Sunday, 5 June 2011

Becoming an Advanced Level Stitcher


Would you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate or advanced level stitcher? What skills do you think you need to qualify for each level?

As you know, I began sewing a year and a half ago, and although I got into the habit of calling myself a beginner, I don't think it was long before I became an intermediate level stitcher, even if I didn't have the confidence to admit it. I hope that doesn't sound arrogant - what I mean is that my approach back then was fearless. I'd throw myself into any technique, without fear of failure. Many people were surprised that my first project was a shift dress, complete with gathered sleeves, zipper, darts and bow embellishments, rather than the classic A-line skirt or pyjama bottoms. I was so overwhelmed with joy at being able to sew something - anything - that I didn't feel I was constrained by any limits.

I've realised, however, that after that initial steep learning curve, recently I've been pushing myself less and less to learn new techniques. With little time to dedicate to sewing, if I can take short cuts, I take them, and I'm increasingly avoiding complicated procedures like underlining or vintage patterns that need tracing and grading. I'm not doing anything to become more advanced.

It's been a long time since I've made anything as complex as this 

Admittedly I've had a lot going on in the rest of my life recently, but sewing is an important aspect of my life that I don't want to neglect. I have such admiration for stitchers like Debi - who started her blog the same time as me and is now making one vintage pattern per week - and Karen - who is in the second term of a weekly intermediate level sewing course. They've inspired me to start pushing myself a little harder again.

I'm not going to sign up for a sewing course as there's so much to learn from other bloggers. Oh, and because I've already booked myself onto a pattern drafting course in August, which is costing enough money! What I am going to do is write up a little list of techniques that I want to try out over the next few months and stick it above my sewing table as a reminder. Here's the list so far:


What else would you consider an intermediate/advanced sewing technique that would be useful to learn? I'm not interested in couture techniques (eg. boning - ouch!), but skills that I can use in making everday wear. Are there any skills that you're eager to develop next?

[Soundtrack: 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' by Saint Etienne]

53 comments:

  1. I am just trying to put in good zippers without unpicking them so often. Did my first lap zipper this week, was happy with it. Drafting a neckline and hand stitching is mostly what I want to learn. sometimes you can't machine sew everything.

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  2. I want to learn everything on your list; but I am mainly commenting because of your use of "Stitcher". I love it & I am going to steal it.

    I am always seeing people referring to themselves & others as a beginner "sewer" or a great "sewer", & unless they mean they are stinky yet necessary draining systems, I think they would be well advised to use "Stitcher" too! ;)

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  3. I've been sewing for 2.5 years now and still feel like a beginner. I am just startig to feel I master the basics. I am not one to throw myself into something too difficult, I like to take it one step at a time. So, I made lots of little A-line dresses in the beginning. I need the finished project fix regularly or else I get frustrated.

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  4. Frustratingly I still feel like a beginner, but your list has inspired me to do something similar. I'd like to learn everything on your list (although technically I have been shown bound button holes, but I've just never incorporated them in anything) and I'm so with Gina on the zip front...I still really struggle to get them right!

    I think what would also make me feel more 'advanced' is cultivating my drafting skills. I took a 12 week pattern drafting course last term and although it started off well, it really lost momentum half way through and I left feeling like there was so much more to learn. I hope yours in August is better and that you can share any tips with us ;o)

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  6. Maybe you should host a sew-along :)

    Genre "5 techniques in 2 months" (I'm just pitching ideas here).

    My lists already made up ;)

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  7. A pattern drafting course? How exciting!! Where are you doing it? I also took the plunge a few weeks back and forked a lot of money in booking one. Unfortunately have to wait till October as can only do Saturdays.

    I've been sewing for less time than you (about one year) but had a similar approach. Not afraid of anything and just went for it. And you are right, I think my skills quickly advanced because of that. I think I now consider myself a advanced beginner.

    If you don't want couture techniques I think it's about perfecting what you already now, plus the ones on your list. I think it's about learning about different fabrics and feel conformable working with a different range. I want to work with satin but have not yet mastered courage.

    I have done underlining and found it relatively easy as well as bound buttonholes. On these the more tricky bit for me was aligning them correctly.
    Maybe get a sewing technique book and work on different collars and pockets and embellishments. Work through the range of techniques in the book.

    Whatever you do I'm sure you'll do it well and I look forward to seeing it.

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  8. Last year, I made a Roland mouret galaxy inspired dress, and used piping in a bag I made. This year I avoid complicated projects. Why? I have no clue, but what I do know is that I want to be very good at sewing. My biggest pain is inserting zips. I feel when I would have mastered that, I will be able to call myself intermediate.
    Suzy thanks for the great advice.

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  9. Your list is almost the same as mine. I am also interested in adding boning for structure in a few vintage dress desings. Any information you share about the pattern drafting class will be insightful and exciting! I really enjoy your blog.

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  10. Great post!

    I am definitely still a beginner, the first time I used a sewing machine for more than a few minutes without running away screaming was 3 and a half months ago. I'm quite far ahead of a friend that started at the same time (skills-wise), I put this down to spending a chunk of time reading sewing blogs and using my own blog as a motivator.

    I haven't really thought about particular techniques for the future, more about increasingly more complex garments and the challenges they wil bring.

    But I am also enrolled on a pattern cutting course, mine is starting in September, shhh it's top secret!

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  11. Your post could have been written to describe me Tilly, I've followed exactly the same path! M first projects all had invisible zips, perfectly inserted! Whereas my more recent sewing has been all about cutting corners (1 hour to make A-line skirts aplenty!)
    I'd like to spend more time on getting the fit right in my sewing and am just about to make a bias cut dress. Despite being slapdash, the one thing I'm most proud of in recent months is sewing something from a Japanese pattern book. I definitely felt like an intermediate stitcher after that! Best of luck with your list. x

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  12. So inspiring! Last year I tend to avoid complicated sewing and often aim for quick projects for some instant gratification.

    I took a different approach to sewing this year, because found out that quick projects often resulted in something that I don't wear often. Now I learned how to get a good fitting (make muslin!), and I've also made my first jeans, lingerie, and swimsuit.

    I would love to develop pattern drafting skills, playing with darts etc, and make a complete pattern from scratch :)

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  13. I agree it's easy to coast along once you reach a certain level, and that you often try hard things as a beginner, before anyone has put you off! I've been sewing for just over a year and would refer to myself as intermediate now. One thing I've been noticing is that I am becoming more interested in making my garments look nice and neat inside as well as out. I can also see on the blogs of advanced sewists like Gertie, the almost obsessive interest in how couture garments are constructed, so am deducing that this grows along with your skill level!

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  14. I've been sewing for 35 years now, and I am still learning :) I have a bunch of sewist friends who hang out together, at different levels, and I am able to help them out with techniques, plus I learn things too! :) Sewing with others is a great way to learn more.
    Can I suggest that instead of a list of techniques, you come up with a list of things you'd love to make, and analyse the new techniques needed to make them? After all you all started with wanting to make something and launching into it - excellent idea!
    I hate zips. I always stick them in by hand using a prick stitch, even concealed ones. I feel like I have more control that way :)

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  15. Hi Tilly (been loving your Me Made outfits BTW!)
    I'd love to go on a pattern drafting course - you are so lucky - over here they fall during the working week, so I'm determined to try to learn myself (taking part in Miss P's draftalong is v exciting!)

    Your list has some great challenges in it - bias & slippy fabric being what I still struggle with. In terms of what I want to get better at, I've been enjoying customising things, maybe changing the collar/ neckline, adding a yoke was really satisfying. Piping was also a revelation & putting in a zip fly. How about welt pockets, that's on my list! I have also been scared of vintage patterns, particularly if they are not printed & have scant instructions! Something I'v never tried is invisible zips & grading down a vintage pattern - but that'll be happening soon (it's bought & pattern selected!)

    Looking forward to seeing how you get on!

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  16. Fantastic post! And that is great that you signed up for a pattern drafting course...I hope to glean some of the learning from you :) Bound buttonholes is definitely on my list as well! As is doing the tailoring sewalong at Pattern, Scissors, and Cloth. And like Kestrel mentioned, my biggest challenge now is getting my insides to look, um, acceptable and professional and really paying attention to seam finishings, etc. :)

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  17. I consider myself an intermediate sewer: I've been at it for 2.5 years now. Currently I am less concerned about learning new techniques than about getting fitting right. When I first started sewing, I would make something blindly and until I could try it on, I would have *no idea* if it would even come close to fitting. And often I'd end up with issues I didn't know how to fix. I'm in much better shape now, but would like to learn more.

    After fit, pattern drafting is next on the list for me.

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  18. I'm trying to focus on making quality garments that will last a while and ones with special touches. I like your list. I recently underlined a dress (which was mostly successful), tackled piping (ditto) and I'm trying to improve my bound button holes. I'm starting to feel more "intermediate" myself. :)

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  19. That's a toughtful post. I began to sew earlier than you, and I don't know as much as you do. I envy your fearless approach, because I've come to realize I tend to avoid anything out of my comfort zone (i.e., I tend to make the same projects again and again! I consider myself as what I call a 'half-beginner'.

    In order to avoid this, I wrote a list of garments I'd like to make when I opened my blog (here : http://carlottastermaria.fr/blog/2011/01/une-annee-en-couture-a-sewing-year/)... 5 months later, I attempted 4 projects, and even if miserably failed at two of them and the hardest part is yet to come, I feel like at least I'm on my way to 'intermediate'.

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  20. I consider myself intermediate, but have been so for a long time. No major urge to become advanced. These days it's enough of a challenge to find time to sew a simple pattern, much less anything complicated. Having said that, last week when I did finally have some time, what did I work on? A simple A-line skirt? No. A dress with gathers. :)

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  21. I consider myself intermediate...I can work through a pattern successfully, make small modifications on my own, and do things like zippers and underlining fairly easily. I don't think I'll feel advanced until a) I can make things FASTER and with less worry and b) can problem-solve more persistent fit issues that don't have obvious solutions (like increasing darts, etc.).

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  22. I love this. I would consider myself an intermediate stitcher as well. I am kind of in the same boat as you are where I want to learn as many things as possible to open the door to more things to make. I think this summer I am going to try and learn everything on your list and document my progress on my website (www.odarlin.com) . Thanks for always being so inspiring!

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  23. Longtime lurker here. I agree with everything you said. I too was a fearless beginner, making a trench coat at the very beginning, but now I too no longer push myself. I think a little knowledge becomes dangerous to our aspirations. Haha! I will take a page out of your book and remind myself to keep growing!

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  24. I am also a beginner, but I've taken a somewhat odd path myself. My first project was taking in and up a black cardigan, then I made a baby bib by hand, bifold wallet and baby bonnet on machine, and finally got to a skirt just recently. And it wasn't A-line, hehe. These various projects taught me a lot, but there is so much more to learn. If you don't need those skills though, it is easy to not get up the gumption to learn them for the sake of learning.

    For a push I would find a cool project that inspires you that involves some of those skills so you'll be motivated to learn to finish the thing. That seems to work for me.

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  25. My list would include : technical fabric/ waterproof seams; structural lingerie like a bra or corset; zippered welt pockets; inserting boning into a gown bodice; bias cut evening gown; and beginning draping. All goals of mine for the next year!

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  26. I would definitely call myself a beginner. Four or five years ago, I used to sew myself dresses all the time but a. there was a long, no-sewing hiatus between then & now and b. the dresses weren't complicated. Basically I took apart a shift dress that had gotten too snug and used that as a basic "pattern" to make myself many identically-shaped cotton print dresses for summer. I did try a few patterns, but I was mostly unable to follow them. (I thought the seam allowance was more guideline than rule, which resulted in a lot of poorly fitting garments & disappointment. Also I didn't know how to finish a seam.)

    So after a year of reading sewing blogs (like yours, Gertie's, Sew Retro, etc) I understand a lot more and I'm super inspired to sew new things! Zippers don't scare me, but buttonholes leave me hyperventilating under the sewing table! So that's my personal challenge for now.

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  27. I have sewn for 40 years. In my experience the advanced skills are those that allow you to take parts you like and make an item. Not following more complicated patterns, that was the mark of the intermediate. Once you combine the sleeves of one design with the bodice of another with the skirt of another and it turns out to fit perfectly, then you can consider yourself advanced. I think your pattern making course should provide you with such skills.

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  28. I learned piping in a "trial by fire" method at my previous job. Unfortunately, I got good at it so then they stuck me with all the piping-heavy projects.

    In any case, it's a good skill to learn because it gives such a polished look. Use a zipper foot for big piping and a regular foot for really skinny piping. Good luck!

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  29. I am always impressed when I remember that you have been sewing for such a short time! Took a sewing course as a preteen so technically I've been sewing for almost twenty years but it's taken me a long time to shake off the bad habits I picked up then. I also practice a lot of disciplines like knitting and embroidery but I'm trying to focus more on sewing now so I don't forget everything I know in between projects. I still feel that no matter how much I read or practice I always end up serging my sleeve seam to the body of the arm or something stupid like that.

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  30. I've been sewing for quite some time, and there are those who would call me "advanced". But once in a while, I find things that stump me and make me feel like I'm a rank beginner. I really like that, actually. It makes my creative juices flow!

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  31. Thanks for your thoughts, y'all. You've helped me add to the list:

    - Lap zipper
    - Invisible zipper
    - Different pockets
    - Different embellishments
    - Sewing from a Japanese pattern book

    Suzy - I'm doing the pattern course at London College of Fashion. I've taken a week off work to do it, so it's going to be pretty intense (can't wait!). It's going to be strange being around dedicated fashion students. Where are you doing yours?

    Scruffy B - actually I've already learnt welt pockets and zip fly on my UFO trousers. I'll finish them soon and show you, promise! (Although the welt pockets look reeeeally shoddy - I'm calling these my practice pair.)

    Wow, Valerie - your list is much more advanced than mine! Maybe next year I could add something like swimwear to the list.

    Senjiva - that's a great tip about the feet for different piping, thanks!

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  32. Ooh and:

    - Professional finishing techniques (not sure what - I'll consult a book)

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  33. Tilly - I jumped into garment sewing over two years ago and am too stuck in intermediate land. To inspire me I've taken classes in couture hand stitching (online), and a skirt sloper class (in person) and I have a class starting in two weeks for a bodice sloper. I hope this takes me too out of intermediate-land. I must say - that jacket you did with the scallops I would classify as advanced!

    I too have been crazy busy at work and this (plus I travel for a living) has taken away from my sewing time this last six months!! You are definitely heading in the right direction with new techniques!

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  34. Good luck! Thanks for mentioning me. I found piping to be surprisingly easy and extremely satisfying.

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  35. I am now trying to push myslef by making sure I learn one new thing with each project. So I made my Pendrell with mock French seams, a little refachioned dress for my daughter had piped and edged pockets. Next up os a simple denim skirt but I am going to pipe the waistband and pocket edges. As long as I have learned one new technique I am happy & feel like I am making prgress.

    Advanced is definately about off-piste sewing, being able to franken-pattern, make fit adjustments without interminable muslins - and also about the design details that lift a garment beyond the mere exeuction of a pattern.. Like Sarai's use of lace in that Sew Weekly challenge - or Gertie's bias striped-bodice.

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  36. Yes, I'm doing mine at London College of Fashion too! Also very excited to do it. I've heard very good things about their courses so literally can't wait.

    I've been researching pattern making books and have added a few to my bday wishlist. My partner is lost without a wishlist from me so I'm sure to get something in a few weeks.

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  37. I'm in the beginner-intermediate category. I've made a skirt, a few other things, and am just about to tackle my first dress. That's challenging, because it's meant to be Simplicity 3965 (the one Tasia from sewaholic used for her Picnic dress). I couldn't find the pattern to buy though, so I made a basic bodice block using standard measurements and I've drafted the pattern for it using pictures of Tasia's muslin (thanks Tasia, and sorry if this is some sort of breach of sewing etiquette!). Then I'll tweak it to fit me. I think that's probably edging into advanced territory, but we'll see.

    I've found that a good way to try out new things like piping, or attaching a gathered skirt, is to do it on a small-scale project, like a child's dress. That way, you can figure out how it's done without using much fabric, and at the end you have something to add to your gift stash!

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  38. I have been an on/off sewer for 15 years now, and my favorite item to make is a bias cut cowl neck top in slippery silk charmeuse! I bought this pattern years ago, and it is still one of my favorites and really forgiving -- bias cut items do not fray easily, and drape really well. I have four versions of this top, and may turn it into a bias cut dress. I love your ambition in pushing your sewing boundaries. I sometimes want to try more challenging patterns when I am on vacation, but during work, I prefer a simpler project, or a default one -- a project relaxing enough to enjoy, but engaging enough to look forward to on my drive home. I am going to make one or two skirts that are simple, but give me scope to play with embellishment -- ruffles, piping, lace, etc. Good luck with all year new goals & sewing.

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  39. I would say sewing zippers into pants is something that I'd consider the next step in advancing my sewing skills. It is so amazing that you started sewing only a year and a half ago and have achieved so much already. It's been fun reading about your adventures!

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  40. I've been sewing for 50 years, but I am still learning new techniques all the time. I love doing heirloom techniques.
    You are amazing with your skill level after such a short time of sewing!!! I'm impressed!!!!
    I have never been afraid to try new things. The worst that can happen is that it won't turn out like you hoped!

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  41. Hi Tilly,

    I'm a Long Time Lurker, and love your blog. So excited for you about the pattern cutting course. I took a week long pattern cutting course at LCF in April, and it was hands down one of the best weeks of my life!! I'm sure you'll love it. It was totally exhausting, but very satisfying and inspirational. Also worth the money, which I did have a few panic attacks over before I got there! Enjoy...

    Suzi

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  42. What a thought provoking post. I don't know what I would consider myself. I have known how to use a machine since I was a child, my mom is big on quilting, so for many years I made "craft" type things. Only very recently have I turned my attention to "dressmaking", I mean very recently in the past few months. Like you I am not afraid of anything, I dove right in. The first article of clothing I ever made, last month, was a dress with a zipper and it turned out great, just a bit big but I took it in and I love it. I am now finishing up a blouse from a 1947 McCall pattern out of 100% silk Chiffon lined with cotton voile and I am happy with the results and I learned a heck of a lot using such a fluid material. I feel that as long as I take my time and understand what I am trying to accomplish there is nothing that is "too advanced" for me to attempt. I think the key is patience and fortitude. However, my list of techniques I want to tackle is extensive.

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  43. After various attempts to learn how to sew over the years, I started taking roughly one evening sewing or tailoring or other technique course in New York. I consider myself an advanced beginner/intermediate and have started meeting with a sewing teacher to work on a dress for me.

    My idea is to create a good block and to make it up in a many different cottons. It will be educational and I need the clothes. I intend to work from there. I'm kind of meticulous, but I can't believe how long this little dress is taking, considering that I do have experience. We copied an old dress of mine and improved the fit.

    I have taken some Haute Couture classes so I've been exposed to some advanced techniques, although boning was not one of them and I'm not a retrophiliac. Some skills that I may apply to my clothes now or in the near future include:

    Underlining - I'm doing that now with my first dress, which is a simple A line dress. The fabric needed body and opacity. I basted cotton batiste. It was easy.

    Bias strips attachment - I'm finishing the neck and the arm scyes with self-fabric bias tape. I experimented with a quilting method where you sew two triangles together, score lines, sew again and cut the tube that forms but it was too imprecise and created seams that ran in different directions. I'm going back to the usual way. Wish I had a bigger table.

    Zipper insertion - I prefer invisible zippers and like a method I learned from a tailoring teacher in which the zipper is basted into the seam and part of the seam is sewn, which is different from the way it's usually taught.

    Inserting a regular zipper by hand is actually pretty easy.

    Welt, or besom pockets - I'm avoiding them right now because I don't need any bulk in certain places, especially pants, but they are an important skill.

    Handling slippery fabric - I'd like to make a silk shirt. I know many ways to control slippery fabrics, but the best for me is to lightly iron a piece of freezer paper to the fabric to stabilize it.

    Tucks - I'd like to use them. Some I'd like to do by hand.

    Lace - I'd like to do some lace insertions (I did a sample) and piece pieces together. Working with lace appliques would be cool, too. I've done an exercise.

    Seams/Seam finishes - I like to use French seams or finish edges with a Hong Kong finish. They're not hard.

    Pressing - It's one of the most important aspects of garment construction.

    Marking - I'm teaching myself to do better tailor tacks and thread tracing. I may teach myself how to transfer patterns with pounce powder.

    Embellishments - I plan to stick to easy things that are pretty, like silk ribbon embroidery.

    I've never done bound buttonholes. Regular ones I have made at a shop in the NYC. It takes 20 minutes, which is mainly the wait.

    I don't know how to fit, don't have a mannequin, so I need to have someone fit me at the moment. I plan to take pattern making and draping when I feel more comfortable sewing.

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  44. I think it's important to remember that:

    --Fitting is a completely different set of skills than making up a garment.

    --A lot of sewing, once you have the basic skills, is finding the time and organizing all the materials, especially if you don't have a dedicated workspace (at least that's my problem).

    --Much if it also is practice, or being willing to make samples, which frankly is tiring and a bit anxiety-producing.

    --Taking a course at a really good school can be extremely helpful. I read a fair amount of American sewing blogs and after taking the two basic sewing classes and the beginning Haute Couture class at FIT I knew 90% of all the techniques I saw discussed by home sewers. Usually, I knew additional or better ways to perform them.

    The trick is to apply it to your own clothes. If you take classes at an "industry" school, you won't learn how to sew garments that fit you, unless you're shaped like a retail dress form.

    Still, the broad exposure is worth it. I may not like sewing welt pockets, but after sewing them three different ways in three different classes I do know how. Although, as Claire Shaeffer suggested in a tailoring forum I read, I'd still make 10 samples before cutting into an actual garment.

    Good tip for piping: Do the "stitch in the ditch" by hand with a tiny back stitch. Unlike with a machine stitch, it will be invisible. Takes more time, but is totally worth it.

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  45. My suggestion to your list would be a collar with stand and if you're feeling sassy, cuffs with plackets. I know you can do it ;-)

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  46. Great tip to iron a piece of freezer paper to slippery fabric to stabilize it - thanks! I currently use spray starch, which is also good.

    Phew, all these lists are fascinating, but what I'm realising from your descriptions is that lots of more advanced techniques aren't difficult, they're just time consuming...

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  47. Couture isn't just about boning (that's only used when needed for formal wear). It's really about impeccable quality. Learning couture technique will take anyone's skills to a new level. I'm working on learning some now.

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  48. (Anonymous who suggested using freezer paper)

    Tilly:

    Exactly. A lot of being more advanced is the willingness to put in the time to experiment and to keep doing what you need to do to get it right. (Not that I consider myself advanced.)

    Some shortcuts don't work unless you have a tremendous amount of experience and an excellent pattern, one that's been tested and is essentially idiot-sewer proof. Not having the highest standards also helps.

    I found out about freezer paper after the other five methods I tried didn't work for me. Finally, with freezer paper, I got rectangles of silk organza instead of parallelograms.

    I recommend Claire Shaeffer's Couture Techniques Basics DVD. Before you even get to the couture part, there's plenty of basic information, say, on how to begin and end a line of hand sewing. It's also helpful to see hand stitches demonstrated on video. My fell stitch was always a little off, not quite perpendicular. This DVD showed me what I might be doing wrong.

    http://www.amazon.com/Couture-Techniques-Workshop-Basics-Shaeffer/dp/1600851533

    Her newly revised book, "Couture Sewing," is an excellent companion volume.

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  49. For me, it's getting to be more about fitting and details--making things look as nice on the inside as they do from the outside. I took a class on PatternReview.com earlier this year that taught me some couture techniques that I've been able to employ in a few more recent projects. I'm currently working on a project that involves newer techniques for me--fly-front zippers, which I still have trouble with, and welt pockets, which I'd never done before.

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  50. Kitty Redfern12 June 2011 15:02

    I have a fashion design degree and I still class myself as a beginner! I took a big detour into make up artistry and have only just started to come back to sewing after 8 years.
    I'll be trying out sewing with a slippery fabric this week; Colette's Sorbetto pattern with amazing orange crepe de chine.

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  51. I definitely want to learn piping! After this project that's next.

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  52. Kitty Redfern:

    (Freezer paper and take evening fashion design classes Anonymous):

    I recently saw the free Sorbetto pattern and I'm going to do a lot of tests making it up in different fabrics and finishes and using some embellishments.

    I mentioned previously that I was working with a sewing teacher, who helped me make a rub-off of a simple dress, which we further developed. As it happens, the top of the dress is very similar to the Sorbetto pattern so I'm going to try to transfer the fitting changes from my first dress to the Sorbetto.

    I'll learn a lot, and won't need to have fitting assistance at every step.

    I think the basic rule to becoming an advanced sewer is to pick patterns that will work on your body that have shapes you like and enough potential for variation that you'll be willing to work with them more than once.

    Also: Use decent fabric. If it doesn't work out, you can always recycle the fabric into sachet bags or something.

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  53. I'm an accomplished sewer and interested in making some designs in my clothing like the designer Manuel (Country Music fame). I like the designs on some of Marty Stuart's coats like this one: http://bit.ly/QG6axg

    It's like piping for pockets but have no idea how to pull it off with a more organic design. Not interested in any high-contrast colors, but same color materials. (I'm making a tailored frock coat for myself)

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