Monday, November 26, 2012

Purchasing a pattern

You can shop for a patterns online, or by going to a fabric store and finding the tables with the pattern catalogs and browsing for what you want. Patterns will have a number in the upper-right corner so that you can look them up, however, may patterns will have some indication if they are a Misses or Plus Size pattern (for example, Misses might have an "A" at the end, whereas Plus Sizes will have a "B" at the end) The pattern should clearly label its sizes on the front under the pattern number.

Getting your measurements
You're going to need to know your measurements going in. There's this handy guide to taking your body measurements, you'll want to have these written down somewhere before you go shopping, specifically your chest/bust, waist, and hip measurements, and then use the sizing chart on the back of the pattern to determine what version you need to look up.

If you're like me, you probably don't look like the model on the right, and you might find that your measurements don't quite line up right--your chest/bust line might be in one size, your waist in another, and then your hips in a third. For a simple sleeveless tunic, you basically want to size to either your chest or your waist, and then go with the larger size (If your chest is a L and your waist is a M, go with the L sizing). This isn't really a hard and fast rule, different patterns might require different allowances, and later on I hope to get into adjusting a pattern to fit your particular physique.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Basic sewing room setup

If you are setting up for a sewing project, you will want to have three discrete "stations" set up if possible:

  1. Your sewing machine station. If you are sewing at long table (like a dining room table), make sure your sewing machine is set off to the right of the table, so that you can have the excess fabric laying on the table instead of dangling off the side, which will pull at your seams.
  2. Your ironing station. Ironing board and iron. You will use this even more than the sewing machine, so put it in pleasant spot. I put mine in the sunroom.
  3. Your cutting and assembling station. This is the "big, flat area" mentioned in the previous post. You  definitely need this for cutting-out, but if space is at a premium, you might be able to use some of your sewing machine station and/or ironing station for laying out and assembling after you've cut out your fabric.

Sewing: Basic Equipment

Sewing does require an investment of both time and money. Before you start on your first sewing project, you will want to make sure you have the following items:

Obligatory Mission Statement Post

My mom was always an amazing seamstress. Not by trade, but just by experience. She sewed my sister's wedding dress. And we're not talking some little slip-dress with a few rhinestones sewed onto the neckline. And then, because she was a maniac (and had a little time while she recovered from surgery), she also made all of the bridesmaid's dresses:

By special requests, the DJ did play The Jetsons Theme for the Bridesmaids.
For me, it's not that I've NEVER sewn--but my sewing was mostly relegated to small tasks: curtains, mostly. Sewing a curtain isn't a difficult thing, it just takes a little time and patience. Straight lines are easy to sew -- it's the curves that get you.

In the last few years, depressed at how hard it was to find clothes that fit properly, I decided I wanted to learn to sew for myself. Sewing with my mom is also a great way for us to get along when we spend time together, because she's a teacher and she's comfortable in a teaching role.

I'm still pretty new to sewing as an investment, but I'm getting a lot better at it, more confident, and I still remember all of the things that I had to "learn," so I thought... why not start a blog about learning to sew. I can't be the only person out there who wants to learn to do this, and maybe not everyone has someone like my mom as a resource.

The point of this blog is going to be about learning to sew clothing, although I might do a few "household" projects like pillow covers and, yes, curtains. I don't expect I will be doing a lot of quilting or other crafts, but who knows. While I'm now getting comfortable with my technique, I am still learning and there may be advanced techniques that I am not yet ready to turn around and instruct on. I will post photos and videos as a tutorial, and show off my work. I won't take my readers for granted--every stitch and technique will be described (and linked). I'm not designing my clothes, I am not Project Runway material. I'll be using patterns by companies like SimplicityBurdaMcCalls, and Butterick, and Vogue. Every project will include some new technique or problem to solve that I will explain, and with lots of practice and experience, I hope to be able to hold my own. I doubt I'll ever be able to make a dress like my sister had for her wedding, but maybe I'll make some crazy Halloween costumes in the future. But if I can have good-looking, well-made clothes that fit right, I'll be happy enough.