I want my students to learn traditional sewing techniques, so that their projects look handmade, not homemade, professional, not amateur. To accomplish this I help the students build their skills in a methodical fashion.
Beginning students have little or no experience. This includes many self-taught sewers who have learned watching YouTube.
For in person classes, beginner students do not need anything for the first lesson. I have a sewing machine for students to use in class. However, if you already have a sewing machine, please bring it. It is better to learn on your own machine.
For online students, you will need a sewing machine for the first class. For subsequent classes you will need: sewing scissors, pins, a pin cushion, measuring tape, seam ripper, safety pins, water soluble marking pen or tailor’s chalk, thread, hand sewing needles, machine needles and bobbins. Some of these items will come with your sewing machine.
You do not need to have a sewing machine to start lessons with me. I do provide a machine during class. The type of machine you get is dependent on what you intend to do with it and your budget. I tend to steer people toward less expensive machines, especially if you are not sure if you will continue sewing as a life-long hobby or profession. Machines can range from $30 for the horrid little toy machines to $20,000 or more for more expensive brands or industrial machines.
With that in mind, for most of my students, I am currently recommending the Brother cs6000 or something similar. At this moment the extras that you get with this computerized machine make it a very good value. As of this writing it is running new $200ish. Cheaper mechanical machines are running about $150ish, although I think I saw one for $85 at Walmart recently (12/22).
The lower priced Brothers and Singers are kind of the Hondas of the sewing world. Inexpensive, hard-working machines. You can get lots of cool features in these machines for not too much money. They will handle most of the jobs home sewers will want to do. However, if they break, you will often pay almost as much as they cost for repairs.
If you are on a strict budget, let people know that you are interested in sewing and you will likely be offered one that someone bought 10 years ago and never took out of the box. Grandma's attic, yard sales, thrift stores are also good places to get a machine. Do not be afraid of old metal machines. They will probably outlast all the plastic machines that have been made in the last 20 years. I have also bought refurbished (used) machines online for about half of retail.
I regularly teach children 6 and up to machine and hand sew. Children do not need to start with hand sewing. The child should be able to follow instructions and be willing to follow safety rules. Historically, children started to learn how to sew around 3 or 4.
See above. Do Not buy a toy or miniature machine. Get a normal-sized sewing machine that you would use. The cheap toy/just for mending/mini sewing machines will not work properly and cause much more frustration than they are worth. A child 6ish and up is perfectly capable of using a normal full-sized sewing machine.
This is the wrong way to go about learning to sew. This will depend entirely on what you want to make and at what level. Sewing is a series of several skills that must be learned. Learning how to use the sewing machine is the least of these skills. What type of machine you need will depend on what you will be making.
My curriculum is based on my grandmother’s 1968 4H teaching manual. You will be learning step-by-step all the skills necessary to complete a garment or other project. We start at the very beginning and build a foundation so you will be able to sew on your own.
Class 1 - Parts of a sewing machine and how to avoid breaking the machine or making knots.
Class 2 – Fabric basics, how to thread and wind a bobbin, pinning, straight line sewing, ironing.
Class 3 – Completing the pattern-less project.
Class 4 – How to measure for using patterns and how to read the pattern envelope
Class 5 – Prepping the pattern, how to lay out pattern pieces for cutting, cutting the pattern.
Class 6 – 8 Sewing the second project, sewing curves
The first project for beginners is a pattern-less skirt, drawstring bag or pillow. The second project is pajama bottoms.
These are low (emotional) investment projects designed to explain basic sewing concepts and build on skills from the previous lesson without causing crying.
To learn more than just the basics and be able to create handmade, bespoke, professional looking items, you will need 4-6 months of classes at least.
Mending and upcycling clothing is not as easy as you think. Each different type of fabric has different challenges. A silk blouse, t-shirt and blue jeans are made from challenging to use fabrics. Using challenging fabrics is an intermediate to advanced skill. Trying to work with these fabrics as a beginner will usually result in crying.
An intermediate student is comfortable with the sewing machine. This student understands that knit is not easy to sew and that you must have consistent seam allowances. They are ready to use challenging fabrics, learn zippers, buttonholes, facings, bindings, interfacings, finishings and advanced sewing techniques. If you don't recognize these things you are probably a beginner.
I consult with intermediate students and meet them at their level. Usually, we will be working on their project with guidance on any special stitching or techniques.
Sometimes students just want help with one or two mysteries. Many intermediate students want some guidance on making sure they cut their patterns out correctly, learn advanced techniques, help with constructing multi-piece patterns, learning basic pattern adjustments.
Some intermediate students come for one or two classes. Some pop in and out when they need help with a project. Others come for years working on new skills with each project.
This is very personal. Some students just want to make pillows. They may only need a few lessons. Some want to learn fashion design. These students will be honing their skills their entire lives.