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The Sew What’s New Archive

This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: Lesia
Date: 01-13-2004, 09:47 PM (1 of 16)
<email address removed for privacy>

Dear Nimble Thimbles everywhere!:

Hey there! I'm a 24 year old wannabe seamstress, especially in the areas of dressmaking, costuming, lingerie, and maybe some high fashion garments..but right now, those are all distant dreams.
I have been searching, desparately, for a sewing teacher nearby my hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, in vain for several years now.
Trust me - I've tried my family's two seamstresses, I've called all the local bridal shops (which aren't many ;-)..the two costume shops here, and asked friends as well, but none seem to sew.
I have a great desire to sew, and I feel my only block is learning to read patterns and understand their cryptic directions.
I have a passion for fabrics, styles from all eras, and have amassed many patterns, trims, luxurous fabrics, and bought myself a sewing machine, at a time when I had a teacher, whom I lost to chronic illness.
I'm wondering if there is anyone at all out there, who lives reasonably close by..I'd even consider traveling outside the city, ie: to Saint John, NB, to learn, and the rate of pay can be discussed, no problem.
I truly hope my question on this board is not considered a solicitation, as I am not a business or an organization of any kind.
If anyone here happens to think they can teach me, or knows someone near me who can, please write me at the email address I affixed above, or click on my user name for my email address.
Be assured I am a dedicated student when it comes to such artistic areas as this - as it is, I am an artist, make my own chocolates which I may sell, and I have already sewn a few trifles.
I'm also interested in millinery.
Please note that no classes in either sewing or millinery are available for a class, from a sewing outlet, and no one on one workshops held by any party have been found in my area.
Any help towards my goal is appreciated.
Have a great day!
Thanks a bunch!
User: Lesia
Member since: 01-13-2004
Total posts: 3
From: emermuffin
Date: 01-13-2004, 11:03 PM (2 of 16)
Hi Lesia! I really admire your attitude and determination. That is what makes a great sewist!

I was (and for the most part still am) in your shoes. I was given a machine and I had scads of ideas but not the know-how. Fortunately, I live in Houston, Texas, USA and there are many classes to be found. But for me, it's lack of funding that makes this an unattainable option. I can not afford to attend any more classes so books, websites like this one, and my sewing machine's manual are my tools to learn to sew. I study, make construction notes, and thoroughly read pattern instructions before I try anything new. Every project is better than the last and that's a great feeling! You CAN teach yourself!

If your town, or one reasonably nearby, has a community college program or vacational school, check into them. Check with your fabric stores. If there is a fabric store in Fredericton, someone is sewing! Perhaps they'd let you post a note. Where did you buy your machine? Most dealers have classes when you buy your machine to help familiarize the features.

If even these few options are not feasible, do your best to learn on your own. When you find something similar to your interests, turn it inside out and really examine it. Make notes. Read, read, read! And most of all, keep sewing.

Good luck, Lesia! :bluesmile
User: emermuffin
Member since: 03-29-2003
Total posts: 55
From: woodywoodpecker
Date: 01-14-2004, 01:48 AM (3 of 16)
I first learnt to sew by doing doll clothes, but since sewing other stuff have never had the inclination to do them again. However I find the books by Kwik Sew are very easy to do and understand and you should have no trouble with them. Also your library is a good place to get books and they will usually bring in other books for you as well.
Have you tried placing an add in your local papers for some one to help you learn? I'm surprized you haven't came across someone yet being as the eastern provinces have so many crafty people, but I understand what you mean about no one in your circle sewing it's the same for me, that's one of the reasons I like these bullentine boards so much.
You may even want to take a look at the sewing/quilting for dummy books. But one piece of advice I would give you, is to pay attention to the seam allowances that is stated on the pattern and to make sure you press as you go as it makes all the difference in the world for the finished look.
User: woodywoodpecker
Member since: 11-07-2003
Total posts: 242
From: plrlegal
Date: 01-14-2004, 02:41 AM (4 of 16)
Hi Lesia. Welcome to Sew-Whjats-New. Check out the free sewing lessons that were given by Julie Culshaw on this board a few months ago. Very comprehensive and easy to follow. Here's the site:

Also on the home page of this board. scroll down toward the bottom andyou will see several topics. One of those topics has articles written by one of our distinguished sewists (Kim) on this Board about how to read patterns, etc.

We also have a forum - Begginer Sewing -- After you have checked out the free beginner lessons and Kim's articles on patterns, etc. post any and all questions you have in the Beginner Sewing forum and we'll all pitch in and give you all the help we can. Hnag in there. Sewing is not that hard to learn. However, first of all, a good place to get started is by sitting down with your machine and manual and familiarizing yourself with how the machine functions. Also take some lined notebook paper and practice stitching without thread on the lines to become good at straight line stitching.

User: plrlegal
Member since: 05-19-2001
Total posts: 318
From: Lesia
Date: 01-15-2004, 02:26 AM (5 of 16)
Hello all, all being emermuffin and..whoops..I'm bad with online names! But also, hellos and thumbs up to the other two who posted replies as well, one whom I believe is the moderator of this board..wait, the name's coming..Patsy?
Ok ;-)
I just want to thank you ALL for pitching in, it really makes me feel like my query at least wasn't too tiresome for anyone here to look at.
I do have the Sewing For Dummies book, as suggested by poster #2, and I seem to know my way around the machine pretty well.
I can sew by hand no problem - as long as I invent some pseudo pattern.
If there's a pattern, I'm sunk ;-)
I also have a Singer Encyclopedia of Sewing Techniques or some such title, and a heck of a sewing Omega, but unfortunately, I was told at the Walmart where I bought it, apparently here it is/was a dying breed of machine as's the machine that proudly sews "eight layers of denim" and other such heavy, tricky, or obscure fabrics.
It's excellent and has WAY too many stitch functions for me at this time, but later it'll be great.
Now, my father sews as well, but again, just like my grandmother, whom I inherited this hunger from, without a pattern *sigh*
So, also, the free sewing lessons sound great...I thought nothing in this world was free any more ;-)
I even tried copying out several sheets on pattern comprehension last night, but again somehow, I can't put my finger on what is missing, except there's an assumption on the author's part of a basic understanding of lingo and methods I'm still unfamiliar with, since, having not read patterns, all I have done is sew two seams together, basically, in anything I've done.
And yes, one poster was accurate with the "crafty Maritimes" assumption too...I do lots of other types of crafts, decoupage a favorite.
Finally, as I will follow any advice in your messages I can, that I have not already done, and perhaps improve on certain things, I'd also like to add that the idea of sewing onto looseleaf paper is a brilliant idea!
Thanks guys!
Oh, one scary addendum: When I bought this machine, I was warned thoroughly that this Omega denim machine could not be serviced locally by any dealers in the area at the time for major problems, and I've not noticed any new sewing dealers pop up since 1998, when I bought it.
So why did I buy it? Because my ultimate aim was to make dresses which would have relatively thickly concentrated amounts of heaven knows what fabric...oh well.
Your collective help so far is greatly appreciated, and so prompt too!
I'll follow that sewing lesson link..
Anyone with any opinions, please don't be shy, all info is appreciated.
Thanks a bunch!
User: Lesia
Member since: 01-13-2004
Total posts: 3
From: DorothyL
Date: 01-15-2004, 08:21 AM (6 of 16)
I have a book put out by Vogue and Butterick that outlines the techniques in their patterns. You might want to take a look at that if patterns are your problem.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: needle_elf
Date: 01-15-2004, 09:30 AM (7 of 16)

Welcome to the boards. You'll find there is quite a wealth of knowledge and support here for nearly any sewing project you could dream of. As for your delema regarding how to read patterns, the best advice I can offer to you is to just start trying out some simple patterns. Will you mess up at times? Almost certainly. But those mistakes are sometimes the best teachers. :nah: Do you understand how to cut out the patterns? If you can figure that much out, then I would encourage you to pick a project and go for it! I think by just starting you will find that you are better able to tackle your sewing projects than you thought possible. And when you get stumped, come back here to the boards and ask your questions. There are many here, and between everyone, we've probably tackled just about any sewing problem that might come your way.

Hope I've been of help.
User: needle_elf
Member since: 12-12-2000
Total posts: 26
From: Mom of Six
Date: 01-15-2004, 10:33 AM (8 of 16)
I suggest starting with a very basic pattern. All of the major companies have beginner patterns. These give step by step instructions along with explanations of how to do certain techniques. I tried to use a Vogue pattern when I was starting out & I just got frustrated & never finished (it was a little boys tailored coat.) Then I stuck to the basics and have learned a lot of shortcuts & techniques. Sometimes I don't even open the instructions unless I run into a problem. I took home ec/ sewing classes for 3 yrs. In high school back in the 70's. I wish they still had classes like that today. My DD would love to learn to sew & I find it is better to learn from a certified teacher & then go out on your own & find short cuts. Good Luck I know you will get it if you keep trying. Sometimes it takes a while then everything just clicks.
Happiness is having time to sew!!
User: Mom of Six
Member since: 11-03-2001
Total posts: 1115
From: LeapFrog Libby
Date: 01-15-2004, 07:54 PM (9 of 16)
When you say you have trouble with patterns, do you mean the basics?? for instance, do you know about the long line with arrow points on the pattern pieces are to line up with the grain line of the fabric?? The grain line is the thread lines that are woven together to make fabric..The reason I ask this question is , maybe you need to start with a part of a sewing reference book which is titled "how to read a pattern" or something similar..
Most pattern companies put out a line of very simple patterns. One of them is 'It's So Easy'. You can find them at WalMart.. they cost $1.99 or $2.50 US each. they are easy to use and don't have any difficult items because they are aimed at beginners.. A lot of them will say they have a bonus inside.. A sheet with a glossary was in 1 that I purchased. Others have a special lesson.. How to apply a pocket was another one I saw..Every sewer needs a good reference book.. I have been sewing more that 55 years and I still use one frequently..Go to the library and test drive several before you buy one..
Sew With Love
User: LeapFrog Libby
Member since: 05-01-2002
Total posts: 2022
From: plrlegal
Date: 01-15-2004, 11:12 PM (10 of 16)
Glad to see you're hanging in there with us Lesia. By the way, I'm not the moderator of any of the forums. Mary Wilkins is the board moderator and we all owe thanks to her for providing us with such a great place to meet and greet one another, make friends, exchange cyber hugs when needed, lend a listening ear, etc. I'm just an antique that hangs around here. :bluewink:

When you say you have trouble reading and understanding a pattern, I assume you are talking about the markings, etc. on the pattern and the references to these markings in the instructions. When you open a new pattern, take the very first page of the instructions and when you open ityou will see cutting layouts, line drawings of each of the pattern views, front and back, and the line drawings of the individual pieces. The, you will see an entire section labeled General Directions. I'm looking at hte instructions for a simplicity poncho pattern and the General Directions is showing all the symbols with a description of what they are and how they are used in the pattern. It's pretty comprehensive describing how ti trim seams to reduce bulk, etc. Most of the trick to reading and understanding patterns is looking at and reading the instructions one step at a time as you do it.

User: plrlegal
Member since: 05-19-2001
Total posts: 318
From: MaryW
Date: 01-16-2004, 07:17 AM (11 of 16)
Hi Lesia, welcome to Sew Whats New. :bluesmile :Canada:

This moderator is in Halifax,NS. I agree with Patsy. Take out the pattern and read it, every word of it. I am self taught and that is how I learned. I was home alone with a baby and a machine. I had no choice if I wanted to learn how to sew.

Start with a basic pattern and ask questions here on the boards. That is why we are here. :bluewink:
owner/editor of Sew Whats New
User: MaryW
Member since: 06-23-2005
Total posts: 2542
From: Lesia
Date: 01-22-2004, 08:01 PM (12 of 16)
Greetings and Hallucinations!
Thank you ALL for being so attentive, articulate in your ideas, and every one of you seems to have a unique thing to say.
This seems to be a valuable way to have aired my question.
As one poster pointed out (forgive me..I'm bad with online names ;-)..the problem is not reading the patterns so much as the lovely part that involves cutting them out *l* *sigh*
I have 2 pretty good reference books, I think, though I wish there was one that was entirely dedicated to "Understanding the Markings and Methods of Interpreting the Marking On Patterns and Then Cutting Them Out While Somehow Doing What The Mmarkings Instructed"..or something to that extent.
Basically, I have myself equipped with the beginner pattern - I have no delusions of grandeur;-)...and I've done the read-out-loud-very-slowly-and paying attention routine...but there's some break in my synapses somewhere between what and when I'm reading something in the language of patterns, which I do believe is a legitimate language, as one who studies Latin, Spanish, and now Russian!
Since I was pretty familiar with a floppy hat pattern, and hats in general, I got so far as to ironing the interfacing into the band.
But the hat part never got off the ground, and I'll never know what happened!*l*
Does anyone else here have osteo or rheumatoid arthritis doing "fun things" to their hands, and if so, how do you goddesses of the thimble work around this?
And once again, despite my gratitude for your attention, help, and friendship, to any lurkers, please remember I am in the Fredericton New Brunswick area of Canada, hoping one on one lessons will somehow knock certain problem ideas through my little skull.
Thanks're great!
I'll keep checking back.
I want you all to know I have not given up making phone calls to anyone who might teach around here too.
'Til next post(s) by whomever cares to,
Thanks a bunch!
User: Lesia
Member since: 01-13-2004
Total posts: 3
From: woodywoodpecker
Date: 01-22-2004, 10:51 PM (13 of 16)
Lesia, so what exactly do you feel your having trouble with concerning patterns? My biggest problem is the adjusting part, most of the things after that I can eventually figure out or work around them.
My hands also have been giving me grief the last few years and have had my right hand done for carpal tunnel. If I ever get the left one done I'll be sure to cut out a whack of things to sew up before going in to get it done.
Most of the time I try to cut out a bunch of things to sew as I don't like the cutting out part very much.
Is there any sewing shows on TV that you can watch, that sometimes helps me, even if it's quilting (which I haven't tackled yet).
Just keep on sewing even if it's sweat pants and t-shirts, pillow cases, what ever. Started sewing when our kids were in school but never got to serious about it until the grand kids came along and figured my sewing skills would progress with their ages and it sure has helped.
User: woodywoodpecker
Member since: 11-07-2003
Total posts: 242
From: LeapFrog Libby
Date: 01-23-2004, 07:29 PM (14 of 16)
If you have any trouble with your hands, you need to buy the Fiskars Shears.. The spring loaded ones , that are not scissors...That was the best notion ever invented .. I have tendonitis or something in both my thumbs, and when I had to cut out with scissors, it would take me a day to recover from cutting out 1 garment.. The day (so long ago now) that I bought the Shears I cut out 5 garments before I quit for the day, and I just quit because I got tired, not because my hands were hurting and swelling..I like them even better that electric scissors..(more control, I think)..:bg: :bg: :cool:
Sew With Love
User: LeapFrog Libby
Member since: 05-01-2002
Total posts: 2022
From: bridesmom
Date: 01-24-2004, 12:36 PM (15 of 16)
Lesia, have you thought of contacting your school's home ec teacher, (do they still have those now-a-days?) That's where I got my first lessons, then my mother helped once I was done that. But it gave a real basic start to reading patterns etc. I also have osteo and rheum arthritis and I find I do little bits at a time, one day will be laying out/cutting. One day sewing a few steps, getting up lots and ironing my pieces, taking breaks, and not getting stressed out. And NOT sewing if I am stressed out, BIG mistake. Remembering to stretch out my shoulders and arms and hands every once in a while. I find it's usually fine and I also work full time outside the home. If the hands flare up, ice them, and take a day off, reading a good sewing book, or gardening book or check out this site or other sewing sites. My mother in law has lots of books and videos I can borrow as well. Good luck finding a teacher. I know that I learn best with someone teaching me, rather than reading, but I am finding now after some years of experience, that I can read it and get it. I actually just taught myself how to do a rolled hem. And this wedding dress is my first attempt at something this important and so far I am thrilled with how its coming! Hang in there! Laura
Tickled pink with my Innovis 4000D
User: bridesmom
Member since: 01-21-2004
Total posts: 2026
From: woodywoodpecker
Date: 01-26-2004, 12:50 AM (16 of 16)
Lesia, found a site that may help you out. Check out
about halfway down the page there is a section on sewing and looks to have some fairly good links.
User: woodywoodpecker
Member since: 11-07-2003
Total posts: 242
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