Tips That Beginners Need to Know

Inspiration can come from anywhere. The right fix for inspiration in a new field is getting started without investing a great deal. To begin building skills, start with mastering the fundamentals.

 What follows is a primer for mastering the basics of thread control. Fundamentals include learning what to include in a basic kit, how to thread a needle, and sew a running stitch. Afterward, you will master the needlecraft of a backstitch. Lastly, handy work tips include tackling the almighty button. All of these points will give you a concrete starting point to fuel that fire and fascination at your fingertips. That drive can only help to turn inspiration into professional performance.

The Kit

  • Needles: Crafted with a pointed end that glides through the fabric without damaging it, needles simplify work. Consider purchasing European quality sharps. These needles are high quality and have few to no burs that cause catches in fabric. Pick up a variety pack at a craft store or in the homewares aisle of the grocery store.
  • Thread: Polyester or all-purpose thread works for most projects. Learn to match the type and color of your thread to that of the fabric you are using. Pick up a few spools or buy an emergency sewing kit, which includes needles and miniature spools of thread.
  • Shears: Dull scissors make cutting fabric messy and complicated. Be sure to find a sharp pair of sewing scissors or shears, available for as little as $7 online and in craft stores.
  • Seam Ripper: A small, fork-shaped tool with a blade in the crux removes unwanted stitches. To use, slip the pointed prong underneath a lousy stitch, then pull upward to cut the thread.

How to Thread a Needle

 Snip a length of thread that measures about 24″, or twice the length of your right forearm. Using the cut side length of the thread, angle it through the eye of the needle in your weaker hand. If in doubt, try this with the stronger hand; pinch the thread about 1/2″ from the cut and guide the thread through the eye with steady hands. Pull your thread through the needle until you have equal lengths on each side, then tie off the ends by looping the threads into a circle and drawing the ends through the loop. The knot will stop the thread from slipping through the fabric as you sew.

 If you are unable to keep a steady hand, try these other approaches:

  • Use a threader. Packages can be found for less than $5.
  • Use a stainless steel self-threading needle. The cost runs $7 and up per piece.
  • Thread with your hands in reverse. Lay the needle eye over the cut thread.

The Running Stitch

 This stitch is also known as a straight stitch. Ideally, this stitch binds two pieces of fabric together, leaving a neat finish across the seam. This stitch is handy for seaming quilt blocks, sewing garment hems, and repairing rips.


 Poke the needle through both pieces of fabric, then push it back through the fabric a quarter-inch over. This creates one stitch. Repeat to the end of the seam. To close the stitches, push the needle through the fabric without pulling the thread all the way through to create a loop. Run the needle back through the fabric and through the loop to create a knot. Secure the knot two to four times.

 Finishing issues include paying close attention to how tightly you pull the thread through the fabric:

  • Tight tension pulls cause bunching. The finishing measurement of the piece will be shorter than needed.
  • Loose tension causes sloppy seams with holes. The garment will not hold through the wash or wear.

The Backstitch

 Back stitches create a strong, flexible bond between two pieces of fabric. Use this stitch to create a secured seam between heavy woven fabrics such as nylon or jean material. Also, use this stitch as a temporary solution to repairing ripped seams in clothing.


 Make a one-quarter-inch stitch, as you did in the running stitch. Then bring the needle back toward the first stitch, poking it through a quarter-inch away from the start of the first. Bring the needle back down through the fabric to close the gap.

Practical Tips:

 A single backstitch for every six to ten running stitches will give additional support to your project. Notably, if the seam comes apart, a backstitch prevents the thread from unraveling for the length of the seam.

The Essential Skill: Button-Sewing

 Starting at the inside of the shirt, poke the needle through the fabric. Next, thread it through the button. Bring the needle downward, and thread it through the opposite buttonhole and the shirt. Repeat three times, then loop the same through the other two holes. Once the button is secure, poke the needle up through the fabric at its base. Create a shank by wrapping the rest of the thread around the stem of the button six times. Next, weave the needle through that stem a few times. Finally, go through to the back of the fabric and tie the knot off beneath the button.


  • If you lose the button in question, head to a craft store that sells notions. Following, match your button with the remaining ones, or begin with a whole new button card to use for the garment.
  • Keep all your loose buttons in one location. Even buttons from discarded clothing can come in handy for other projects besides garment work.


 From the threaded needle in hand, you can learn to make a smooth transition to understanding the benefits and uses of a machine. Remember, whether, by hand or machine, needlework is all about a clean finish and a healthy attitude to learning. With ample lighting and regular stretching, you will be well on your way to understanding fundamental practices of machine work as well. If, after reading this article, you are still driven, hungry, and curious for more, take the time to visit us at

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *