Saturday, May 23, 2009

Getting Better

"Would you by chance share where you have found answers to questions you may of had besides going to maybe your blog readers?"

Jean asked this question a couple of posts back....

Let me start out by saying that I learned to sew when I was 11 and I never stopped...through high school, college, during my first jobs, back to school, through marriage and pregnancies...I never stopped alot of my knowledge is first-hand and through experience. The second place that I gained most of my knowledge was through books. I have a pretty extensive collection that I've been amassing for decades...starting with the Singer Sewing Library.

The internet started to affect my sewing about a dozen years ago when I first stumbled onto the sewing board, Sewing World that eventually evolved into Stitchers Guild...and there were several email sewing lists that I was on from Quiltropolis...which eventually led me to join The Sewing Circle which was managed by Julie Ann.

I made some great friendships on this internet sewing list...discovered JoMars through them...and fabric shopping with friends. Met Colleen Jones (who first taught me about Full Bust Adjustments - FBA)...things that took my sewing to another level.

That's a quick review of my background...what would I recommend today? Patternreview and Stitcher's Guild are sewing boards that have an awesome amount of information and people willing to answer questions any time of the day or night. Podcasts and blogs of some amazing sewists like: Ann, Marji, MaryBeth, Summerset, The Sewing Divas, Phyllis ~ these women have sewing chops and the ability to teach you how to do whatever.

And books and videos...I can't stress enough how far a great sewing library can take you and teach you. My top 10 sewing books are located to the right here and I know that EricaB has written a post on the books she loves.

But most willing to learn! Be inquisitive...don't settle...strive to go higher, do better, accept the challenges and the failures and learn from them. Finally...the old saw, "Practice makes perfect!" is so true. If you truly love this craft, you would want to indulge and wallow in learn it to the best of your ability!

Hopefully, all that the internet offers, as well as, the various bloggers encourage you everyday to spend some time with the craft that we all love to do - SEW!!!!


  1. Thank you so much for this!! Lately I have heard so many women say things like "I bought a machine, got frustrated and its sat in a closet gathering dust for the past three years"...and I truly believe that those same women could share the pure joy that I get from sewing, if only they were a bit more persistent and/or had someone to guide them...I am self taught and have only been sewing for less than a year...but grew up surrounded by talented seamstresses and I do refer to books and the internet when I need help! Try Try Again has become my motto!

  2. I agree.I'm self taught mainly .You just have to go ahead and try.I'm not a perfect sewer but i've made stuff thats wearable and non sewers think are amazing LOL.We crafters are tough on ourselves i think.

  3. I have sewn for a long time - but until the last year my progress remained quite elementary. I had no one to teach me, and I have a hard time learning from books. The books help me if I already have some basic understanding of what I am doing - but for new skills, I only get confused. I recently took the Sewing 101-104 series on Pattern Review and found that very helpful -you can talk and dialogue with an instructor - and send pictures back and forth. After that beginner's series, I realized that I knew virtually nothing about interfacing - so I just took that on-line class. I am learnig so much, I even amaze myself!

    And what started me moving to the next levels has been these blogs. I think one of the biggest lessons I have learned from Carolyn, Summerset, and others is - patience. Work through the tough parts and don't be afraid to pick something apart and do it over again. This has been an amazing year of sewing for me- and I thank you, Carolyn, among others for the inspiriation and helps you have given to so many, so freely!

  4. Um, how'd I make that list? Thank you, Carolyn. I hold the others you mentioned in high esteem for their experience and ability to communicate clearly.

    I am mainly self-taught too, (except for that one online class with Kenneth King!). Most of what I know is from 25 years of sewing experience and finding out what *doesn't* work. That said, even when I answer questions on my blog I double check my gut reaction answers by doing some research in my library, just to make sure I'm not crazy or that I haven't missed something.

  5. Carolyn I too have found that a sewing library is invaluable. My Singer Sewing Reference Library Has saved me more headaches than I can imagine. My library is not as vast as yours but should I need something I don't have, maybe I'll just "hit you up" for yours...on loan of course.

  6. Those are all sewing books?? Now I have something to aspire to :)

  7. This was a great post. I am self-taught and I owned a very extensive sewing
    library. My library has helped me out so many times. Another wonderful resource are the TV shows on public television such as America Sews and Sewing with Nancy.

  8. Shoot, my Ma was a grad of the same school as Geoffrey Beene so I have never known any different. Beyond books, PatternReview instructors are fab. Classic instructors are irreplaceable if you can do that.

    Fellowship, like what Carolyn does here, is the lifeline. As she says learn it, practice it, and my motto is I'll try anything at least 15 times.

  9. You are amazing. Thank you so much for this post. I don't have that many books in my sewing collection, but I do aspire. I am learning that the internet is my best friend, and it has helped me a lot with learning techniques I did not know. I also have to add that blog land is a wonderful place filled with awesome people like you. I'm glad I found it. It's renewed me in ways I can't describe. I love crafting.

  10. Books are wonderful things. I don't know what I'd do without my sewing library. Never thinking that you can't do something is pretty useful in learning to sew, that and perseverance. There really aren't any shortcuts to becoming a better sewer.

  11. That is one impressive collection of sewing books! I have purchased several after your review of them. Keep the reviews coming.

  12. I love sewing and needlework books. At one point, however, I found I was reading more than doing. I had to force myself to put the book down and jump in. And for a while I did, with gusto!
    Lately I find I am using blogs the same way I used to use books. Blogs are slightly more enticing in that personalities are added to the mix as well as actually being able to contribute to a discussion rather that just reading.
    And now, I am off to create something!

  13. The Sewing Circle was an amazing place to learn and develop my sewing skills. I loved that we didn't just focus on sewing. It is because of the support of the women on The Circle that I was able to get through grad school and survive my father's death.

    If I may, I recently figured out how to resurrect The Sewing Circle in an online discussion forum format. I just opened it up a little over a week ago. If you are interested in being part of this community, also (because Carolyn has a GREAT community going on here and I don't want to take away from her hard work), you can join us at

    When Mary and I created The Sewing Circle in the early 90's, I was only doing easy and beginner level stuff (even though I had been sewing for 20 years). With the help of Carolyn and the other ladies, I had the courage to tackle more difficult projects because I knew there would always be someone there to help me sort things out. If it weren't for Carolyn, I wouldn't have thought of creating the Grandma's Sewing Cabinet podcast.

    I guess you could say I owe a lot to Carolyn! *affectionate smile*

  14. Thank you for answering my question. Like you I have learned through experience and general trial and error. Some times like this week... I'd sorta kinda like to pull out hair with not finding an answer for a problem that I've been trying to solve.
    Maybe you have an idea that I haven't tried. I will put it out there! I'm making a dress for my soon to be 2 granddaughter for a special occasion. The fabric is Silk Dupioni. Unfortunately, when I cut it out (or prior to that) I didn't notice the deep crease at the fold area from being on the bolt! I've tried several things to get it out. And so far nothing is working! If anyone has any idea's what to do, or where else I can hunt. Please leave me a msg. at thanks.

  15. Carolyn you really summed it up sobeautifully! Sewing is really a lifetime skill and I don't think it's possible to ever know it all.

  16. Oooooh, I see you have the singer book collection! I have it too, but in spanish. It's awesome. I've been lucky to have inherited my mom's wonderful collection of books, they are treasures to me!


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