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Learn to sew for beginners: Can you really teach yourself to sew?

You’re a DIY kind of person, but have you ever wondered can you really teach yourself to sew?

I know I have, and the good news is that there’s lots of ways to learn to sew these days. In fact, there is no reason to be intimidated by your sewing machine if you are a sewing beginner.

In this post, we’ll talk about the different ways you can go about learning to sew.

There’s good points and bad points about every one of these methods of learning to sew for beginners, so we’ll explore those too. In the end, I want you to find the best way for you to learn to sew.

sewing machine graphic

Teach yourself to sew with Books

pattern fitting books

The first way you can teach yourself to sew is with books.

This can be a great way to learn. With a library card, you can learn for free or pick up used sewing books at a thrift store.

And with books like these sewing books for beginners that are actually helpful, you’d be surprised at just how much good information you can learn simply by reading.

In fact, I think ever aspiring sewist should pick up a few sewing books to have as references.

A good sewing book can really fill in the gaps where pattern directions can confuse.

If you want to learn to sew with books, check out these sewing books for beginners that are actually helpful.

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Cons to learning to sew with books

That being said, there’s some downsides to learning to sew with books.

For one, a lot of project heavy sewing books don’t necessarily show step by step pictures. It can be inspirational to see the final, finished projects.

Also, if you get stuck on a step and don’t know what you’re looking at, it can be frustrating to get back on track.

The other tough thing about learning from books is that you can’t get a lot of feedback. These days with online sewing communities, it can be easy to search for a pattern and see how other people got through their project. It can be tough to near impossible to find projects made from books with the same ease.

If you go choose to learn to sew from books, commit to working your way through a book like S.E.W. The Sew Everything Workshop or Bend the Rules Sewing. You don’t have to go through every single project, but aim to make the majority of them if you can. The projects in both of these books will give you a solid foundation of some basics you can take to your next level of learning.

Teach yourself to sew with YouTube

Working your way through videos on YouTube has gained popularity as a way to teach yourself to sew in recent years. It’s for good reason, too.

With people all over the world creating videos all about sewing, you can get a lot of what you need to start sewing. I’ve picked up some wonderful tips and learned a lot watching other people sew.

This is a great way to learn to sew if you are a visual person who thrives on seeing each individual step presented. Sewing is a craft that really lends itself to this intensely visual medium.

And you can’t beat the free price tag of learning to sew with YouTube.

Downside of learning to sew with YouTube

The tough thing about learning to sew with YouTube is knowing what you need to be learning.

Lots of people have made sewing videos (myself included).

That being said, when you’re a beginner, it can be hard to search for the right words.

Beyond searching for things like“sewing for beginners”, you might not know what to look for or who you can trust.

If you love sewing videos on YouTube, pull out a sewing reference book before you go looking for videos. This quick intermediate step can help you find what you’re looking for much more easily.

Learn to sew with live classes

If you want to learn to sew, live classes are an excellent option.

Coming from the world of music, I know that students who have one-on-one private lessons advance so much more quickly than those who only learn in their group or orchestra classes.

With live classes, you get one on one feedback and you can create individual goals that your teacher can help you with.

Downside of learning to sew with live classes

As wonderful as live classes can be for advancing your sewing knowledge and practice, they can be expensive and time consuming.

You also may not live in an area where you can find a sewing teacher that really works for you and who you personally can learn from.

It’s always worth it to add in a few live sewing classes when you’re able to. If you travel to a spot with a teacher, or go to a sewing convention, you’ll learn so much through live classes.

Teach yourself to sew with you, a pattern, and a sewing machine

Teaching yourself to sew strictly from patterns is the most truly DIY approach of the bunch.

It can be a low cost way to learn, and you have the ultimate freedom to choose your path. Want your first dress to be your wedding dress? It’s not impossible, difficult perhaps, but if that’s your heart’s desire and you apply yourself, you can do that.

With online communities like Patternreview, the Fold Line and Facebook groups centered around various pattern companies, you can get a surprising amount of feedback if you’re brave enough to put yourself out there.

Downside to learning to sew from patterns

The biggest difficulty to learning to sew from patterns is all the terminology. Words get thrown around in patterns, assuming you know what they’re talking about.

Sometimes these things are illustrated, but often, you’re left to just truck on through on your own.

You may completely miss the WHY of certain sewing techniques, and that’s tough. Knowing why you need to trim seam allowances or finish seams, for instance helps you make better decisions when you encounter a weird fabric or an unusual fabric. And you will.

Check out 101 important sewing terms that every beginner needs to know.

Getting stuck thinking that THIS IS THE WAY to do x sewing technique can make it hard for you to expand your creativity.

It can also make troubleshooting in the midst of a project that’s not working out even more difficult.

Is Self-Reliant Sewing the ultimate learn to sew class for you?

If you’re wanting to learn to sew and looking for an online class that combines a lot of the ways of learning we’ve been talking about here, Self-Reliant Sewing might be for you.

I created this class with sequential, clear goals for every project. You won’t be left to wonder what you’re supposed to be learning. We’ll build a base of information that’ll help you make thoughtful choices as you grow in your sewing journey.

What’s inside of Self-Reliant Sewing?

Then we’ll take that knowledge and give you a chance to practice it through 4 fun projects that are easy, repeatable, skill-building, and won’t take a ton of resources for you to complete.

And because I know we all learn differently, included in Self-Reliant Sewing there are:     

  • Full written directions for every project + other must have printables you’ll want to post next to your sewing machine for easy at your fingertips reference     
  • Full step by step videos so you can see the entire process before you go off on your own.     
  • 3 live Zoom sessions where you can come, show off your work and ask any questions and I can help you troubleshoot along the way.     
  • Ongoing support via email and inside our exclusive Facebook group for Self-Reliant Sewing.

This one class is a must have for every sewing beginner

My favorite section is my Getting to Know Fabrics Masterclass that I’m including inside of Self-Reliant Sewing. I’ve taken years of working with fabric and distilled it down into a simple formula of things to pay attention to. ever been overwhelmed walking into a fabric store? After this class, you’ll know exactly how to fabric shop, how to pick great fabrics every time, and how to save money on your fabric needs.  Fabric will always be a part of your sewing life, and knowing how to find the good stuff is essential to your growth.

And because I don’t believe in leaving you frustrated, inside you’ll find troubleshooting tips and encouragement so you can keep going when things get hairy.

Learn to sew with on-demand sewing videos

On demand videos are broken up into easy bite sized lessons you can watch over and over again any time you want.

But Elizabeth, you just told me that live classes are kind of awesome when it comes to learning to sew.

True, dear reader! And while it’s true that I can’t teach all of my students one on one live, we’ll be having 3 live Zoom classes of Self-Reliant Sewing. There you can show up, ask questions, show off your work and hang out with other people learning to sew just like you.

If that all sounds good, I’d love for you to check out Self-Reliant Sewing.


So those are all the different ways you can go about teaching yourself to sew. Whether you go with a totally DIY approach or ask for a little help along the way, learning to sew on your own is 100% possible.

Join me inside of Self-Reliant Sewing.

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