Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Machine sewing for beginners: Projects and tutorials

My first big sewing project was this dress. I got frustrated when I sewed one of the sleeves inside out, couldn't figure out the neckline, and put down the project for months before returning to it.

People often tell me they'd like to learn how to sew, but don't really know where to start. I usually recommend that they get acquainted with their sewing machine by trying out a project with straight lines, like a pillow case, curtains or a simple skirt. Small, simple projects are rewarding because you can easily finish them up in an hour. Some of them even make great gifts!

Here's a list of some machine sewing projects for beginners.

Easy: Sew straight lines and learn to finish edges.
  1. 5-Minute Tank Top Tote: Sew one straight line, and you've made a purse. 
  2. Bandana Table Runner: This is a 15-minute sewing project. Just sew a few straight lines, and you'll feel like Martha Stewart.
  3. Pocket Tissue Cover: Master this, and you can move on to pillows. Make up a bunch in different colors and give out as stocking stuffers.
  4. Envelope Pillow Cover: Great beginner project, and it's a video tutorial. This is like the pocket tissue cover, but all grown up.
  5. Fabric gift/favor bags: Use up fabric scraps and make a gift wrap your friends won't want to throw away.
      Medium-Easy Sewing Projects:  Explore your machine and add zippers, elastic and fusible interfacing.
      1. Eye Pillow: Learn to sew on a curve while using a simple pattern.
      2. Easy Fabric Cuff: This project will let you explore those fancy stitches your machine has.
      3. T-shirt Pillowcase: This project will teach you how to insert a zipper, and you can recycle a favorite t-shirt in the process.
      4. Coffee Cup Sleeve: This project will introduce you to fusible interfacing (which makes fabric sturdier), so grab your iron.You can substitute for fusible fleece.
      5. 10-Minute Fabric Headband: Great tutorial, and a fun way to use scrap fabrics. You'll need elastic for this one.

          Getting harder: Draw a simple pattern and learn about bags.

          1. Six Gore Skirt: Once you take your measurements, use a paper grocery bag to draw out your pattern. This is a challenging project for beginners, but not too difficult.
          2. Lined Cell Phone Cozy: Get out your interfacing and some fabric scraps. Once you've mastered this project, you'll be ready to try a lined purse or tote.  
          3. Yoga Mat Bag: Ommmmm. A bit challenging for the beginner, but you'll feel proud after the bag is complete.
          4. Tiny Tote Bag with Pocket: Learn to add a strap and pocket to your purses.

          If you have suggestions for the list or know of a great tutorial for beginners, please leave me a comment!


              1. Cool! I haven't sewn since home-ec 10 years ago, but I recently inherited an old table machine and can't wait to get back into it. This will defiantly help! Thanks, Chris.

              2. I was looking for a simple sewing project for my MOMS Club, and this made it so easy. Thanks!

              3. Hey...I am a beginner sewer and looove your site. I have a newbie question however...Is there a way after you have made your lined tote bag to back and box the bottom or corners...thanks!


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