How to Sew Your Own Stuff

Learn something new in the New Year: Bob Vila explains how to customize and fix textiles yourself.
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how to sew your own stuff


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Sewing is a useful skill to have in your back pocket, especially if that pocket tears. Not only can it save you money by extending the life of your favorite garments, it also opens the door for customizing other textiles within the home. Drapes, for example, usually come in standard lengths, but what if your curtain rod is mounted especially high? Knowing how to cut and hem fabric means you won’t be limited to only what’s available in the size that you need, and you won’t have to hire a seamster to get exactly what you want.

DIY sewing is easier than you might think, and Bob Vila’s library of informational content will set you up with the know-how you need to get started. Here you’ll find bookmark-worthy guides to how to sew by hand, the gateway to repairing many garments, and how to use a sewing machine, an essential tool for leveling up your new skill.

We’ll also walk you through basic projects like attaching a button and sewing on a zipper, so you can work your way up to creating useful items (like the tote bag designed by our sister site, Popular Science, which reuses fabric and reduces plastic in the home).

From repairing a hole in your go-to workwear to custom-making throw pillows for your living room, read on to learn how to sew your own stuff.

how to sew your own stuff

Fundamentals First

Learning to sew by hand will provide a solid foundation for building your new skill set, and you don’t need expensive tools to get started. The following how-to article plus a piece of fabric, a needle, and thread will equip you well enough to practice basic stitching techniques that will come in handy time and time again. As you expand your repertoire of sewing skills, you can add tools to your collection that will allow you to work more efficiently.

How to Sew by Hand

Build a Beginner Sewing Kit

Repair and Preserve

Having hand-sewing fundamentals under your belt will prepare you to tackle repairs to clothing and home textiles that you aren’t yet ready to toss or would like to donate. Not only will fixing favorite items allow you or someone else to enjoy them longer, you’ll also keep them out of a landfill.

How to Sew a Button

How to Sew a Hole

How to Sew on a Patch

how to sew your own stuff

Customize and Create

Investing in a sewing machine unlocks a vast array of customization and one-of-a-kind project possibilities. As is the case with any specialized tool, learning how to use a sewing machine takes practice and patience. Familiarizing yourself with the switches, dials, levers, and other important parts of your machine will help make initial setup and operation easier. Then make stuff!

Keep in mind that your sewing projects will take longer and may have a few imperfections compared to the work of a professional seamster, but you’ll get faster and more skilled with experience. Soon you’ll be zipping through a zippered tote bag, making use of any fabric you can find laying around the house. Popular Science recommends upcycling remnants of old tapestries, curtains, or even a quilt you no longer use. As if completing such an ingenious project wasn’t rewarding enough, using your new creation has the added benefit of reducing your use of plastic bags.

How to Use a Sewing Machine

How to Sew a Zipper

Make a Zippered Tote Bag

how to sew your own stuff