ON LEARNING TO SEW

by Daughter Fish

Last Friday, I met up with a new friend for macaroons and fabric shopping. And, yes, it was just as awesome as it sounds. Oona shared some great tips on fabric shops, where to buy affordable serger thread, and how to wind my bobbin for shirring (which has mystified me for months!). We definitely geeked out. But this is how we learn, from people who know more.

Since I started this blog—oh, a month ago!—a couple friends have mentioned that they would like to sew but are intimidated. They either have bad memories from home ec (that hideous matching sweat suit!), they don’t own/know how to use a sewing machine, or more likely, they have no time to devote to the craft.

Here’s the deal, though. Anyone can learn to sew and do a great job at it, and if you have that impulse I think you should. In this day of web tutorials, online communities of sewers, and more and more interesting sewing books it’s becoming easier and easier to learn to sew or to become a better sewer. It feels liberating to wear something you’ve made and that fits your body, and the meditative and creative qualities (besides when angry with your machine) can be a lot like gardening or cooking. It really takes you into the tactile world that we get less and less of in modern society.

In that spirit, I wanted to share a few books  that I’ve found helpful lately for learning how to become a better sewer.

Singer Sewing Step by Step

I own several old Singer books, and just purchased the Step by Step one to brush up on basic sewing techniques.  I would recommend any of the Singer books . Most of them are out of print, or have been reprinted/repurposed by other companies. I prefer the old-school books, with their funky 80′s covers. If you’re lucky, you can find an entire affordable set on eBay.

Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit: Using the Rub-Off Technique to Re-create and Redesign Your Favorite Fashions

Love that perfect vintage dress and want to recreate it? You’re going to love this book. It’s a bit more for the advanced sewer, but even novices will learn some useful techniques. Steffani Lincecum, the author, teaches how to use the rub-off technique (they’ve got to come up with a better name for this!) on preexisting clothing to create a sewing pattern. Lincecum has worked as a costume designer for years, and I found some of her little tips throughout the book very helpful.

Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified

Cal Patch, the author, teaches how to make basic patterns for skirts and shirts, and how some simple techniques for modifying store-bought patterns and even grading (changing the size) of patterns.