29 November 2011

How to choose a sewing class

Sewing is a bit like cooking, there are some basic skills you'll need to learn. Jumping into a class making for example a tailored garment is like making a souffle when you've never even scrambled an egg.

Before looking for a class, decide what you want from your sewing. If you only want to do dazzling embroidery, then a class on sewing machines is probably a waste of time and money. However if you think you'd like to do dazzling embroidery by hand and then turn your creation into a usable object then learning how to get to grips with the sewing machine could be just the ticket.

If you're looking to become the next Stella Macartney, then you should think about investing a good chunk of time and money on a long course. If your end point is to be a Fashion or Costume  designer then you'll need a broad skills base that you just can't pick up at a weekend workshop. However if you're looking to discover a new hobby, or fancy learning to sew just for sheer pleasure, then don't sign up for long extended courses as there are lots of fabulous short workshops out there which will give you the start you need. Many of these classes result in a finished project by the end of the class, giving you a real confidence boost.

Be honest with yourself about how skilled you currently are. Most classes have a list of Pre-requisite skills.  If you've tinkered with a sewing machine but never actually made anything, then signing up for an advanced class will leave you feeling left behind and out of your depth and may well put you off sewing. So if you've only attended one class on how to use a sewing machine, then do have a good practise before moving onto an intermediate class, you'll get much more from the intermediate session when you're ready.

Choose where and how you want to study carefully. Attending a night school programme is a really cost effective way to learn. They are run with large groups, and you won't get masses of individual attention. They allow you to learn slowly however, with classes being a couple of hours each week for about 10 weeks. This gives you a lot of opportunity to practise in between sessions. If you want a more intensive quick start to learning to sew, then short private workshops may suit you better. These are more expensive but are usually stand alone workshops, or short programmes over a couple of weeks rather than a term. Most private workshops have smaller groups, giving you more personal attention from the tutor.
Research the venue you're interested in attending. If the venue is a long way from where you live or work, then you may not want the extra travel. There are lots of choices out there, and you may well find one just around the corner. Decide if the venue offers what you're really looking for. For example if you're interested in upcycling and re-purposing clothes then choose a venue that is renowned for those classes. You Most venues will give you information about your tutor too, so if you see a tutor that's interested in the things you like, they are likely to be s good fit.
A shared passion is a great way to make friends too, so if you're hoping to make new friends then pick a class and venue that really suits you.

Learning to sew will take time, so be realistic about what you'll get from your classes. In one afternoon, you'll never get that wedding dress made from scratch! Expect to make some mistakes, unpicking is part of sewing, and at some point you'll have to do it!

There's never been so much choice of sewing classes as there is right now. Whatever you want to sew for, there will be a class out there for you. 
Happy hunting, and happy stitching

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