The best sewing projects for beginners give you a realistic chance of finishing what you’ve started. Here are five tips for choosing wisely.
Make items you actually need or will use
Bags and boxes are ideal. They don’t have enough detail to demoralise you, so you have a decent opportunity to acquire fundamental skills. The bag designs I use for my classes (pictured opposite) were created with this in mind.
Plus, you can use these bags in real life – so even if you never sew again, the time and money you spent learning won’t have been a waste. And if you do carry on sewing – which I hope you do! – projects like this are confidence boosters.
Bags have just enough detail to prepare you for clothes making, if that’s your ultimate goal. But if you’d rather just go straight to clothes making and not bother with bags, then you might like my next tip better!
Sew children’s clothes
Children’s clothes are another good option because, again, you can’t lose. You get the experience of clothes making on a smaller scale, so it’s a less daunting prospect and you can absorb the techniques more easily. Childrenswear isn’t fitted either, so you don’t have to worry too much about body measurements and pattern alterations.
Also, children grow quickly! There’s no need to dwell on bits you might have sewn less well, because soon the outfit will be too small. You can put it behind you and move on.
For adults: Don’t sew anything too fitted or detailed
Gathered skirts, elastic waists, smock tops (like the one in the photograph below), pyjamas or loungewear is the way to go. If you choose a skirt with a zip, practice first. Sew Liberated’s Estuary and Gypsum skirts are good casual choices, and Pauline Alice’s Riola is a smarter zip-free option. If you’re not a skirt person and don’t want to make pyjamas, the Arenite, Arthur, and Chanterelle pants by Sew Liberated are versatile zip-free options. I’ve mentioned Sew Liberated twice for good reasons; they have a LOT of beginner-friendly patterns in their collection, more than I’ve mentioned.
Ignore projects on nameless TV shows
Please, for the love of all fabric, don’t compare yourself to anyone or anything you see on the tellybox. Even if the person says they haven’t been sewing for very long! Practical things like sewing, cooking, or making anything from scratch takes time. TV producers are in it for entertainment, not realism. Enjoy the shows for what they are.
Choose beginner-friendly fabric
Cotton, linen, and wool are perfect because they’re stable and easy to press. Their matt finish means they won’t slip around, and this means that you can concentrate on the actual sewing instead of worrying about controlling the fabric.
Sometimes this means choosing fabrics that you wouldn’t normally wear, especially if you favour drapey fabrics like rayon. Cotton lawn or shirting is the next best thing – you’ll have lightness and drape, but enough stability to keep your work under control.
BONUS TIP: Don’t go it alone
Don’t shy away from help or company if you need it! There’s a lot to be said for learning independently, but don’t neglect your emotional side. See if you can sew with a friend, join a sewing group or class. This is great for morale and you’ll quickly realise ‘it’s not just you’.
Beginner-friendly sewing pattern companies often have a community element, so look out for those. This could be a forum, a monthly Zoom meetup, or lots of tutorial videos to guide you through your project.
Sometimes being around like-minded people is more important than you realise. If you haven’t already read my piano story, you can find it here. It might make a difference for you, too.
Before you go…
If you appreciated this advice on the best sewing projects for beginners, don’t keep it to yourself! Please share this article or website so that it can help other beginners.
And if this is your first visit to my website, welcome 🙂
I design size inclusive knitting patterns for clothes makers who want their garments to fit well. Clothes should serve you, not the other way around. You alter clothes to fit you, not alter yourself to fit the clothes. This is at the heart of everything I do.
I also teach other people how to design knitwear and am currently creating a comprehensive, year-long knitwear design course, covering everything from illustration to pattern grading.
If you’re enjoying my content, you can get more by reading my blog, which features several articles on garment fitting, alterations, knitwear design and sewing pattern reviews, following me on Instagram or Pinterest @natalieinstitches, or signing up to my newsletter.