Sunday, 1 January 2012

Learn to Sew: Introduction


Happily, more and more people are becoming interested in sewing. Sewing machine sales are at an all time high, craft cafes are popping up all over, DIY culture is on the rise. The number of blank or bemused looks I get when I say that I make my own clothes is diminishing. The number of friends asking me to show them how to sew is increasing. Yay!

Introducing Learn to Sew, a series of free online tutorials guiding you through the basics of sewing, from setting up your machine, to understanding sewing patterns, and finishing your seams. You’ll soon be on your way to DIY dressmaking heaven!

Of course, we all learn in different ways and online tutorials aren’t for everyone. There’s a lot to be said for face-to-face classes where you have access to instant feedback and a tutor on hand to get you out of any messes. In London at least there is a choice of sewing classes available at fashion colleges, sewing cafes and specialist schools, ranging in price from about £50 to £400. But not everyone has a class nearby and some people prefer to learn from home. Not everyone can afford the fees of attending a sewing school, and some may want to test the waters at home before making a commitment. Others may have sewn years ago and just need a refresher. And some people are self-starters who like to master new things themselves. For these people, I hope you’ll find these posts helpful.

I’ve aimed to make the tutorials easy-to-follow and encouraging, with step-by-step instructions and annotated photographs. No overly detailed or pedantic directions, although I do like to explain why you may choose to do something in a particular way. I’ve reached the point where I have a wealth of knowledge and passion to share, but not so much experience that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a beginner! I understand the potential pitfalls and frustrations of trying to get your head round something totally new, I won’t take any pre-existing knowledge for granted, I won’t expect you to understand the jargon, and I can tell you which entry level mistakes to watch out, as I still clearly remember making those mistakes myself! (Sewing up your armholes, anyone?)

My philosophy is that sewing can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. It doesn’t take too much skill or experience to make something lovely – just a few hours’ practice and you can whip up wonders. There’s always more to learn so you’ll never get bored. And it doesn’t have to turn out perfect – you made it yourself! Give it a go, learn at your own pace and make your own decision about what level of challenge you’re ready to tackle.

Let’s get the world stitching!

Read more Learn to Sew...

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[Post updated Jan 2013]

24 comments:

  1. What a nice idea for the new year! Although I've been sewing for a bit, it can be interesting to see how others go about it. You never know when you might learn something new!

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  2. Great idea! I have been sewing for a little while but I'm sure I have loads to learn still x

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  3. This is really generous Tilly and I'm sure it will benefit both beginners and ever so slightly more advanced people like myself. It's always great to see how other people do things as it's a great way to pick up new knowledge and skills!

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  4. thanks for this new series, i've just received a sewing machine and i'm particularly interested in patterns for beginners :) i'll wait patiently until then! ;)

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  5. Thans so much for your dedication to beginners. I apreciate it a lot. I love your blog and I love the way you expose things. So, you see, here you have a fan from Spain.
    Internet makes the world small.

    go on like this.

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  6. This is awesome!! I was just telling my husband last night that I wanted to learn to sew and follow a pattern! Thank you so much!

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  7. This is great, thank you so much! I got a sewing machine for Christmas but have no idea what I am doing! Really well written.

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  8. I cannot thank you enough for taking an ENORMOUS amount of time putting this together - I found it pinned on Etsy and its been extremely helpful! thank you!!!

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  9. Aw thank you everyone - I'm so glad my hard work is appreciated! :)

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  10. I'm so excited to find your blog. Yay Pinterest! My husband bought me sewing machine for Christmas, and I had been too intimidated to even open the box. My friend, a sewer, came to visit and she showed me how to thread the bobbin and do a basic stitch. Under her watchful eye, I made a basic set of curtains. Your tutorials sound perfect for me, so I hope you keep 'em coming. :)

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  11. Pati from London7 February 2012 at 14:15

    I've just discovered your blog via pinterest and I love it!! I've been meaning to learn how to sew for a while but I feel a bit stuck as I do not know what sewing machine to buy... Should I buy something cheap and cheerful? Should I buy something good to last me a lifetime? but what happens if I don't like it or am not good at it?
    What would you suggest? I love the things that you have made! Thanks for the inspiration, Pati x

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    1. Thanks Pati! I got my machine for 120 pounds (Janome JS 18), it's possibly the cheapest regular size machine you can get, and it's perfectly good. I've had it for two years and can see it lasting a few years' more, so I don't see any problem with getting a cheap one, particularly if you're new to sewing and don't have the need for some of the more snazzy features of the expensive models.

      You can also get sewing machines second hand, and do ask around before spending any money as loads of people seem to have unused machines sitting in their attics!

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    2. Pati from London9 February 2012 at 15:01

      Thanks so much Tilly, will ask around (that's a good tip) and research the net for the Janomes. Thanks once more, Pati x

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  12. Hi Tilly, as everyone else has said thanks for doing this - I'm really inspired by your blog and just want to get started. I was interested in your reply to Pati as I'm not sure what machine to buy. I asked at John Lewis and wasn't overly impressed by the lady who was trying to sell me an expensive one! She didn't exactly help! I'm also thinking about doing a taster course in London (for beginners) any recommendations?

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    1. Hi Lisa
      Aw that's great to hear! I'm not an expert on machines but am perfectly happy with mine. I really don't think you need an expensive one, especially if you're starting out. I did two courses at <a href="http://ohsewbrixton.co.uk/'>Oh Sew Brixton</a> which I would recommend if you that's not too far from you - Introduction to the Sewing Machine and Beginners Dressmaking.
      Good luck!

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  13. just got a used sewing machine from a friend & ready to start...but I've no idea where to even begin! So glad i googled you!

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  14. This is great! I just got a sewing machine (my mom just upgraded hers, so I got the old one) and I know some basics, but I'd like to make a few things- clothes, aprons, a washable yoga mat, etc. and wasn't really sure where to start :) Your blog has now been "favorited"! Thanks for taking the time! :)

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  15. thank you so much for posting this blog! someone that posted earlier in the year is right! this is rather GENEROUS of you:). i can't wait to follow along with this journey. i just moved and brought my brand new sewing machine with me. i'm ready for a new start and new fun! thank you!

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  16. Thx for posting. This means a lot to me. I'm an absolute beginner and i'm looking forward to this!!!

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  17. I have been looking everywhere for a series of tutorials just like this! I can't tell you how happy I got as I read your intro. Can't wait to get started!! Thank you!

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  18. This seems really good! I've been following your blog because I'm essentially still a bit of a beginner and It's given me lots of inspiration! I would be very grateful if you would check out my blog, as I only just opened it! You were amazing on the sew off!

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  19. Love your blog!! I learned so much in just a few days. Thanks for doing this!!!

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  20. Thanks for doing this, it's selfless, hoping to learn alot from here

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