Learning to sew – links to beginner sewing info.

11 May

(If you aren’t enamoured of my diehard imperative to tell stories about sewing, just scroll down to the linky goodness below ;-P)

I have been drinking much tea and gossiping teaching a friend the basics of sewing. For a start, she had lots of alterations and mending she wanted to do. I used to do mending and alterations for the local Red Cross Op Shop and discovered the treasure-trove of learning to be had from rtw clothing construction. I helped her work out how her own rtw garments are constructed, explained how much can be learnt from it, and encouraged her every step of the way.

How my mum taught me to sew

When it comes to the actual sewing, I have simply been teaching her in the same way my mother taught me – explaining how to do something, getting her to do it while being on hand to give further guidance or answer questions.
Then I explain what the next step was and why – and how I worked that out – then repeat the above procedure for that step.
Rinse and repeat rinse! Just like my mum did with me when I was little.

It has been working! Yay! Just like it did for my mother with me.

My friend’s first actual garment project was a half-circle skirt. We ran out of time to finish off, but she asked me to explain what she needed to do to finish. She returned the next week with her skirt completely done. Hurrah! A triumph for her, for me and for her wardrobe.

It’s been making me think a lot about learning to sew. I got quite so frustrated with the Swing Dress pattern because with my experience I knew I could work out how to do the dress regardless of the issues I had with it. But at the back of my mind was the thought “What if I didn’t know how to sort this out?” “What if I was a beginner like my friend and didn’t have the sew-along to help? How would I fare then?”

I guess we all have our own paths, and a few failed dresses here and there certainly never put me or plenty of others off! I learnt from each and every failure, mediocre garment, and stunningly beautiful sewing success I have had. I would just hate to think a difficult pattern at the beginning of a sewing fascination killed the desire to go further.

Happily there is a lot of help to learn to sew out there.

Cruising the interwebs this evening, I found:

  • Pressing – one of the most important things I learnt when taking lessons, was how to press. This post on pressing on Gorgeous Things’ blog. It has a picture demonstrating the difference between a properly pressed seam and one not pressed very well. It demonstrates wonderfully the saying “Well-pressed is half-sewn”.
  • Dud patterns – Sometimes things not going well can simply be because pattern is a dud, rather than lack of experience in the sewist. I really urge learners to read this article on patterns in Threads magazine website, that helps sort the pattern sheep from goats.

And of course, there are masses of tutorials out there, and people who love sewing and are more than happy to share their experience and enthusiasm. Which is one of the bestest of all things about the interwebs!

2 Responses to “Learning to sew – links to beginner sewing info.”

  1. Myrhiann May 26, 2011 at 6:09 am #

    I don’t think I ever had a dud, but like you I had expert help when I was learning.


    • Tropical Threads May 26, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

      I didn’t either till I was pretty much sewing on my own. In retrospect mum was making sure I was sewing patterns she had sewn before and knew they worked well.
      I do remember one pattern I got from an op-shopt, I was so terribly disappointed. It was a vogue wrap-around with princess seams. Beautiful! It didn’t matter what I did I couldn’t make it work. Mum took a look at it and said “You know, some patterns just don’t work, no matter how hard you try. Badly drafted. Unfortunately I think this is one of them.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: