Sewing For beginners, what you really need.

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The idea of learning to sew is a thought that many have. And I can promise you now anyone can sew but knowing where to start can be tough. In a world where we are told that you need an app for everything, I like to get back to the basics of what you really need to enjoy this pastime. I am going to share my list of what is needed with you. You needn’t spend a fortune, try op shops, vintage shops, garage sales or you might have an aunt that will loan you her machine.

My sewing history is not based on an expensive education or a mother who was a seamstress. I am self taught, trusting trial and error and any resource I can get my hands on to hone my skills. So essentially practice, practice, practice. My grandmother taught me how to thread a needle, basic hand stitches and how to tie a knot at the end. Basic sewing machine use I learnt in grade 8 home economics which is the case for most people and the rest I figured out myself.

So here’s what I believe is important to the home sewer.

*Firstly, a sewing machine. You can spend $50 or $5000, find a machine that you like/ understand, you needn’t go over the top. I sew on a 1959 singer that was gifted to me by my husband our first christmas together. I had it given some love by a sewing machine repairman. It is very basic only goes forwards and back in varying stitch lengths and may be haunted by it’s original owner but I just adore it. I have collected attachments for buttonholes and ruffles which I haven’t used yet (I promise I will share when I do).

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*Decent scissors, you needn’t spend a fortune but keep these only for cutting fabric. Admittedly I do cut tissue paper/ patterns with mine which would have a lot of purists rolling in their grave (sorry guys). I also adore my pinking shears this is my favourite method for finishing seams, so retro!

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*Tape measure, easy to source and sometimes its worth having more than one. I have several that float around my sewing room.

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*Rulers, 30cm, 1m and a curved ruler. I only procured a 1m and a curve ruler in the last 6 months and I love them both but went for years without them just fine.

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*Pins, Pins, Pins. I have all kinds; long, short, glass heads, round heads, ones with love heart shaped heads and recently some lovely long quilters pins with large flowered heads. You only need a basic pin though to start and figure out what you like. Nice steel ones are perfect, buy two packs though before you know it you will have lost some to your carpet and a large project will need a few.

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*Thread, there can be many kinds of thread depending on your project and it’s colour. I will expand on this topic in the future.

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*Tailors chalk or pens that will wash away. I now mark anything with stitches or snips in the seam line but I definitely started out drawing on everything until I remembered it all.

*And lastly something to sew, pick yourself a project. My first project of my own accord was a halter neck swing dress of red and white spot fabric when I was 15 that I sewed on my cousins machine. You may want to start with a tote bag or a cushion or tackle a basic skirt or dress. It’s up to you but pick a project you are interested in and can see yourself getting excited about working on.

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In my next sewing post I will go through the basics of threading my machine and how to source information and learn how to thread yours. Happy sewing supply shopping.

Nadia. xx

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10 thoughts on “Sewing For beginners, what you really need.

  1. lovefromhamburg says:

    This is such a useful post. I’m also self taught and I recently relocated to Germany – I really had to streamline my sewing collection and it’s true – you really don’t need lots of fancy equipment x

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    1. wattleandbee says:

      Exactly honey! I feel as though things can get very over complicated and overwhelming these days! A relocation would have really made you pick what you value and need! Did you find when you moved and unpacked that you wish you had got rid of more? And what was your essential ‘must pack?’ X

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      1. lovefromhamburg says:

        Defiantly, it was hard because I only had one suitcase to move with so I had to be really careful to not over pack and be within my weight limit! I had to take my sewing machine as hand luggage – I got some funny looks at airport security! My essentials were my scissors, when you have some good quality scissors they’re hard to replace, everything else you can pick up as you go x

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  2. diyonashoestring says:

    Thank you! This post has been extremely helpful! I grew up with a Dad who customized equipment for special needs children, which also meant he as the house “seamstress” lol! Now that I live alone however, I need to learn to hem my own pants. Is there a certain brand or machine you would recommend for a total beginner? Thanks!

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    1. wattleandbee says:

      Hey honey, it is such a basic and handy skill to have, hemming pants and fixing buttons are just the beginning. I honestly think go simple to begin with, my first modern sewing machine I saved and saved for. It cost me $200 and was a basic model by Brother when I was a teenager. I sew in a 1959 metal Singer now, I also have a vintage Husquvarna that I need to give some love that I found on hard trash day. I personally prefer sturdy steel but that’s the vintage lover coming out in me. Go for a decent brand as its easy to get things fixed and source parts. Saying that I can still source parts for my current machines just takes a little more time and $$$ no more expensive though than any other machine for servicing. Go to your local mom and pop machine stockists they should have a display models they can talk you through/ show you how to use. I am hesitant to name brands as I can only go from my experience but I did outline in my latest post ‘getting to know your machine’ the basics that you need to master have a read and let me know if you have other questions. Xx

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      1. diyonashoestring says:

        Thank you so much! This has been more than helpful! Your gorgeous vintage Singer is definitely a dream machine for me, but I better stick to a simple machine to begin! I will definitely shop around at thrift shops! Thanks again for all of your help! 🙂

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      2. wattleandbee says:

        Honestly I can’t recommend old machines more, very simple and straight forward. mine was $50 and it cost me $100 to service I’m doing pretty good for a machine that cheap that I’ve been sewing on for years now. Check second hand swap/ sell websites I’m not sure where you are based but in Australia we have Gumtree, I see them on there all the time for cheap. I got offered a 1925 singer today whilst purchasing a vintage bathtub and it’s haunting me but I had to turn it down as I have no room for it! So upsetting! Happy hunting honey. X

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      3. diyonashoestring says:

        Thanks again for all of your advice!! I did a little scouting (in Canada we have an awesome second hand store called Talize) and actually found a few machines! I’m holding out for a less beat up model than was for sale but I will most likely be thrifting for my first machine! I will share when I find the perfect machine for me. Again, thank you 🙂

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