First, one of my nieces and her friend wanted to learn to sew. Then the daughter of a good friend wanted to learn to sew. A young woman I met last month got so animated upon learning that I was teaching someone to sew. This week a friend of mine told me I needed to teach her to sew because her pre-school aged daughter wants Mommy to make her a skirt and knit her a sweater. This weekend we are snowbound and my teen-age daughter thought it was a good weekend for sewing lessons. She’s had her own sewing machine for over six years and barely used it. Now she wants to become an accomplished sewist in six months, before she leaves for her freshman year in college and takes her machine with her.
I would love to have a place to conduct group sewing classes, but these young women are all over the place. My niece lives in New York. So here’s my experiment for this year, a free online sewing “school” for all those young aspiring women (and males).
I started to sew when my aunt brought me a pattern and fabric and I made a tunic with matching pants. Okay, that was the 70’s. I really learned to sew when I attended the H.S. of Fashion Industries, which is a whole different level. What’s the difference? You are wearing a new garment you made, a person looks at you and immediately says, “Oh, you made your outfit. How nice.” That’s one level. You are wearing a new garment you made, a person looks at you and immediately says, “Where did you buy that? I love your outfit.” That’s a whole different level, which requires practice.
At Fashion High we made samples of different techniques. We were graded on these samples and then we mounted them on pages in a large binder, which we could refer to in the future. I had my binder for years after graduating from that school because it was a great reference book. This is the method I am using to teach my student. She is capable of buying a pattern and fabric and creating something to cover her body, but I want her to be able throw away the pattern’s guide sheets, which often don’t provide guidance, and create a well made garment. I want her to look at a fabric, feel it, and know which techniques to use. I want her to visualize a garment in her mind and then create it.
My daughter knows she needs to learn the basics and that samples are the best way. We made a bunch of practice samples using a variety of techniques: straight seam finished with a zigzag overcasting, a french seam, stitching circles, concave and convex curve seams with understitching, a wide and a small double fold machine hem, a narrow machine hem, a hem done by hand, a hem done by machine using the blindstitch, and gathering into a waistband that’s finished by hand. This was all in one afternoon.
Watching my daughter create her samples was all the inspiration I needed. I was thinking about how to best use my blog, and now I have one way: teaching sewing from the very beginning. Students can “attend” my virtual school by following the “lessons”. They can reach me by leaving questions and comments in the comment section of each lesson. I will learn from them and they will learn from me. At least that’s my hope.
Here are the directions for the first sample (without pictures). I need to take pictures to add to the directions and then the first lesson is complete. When I post the lesson, school is officially open.