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Hi – I’m new, with a question

Rosiem | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi, everyone. This site looks great and you all seem so knowledgeable and helpful!

That said – would you mind a question? I’ve been sewing since home ec in 9th grade (XX years ago) but just work with cottons with a little body and fleece on simple stuff: sundresses, purses, dog clothes, home decor, etc. What I call “straight line sewing” *LOL*

Over the long winter I’ve made a couple of  sundresses for an upcoming trip to Mexico (with matching purses!) I’ve enjoyed myself so much – and the dresses really came out well, if I say so myself. (And they fit.)

My question is – where do I go with my sewing from here? I want to make more clothes, and from fabrics other than poplin and fleece! I can do , but not that well, all of the basic dress skills: darts, zippers, sleeves and collars. Should I look for a class to try to advance my skills?

Any advice much appreciated – thanking you in advance!


  1. carolfresia | | #1

    Hi, Rosie,

    Taking a class would be great if you can find one locally--try community colleges, park & rec programs, or an extension service (we don't seem to have those around here so I'm not sure what they really offer). Fabric stores sometimes have classes, too. You might also look into the American Sewing Guild, which has many local chapters and is a great place to meet other sewing enthusiasts.

    If you want to work on your own and challenge yourself a little at a time, you can do that--in fact, many accomplished sewers are pretty much self-taught in this way. I'd recommend reading books and magazines (try the library for books, and of course I suggest reading Threads magazine!) to learn new techniques. Pattern instructions are not a bad way to learn new skills, but sometimes you'll find other ways to accomplish the same thing that are easier for you or more efficient.

    To move beyond cotton wovens and fleece, I'd suggest taking a look at Kwik Sew patterns (http://www.kwiksew.com). There are many designed specifically for knits, and they often replicate current RTW styles. The instructions are for sewing machine or serger, so you'll learn how to handle stretchy fabrics.

    Another website that's an excellent resource for sewers of all levels is http://www.PatternReview.com. You'll find reviews of thousands of patterns written by actual people who have tried the patterns--along with photos of the finished garments. It's one of my favorite places to go when I'm trying to decide on a pattern.

    Check out the rest of the Threads website, too. We have video tips as well as articles that can help you out. And keep coming back here with your questions. This is a terrific community of sewers.


  2. solosmocker | | #2

    Great ideas. I think you need to ask yourself what type of clothes do your wear. Do you need suits for work? Do you need a pretty outfit for church on Sunday? Do you have other family members whom it would be fun to sew for? Childrens clothing is great fun and I know many who sew these garments for friends and neighbors just for that reason. There are so many directions you could take. I would do some serious web surfing to just give you ideas and get your juices going and take it from their. How about a winter coat?

  3. Tessmart | | #3


    Sewing is such a lost art these days in RTW, I was glad to read your posting.  I'd look for small fabric stores and look into their classes.  On top of learning from a class, I always learn for others and I've always found everyone willing to share their successes (and failures, we all have them). The Threads magazine has a world of information every month and you can always review their past articles.

    With your past experiences you can adapt those techniques into a lot of other items. Sundresses have many techniques that could help you make blouses, etc.

    Where you go from here depends upon your lifestyle and what you like to wear, but whatever it is, good luck to you.


  4. midnitesewer | | #4

    Check your local PBS station to see if it broadcasts sewing shows. I learned alot this way. The shows feature garment sewing, home dec, and quilting. Most of the shows have their own websites with books, Tapes, and CD's available.

    Also look around to see what inspires you to sew. You want to have fun and enjoy yourself while developing your skills. Good luck and happy sewing.

  5. Teaf5 | | #5

    I agree with these great suggestions, especially about considering your wardrobe and what you like to wear. Every season, I find something interesting to make and add to my wardrobe. I used to sew nearly all my own clothes, but now I tend to mix ready-made and handmade pieces.

    I tend to sew the elements that I have difficulty finding to fit well in ready-to-wear or that are much cheaper to make than to buy readymade, like fitted jackets, skirts, and and casual tops. For example, I can usually find jeans, slacks, and knits in stores, but it's hard to find quality denim or knit fabric, so I don't sew these items. Our fabric stores offer a lot of nice suitings and silkies, so I like making jackets and skirts. Likewise, I prefer to buy scarves, but make vests.

    Since sewing takes time and effort, I like to make more classic pieces that I can wear forever and purchase the more trendy pieces that will likely go out of style quickly. I also do a lot of sewing as gifts for other people and for my home, two other ways to enjoy the rewards of my skill! No matter what you choose next, just enjoy!

  6. mygaley | | #6

    Go to the library and get all the sewing books you can read.  (I like the Vogue one)  You will learn a lot, even the questions to ask to find the results you want!  I had sewn for about 25 years and still found zippers problematic; I read in a Palmer/Pletsch book to get a bunch of zippers and practice putting in 30 zippers, or do it for one hour, whichever came first.  Now I can put any zipper in anything.  A badly made collar or welt, etc., is a crisis when applied to a garment, but it is not a big deal to make up four or five from scrap fabrics until you are satisfied with these details.  God bless you as you experiment and learn.  Galey

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