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sharing the sewing bug
helping a friend with her first dress
rmusic1
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rmusic1
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UNITED KINGDOM
Member since 7/3/10
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Date: 9/30/13 5:28 PM

this weekend I finally got to see a friend I havent seen in ages (she lives over 5 hours travel away and has a young baby). One of the things we planned to do was to make a dress together for her.

Rewind the clock several months, I had everything bought, cut out (I did a toile of the bodice and posted it to her) and was ready to sew. Unfortunately due to various obstacles the visit didnt get arranged until now.

I've never helped someone else sew from near enough complete beginner status (she's sewn a pillow cover so far). The experience did help me realise all that I've learned though.

Once her baby was asleep we worked from 8-11, in which time we managed to get pretty much the whole dress sewn up, bar the zip, and about half the lining. Due to time constraints I did do some of the trickier bits (bust darts etc) but she's had a crash course in stay stitching, darts, pressing, seam allowances, stitch length and sewing machine functions.

It also made me really appreciate my machine. Her's is a basic hobby model (almost child size) and it did bounce a bit! nothing wrong with it - but if you have one of these and are thinking is it worth upgrading - yes it is!!!

I think the best bit of the evening for me was seeing her try it on and a) it fit (a bit of a worry for me as she is more busty than me and I havent modified for that before) despite me working out stuff measurement wise over the phone and b) she really liked it.

She did say she had no idea it took so much time to sew. I hope I've helped inspire her - she hasn't got a zipper foot so she's going to have to do that by hand or on someone else's machine.

So, to those who are new to sewing, you too may be able to share your new experience one day, and to those who have already gained it - it's really nice to share!

p.s I gave her a introductory sewing book as a birthday present to help when I'm not there so she's not left without any references

dinag
dinag
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Date: 10/1/13 3:52 AM

Like your friend, I am on my first sewing project as well. I haven't even made a pillow coverYou have inspired me to find a sewing buddy! Do you have any photos of the dress so far? I'd love to see a successful first project for further inspiration!!

SandiMacD
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SandiMacD  Friend of PR
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Date: 10/1/13 5:46 AM

Like you, it was an eye opener to see things from a beginners eye.

Over the years my daughter and grandson watched me enjoy sewing and helped out. They cut, pinned, looked over directions when I could not make sense of someting, helped thread needles, layout patterns, pressed, shopped for notions, etc.

I think of sewing as EASY! Its relaxing to sit down and sew. Its satisfying when done.

And then I moved. This summer when my grandson visited and we did a pillowcase project the neighbor kids visiting also wanted to to make them- and one neighbor adult.
Now I love teaching but there were nightmarish aspects to this adventure.

The first was time. Things I took for granted took time to teach- pull out pins, don't sew over them, put them in a cushion, don't let them roll off the table, change the bobbin when you change the thread color, look at what color is on the machine before you start and make sure it matches, etc.

The second was How Much there was to learn, how to cut fabric, why fabric cutters are not used for anything else, how to pin fabric, how to manage fabric control at the machine and not stick yourself with pins, how to find the straight grain and why that is important to the cutting layout, etc.

I quickly learned the value of a pre-cut kit!!!

What I really began to understand was that it takes a great deal of time and effort to learn to sew. With kids growing up around sewing- well the learning is so continuos it is often barely perceptible- and the progress of helping out each time is rewarded with the finished item. They wanted to help out again and again until one day they brought their very own first project to me and received high praises.

Not so with beginners thrown head first into sewing an item that inspires them. They are faced with a very foreign series of actions to master before they get to the needle and thread stage. And they they must learn to operate a machine that may or may not be capable of sewing the item to completion.

Last June, I taught a grown women to thread a needle and sew on a button. That took 10 min instead of 2 and I had to remain and watch, not work on something else. I never realized until then how I needed to show her to aim the needle into the button holes and avoiding sticking her finger with it! I though that was common sense- no, its a teachable skill.

Beginner sewers truly are awe inspiring. The deserve our respect and support. I will be one of the first to join a Sewing Buddy movement. What an awesome idea!

It was so wonderful that you were able to go to her home and be a mentor.

------
sewing brings joy and meaning to my life...

dinag
dinag
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Date: 10/1/13 5:59 AM

That's exactly what I am starting to realize- the actual sit own sewing machine time is just a drop in the bucket combined with all the other steps that add up along the way.

It's like a lot of things that take expertise, what people on the outside see, think, and concentrate on is not what actually goes on (or at least far from all that goes on) with those on the inside.

Did you say there is such a thing as a pre-cut kit? What is that, because I am going to cut fabric soon for my very first muslin (a knit t shirt) and I am a bit nervous about it.

AnneM
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AnneM  Friend of PR
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In reply to dinag <<


Date: 10/1/13 6:18 AM

Quote: dinag
... I am going to cut fabric soon for my very first muslin (a knit t shirt) and I am a bit nervous about it.

That's the same thing I was most nervous about when I first started sewing. It seems so final, cutting the fabric. I still feel that way a little, but not nearly as much. It's just fabric. There is more available where that came from. Even if not that exact fabric, there are other great fabrics that you will find.

------
With a great wardrobe that's still in the flat-fabric stage.

rmusic1
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rmusic1
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Date: 10/2/13 5:43 PM

in answer to some of the previous questions: no photos just yet, my friend has to finish the lining and is due to move house shortly so is working flat out on that.

The pillow case (to be fair it was v shaped) didnt work out for her so put her off. There are so many little things I realised I just do now and wanted to share. I must be a bit bewildering for a newcomer.

For example when I was asking her to press she reverting to ironing and I had to explain the difference.

I think there are a few things beginners come across and get unnerved by. I certainly remember feeling daunted reading someone's review of a complicated dress where they said they'd made it in "one afternoon". Even now I am nowhere near that quick.

Fabric doesn't bite when it comes to cutting out. It can be naughty, slip and slide and have annoying qualities like being off grain. My advice, buy user friendly good quality fabric (in my experience natural fibres work best). The type I got for my friend was perfect. Stretch cotton needlecord corduroy. Lovely and easy to sew, and forgiving for any minor fitting errors.

Plus the measure twice cut once rule should always be adhered to. Its saved me many a time. It is something I find frustrating, as its seems to take forever, but worth it for the finished project.

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