Beginners Sewing for Teens (and Adults): Learn About Basic Sewing, Fabrics and Sustainability | Sarah Ashburner | Skillshare

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Beginners Sewing for Teens (and Adults): Learn About Basic Sewing, Fabrics and Sustainability

teacher avatar Sarah Ashburner, Machinist and Maker

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Equipment and Setting Up your Sewing Space


    • 3.

      Understand Fabric, Grains and More


    • 4.

      Machine Set Up


    • 5.

      Straight Seams and Zigzag Finishes


    • 6.

      Bonus Edge Stitch and Grading Seams


    • 7.



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About This Class

Learning how to sew can be incredibly fulfilling.  If you love fabrics and textiles now is the time to add sewing to your skills set.  Sarah has spent years working in the clothing industry and teaching associated skills.  Join Sarah, founder of as she takes you through the process of setting yourself up for a successful start to your new hobby or possibly career!   This class is perfect for beginners who want to create with a conscience. What you learn here will prepare you for the next step which is to make a simple garment in my Fun Work Or Hobby Apron class.  Even if you don't make an apron what you learn are basic sewing skills for many garments.

In this class you will learn

  • tips on setting up your sewing, cutting out and pressing space
  • how to use your sewing machine and avoid common problems 
  • about different fabric and how to handle them
  • sewing with straight stitch and zigzag
  • the importance of pressing
  • finishing raw edges with a facing and edge stitch

What you will do

  • Set up your sewing, cutting out and pressing space
  • Find your sewing machine manual or download one and familiarise yourself with the basics of preparing your machine for sewing.  I will point out common problem areas.
  • Build your awareness of fabrics by looking at different garments.  Think about what fabric has been chosen and why 
  • Consider what impact different fabrics could have on the environment
  • Experiment with straight and zigzag stitch on natural and manmade fabrics
  • Experiment using edge stitch to finish the raw edge of a fabric
  • Sew a small sample facing as a raw edge finish and use edge stitch
  • Build up a portfolio of samples and put notes with them to say what worked and what did not.  Your mistakes are an important part of the process!

This is the starting point for making simple garments.  Once you understand your machine and start building up your fabric knowledge you will have the confidence to tackle other sewing project.  Use the skills you gain to go on and learn more complicated sewing techniques.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sarah Ashburner

Machinist and Maker


Hello, I'm Sarah and I’ve worked in the clothing industry in various rolls from pattern making and sewing to working as an educator.  I also created my own label, and have worked in collaboration with other industry professionals.  

I love sharing my knowledge about creating garments and different aspects of this multifaceted industry and am passionate about sustainability in the clothing industry. 

Working with textiles and garment making is so fulfilling; as a career or hobby.  The possibilities are endless!  Take a look at my website and please contact me with any questions you may have. 

Keep up to date with what's happening in my sewing studio on social media. 

https://www... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction : on Sarah and I worked in the clothing industry in various roles. A za pattern maker in a factory. As an educator, I created my own label and have worked in collaboration with other industry professionals. In this class, you will learn basic sewing skills. To start with, we will look at the sewing machine and different sewing tools. We'll discuss fabrics. Plus, I'll explain basic sewing terminology as we go. This class is great for beginners, teens or adults wanting to learn the basics of sewing. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary. Garment making uses mainly straight stitch and seam finishes. So starting with that also alongside you to make this an enjoyable experience and hopefully you'll want to learn more. Your project will be to put together a portfolio of samples off sewing straight stitch on zigzag scene finishes on a variety of natural and man made fabrics, make notes to go with them and say what worked well and what did not. Through experimenting, you will learn the different types of fabrics require decisions to be made on cutting, sewing on how to handle and care for that particular fabric. On completion of this class, you will have the confidence to start your own sewing projects and a better understanding of what fabrics to work with. And we will touch on the importance of sustainability in our industry. I'm so looking forward to sharing my selling skills and different aspect off this multifaceted industry with you. So let's get started. I can't wait to see your project. 2. Equipment and Setting Up your Sewing Space: to start with, you will only need the basics. Training equipment, fabric marking pencils are useful. And so his tailor's chalk, which comes in a variety of colors. It's important to distinguish between your fabric cutting scissors and your paper scissors . Do not use your fabric systems for papers. It will blunt them. I like a long blade for cutting paper as we tend to cut patterns, and it makes it quicker and easier, your fabric says is need to be comfortable. Toe hold and mine have a serrated age, which gives them more grip when cutting out fine fabrics. You will also need a handy little pair of thread snaps to use of the machine. When it comes to an pickers or seam rippers, buy a more expensive one like Vanina as a small blade on them, a sharp and last, which is what you need when you are in picking stitches. I'm picking us part of the deal in sewing. This is a cheaper and picker and is more cumbersome to use, and the blade did not last. My favorite pen holder is the wrist one. I was given a ZA gift. It's really handy toe. Have it on you while working on projects. I also find the magnetic pen holder handy at times, especially if you know pens have fallen somewhere and you can't see them. Never put pins in your mouth. Get good quality long brand pins or those with glass heads, not plastic, as the plastic will melt near and iron. A tape measure is essential and use good quality thread on your standard saying machine. If you have an over locker, you can use the over locking three Useful toe Have are a pair of overlooking tweezers. I use these to help with Reading, and I have a 60 seem to me to ruler. I find Tandy that I bought it a local stationery shop. There are many different sewing boxes to keep your equipment, and but I find a toolbox handy. For most of my things, I have recycled doors for my cutting table and a recycled table for my sewing table. The trolley on the left of my sewing table is an eye care one, which is really handy to keep all your tools and equipment in. And most important of all, is toe have an ergonomic chair because if you're sitting for any length of time at a sewing machine. You really need to make sure your chairs at the right height and your feet are on the floor and able to reach the pedal properly. You also need to have good lighting when you're sewing. I have got natural lighting in this room. I have directional lighting so I can angle my lamp to work in different directions. According to what I'm working on, Andi, I have a light on my sewing machine, which all of you should have a swell. So you need good overhead lighting or natural lighting in your room, directional lighting and task lighting. I have a thin piece of MDF board that Aiken put over any tables where I need to protect the surface. So if you're working on a good table, if you don't have a dedicated sewing room space, you can use your dining room table and just put a piece of MDF board over the top of it. And that way you can use marking tools. Scissors tracing wheels on dure surfaces protected 3. Understand Fabric, Grains and More : There are four aspects of fibers and fabrics that I'm going to introduce you to. Sustainability natural and man made fabrics for brick structure and two different grains. Each fabric has an impact on the planet, but some fabrics, always in others. Technology is making it possible to improve the impact fabrics are having. And we all need to do what we can to lessen the impact. Today, we're going to have a look at what happens when we bone fabrics do not attempt this. If you're underage, this should be done by an adult in a suitable environment. And I'm in a well ventilated room with the right equipment. I'm wearing a mask as the odor from burning fabrics is not pleasant and can have a chemical smell. I've got a bowl of water along lighter so that my fingers are protected and overlooking tweezers to hold the fabric well away. I've chosen to fabrics cotton, which is a natural fabric coming from the cotton plant and polyester. This is a synthetic or manmade fabric created from a chemical reaction between crude oil, coal, air and water. It's important that you understand where your fabrics come from and what impact they have on the environment and how to work with them. The selection of fabrics is vast, and we're only looking at two year so you can see the curtain scorches and catches a light quickly that has a yellow flame and smells like burning paper that's still smoldering. The flame is still there, and there's a white smoke coming from that. Can you see the ash that's dropped off into the water there? So that breaks away from the fabric. It's light and feathery. This is Wait now, but this will just tear on breakaway like burnt paper that ash will disintegrate. Now we're going to have a look at the polyester. This fabrics really floppy. Can you see that? How the fabric just shrinks away, shrinking away from the flame. So if I burn it from the top here, hopefully you will see it crumpling. It'll just crumple up. Okay, that's what it looks like. So this ridge here it's just hard and plasticky. Nothing's dropped into the water off this. These hard edges are not going to break down. There are two main groups natural fabrics, which come from nature either plant or animal. This is calico, which I just used to make samples taste things out. It's usually reasonably priced one of the cheaper natural cottons. Then there are man made fabrics on these air produced through chemical processing. There are a few ways Jardine to five fabrics, and I will discuss this as we go along. Fabrics are structured in three different ways. Woven like our cotton calico. There's an example of a woven fabric knitted. This is an example of a knit fabric. This is the salvage of the fabric, and you will see if I stretch it. If I pull on that fabric, it will stretch little stretch more this way. Traditionally, this is the way that we go around the body, which is where you need the most stretch so you can see that that's got a lot of give there on a woven fabric like calico. There's very little stretch. You can get woven fabrics with stretch and then depending on how they constructed, so not much stretch in the woven. I'd like you to consider different woven and knitted fabrics that you have in your wardrobe . Start looking at that sort of thing when, when you're thinking about knitted fabrics. Think about your T shirts, Andi Lookout Woven fabrics. Think about your gene and then we have non woven. So non woven is like an interfacing, which is basically fibers that are mish together. So in interfacing adds some stability to your fabrics. One of the ways of identifying fabrics is to look at the labels. When you purchase fabric, they should always have a label on on. In that label, there will be a place where tells you what the yarn is, So this particular fabric is 100% cotton. You need to be aware that fabric has different grains, so the straight grain runs parallel to the salvage. This is the salvage on. The salvage is formed when fabric is being woven. It's the age of the fabric. When the yarns are put on the loom, the edge of the fabric is more tightly packed with yarns and that keeps the fabric stable. It's not going to shift around, so when your fabric is coming off the bolt of material, it will be rolled off with the salvage on each side. So that's the salvage there, and that is the straight grain. I'm just putting my rule on here so that you can see the straight grain runs parallel to the salvage, and you need to be aware of where your straight grain is and where your cross Graner's. The cross grain There's perpendicular to the straight grain, so the cross grain runs across the fabric in that direction, and that is usually the direction that goes around your body so the straight grain would full from your chin to the floor on the cross grain wraps around your body. There are slightly more stretch in the cross grain, even in woven fabrics, but there are a lot of fabrics that have very little to no stretch in them. But if you were testing, you can see that the straight grain here has very There's no stretch in that. Whereas if I taste along in this direction, there is a slight bit of stretch there 4. Machine Set Up: Let's look at winding the bobbin. Put the thread on the school pin with the spool holder to keep it in place. The three It'll come out from underneath the school. Hold the end of your thread and take it underneath the first metal guide and take it around the second guide. And underneath this rubble wheel, make it across to the third guide. This has to tension discs. Make sure you slot the threat nice and taut between those two tension disks, and then take the three to cross to the bobbin. Take the three through the little hole on the top of your Baban and then put the bobbin on top of the bobbin wind er on your machine and push it to the right. It'll automatically stop winding when your bobbin is full and you don't have to fold your bobbin each time. Hold on to the three that you've just taken through the little hole to start with, and that will just get the process started without the thread slipping. Push down on the price of foot to wind the bobbin. Most of the time, If you're having problems with your sewing machine, it'll be in the three ding. Check that aspect, and a lot of the time it's down near the needle. There are a number of three guides down near the needle, and if the three is not running along the needle, then you need to look to see if you've missed out a guide. If you're three days out at an angle that's not right. It should run as close to the needle is possible. Once you got the bobbin in place, hold the thread from the needle and use the wheel on the right hand side and turn turn that told you to pull up the three from the bobbin that will draw that up. I have a handy little wouldn't skewer that I used to get underneath there to pull that bobbin thread through. Take those to the back. Once you start sewing, it's important to put a little bit of pressure on those three so that they don't all draw back and sucked back into the bobbin. Then we'll replace the bob and cover. Make sure that clips firmly into place when you're first starting to, so put your machine on its slower speed just to practice. When starting to so your straight lines make sure that your machine is set up properly, As you can see here, I have the stitch sitting on 01 which is just a standard straight stitch with the needle in the same tack. The next setting is auto, and that is for your tension has set on water. The stitch with doesn't apply. That's just going to sit on 3.5 while we sewing straight stitch that applied's two stitches like zigzag, where you need to know the width of yours exact and then the stitch length I've stated on three. So that's a good standard stitch length, and it will be nice and easy for you to see. Then I want you to have a look at it, raising and lowering the needle. So on this to know me. It is that pattern there, so that will drop the needle or lift it up and you'll have a look at the take up Levi here , which will move up and down accordingly. It's important to know what with seam allowance you're working with. In this case, I'm going to be demonstrating a to seem to me to see my lords and have a look at your sewing machine because you will see various guidelines down near the throat plate. So on mine, this line here indicates a two centimeter distance from the needle. So that's the line I will be using when sewing this demonstration seam allowance. But to take note of all the other lines you have, Andi get used to using those as reference points where you'll see Milat's. The other thing I've seen used quite commonly is masking tape so that people will put that on their throat plate as a guide for the age of their fabric to run along. If you don't have the measurement, you're looking for another handy thing you may have in your talk. It is a quilting bar, so mine slides in the back here, and I can say that to sit on the two centimeter line, so that's a useful little tool 5. Straight Seams and Zigzag Finishes: I've also marked the two seem to me to see seam allowance on this piece of practice fabric . So let's start. I'll lower my needle holding the threads of the back, and then we're going to reverse, and that will secure the scene. When you're saying, Don't watch the needle, you've got your guide set up and you're that's what you're going to be looking at when you get to the end, the same thing applies. You're going to stitch backwards three stitches and that will secure themed off your scene . Don't forget to have your thread snaps handy just to snip off the end. And there you have it. Now that you've sown your two centimeter practice, seem alerts, we're going to finish it off. It's important that before you zigzag, you press your seem open. Nice and flat. Pressing is a very important part of sewing. Andi. It's best to get into the habit right from the beginning, so you finished off of the top on the bottom with three stitches backwards and then continuing to so you'll need to decide if you're sewing an open scene, which would have the seam allowances pressed open on either side. or a closed seem where you would press you would first press the seam open to get a nice, crisp, sharp edge on. Then you would press them closed like that and you would stitch your C, Milan says together like that, that would be a closed seem if they were stitched together. We're going to do an open scene, so I will be zigzagging down either side off the scene there. First of all, we'll stitch down the side and then I will turn the fabric around and we will stitch down that side. Now we're ready to finish off the scenes so the machine is set up on zigzag. This is the standard is exact. Sitting on 05 auto is the three tension I've set their zigzag with 22 and the state length toe one, so this will create a really small zigzag stitch. You'll see what I'm going to do on the first side on going to so those exact half the same to me toe in, and then we will trim that C. Milan's off and you'll see the problems that occur if you If you stitch on the very age of the fabric the fabric is in and the price of footers down, ready to say, I'll be holding these threads to stop them from getting bunched up underneath the throat plate when we start. The other thing to be aware of is the fabric goes to the left hand side so you don't want fabric in this area. Here, you need to keep your the bulk of your fabric on the left hand side. So a couple of stitches down and then a couple of stitches back. I'm going to put this on the fastest stating, because be quicker for you to see. Forget, don't watch your needle, while so watch your guide. There are actually drawn on a guideline, but otherwise you can use one of your guides on the way. What's the end? And I'm just going to do a reverse it just a little. So now I have sown one side, and we'll look at trimming that off after we've seen the other side. So I'm going to turn this around so that the bulk of the fabric is on the left hand side again. Fold that under. Take the fabric to the side, your threads in position. You're holding in place. Get ready to SOS exact Down the side Here, I'm going to make the stitches a little bit wider and a little bit longer. First, let's look at this exact zone half a centimetre in the reason you would do this is on a finer fabric. It's easier to keep the fabric flat, and it helps to stop the fabric puckering apple rolling. You can actually use two rows of zigzag as a seeing finish on fine fabrics so you could do the first row as our half centimeter inro was done on. Instead of trimming off the excess fabric, do the second sample zigzag with the slightly larger stitching on the edge of the fabric. I want to point out how the seconds exact sample on the edge of the seam allowance has caused the fabric to roll. You can see that Yeah, in the image that's up, the fabric gets drawn in and pulled by the throat plate on is not lift flat. What we're looking at here is an open seen Andi. I will so a closed seem with this type of finished where it's sewn on the age and it's successful because with a close seem you've got double layer of fabric. These seen finishes are sewn on a single layer of fabric sewing on the edge of the scene on a thicker fabric like a canvas. Weight will also work Fine. This is just to show you the importance of pressing your seam allowances. So even though I'm going to be stitching this seam allowance closed, they will be together. I'm still going to press it open first and then I will push seam allowances toe one side and I hope Preston closed. I said my stitch with on 3.5 on and my stitch length on two and I'm actually going to zigzag on the age, sell these exacting on the edge. I won't be zigzagging in where we need to trim it down. So this will just be one. Operation is exactly down the age. In order to prevent puckering, I have sown this line of zigzag half a centimetre in from the age and then your trim off the edge of the sea. Milan's taking care not to cut into the stitches you can trim close to, but obviously not into the stitches. And this is a good scene from finish for, um, final fabrics where the fabric is likely to roll in Packer just trimming right along the edge of the stitching. I'm going to stop there and leave that as a sample. 6. Bonus Edge Stitch and Grading Seams: how you finish the raw edge of a fabricas, a common decision you will need to make. It just could be turned up like a him finished with the binding by using a rolled hem stitch and many other ways. Another way is to use a facing or by lining what you're making, and this is one of the practical ways to use it. Stitch where it gives a professional finish toe what you are making, but the stitches not visible it. Stitching can also be used visibly in a decorative way, and I will show you both in this lesson. I'll only show you how to finish a straight edge. You will so your two pieces of fabric right sides together I've used a poly cotton fabric andan acetate lining to demonstrate. I'm also going to introduce you to grading scenes. At this point, grading seems as where you trim down the seam allowance to remove bulk. There are times when you also thick fabrics or more than two fabrics together and want the seems to be less bulky. I've seen a one seem to me to see my lad's and trimmed down the lining side 2.5 of the same two meter. Once you sown the seam allowance, press it open and then tow one side. We'll stitch through birth seam allowances on the lining side. The longer seam allowance of the garment will cover over the lining part of the seam allowance. My right sides together here and I am sewing a one seem to me to see Milan's. I've got the acetate lining fabric on the top and underneath I have a polyester cotton fabric. - Put the government side of your fabric on the left hand side of the needle and the lining on the right hand side. You'll be stitching through three layers with the needle on the right side of the seam allowance. In this demonstration, I'm saying a three millimeters from the age. Each stitch could be between 1 to 3 millimeters. What I want you to see here is what I'm using as a reference point to make sure that my stitching remains the same distance away from the seem alarms. So I'm going to be looking at the edge off the foot here because that runs along that seam allowance there. So that's my reference point 7. Conclusion : congratulations on completing the class. It's my aim to shape some tricks Over my years teaching, I found Students Benefit Fund List sowings a great skill, and you are now reading, too. So more than you realize. I hope you have enjoyed this and build on it for your hobby or as an introduction to starting a portfolio to take this interest in something. This has been a great career for me, and there are so many different aspects to it on different industry opportunities that are constantly evolving. Why not see where it can take you first, your projects or anything you may do as a result of this course and then start a discussion and build our community Between us, we can keep this car.