WembleyWonderful Tips #41: How to Start Sewing

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I know it must have sounded like a recurrent obsession lately, but with the start of our Parent Sewing & Knitting Group I am now back to my favourite hobbies!

For those who would like to sew but don’t know where to start, I thought a little guide would be useful, so here it is.

  • Where to find inspiration? There are loads of great blogs on the internet, where lovely ladies (and sometimes gentlemen) show you their makes. It’s a great source of inspiration (well, maybe too good actually, then you want to make everything!) and of tips, as very often they tell you about the problems they have encountered. My favourite sewing blogs are: Lise Tailor, La Couture de Bee, Les Création du Papillon, Le Fil à Coudre d’Anna, Dolly Clackett, Lou&Jo, By Sandra’s Hand.
  • Where to find patterns? I am not brave enough to make up my own models so always follow a pattern when sewing. In the past, the only real source of patterns where the big companies, such as Burda and McCall, and both layout and explanations were very obscure. The good news for beginners is that many independent pattern brands have emerged over the past few years, which give LOADS of explanations on how to proceed – so you really don’t need to be an expert to sew even complex clothes. My favourite pattern brands are French as they fit me better; and most of them do PDF patterns so no wait at all! So by order of preference: Citronille absolute number one for kids’ patterns, I have done so many declinations of these; and then for adults: Pauline Alice, Deer & Do, Eglantine et Zoe, République du Chiffon, Aime comme Marie; and so many more…
  • Where to take lessons? If you feel that starting on your own is impossible, there are many lessons on offer, either online or onsite. Tilly and the Buttons online workshops that sound very appropriate for beginner: “Make friends with a sewing machine”, “How to sew a skirt”; as well as London workshops such as the “Learn to Sew Weekender”. Sew Over It organises classes in their Islington and Clapham shops, for all levels of sewer from “Intro to Sewing” for absolute beginners to “Intro to Coats” for advanced sewers – I’ve been wanting to try one for a while! If you prefer to learn in French, Artesane is a recently launched website offering a variety of online classes.
  • Where to buy fabric in London? As every addicted sewer will tell you, this is the best part – we all love fabric shopping and we all buy far too much. But anyway! In London, Berwick Street and the surrounding area (close to Liberty) has loads of high-end fabric shops – a dream to wander about but limited purchasing power I’m afraid! At the other end of the spectrum Walthamstow Market (end of the Victoria line, a treck!) has loads loads loads of cheap fabric; and Goldhawk Road (near Shepherds’ Bush) has a collection of small fabric shops, very affordable too. Online the choice is virtually unlimited – my favourite UK website is Croftmill – the selection is a but random but the quality is always very good; and I buy loads of cheap Liberty from E-Bay seller Katsfabrics.
  • What equipment? It’s all very personal so difficult to give advice. For a beginner, I think a really basic sewing machine is perfectly fine – I spent all of the Christmas holiday sewing summer clothes (I know, no logic) on my daughter’s £50 Janome Sew Mini and except for buttonholes it was perfect. As for the rest of the equipment you will need: translucent paper to reproduce patterns, sewing scissors (never to be used for anything else), pins (better not with a plastic head as they melt when you iron on them), white and black thread…

So now you’re all set to go!

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