Three Sewing Tips for Beginners From a Professional

By Sharon Sears, Beginner Sewing group member and mentor

Hello beginner sewing family! Let me introduce myself… My name is Sharon, a.k.a. the “Custom Queen”. I am the master of custom fit and have been sewing professionally for over 30 years. My favorite work is with the pageant industry. I currently do work in the Miss and Teen USA system as well as many other systems, altering Haute Couture gowns, especially the heavily beaded [liquid beading]. I work backstage and repair/alter the gowns for the girls, getting them to picture-perfect for when they hit that stage.  As a professional, I have some advice to give my beginner sewing family. Here are three sewing tips for beginners:

Sewing Tip #1 – what is the best sewing machine to buy?

You don’t have an expensive one. Beginners only need two functioning stitches, the straight stitch, and the zig-zag. Most people never use all those fancy stitches.

Get used to your machine. Practice, practice, practice. Sewing is like playing the piano. You can’t sit down the first time and think you’re going to play Mozart. Practice makes perfect. Besides, you learn best from your mistakes!

Sewing Tip #2 – Patterns

You should look for a pattern with the least number of pieces. Example: pajamas, have two pieces. They have the fabric and the elastic waistband. I recommend making your first pattern at least three times before you move on to another choice. Why three times? Repetition. Every time you do it, it is a confidence booster and a learned habit.

Commercial patterns are not the same size as retail clothing. An example of this is: I wear a women’s size 6, however, in patterns I can cut out anything from a 10-14, and sometimes even a 16.

Measure everything on your pattern before you cut it out. By doing this you will get a much better fit. Know your body, its shape, your height, the biggest part of your body, this will help you pick the best styles for your body shape. Also, be aware of body proportions.

Where is your hemline? It will be different for everybody. The style and proportions are the key to a great garment.

Sewing Tip #3 – The garment finish

What is the difference between homemade, retail, designer, and Haute Couture wear?

Homemade is unfinished seams and facings in your garment. Seams that don’t match up.

Retail wear, is factory produced. The construction is done quickly. Look inside that garment. There will not be any facings, they usually bind the necklines and armholes. Or they use an overlock seam to hem that raw edge.  The seams are all serged, no raw edges, no extra seam allowance inside. The fabrics used are generally cheap fabrics.

Designer clothing is made with excellent quality fabrics. Everything is lined, no raw seams, everything is enclosed. It is made with extra care. Boning, bra cups, belts around the waist, more interfacing is used around the necklines and armholes. The garment is as clean on the inside as it is on the outside.

Haute Couture goes a step beyond that, more often than not, it is hand-made by one or two people. The beadwork, sequins, embellishments are always done by hand, and with love.

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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