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ElegantDecay | Posted in Gather For A Chat on

Hello all!

This is my first post, I wanted to say hi.  I’m 17, from Canada, and rather new to sewing.


I was wondering if anybody could please recomend and sewing books for someone of my age.



  1. lovestosew | | #1

    So glad to "meet" a younger sewer/sewist! As for good sewing books, there are a bunch.
    1. Linen & Cotton - Susan Khalje
    2. Bridal Couture - Susan Khalje (that's not the exact title but it has very good information)
    3. Fast Fit - Sandra Betzina
    4. Power Sewing - Sandra Betzina
    5. Couture Sewing - Claire Shaeffer
    I've probably forgotten a few but I'm sure someone else will chip in with her own recommendations, too. Anyway, enjoy your sewing, don't get frustrated and remember to come back here with any questions or issues.
    Happy sewing.

    1. mygaley | | #2

      Congratulations on teaching yourself an important life skill-sewing-at the age of 17. I recommend any book or instructions by Palmer/Pletsch. Their instructions are written in a very clear way and their techniques work. To save money, try your local library to see if you want to buy. God bless you Galey

  2. fabricholic | | #3

    Hi ElegantDecay,

    Tell me about your on screen name. It's is intriguing. If you are just starting with your sewing, Singer has books on all kind of sewing, apparel, sewing for your house, and sewing lingerie. They are good. I hope you are inspired and will stick with it, because it is a wonderful creative outlet. Welcome!


    1. ElegantDecay | | #4

      Thank you all so much for all of your feedback, and encouragement.  ^_^

      I will certainly look into those books.

      As for my screen name... it's because I've  always found beauty in things like old stone buildings where the plaster is beginning to crumble and you can see the brick underneath, or old roman ruins.  I think it gives them a rather dignified appearance.  I've always been a fan of antiques as well, and I think they look more and more beautiful as they show their age.

      Also, I figure the more polished, streamlined and 'elegant' a society got, the more more the values and the really important aspects of culture decayed.

      The double meaning amused me, how a phrase could have both a positive and negative connotation... so I chose it as my screen name.




      1. MaryinColorado | | #5

        Excellent screen name for you!  I like that!  Welcome to the forum, hope you have decades of enjoyment sewing.  You have the ability to see beauty where other's may miss it, and a creative mind so you will go far.  My husband likes to photograph the same type of things you are talking about.  Our vacation photos puzzle some as they are often of old buildings, churches, cracked fire hydrants,wood, and bricks.  I love photographing trees, the gnarlyier the better. 

        There are so many ways of using textiles in your art.  I wish I had realised this at your age.

        Eventually you may want to learn photo transfer to fabric,"free motion quilting" and "threadpainting" and applique techniques.  I enjoy creating from my imagination to embellish a variety of things from clothing to decorative items. 

        I think the most important thing to remember is avoid perfectionism and enjoy the process and results of your work.  Don't let your inner critic spoil it for you.  That has always been my biggest obstacle.

        1. ElegantDecay | | #6

          It's hard for me to learn new techniques like that... at home I have a really cheap sewing maching ($100) and no serger and my mom doesn't use fancy things like seam tape but I think if I get the basics now then I'll buy some better equipment when I move out and save some money.

          My best friend is a photographer, I think it's really interesting and I'm rather jealous.  Again though, it's something I can't afford at the moment.

          Thank you so much for the encouragement, I am pretty hard on myself... but that applies to more than sewing, so perhaps it's something that's unavoidable.

          I hope that I'll improve, though.  And eventually I want to learn how to draft my own patterns.

          How about you?  What got you into sewing... what type of things do you like to sew?


          1. Ralphetta | | #7

            You seem artistic.  Maybe, instead of working from scratch, you might get satisfaction by reconstructing clothing.  By picking up things at thrift stores, you have a headstart.  I think one of the most valuable things to learn is how to fit.  This frequently takes more time and patience than actual sewing.  Just replacing the buttons and shortening the hem, etc. can make a world of difference.  (Remove the matronly, old lady top of a dress and have a really great skirt.)  Many times what makes something look cheap..is the tacky buttons.  Change them and you have a nice classic dress, jacket, etc. and no one knows you got it at a discount store.

            One of the best things about clothing at thriftstores is you can see very clearly how it looks after it's been cleaned/laundered.  Learn to recognize fabrics.  Many times you can get nice silk or wool items.  Scrunch a handful and see what happens. Taking things apart is a great way to learn how to put them together.

            I sew because I like to create...not because I am thrilled by the act of sewing.  It is a means to an end.  With a limited amount of money I would rather take the chance on something I make than to buy something like everyone else has.  Also, I can buy really expensive things marked down and alter them to fit me. 

            Sewing means different things to different people.

            Let your imagination go!

          2. MaryinColorado | | #22

            I think you might try a soft flannel for the bloomers, like pajama/nightgown fabric.  My favorite winter outfits have always been long flannel or corduroy skirts with matching bigshirt with heavy tights and turtleneck.  The main problem always seems to be static cling.  Fabric softener helps but also there is a product called static guard that can be sprayed on, I don't know if it is safe for all fabrics.  I avoid it because I don't like to use aerosols. 

            I also like to go to thriftstores, the fabric from items can also be cut into strips and shapes for piecework like crazyquilting.

            I also like the book, Secrets to Successful Sewing. 

            You don't need expensive equipment.  My dad bought me a sewing machine when I was sixteen, I am mostly self taught.  I managed to make a dress and coat, velvet homecoming dress, and bridesmaid dress that first year.  No one knew they were "homemade". 

            I was twenty nine when my hubby bought me my next sewing machine.  Finally have a dream sewing room now that I am retired.  It has been a gradual process building up to this point over the years.  I love my Viking serger and use it alot and feel it was well worth the expense.  Although for me, the top of the line embroidery machine is great, it was an extravagance that I don't enjoy as much as I had expected.  I feel it is more creatively fulfilling to use the sewing machine.  I guess what I am saying is that "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence"............now that I am on the "other side" so to speak, I find the most enjoyment using the basic sewing machine aspects with some extra presser feet thrown in for fun. 

            You don't need alot of equipment and fancy supplies, just your imagination and some basics to make magic happen.  It sounds as though you are a natural artist finding your way in this world.  Who knows?  Maybe you will be one of those people who are blessed to be able to make a living doing what they love.  Mary


          3. Josefly | | #31

            Ditto to what MaryinColorado said about not needing expensive equipment. Some of my fondest memories are of clothes my mother created on a simple straight-stitch sewing machine...she always had an eye for fabrics that looked great together, and took lots of pleasure in giving clothes some extra "snap" with color and pattern combinations, making contrasting buttonholes, using corduroy and other napped fabrics in unusual ways, etc. She had only the basics. I myself have a 40-year old sewing machine, and it brings me great pleasure, too. I hope you'll have great fun with your sewing!I'm working on a dress and vest for my daughter who lives across country from me...fitting is the challenge here. But I've got some boiled wool and am looking forward to embellishing that wool in the vest pattern. Threads Magazine had a very inspiring article about a felted wool jacket with art deco design stitched on it and I'm itching to try something like that.The books other posters have suggested will be very helpful to you, and I second the idea of checking them out at the library, a resource I use often since I've run out of storage space for more books at home!

        2. fabricholic | | #8

          Hi again.  I forgot to mention that the library sometimes have these Singer Sewing books.


          Edited 10/21/2006 5:52 pm ET by fabricholic

        3. fabricholic | | #9

          Hi Mary,

          You mentioned photo transfer.  Did you happen to see Marcy Tilton on the quilting show on PBS?  She was painting transfer web and making cool purses in, only her way, with foil ironed on them and some with black organdy over it.  On the Technology Corner they had this kalidescope software making their pictures in a kalidescope shape.  Does anyone know what software they were using?  They are always talking about Hewlett Packard.


          1. MaryinColorado | | #11

            I would love to know more about these techniques.  They sound right up my alley as I love working with unique fibers and such.  Which quilting show was this?  I will google Marcy and see what comes up.

            the shows I get here are Fons and Porter, Sewing with Nancy, Martha Pullen, Kayes Quilting.  It is hit and miss wether I watch them.  I try to catch Nancy Zieman and Martha mostly as I am not really a quilter per se though I use some of the same techniques and tools. 

            Thanks for the tip.  Mary

          2. fabricholic | | #13

            Hi Mary,

            Marcy was on America Quilts Creatively with Sue Hauseman.  You have got to see this.   I know you would love it.  I am not a quilter either, but they have some cool techniques on the show.  The Technology Corner is with Joe Heish, (I'm not sure of the spelling).  Marcy Tilton Ironed on the foil to the fusible seb strips where she wanted it.  She had painted some web with fabric paint and sewn around some circles.  You know how she can make simple shapes look so fabulous.  When she would put the black organdy over the top, it made it look totally different.  She is amazing and I also like her first name.


          3. MarshaK | | #15

            Hi Mary, go to the America Quilts Creatively website, the show with Marcy Tilton painting on fusible web is number 704. You can read step-by-step instructions on her method and even print them off along with the pattern for the bag she sews on the show. Although seeing the television show is better than reading about it , at least this gives an idea of how its done. Marsha.

          4. MaryinColorado | | #17

            Wow!  Thanks for the great website!  I will have to request that PBS put that show on thier roster!  We don't get it here.  Is it on PBS there or a premium channel?  I love that project by Cindy Loosecamp!  So many creative artists and projects to peruse, I am really enjoying it.  Mary

          5. fabricholic | | #19

            Hi Mary,I get it on PBS in Alabama. Weren't the techniques cool? What project did Cindy Loosecamp make? Was she on the kalidescope or the purses?Marcy

          6. MaryinColorado | | #20

            She was on the page when I opened the website.  It is a wallhanging with a cabin and mountains, you can download the embroidery designs too.  I think it was in the 100 group. 

            So many projects, but never enough time and materials..................Mary

          7. fabricholic | | #21

            Amen!  I find that I want to get into all these projects and I spend more time collecting and buying the materials than I do actuallly do the projects.  That's pretty sad, isn't it.


          8. MarshaK | | #23

            Out here in rural Alberta I get to watch America Quilts Creatively and Sewing With Nancy on the PBS channel from Detroit, thanks to cable tv. The shows are on at 4 am and 4:30 am Saturdays so I tape them, there's also a jewelry making show called Beads, Baubles and Jewels which is on at 4 am Sunday. They also have Quilt Central on at times and America Sews. That is also with Sue Hausmann, and if you go to that web-site there are lots of instructions and goodies from that show. The Canadian HGTV used to have Susan Khalje's show and Sandra Betzina's but now it's all home makeovers which seem to have taken over many other channels along with the 'reality' shows.

            Here's a web-site that is going to have you spending many hours watching, http://www.qnntv.com it's called Quilters News Network and as the bookmark I received from Nancy's Notions states, it's television on the Internet. You can watch shows like Sewing with Nancy, Quilt Central, America Quilts Creatively, America Sews Creatively and many more, some segments are just a few minutes, to demo a technique or the whole show as it appears on regular tv. Sure it's a 'Quilters' web-site, but there are techniques and embellishments that are also used in garments. I hope your computer is set up with the right media player so you will be able to watch. What fun!


          9. MarshaK | | #16

            The software Joe uses is called Kaleidoscope Kreator 2.0. Check out their web-site at http://www.kalcollections.com  This software is really easy to use, and it's amazing how quickly the design changes with just a click. On the America Quits Creatively web-site, if you check out show 704, same one as Marcy Tilton's painting on fusible web the tech corner tip will explain a bit about the Kaleidoscope Kreator software. Marsha.

          10. fabricholic | | #18

            Thank you so much for that information. I might just have to get the software, if my computer will handle it. It's not a bad price. I love the stain glass look. Also, I am so glad you told us about the America Quilts Creatively website. I don't know why I didn't think of it, but it was perfect for Mary to see Marcy's techniques. She will probably be putting the techniques on her garments. I thought they said Marcy covered the purses with organdy, but it was organza. I taped the show for my own enjoyment and now everybody can see her techniques on-line. That was so sweet of you to let us know.
            Happy sewing!Marcy

          11. MarshaK | | #24

            I'm sure you'll read what I posted to Mary, check out the QNN web-site, and also the one for America Sews, lots of good info there.

            The Kaleidoscope software is great, I have a photo that I took of some orchids when we were at the Mirage in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, it turned out slightly blurred, (doing the closeup thing) and some of the petals had a white edge to them. Boy did that look sharp when I Kaleidescoped it, just out of curiousity. So even if a photo might not look quite as good as we want it, for this it could be perfect.


          12. fabricholic | | #25

            Hi Marsha,I am going to check out the websites in a moment. You said that your picture blurred and it looks great with the kaleidoscope software. When I took a photo. class, I took a picture of my black and tan puppy on a lavender blanket. You couldn't tell it was a blanket because I did a close-up of my puppy and the blanket was blurred. Everybody in the class loved it, because it softened the picture. I haven't checked to see if my computer would handle the software, yet, but I imagine it will. I like the look of the dog or dogs on the purse. That would be cute. Thanks.Marcy

          13. user-217847 | | #26

            hello to all you wonderful people, I"ve never been part of a discussion group before last week. I"ve never had any thing to say (still don"t). I am having the best time just being part (albeit silent) of your discussions. I'm envious we don"t have sewing on our PB Television and we arent blessed with the many different outlets you have. not to worry, I"m here for a long time to come. Once again thanks a bunch. 

          14. MarshaK | | #27

            Hi and welcome to Gatherings.  With your name you must be from Australia, or someplace in that region. Since there are no sewing shows on television where you are, try going to the web-site I mentioned previously, http://www.QNNtv.com , you may be able to watch some sewing shows there. It mainly a quilting site, but there are a lot of techniques that can be used in sewing garments, especially if you like to do any embellishing.


          15. user-217847 | | #29

            Thank for the welcome, your right I come from Australia, NSW, on the east coast.  I'll take your advice and have a look, and thanks

          16. fabricholic | | #28

            Hello Wally Wombat,

            I love these discussions, also.  I don't have much to say, but I say it anyway. LOL  I'm sure after you read a little while, you will be piping up with the rest of us.  I look forward to hearing from you.


          17. user-217847 | | #30

            thank you


  3. dreaming | | #10

    I'm from Canada too, and am 57. I started to sew as a little child, for dolls, and by the time I was a teen was sewing away. The person who posted about looking at how things are made (lovely things) is really right! For many years I was rather "poor", and that brought me to thrift stores, which I adore. Here they are generally run out  of churches, and often have a "fabric room", which is my source of fabrics, and notions, and vintage patterns. Another poster mentioned "re-structured" clothing. Just yesterday, fairly low with my bronchitis, I was greatly cheered when I discovered the lovely "New From Old, How to Transform and Customize Your Clothes", by Jayne Emerson. The author is young, and the book is very cheerful, but also elegant, and with good instructions. The book is more to inspire, which is a great book style. I love the process of sewing myself, find it soothing, and like contemplation. Fitting can be a headache, but there is help here (also see the wonderful articles available here too). I am still too hard on self, but, there is lots of hope with encouragement.

    1. ElegantDecay | | #12

      Thank you very much for the replies, you've all been so helpful... I think I'm going to use this site as a resource in the future ^_^.

      I've sometimes found things in thrift stores but I don't drive so there are really only 2 that I go to, one being on the 'popular' street in the city which I live and so the punks and other hipsters types often raid the place before I have the chance to get there :(

      The other store is on the same avenue but it's one of the trendy thrift stores so the clothes are rather expensive... as for vintage patterns, I've seen them at the expensive thrift store but I'm afraid to buy any because I'm not sure what state they will be in.  I have done several remake projects (such as converting a pair of jeans into a skirt) but I think I'll have to try harder to find things at thrift stores.

      I'm making my halloween costume right now ^_^ (a story book gypsy) and helping with some of the costume for our school's play (Anne of Green Gables).  Then I plan on finding some nice wool fabric for skirts (which is hard, since that's not a particularly popular fabric where I live) and maybe some old fashioned bloomers to wear over long-johns so I can wear skirts in the cold Canadian winter... by the way, can anybody recommend a fabric for bloomers that isn't too stiff so that they hang like they should and is as warm as possible?

      What are you ladies working on at the moment?



      1. User avater
        Becky-book | | #14

        Think about using white cotton knit for your bloomers. Layers that trap the air add insulating value to your clothing.


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