How long does it take to learn to sew? This is a question a lot of people ask when they’re thinking about learning to sew. And if you’re a bit impatient like I was when I first started, you’re just itching to learn everything as quickly as possible so you can get to the really fun stuff!
In this blog, I share some practical advice and tips so you know exactly what you need to do to successfully learn how to sew, and so that you don’t have unrealistic expectations and give up too soon! As with any new skills we learn, patience is a virtue!
How long does it take to learn to sew?
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It depends on the type of sewing you’re learning. If you’re learning to sew by hand, it doesn’t take very long once you’ve figured out the stitch that you need and you’ve had a few tries on some fabric.
But if you’re learning how to sew using a sewing machine, this can take a lot longer because you firstly need to learn how to set up and use your sewing machine. Once you’ve done this, then you can start sewing but you still need to learn a few tricks of the trade.
As with any new skill, it’s all about starting from the beginning, not expecting too much in the early days and persisting with learning even when it feels too hard.
Learning how to sew as a beginner
The biggest mistake people make when learning to sew is wanting to start with something a bit more advanced such as making clothing.
I know how it is- you’ve got a special event coming up and you’ve seen pictures of a gorgeous dress you want but can’t find anywhere, so you think it might not be too hard to make it yourself, right? The problem with this is that there’s a bit to learning to sew clothes, and knowing how to use sewing patterns. It’s not something you can successfully do yourself in a short time when you’re new to sewing.
I first learnt how to sew when I was in high school in my textiles class. We started with really simple projects like making a pillowcase and cushion covers, and focused on hand sewing rather than using sewing machines.
The great thing about starting with small sewing projects is that they don’t take a lot of time and they don’t require a lot of skill and effort, so you end up feeling really happy and great about the project. This builds your sewing confidence, and after creating enough small projects, you’re ready to move onto something more intermediate.
Best sewing projects for beginners
The first thing I suggest is finding some old fabric in your house and working with this. Look for old t-shirts, tea towels or other old clothes.
Teach yourself how to thread a needle and tie a knot. Tying a knot was one of the trickiest things I found when I was learning how to sew. Once you get the knot right and you’ve threaded the needle, you can start teaching yourself different stitches on the old fabric you’re sewing on.
This gets you used to using a needle and thread and sewing without a machine and is great if you’re only working on a small and easy project.
Other great beginner sewing projects:
-Reusable shopping cloth/calico bag
Once you’ve mastered these, you can look into more complex projects that require a sewing machine.
What takes the most time when learning how to sew?
Setting up your sewing machine and learning how to use it is what takes the most time when learning how to sew.
Back in the pre-internet days, you either had to do sewing classes in person or learn from reading a manual.
But now with the internet, you can watch YouTube tutorials and learn much faster than if you were teaching yourself! You can read so much about sewing and figure everything out a lot sooner!
How to learn to sew in less time
Set yourself up with the right equipment
My biggest tip would be to get the right sewing machine and other accessories first. High quality machines that have automatic needle threaders and an easy bobbin set up will make your life so much easier and will help you learn how to sew with a machine a lot faster.
I also recommend watching some YouTube tutorials using the sewing machine you have purchased.
Have a dedicated sewing space
Create a dedicated sewing space in your home and make sure you have all the basic accessories you need. That way, you can actually enjoy learning to sew and not be stressed that you don’t have the space or the stuff you need to sew.
You also have somewhere to keep your sewing machine and project sitting waiting for the next time you have a moment to do some sewing, rather than wasting time packing everything up then unpacking it again the next time you want to sew.
Learn the basic sewing terminology
Learn the basic terms used in sewing, such as the different names of stitches, what a bobbin is, what the difference is between a foot and a foot pedal and why there are different feet for different sewing projects.
When you learn the basic terminology, it will be easier for you to understand tutorials and when you set up your sewing machine, things will make more sense.
Take sewing classes
If you prefer to have someone show you in person how to sew with your sewing machine, then I highly recommend taking sewing classes. For many people, this is a lot easier and less stressful than trying to figure out everything even with online tutorial videos.
Having a sewing expert teach you is going to cut down on the time it takes you to learn. Their expertise and experience will help you avoid common beginner sewing mistakes and problems and will give you more confidence sooner!
One final word
If you have a deadline for a sewing project, the quickest way to learn how to sew would be to take sewing classes and specify that you’re working on a certain project. See if you can enrol in a more advanced class once you’ve figured out the basics.
How long does it take to sew? It really depends on how much time you have to spend learning. It can take you a week if you sew each day, to learn how to set up your machine, sew a straight stitch and how to do a single hem. If you spend about 30 minutes a day, you will learn a tonne in under a week!