Ask LJ: Sewing Beginners

Sewing questions! I get a lot of them. So for those too timid to ask, benefit from the asking of others.

Dear LJ,

I want to start sewing but I don’t know what kind of machine to buy.

In The Market

Dear In The Market,

Most people start off with a cheapie machine. And that is totally fine. That is where I started, too. You don’t want to throw down $600 on a machine for a craft you don’t even know you’ll like. It is perfectly reasonable to start cheap.

Now, cheap machines tend to be snobby about thread and fabric. You are not going to want to sew a bunch of fleece or gauze on a cheapie machine. You want good quality quilting fabric. And you want good quality thread. Cheap machine + cheap thread = disaster. I’m saving you some frustration up front. Just go with good thread from the start. (I use Gutterman.)  And I’m not saying you have to buy designer fabric, but steer clear of anything with a loose weave for now.

I also recommend Brother over Singer. I started with Singer. So many problems. Easily overwhelmed is how I would describe that machine. People have much better luck with cheapie Brothers than cheapie Singers. Just my experience.

As far as what features you want, well, kind of up to you. Really, you NEED a straight stitch. You could USE a zig-zag and one step button hole. Anything beyond that is just fluff. 99% of my sewing is just a straight stitch.

I now sew with a Babylock sewing machine. It is dreamy. I have the now discontinued Crafter’s Choice model. I love it. I upgraded after about a year of sewing on my cheapie. When I realized this was going to be something I did on a regular basis.

LJ

DSCN4888

Dear LJ,

What project should I try first?

Eager To Begin

Dear Eager To Begin,

There are dozens of projects to start with! Pick something you want to make. And don’t start with a gift. Too much pressure. Here are some ideas:

Pillowcase Dress

Pillowcase

Twirly Skirt

Burp Cloths

Napkins

Envelope Throw Pillow Cover

Apron

Personally, my first project was a throw pillow. When I revisited sewing as an adult, I started with a pillowcase dress. Just pick something you want to make. Check out Pinterest and get going!

LJ

(One of my very first projects.)

Dear LJ,

Should I use a pattern or what?

Paper?

Dear Paper?,

Some people love patterns. I am not one of those people. I prefer to follow tutorials or draft my own patterns. I do use patterns on occasion. I have friends that only sew using patterns. Really, you are just going to have to try it and see what you think.

LJ

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Dear LJ,

I’m nervous about ruining the fabric. How do I do this?

Ready To Cut

Dear Ready To Cut,

Fear of the first cut is common! I still have that feeling at times with certain fabrics or projects. You just have to dive in and go for it. Measure twice. Then go!

LJ

Dear LJ,

Do I need a serger?

Edgy

Dear Edgy,

Sergers are overrated. I might have some folks disagree with me on that. I rarely use mine. I have a Babylock Lauren serger and it just sits around for the most part. I sometimes just use it because it is there and I feel obligated to use it. So, no, in my opinion, you do not need a serger.

LJ

Leave any other sewing questions in the comments. This post contains affiliate links.

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6 thoughts on “Ask LJ: Sewing Beginners

  1. Jennifer March 31, 2016 / 7:35 pm

    What kind of steam cleaner did you use?

  2. somemoremusingsby June 9, 2016 / 1:56 pm

    Lindsey,

    I have been looking for simple pants, I found a pair that I like but don’t want to spend that much.
    https://www.greatgreenapple.com/machuy/cotton/womens/authentic-mexican-soft-natural-organic-cotton-drawstring-peasant-pants-7030.shtml
    or
    https://www.greatgreenapple dot com/machuy/cotton/womens/authentic-mexican-soft-natural-organic-cotton-drawstring-peasant-pants-7030.shtml
    if links get stripped out.

    Please consider a tutorial for us men.

    Thanks,
    David (who hasn’t sewn for 40 plus years, and then not much)

      • somemoremusingsby June 10, 2016 / 3:52 pm

        After searching the net I found . It looks to be a simple way to make a pattern, and plan on making a 3 channel waistband like the first website. It also has encouraged me to stitch by hand, more in keeping original garments. After I tackle the pants I’m going to try a Tabard the shirt too.

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