Sewing 101: Basic things you need to know about sewing

Skill building is one of life's most important pursuit, irrespective of your level of exposure; everyone finds a new thing tedious and challenging every time they learn a skill. It is often said that: "there is no better place other than the beginning." Sewing is no different, as it is essential to learn the basics on which other skills of sewing are built. This article seeks to provide insight into the fundamentals which serve as a foundation for learning to sew.


In the process of learning to sew, it is vital to master the fundamentals as it paves the way for a successful sewing project. The following are essential as the basics of sewing

The Sewing Machine: Consideration of the kind of sewing and the volume of sewing is a significant factor in determining the type of sewing machine one needs to get. A beginner must learn and master the name and uses of the parts of a sewing machine. The essential parts of a sewing machine include;

Presser foot: It holds the fabric to the bed of the machine

Feed dog: It moves the fabric for stitching

Machine bed: This serves as the working area

Needle and Needle clamp: It bores the hole in the fabric for stitching

Bobbin: It holds the thread for a sewing machine

Hand wheel: It used for raising and lowering the needle

Stitch selector: Used for selecting the stitch of choice

Foot pedal: Used for controlling the speed of the machine

Power cord and switch: Supplies electrical energy to the machine

The Sewing supplies: The sewing procedures are in different stages, which includes: taking a measurement, layering out of a pattern, marking, and pressing. The sewing machine can’t do all these, so there is a need for special tools to engage the processes that can’t be done by the sewing machine. The special tools are called hand-sewing supplies, and the essential ones include:

Measuring and Marking tools: Tape measure, Transparent ruler, Marking chalk, etc.

Cutting tools: Sewing scissors, seam ripper, rotary cutter, etc.

Hand-sewing tools: Thimble, Pin and pin cushions, Needle threaders, etc.

Pressing tools: Seam roll, Sleeve board, Steam/spray iron, etc.

Fabrics and Fibers

Fabrics are made from raw materials called fibers, and their constituent fibers determine the characteristics of each fabric.

Fibers are either natural or human-made. Natural fibers are gotten from plant and animal products; The example includes cotton, silk, wool, and linen. They are easy to sew.

Human-made fibers, on the other hand, are products of chemical synthesis; they include nylon, polyester, acrylic, amongst others.

Different fibers have their advantage and disadvantages; thus, the process of choosing one is different from another.

There are two basic types of fabrics, namely Woven and Knit.

Woven Fabrics: Woven fabrics are made up of two straight yarns that are interlaced ninety-degrees (900) to each other. The vertically arranged threads are the strongest in the fabric, and they are called the warp. The horizontally arranged yarns are called the weft. The outer edge of the warp is the selvage; they are often heavier than other parts of the fabric. The diagonal between the warp and weft is called the bias, and it has a fair amount of stretch, cuffs and waistbands are often cut at this point.

Some examples are; Plain weave, Rib weave, Basketweave, Twill weave, Double weave.

Knit Fabrics: Yarns are interloped to form Knit fabrics. The lengthwise loots are referred to as ribs, while the crosswise stitches are called courses. Knit fabrics are flexible, and they stretch easily. They offer freedom of movement because of these characteristics and thus are more comfortable to wear. Also, knit fabrics have "wicking" effects, which allows for evaporation of sweat from the skin's surface.

Some examples are; Single knit, Stretch fabrics, knit pile fabrics, Jersey knit.

Determining Size

To ensure sewing fitting apparel after choosing the desired design and getting the appropriate fabric, the next thing in line is to take the body measurements.

Although, depending on the design in mind, there are strategic body parts to measure. However, the following measures can be taken;

Height: The length from the top of the head to the floor

Bust: Circumference at the fullest part of the bust

High bust: Circumference at the level of the armpit

Waist: Circumference at the waist

Center back: length from the prominent bone at the back of the neck to the level of the waist

Hip: Circumference at the fullest part of the hip

Arm length: Measure from the top of the arm to the wrist

Out seam: Measure from the waist down to the ankle

Inseam: Measured from the crotch straight down to the ankle

Hand Stitches

The use of a thread and needle is an essential skill required for sewing. As stated above, there are some processes in sewing that cannot be engaged by the sewing machines. For example, in sewing buttons and slip-stitching an opening closed to finish a pillow, here a hand stitching is necessary.

The primary type of stitch includes

Running stitch: This is the foundation of all hand sewing techniques. It is the easiest of all the stitching method; it involves working small lines that don't overlap by bringing the back and forth of the fabric. Running stitch can be done by weaving needle in and out of the fabrics at small intervals, to form a dashed line.

Basting Stitch: It is similar to the running stitch, but in its case, it is longer. A basting stitch is used in holding fabrics temporarily and also to trace patterns and put markings on fabrics. Basting Stitch is done by weaving needle in and out of the fabric to form a long dash line.

Slip stitch: This is otherwise known as a Ladder stitch. It is a double-threaded stitch. The stitch is done by making the needle go through the fold of the hem. And, at the same point picking up a thread of the fabric. Stitches are then made about half an inch apart.

Zig-Zag stitch: Start by Stitching in and out between the edges of an opening. After that, pull out the threads as tight as possible to close the opening.


As it is impossible for a building to stand erect without a good foundation, so is sewing without a good fundamental. To be vast at tailoring, a newbie needs to know; the essential parts of a sewing machine, the types of a sewing machine, hand-sewing supplies, types of fabrics, how to take body measurement, and basic hand stitching procedures. With these, learning other processes would be a piece of cake.

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