Sewing encouragement for beginners from the pros

Heather Paulsen on where failure can lead

profile pic of Heather Paulsen

Heather Paulsen of Heather Handmade has a great reframe for looking at mistakes:

“Look at every mistake as a learning opportunity and a future success.”

Heather Paulsen
Garment sewist, sewing teacher, and self proclaimed fabric fondler at Heather Handmade

Mistakes in your sewing are inevitable, dear beginner and seasoned sewist friends. When you royally mess up think,

  • What happened?
  • How can I fix this for next time?
  • What can I take away from this that’ll help me learn?

With these couple moments of self-reflection in the face of another annoying round of seam-ripping, I promise you’re setting yourself up for major winning down the road.

Carolyn Norman on determination in your sewing

Carolyn Norman profile pic

Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic is never short on helpfulness when it comes to sewing. She has this treasure of sewing encouragement for all beginners:

Mine would be “Don’t give up!”
My explanation:
You are going to make some crappy clothing that you will wear proudly and not realize it’s not made well until you have better skills.  And you’re going to have a boatload of mistakes which will make you want to fling your sewing machine and materials out the window…but don’t give up!  Every sewist that got to be the kind of sewist you admire, started the very same way.  The reason we’re still here sewing, inspiring and making amazing garments is because we didn’t give up!
So don’t give up!

Sewing blogger extraordinaire at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic

I love how she says don’t give up multiple times. Let it etch itself in your brain. Frustration comes friend. Do you know how you get better?

Just keep going on in your sewing journey.

Designer Joi on always learning

Joi Mahon profile pic

The always inspiring Designer Joi is here to remind beginners that instant isn’t in the equation. Instead, she has this to say about always being willing to learn:

Sewing is a life long learning journey. Overall, it is a fabulous hobby, past time, creative outlet and more. Enjoy being able to create and experiment. However, in our fast paced society everyone want’s instant results.  Sewing is a skill that you can constantly learn and grow with. So if you have a project that turns out enjoy it. If you make something that did not turn out quite the way you wanted realize that you have actually had a valuable learning experience. Take what you learned and the next time you will be one step better. 

Designer Joi
Sewlebrity, Designer, Author, Licensed McCall Pattern Designer, Craftsy Instruction, Mettler Thread Ambassador, Baby Lock Influencer

We hold in our hands the power to make what we want to when we sew. Some days that turns out even better than we imagine, and others it’s Struggle City, population you. Troubleshoot and learn from your struggle, and squash that mistake the next time!

Judy Hale on mastery

Judy Hale profile pic

Judy Hale of Pattern for Pirates fame offers some practical sewing encouragement for sewing beginners:

Everyone starts as a beginner! The most helpful thing for me as a beginner was to make the same garment over and over again until I would call myself a master at it.  Then finally move on and add a new garment/pattern until I could do it easily.  Soon you will have a long list of things you are a master of! Doing the same pattern again and again will help you really get those skills down and also give you a final product you’re proud of more quickly then moving from pattern to pattern only trying it once.  
I also usually advise… Start out with something intended for sleepwear.  That way if it isn’t perfect it will still get use and be loved!  

Judy Hale
Designer at Patterns for Pirates

Girl, I have a drawer full of “wearable” pajamas LOL.

Beyond that, sticking to one favorite pattern might not seem glamorous at first.

But if you do it, you’re teaching your hands and your brain to know exactly what that step/skill looks like in practice. I call these “sewing etudes.” In my life as a violinist, an etude is a short little musical exercise meant to teach you a specific skill.

Really, a sewing pattern is a series of little sewing etudes. A bunch of skills all in one place that when you finish them, you get something you can wear. All that fine practice over and over will solidify that skill in your head until you’re ready for that next hurdle.

Carrie Cunningham on sewing fearlessly

Carrie Cunningham profile pic

Carrie Cunningham, owner of Endless Dzns by Carrie is one of the most encouraging sewing teachers I know. She’s always in Sew Much Talent dropping helpful advice and kind words wherever she goes in between her own beautiful projects. On sewing fearlessly, she has this to say:

Don’t fear and don’t fret! Fabric is an inanimate object that you are in control of – it’s just fabric.  Don’t fret – “mistakes” are just new designs!  Go for it!

Carrie Cunningham
Owner of Endless Dzns by Carrie and sewing blogger at Sew Carrie Sew

This reminds me of my college violin teacher. When working through a really difficult passage, and things weren’t happening, he would stop you. He’d have you put down your violin, look at your fingers and utter:

“I am the boss of you!”

This always got a laugh, but I kid you not, the second I picked up my violin and tried again, it was always better.

If you mess up, the fabric isn’t sitting there mocking you. [It will totally feel like it at times!] You’re in the driver’s seat. Keep going and without fear!

next page graphic with spool of thread

8 thoughts on “Sewing encouragement for beginners from the pros”

  1. Madeline Rodriguez

    I am trying to get back into sewing after many years. This article has helped me get the courage to jump in! I think I will try something easy to start off! Thanks

    1. I’m so glad to hear that Madeline. Go for it! I think if you can have those small successes, you’ll keep building your skills back up and be more and more encouraged to keep going!

  2. I started making my own clothes about five years ago. I learned so much form sewing books but also reviews from other sewists as well as youtube. With every garment I learn something new. It’s just like traveling around: you see so much new sights.

    1. 5 years Sonja???? Wow–you’ve learned an impressive amount in that time to be able to make the beautiful garments you make with the precision that you do! You bring up a great point that looking and paying attention to what others are doing really helps you grow in your own learning.

  3. Can I geek out for a moment that A. you invited me to contribute and B. that I’m in the company of these sewing POWERHOUSES!

    Okay, geeking out completed. 🙂

    What a wonderful article that is so positive and encouraging. No matter the skill level, we can ALL use this reminder!

  4. This was wonderful. I saved it for future reads. I have over the years allowed procrastination and fear of messing up stop me from going forward. I am a very long time beginner. Thank you for including a variety of seamstresses! I’m making a mess of my first real “solo” garment but I’ve learned so much.

    Thanks for doing this. Also, social media is a blessing and a curse because we (I should say me) 🙂 compare ourselves even if indirectly. Thanks so much for doing this!! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad this was encouraging to you JC! You are not alone on the social media comparing trap–it can be a place where you can use what you see to learn or it can just as easily send you down a shame spiral. The more we can encourage each other to keep going and keep learning the better. Good luck as you’re finishing your first real garment–it’s such an accomplishment, and I promise you if you keep at it, a year from now, you’ll look back at it and be able to see how much you’ve grown as a sewist!

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