Levels of Sewing

3 Levels of Sewing Skills:

The Fábrica Community Textile and Salvage Workshop exists in order to help people connect with the resources and skills they need to do all kinds of textile arts-related projects in a community context. Our volunteers work with people who have a variety of skills, from beginners to those with more experience.

The following descriptions can help you to assess where you are in your sewing skills and what you should focus on in order to build a strong foundation in order to progress and move to the next level. Keep in mind that repetition is the key to developing the fine motor skills required for sewing – gaining confidence in a technique requires doing it multiple times!


Level 1 – for people totally new to sewing, or who haven’t sewn for a very long time and need a refresher. You are ready to learn:

How a sewing machine works
How to thread a machine and replace a bobbin
How and when to use a serger
Basic hand-sewing techniques (threading a needle, tying a knot, backstitch, running stitch, whip stitch, replacing a button, patching clothes)
The basic tools related to sewing (fabric scissors, measuring tape, pins, needles, chalk, iron)
The basic qualities of different fabric (knit vs. woven)
Basic machine sewing techniques
Basic edge finishing (zig-zag, serger)

Projects for Level 1 include: pillow cases, pillows, apron, tote bag, curtains, drawstring bag, basic stuffed animal, eye pillow, book cover


Level 2 – for people with basic sewing skills, ready to expand their skills into more complex projects, garment construction, etc. You have most of the above skills and are ready to learn:

How to construct projects from a basic pattern
How to install zippers
How to install elastic
Intermediate hand-sewing techniques (blind hem stitch, slip stitch, coat buttons, darning)
How to work with stretch material
More complex edge finishing (french seams, binding tape)
Basic clothing alterations (hems, tapering, replacing elastic and zippers)
More in depth understanding of materials, how to identify them and their qualities (natural vs. synthetic, the bias, different qualities of stretch material, working with different thickness)

Projects for Level 2 include: basic garments (tunic, skirt, pajama pants, etc.), lined zipper bag, multi-piece stuffed animal, basic patchwork/quilting


Level 3 – for people with experience constructing garments in a variety of fabrics, with confidence problem solving around sewing related issues. You have most of the above skills and ready to learn:

How to use the walking foot industrial machine
Intermediate clothing alterations (lined garments, letting out seams with allowance)
Altering patterns/making your own basic patterns
Working with more difficult materials (leather, vinyl, sheers)
More complex garment construction (jackets, pleats, lining)

Projects for Level 3 include: garments made with stretch material (underwear, swimsuits, bodysuits), lined garments, heavy duty materials, modifying patterns, drafting patterns

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