1.11.2014

Sewing for Dummies: Best tutorials for the sewing newbie


This summer I was cruising Craiglist for things I want but don't need, and I across a Singer embroidery/sewing machine. It was in awesome condition and a great price... I decided on the spot that I was going to teach myself to sew.

Fast-forward to now and I have a lot of hours of sewing practice under my belt.  One thing I quickly learned after trying and failing many times to successfully complete a pattern I purchased at a fabric store (from McCalls, Simplicity, etc.) was that it didn't matter if the words "SEW EASY" were on the front; I wasn't going to finish it. Or if I did, the final product looked like a middle school Home Ec version of the awesome garment on the front.

I told my sad story to a girlfriend who owns her own store of children's clothes she makes (she's amazing, visit her store here) and she said something that totally changed the ballgame for me.

"Your first problem is that you're using patterns made by those huge companies. Try looking online for tutorials and PDFs."

The one drawback is that a pattern downloaded online comes as a PDF to your printer; thus, you have to cut and tape together the pattern. But to me, this is almost as tedious as cutting the patterns from a company pattern anyway.

Here are the ones I find myself going to a LOT. They are either free, or ones I've purchased that I found to be worth it. Keep in mind I mainly sew things for my 16 month old, so there's a lot of baby and boy clothes on this list. I'll try and categorize so you can skip over anything you're not interested in. Click on the pictures to go to the link or a Pinterest pin that will take you there.

Baby Items:

 1. FREE Baby burp cloths (The author of this website, Dana Made It, has almost singlehandedly taught me to sew and you will see a few more of hers on this list. Her tutorials are AWESOME, full of pictures, and are written so clearly. A must for anyone new to sewing.)

Click for link
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Turn all those swaddle blankets into PJ's for the kiddo:
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FREE Baby bib tutorial and pattern (makes a great baby gift)
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FREE Baby Boy Romper tutorial and pattern. This one I didn't use as much as the following, but it is free and has good pictures. Melly Sews is also a great and informative website for newbies.
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Simple Leggings... I made the heck out of these. They are great for hipster baby boys or of course, for little girls.
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This pattern was only $6.95 on Etsy and is super-easy to follow. I had a hard time at first with the lining/outer layer aspect of rompers, and this pattern lead me to the first successful, complete outfit.
Fuddie Duddies on Etsy

Kid Items:

1. Another one from Dana Made It. Kid pants! So easy once you get the hang of it!
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2. A modification of the above-- the kid tuxedo stripe pant. Too cute. Made by Rae is another website I loved as just a generally great resource.
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3. Another by Rae I use all the time is this skinny t pattern that I purchased for around $7. Another one well worth the money, in my opinion. And there are lots of other tutorials on modifications of this pattern, like a button-down cardi (too cute).
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Around the Home Items:

PILLOWS are something I love to make now... changing out a pillow can really change up a room, and a lot of times you can make one from a great remnant on sale at the fabric store. Here are some of my favorite pillow tutorials:
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Sewing projects for the home, courtesy of Martha Stewart:
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Coffee cozies make cute little gifts, don't take long to make, and make you feel accomplished for finishing so quickly.
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For all those scraps you have after making aforementioned projects:
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A great email list to subscribe to is AllFreeSewing. They send projects every day that really are worth taking a look at, and are done by theme. Most of them are in the "easy" category, which means I like it that much more.

Need your sewing to look professional? Check out this pin:
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