If you’ve got a sewing machine but you’re a beginner sewer, why not try one of these easy sewing machine projects.

The last time I did sewing was at secondary school in textiles in the 3rd year (year 9). It was a bit of a disaster and I didn’t manage to actually finish my project.  My mum was a great sewer – she made my prom and ball dresses at school and 6th form, and the plan was that she’d teach me to use a sewing machine again.  

We never got round to it before she died, but I now have her sewing machine. With the first lockdown and some flexi days off (and holidays where we didn’t go anywhere, it meant I had time to get fabric in and teach myself to sew.

I tend to be a bit of a hoarder, plus had 2 bag fulls of old clothes waiting for school to reopen and do their bags 2 schools fundraising collections again. So I had plenty of old jeans and other fabric I could use to learn with.

The easiest things to sew for beginner sewers

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Easy sewing machine projects for beginner sewers

Reusable wash pads

After reading the manual and having a quick go on some paper, I decided I was going to start easy and make reusable make up remover pads.  They’re so easy to make – you just need 2 different fabrics (I used an old t shirt, some cheap cotton fat quarters I’d bought a while back, and some old jeans).  Circular pads are probably easier to sew because you can just keep sewing gently round the curve, but my rotary cutter wasn’t cutting so I decided square was easier to cut out.  

As well as giving me a chance to practice, N wanted to learn to use the machine as well. So he made some as well. Just put the 2 pieces of fabric back to back, pin, sew around 3 and a bit sides leaving a gap to turn back out the right way. Then top stitch all the way round to secure the opening shut and keep the 2 pieces of material together more securely.

boy learning to use a sewing machine

Over 3 days we made about 30 pads, so I’ve got a good stash for when I’m washing them and using.  I also botch jobbed a little drawstring bag to put the used ones in and at the moment am washing in that too in the machine. (I’m planning on changing to one of my veg mesh bags I bought from Sainsbury’s for loose veg. 

reusable face wash pads and fabric basket for storage

Reusable kitchen roll

Made in a similar way to the reusable wash pads. Sew 2 pieces of material together – towelling or microfibre cloth is good for soaking up water for one side. You can either sew 2 square fabric pieces right side to right side, leave a hole, turn out to correct side, then top stitch round, or to have a raw edge, just sew 2 pieces together back to back and leave as is. Make several then roll up in a basket to use, or roll up one after the other around a kitchen roll holder.

Bunting

There’s several ways to make bunting. Single side of fabric triangles sewn at intervals over the top of a long length of ribbon or bias binding over the top of the bunting. Or make triangles sewing 2 pieces right side to right side, leaving a gap to turn back the correct side, then top stitching around. Attach bias binding length for the ‘string’. I did mind double layered but raw, just sewing at the top with the bias binding. I also made a pouch with a tie close to keep it in.

homemade bunting hung above a turquoise aga

Face masks

The circular face mask is much easier to make, but if you want a pleated one you can add a filter to, they’re also not too difficult to master.

Fabric storage baskets

These are handy to have around the house, make a large one to have on the stairs to carry items up that need tidying, or just to keep items in on dressing tables.

Pillowcase

A simple envelope one is an easy project, or learn piping or adding applique or different fabrics to add interest and more complex sewing skills.

Key fobs

I love these for simple gifts and using up scraps. If you want to fund raise, these would be great for pocket money gifts for children to buy.

Drawstring bag

I worked out my own version, but there are tutorials online. You can use cord for the drawstring, or make your own fabric drawstring to pull the bag closed.

Double sided napkins

There are several tutorials online for these – a simple one can be made the same way I did my reusable wash pads. But I used a method that creates a self binding corner by using 2 different sizes of fabric which is much easier than proper mitred corners.

double sided christmas napkins

Place mats

Use of interfacing stabiliser to stiffen and make them more protective for tables.

Cushion cover

Make an envelope style, or learn how to add a zip or even buttonholes once you’re a bit more experienced.

Easy tote shopping bag

A simple shopping bag is easy to make, or progress to more complicated bags with reinforcement and lining.



Fabric roll for stationery, crochet hooks or make up brushes

These don’t usually have complicated closures so are good for beginners.

Simple zip pouch

A simple zip up pouch tutorial will teach how to cut off the zip at the size you want, although your machine will need a zip foot. You can have a straight pouch, or learn how to make squared off corners with interfacing in, to stiffen the sides of the pouch more.

The last time I did sewing was at secondary school in textiles in the 3rd year (year 9). It was a bit of a disaster and I diidn’t manage to actually finish my project. My mum was a great sewer - she made my prom and ball dresses at school and 6th form, and the plan was that she’d teach me to use a sewing machine again. We never got round to it before she died, but I now have her sewing machine. With the first lockdown and some flexi days off (and holidays where we didn’t go anywhere, it meant I had time to get fabric in and teach myself to sew. I tend to be a bit of a hoarder, plus had 2 bag fulls of old clothes waiting for school to reopen and do their bags 2 schools fundraising collections again. So I had plenty of old jeans and other fabric I could use to learn with. After reading the manual and having a quick go on some paper, I decided I was going to start easy and make reusable make up remover pads. They’re so easy to make - you just need 2 different fabrics (I used an old t shirt, some cheap cotton fat quarters I’d bought a while back, and some old jeans). Circular pads are probably easier to sew because you can just keep sewing gently round the curve, but my rotary cutter wasn’t cutting so I decided square was easier to cut out. As well as giving me a chance to practice, N wanted to learn to use the machine as well. So he made some as well. Just put the 2 pieces of fabric back to back, pin, sew around 3 and a bit sides leaving a gap to turn back out the right way. Then top stitch all the way round to secure the opening shut and keep the 2 pieces of material together more securely. Over 3 days we made about 30 pads, so I’ve got a good stash for when I’m washing them and using. I also botch jobbed a little drawstring bag to put the used ones in and at the moment am washing in that too in the machine. (I’m planning on changing to one of my veg mesh bags I bought from Sainsbury’s for loose veg. Easy makes for beginner sewers Reusable wash pads Resulable kitchen roll - made in a similar way to the reusable wash pads. Sew 2 pieces of material together - towelling or microfibre cloth is good for soaking up water for one side. You can either sew 2 square fabric pieces right side to right side, leave a hole, turn out to correct side, then top stitch round, or to have a raw edge, just sew 2 pieces together back to back and leave as is. Make several then roll up in a basket to use, or roll up one after the other around a kitchen roll holder. Bunting - there’s several ways to make bunting. Single side of fabric triangles sewn at intervals over the top of a long length of ribbon or bias binding over the top of the bunting. Or make triangles sewing 2 pieces right side to right side, leaving a gap to turn back the correct side, then top stitching around. Attach bias binding length for the ‘string’. I did mind double layered but raw, just sewing at the top with the bias binding. I also made a pouch with a tie close to keep it in. Face masks - this circular version is much easier to make, but if you want a pleated one you can add a filter to, they’re also not too difficult to master. Fabric storage baskets - these are handy to have around the house, make a large one to have on the stairs to carry items up that need tidying, or just to keep items in on dressing tables. Pillowcase - a simple envelope one is an easy project, or learn piping or adding applique or different fabrics to add interest and more complex sewing skills. Key fobs - I love these for simple gifts and using up scraps. If you want to fund raise, these would be great for pocket money gifts for children to buy. Drawstring bag - I worked out my own version, but there are tutorials online. You can use cord for the drawstring, or make your own fabric drawstring to pull close the bag. Double sided napkins.- there are several tutorials online for these - a simple one can be made the same way I did my reusable wash pads. But I used a method that creates a type of mitred corner by using 2 different sizes of fabric which is much easier. Place mats - use of interfacing to stiffen and make them more protective for tables. Cushion cover - make an envelope style, or learn how to add a zip or even buttonholes once you’re a bit more experienced. Easy tote shopping bag - a simple shopping bag is easy to make, or progress to more complicated bags with reinforcement and lining. Fabric roll for stationery, crochet hooks or make up brushes. Simple zip pouch - a simple zip up pouch tutorial will teach how to cut off the zip at the size you want, although your machine will need a zip foot. You can have a straight pouch, or learn how to make squared off corners with interfacing in, to stiffen the sides of the pouch more. Hair band - if you’ve got children with long hair, make them (or yourselves), custom made hair bands with a tie or elasticated band. I’ve so many projects I want to try from this list and more. Hopefully I’ll be able to improve my sewing machine skills further this year.

Hair band

If you’ve got children with long hair, make them (or yourselves), custom made hair bands with a tie or elasticated band.

I’ve so many projects I want to try from this list and more. Hopefully I’ll be able to improve my sewing machine skills further this year.

2 Comments

  1. Oh I just had to read this! Like you, I last used a sewing machine at secondary school and it was an absolute disaster. Capital D. But. . . I did think about getting one during Lockdown 1 so I could make face masks and also bevcause the eldest has shown an interest in needlework. You post inspires me. Maybe I will invest in one.

    • Emma

      Glad to bring back some memories. Face masks were what persuaded me to get mine out and learn. I don’t think I’ll ever be a clothes maker, but maybe once lockdowns are in the past I’ll do a course to at least learn to be a bit more proficient. But there’s so many good tutorials on blogs and youtube, and it’s a good skill to have. I need to teach N to sew on a button next – was the sort of thing we learnt in Brownies or with my Grandma or mum, but he’s not really had too. Not much call for shirts with buttons in this house!

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