We were all new to sewing at one point in our lives. On our social media accounts, we have asked our followers a while back 'If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of sewing advice, what would you say?' Here is a summary of what people shared publicly and privately:
1. Start with a skill you know.
If you are totally new to sewing, it is no shame to sew cushion covers and tons of bags. You will learn so many things: how to hem, sew corners and you will build your skills from there.
Even if you are not a beginner, choose a new project that involves a technique that you are already familiar with, so that you can refine this skill, and one that is new to you, so you will learn something new.
2. It’s ok to fail.
It is ok to fail, and most mistakes aren't failures at all.
"Mistakes are not failures but learning curves."
Next time you make a mistake, write down what you learned and do it differently next time. Taking note of your mistakes and learning from it, is the best way to improve your skills and grow your confidence.
During my beginner course, I always say that it is ok to make mistakes, you are just starting out and don't be too hard on yourself.
3. Attention to Detail
Now this is a topic where people have different opinions on it. Some are perfectionists and get that seam ripper out to fix all issues. Some are happy because it is better than the previous project. And you know what, both are perfectly fine. It really depends on you and that you are happy with it.
I am no perfectionist, to be honest, but I am accurate and I believe these are two different pairs of shoes. If my seams aren't aligning, I unpick and fix it because the next seam might not align. If the stitching line of my hem is off by 2mm in the back of the dress, no one is going to see it and I am happy with it.
While attention to detail is important during the construction of your project, there is room for error and we don't have to be perfect throughout. Believe me, if you take a closer look at your ready-to-wear garments, you will find a lot more errors on it than your handmade wardrobe.
Here is another tip: if you (or your partner/a friend) cannot see the mistake standing 1m away from you, then you are good to go 😉
4. Don't skip pressing
If you think sewing is all about making stitches on your machine, pressing is just as important.
Pressing is NOT ironing. Something I like to say to all my beginners. We don't actually do the ironing movement when pressing.
Pressing is the heat, steam and weight of your iron. And this is how you get your professional finishes and take your handmade garments to the next level.
5. Quality over Quantity
This applies to your notions as well as fabric.
When you are first starting out, you might not want to buy expensive tools. But you know what, if you have to buy many cheap things that need replacing all the time, that's not good for your wallet and the environment. Having a list of notions that you need as a beginner is a good start, and I can help you with that. Buy good quality, and it will last you way longer. I haven't replaced my scissors, or needed to sharpen them once because they are a fantastic pair and I treat them right.
Buying cheaper fabric is ok when you are just starting out and practicing. Use what you have at home already: old sheets and clothes. How many kids have turned their old clothes into scrunchies, I can tell ya! I used many old sheets to make dresses for myself because I didn't have access to nice fabrics (or didn't want to spend money on it at the beginning).
I believe that you can buy better fabric and even with beginner skills, make better clothes than you can buy in the shops.
Also, think about how a fabric feels on your skin or is it good for the environment. Remember those microfibres that all our clothes shed and release into the water ...