Beginning Sewing Essentials: Learn to Sew

Sewing Essentials for Beginners

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a blogging conference called SNAP. It was its fourth year, but my first year attending. Since it’s held in Utah, it seems a little silly that I hadn’t gone before now…but such is life. However, I’m so grateful that I scrapped together the money to attend, because it was some of the best spent money.

For one, I got to spend some time with some of my most wonderful friends. I’ve been so blessed to meet some of my closest friends through blogging, and I always enjoy when I can see them in person. Secondly, I found a renewed desire to sew. You see, at SNAP, there’s these sewing rooms where they have a bunch of different sewing classes going on throughout the day. After going to an blogging education class, I decided to check out these rooms…and after one room, I was hooked! I decided to just spend the rest of my time at the conference in one of those rooms or talking with sponsors.

Right before I had Jack, I really got into sewing. I started teaching myself different skills (because lets be honest – my middle school home education class didn’t teach me much), and it was something I really enjoyed. Was I any good at it? Eh, not particularly. But I really enjoyed it. After he was born, I continued doing this hobby that I enjoyed so much. However, somewhere over the past few years, I kind of let that passion die. Sure, I still hoarded fabric like no other, but I just never seemed to find the time to sew.

After SNAP, I realized how much I enjoy sewing, and it’s something I just need to make time for – because all work and no play isn’t fun! So I’ve decided to start sewing more, and I hope to have some fun and easy sewing projects in the future. People seem to love my easy toy bag tutorial, so hopefully it’s something you’ll be interested in.

I thought I’d share a few beginning sewing essentials that I think every person who sews (or wants to sew) should have. I’ll never profess to be a master seamstress – most projects take me way longer than they should, and I don’t think I’ll ever have perfectly straight seams…but I do feel like I’ve learned a trick or two and what makes sewing a little easier for when you first learn to sew. Feel free to chime in if you have any tips. Many of these products can be found at Jo-Ann Fabric with coupons – and you can read more about my favorite tips for saving money at Jo-Ann’s in this post.

Sewing Machine

Of course, you can sew by hand. However, I recommend having a sewing machine. Last summer, I sewed a garter for my sister-in-law for her wedding, and what would have taken me five minutes on a sewing machine took me about two hours (though, it was at one in the morning, and I was watching Grey’s Anatomy, so that may have factored into it.)

Anyways, you can really get some good deals on sewing machines. I believe my first one was like $50 on Black Friday – though normally it was just like $75. It worked really well for me for awhile, until I decided I wanted something with a few more features. I believe it was pretty similar to this machine. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it was a great machine to learn on. And, if it can sew a straight stitch, you can do lots of projects (especially ones I mention on this blog!)

Sewing Machine’s Plus is a GREAT place to buy a sewing machine. You can get 5% off when you buy through this link through this link, and they sell tons of different brands for every  budget.

I later on switched to the computerized machine from Brother, which I’ve loved. It was pretty affordable (I got it at Costco around $130), and it’s worked really well.

I don’t recommend investing in a super expensive machine right away, because, you never know – you might not love sewing. However, there’s always room to grow and there are some amazing machines out there. I recently tried out a couple of Babylock machines, while at SNAP, and I was so hooked. One day when I have more money, I will definitely be dropping some money on one of those babies!

Singer machines and Janome machines are also very reputable brands.

Self-healing Mat and Rotary Cutter

These are two tools that I can’t do without. It makes cutting material much easier, and you don’t have to worry about finding a place in your house to use the rotary cutter and not damage the surface beneath it. A rotary cutter is a sharp cutting wheel, to put it simply, that makes it simple to cut fabric. The self-healing mat is something that you can use a rotary cutter on, and it won’t damage it. Definitely a must-have in my book.

Seam Ripper

I don’t care who you are, or how much you’ve sewn…a seam ripper is essential! I use mine regularly, mainly when I’m supposed to be sewing two pieces of fabric right or wrong sides together (head to the bottom to learn what that means!) But they are so helpful. Everyone makes mistakes when they are sewing, and this makes it a little easier to correct. Oh, and be sure to watch this video on how to properly use a seam ripper. Don’t be like me and end up doing it a more difficult way!

Good sewing scissors

Even though I use my rotary cutter a lot, there’s just some projects you need a good pair of sewing scissors. Regular scissors that you use to cut paper won’t really do. Trust me, I did this for awhile, and it was like a breath of fresh air when I finally got some good sewing scissors. Gingher Scissors are usually what most would recommend – a pair of regular sewing scissors and pinking sheers should be good enough!

Assortment of pins

I’ll admit that I’m not a the biggest fan of pins – it takes a lot of extra time to pin things into place, and it’s sometimes annoying to have to remove them while sewing. However, they definitely play a purpose, and they can make your projects turn out much better. I definitely think they are important when you are doing something that really needs to be lined up correctly – such as apparel.

Regular metal pins are easier to sew with, though I find they get lost in material easier. Nothing worse than finding a pin later on in a project (especially in something like a baby blanket!) I like to use pins with the colored ends though because they are easier to see!. Along with your pins, you definitely want a pin cushion, and even a wrist pin cushion bracelet. My mom got me one these awhile back, and I love it.

Acrylic Ruler

Acrylic rulers are great for sewing because they are transparent, which makes it easier to make sure everything is lining up correctly. I love mine.

Extra Bobbins

I don’t think I could ever have enough bobbins! I love it when I go to get a bobbin, and I already have one ready to go in the correct thread color. Plus, if you only have one, and it’s not used up all the way, it’s a big pain to have to go and unwind all the thread – not to mention it’s a huge waste of

Measuring Tape

I use my measuring tape all the time when sewing – especially for things that are longer than my acrylic ruler or my cutting board. It’s also very helpful if you want to try and sew apparel!


Ironing the seams of my projects is another thing I’m rather lazy about, but it definitely makes for a more polished, finished project. You don’t need an expensive iron – in fact, since you probably already have one for clothes, just use that! Just make sure you are careful with the settings depending on the type of fabric you use. I absolutely LOVE these mini sewing irons. Perfect for small projects and you can make it last longer since you won’t be using it on regular clothes.

Sew Essentials Kit

Forrest bought me this for Christmas, and I loved it! It comes with everything you really need to get started – tons of thread, lots of needles, a seam ripper, and a few other items. I highly recommend it. You can even get a mini version of it here.


It can be hard to just teach yourself to sew – I relied a lot on asking my sister for some tips, as well as the Internet. Fortunately, there’s many, many beginning sewing tutorials online that are available for free. I definitely recommend perusing Pinterest or YouTube for some of these. You can find everything from information on your

When you get your sewing machine, be sure to read the manual. It can help you learn how to use your specific machine, since not every tutorial online is going to be directed toward the machine you are using. They are great reference guide for how to wind the bobbin, thread a needle, and what types of stitches are available. My machines always come with a DVD, which I find helpful to watch.


Of course, there are many great books out there for sewing. I love reading these, and I think they can be so helpful for quick reference. Here are a couple

The New Complete Guide to Sewing from Readers Digest

First Time Sewing

The Sewing Book

Singer Complete Guide to Sewing


I haven’t taken a ton of sewing classes, but the ones I have taken have been very helpful. I love in person ones, because nothing can really replace in person help and mentoring. Jo-Ann Fabric has different sewing classes available, so I’d recommend checking out your local store (and they have coupons for them all the time, too.) However, it’s not always feasible to go to an in-person class, and beyond free YouTube videos, there are some great classes online that you can take. Here are a few to consider

Clarks Condensed Sewing Tutorials:

Here are some of our most popular sewing tutorials:
DIY Toy or Lego Bag – this has been pinned 147,000 times!
Reversible and Waterproof Picnic Blanket
Easy Baby Blanket
The Easiest Hemming Method
4th of July Table Topper
Pioneer Apron Tutorial
Tips for Sewing with Minky Fabric

Jo-ann & Craftsy

Jo-ann and Craftsy have worked together to create a huge database of courses you can take online! Here is a listing of all the ones. . Craftsy also has sewing kits, patterns, free project ideas, and more. It’s a great resource for not just sewing, but tons of other crafts. If you use this coupon, you can get up to $20 off all classes on Craftsy.


CreativeLive is one of the coolest resources for online learning. All of the live classes are free to watch,
but then you can purchase any of the past classes. I have really enjoyed it! Here are a few sewing classes that I think are great. You can see the full list of sewing courses here.


Babylock has tons of classes available online, many of which are free. Check them out here!

Best Places to get Fabric

There are really so many places. I go to Jo-Ann’s a lot (if you can’t tell, I love Jo-Ann’s!) But there are plenty of places online, like Honestly though, some of the best places you can get fabric are at local stores or on Etsy. There’s a huge variety available, so just look around and ask your friends about their favorite places! This post from Tiny Sidekick has some great tips for places to buy fabric online.


I thought about putting together a bunch of terms here….but to be honest, this is a much better list than I could put together! Don’t let it intimidate you – it’s worth reading!

I am always adding tips, easy tutorials, and fun sewing ideas to this Pinterest board. Be sure to follow it if you are interested in what I’m finding!

Follow Katie Clark @ Clarks Condensed’s board Sewing on Pinterest.

Sewing Essentials for Beginners / Sewing for Beginners / Sewing Tips / Tips for Sewing / Beginning Sewing


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  • This is really helpful for me because I am thirteen and love to sew. I had my own sewing machine since I was ten. I will take this website and think about everything it includes.PS I love Jo-Ann's too! ❤
  • This post has so much great information! i am definitely sharing this one! And I definitely agree that you have to have a mat and rotary cutter. I got mine for Christmas two years ago and it has been such a lifesaver!!! And I'm so glad you rediscovered your love of sewing!

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