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How many of your make New Year’s resolutions? How many of you tell yourselves “This is the year I’m really going to start sewing!” I’ve done this a few time myself – but life always seems to get in the way. Chances are, if you are clicking around BurdaStyle you either know how to sew or you want to learn so I’ve pulled together some simple patterns for beginners and great tips from all around the web to help you (and maybe me too!) get started. Whether you want to just get familiar with the craft or really dig in and start making your own pieces, hopefully these tips will give you the drive and the confidence to finally start sewing!

Getting Started: If you’re just getting started – here are some great tips for beginners including safety, threading a machine and practicing stitches.

BurdaStyle also created a step-by-step picture tutorial to help guide you through threading a machine. While each machine is different and you should consult your owner’s manual for the best way to prepare your specific make and model, this simple guide will help you get a basic knowledge of how most machines are threaded.

Associated Content has a pretty comprehensive guide to help you get started. Covering the basics from info on needle sizes and making button holes to tips for sewing elastic into your garments, it gives you a good base knowledge.

Your First Project: Once you’ve gotten familiar with your machine, played around with a few stitches and maybe even made yourself an Easy Drawstring Bag, now you can consider tackling that first big project! There are a few things you want to consider before you jump into making a garment. Obviously you want to find a cool pattern, but one that is simple enough for you to learn with. Consider the following:

The Tunic – A simple piece that you can dress up or down. No complicated stitches, few pattern pieces to cut out and an easy shape that doesn’t require too precise of a fit. You can play around with this until you feel comfortable working with fabric and stitching.

The Anda Dress – Everyone needs a classic dress in their closet. This one is great base to start and alter as you become more comfortable and familiar with sewing. Try it out in different color, pattern, proportion variations – once you’ve mastered the Anda dress there are so many amazing directions you can take this basic pattern into!

Another easy shape to start out with is an a-line skirt. This Above the Knee version is a great one to try out. This particular skirt pattern requires you to sew in an invisible zipper which may seem a bit tricky, but we have a few tutorials to help familiarize yourself with the process. This is a great tip for you to learn, as invisible zippers add a really professional finish to your garments.

Capes are such a versatile piece – perfect for that in between time when it’s too cold for just a jacket but not quite cold enough for a heavy coat. This burda style magazine version is made of stretch jersey/wool so you can easily pull it over your head. With no complicated buttons, snaps or zippers, it’s another perfect piece for getting started.


Choosing Your Fabric – Now that you’ve found the perfect pattern, it’s time to find the right fabric. Fabric is so essential in making your garment and it’s really important to know what type to choose before you start sewing.

This guide is a great breakdown of the various types of fabric, subcategories within each type and tips for working with the each – including which needles to use and how to cut and mark the different fabrics.

More helpful tips include checking fabric for straightness, looking to your pattern for recommended materials and ones to avoid, as well as considering the weight and print of your fabric, as these are also factors in how easy it will be to work with and assemble your garment.

For a bit more information and a visual reference, Colette Patterns came up with this great guide for judging a fabric’s weight and drape which will help you look for fabrics based on how you want your finished garment to drape or feel.


A Few More Helpful Tips:

Thread is another important factor to consider before you start making your piece. This thread guide takes you through the different types of thread, as well as what fabrics and projects you would use them for.

Every sewer needs a good toolkit. This list shows you the tools you’ll need in your arsenal and what each is used for.

It’s also helpful to understand the basics of a pattern and how to read and utilize the instructions. Familiarize yourself with the fabric layout and symbols before you start cutting to ensure that your garment comes out as intended and you don’t run short on fabric or materials!

One of the best parts about sewing for yourself is that you can make garments specific to your body type and measurements. Once you get in the swing of making more and more of your own pieces, you’ll want a dress form set to your measurements to help guide you as you put your pieces together. Proper dress forms are great but they can take up a lot of room and cost a good amount of money, but Threads has a few ways to make your own with tools you probably have lying around your house anyway!


Alright, now you’re well on your way to getting started! Also make sure you check out your tips for Learning How to Sew and techniques for Beginners and Basics in our learning section. Good luck!


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    Feb 19, 2015, 10.42 AMby edwin0089

    Thanks that is helpful! Fifa 15 Cheats

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    Mar 27, 2014, 07.59 AMby ginaminton

    So helpful! Thanks for sharing.

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    Mar 4, 2014, 03.21 PMby oceanpeg

    Great stuff. TIP: My high school sewing teacher had us start sewing by using looseleaf/typing/computer paper instead of scrap material, and, without even threading the machine. We could see what we had sewn by looking at the needle marks in the paper for making straight lines, etc.. That was over 50 years ago…

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    Nov 3, 2012, 01.22 AMby Jamie Wearing

    I sell premade felt stockings at I will do stocking kits you have as well. Best of all, they come personalized and lined for FREE. If you would like one of these treasures, feel free to contact me!

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    Mar 19, 2012, 04.46 PMby Sarah Camp


    This is a great article. I began just a couple of months ago learning how to sew myself. As a beginner, I began looking at site just like this one for information on the items and things I needed in order to learn how to sew.

    I have since created my own blog, to detail my journey as I learn how to sew and also show others just how easy it is to get started. I am hoping that over time, more advanced sewers will also take a look at my site and give me some insight and tips for new techniques, sewing project ideas, and more.

    I will say, I have added this blog to my RSS feed for future reference. Great post!

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    Jan 20, 2011, 07.14 PMby GenevieveC

    Thanks you for the beginner’s resources. I always regretted not having learned how to sew when I was young, and I’m determined to make up for lost time.

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    Jan 19, 2011, 07.44 PMby bellafabric

    Excellent information on sewing tools and notions, the thread and fabric guide. Keep sewing!

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    Jan 19, 2011, 12.58 PMby John Linney

    Starting my second pair of your pants, 7768, very comfortable. I want a longer zipper/fly, so I enlarged the pattern . Burda is, basicly, the only pattern company that has my size. Thank you! Now, if you only would reprint your sewing book in english.

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    Jan 19, 2011, 03.21 AMby akmforbes

    For a cutting and project table, I use a 6-foot folding table up on bed risers. It’s a moderate investment and makes a great work surface. I use the large, 2-piece Olfa cutting matt on top of it for cutting. Made sure it was set “square” on the table, and used tape pieces joined sticky side out underneath to keep it stable. This also allows me to use a regular drafting t-square for pattern rendering and even marking fabric! Plastic storage bins underneath help hold supplies. I also hung a sweater stacker (the kind you use in closets), on an over-the-door shelf on an adjacent door, which helps keep all kinds of sewing supplies close at hand but off the table. Small plastic shoebox bins on the shelves help corral small items.

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    Jan 18, 2011, 09.20 PMby kzandstra

    I use a tackle box to hold my sewing stuff :)

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    Jan 18, 2011, 07.44 PMby redmisha68

    So excited to get started – maybe I can overcome my fear of my sewing machine – yup, got one but am afraid to try it – this is really great info!

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    Jan 17, 2011, 12.50 PMby space83gr

    this was really helpful. Thank you very much!!

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    Jan 15, 2011, 07.48 PMby infinite-plus-one

    This was a really good post, thank you very much

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    Jan 14, 2011, 09.56 PMby jennel

    This is really helpful. I had been feeling intimidated to try anything for awhile – only making eye pillows and some such. Thank you for posting!

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    Jan 14, 2011, 07.08 PMby Natasha Yearwood

    My Mom taught me how to sew when I was a child. But I only recently started to make anything last year January. Si I can say I’ts one year now since I’ve been sewing woohoo! But with my daughter, husband, evening classes and a full time job I’m finding it difficult to find time to sew. I’ve made a few pieces, 2 dresses, some skirts and blouses but there is so much more I dream about doing. Sometimes I wish I could just stay at home and sew all day long. What a day that will be!! : )

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    Jan 14, 2011, 03.26 PMby popbabe7

    Another way to build up your confidence is to start with clothes you own but don’t wear and up-cycle them. I tried to sew a dress from a pattern, didn’t succeed and ended up nearly giving up on learning to sew. I am now concentrating on customising my clothes, including a little technique each time (sew bias tape, sew with knits etc). This gives me much more confidence and I think I’m ready to have a go at sewing from a pattern again :-)

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    Jan 14, 2011, 02.08 PMby neama

    A fantastic post! Well done

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    Jan 14, 2011, 09.12 AMby Poodysmum

    Thankyou so much for posting this. As a beginner this information is awesome and so helpful :)

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    Jan 14, 2011, 03.37 AMby HollyGoltly

    Thanks! I haven’t sewn much in years, and for Christmas, my husband got me the Viking I’ve been drooling over, so any tips to jog the memory are helpful.

    Jessica, I bought a folding cutting table from Joanns. I probably wouldn’t have one if it didn’t fold for space reasons. It’s been immensely helpful.

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    Jan 14, 2011, 01.53 AMby caramia-made

    Thanks very much for this – I forwarded it to my bestie who is currently taking sewing lessons, huzzah!

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    Jan 14, 2011, 12.37 AMby abiah88

    One of the things that really helped me learn how to sew (and now i feel as though i couldn’t live without it!) is a rotary cutter (along with a cutting board), generally used for quilting. It allows you to keep the fabric completely flat while you are cutting it, and also allows you to create more precise curves. You can also get interchangeable blades so you can get a zig-zag edge. Oh, AND they are great if you are left handed or right handed (i am left handed so sometimes i have trouble with certain scissors). Quilter’s cutting boards also usually have better grids for measurements/easier measurements!

    2 Replies
    • C360_2013-07-09-19-57-47-392-1_large

      Jan 14, 2011, 03.21 PMby popbabe7

      I agree with getting a rotary cutter- I feel much more confident since I got one. And a quilter board as well- doesn’t have to be massive, I only use an A4 sized one which is good enough for me.

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      Jan 18, 2011, 08.31 PMby samnicholas-

      I also bought a couple clear gridded quilting rulers and they’re great! They’ll be even more useful once you start drafting your own patterns.

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    Jan 13, 2011, 11.42 PMby countessiad

    Ah, my gosh, thank you sooo much, totally needed this!

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    Jan 13, 2011, 11.31 PMby distie

    Thanks for all the links! I hadn’t seen a few of these older articles before!

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    Jan 13, 2011, 09.32 PMby FabricUiPhoneApp

    I add a can of Sullivan’s Stabilizer spray …it temporarily stiffens fabric and makes it easier to sew…great for beginners!

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