So you've got to grips with your sewing machine, and you're itching to make something. Which sewing patterns are easy enough for beginners? I've gathered together a few suggestions for things you might want to try, but first a few tips for choosing an easy project. I'm a big advocate of diving into sewing fearlessly, but for your very first project you might want to ease yourself in gently:
* While you're still making friends with your sewing machine, it's advisable to choose a project with simple straight lines. You may want to avoid curved lines, gathering, pleating etc for now.
* Zippers and buttonholes are a little tricky at first, so go for a project that doesn't need a fastening, and save the fun for another day!
* When buying fabric, a medium-weight cotton would be good for a first project as it lies flat, presses well and won't slide all over your machine. There are lots of lovely printed cottons available in department stores, haberdasheries and online fabric shops.
* Patterned fabric not only looks pretty but can hide dodgy stitching!
* Read through the pattern or tutorial instructions in advance to ensure you have all the materials you need to hand - not only the fabric, but matching (or contrast) thread, sewing tools, plus any extras that the project may need, such as elastic, cord or interfacing.
* You might also want to consider whether you can see yourself making up the same pattern a few times. Once you've completed your first project, it's worth going through it again to remind yourself what you learnt... and so you can feel you've made progress with your second try!
Right, onto my suggestions for beginner projects:
UPDATE! In response to the shortage of easy patterns for beginners, I've designed one!
No zippers, no buttons, no fuss! Just scope to practise your straight stitching and learn the basics of garment construction. Super simple fitting, and online photo tutorials to demystify the jargon and demonstrate every step in detail. A rare beginner project that's actually wearably stylish!
A delightful video tutorial by Brett Bara author of Sewing in a Straight Line. This skirt is so easy, it doesn't require a pattern - just your own waist and hip measurements - nor a zipper as it's elasticated at the waistband. A great project for using the prettiest or wackiest fabric you can find.
Is this the easiest project ever? Could be! Each one only uses a small amount of fabric so you can make lots of them to practise.
This cushion cover is an "envelope back", so it requires no zips, buttons or topstitching... plus it's easy to take the cushion out if you spill wine on the cover! This tutorial is very clearly explained, so it should be simple for a beginner to follow. The only potentially tricky part is when it comes to hemming, which requires precision stitching - practise on some calico first until you feel comfortable trying it on your nice fabric.
Made by my own fair hand :) All you need is fabric, matching thread, two hooks and eyes (or velcro), and some interfacing, which you iron on the fabric to act as a stiffener. This project is a great way of snazzing up an outfit - get some inspiration from bow belts that have already been made by other people here and here.
Karen from the brilliant blog Did You Make That? talks us through making a simple tote. A bag is really easy for beginners to practise sewing straight lines and corners, and you don't need to worry about it fitting your body. You can use a medium-weight cotton - choose a lovely print or go for plain calico and try out the fancy topstitching settings on your machine to decorate it.
Not a tutorial, but a commercial sewing pattern - I made these ones with McCalls 5248. Once you get your head around putting together the... err... crotch area, sewing pyjama bottoms is a pretty simple and satisfying project. A garment, yes, but loose fitting enough for it not to cause any headaches. Commercial sewing patterns do have a language of their own though, so beware.
Another commercial sewing pattern - although there are a few free templates available online too... with less dodgy illustrations! Just avoid any that have gathering at the waistband, unless you fancy a challenge, of course...
Another great make from Handmade Jane, requiring a little more precision and some waterproof fabric.
If you've sewn before, what was the first thing you made and how did it go? If you've got any suggestions of your own for first sewing projects, do leave a link in the comments.
Update: My forthcoming book, Love at First Stitch, includes patterns aimed specifically at people who are new to sewing. Released on 8 May 2014, you can pre-order it on Amazon now.
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