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The Beginners Guide to Sewing Crafts

Hi Creative Mamas! I want to share with you my passion for sewing crafts and the fact that you don’t need to be a great sewist or an amazing quilter to make beautiful fabric crafts that will make you look and FEEL like a PRO. In this Beginner’s Guide to Sewing Crafts I will describe the different kinds of creative sewing crafts that you can explore so that you can start unleashing your creativity through your fabric work (even if you don’t have any previous sewing experience).

guide to sewing crafts

Sewing craft projects and ideas

When it comes to sewing craft projects I like to explore and develop my own combination of different creative sewing techniques. Techniques such as Applique, Quilting, Embroidery, fabric collage and Patchwork are super broad and they provide many variations to choose from.

In this post I will introduce you to many different ways of exploring one technique so that your sewing fabric crafts can be unique, quirky and fun!

What are sewing crafts?

I like to describe sewing crafts as the action of fastening or attaching fabrics using stitches made with a needle and thread. Sewing crafts are centuries old and they are slow crafts. It provides an opportunity for the maker to produce something unique and very special.

My favorite sewing crafts techniques are:

  • Sewing
  • Applique
  • Quilting
  • Embroidery
  • Patchwork
  • Fabric collage (my absolute favorite) which is a mix of all of the above

Sewing Crafts can also include techniques such as Eco Printing and Natural Dyeing. I love these techniques because it allows me to use natural methods to prepare my materials and to use Eco friendly products which are not toxic for us or for the environment.

I also includes really useful sewing projects such as making fabric face masks in different ways, with different patterns and materials. Check out the Fabric Face mask here.

My favorite sewing crafts projects:

Sewing projects for the home:

Weekend Sewing Projects & gifts

One hour sewing projects for beginners:

Easy sewing projects for kids:

Types of Sewing Crafts

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. Please see my disclosure for more details.

Sewing

Sewing is the act of attaching two pieces of fabric together. This can be done by hand (hand sewing) or by machine (machine sewing). They are both equally as rewarding and you can create beautifully crafted objects.

The basic construction techniques include hand stitches, machine stitches, seams, darts, tucks, pleats, gathering, shirring, smocking, ruffles to name a few. The possibilities are endless. Creative sewing includes embroidery, quilting, patchwork, applique and fabric collage.

diy fabric advent calendar

Applique

Applique is a great technique to make use of fabric scraps. It’s defined as cutting pieces of one type of fabric and sewing them onto another type of fabric. Very similar to fabric collage in the sense that you can create it as you go. It can be a very freeing exercise and you can develop your ideas as you are sewing your piece.

I love applique! You can also do applique and then embroider on top of the appliqued shape to further embellish your shapes. My favorite applique technique is needle turned applique as well as iron on applique in combination with quilt as you go techniques!

You can applique by hand or by machine, the results are both beautiful and super satisfying!

This is an example of iron on fusing applique and you can check out how I made this beautiful Applique Christmas pillow here.

DIY christmas pillow tutorial

The photo below is an example of a fabric iron on fusing applique which was done using fabric scraps. It’s a fabric book and you can check out the tutorial here.

fabric book

The photo below is an example of needle turned applique which is a fantastic way to play with old fabrics and laces. The final result is totally different to iron fused applique. To check out the tutorial on needle turned applique click here.

Note: This tutorial teaches you how to make a Hair Clip Holder using fabric applique. In this project I used fabric scraps which I made them look old by dyeing the fabric with tea. Read all about tea dyeing here and how to give fabric a vintage look here.

needle turn applique

Quilting

Quilting has been a source of warmth throughout the centuries. It originated as a way to re purpose old potato sacks by stitching multiple layers of the sacks together and using the tightly sewn fabric as a blanket.

Typically a quilt will have a top layer which can be a plain fabric or it can be a completed piece of patchwork, embroidery or applique. It will have a bottom layer, backing or lining, which traditionally would have been an utilitarian fabric such a calico.

The filling is called wadding/batting which can be synthetic or natural and it comes in different thicknesses. My favorite batting is this 100% cotton one and I always stick to this brand.

I also sometimes like to use old blankets but always be sure that whatever you use its even in its surface. I love quilting because it can be the way to bring embroidery, patchwork and applique together into a beautiful bed cover or a quilted jacket.

In the photo below I am quilting a pillow which was first appliqued using the iron fused applique technique and then machine sewn.

quilted pillow patter tutorial 8

The photo below is an example of quilt as you go technique which I totally love and I tend to use it in most of my quilting projects.

quilt as you go

The example below is a mini quilt that was made by using the traditional log cabin patchwork block using a variety of fabric scraps which were naturally dyed and then quilted by hand.

log cabin quilt block

Embroidery

Embroidery is another of my favorite techniques and i like to play around with it. Embroidery is defined as the decoration of a piece of cloth through a series of stitches. It can be done by hand or by machine and it offers a huge variety of finished effects.

You can embroider with a wide range of threads and yarns which is great to achieve many different results. Different fabrics are also used to embroider. These include plain weave such as linen and hessian, even weave either fine or coarse and surface pattern fabrics such as polka dots or Gingham.

A hoop can be used, however I like the more free approach so I don’t usually use one. Overall, its a lovely technique. I tend to embroider with seven different stitches and that allows me to create all sorts of designs. If you want to explore the different types of embroidery stitches there are close to one hundred different ones to learn.

My favorite embroidery stitches are:

  • Blanket stitch
  • Whipstitch
  • Backstitch
  • Running stitch
  • French knot
  • Laizy Daisy
  • Satin stitch

Check out the Guide to Embroidery stitches here.

This photo is an example of a tea cozy which I made by repeating a simple Lazy Daisy stitch all over. The wool yarn was all naturally dyed using natural dyes.

embroidered tea cozy

You can also use embroidery stitches to embellish and decorate fabric. In this case I have used a simple backstitch and a satin stitch to embroider a face mask for my daughter. Check out the tutorial here which comes with free printable templates.

embroidered face mask

 

Patchwork

Patchwork is the art of joining pieces of fabric in order to create a larger unit of fabric. These joined pieces of fabric can produce beautiful and original designs. some are simple but some are very intricate and laborious. The easiest patchwork is the one shape patchwork in which all the fabric pieces are the same shape and size.

Aside of this, all other patchwork can be described as block unit patchwork. This is because all the fabric pieces are first joined in a block and this becomes the basic shape that gets repeated in order to build the bigger piece.

The main thing to consider is to use fabrics that are similar in weight and I personally like to use cottons that won’t fray. You can get super creative with patchwork and it’s quite addictive too.

In this example I have used patchwork in combination with quilt as you go and natural dyeing. I have also used eco print to print the leaf in the center of the block.

log cabin patchwork

In this example below I am using patchwork to finish the Christmas Applique pillow. I love combining techniques and sometimes I use patchwork as the main feature but other times I use patchwork to frame a quilt or a pillow. Check out the Christmas Pillow step by step tutorial here. It comes with free printable patterns as well.

DIY christmas pillow tutorial

 

Fabric Collage

Fabric collage is hands down my favorite technique! It’s a fantastic way of merging all of the above techniques in one piece.

One of my first lecturers at university defined collage as the act of de-constructing a set reality and re assembling it as a new reality with a new perspective. I always loved this definition and it has allowed me to think about my sewing in a more creative way.

I love recycling old fabric scraps or worn out clothes, or old quilts and table cloths that have been discarded due to their age. To get started you need a good foundation piece and then little pieces of fabric which will be assembled with an intention in mind. Color, shape and form are all elements that need to be considered when you are working through your fabric collage.

The example below is a fabric collage which incorporates different techniques such as applique by hand and by sewing machine using naturally dyed fabrics and fabric scraps.

fabric collage

You can turn your fabric collage into a fabric book. Check out the Fabric Collage tutorial here to get started. It comes with free printable patterns.

fabric collage

 You can also experiment with creating a fabric collage journal. It’s a fantastic way to keep adding pages and layers to the journal as time goes by. I have a few of my own and I love teaching others how to make these.

How to get started with sewing crafts? 

The first thing you need to do is to know your fibers. By this I mean to know if it’s a natural fiber or a synthetic fiber. This will determine if you can over dye or stain the fabric before you sew it.

I love using natural dyes to dye my wool yarns and my fabrics. I also like tea staining my fabric scraps and I get really good results from making the fabric look old as well. It creates a vintage and uniform look that helps when I am using all different color fabric scraps.

In order to determine and classify your fabrics and yarns make sure to perform a simple test to classify your fabrics and yarns.

Easy Fiber Classification

The best way to get started with any sewing crafts is to understand the difference between fibers. Not all fibers are the same and not all fibers react the same way when manipulated, dyed, exposed to heat etc. The Burn Test is a quick and easy method and by far the one I have used the most to know what kind of fabric or yarn I am dealing with. Check out this quick step by step video tutorial where I show you exactly how to successfully do The Burn Test and classify your fabrics and yarns.

Prepare your fabric, yarns and threads

The best thing about sewing crafts is that you can stamp your personality in every step of the process. I love to play with color and print because it allows me to generate a specific color palette and start creating a specific mood even before I get started.

It also ensures that I use natural methods instead of toxic ones. I normally choose my fabrics, yarns and threads, I classify them using The Burn Test and I dye them or print on them.

This will depend on my theme and what my intentions are for my craft piece. Working in this way has allowed me to grow my knowledge of flora, fauna and gardening since I have been foraging for specific leaves and flowers and also growing my own dye garden at home. It has really connected me with my environment in a physical way as well as in a spiritual way.

My two favorite methods of natural dyeing: Eco Solar Dye Technique and Hot Dyeing Method.

Choose your first creative sewing project

What crafts can I make for sewing?

It’s really important to start with a project that you really want to do. In my opinion when we make gifts for someone that we love we tend to enjoy it way more than we we just make it for ourselves.

I love making handmade gifts for my family and friends. I love making pillows as gifts, I love gifting fabric books, mini quilts and i totally love making little plushies to gift to my friends’ kids.

Materials and Equipment to get started with sewing crafts

This is a list of the basics that you will need in order to create your little sewing tool box. I suggest you start small and you build from there.

Basic sewing materials and equipment:

You may want to consider

  • Sewing machine
  • Hand sewing needles and thread: You can get really cool embroidery threads by shopping in op shops and second hand shops. I am always in the lookout for opportunities to buy second hand material that I cam recycle into my textile crafts. I also keep a good stock of sewing thread and some different embroidery threads. I like a variety of wool embroidery yarn, cotton embroidery threads.
  • Fabric
  • Fabric scissors: In all my years of being a maker I have gone through a fair share of fabric scissors. Some of them have been good and some of them have been just ok. They are an investment since you will be cutting a lot of fabric and yarn and you want to feel comfortable. I have little hands and I am not very strong so this SERRA SHARP scissors have been a life saver for me. Since I bought them they have been amazing and they are as sharp as the first day (4 years ago!) Just make sure they are only kept for cutting fabric and yarn!
  • Pins
  • Sewing box: A sewing kit that keeps your goodies tidy and organized: This toolbox has been a gem for me because I travel with it and it organizes my stuff neatly. I have different sections for different little tools and its light and easy to clean.
  • Tape measure
  • Ruler
  • Rotary cutter
  • Cutting mat
  • A box that holds your threads. This box houses all my different color threads and keeps my stock organized and clean. I can quickly see when I am running out of a particular color so its easy to re stock. It lives under my sewing table and it makes my life very easy 

Another great investment are a couple of great sewing books to have in your sewing room as reference. No matter how long I have been sewing I still check my books regularly for instructions and ideas on how to sew. These are my 2 favorite books:

Sewing craft projects and ideas

Different types of sewing craft projects have always been a vehicle of expression throughout history. Different cultures around the world have developed their own unique craft styles which always speaks about their own way of looking at life, their social beliefs, their values and principles.

Sewing crafts are slow by nature and it’s not just about the final product. It’s about the journey of the maker, the process in the making of the craft and the intention behind it.

Sewing craft ideas may include craft techniques, self expression and the intention to make sewing crafts to sell.

overdying threads

Tell your story through your sewing craft project

The beauty of sewing crafts is that we can express ourselves with freedom. I use crafts as a vehicle to tell my story, my reality, my hopes my dreams. When I am working on my textile pieces I am creating, relaxing, sometimes socializing (if I am with my crafty mama group) and growing my appreciation for my kids, my family and my life in general.

When you tell your story though your textile and sewing craft you are taking time to think about what you are doing. It’s a creative break from the every day. It’s a time to reflect and think while we keep our hands busy. It’s an opportunity to build on dreams and create new goals. 

I am so passionate about telling stories though craft that a few years ago I created a project called “The Traveling Sewing Box Project” and its objective is to empower women from migrant and refugee background through the making of a community textile collage.

These women stitch their migration stories, their dreams and hopes for the future and in the process of doing so they are creating a  new future for themselves in their new adopted country. The results have been just amazing and the pieces created in this project have started traveling around the world! 

I have been telling my stories through textile crafts for over two decades now and it keeps getting more and more exciting every time. I guess it’s because as life develops new ideas come up and I learn and perfect new techniques. But the core of the process remains: telling a story, the story of me, the story of my life.

fabric collage

So, are you ready to tell your story?

What kind of textile craft should you start with?

I strongly suggest starting with textile collage. Its the best vehicle to express yourself and have fun at the same time. It allows you to be free with your technique and to be driven by the story. Its the best way to get started! For inspiration check out Mandy Patullo and Claire Wellesly Smith. Two amazing contemporary artists that work with textile collage. 

Do sewing crafts make good gifts?

They make the best gifts because they are made with love and time. You can get started here by making a beautiful textile flower which can be gifted as a brooch or as a hair band. 

Do you need to know how to sew to get started?

You don’t need any previous knowledge! Join my free mini course to learn the fundamentals of sewing techniques and you will be well equipped to create your first textile masterpiece. 

Where to get fabric from?

I always advise all my students to get started with some old woolen blankets, cotton sheets and scraps of fabric that you may have lying around the house. Don’t forget to check out second hand shops for fun little scraps, old buttons, trims and threads. You can do the Burn Test on your materials, play around with different dyes and ideas and have lots of fun!

What can you sew as a beginner?

Making a fabric flower is super easy and very rewarding. You can turn it into a brooch or into a hair tie. It’s perfect as a gift and you can make it using fabric scraps. Watch this step by step video tutorial. 

 

The Last Thing You Need to Know about sewing crafts

Sewing  crafts are a lot of fun and you don’t need any previous knowledge to get started. It can be the start of a new business, it can be the greatest hobby and it can also be the most amazing activity to share with your kids. You just need to have an intention for your textile work, an idea or just the willingness to play around with the materials. Get started today! 

Sewing craft projects and ideas

Different types of sewing craft projects have always been a vehicle of expression throughout history. Different cultures around the world have developed their own unique craft styles which always speaks about their own way of looking at life, their social beliefs, their values and principles.

Sewing crafts are slow by nature and it’s not just about the final product. It’s about the journey of the maker, the process in the making of the craft and the intention behind it.

Sewing craft ideas may include craft techniques, self expression and the intention to make sewing crafts to sell.

ok so , let get started! Join the Creative Mama Community for updates and tips on creative sewing as well as free patterns and printables.

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sewing crafts guide

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