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First Time: Learn to Sew – Making a Pillow

First Time: Learn to Sew – Making a Pillow
  • On November 3, 2018

I have absolutely no experience with a sewing machine. Don’t own a machine. Never been inside a fabric store. This creative, crafty subject matter is absolutely foreign to me. I’ve been searching for sewing classes but all have skipped to projects that assume you are already familiar with a sewing machine, so when local Jo-Ann store scheduled a Beginner Basic Learn to Sew class, I was in!

Learn to Sew – Class Description

– learn basic sewing skills
– the sewing machine with tool basics
– practice sewing seams
– end goal to construct a simple pillow

Best of all, they provided the sewing machine. In this case, I learned to use the Husqvarna Viking – Emerald 118.


Thread: polyester, cotton (not as strong as polyester) – for quilts, heavy duty for furniture or leather projects, Gutermann brand – even more sturdy than polyester
Color Ball Pins: 1.25″ length is a good size for most projects… any smaller would be better for quilts
Pin Cushion: Dritz-Tomato Pin Cushion-With Emery Strawberry (our instructor’s favorite as the emery keeps your needles sharp)
Seam Guage:
Tailors Chalk: a matter or preference as some prefer marking pencils or water-soluble fabric pen
Hand Sewing Needle:
Fat Quarters: for the front & back of pillow
Scrap Fabrics: for practice
Poly-Dil: to fill the pillow with
Tape measure:
Seam ripper:

Stretch Fabrics

1. Two-way Stretch: be sure pattern stretch the direction you want
2. Four-way Stretch: usually made of polyester

Let’s Talk Prints

1. One-way Prints: challenging for complicated patterns… may end up upside-down, for example
2. Two-way Prints: orientation doesn’t matter

Types of Needles for the Task

1. Universal Needles
2. Leather Needles
3. Stretch Needles for anything over elastic and stretch fabrics
4. Jeans Needles for thick denim projects

They can come in assorted sizes. The smaller the needle number the thinner the fabric.


From threading the bobbin, inserting the bobbin, using the needle threader

Video: Full Setup

Video: Zoomed In View – Threading Bobbin

Video: Zoomed In View – Inserting the Bobbin

Video: Zoomed In View – Needle Threader

We practice cutting scrap fabric then use the scraps to make sure we threaded the machine correctly by doing a few practice stitching.


Video: Tutorial 1    |    Tutorial 2

First we practice the straight stitch (Style = 1)

We switched Stitch Length / Spacing from 1, 2.5 and 4. I really like the look of 2.5. Setting 1 you really have to guide the fabric straight and smoothly as you see ever hiccup.

We set our Tension = 4.


Video: Sewing Straight

5/8” is the standard seam allowance for sewing apparel. We used painter’s tape as a guide for the 5/8” mark.


When I purchased the Fat Quarters for class , the Jo-Ann store representative told me it would be a good idea to prep the fabrics before the class. Aside from pre-washing to reduce the risk of the dyes to run and bleed… more important the fabric was 100% cotton which could shrink after a wash. “If you haven’t pre-washed the fabrics before they were cut and sewn, this can cause some distortion in a finished quilt.” –MyBluePrint

We’re going to iron out the wrinkles before sewing.

I guess… eventually… I’ll need to by myself an iron.

Trim any extras without cutting the stitches. Cut the corners then pull the fabric inside / out.

Final results are in!

Special Kudos and many Thanks to our Learn to Sew Instructor – Elana Dillon – at Jo-Ann’s Brandon, FL location. She was so patient and educated us on alternatives to tools/accessories to save us money.

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QUESTION: If you know or wish you could sew, what type of sewing projects would take up your days?

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