Fast Track Sewing: Learning How to Sew Essential Skills

I’ve heard you loud and clear!

A few weeks ago, I asked my community (email subscribers) what your biggest issue is when it comes to sewing your clothing.

An overwhelming majority of you told me that the essential sewing skills were your biggest challenge. So, I’ve come up with the blog post to talk to you about the beginner sewing skills you need to learn and become proficient in to get sewing fast.

I get it.

In a haste to have this fabulously awesome dress, skirt, or whatever, you dived head first into sewing and have gotten tangled in your bobbin thread. Literally and figuratively.

Let’s discuss two options on how you can start learning the beginner sewing skills necessary for creating beautiful clothing that lasts.

Option 1 – Learn the Skills Individually

Learning the most commonly used skills needed for sewing clothing is a good way to get started.

If you’re a patient person who likes to build a solid foundation in anything you approach, this may work best for you. With consistent practice, this approach is almost guaranteed to help you become proficient in the necessary skills quickly. Because you are focusing on, say, learning how to sew a buttonhole, I can almost guarantee that when you’ve focused your time on practicing the buttonholes, you’ll be able to do it in your sleep, flipped upside down.

By attacking the beginner sewing skills in an isolated manner, your time and energy is concentrated. This yields fast, high quality results.

And the biggest benefit to you, is that you won’t be intimidated by projects that require buttons!

Let me tell you, I was terrified of zippers and button holes for a long time when I first started sewing. If it didn’t have elastic in it, I didn’t make it. So, you can imagine how that drastically narrowed down my options.

Eventually, I had to get over it if I ever wanted to progress in my sewing and in my style. Had I just sat down with some scrap fabric (trust, I had plenty from failed projects) and just attacked the button and buttonhole, I’d have gotten over that fear a long time ago.

Option 2 – Project Based Learning

This is how I learned. I picked up the skills as I went along project by project.

There are many pros and even more cons to this approach that I will get to in a second.

But, first. *Pause*

Story time

After spending an hour and a half cussing, I mean learning how to thread my sewing machine, I attempted my very first project. It was “easy” pencil skirt tutorial on YouTube.

I bought some black double knit fabric from Joann’s, a beginner sewing kit, elastic, and went to town. Then, it got real. Quickly.

I didn’t know how to measure myself properly. Draw what line, where? Wtf?? Right side? Wrong side? Hell, they looked the same to me!

I didn’t know about a selvage, I didn’t know what width and length was on my fabric (I’d cut a square.) I didn’t know what stitch to use. The list goes on.

That day, I got a crash course in 2-way vs 4-way stretch fabrics because when I managed to sew my front and back pieces together, I put the skirt on and it didn’t stretch. It didn’t even get over my ever expanding pregnant hips.

Are you picturing this disaster?

I had every reason to give up. But, I didn’t. Don’t celebrate yet. I said to hell with it because obviously something was wrong with the teacher, and not me. Because I’m smart and if it’s a good tutorial, I would have understood.

I know, just keep reading.

So, instead of going back and figuring out what I needed to learn to complete this task, I did the opposite. I moved forward and picked a pattern. My first sewing pattern project was a maternity dress pattern from Butterick. I bought my fabric and began teaching myself how to read the pattern envelope.

I hacked away at my dress on the living room floor and began sewing. To my credit, I did a pretty good job. The practice I had sewing a straight line with the pencil skirt, helped me on the next project. I was doing just fine, until I got to the very last step I needed to complete. The bias neck binding.I could not get that neck binding on to save my life. It brought it to a screeching halt because I didn’t know how to do the binding.  To this day, I haven’t finished that dress. I still have it in my closet. Haunting me.

So, my point is that with project based beginner sewing skill development, there is a cost. You may get instant gratification to see the project come together. But, will it look good? Will it last or fall apart on you because your construction methods need help?

And the biggest cost is the time you’ve spend on something you don’t feel confident wearing and the money you’ve thrown down the drain right next to the fabric you’ve wasted. There is an upside to project based sewing skill development. But, you have to be willing to pause when you hit a roadblock in your project. Go practice what’s stumping you, then come back and finish that project.

I’m definitely not against project based learning, but it takes a level of persistence and discipline. And it takes resisting the temptation of just wanting to finish the project by any means necessary.

So, let’s get to the actual skills I think you need to be proficient in to create your clothing.

Essential Beginner Sewing Skills

It’s hard to draw a line in the sand about what’s considered easy or beginner skills. So, here are the skills I think you should be comfortable performing and be satisfied with the outcome, at a bare minimum, for the new sewer.

  • Sewing a straight line, curves, and corners

  • Cutting and marking your fabric

  • How to choose a sewing pattern size

  • How to sew with non-stretch and stretch fabrics.

  • Learning when and how to use the most frequently used stitches on your machine

There are many other elements you should commit to learning, but when this blog is about creating a fast track. These are essential skills that you’ll come across in every single project you make.

What’s most important is that you don’t want your fear of these skills to be the reason you don’t sew create the wardrobe of your dreams!

So, I’ve created a 3 step video roadmap to give you the skills you should learn, in the most effective order, to get started sewing FAST. There’s so much information out there that it can literally be an overload. I’ve felt that way and I don’t want you to feel that way.

Even if you already feel like your eggs are scrambled, let me help you out. In the free video, we discuss the 3 MAIN skills that are an absolute necessity that you master when learning how to sew. Forget the fluff, forget the fancy projects.

Because, let’s be real. Sometimes when we dive head first into a project that we may not necessarily be ready for, we give up prematurely.

The reality is that you absolutely can learn to create amazing items for yourself at your own sewing machine, but building the foundation makes things a lot easier, and a lot less expensive because you’re skipping the costly trial and error of learning.

So, watch this video guide to get the exact path you can take to grow your skills now!

 If you’re ready to learn how to sew and focus on the fundamentals, I invite you to my Stylish Sewing For Beginners Online Workshop!

4 replies on “Fast Track Sewing: Learning How to Sew Essential Skills”

  • Hi i love sewing and would love to lean to sew professional. I kinda not so good with measurements in cm i rather them in inches. I want step by step guide on how to make basic blouse, dress, pants and kids clothes. I know how to make basic skirt but wouldn’t mind a touch up lesson on that too. Love the simple method you use to teach the high waist skirt. Thanks much.

  • One place I have trouble is in choosing the correct fabric. I know that sounds silly, but the fabric suggestions on the pattern envelope do not appear on a bolt of fabric occasionally. Crepe de Chine?? Organza?? WTHeck? I recently purchased Simplicity pattern 8343 and I’m sure hoping i bought the right fabric. I am afraid to get started because I’m hoping it will drape properly. I bought a gauzy, linen type. Anyhow, wondering if you have any tips on how to decipher the fabric types and how to take the guess work out of buying fabric, especially online since you don’t have to chance to touch and feel it before buying. Thank you for your time and talent. You are an inspiration.Amy P.

  • I know the basic to sewing but my problem is I bought a patter but once the out fit was finish it was to small. I went by the sizes on the back of pattern. So I want to know how to pick the right size in patterns

  • Your encouraging and teaching words is what I needed. I have picked up and dropped off my sewing so many time due to frustration, confusion – you name it. Project based learning may be how I should approach my sewing frustrations to avoid falling off track – again and again.

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