02 November 2014

My top tips for new sewists

So I've read a few lists (I really like lists) of tips for new sewers (sewists?), and I have found them generally unhelpful.  So I feel the need to weigh in with my own list of tips for new sewers.

1. Use whatever the heck you want

Ok, so what is it with snooty seamstresses who think you should only use fabric that is like $1000p/m, or top of the range scissors, machine or tools?  Do they realise this is real life here?  On almost all these lists I have read some variation of "you're only as good as your tools", "only use really good quality fabric" etc etc.

Well, that's fine if you have the means, which I probably do, but as a new a seamstress, I personally think that is outrageous to be dishing out all this cash when you may not really know what you're doing :/  

I have, and still do, make do with what is to hand, what I can afford and what I think I need.  Being a budding sewist already puts you into the basket of particularly creative and innovative people, with the desire to create something out of nothing, Want to use quilting fabric?  Fine!  What about a bedsheet?  Great!  A blanket?  Absolutely fantastic

I'm quite sure you will succeed with a basic sewing machine and some bargain basement fabric just as much as you would have if you had a top of the range digital transforming sewing machine and that coveted luxurious fabric. 

That fabric was literally $2.80 per meter.  Boo-yah! 

2. Just do it

This slogan applies equally to sports as it does to sewing, go for it! 

I still get quite a bit of pre-fabric cutting anxiety, and I think and think about executing something before I do it.  My advice, which I give myself constantly is: Be brave, and go for it!  What's the worst that can happen?  Ok, you'll ruin your uber expensive fancy heirloom vintage fabric (which you wouldn't be doing if you follow step 1 above). Well, obviously be smart about it (which I will come to below) but what I'm trying to say is, you will get better and you will only learn by doing.  So do it already! 

My first bias binding :)  Aww ain't it cute?

3. Take your time

It took me a long time to learn this.  I consciously decided that when I was making my coat that I would be very zen about it.  I took my time, did everything properly, and importantly, when I was getting sick of it or frustrated, called it a day.  

Chances are you're making your own garments for a reason, be it you want something that fits better, you're not happy with the choices in stores, you have something particular in mind or you enjoy making things.  Regardless of your reason, you are going to get wayyy better results if you slow down, think about what you're doing and be patient. 

I really recommend enjoying every step in the process and always being mindful and present in your sewing.  I personally find all crafting beautifully meditative, and can lose hours this way.  Not a bad thing I reckon. 

Just enjoying my hobby, my buddy chilling with me. 

4. Be proud 

This should go without saying.  You made something! You are fucking awesome and you should feel as such! Tell people you made it!  Wear your makes to work, play, shopping and tell people you made it!  Bask in the compliments - of which there will be many! Share your works on Sewing Pattern Review, Instagram, Handmaker's Factory.  Connect with others who appreciate your craft. Hell, write blog posts sharing your makes and ideas with other seamstresses!!! ;)

So that's about all the wisdom I have to impart.  Do you have any advice for new sewers?  Do you agree with me?  Do you disagree with me?  Either way, I'd love to know.



  1. Great advice Tanya! My only bit of advice would be: sew something you're actually going to wear! I've brought fabric before just because I liked it and then realised that there is no way that it would look good on me which is a bit disappointing.

    1. This is very true and still something I struggle with!!

  2. I really like to sew also and I have been trying n error (ing) for a long time. I have never taken a class but someday I think mot could help me. So thank you for the advise Tanya and I love your jacket and the yellow dress also... They are both awesome!