I Learned How to Use the Sewing Machine

IMG_6281Two Thanksgivings ago my brother’s girlfriend Jen convinced me to go to Target for my first Black Friday experience. We drank a whole lot of wine before (and while at Target, sorry Dad) and I ended up coming home with a sewing machine. I had always wanted to learn how to sew and this Singer gem was too good of a deal to pass up. The sewing machine sat untouched in it’s box for one entire year before I decided to get busy (I also bought a crockpot which I still haven’t used, but how do you say no to deals and those faces!).

The hardest thing for me was setting the damn thing up and I wanted to throw the bobbin out the window many times. I found Singer’s instructions completely unhelpful. Instead of spelling out exactly what I did, I’m going to point you to what I followed: tutorials on setting the machine up and threading it. This Tilly saved me after hours of frustration with the Singer packet. I like her pictures, step by step instructions, and that she provides the names for everything (how was I supposed to know what a freaking presser foot is). If this doesn’t work for you google ‘setting up a sewing machine’ or ‘threading a bobbin’ and there are all sorts of videos on YouTube and pictures that will help. Take a deep breath, I promise you can do it.

Getting my supplies ready!

Getting my supplies ready!

Ok so you spent one whole day and now the machine is set up, woo hoo! Now, what will we sew?! For inspiration I turned to my favorite homemaker, Caitlin of Hardly Housewives. I started with a beginner project, Embellished Dishtowels. Again, I’ll let you read through Caitlin’s post for instructions but here are my tips for true beginners (like me!):

1. Go to Joann Fabric. They are super nice and will help you buy pins, thread, etc. Buying fabric proved completely overwhelming for me so I started out by buying these pre-cut squares (which are perfect size for embellishing a few dishtowels). You’ll see them in the store near quilting and though they are more expensive than buying by the yard, they are still cheap ($3 per square) and didn’t give me anxiety like walking through the fabric isles did.

2. It’s ok to buy these cheap dishtowels at Target (that’s what Caitlin uses and she’s a pro).

It takes a little while to get the ironing and pinning down. Pin farther away from the edge than I did here!

Pin farther away from the edge than I did here!

3. Get ready to do more ironing then sewing. Ironing (after washing/drying the fabric) is BY FAR the longest part of the process. You iron for an hour and then sew for 2 minutes, be prepared. When ironing use a ruler to make sure the fabric is straight (you fold in the edges to create a clean line- check out the Pacifier holder post below to see tips on ironing).


Other fun things to sew and give to friends (except not to mutual friends because they already received these from me!):

  • Embellished burp clothes. Similar to dishtowels and also makes a great present. Beginner notes: Go to Target to get the pre-fold diapers. I believe they are these ones, but it’s helpful to hold them up and make sure they are the size of a laptop (13″ or so). I messed up and bought the three-fold ones at first and they were HUGE. I apologize to those who got these in the mail.
  • Napkins. Beginner notes: these are the hardest of the four and I’ve only made one set. I had a tough time keeping them square so measure as you go and make sure everything lines up.
First try at a finished product.

First try at a finished product.

As you can see from the above I’m still figuring out corners and how to end the stitch. Since a baby is going to puke all over this anyways, I sent them out as is. If you figure out how to do corners please let me know – good luck!


  1. Emmely says:

    When sewing corners with a zigzag stitch as you did (a convex corner) stop with the needle down when it is in the right position. Lift presserfoot, turn fabric and continue sewing.
    If you’re doing applique and sewing around a corner that is concave, you stop with the needle in the left postion in the fabric before turning the fabric.
    Good luck!

  2. alirayl says:

    When you reach the point where you’d like the corner to be, stop seeing with the needle all the way down. Lift the foot and rotate your work 90 degrees. Put the foot back down and keep going! It’s tough to make it look good with a zigzag stitch, but totally doable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: