10 Sewing Tips for Beginners and Intermediate Users

You’ve found the beginner sewing machine of your dreams. Now it’s time to get started.

Sewing is an art, and as you progress from a basic design to advanced designs, you’ll learn tips and techniques along the way to make sewing more efficient. We’re going to share a few tips of our own, aimed at beginners, that can help accelerate your next sewing project.

1.     The Thread Guide Needs to be in the Higher Position

The thread guide needs to be in the higher position. This guide is right above the needle, and you’ll be able to notice it because it’s a metal piece that moves up and down when moving the handwheel.

When the guide isn’t in the higher position, you’ll cause the thread to unravel.

A good method to remember to do this every time is to move the guide to the higher position every time you stop sewing. This will prepare the machine for your next sewing session, starting off in the proper position the first time.

If you find your thread unraveling, there’s a good chance the guide wasn’t in the proper position.

Don’t worry, after a few unravels, you’ll always remember this tip.

2.     Stop with the Needle Down

You need to start with the thread guide up, but you never want to stop with the needle up. The needle should be in the down position in the fabric to allow for proper cornering. If you try to corner with the needle outside of the fabric, you’ll find that the corner is curved rather than squared.

It’s important to also have the needle down when:

  • Moving the fabric
  • Pulling out a pin

A perfect seam starts with the needle down.

3.     Start with the Handwheel

You’re using a sewing machine to speed up your sewing project, but this doesn’t mean you don’t need to use your hands at all. When starting a project, it’s important that the project is started with the precision needed to be a high-end garment.

The first stitch or two should be made by turning the handwheel counterclockwise.

This method allows you to see the needle go through the fabric, and it also allows you to pinpoint any thickness issues that may arise. A proper first stitch placement will be made using the handwheel.

Thread jams are also less frequent due to the initial stitch precision.

4.     Don’t Be Afraid to Re-thread

No one wants to take the time to re-thread the needle, but it is a necessity on some occasions. There are three reasons for re-threading:

  • The thread is too tight
  • The thread is too loose
  • The machine skips stitches

If you run into the above problems, re-thread the machine (bobbin and spool). Also, check around the needle plate to see if any lint has gathered below the plate. The lint will lead to stitch errors.

5.     Clean Your Machine

Your machine needs a good cleaning, and this is often overlooked by seamstresses of all skill levels. A long-lasting sewing machine needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Lint buildup can occur, and this buildup can cause funky mishaps with your thread.

A few things you’ll want to do when cleaning your machine are:

  • Use a compressed air can to remove hidden lint and thread
  • Tighten any necessary screws
  • Read the manual on how to clean your machine

If you sew often, you’ll want to clean your machine diligently. Sewing machines cost money. It will last much longer and perform much better if you keep it clean.

6.     Learn Proper Needle Types

There are different needles for a reason: they each have a purpose. When sewing, a universal needle is often the go-to choice, but this won’t work well for all fabrics. A few needles to add to your stockpile are:

  • Small needles for thin fabrics (60-8 or 70-9)
  • Twin needles (used in hemming)
  • Ballpoint needle (used for knits and stretch fabric)

And another vital tip to remember is that needles bend and can become dull. If you’ve been using the same needle for a long time, use a new needle. A new needle is recommended for every in-depth pattern you attempt.

7.     Practice on Scraps

I know: who wants to practice on scraps? But even professionals need to practice. You need to use scraps, even as a professional, to ensure your machine is properly calibrated and to practice your stitches.

Scraps come in handy when trying to adjust the stitch length and width, too.

When dealing with slippery and difficult stitches, a seamstress will practice on new scraps, too, to ensure that they have every setting perfect. Recreating a difficult stitch with scraps will save you from messing up on a future project.

8.     Control Your Speed

Beginners rush through projects only to find that their stitching isn’t precise. It’s easy to get into the “high speed” mode, but you need to learn how to control the speed first. Never push your foot down on the pedal hard.

You want to use your shoeless foot on the pedal.

Wearing shoes and sewing adds extra weight to the pedal, causing you to lose the precision sewing control you need when sewing difficult patterns.

9.     Practice Your Straight Lines

You need to practice your straight lines. Use the plate markings etched into your machine as a guide. From here, you’ll want to create seam guides and practice keeping your seams straight when sewing.

If you focus on the needle, you’ll mess up.

Practice makes perfect, and if you can’t sew a straight line yet, it’s something you need to work on.

10.Keep an Eye on Your Bobbin Thread

The final tip I’m going to give you is one that’s an essential, yet a lot of seamstresses seem to overlook it: check the thread on the bobbin. I’ve been guilty of this, too, and it’s a mistake that seems to happen in the middle of a seam.

Before a challenging part of your pattern begins, check to make sure there’s enough thread in the bobbin for your advanced seams and sewing.

All too often, a person will pay attention to their thread on the spool and forget that the bobbin’s thread runs low, too.

It’s better to remove a bobbin low on thread than run into complications right in the middle of your project – trust me.

1 thought on “10 Sewing Tips for Beginners and Intermediate Users”

  1. I want to learn sewing this year so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about practicing straight lines. I’ll be sure to do this so I can create clean seams.


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