Friday, April 6, 2012
My Top 5 Tips
I recently read a post by a beginning seamstress over at The Sew Weekly and she said:
I am really, really, really trying to overcome my inability to sew. I have books and fabric and a great machine, and yet nothing comes out the way I want it to. Today I tried making a "simple" handbag- looks like a lopsided stocking...I don't know what I am doing wrong. Does anyone have any suggestions on how-to videos perhaps? I have read soooo many books on how to read patterns, etc, but I just can't get it. ANY pointers will help... Help?!
That got me thinking about what tips I would give. So here is a list that I came up with.
1. Stop overloading yourself with information on the how and actually practice! I think this is the most important one. Sewing is a learned skill and it takes time to get to the level most beginners want to start at. Don't get me wrong, definitely read up on techniques, tips and all that but actually practice it. You can have all the book knowledge you want but it will do you no good if you don't put it into practice.
2. Start small! Start sewing by using beginner patterns or simple projects. There is a difference in skill level that it takes to complete a pair of pajama pants than what goes into a wedding dress or a period costume. The big 4 have lines of patterns that are targeted to new sewists. Simplicity offers Sew Simple and It's So Easy. Butterick has See & Sew, Vogue has Very Easy Vogue and McCall's has Easy Stitch 'n Save. All of these lines offer a wide variety of sewing options from clothing to accessories.
3. Take a class! I am so excited that there are more options for this these days. Big craft stores like Jo-Ann's offer beginner classes, but a lot of smaller local fabric shops are offering them too. Sewing Cafes are also becoming quite popular now in bigger cities. These are places where you can rent time on a machine or take a class. If you have access to one of these definitely check them out! Also check out your local university or community college to see if they offer anything. Classes are a great way to get hands-on experience as well as instant feedback and answers to any questions you have.
4. Don't give up! Going back to #1, sewing takes practice. It is hard to accept a project not turning out the way you had a envisioned it would/should. But when that happens you should learn from the mistakes so that next time your skills are that much more improved. Try different patterns from different pattern companies. Start with pajama pants, then try a simple skirt, then a top, maybe an apron. Keep going on to the next project, but make sure to take time to reflect on each project and what you like about it and what you want to improve upon for next time. Make that a goal for each project, take the one thing you want to improve upon and pick your next project based on that goal. For example, if you want to practice zippers pick a pattern that features one or if you want to practice matching prints pick a pattern and fabric that allows you to do so. That way you are mastering one skill at a time.
5. Join an online community! Whether it be blogging, Pattern Review, Sew Weekly, etc do it! These are great places to find support and inspiration! They are also great places to get tips on different things or ask questions you may have.
I hope that this helps any newbie sewers who may stumble across it! I also encourage any other sewists to come up with their own Top 5 list of tips. I want to see what everyone says too!