Heyo - just started learning to sew - made elf hats for my sisters at
christmas - but wanting some more indepth skills: pleats, darts,
collars, finishing touches, et al. Anyone got some free time and room
to accomodate a big dumb guy? I'm between contracts at the moment, so
I couldn't pay, though I can be handy around the house: bit of light
plumbing, moving heavy boxes, rewiring lamps, dish or window washing,
etc. I can help you photograph your own projects for use in a web
gallery or on eBay or etsy. Backrubs. Whatever you're needing done,
I'll take a stab at it.
My goal is to be able to make structured, properly tailored clothes.
Got my eye on some nice waistcoats and a frock coat.
Anyway, thanks for any help you can give.
(in West Hills, CA)
slsecondthoughts at gmail.
Then come back here to ask specific questions. I'm not in
your geographical location. I hope someone in your area
offers you lessons, but good luck finding *quality* lessons
without paying real $$ for them.
Is this a really good book for those who wish to learn to sew?
I bought my daughter in law a new sewing machine for Christmas and she
is thrilled, she said it was the smash hit of all the Christmas gifts
that anyone received. My delightful and very dear granddaughters ages 11
and 8 are very interested in the machine and have begun to use it for
some little sewing projects. I am very surprised and happy that the
girls are interested in sewing, I just wish I wasn't clear across the
I know it's not recommended to choose a machine for someone but I did do
some research and found a Janome at Sears that was on sale and has a one
step buttonhole with a foot that can measure the button and make the
correct size buttonhole. It also has an adjustable foot pressure and can
drop it's feed dogs. And it was really cute, off white with red/pink
controls. The girls (and my DIL) all just love this machine.
I hadn't thought about a book to send along but after reading your post
I think it's an excellent suggestion. I do know they will need a good
supply of needles, it was a long time before I realized just how
important it is to use the correct needle and one that was in good
condition. Would this book help or hinder? I don't want them to be
intimidated (by a big heavy book) and they do have an aunt near by who sews.
They think it's so much fun! Hooray!!! My older granddaughters used to
sew with me but after I moved from South Lake Tahoe they got frustrated
and decided to not sew again ever. These two live in Apple Valley
which is still in California but not at all close to their cousins.
If you (or anyone) know(s) of a good beginning sewing book for younger
people please let me know.
P.S. My DIL is now a sewist although she recently has expressed some
interest and even asked her sister (the one who sews) to look at the
older Sears Kenmore machine I gave her a few years ago. She said it was
eating her fabric and breaking needles (trying to hem some pants). I
know that particular machine is a good little workhorse in very good
working order but hard to know what was wrong from New York, hence the
Yes, in my opinion it's a great all-around book for sewists.
I'm 70, have been sewing for 64+ years, and every once in a
while there is a rarely used technique I need a refresher
course on. I have a fairly large sewing library, including
several on couture techniques (and for those I highly
recommend Claire Shaeffer's books), as well as books on
draping, bridal, serging, etc. and also many books on
historical designs and costumes.
There may be other "Sewing for Dummies" type books. However
for a really good reference book on sewing I think the RD
Complete is a great start. It has good descriptions and
I agree with Beverly. I haven't been sewing quite that long, but in my
opinion, it's a great book to have. I find that even 11 YO's can refer
to it and understand what it says quite easily.
One I've seen but don't own and is also good is the Dorling Kindersly
one of a very similar name:
It uses photographs rather than drawings, so it's sometimes easier to
translate to your own work. I don't think it's quite as comprehensive
as the RD one, but some folk prefer it.
I do have this book but it's copyright date is 1976 and I don't find it
nearly as helpful as the Simplicity Simply the Best sewing book I have
from 1988. I also have the Singer sewing books plus a couple of the
Sewing with Nancy books. I think I may have to actually get out to a
store and check the newer sewing books in person.
I think a trip to a store so I can see in person what is available would
be the best thing for me to do at this point. I have a number of
different sewing books here ranging from the Singer Sewing Book up to
the serging book I got a couple of months ago.
I think they would be better off with actual photographs, I hadn't
realized that most of my books are not even in color. I sort of think
something simple at first in order to not make them feel overwhelmed.
I just wish it were possible for me to visit them but it doesn't look
like that's going to happen for the next year or two.
youshould be able to get a lot of nice information for free there. Will beposting regular articles on quilting also from my blog. See an excerptbelow:
A Brief History Of Quilting
What is quilting?
Why is it popular in cold countries than in tropical ones?
What makes is special?
For beginners who do not have any faint idea about quilting, introduction
to this old but growing craft can elicit a lot of questions. The following
are some of the answers, including a brief history of the craft.
The dictionary defines quilting as a method of securing or wadding of two
layers of fabric, usually with a soft, thick padding (cotton, wool, etc)
between them, by way of stitching them together.
In the old days, this extra padded fabric is used to make garments for
insulation against the cold. Later, the stitching that keeps the stuffing
evenly distributed provided the opportunity for quilters to express their
artistic inclinations through designs and colors.
Very old quilts were found in the mountains of Mongolia dating as far back
as the 1st century. A wadded carpet found has a center quilted in an
overall pattern of spirals and bordered with diamond designs and animal
The patterns and the techniques of those old quilts are still in use today
and are already part of the quilter?s catalog of techniques.
The first quilts were thought to have originated from ancient Egypt, went
all over Asia, and then to Europe in the years of the Crusades in 11th
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The RD book is good in may ways, but not in all ways. I bought it on
recommendation of many on this ng., but was somewhat disappointed.
Likewise, I bought "Sewing for Dummies" sight unseen, for my dgd, then
thought I had better have one myself in case she had questions, but
agan, I was VERY disappointed. Frankly, I think that along with the
Singer books, many of which I bought off the remainder table, the best
one I have is the Vogue 1975 edition, which I bought at a rummage sale
My advice is always the same. Take an entire afternoon or evening, go
to your local free public library (or a big city branch if neccessary)
and look at ALL of the various sewing books,to see which one "talks" to you.
Olwyn Mary in New Orleans.
Wow..thank you all for the suggestions.
Kinda figured it wouldn't be that easy. Started sewing with a pretty
good idea how it worked (I'm a sculptor, so patterns and assembly are
second nature) but not how to work the blasted machine. Like having a
road atlas in your head, but not knowing how to operate a car. Thought
I might have good luck having a hands-on tutor to help me with fancy
bits (an instructor vs learning to drive via the driver's manual). But
I guess it's time to hit the books.
On Sat, 2 Jan 2010 01:39:08 -0800 (PST), Sarge
Most sewing machine stores have machine operation classes that are a very good
idea to take. Even if you didn't buy the machine there, it's often possible
to buy a few hours of instructional time on your machine specifically.
Or see if any of the teaching members of
are near you. You may also want to consider joining ASG
May I make some suggestions for you?
Carol Ahles: Fine Machine Sewing. Work through the basics chapters as soon as
you have some experience operating a machine. Yes, it looks fussier than you
probably want to do... do it anyhow. Particularly, tackle the chapters on
hemming and rehemming and narrow hemming fairly early on. It'll save you a
lot of time.
John Giordano: The Sewing Machine Guide. More on how to choose and use
various features of mechanical machines, as well as general machine care, but
it's got good stuff in it.
Gale Grigg Hazen: Owner's Guide to Sewing Machines, Sergers and Knitting
Machines. Care and feeding, and how bad sewing habits make good machines work
poorly, and can even damage the machine.
Nancy Bednar and Joann Pugh-Gannon: Encyclopedia of Sewing Machine Techniques.
Things you probably never thought of doing with a machine.
Videos and DVDs:
Connie Crawford: Studio Sewing Skills (consider buying the student packet, too).
Covers the processes used in garment sewing, starting with threading a machine
properly. A whole heck of a lot of "bad sewing machine" issues are actually
misthreaded sewing machine, bad needle, wrong needle, bad thread or incorrect
seam starting issues. Just for grins, take a look at:
and see if you recognizeany problems you've seen before.
Islander Sewing Systems: lots of good stuff, but I'd suggest you may especially
want to pay attention to her pinless sewing methods. You'll see them on most
of the videos, but they're explicitly explained on the Industrial video,
starting about 12 minutes in.
Judy Barlup: Japanese Tailoring
If it's mainly the machine, it might be worth while checking with the
HomeEc teacher of the nearest highschool or maybe even middle school;
s/he might be willing to spend half an hour with you acquainting you
with the basics of the machine, and that might be all you need to be up
Another possibility would be to check for a local quilting group.
Quilters love to snare new members into their craft and are very
generous about sharing their skills and experience. Many quilters also
sew garments, so if you attend a workshop you're likely to get more help
than you ever wanted. Your name suggests that you're a guy, which is an
advantage if you go to a quilting group. There aren't many guys
quilting, but some of the most famous and well known quilters (and
coutiers) are guys, so the ladies will probably fall all over themselves
to help you out, and any other guys present will be glad to have more
Pleats and darts are basically the same thing: with a pleat you just
fold the fabric over at the seam to make for instance the waist smaller,
but leave the body relaxed so you have room for shoulders or hips. The
pattern or maybe even the garment sketch will show whether to fold
toward or away from the center. Darts do the same job, but you sew them
down (and the trick is to sew from the wide area to the point and off
the fabric, then tie the thread.) For collars, the two main tips I'd
offer are 1) trim the points to reduce bulk so you get a nice point when
you turn it right side out, 2) clip just to but not across the seam line
to fit the collar to the neck opening or collar stand, and 3) grade the
seams. (Okay, so I can't count. There are three kinds of people in the
world: those who can count and those who can't.)
In fact, grading the seams will improve almost any part of the garment
where you have several layers of fabric. Grading means trimming away
the excess material from the seam allowance after you've sewn it,
trimming one layer (usually the innermost) very close to the stitching,
the next layer not quite so close, etc., so there's not a big hump of
layers of fabric all dropping off at the same point.
Making structured, properly tailored clothes is a whole other ballgame
that I've not yet gotten the nerve to try, but there's no reason why you
can't do it. I'd practice first by making an ordinary shirt, which is
going to involve basic skills with pleats, maybe a yoke, a collar and
maybe a collar stand, and cuffs. Cuffs are IMO a bit easier than
collars but it's a similar process, so you might want to do the cuffs
first. OTOH, facing the sleeve opening can be a real b*tch, depending
on the method used for that shirt, and fortunately waistcoats and
jackets use a different method to face the opening and skip the cuff
which just can't be as bad as a shirt sleeve opening.
Its great to hear that another guy has a taste for sewing, I am in Long
Beach CA and am an experienced sewer, i would be happy to work with you on
learning the ropes. I could come up and give u a hand sewing a project to
get u started setting zippers, buttonholes , darts, ect. you can contact
me at email@example.com.
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