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Class Reviews > Learn to Sew Clothes -- Boston Center for Adult Education

Massachusetts, UNITED STATES
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Posted by: CMitchell

About CMitchell
Member since: 3/27/04
Reviews: 3 (classes: 2)
Skill level:Beginner
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Posted on: 9/17/04 1:04 PM
Rating: star
Review Rating: Very Helpful by 8 people   
Web site/URL: photo
Here's the course description: Be the first on your block to sport the latest fashions or create unique pieces of your own! Cover reading and using garment patterns, sewing terms, cutting, assembling, and fitting. Most class time is spent altering patterns, sewing, and discussing individual sewing problems. Supply costs are additional and will vary depending on your project and fabric selection. Please bring a pattern of your choice by "Very Easy Vogue," "Burda," or "New Look" to the first class. When choosing a pattern prior to class, please consider a pattern that has three sizes in one, for easier adjustments. Access to a sewing machine outside of class is necessary to complete your project.

This was a 7-week (1.5 hours per week) beginners course taught by Eleanor Mason. Ms. Mason is a knowledgeable and helpful seamstress who has a very easy-going style. While most students were true beginners, some had prior sewing experience (but perhaps with not-so-good techniques). All of us brought different patterns to the first class.

The class fell short because it didn't have any organization. I would have preferred that the class began with real instructions and demonstrations on various cutting, alteration, and sewing techniques and followed by individual student help clinics. Instead, the teacher went around the room to helped whoever got her attention; she might spent disproportionately more time with one student than another. Granted, I did learn by following her around the room to see what she taught to other students. However, if all I did was to follow her, I wouldn't learn all the techniques I need for my own project. I was the only one who bought a pants pattern.

I think it would have been much better if all of us had the same pattern (or at least, all tops, skirts, dresses, or pants) and the teacher went over alteration (for common problem spots) and basic sewing techniques (e.g. zippers, darts, seam finishes). It was so disorganized, that many students in the last session were still learning how to cut the fabric & pattern. None of us learned any sewing techniques because we ran out of time and there wasnít any in-class instruction or demonstration. I was the only student who had any part of the outfit sewn (albeit poorly, since I still havenít finished that pair of pants because I have no idea how to fix it. It wasnít cut properly).

I think this "studio" format works for intermediate level sewers who want to drop in and get help on a particular project or problem spot. Beginners definitely need more lectures and organized lessons.

p.s. In retrospect, I also disagreed with some of Ms. Mason' techniques. For example, she measured each of us with our thick winter outfits (me with my work blazer) on and advocated that we could fit/adjust fabric before final sewing. That's probably too much to ask of beginners; I personally would rather have the right measurements (and learn about ease) from the beginning and cut the fabric properly the first time. She measured me to be a size 14/16. With Nancy Zieman's method (and after sewing a couple of projects), I know I am a size 8/10. Even using the pattern envelope, I would have determined myself to be a 10/12. Another boo boo I noted is how she set up the classroom iron for ironing the patterns (and later the fabric). She filled up the classroom iron to contain water and set it on steam setting. Water dripped and steam came out on my pattern pieces and warped them in a major way. Iím not saying that I didnít learn useful techniques from Ms. Mason (such as how to layout and cut straight on grain). But, itís such a mix bag that I canít recommend people spending $148 for the class, unless you live in the city and this is the only option you have. You do learn some techniques, just not enough to complete your first project properly.

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bella tutu said... (10/30/08 11:18 PM) Reply
wow, this was a great review. thanks for being so honest...I teach beginning sewing and welcome my prior students back to work on more sophisticated projects. This was great feed back to read and are things I always watch out for, and so glad I have !!!
ryansmumAria said... (8/22/07 10:53 AM) Reply
Thank you for your review. I am particularly interested in your observations as I am a teacher, as well. You have confirmed what how I believe a class should be run. The studio format or as I call it a FREE-FOR-All, is better suited for intermediate students, whereas a structured setting is what beginners need.
barbara mcintyre said... (5/2/05 7:13 PM) Reply
Where do Igo to learn to sew pants that fit me I live in Md. Capitol Hts thank you very much.
Annika said... (10/26/04 10:14 AM) Reply
It sounds like the teacher truly didn't know how to organize a class - I would complain to the school organizers.
Gus2 said... (10/1/04 8:23 PM) Reply
I have taken quite a few classes at Fabric Place in Framingham. I particularly love the Minott Pattern adjustment class but they have basic techniques classes as well. Classes are small and all questions answered.
Ruth C said... (9/22/04 0:30 AM) Reply
Your experience sounds like a horrible waste of money. I once took a Palmer Pletsch fitting class (very good) that was in the same room as their beginning sewing class and I was very impressed by their methods in that class. They started sewing and apron, then pjs and a robe--all the while learning good techniques. I see that the patterns they used are available to the public at this web site "" I would really recommend them.
PhyllisC said... (9/20/04 9:40 AM) Reply
Marilyn - that's interesting..when my mother taught sewing, she also had students make Pj's as their first project for the same reasons.
MarilynB said... (9/18/04 8:33 AM) Reply
When I used to teach beginning sewing, I would have my students make either a skirt or pajamas. I found that pajamas are simple and offer a lot of beginner techniques with minimal fitting. Also, students were more likely to wear their pajamas no matter how they came out. Years ago I took my first pattern drafting course at the Boston Center for Adult Ed. My teacher also taught drafting and draping at the School of Fashion Design on Newbury Street. She was quite inspirational. I'm sorry your experience wasn't as rewarding. Perhaps you should give some input to the BCAE.
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