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Learn to sew with the sewing machine - basics & tips

Have you ever looked at magazines with self-sewn clothes, great bags or home decorations and enviously thought "I would like to be able to do that too" ">

Inexperienced people often consider sewing with the sewing machine to be complicated and difficult, but that is at most for the first three or four sewing projects. Learning to sew can be compared to driving a car. At the beginning, the learner driver may be a little overwhelmed by the pedals, switches and displays and then he should also steer at the same time. The sewing machine is a little easier to use, after all, you just have to "accelerate" and "steer". With the first sewing project you get to know your machine and make a decorative pincushion.


  • Material and preparation
    • Pincushion material
    • cut
    • Prepare the sewing machine
  • Instructions | Sew a large pincushion
  • Instructions | Sew a small pincushion

Material and preparation

Difficulty level 1 to 2/5
suitable for absolute beginners

Material costs 1/5
Use fabric remnants for sewn pincushions

Time expenditure 1 to 2/5
approx. 30 minutes to 45 minutes each

Pincushion material

You need this for one or two pincushions:

  • bright monochrome fabric remnants
  • colored sewing thread or sewing thread in a contrasting color
  • color-matching sewing thread
  • Polyester wadding to fill the pincushion

Other materials that are usually present in a craft or handicraft household.

  • long ruler or tape measure
  • sharp scissors
  • Pen or pencil
  • pins
  • sewing needle


Step 1: First draw two squares of the same size on your remnant of fabric.

Mark and cut fabric squares

You can freely choose the size. I chose the dimensions 12 x 12 cm for the small pincushion and 15 x 15 cm for the larger pillow . A seam allowance no longer has to be added to these two pillows. If you use the thread course of the fabric to orient yourself, the finished pincushion will look straight and much tidier. In addition, the fabric does not fray so quickly.

Tip: However, with other patterns, make sure that the seam allowance is already included in the dimensions mentioned. Usually this is not the case, then add about 0.75 to 1 cm around the entire pattern parts.

Step 2: Cut out the two squares with sharp scissors.

Cut out fabric squares

Tip: Use your fabric scissors to cut only fabric and no other materials such as paper or cardboard, otherwise the scissors will dull very quickly and will no longer cut fabrics neatly and properly.

Prepare the sewing machine

Prepare and get to know the sewing machine.

Step 1: Before you start learning to sew, you should first get to know your sewing machine. To do this, first read the operating instructions. It is best to place the sewing machine on a large table so that you can compare all parts with the illustrations in the operating instructions.

Prepare the sewing machine

Step 2: Connect your sewing machine to the circuit and connect the foot pedal to the machine. Depending on the make and age of the machine, you will need one or two cables. Then turn on the power. Now the lamp of your sewing machine should light up.

connected cables on the sewing machine

Step 3: Check the bobbin for the lower thread. Is it sufficiently filled so that you do not run out of thread in the middle of the seam "> Sewing machine tutorial: Thread the upper and lower thread correctly.

Check the bobbins

Then put the bobbin into the sewing machine.

Bobbin of the sewing machine

Here too, adhere to your operating instructions . If the bobbin is upside down in the machine, there is thread salad instead of a neat seam.

Step 4: Now it's time to thread it. The operating instructions tell you exactly how this works. The individual steps are often also printed on the machine itself.

Thread the thread

Make sure that both thread ends (upper and lower thread) are about 10 cm long. Now the real “learn to sew” begins by trying out different stitches on your sewing machine . This can be for the first try on a test fabric or you can take one of the cut fabric squares.

Instructions | Sew a large pincushion

Step 1: Place a piece of fabric under the sewing machine feet.

Place the fabric under the feet of the sewing machine

Step 2: Lower the sewing machine foot so that the fabric is now “held”. The small lever required for this is usually located on the side or rear of the sewing machine.

Lever of the sewing machine foot

Tip: Never forget to lower the sewing machine feet, otherwise the fabric cannot be transported further and the upper and lower threads knot instead of forming a clean seam.

Step 3: Select any stitch on your sewing machine. I chose various decorative stitches for the large pincushion.

Stitch program selection on the sewing machine

Step 4: Now start sewing, holding the thread ends. Sew a few stitches back and forth to "fasten" the seam so it doesn't come loose. Try to sew a reasonably straight seam across the piece of fabric. At the end of the seam, sew a few stitches back and forth.

Sew the stitch program

Turn the fabric over and use another stitch to sew back a few centimeters from the first seam. You do not have to cut the sewing threads after each seam, they are later inside the pincushion.

sew different stitch programs

Step 5: Repeat this several times until the square is decorated relatively evenly.

Sew decorative stitches with a sewing machine

Tip: The seam must be “fastened” at the beginning and end of each seam, otherwise it will dissolve again under load. Always sew two to three stitches forwards and backwards. The sewing machine has an extra button for this. Some (new) machines sew these extra stitches automatically.

Step 6: Now place the two fabric squares on top of each other so that the right sides (which will later be on the outside) are inside / on top of each other. Pin the edges together.

Place the fabric squares on top of each other and pin them

Tip: Now change the sewing thread, the thread should not be visible on the finished pincushion. Colored sewing thread does not shine through at the sewing edges and is also usually cheaper than the colored sewing thread used for the decorative stitches.

Step 7: Sew the two pieces of fabric all around, leaving an opening for turning. The seam is not sewn (the cut edges are sewn with a zigzag stitch so that the fabric edges do not fray). The pincushion is only stuffed loosely, so the seam is not particularly stressed.

Tip: The turning opening should never lie directly at a corner, because it is very difficult to close it cleanly. In the photo you can see a correctly placed turning opening between the pins.

Leave the opening open

Step 8: Cut corners close to the seam, as can be seen in the photo. This makes the corners easier to turn and look cleaner later.

Cut off fabric corners

Step 9: Turn the pincushion over. Long scissors or a thin wooden spoon helps to shape the corners neatly.

Turn the pincushion cloth bag

The turned pincushions now look like the following picture.

pincushion fabric pockets turned on right

Step 10: Stuff the pincushion loosely with filling cotton.

Stuff the pincushion with filling cotton

11th step: Close the turning opening with a ladder seam so that you can no longer see it later.

Close the turning opening by hand with a ladder seam

Instructions | Sew a small pincushion

The small pincushion is decorated with just one spiral seam in a straight stitch. How to practice sewing the bow with the sewing machine. This is a little tricky and works best when your machine can sew slowly.

Speed ​​controller on the sewing machine

If this is possible with your machine, set the slowest "gear" .

Step 1: Set a medium-length straight stitch (approx. 3 mm), use colored sewing thread or thread in a contrasting color to the fabric as the upper thread. The bobbin thread can be in a color that matches the fabric.

Step 2: Now sew a spiral on one of the two squares of fabric. Start at the outside of the spiral and sew smaller and smaller sheets. This is not easy, but important if you want to learn to sew. Don't forget to fasten / lock the seam here as well.

Step 3: Now place both pieces of fabric with the outer sides (= right to right) on top of each other and pin the edges together.

Step 4: Now close the edge seam, but leave an opening for turning open as with the larger pincushion.

Now turn and fill the pincushion and close the turning opening as described in points 9 to 11 for the larger pincushion.

ready sewn pincushions
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