Merry Making 2014: A Christmas Gift Guide for the Beginner Sewist

It’s just around that time of the year now when people start getting REALLY excited for Christmas, so what better time than to kickstart a Christmas-themed series here on the blog – Merry Making 2014! For the next 12 days (ie. the 12 days before Christmas), I’ll be posting all about Christmas-related projects, ideas for gifts, decorations and recipes and updates on how I’m prepping for Christmas this year. I’m really excited about it and I hope you guys are too (fingers crossed I can keep up with posting everyday!)

To start things off, today’s post is a Christmas gift guide for beginner and “pre-beginner” sewists. A lot of my friends have told me that they would love to learn garment sewing but don’t know where or how to begin – if you know someone like that and would like to encourage them to begin sewing this Christmas, then read on for a list of gifts that might help them get started!


I don’t own a great deal of sewing books, though from what I’ve seen, a large majority of sewing books out there cater to the beginner sewist. I do own the following two books though, which I would recommend to anyone learning sewing for the first time.

Tilly & the Button’s Love at First Stitch

You’ll hear me enthuse a lot about Tilly’s great beginner patterns later, but honestly, Tilly writes great beginner instructions and I’m so glad I had this book when I first started out! This book eases the reader into the scary world of dressmaking, beginning with setting up your sewing machine, shopping for fabric (a personal phobia of mine), and sewing straight stitches, all the way through to installing invisible zippers and sewing buttonholes! It also comes with 5 patterns in 8 sizes, as well as instructions for drafting a skirt – a great deal at only GBP20 if you ask me.

Mend & Make Fabulous by Denise Wild

This book is targeted more at people wanting to get into refashioning and mending clothes rather than dressmaking itself. It includes full illustrations of creative ways to mend things (think: darning, stains and frayed hems) and also ways to freshen up an old garment that needs a new lease of life! Though I haven’t used this book extensively yet, i can see myself referring to it a whole lot when I finally get round to tackling the huge pile of clothes in my closet waiting to be mended!


When I first took an interest in sewing, I had no idea that sewing patterns existed. To my mind, drafting was the only way to make a garment and the thought of having to learn something that complex before I could make my own outfits was a HUGE mental barrier to learning how to sew! I would have loved to receive an easy beginner-friendly pattern (or even a kit!) as a gift for Christmas, and it probably would have played a big part in encouraging me to tackle my first sewing project.

Here are a couple of great beginner patterns that I would recommend to anyone sewing their first garment:

Tilly & the Button’s Miette Skirt 

Specifically designed as a first dress-making project, this flared wraparound skirt from Tilly is simple to sew and doesn’t have zippers or buttonholes (or anything else that would discourage someone from sewing!) It even comes with pockets, how great is that?!

Sewaholic’s Rae Skirt

If wraparound skirts aren’t your thing, this offering from Tasia of Sewaholic is a great alternative! Also designed as as a very first sewing project (in collaboration with a sewing instructor no less!), this elastic skirt is quick to sew and is a great way to show off printed fabrics. It also looks totally wearable and not at all like a beginner’s first garment (which is more than I can say for some of my first few makes!).

Tilly & the Button’s Coco Dress and Top

The Coco pattern happens to be designed for knit fabric, which many beginners shy away from. In this case, Tilly has produced a great pattern for double knit (a stable knit fabric) that is both suitable for beginners and looks a lot more complicated than it actually is! This was the third garment I ever sewed (and for someone else, no less!) and can vouch for how easy this was to make. As a bonus, Tilly ran a step-by-step sew-along on her blog earlier this year with extra tips on how to sew up the Coco dress as well as ideas on how to customise it, take a look at it here!

Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt Tank Top and Dress 

This is was actually the first real pattern I attempted solo! Not only was it a breeze to sew up (no darts, zippers or buttonholes!), it fit like a dream and graded easily between sizes. If you’re feeling a little more generous, you could also consider Megan Nielsen’s Beginner Pack, which include 4 patterns targeted at beginners for the price of 3!

Colette Pattern’s Ginger Skirt 

I haven’t sewn up this pattern personally, but I’ve seen many gorgeous versions of it floating around the internet. Plus, with Colette’s reputation for great, easy-to-follow instructions I’m pretty sure a new beginner will be able to tackle this with ease!


Of course, one always learns best with one on one coaching. Consider checking out your local sewing shops or sewing schools for any classes they may be running and sponsor a friend to attend a sewing lesson there, or gift him/her a gift card or voucher so that they can sign up for their class of choice!

There aren’t too many options in sunny Singapore, but for those of you who live locally, try checking out this list of places offering sewing classes.


Another gift option would be to assemble a kit of tools that a beginner sewist might need. If so, the following are some great gifts that would supplement any standard sewing kit:

Clover Chaco Pen 

Chalk in a pen form! Great for marking fabric and brushes away easily.

Air Erasable or Water Erasable Pens 

Pinking Shears and Embroidery Scissors 

Tracing Wheel and Tracing Paper 


Seam Gauge

For those of us who have already dived headfirst into the wonderful world of sewing, I’ve seen some Christmas gift guides out there with some really great ideas. I want pretty much all the books in Heather’s sewing book gift guide and am loving the “How Much Fabric?” Reference Cards suggested by Dixie, they’re so useful!

What’s on your wish list this Christmas? I know I would love me some Spotlight gift vouchers or if anyone out there is feeling really generous, maybe a new overlocker… *hint hint*


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