Monday, November 21, 2011

How Did You Learn to Sew Clothes?

When I went back to my sewing club recently, one of the club members asked me this question. It got me thinking about the whole issue of how the busy modern woman learns to sew these days. Lots of my work colleagues would like to learn as they have somehow missed out on learning when they were kids. Careers seem to have taken precedence over learning to sew these days. I am glad when I see school aged kids in Spotlight buying fabric and notions for a garment that they have to make for their sewing class at school. When I was at school, women's liberation had truly taken hold, and it was not an important subject. Nevertheless, I grew up in the country, and lots of country women sewed, and passed this skill down to their daughters.

I started sewing on a sewing machine when I was about 8 or 10 years old. I cannot remember my Mum teaching me how to sew, rather it was read the guide sheet, and work it out from there. Ah, the guide sheet! What have they done to the instructions that come with the modern patterns? The illustrations are so generic, not every step is illustrated, and the instructions ask you to jump back and forwards depending on what view you are making up. Below is a snippet from an instruction sheet going back to 1989 (yes, I am a hoarder!). Look how they illustrate each view, and even show you that you should iron down the flap on the pocket. These days, this kind of instruction is only available on the learn to sew patterns targeted towards the beginner. But what if the beginner doesn't want to sew that particular design? Then they are faced with the confusion of the modern day cryptic instructions. I have been sewing for a long time, and I scratch my head in confusion sometimes when reading these instructions. One positive is that these cryptic instructions and the lack of sewing instruction at home have created a lot of business opportunities for people wishing to teach others how to sew.

Pattern instructions circa 1989
These days, I have tried to go a step further with my garment making, and have purchased some how to books over the last couple of years. I am trying to improve my sewing techniques and the fit of my garments, and I realise that while I know a lot, there is still a lot more to learn. I like the challenge of learning more, and for me, sewing some tops in satin recently has proved a challenge.

Talking of satin, my green watercolour fabric top is nearly done. I am just mulling over the sleeve length, and will most likely finish it next weekend. I need a new top for a work function in a couple of weeks time, so it should do the job.

Oooh, I feel much better after getting on my soap box!

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