A complete wardrobe of clothes can be made by a near complete beginner to sewing ? How amazing is that 😀
So how to do the learning to get to that point ?
There’s a huge range of different sewing courses available. And many patterns with learning support. As we all have different learning styles, as well as different sewing, pattern-making, and clothes-wearing styles (see Section 5), that’s a good thing. But it means you may have to do some exploring and experimenting to find which course or pattern line is best for you. This group of posts mainly focusses on ones that work for me. And I’ve tried to say why.
This long intro post has now been divided into sections :
– first section : some teaching pattern lines (here), with a section on ‘sewing bibles’ for people who like books to refer to when they want to know more about a technique.
– second section : some big sewing courses.
Then there’s a post on some shorter courses.
There are links at the end to all the posts in this group.
Some pattern lines which aim to teach
There are pattern designers who are reacting to fast fashion by :
– producing pattern lines which they hope will stay ‘in style’,
– trying to provide very good instructions and other support to help people on their way with sewing, fit, and easy pattern altering.
Apparently there is even a ‘slow fashion industry’ ! who knew 😀
The following list includes designers who aim to teach with their patterns (there are 100s of other pattern designers). I’m adding to this list as I come across them. I do tend to choose my own makes from this list, as I like having much support. Some of these patterns just have written instructions, some have links to videos.
Sadly there are some companies which make big claims but I find their instructions poor – either unclear or they leave out what I want to know. I haven’t included them! but you may find the same with patterns and courses that I do like. I can’t guarantee you will get on well with everything from this listing, but I hope you find some which suit you.
These pattern lines do assume you know the absolute basics about using a sewing machine – sewing and finishing straight seams, turning corners and going around curves (I have a couple of posts here).
And your starting search may cost a bit, as you may have to try several patterns until you find a company :
– with instructions that help you feel confident, you look at the instructions in advance and think “I can do this”,
– that offers patterns in styles you would like to wear.
But once you do find what’s right for you, then wheee 😀
Three types of help with patterns are on offer : with sewing (extra clear instructions), fit, and pattern altering.
There are also many posts on this blog about sewing techniques (see Technique Indexes) and about simple pattern altering. Most of my posts on fit are on the Sewingplums blog.
Sewing, patterns which aim to have extra-good instructions :
All Well Workshop.
The Avid Seamstress.
Fibr & Cloth (hand sewing).
In the Folds.
Sew Over It.
Sonya Philip’s Creative Bug video classes.
Tilly and the Buttons.
Some of these pattern lines have beginner patterns for top, bottom, layer, so you can make a complete outfit even quite early on in your learning. For more on this see the second post on making a wardrobe.
When you’re comfortable with the basics of garment making, you may want to improve the fit of your garments. Despite the claims of ‘easy methods’ there’s no one method of fitting which works for everyone, see this post. For most of us, fitting is an ‘every little step helps’ process, not ‘one leap and you’re there’. You need to be willing to do some experimenting by making test garments. These are some pattern lines which aim to help.
– simple instructions for drafting basic patterns to your own measurements (no need to struggle with one of the huge college pattern-making text-books). These sources are in increasing order of complexity, and some are not for complete beginners !
Daisy Braid’s Sew It Yourself book tells you how to make very simple patterns to your measurements. Some people find these patterns drab as they’re mainly rectangles, but they are ultra simple for a beginner 😀 You may want extra help with the sewing instructions.
She only includes one jacket. There are several links about cutting your own rectangles to make a robe-style jacket in the post on them.
Sure-Fit provides ‘master patterns’. You find your own measurements on each of those scales and join the points. Only 11 measurements are used so, as there are 80+ ways in which our bodies can vary, the results may not be perfect. But they can be much better than ‘average’ 😀
On a related tack, the zero-waste patterns from Birgitta Helmersson are made by drawing cutting lines direct onto fabric, according to your measurements. I suggest you need to be a fairly experienced sewist to understand the instructions.
– extensive help with altering their patterns to fit better :
All Well Workshop have instructions which help with the fit of their Studio pants.
Fit for Art have many suggestions about fit for all their base patterns.
I have a post on fitting a basic cut-on-sleeve top, here.
Now Palmer-Pletsch have changed to tissue fitting their patterns, I don’t find them helpful (tissue fitting is impossible to do without knowledgeable help, and paper doesn’t behave in the same way as fabric), but you may like to take a look. People think tissue fitting saves you from the hassle of making a test garment. For me it’s very important to make test garments, many of them if need be, see this post.
Pattern altering, pattern ‘hacking’
You may be longing to get closer to making the clothes you dream about. Or, having learned to make one pattern, you may want to change it rather than starting again with another pattern. Even small changes to patterns can make a big difference to the effect.
These pattern lines give help with simple pattern altering :
All Well Workshop.
Cal Patch (online Workshops tab).
Sonya Philip : Creative Bug video classes and half of The Act of Sewing book.
Sure Fit Designs.
These pattern lines provide the changed pattern pieces for you :
Fit for Art.
Magic Patterns book, pdf patterns.
The out-of-print book Easy Sewing the Kwik Sew Way includes full size traceable paper patterns marked with the style variations.
– – –
Some ‘sewing bibles’
If you don’t understand something in a pattern, there are many good sources of help.
Most people refer to YouTube for sewing help these days. There’s such a huge variety of quality, in presentation and sewing techniques, that I’ve tried to link to good videos in this blog (the Technique tabs above the gallery photo are an index).
But some people prefer to refer to books rather than videos.
As sewing techniques cover everything from exercise wear to tailoring, the ‘bibles’ have to be large !
I like the old Vogue Sewing Book, though as it first appeared in earlier days of printing technology it doesn’t include many diagrams.
The book that was very popular a little later, because of the many diagrams, is the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. The first edition is said to be better.
These are some of the modern books with diagrams :
How to start sewing from Assembil starts very gently in great detail, and has practice patterns for making the samples.
Connie Crawford’s Fashion Sewing has good clear diagrams and instructions. Don’t bother to buy the ‘studio’ version as the videos are minimal and there are none for the more difficult processes.
I like Czachor & Cole Professional Sewing Techniques for designers, though it is definitely a college textbook tome, very expensive and not for complete beginners. Don’t buy the associated ‘Sample Workbook’ unless it’s a course requirement, as it has minimal content – it’s just somewhere to keep your samples.
If you prefer photos to diagrams, there’s Alison Smith’s Dressmaking (UK) Sew your own wardrobe (USA). Not a complete ‘bible’ as she just takes you through making some example clothes (no knits or casuals, and the index in the first edition was poor so it was difficult to use for reference), but good.
While if you like to make nearly everything entirely on your serger/ overlocker there’s Simplicity Simply the Best, which has much information about how to use a serger/ overlocker for nearly all garment sewing processes.
Would you prefer to be guided through your learning path, rather than picking patterns yourself to learn from ? The next two posts in this group are about big and small sewing courses 😀
= = = = =
These are now the sections in this group of posts on learning to sew garments :
The way this group of posts has become so large just shows how much there can be to know about sewing, even at the lowest levels.
This is the post I keep referring to about learning the basics before starting to make garments.
3. Make making easier – levels of difficulty, suggestions for practising.
Moving on from the basics
While developing these posts, I was thinking about varying a pattern in two contexts :
4. Variations on a cut-on sleeve top, now expanded to include more options :
Variations A : change style elements.
Variations B : from pullover to open front.
Variations C : using your fibre-arts skills
4. Variations on the 2 patterns used in the Seamwork learn to sew course, a dress with waist seam and a robe-style jacket.
6a. Beginner wardrobe A : add skills as you make clothes. This post provides a guided sequence of making which you might follow.
6b. Beginner wardrobe B : some possible outfits/ capsules from specific pattern lines.
– – –
These are posts on specific easy-make garment styles :
Cut-on sleeve tops – group of five posts :
2A. Reasons to make a test garment.
2B. Making a test garment, and adjusting for fit and preferences.
2C. An example of a changed test garment, plus how to revise your pattern.
3. sewing a cut-on sleeve top.
– – – – –
Good Luck with finding the best support you need for your learning.
Making sewn items can be exciting and rewarding.
Celebrate what you can make at whatever level of skill you have reached. Even at the easiest levels, sewing can be a complex skill, and learning to do it can take much determination.
♥️ 👍 ♥️ 👍 ♥️
= = = = =