Some of the many other classes, patterns, books, for beginners

Which teaching style suits you ? do you prefer written or video instructions ? Are you fairly independent and can just work from a pattern, perhaps referring to the internet or a book for extra help, or would you like more included guidance ? Most of this post is about video classes.

The first step – learning to use a machine

For some courses which focus on teaching how to use a machine, see the right side menu here.
Or I have two posts :
1. learn to control speed and direction, by stitching on paper.
2. thread the machine, stitch on fabric.

If you would like a detailed video class introducing you to sewing tools including the machine, the first course from Sew Liberated is a possible option.

If you’d like to build confidence with using a machine and handling fabric etc. you might like to start with some projects that are easier than clothes, see this post.

Once you know how to use a machine, there are many options for moving forward.

Sonya Philip focusses on easy patterns for beginners. Her book The Act of Sewing includes 4 easy patterns: cut-on sleeve and separate sleeve tops, elastic-waist skirt and pants.
Up to body bust 56″ – 140cm. Full size traceable paper patterns included.

Patterns from Sonya Philip’s pattern company 100 Acts of Sewing

If you get on better with learning from videos rather than a book, Sonya has video sew-along classes at Creative Bug, pdf patterns included.

Sonya’s top patterns have a bias strip facing finish to the neckline. I do think a true facing is more likely to give beginners a good flat result. Sonya’s book has instructions for both neckline finishing techniques.
There’s a post here on making a successful (flat undistorted) bias strip facing (from about 1/4 of the way through).
And a post about true facings.

For a quick diagram of how to make your own true facing pattern, to use instead of a bias strip facing, see about 3/4 of the way through this post. Or there are links to detailed video instructions for making facing patterns in the facings post.

Sonya’s easiest top has cut-on sleeves. There are many other patterns for them as they’re considered the easiest beginner top. There is a group of posts here on making those, link to the first.

Sonya’s sleeved top is easier to make than the Seamwork Georgia dress, as the sleeves are ‘flat set’ rather than ‘set in’, see this post on armholes for the difference. The technique I prefer for sewing flat set sleeves is described in that post.

Half of Sonya’s book is on making style variations, and the instructions apply to any pattern not just Sonya’s. See also Section 4 of this group of posts on making changes to basic patterns.

Cal Patch is another person who has video classes at Creative Bug on learning to sew. Her speciality is teaching you first to draft a simple pattern to your own measurements, and then to make that garment.

If you prefer virtual ‘live face-to-face’ classes at which you can ask questions, both Sonya and Cal teach via Zoom at Stitches events. There may be only one or two garment-sewing classes each month, and you have no choice of which one or when, but usually there’s an easy top or pants. Beware, you may get tempted into many other fibre-arts adventures 😀

You might learn to sew basic garments from Sonya’s book or video classes. Or from Muna & Broad’s patterns and videos. Or from Cal Patch. But do have a look at several classes, videos and teaching styles – see right menu for some links. Which/who do you feel most at home with ?

You may find you need some reference support when using a pattern, even one intended to help beginners. There are many internet videos, I try to link to good ones in this blog. I try to cover everything needed in my posts, but as I have a very verbal style my instructions won’t be for everyone. If you like working with physical books (I do prefer them for reference) see final section in the previous post with links to some ‘sewing bibles’.

For yet more learning options, see the menu here at right. Also see this post on other learning sequences, in both video and book format.

There are also some other pattern sources which get very enthusiastic reviews at Etsy from beginners (as Sonya Philip did).
All Well Workshop. Some of their pdf patterns include ‘hacking guides’ with instructions for making many variations of the basic patterns. Few videos, book with full size patterns is coming March 2023.
Tropical Research, pdf patterns include links to sew-along videos.

Finding the best ‘learn to sew’ option for you can be a very multi-dimensional decision, and may need some investment in trying out courses which don’t work well for you. (I’m a serial trier of beginner courses, and describe myself as an ‘expert beginner’ 😀 )
For example I found I didn’t get on well with the Closet Core Learn to Sew course, as they teach you to base your sewing on the written pattern instructions, while I like a complete video sew-along so I’m sure what to do at every step. A good course perhaps for people who find videos exasperating – though I would advise them to use a well-illustrated book (see link in earlier paragraph) or photo tutorials. Though the Closet Core course does suit me in that it emphasises skills, and provides complete pattern pieces for several variations of the 3 patterns included (top, skirt, pants). So this could be a good second course for me.

There is another on-line course – won’t mention names ! – taught by someone whose voice I find grating 😀 Though again this is a personal issue. I love Brooks Ann Camper‘s advanced classes (from which I got my personal well-fitting pattern blocks), but I know some people find her presentation style uncomfortable.

I have realised over the years that my preferences are not for everyone. So if you don’t manage to finish a sewing course that I recommend, it doesn’t mean you can’t sew – you just haven’t yet found the right teacher for you 😀 I have tried to clarify some of the different teaching styles we may come across, and say more on this in the last post of this group.

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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.

First a couple of posts on starting to understand your machine :
1. learn to control speed and direction, by stitching on paper.
2. thread the machine, stitch on fabric.

This is the post I keep referring to about learning the most basic sewing skills before starting to make garments.

1. Start on the path to learning to sew garments :
1A. Pattern lines which teach.
1B. Some big ‘learn to sew’ courses.
2. Some shorter courses.

3. Make making easier – levels of difficulty, suggestions for practising.

Moving on from the basics

While writing these posts, I was thinking about varying a garment pattern in two contexts :
4. Variations on a cut-on sleeve top, now expanded to include more garment types :
Variations A : change style elements.
Variations B : from pullover to open front.
Variations C : using your fibre-arts skills
D : Variations on the 2 patterns used in the Seamwork learn to sew course, a dress with waist seam, and a robe-style jacket.

5. Become aware of your many styles.

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.

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These are posts on specific easy-make garment styles :

Cut-on sleeve tops – group of five posts :
1. patterns,
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.

Peasant-style tops, with gathered neckline and raglan sleeves.
More easy tops.

Elastic-waist skirts.
Elastic-waist pants.

Robe style jackets.

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