Human hands were replaced by sewing machines over a century ago and today with robotics doing the job too, industrialisation has been further up-scaled by digitisation and artificial intelligence.
In days gone, like many mothers and daughters of old, a young Joan of Arc would spin her thread as she kept another eye on her flock of sheep. Today, most designer clothing is made in Italy or Spain and when it isn’t, you can be sure to find a label that will say Made in Indonesia, China or Turkey.
In these days gone by, being a tailor was a highly respected vocation and these could be found in every town and city.
Today, with the availability of so much commercial clothing that is produced on a grand scale, learning how to sew is seen as a luxurious pastime. Having said this, learning how to sew perfectly is most certainly part of most fashion design courses in South Africa, whether that is a Bachelor’s degree, Diploma, Higher Certificate, or online course, is seen as a luxurious pastime. In fact, to gain entrance into a good fashion design course, you will need a sewing 101 background.
If you are on the hunt for sewing lessons for beginners as a therapeutic pastime or hobby, you will be joining many hobbyists who are now doing things like darkroom photography, bookbinding, knitting, and crochet. While these activities are mainly for pleasure, locally-made artisanal products of all kinds are making a popular come back with sustainability-conscious consumers.
This is why it is not surprising that local markets and boutiques have a high demand for quality, locally produced fashion. Therefore, if you are on the hunt for sewing lessons for beginners it could be the start of a rewarding and even lucrative career.
Learning anything new can be overwhelming because we literally don’t know where to start, however, there are many worthy courses that off sewing basics for beginners, where you needn’t have any background to get started.
In this article, we will look at some of the main in-person and online ways for learning how to sew. And then, who knows where your sewing 101 skills could land up taking you. At the very least you could wind up making clothing that you actually like to wear, but who’s to say whether your sewing lessons for beginners are the not start of a great entrepreneurial endeavour. And why stop there – who’s to say that your sewing lessons for beginners don’t turn you into a world-famous fashion designer?
Learning to Sew with Books and Online Tutorials
Perhaps learning how to sew is a family tradition that has been passed down to you. You may have even been fortunate enough to have been born with sewing 101 skills in your veins. However, if needlework was not part of your upbringing, it is extremely easy to turn to private tutors to get sewing basics for beginners.
There are many ways to go about this from finding weekend sewing courses to searching learning how to sew online. If you are needing to self-teach, make sure you find the best sewing tutorials and books available. Whether these cover tailoring, plain sewing, dressmaking, quilting, or embroidery, the right resources can make or break your attempts at learning how to sew.
So if you have decided that learning to sew is something you can self-teach then be encouraged that there are many resources at your fingertips especially if you are fortunate enough to have access to the world wide web!
Furthermore, it doesn’t matter whether you are an absolute beginner, intermediate or expert seamstress or tailor, there are sewing tutorials available online for every level of ability.
Teaching interfaces via the internet can vary greatly which is why you can choose a modality that best suits your unique learning style. From videos on sewing basics for beginners on YouTube to learning how to sew with your own private sewing tutor via webcam, learning how to sew via technology is not only possible, it is popular.
During your research to find sewing lessons for beginners online, make sure you check out the most popular tutorials on the internet, as even if you decide on lessons with a private tutor, these sites will clarify your goals for learning how to sew and give you ideas that will be helpful to share with your tutor.
Tip: when doing online searches for learning how to sew, try and be specific by including certain words to help refine your results. You could include words like:
- Children’s clothing
- Vintage clothing
- Home décor
- Upholstery sewing etc.
Another place that any seamstress or tailor should not ignore is Pinterest. Whether you are looking for ideas for sewing basics for beginners or whether you are a professional, it’s a platform full of amazing ideas and inspiration.
Not only that, Pinterest is the place where sewing-obsessed people have done a lot of research that they are willing to share. By placing some of the best sewing 101, or advanced sewing techniques on their boards, members of this community can certainly help you when it comes to learning to sew!
For the visual learner who benefits from numerous tutorials, there are countless sewing video blogs (vlogs) on the internet. Some that are worth checking out include:
- The Crafty Gemini
- Stop by Q2HAN
- On Your Way with Wendy
- Sew Over it
If the digital world scares you, fear not, there are enough books out there that contain fantastic tips for learning to sew. From sewing basics for beginners to how to sew a wedding dress, there is no shortage when it comes to good old books to advance your skills at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. Check out Amazon or your local library or bookstore.
Top Sewing Blogs for Learning How to Sew
As already mentioned when it comes to dressmaking blogs and vlogs there is no shortage. Depending on your project, blogs in video format tutorials can help you feel less alone while you go through trials, errors, and triumphs at your sewing machine. Whether you want to sew curtains, matric dance dresses, or cushion covers, there are great step-by-step sewing lessons for beginners on independent blogs.
At this point, let’s not consider the big commercial sites (blogs for sewing publications or sewing pattern-making companies) or paid-for e-learning platforms, but rather sewing blogs run by sewing enthusiasts.
Like all topics available on the internet, there are amateurs and there are subject matter experts. Good advice would be to follow a range of people who include varying tastes, styles, and teaching methods. From here, you can take away your own methods and preferences for learning to sew.
Remember that just because a blog has a huge following doesn’t mean it is necessarily good. Look for interesting blogs that add value by attaching notes or patterns in the form of PDF downloads. Try and find clear, concise presenters. Step-by-step, educational content that is free of waffling and too much personality makes learning online easier. Also, notice whether your blogger is willing to answer questions on learning to sew in the comments section of their blog.
There’s a trove of resources out there, once you have found the good ones, be sure to bookmark them so that you can find them again and why not share the love by recommending them on your own social media pages?
Having said all this, it’s important to remember that learning to sew is a manually-learnt, not a virtual, skill. Make sure that you are receiving good advice from your blogger on what materials you need and where to buy them. This is why it is helpful to follow bloggers who are residents in your own country and share the same terminology, metrics, and retailers that you do!
If you are not talking the same language, it could make obtaining your sewing supplies, whether that is your thimble or your sewing machine, a little frustrating.
Alternatively, you could find an online or in-person private sewing teacher.
Sewing Courses and Schools
So if you are long over the idea of sewing 101 and are ready to leave your sewing lessons for beginners behind, you may be at that exciting point where you are looking at tertiary education in clothing design.
In South Africa, there are many options for studying fashion design depending on which city you live in, but one excellent example of a fashion school that offers a range of qualifications is the Villioti Fashion Institute. Depending on your appetite for tertiary education or budget, you could choose from a Higher Certificate, Diploma, Bachelor’s Degree or even short online courses.
This is only one of many institutions to check out. Good advice would be to do as much thorough research as you can on the best sewing courses available.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design
In South Africa, it is possible to do a Bachelor’s degree in fashion design in almost every major city. This degree will usually take you three to four years depending on the institution and include an apprenticeship or work-study placement too. Courses are more comprehensive than you would imagine and most include business skills like Purchasing Management as a subject too.
Apprenticeships in Dressmaking and Tailoring
If academics and design are not your things, your best route to learning how to sew like a professional would be to find an apprenticeship at a reputable dressmaker or clothing production company. As an added benefit, apprenticeships usually have the added advantage of paying a minimum wage while you learn your craft.
Typical trades offered through apprenticeship include:
- Textile operative
- Sewing machinist
- Leathercraft worker
- Footwear manufacturing operative
- Pattern cutter
When in doubt, check it out.
If you are not convinced that a career in clothing design or tailoring is for you, one of the best uses of your time would be to request an internship at a clothing production outlet during your holidays. This is how you will get to see real professionals at work and possibly even learn new sewing or pattern-making techniques to inspire you.
Free Sewing Patterns Online
Just about everyone has those garments that they see or have that they want to reproduce. This, of course, is entirely possible if you have the pattern to do so. The most talented clothing designers can make patterns from a picture or even a garment, but this is a specialty that is usually beyond the scope of a part-time seamstress.
Luckily, the internet is jam-packed with free sewing patterns. These are usually organised according to gender, age, clothing type, and style. Using a sewing pattern will mean that at some point you will need to physically manipulate it in order to cut your fabric and then sew it together using your machine.
When you look at it that way, it doesn’t make sense that a pattern, which would usually be sold in a haberdashery or sewing magazine could be free. However, with the advent of technology, these days you can download sewing patterns in PDF or JPEG files with just a few clicks. After that, an ordinary printer is usually sufficient to build your pattern into a physical form. The ability to do this is one of the best ways to practise your sewing basics for beginners without having to invest in expensive fabric or patterns.
So if you are looking for sewing 101 resources, there is absolutely no shortage. It all depends on your current level of interest and ability. Also, remember that even if you have a private sewing tutor like those found on Superprof, using free online resources in between your lessons is going to fast-track your progress and help you to make your time with your tutor even more beneficial.
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