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Fabric 101

Learn the fundamentals of fabric, with Judith Neukam, Threads contributing editor. Begin with woven cotton fabrics, such as muslin and quilting cotton. These are easy to handle, and are a good place to start for new sewers. Find out about the “repeat” in a printed or patterned fabric, and look at reversible fabrics, such as jacquards and brocades.

Special occasion fabrics with embellishments such as lace, crystals, and sequins are appealing. On the other end of the spectrum are woolen textiles. These are wonderful to work with, and come in a wide range of weaves and knits.

Other fabrics you might encounter are real and faux leather and furs. Metallics, velvets, and silks entice sewers, but can be challenging to sew.


Teach Yourself to Sew

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 her Teach Yourself to Sew series, Judith shares her enduring love of sewing and her invaluable years of sewing experience.

 

Getting started

She starts with discussing the equipment and the essential sewing notions for anyone who sews. You’ll learn about shopping for fabrics, choosing patterns (including selecting the correct size), and planning the perfect pattern layout. From machine-sewing simple seams to inserting zippers and stitching buttonholes, Judith demonstrates the key steps to making a custom garment.

Discover methods for clean-finishing seam allowances and applying facings so all edges are neat. To add shape to garments, Judith explains how and why to sew darts, and how to gather fabric for volume. Other garment elements, such as sleeves, pockets, and elasticized waistbands, are shown in easy-to-follow video tutorials.

 

Advancing your skills

When you’re ready to challenge yourself further, tune in to Judith’s overview of couture garments and sewing techniques. Even if you never intend to become the next Coco Chanel, you’ll learn methods that add quality to your everyday wardrobe. Find out how to perfectly match stripes, plaids, and prints; baste seams; and insert underlinings and linings.

Finally, Judith shares the basics of pattern fitting and adjustment. Her method begins at the shoulders, ensuring the garment hangs properly. Follow along as Judith shows how to create a shoulder template that you can use again and again to adjust patterns before cutting the fabric. As a bonus, you’ll even learn how to create a custom dress form so you can fit garments on a body that truly represents your true body shape.

 

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Learn to Sew

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