready to go! (**Don’t press your foot control without cloth in your machine–watch that foot!)

Still looking for the perfect sewing machine as a beginner? Check out my blog post on user-friendly sewing machines for beginners.

Sewing for Beginners: Materials to Get Started


To help get you started, here are some of the materials you need to get started. As we learn more difficult projects later on, there might be one or two more materials to add here or there.  I am a big online shopper, so I will try and find the best prices for each of these if you’re wanting to order them online to make it a bit cheaper (it can be a bit pricey to get this hobby up and running).  If you have someone who already has these materials-GREAT!!! Need to purchase the items below? No problem… I’ve added them to my Webstore so that you can purchase the items you need in one place. Check it out here.

  • Sewing machine-self explanatory as to why you would need this!!!! Check out the first blog here if you missed it!
  • pins and pincushion-you will need these for pinning EVERYTHING! I don’t worry about getting the glass or pearlized head pins (they’re more expensive and do the same job). I just use the regular color ball head pins.
  • needles-you will need a basic pack of multi-length needles for the few hand sewing jobs you will need to do.
  • basic threads-I started off by just getting a basic white and cream and few other colors. You can wait to see what type of first project you will be working on before you buy thread. You might want to get at least one while you’re learning how to use the machine and sew a straight line and such. An example of an all-purpose, basic thread can be seen here.
  • seam ripper-Ah…your best friend!!! For all us newbies who are learning how to sew-this fabulous little tool rips all little imperfections out so you can start over!
  • fabric scissors/dressmaker shears-these will look like regular scissors, but you will need a pair of these that are sharp–NEVER USE THESE ON PAPER! EVER! PAPER WILL DULL THESE SCISSORS!!! I keep a pair of fabric scissors and regular scissors for paper in my sewing bag.
  • empty bobbins-you will need to make your own bobbins to match threads when we are sewing.
  • iron and ironing board-you will need to make sure you have these to help press fabrics before sewing.
  • sewing gauge-this is a nice little measuring tool with a helpful slider to help keep things even.
  • rotary ruler-this is yet another measuring tool that is clear with lines printed throughout going in all directions to keep things straight and even.
  • supply holder for bobbins and thread-this is a necessity to me…you will quickly get yourself in a mess with a zillion small little sewing supplies strewn all over creation. My bobbin holder and spool holder (less expensive option here) have been wonderful!
  • pinking shears-you will need these to help keep your fabric from fraying so badly.

Optional Materials

  • rotary cutter-this has been a new purchase for me lately, but it has proven to be really awesome so far! It is a VERY sharp cutting wheel that helps keep my lines straight and also helps me trim those really small areas.
  • self-healing cutting mat-you just gotta have this if you are wanting to try out the rotary cutter! Otherwise you will end up slicing all through your table or counter!
  • bias tape-this is a wonderful creation that I use to finish off ends of projects.
  • ribbon-I keep boxes of ribbon around-but this isn’t really necessary until you need it for a project
  • cloth/fabric for projects-totally depends on what project you’re working on
  • safety pins-I usually have some of these sitting around the house; just another method of pinning.
  • tape measure-I haven’t really had a need for an actual tape measure yet…I haven’t sewn any clothing or anything yet
  • fabric markers/pencils-these can be good if you are needing to mark things on your actual fabric. These markers/pencils will wash and come right out of your projects.

Sewing for Beginners: Sewing Machines for Beginners

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Forgive me if you have a sewing machine and know the basics.  I am going to begin at the skill level I began at a couple of months ago…SQUARE ZERO!!!!! It was actually quite embarrassing what I couldn’t do!

Don’t get bogged down with terms and definitions. This is not the point of sewing. Use this more as a reference. I wanted to make sure you knew the names of the basic parts for when I mentioned to press certain buttons or turn certain knobs.

The machine that I started sewing with and still sew with is a Brother LS1217.  There is absolutely nothing fancy about this machine. When you first start out, if you don’t already have your own machine, it is best to start out with the most basic machine you can  possibly find.  First of all, there is no need to sink a ton of money into a big fancy machine, especially up front. You will have a good bit extra to spend on other materials.  Secondly, and most importantly, it is just easier to learn on something that is bare-bones and simple.  A $400 machine does not stitch straighter or stronger than a $100 machine!

I happened to already have my own sewing machine before I began learning, but it’s no longer produced. If I could make a couple of suggestions as to sewing machines that I would feel comfortable purchasing for a beginning learner, I would suggest one of the following sewing machines (you can read reviews and see really specific info about each of these in the webstore tab at the top of this page):

I also thought I would include a picture of some of the main machine parts.  Do not feel like you need to memorize the names and parts of your sewing machine before you’re allowed to sew! I am still working on them myself! I wanted to make sure that you had a visual of a basic machine (this is a visual of my current machine for the most part) so that you could refer back to it if you are trying to read something with machine parts mentioned:

 

Sewing Machine for Beginners

Sewing Machine Diagram Photo Courtesy of: http://msucares.com/pubs/images/p1302-16.htm