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Everything you Need to Know About Learning to Sew

By Jon, published on 22/03/2018 We Love Prof - AU > Arts and Hobbies > Sewing > A Beginners Guide for Learning How to Sew

What is a zig zag stitch? How does it compare to a blind stitch, a slip stitch, a backstitch or any other kind of stitching?

In this article, we would like to clear the air – give you the straight stitch, as it were, all about needlework and topics related to the notion of sewing.

What is the best sewing machine for your purposes? Should you invest in an overlock?

Do you want to sew like big name designers?

Who are these big name designers, anyway?

To answer these questions and more, Superprof has concocted a whole programme for you to get on the right foot before your first sewing lesson!

What is a Serger? Why Do You Need It for Sewing Courses?

Anyone who is in any way familiar with dressmaking or tailoring would not hesitate to expound on the value such a machine brings to his craft.

This most valuable sewing tool, previously only used in industrial sewing, can stitch, finish and cut your seams, all in one step.

If you are just a the basic sewing stage – maybe only engaging in easy sewing projects, you could certainly dispense with this machine.

You can make a dress, a pillowcase, a scarf… all with only your home sewing machine.

However, if you are looking for a more professional finish to your garments, or if you plan to work with knit fabric, you may find that a serger would be indispensable.

One of the best aspects of serging must certainly be its ability to overlock: to sew fabric borders in such a way that they cannot come unraveled.

Look around your home and in your wardrobe: most likely, anything made of cloth has been worked on a serger.

Its second-best feature is that it trims away the seam allowance your dress patterns call for, even as you stitch those seams.

Would you be able to do that as efficiently by hand?

But do you actually need one?

If all you can think of is needle and thread, if your sewing room is a busy as Santa’s workshop and every year’s Christmas is filled with your creations…

If you intend to host your area’s sewing bee (or quilting bee), a serger must certainly be in your future!

If you are the person who gifts garments every chance s/he gets, then you most likely already know that some fabrics are easier to work than others.

If that is the case, then you most likely have already experienced the effectiveness of a serger, especially on material that stretches easily, such as jersey or rib knits.

And what a professional finish they give!

Still: exactly how beneficial is a serger, to beginners and to experienced seamstresses?

Here are some points to ponder (pun intended):

  • a serger can use a few as 2 threads, or as many as 5
    • unlike a sewing machine, a serger does not use a bobbin; they create looper threads to lock and protect raw edges of your fabric
  • a serger is capable of many specialised stitches, such as a rolled hem, or a flatlock seam.
    • A standard sewing machine can also execute many types of stitch, including the buttonhole, which a serger cannot do.

A serger is not meant to replace a sewing machine; it should be used in conjunction with your Bernina or Brother.

What price can you expect to find attached to your prospective purchase?

A baseline serger, one that can use up to 4 threads and render professional seams can cost just a little over £200, all told.

You should factor in the cost of serger thread – thinner than regular sewing thread, and needles – made specially for your machine.

If you are hoping to expand on your sewing classes, to establish yourself as a professional dressmaker, you may need a machine with every available feature. In that case, you should look to spend more than £500.

The good news is that you will be able to write the investment off as a business expense!

You can read more about sergers on sewing blogs, in sewing books, or you can see them at work in sewing videos online!

Your sewing kit should include spools of various colour thread Spools of thread, bobbins and needles: all sewing notions; all a part of the lexicon of sewing Source: Pixabay Credit: WerbeFabrik

If you do aspire to be a master of needle crafts, you should learn the lingothe language of sewing.

Pleats, piping, patchwork and patterns: these all denote something altogether different when bandied about outside of sewing class and away from the fabric store.

Let us now go further: what is the difference between a whip stitch, a blind stitch and a running stitch?

These are all types of stitches that anyone with experience in hand stitching might have made, but maybe didn’t know the names of.

As with every craft, those who practice it must be knowledgeable with their specialty’s terminology.

Verbs such as: threading, sticking, pinning, basting, serging, outlining are commonly used in sewing books and sewing tutorials.

If you hope to understand how to sew, you will simply have to learn all of the words associated with the practice!

Harem pants and hobble skirts, ruffles and ruching – these are words that champions of the sewing bee know.

Both in how to create them and how they came to be!

Sewing Lessons in The History of Fashion

From draping a body in animal pelts to fashioning crude needles out of bone; across the chasm that separates high fashion from ready to wear styles, bought off the rack

The need to clothe oneself in general and the garment industry in particular have shaped our society, perhaps as much as education and economics have.

That statement alone might give a hint as to why the film The Devil Wears Prada was so universally successful!

Who were the Prada Brothers anyway, and when was their runway debut?

How did the fashion show of today evolve from its live mannequin roots?

To better understand today’s fashion industry, we look back toward the great names that have left their indelible mark on how we dress and perceive others:

  • The foremost Lady of Fashion, Coco Chanel, champion of women’s rights
    • it was she who did away with the confining corset and introduced short jackets for women
  • Christian Dior, who has dressed some of the most famous names in Hollywood
    • Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor and Marlene Dietrich were all on his client list
  • Yves Saint Laurent, whose innovative designs revolutionised women’s wear
    • It was he who introduced the tuxedo suit for women, and made ready-to-wear fashion reputable
  • Jean Paul Gaultier, the first to mainstream unisex fashion design

My, how far we’ve come from animal pelts and plain, woven fabric, clasped together with no stitching or embroidery!

Some of the greatest advances in sewing include the invention of the sewing machine, and also of the serger and embroidery machine; refined sewing notions – not just thin, sharp needles, but also the thimble, needle threader and rotary cutter.

Cross stitch, knitting, crocheting… all manner of needle art and easy projects that you can start today!

Men are more active than ever in the fashion world! Men’s fashion and men working in fashion has traditionally been minimalised Source: Pixabay Credit; Aandrea

Is Needlework the Exclusive Purview of Women?

One could similarly ask: should only men play football or box?

Cooking presents us with a glaring juxtaposition of gender-oriented skills.

Traditionally, in the home, cooking was considered women’s work.

Some still think along those lines today!

However, it seems all top chefs are men: professional kitchens seem to require a male culinary savant.

That is not to say that women do not work in restaurant kitchens; it is just that the big names in culinary circles seem to be attached to men.

Fortunately, that is changing, even if those changes are coming about slowly.

But cooking is not the topic of this article; sewing techniques is.

And, it would be a fair stretch to say that men are not as prevalent in sewing circles as are women.

Whether cross stitches or embroidery stitches: is there any reason or logic in believing that women are better suited to making them than men?

Traditionally, male children were encouraged to be active, and females to be passive.

Thus, it stands to reason that young girls would sit with their mothers, hour after hour, learning sewing tips and making clothes.

Boys would be recruited by the men in the family to work in the fields or in the shop; perhaps even be apprenticed out if the family had no lands to work or animals to tend to.

The term seamstress has fallen out of vogue – may even be considered downright distasteful by today’s standards.

Conversely, the word tailor, used to describe a male who sews clothing, is still a legitimate term to describe a man who works with woven fabrics.

Today, the art of sewing is enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

It has become fashionable to design and create one’s own garments, maybe even to design said garment’s sewing pattern.

Handmade clothes are now all the rage, and technological advances, such as computerised sewing machines and machine embroidery make creating your own look easier than ever.

In short: anyone with the skill and sewing supplies can take on a project or two, without having to be anatomically correct for the art.

A good starter sewing kit includes: needle and thread – and hopefully a needle threader; a few spools of thread in different colours, a scissors set, straight pins and a pincushion and, of course, a thimble.

As you progress through beginner sewing lessons, you will most likely find yourself buying more specialised notions, such as: bias tape and a seam ripper, maybe some elastic and velcro, and perhaps even some patterns for your next skirt or blouse.

Publications such as Sew Magazine and Love to Sew are currently enjoying higher than ever subscription numbers.

And, for good reason!

Between their covers (and on their websites) you can find tips and tutorials for anyone learning to sew. You can learn how to refine your technique and you might even discover free sewing patterns!

There is all manner of instruction for sewing for beginners in sewing magazines, as well has handy information for those more experienced at the craft.

One of the most versatile designers in fashion today, Marc Jacobs, discovered his love of hand sewing at this grandmother’s knee.

He has gone on to create line after line of sportswear, and has even served as art director in some of the biggest fashion houses.

See? Sewing lessons aren’t just for girls anymore!

Men are as interested in fashion as women are, these days Although targeted to women, the fashion world includes many males designers Source: Pixabay Credit: Pexels

Meet the Most Famous Fashion Designers

Sure, we all know the Chanel and Balenciaga brands; and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Kenneth Cole and Betsey Johnson. Learn to sew from the great designers.

And Pierre Cardin, who entered the world of high fashion in 1957, and has since built an empire prevalent in more than one hundred nations.

Stella McCartney, a relative newcomer to the fashion world, made her mark by engaging with Adidas to launch a line of sportswear.

That partnership led to her appointment as creative director for the 2012 Olympic games. It was the first time that a leading fashion designer outfitted a country’s team across all competitions.

The fashion designers of today, who stress amid the hype of Fashion Week have taken to promoting their brands on a whole new level.

Instagram, Snapchat and other apps permit designers to show their collections real time, or maybe even ahead of those famous fall and spring events.

Designers who promote their work in that manner have Giorgio Armani to thank for bringing social media into the fashion realm.

It was he who broadcast his collection live online, for his 2007 Spring/Summer line.

Of course, up and coming designers are going all the way, using every means possible to invite fashionistas into their world – both creative and personal.

Chloe and Parris Gordon are just such types. These native Canadians use primarily black and navy blue in their collections to create an effortless chic, which they promote in part through their social media accounts.

Fashion and sewing are in perpetual orbit around each other: shaping and drawing society according to the embellishment and decoration we wear.

As you learn to sew, as you engage in machine sewing; the first time you sit at an embroidery machine to make your first appliqué, you are unconsciously joining the ranks of those who provide a fundamental human need: to protect and adorn ourselves.

What is Fusible Interlining Fabric?

Interlining is a material used as the additional lining between the lining and the fabric of item of clothing or cloth, etc.”

Whereas fusible interlining is a base fabric coated on one side with a thermoplastic adhesive resin which can be bonded to another fabric by the controlled application of heat and pressure.

But how on earth do you use fusible interlining? Follow the link to find out more.

What Is a French Seam?

A French seam is “a seam with the raw edges enclosed.” Where you can’t see the edges of the fabric. It might also be called an “invisible seam”.

Interestingly in France, they call this an English seam. It seems that old rivals can be friends after all. Learn more about French Seams and how to perfect them by following the link.

What is Haute Couture Clothing?

Haute couture is a term referring to professional luxury designers. An haute couture brand will attract the most publicity at fashion shows and be the talk of the town. They set trends and dominate the marketplace for luxury clothing.

To learn more about the history and brands like Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy and Jean Paul Gaultier, follow the above link.

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