Pattern companies have up to date styles of clothing, costumes and other patterns that you can choose from. The pattern envelope will also have information the amount of fabric and notions needed and much more.
Patterns labelled 'very easy', 'easy' are good for beginners. Look for a pattern that has a few pieces in it like a skirt, pants and top. This gives you a variety of options to start with. Multi-size patterns enable you to alter or grade the pattern to fit you best, as many people may be different sizes in the bust and hips.
Important Note: Choose a pattern based on your measurements not the dress size you usually buy. Do not be alarmed! Sizing in patterns and manufactured clothing is very different. The style you choose will also impact on sizing, no more so than in a fitted pattern as there is much less 'ease'*.
There are only two pattern companies I would avoid as a beginner. The `Burda' pattern company assumes you have a certain level of dressmaking expertise and uses a different pattern marking system and even the 'very easy' Vogue patterns, although beautiful, can be time consuming and a little complicated.
* 'Ease' is the difference between your body measurements and the finished garment measurements.
There is a wonderful array useful haberdashery designed to make your sewing more accurate, simpler and easier. Investment in good quality haberdashery is worth the initial expense. Cheap pins can damage your fabrics and inappropriate scissors will make it difficult to cut your fabric. You will find yourself adding to the following list of essentials as your sewing basket grows to accommodate all sorts of time saving devices.
Good Fabric scissors
Variety of Machine Needles
Hand sewing needles
Machine Sewing Cotton - Good quality e.g. Gutermann, Mettler etc.
Dressmakers Pins (good quality with glass heads)
Tailors chalk and or marking pens
Dressmakers carbon and tracing wheel
Variety of sizes of safety pins
Pressing cloth (sometimes called `Rajah cloth')
Pen, notebook, ruler
A wide variety of Haberdashery, Patterns, Fabrics, Machines and Bags available for sale or order at competitive prices.
Please label all your equipment and haberdashery items before coming to class.
There are so many fabrics available it is easy to be seduced by these shiny, silky and colourful lengths of cloth. (I know, you should see my stash!) However, there are a few guidelines that it might be useful to follow.
For beginners avoid chiffons, silks, jersey stretches, satin or slippery, super stretchy fabrics. Good fabrics to start with are:
Cottons, denims, twills, homespun, quilting cottons
Suiting's, even stretch suiting's are fine
Stable knits, T shirting, rugby knit, one way stretch
Fleecy (track suit fabric etc).
You will learn as you work with different fabrics and can discover and expand your knowledge, how to handle them and techniques to sew them.
If you are working off a pattern, it will state recommended fabrics and the amount of fabric you will need. Ask an assistant in a fabric store to point out some of the options available. Don't forget to pick up the sewing cotton to match and notions*
*Notions are Zips, buttons, Interfacings, trims etc that the pattern may stipulate.
Top Tip: Wash your fabric before cutting out to allow for shrinkage and to check for colour fastness. Do not wash fabrics marked wool, silk or Dry clean only.
Stretch sewing is rewarding and gives quick results. Although a regular machine can sew most stretch fabrics, an Overlocker provides faster and better results due to its inbuilt stretch stitch capabilities. Overlocked seams are also strong and stable and provide a professional looking finish.
Sewing most stretch fabric is not difficult and is a good place to start for beginners as the fabric does not unravel and is very easy to fit.
Some of the new 'jersey' and 'super stretch' fabrics can be problematic, requiring special techniques and equipment, so start with a stable knit or interlock.
Stretch sewing techniques can be covered in the General Sewing Classes although from time to time there will be special workshops on stretch sewing techniques. Please check website for dates.