How to Sew for a Beginner

By Emily Pate
basic stitches, your sewing machine
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Learning to sew takes time and patience. You may want to jump in to a simple project right away, but spending time practicing basic stitches and getting to know the specifics of your machine allows you to focus on other creative and technical aspects of your first project when you're ready. Once you learned how to sew basic stitches on your machine, you can branch out to simple altering, crafts or sewing from a pattern or tutorials, depending on your preference.

Machine Setup

Step 1

Read your sewing machine's manual completely so you know how your particular machine threads and how to thread the bobbin. Every machine is different. Search online for a manual if you don't have a hardcopy. Most manufacturers or retailers post them directly on the site.

Step 2

Wind your machine's bobbin. Machines differ, but most have a wheel disc you push in that prevents the needle from moving up and down. Place your thread spool on the spool pin, snapping the pin cap on top to prevent tangling.

Step 3

Place an empty bobbin on the winder. Lead the spool thread through the thread guide, first through the lower notch, then the upper. Machines may differ slightly, so read your manual on specific direction.

Step 4

Wind the thread once around the front of the bobbin tension disc. Bring the thread to the bobbin, threading it through the small hole at the top, from the inside out. Hold the thread tail, and press on the foot pedal to wind the bobbin until you have enough thread wound.

Step 5

Cut the thread, push the bobbin to the left to release and remove the bobbin.

Step 6

Slide the bobbin compartment open, and nest the bobbin in its holding niche. Place the bobbin so that it turns clockwise when you pull on the thread tail, which should sit on the left-hand side. Hold the long thread tail out, and slide the bobbin compartment door closed. The tail should be sticking out.

Threading the Machine

Step 1

Thread your sewing machine. All machines involve bringing the thread from the spool up and over a loop hook, between two tension discs and down through the needle. Your machine may place the thread between the discs easily, or you may have to fidget to get them to sit correctly. Thread not sitting between the discs properly causes uneven or skipped stitches. Repeat threading several times until you're comfortable with it.

Step 2

Bring the thread down and lead it from through the needle eye, from the front to the back. Pull on the thread until you have a tail several inches long. Let the thread sit straight back.

Step 3

Thread your bobbin. Turn the machine power off. Raise the needle using the wheel disc. Lift the presser foot lock, and raise the presser foot. Hold the needle thread straight back. Slowly turn the wheel disc toward you, lowering the needle, then raising it again. It should catch the bobbin thread. Repeat if you don't grab it on the first try. Pull the bit of bobbin thread the needle picks up, sliding it out to open the loop and pick up the tail. Pull both threads back behind the needle area.


Step 1

Turn the wheel disc to raise the needle. Unlock and raise the presser foot. Place a small piece of fabric under the needle. Lower and lock the presser foot.

Step 2

Gently press the foot pedal to begin stitching. Gently guide the fabric through, but don't push. Most machines feed the fabric through on their own, and you simply guide it through.

Step 3

Press the reverse button when you get to the end of a stitch. Press the foot pedal again, back-stitching an inch or so to finish and lock the stitch. Raise the presser foot, pull the fabric out, and snip the thread tails to check your work. Switch to a different stitch style, and practice different widths and stitches until you're comfortable.