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How-to

Teach Yourself to Sew Series

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Garment sewing expert Judith Neukam got her first taste of sewing when she took the free lessons that came with her mother’s sewing machine purchase. Judith was 9 at the time. Soon after, she was sewing her own clothes and feeding her passion for the craft. In this Teach Yourself to Sew series, Judith shares her enduring love of sewing and her invaluable years of sewing experience.

She starts with discussing the equipment and the essential sewing notions for anyone who sews. She continues through the series with explanations and demonstrations of essential techniques that range from machine-sewing a simple seam and installing a zipper to adding bound buttonholes and setting a garment’s sleeves by hand. These techniques are incorporated into how-to sewing projects along the way. Judith even gets to the more advanced work of fitting and adjusting patterns and garments, with the help of another sewing expert, Stephani L. Miller.

This five-season Teach Yourself to Sew series is divided into lessons, or episodes. Sewers of all levels, from beginners to the more experienced, can benefit from the detailed information. Watch each season from start to finish, or drop in on a lesson or two to learn a specific technique or to be inspired.

Here are some highlights from each season.

Season 1

 

close-up of narrow French seam sewn on silk chiffon
In Season 1, learn how to sew a French seam, which is ideal for sheer fabrics, where the wrong side of the seam is visible.

The series opens with a season full of the basics about choosing supplies, including patterns and fabrics. There are also lessons on how to sew basic, French, and lapped seams; finish edges; hem a garment; install a zipper; cut and apply binding; sew on buttons and make buttonholes; and how to press garments. There are even how-to sewing projects for a felt jewelry bag, bias-strip scarf, skirt, and jacket. Go to Teach Yourself to Sew Season 1.

 

Season 2

 

Double row of stitching gathers fabric, which is pinned to ungathered fabric
In Season 3, learn all about gathering and then try it out following the how-to for making an an apron. Photo by Scott Phillips.

Judith takes a close look at sewing machine needles to start the second season. Then it’s on to seam finishes and how to finish a facing edge. Other lessons in Season 2 include how to apply elastic and sew casings to enclose it, three ways to gather fabric, and how to install an invisible zipper. Patch pockets, another functional option for garments, are explained. The simple apron project incorporates what you learned from the lessons on gathering and patch pockets. Find out how to add sparkle to garments in this season, too. There’s also a two-parter on the more involved project of making your own dress form. Go to Teach Yourself to Sew Season 2.

 

Season 3

Tracing of upper body overlayed by a bodice pattern piece.
In Season 3, learn how to trace your shoulder slope to create a template and then how to adjust a pattern to match the traced slope. Photo by Scott Phillips.

Understand the importance of the shoulder slope, and find out how to alter a pattern to reflect your true shoulder slope in this season. Then get a closer look at sleeve styles and how to transfer a sleeve from one pattern to another. Dive into two garment sewing projects with separate episodes on making a skirt and one-seam pants. The last three episodes of this season focus on making bound buttonholes. Go to Teach Yourself to Sew Season 3.

Season 4

couture lace garment created by Lena Stepanenko
In Season 4, get an up-close look at the fine details of this couture lace jacket and dress ensemble created by Lena Stepanenko. Photos by Jack Deutsch.

Be inspired by a close look at the masterful sewing techniques and attention to detail in a couture garment. Then watch the season’s lessons for more precise sewing including basting, setting a sleeve by hand, and shaping and finishing through pressing. Also, find out how to match stripes, plaids, and prints. Learn the different purposes of lining, underlining and interlining garments. You’ll also want to know Judith’s argument for sewing the all-important test garment—often a skipped step when creating a new piece of clothing. Go to Teach Yourself to Sew Season 4.

 

Season 5

 

Model wears a jacket test garment, or muslin.
In Season 5, learn how to make a test garment, an important step in sewing a garment that fits. Photo by Scott Phillips.

The last season in the series focuses on fitting. Find out how to take body measurements, buy the right size pattern, figure out personal fit preference, and how to use a camera to improve garment fit. Judith also walks through how to create an illustration of yourself from a photo, which you can use for testing pattern styles on your silhouette. Later in the season, learn how to make a test garment, fine-tune a garment’s shape with darts and how to true seams. Go to Teach Yourself to Sew Season 5.

 


The Teach Yourself to Sew series is a complete course in mastering the basics. It inspires, challenges, and encourages all sewers to try new techniques. Check it out, and learn at your own pace.

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