I've been doing a lot of organizational work in my home lately, including cleaning out my closet. In that process, I have come across a lot of clothing that I have sewn. And I could see how my sewing has changed and evolved over the years. Being a "returning sewer" (I sewed when I was younger and then came back to it in my 30s), I learned a lot over time on how to make a garment.
For instance, when I first started sewing again, I was relearning what I had forgotten–how to lay out and cut out a pattern, get the right fit, construct, and finish. But as my skills have evolved there are some things that I would tell my more beginning sewing self.
1) Don't be a slave to instructions: Instructions are just the beginning. You can always add more: a pretty lining, a reversed cuff or collar. Explore simple couture techniques to give your garment a designer edge, particularly in finishing seams and hems. Even the cheapest cotton shift can be transformed with good finishing. There are so many learning opportunities in sewing, through books, DVDs, and online, and most are simple yet elegant techniques that give your garment that expensive look and feel. Try to incorporate at least one new technique per project.
2) Love knits: For years, I avoided sewing knits because I had always heard how difficult they were to sew. And I discovered that knits are actually easier in many ways. First and foremost, the fit on knit patterns is much easier to achieve and more forgiving than wovens. Second, knits don't fray like wovens, so there is no finishing required, other than hemming, which is also optional. This makes for quick construction. Third, there are a lot of beautiful knits out there! Ever tried a silk knit? Sooooo comfortable!
3) Sew what you love: If a project really excites me, I will have the fortitude to put the time into making it. Don't choose a pattern by how it's classified in skill level. Make sure you are really, really excited by the project. Sewing is not difficult, and any extra learning curve from stretching yourself will pay you back with a garment you can love for a lifetime.
For plenty of tips, techniques and projects of all levels, pre-order Stitch Fall 2013 in the Sew Daily Shop today.
Do you have any tips to give to your beginner sewing self? Do tell!
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