How I Taught Myself to Sew and You Can Too

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* Affiliate links are included in this post. All this means, is that if you click on one of those links and purchase something, I may receive a small commission. However, you will not pay a penny more- promise!

Let me begin by apologizing. While I have shared with you a few different sewing related posts, I have failed to start with the basics in sewing. I have been sewing for so long that I forget that sewing can be quite a foreign concept to many crafters. With that said, let me give you a bit of a background as to how I essentially taught myself to sew and how you can too!

My Sewing Background

I must tell you that while I have sewn endless clothing items and household decor, I am far from a seamstress. And while I have sewn quilts, I am far from a quilter. However, I know the basics and you’d be surprised how far the “basics” in sewing can really get you.

When I was in 7th grade I was a student in a required home economics course. This was the first time I was introduced to a sewing machine. I remember creating a holiday placemat as our final project prior to the semester ending. As useless as this placemat was, I precisely recall the joy I received out of creating this project. A joy that far superseded (in my case) the joy which I received out of the cooking portion of the home economics course.  In fact, the joy was so great that when the semester ended, I continued to sew with a needle and thread. As one can imagine, the joy quickly began to fade as sewing by hand with a needle and thread took ages. Apparently, my disappointment was somewhat obvious, as my parents surprised me with a brand new sewing machine as a gift when my Confirmation at church rolled around later that same year. Let me tell you, at this particular time in my life, I had never seen anything quite so shiny and pretty!

I opened my sewing box, followed the instructions for setup, and never looked back. I tried my hardest to implement the techniques I learned from my home economics class; however, this was basically how to thread a machine and how to sew a straight line. Both very important components, but could only get you so far.

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The years that followed were full of endless trial and error. The Internet was created, but it was a time of dial up Internet connection and watching online tutorials and techniques was but a dream. Instead, I would beg my parents (and grandmother) to drive me to Walmart where I would raid the fabric department (spending the very little money which I had earned from birthdays and chores) and purchase different fabrics, buttons, thread, etc. I’d return home and try my hardest to bring to life what I envisioned in my head. While 50% of the time this just resulted in my ripping out more seams than I care to mention, the other 50% of the time resulted in some of my largest success stories to include my very own swimsuit, doll clothes, comforter, etc. all before the age of 15.

As my high school years progressed, I found myself spending less and less time on sewing. However, this didn’t stop me from lugging my machine off to college with me. Then came graduate school in occupational therapy and I must admit my inspiration for creativity blossomed and I once again found myself using my machine routinely. After graduating from college, that same sewing machine moved from my apartment to its final resting place in our new home, where it eagerly awaits my next project.

The beauty in my sewing “career” is that while it has spanned quite a timeframe and while I often went a year or two between projects, it always remained similar to riding a bike. No matter how much time between its use, the basic techniques always came back to me.

My Sewing Machine

In 7th grade, I was gifted a “Brother LS- 1217 ” sewing machine. This same exact machine was used for 99% of my sewing “career”. In fact, I used this same exact machine for 15 years straight because I simply adore it. I adore it not only because it was basic enough for teaching myself how to sew, but also because it allowed me to craft every project I desired without complication. Truth is, if it was not for the generosity of my husband, I would still be using this machine.

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This past September on my birthday, my husband surprised me with a new machine. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit emotional boxing up my old one (although, it brings me great joy to know I will someday dig out this exact machine for my daughters to begin their sewing journey). However, the sadness quickly faded when I realized just  how much I LOVE my new machine, the “Brother International CE4400”. He actually purchased it directly from here. What I love about my new machine is that it is still basic enough for me to use on everyday projects, yet offers more modernized benefits (i.e. different stitches, assisted needle threading, etc.) You simply can’t go wrong with purchasing this machine and I can’t say enough great things about it.

How You Can Teach Yourself to Sew

I often hear people say just how intimidated they are by the idea of sewing. So intimidated in fact, that in most cases they never even attempt the skill, simply stating that they wouldn’t know where to start. They see (or hear) of people who quickly whip out quilts, costumes for children, home decorations and more and think, “there is no way that could ever be me”. However, the truth is, that you simply need not be intimidated. I am here to tell you that you do NOT need to be an expert seamstress to receive great joy by sewing your own masterpieces.

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In fact, just like me, all you need are the basics in order to get started. As you read above, I learned the basics of sewing from my home economics class. While I can’t provide you with a time machine allowing you to go back to 7th grade and get the most out of the course, I can provide you with the ability to learn from the comfort of your home which I must admit is even better! This ideal online tutorial walks you through the Sewing Machine Basics. Combining this FREE tutorial with the picture diagram that accompanies your new machine, you are sure to be off to a great start.

After learning the basics, I believe there are two ideal options. One, you use the same trial and error method that I used (and in many cases continue to use) in order to expand upon your skills. Or two, you can explore the additional online sewing videos and tutorials available from CreativeBug for just $4.95/month. While I know this option isn’t free like the basic tutorial provided above, it truly is my best recommendation for learning to sew like a pro. I truly wouldn’t recommend anything I hadn’t checked out myself and I can’t speak highly enough about the classes available. From learning how to sew the ideal hem, to sewing any and all projects you can think of (i.e. purses, clothes, pillows, etc.) this website has it all. (Note: the subscription offers you tutorials and videos to more than even sewing. This subscription entitles you to videos on all arts & crafts, quilting, knitting, crocheting, etc.)

The truth is, sewing is far easier than you might think. All it takes is a little time, patience, a user friendly machine, motivation and a tutorial or two.

Enjoy My Step-by-Step Sewing Tutorials

Now that you know how to sew the basics, be sure and check out some of my other posts! The following posts have step-by-step picture and written instructions for basic sewing projects. Happy sewing!!

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13 Comments

    1. I am so glad they are helpful, Amalia! Please let me know if you have any additional questions and I can try and troubleshoot with you! Happy sewing!

  1. Love this post! I also developed my love of sewing from school. My 8th grade teacher taught me to make yo yo’s from circle fabrics. I still love making those!!

  2. Thank you for your post! This reminds me of my mother-in-law who taught herself to sew in days before internet tutorials and YouTube videos. She and you inspire me to remember the basics I learned from my grandmother and just jump in. Many times sewing a new pattern or project is just working it through until you figure it out, like many other skills in life.
    Meghan

  3. I just found your blog and signed up to receive it in my E-mail. I just started sewing again – since I retired. I went to a Catholic School with no Home Ec classes. I signed up for a class one summer while in High School and learned how to make smocked dresses for my future children – I gave birth to three BOYS! I found that very funny. I will be looking at all the places you listed for help. Looking forward to everything.

    1. Hi Patty! I am so grateful you stopped by and subscribed! I love your story about learning to sew dresses only to have all boys! I’m so glad you are giving sewing another go! Please let me know if you have any questions along the way! Best of luck 😊

  4. Hi Lindsay, I just found your blog via AdirondackGirl@Heart. I am a retired occupational Therapist (now 65 and worked mostly adult,geriatric psych but some with kids) and I HAD to smile at your Personalized memory game! When my 2 kids were little we matched up socks when they were 2 (and stuffed one inside the other unlike my mother’s jelly roll and flip method!). I am looking forward to reading your posts. I have been a crafter for 40 years and still am a novice sewer–now doing American girl doll outfits for grands! I’m a Virgo so your blog name caught me attention! Kathy

    1. Hi Kathy, Your comment makes me so happy! I love meeting a fellow OT! The matching socks game is so awesome… I can tell you are an OT :)! American girl clothes?! Wow! What an awesome grandma! My grandma created 90% of all my clothes for my American Girl dolls when I was younger as well. 🙂 So happy to meet you! (P.S. Yay to another Virgo!!)

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