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Ruminations on the process of learning to sew

2009 June 25
by elizabeth_admin

A humble beginner’s perspective

My three hour 20 minute skirt started me thinking about the process for learning to sew.  I noticed that Lindsay T is mentoring some teenagers, teaching them to sew.  This is amazing!  I think you learn best from a live teacher, well at least I do.  Seeing how something is done, being able to ask questions when you get stuck or don’t understand something cannot be substituted by a text book or a sewing pattern, no matter how good the directions are.   I also know that a great way is to learn from your own mistakes, but what if you’re making mistakes, but don’t know why they’re mistakes?  What then? 

Recently, I have been toying with the idea of looking up the sewist/teacher I found on Craig’s list 4 or 5 yrs ago when I wanted to make the stupid slipcover and see if she’d be willing to come over (she makes house calls!) and just be there while I make something more complicated than my recent skirt from start to finish.  She could give me tips, tell me what I’m doing wrong, point me in the right direction.  I could ask questions as I go. 

Advantages:  I wouldn’t make/have mistakes, I’d have a teacher one on one, mano a mano, and I’d end up with a garment I would definitely wear.  It would be cheaper than a class (no babysitting needed!).  I could make whatever I wanted, not be restricted to a class syllabus. 

Disadvantages:  I’d have to pay for that teaching (technically not a disadvantage, but free would be better, no?).  But, other than that I can’t think of any disadvantages. 

Do you think I’m crazy to do this?  Do you think this idea is nuts?  Is it like cheating death?  Do you think I should get over making mistakes and having potential wadders in the beginning?  In my defense, I am so obsessed excited about sewing, that I really want to be able to wear everything I make right away.  Wouldn’t you???

And further to the point that visual learning is essential to learning how to sew, I’ve even suggested on PatternReview that they do video classes.  What do you think?  I think that’s the next technology jump for learning how to sew.  I know there are some video tutorials out there, but they are few and far between and not all in one place or are hard to find.  I’ve taken a couple of the on line classes on PatternReview already, but they don’t have the video component which I think is so necessary for visual learners like me.  Deepika are you reading this?  😉  I’m not at all complaining about the classes.  I thought they were great and I learned a lot, but I thought they’d be soooooo much better with some video demos included. 

Hmmmm….  Lots to think about here. 

Happy sewing!

4 Responses leave one →
  1. June 26, 2009

    I think you are so right on about Video classes. I always think why take the classes at PR when you can just buy a book by the teacher. What’s the difference?

  2. Vivienne permalink
    June 26, 2009

    Three recommendations from my own (prolonged and ongoing) beginner sewing aspirations:

    -Kwik Sew patterns – they have a really high level of detail and are methodically step by step
    -take a beginner sewing class even if you can make the project. My experience was I learned a lot more about the “right” way to do things that I didn’t know. Plus I also hit the teacher up with my more advanced questions (why look – there is a UFO in my handbag!).
    -get the “Learn to Sew” video series from you local public library.

    I’m working on a 1-hour skirt that’s taken 1hour to cut out, forget about the sewing.

  3. elizabethelaine permalink
    June 26, 2009

    hey! I just found you from a link from Slapdash Sewist and I thought you were me for a second. I’ve been thinking about starting a blog about being a beginner, I have a 2 and 1/2 year old (and a 1 month old, but he doesn’t present the same challenges to sewing) and my name is elizabeth.

    I’m intrigued by the idea of hiring a teacher, but I think I would have to find someone I really respected because I am terrible at getting advice.

    I made a Simplicity skirt with pleats — two pleats in the front — recently. I found it to be huge AND I was pregnant at the time. I made it with an elastic band instead of waistband because I was pregnant.

    I thought it would be a wadder but I’m wearing it today as a post maternity skirt. It’s still a little too big, but not unwearably so.

    Looking forward to reading your blog more.

  4. eword10 permalink
    June 26, 2009

    Thanks everyone! and thank you for stopping by.

    Vivienne, I have taken beginner classes, but they’re really basic. I have to keep taking them, but the babysitting cost is quite prohibitive, which is why I am thinking of having a “private” teacher. I have a few kwik sew patterns, but right now they’re not what I want to sew. Yet.

    Elizabethelaine, sounds like we’re twins. You should start a blog and then we’ll be even more alike! 🙂

    Beth, that’s a good point. Guess I should start looking at all the books I’ve bought. 😉

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