How to Get Instant Gratification in Sewing

By Dea Van Patten, Contributing Writer

I’m an impatient person. I want my results right now! Or at least pretty soon. I have always been that way. So when my mama started teaching me to sew over 60 years ago, I found a new way to get instant gratification. And you can too. Let me tell you how.

Deciding what to make

First things first. If you already have a sewing machine – and since we’re talking about sewing here, I’m assuming that you have at least a beginner machine – the very first thing you need to do is decide what you want to make. Look for something easy. Try a pillowcase, a scrunchie, or a tote bag. If you have moved past those as a beginner and want to try something a little more advanced, try a simple, gathered skirt or a child’s dress, perhaps some overalls.

Instant gratification! You have made a decision! You have decided to make something specific. Now you move on to the next step.

Preparing yourself

Look at your machine. Do you have all the tools and accessories you need? Not the fun stuff you will want later, but the stuff you absolutely need to sew. How do you find out what those things are? You can try and go to the Beginner Sewing website. Instant gratification! You now know what you need and some nice-to-haves that you might want to get too. So a trip to the fabric store or an online purchase might be in order. A quick trip, or the press of a button, (and a credit card or some cash), and you have your second dose of instant gratification. You now have a sewing machine and the tools you need to get started on whatever project you chose.

Having your plan

Now you have your sewing machine, your tools and accessories, and your project idea, what next? You need a pattern or some instruction on how to make what you decided to make. Regardless of what you decided to make, chances are YouTube has a number of great tutorials on how to it. You can just do a quick search and pick a video to watch, or watch several and pick your favorite. Now you know how to make your project. Or perhaps what you picked needs a pattern. No problem. There are a lot of free PDF patterns you can download; just do a search for “free PDF pattern for xxx.” You can also get a paper pattern at your fabric store or online for what you are preparing yourself with what you need to get started.

Getting project specifics

Your pattern or tutorial will tell you what do you need now. You will need fabric. Do you already have a stash of fabric from a friend or

relative who knows you want to sew? If so, pick a piece that you like that is big enough, and lay it out as directed by your tutorial or pattern. If you don’t have a stash of fabric, do you have something you can use? A sheet with a pretty pattern

An old shirt or skirt that is past its prime or out of style? Some curtains that no longer fit your décor? Any of those will do just fine. Or you can make another trip to your favorite fabric vendor and buy fabric. Another decision made. Major instant gratification! Having that fabric in your hands and knowing that in just a little while it will be a finished product that

everyone, including you, will admire, is so gratifying. So satisfying. (In fact, I often buy or salvage fabric just to have it to admire for a few days or weeks before I start cutting and sewing it.)

Making your project

For the best bit of all, for the instant gratification to end all instant gratification, follow your tutorial or your pattern and sew your project. Fill your pillowcase with a pillow;  put on your new top; try the dress or overalls on your child; spin around in your new gathered skirt; put your ponytail up in a self-made scrunchie; sling your tote bag over your shoulder. And stand in front of the mirror and admire YOURSELF. Because you have just completed your project, made it yourself, and that is the best – the very best! – instant gratification of all.

About the Author

Dea first started learning to sew when her father, a career Navy man, was stationed in South America. The family was able to travel with him, which is where Dea had her first encounter with sewing around age 9. Her first project was a pair of pink flannel pajamas and she wore them proudly. After that, it was onward and upward. Dea went from simple to complicated, sewing all her own office clothes… Sack dresses in the 60s, shoulder pads in the 70s, bell-bottoms in the 80s, shirtwaist dresses in the 90s, and then in the 2000s, casual stuff. Now as a retiree, Dea sews only for fun. 

Joan Mantini

About Joan Mantini

After several years of being the Facebook page owner at Beginner Sewing, I noticed there was a desperate need to have a single go-to spot for members to be able to find answers to their common questions, get some useful tips & tricks, as well as find reputable places to purchase sewing products online. Taking my role as a trade publication editor by day, and combining it with my knowledge of frequently requested beginner sewing advice, I created An outlet that gives new sewists a free digital magazine geared for entry level sewing as an extra bonus!

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