Sewing Circle: Just starting out...

On Sewing Circle, I answer readers' sewing questions, and you all chime in and add your perspectives!  It is so valuable to hear the views of many other sewists of varying levels, since we all have different experiences.

This time...
I got a message from a reader the other day, Carrie, who found my blog on Facebook.  She's a beginning sewist, wanting to learn more about dressmaking, and was hoping I could give some advice!

I always love when people decide to learn to sew, and am so excited and impressed when they go for it.  Of course there's a world of knowledge to pass on, but Carrie was wondering specifically about:

Recommendations for:
  • Books?
  • Websites?
  • Suppliers?
  • Online classes?
So, what suggestions do you all have for a new sewist?  It has been a while since I perused the sewing books section at Powell's, and I don't have much time to read the great sewing blogs these days, so I'm not up on who all is doing Sewing 101's and such.  What things come to mind to all of you??

19 comments

  1. Sew Mama Sew has great tutorials for all kinds of sewing ideas. They bring in great experts and are always giving something away. When I got back in to sewing, it's one of the first sites I found and I'm still a loyal follower.

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  2. I really like Vogue Sewing, especially if you're having trouble interpreting a commercial pattern (unless that pattern is a Vogue pattern, in which case you'll find the exact same directions). I also have another book, The Dressmaker's Technique Bible that goes over a lot of the same things as the Vogue book, but in different language.

    Really, any book with lots of pictures will do you good.

    And if you're making clothing and having difficulty with fit, Pattern Fitting with Confidence by Nancy Zieman is good, though not exactly a "beginner" resource.

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  3. First and foremost, BURDASTYLE.
    That place is an untamed forest of helpful information.

    My favorite book is the Dressmaker's Technique Bible by Lorna Knight (Krause Publications). It's got how-tos for just about everything, and has a binding that sits FLAT when you've got it out on the sewing table.

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  4. I completely love the 'Built By Wendy' books. They are so inspiring & really encourage your creative side as well as giving you amazing basic skills :-)

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  5. Both my sister and I learned sewing from the Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp (S.E.W.) and it came with some really easy, cute clothing patterns to get started. Seriously good deal! And there's a book called The Sewing Book by Alison smith that's huge and minutely covers anything you might get stumped by like zips, collars, pockets, trousers, Roman blinds, you think of it, there's an instruction page about it. It's been a really good resource for me! And Burda has a great website, too.

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  6. For patternmaking, I highly recommend Design-it-yourself clothes : : patternmaking simplified by Cal Patch.
    And for beginner's projects, Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross is wonderful.
    A great blog with lots of technique tutorials is ikatbag, and I also like M is for Make, and the Purl Bee.

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  7. I wrote a couple of posts on learning to sew at the beginning of the year - not the practical how to use the machine stuff, more like tips on what you need to get started. In case this is useful:
    http://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2011/01/learning-to-sew.html
    http://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2011/01/learning-to-sew-part-2.html
    I love it when I hear about people who want to get into sewing!

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  8. I'm just starting to sew, too! I have pieced together quilts with my grandmother and worked on a few project here and there, but never got serious until recently. I just purchased Little Green Dress, The New Handmade and Sew Retro from Barnes and Noble with a gift card we got for our wedding. I can't wait to get started!!

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  10. This past weekend my mom gave me her old sewing machine. I'm so excited! I have been reading your blog for a little bit. I'm not sure how I found you, but I also would like some tips on where to get started. I'm thinking I'd like to try a pillow and use the ruffle techniques you posted about or even curtains, but eventually I'd love to make something to wear. Thanks so much! Love your tips, tutorials, and inspiration. I also wanted to add a question about sewing with patterns for skirts, dresses, shirts, pants, etc. What steps do you take or recommend to get the adjust the pattern to your size?

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  11. I LOVE "Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing"(http://www.blogforbettersewing.com/) - she has a huge amount helpful information-go threw her prior "sew-alongs" posts...
    "Veronica Darling" (http://veronicadarling.blogspot.com/) - she sews a lot of simple dresses-not much for tutorials - but a super cute sewing blog for inspiration...
    PatternMaker7 - I've recently tried the free version here (http://www.patternmakerusa.com/index.html) - the free version allows you to make a custom bodice sloper by imputing your own measurements and then printing the pattern - (see Gertie for the importance of a sloper :)
    the free program also includes a pattern for pants (great for cute pj pants) and collars... "Leena's" (http://www.leenas.com/index.html) is a site dedicated to the PatternMaker software with tutorials etc.
    Fabric Shops online...
    http://www.fashionfabricsclub.com/
    http://www.fabric.com/Index.aspx
    https://www.buyfabrics.com/default.aspx
    http://www.trimfabric.com/index.html

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  12. Thanks so much for this post! I recently purchased a new machine and I am excited and a little scared to get started although I imagine myself designing my own dress creations someday-we will see what happens.

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  13. Hi, I am an intermediate sewist. I say intermediate because I know how to sew...but clothes are a little overwhelming right now. I am going to try and make my first easy dress in the next week or so.

    Online: Burdastyle (has everything), grosgrainfabulous.blogspot.com (Kathleen has video tutorials that I find very helpful; sewaholic.net (Tashia is inspiring and has started a sewdictionary); colettepatterns.com/blog (if you sign up for her newsletter, you get "snippets" that are helpful; plus she had a post on tools that I really like)

    Books: I just picked up "Sew Everything Workshop" by Diana Rupp. I saw this book referenced in another book. It has a little bit of everything. I like Amy Karol's books as well. They are fun and easy to understand.

    Suppliers: I find a lot of fabric at thrift stores. But I have ordered from fabric.com, ebay and I will probably hit etsy pretty soon. I have a local fabric warehouse that is really reasonable. And, I like my local fabric shop because it is cute.

    I hope this helps!

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  14. I can't believe that no one has suggested the library! Whenever I come to a problem in sewing, or a new idea of something to try it's the first place I go, STILL and I've been at it for four years now. You can try every book and see which one speaks to you and your sewing style before you buy something that you may not use/like.

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  15. When in doubt, youtube. Although I've taken formal sewing classes, there's nothing like a good youtube video to show you how to do a technique. They usually feature close-ups of the technique and you can pause and rewind them!

    www.aweekfromthursday.wordpress.com

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  16. I consider myself somewhere between "just starting out" and "established in the art" with sewing. For books, I would suggest any of the "Sew What books." I have "Sew What: Skirts," and I LOVE it. It taught me alot about skirt construction and teaches you how to make and design without patters.

    For Websites:
    BURDASTYLE!!!
    Adventures in Dressmaking (very first blog I followed after I started sewing!)
    Grosgrain (grosgrainfabulous.blogspot.com)

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  17. I have made this suggestion to friends and my daughters... Find a good teacher at a sew or quilt shop! I found one after I had learned the basics in school but with this teacher's help i learned tips and reasons for doing things a certain way. I know it sounds strange but being able to ask questions and learn the reasons why this are done has enabled me to be more creative n my sewing!! Good luck!

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  18. I just got my very first sewing machine and am SO excited and want to make EVERYTHING! :) Your blog has been added to my roster of must follows. Thanks!

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