My journey into craft started with paper. After a few years of cutting shapes into paper and getting glue everywhere, I decided to get into sewing. It was a conscious decision, I actually said: “I want to start sewing!” And I started doing research, I looked at a million sewing projects (well, at least a few hundreds…), and borrowed a machine from a friend for a few weeks, just to see whether I liked it. Then I took my very first class, just to learn how to use the machine. Here is my story to encourage you to start sewing today.
Take a Class
Check out Tessuti for beginners classes in Sydney. There, I learned how to thread the machine and how to use it. I remember the elation of pressing the foot pedal and the fabric gliding across the machine. As soon as I gazed at the black stitches on cream-coloured calico, I thought: “that’s it, it’s that simple…”
And I went home, and started sewing. Lots. I started with simple projects, like the Purl Bee Drawstring Bags
And it went on from there. I took up easy projects, as in “square sewing”, nothing with curves: mainly tea towels and napkins. I found great pleasure in researching projects, wondering if I could complete them. There was only one way to find out, as they say…
Get the Equipment
After a while, I decided to get a machine, as a birthday present. My friend had lent me a Brother, so it seemed easy to get one. Only difference, I bought one with the bobbin charging from the top and it does make things a lot easier. I didn’t have a very big budget and didn’t want to commit too much in case I stopped enjoying it. Some sewing professionals insisted that I shouldn’t buy from a large retail store, and certainly not from eBay. Because you don’t get the “support” you need. Well, the Brother XL – 2620 was on special at BigW and here we are, three years later and I don’t know how many projects, and it’s working great. It’s a simple machine, no computer in it, and it has delivered some very basic and some very serious projects. I highly recommend it as a “beginner’s machine”. The only downside is that it doesn’t have a very long stitch but you can live without.
Find good projects
And the projects kept coming, thick and fast, and I had a ball. I did the learning on my own, through trial and error, and many hours of sewing bits of fabric together, trying different tensions and working my way through the user’s manual.
I am not a particularly patient person but I found lots of time and dedication to take it step by step, and learnt along the way. The satisfaction of creating “things” with fabric worked its magic, I loved it!
I picked up all sorts of tips, shopped a lot for bits and pieces of equipment. eBay is a great place for that.
The Fabric Addiction
I visited fabric shops in Sydney: Spotlight, Lincraft, The Remnant Warehouse… I researched online shops, my favourite is Fabric.com, incredibly good value even with the shipping costs. You have to watch the exchange rate but the range is incredible. I found some great deals for fat quarters and remnants on eBay. My favourite way to buy fabric is roaming local markets, but they are few and far between in Sydney: Fabric a Brac is fantastic but it only runs randomly.
The fabric thing: you need to experience it to understand it, but it’s a huge part of the thrill. When I look for projects, I work out my own fabric combinations. I really like simple combinations, with not too many combinations. Calico is a great base as it’s solid and hard wearing, however it looks fabulous with a bright fabric adorned with a cool pattern.
And so, I did what every self-respecting sewing aficionado does, I built a fabric stash! Let me tell you, that’s like shopping for shoes.
As I gained confidence, I embarked a more ambitious projects, worked my way through dozens of tutorials, created my own mixes of fabrics. I really love making kitchen linens: aprons, tea towels, bag holders. So, I really got into those, mixing calico and colourful fabric. These are great gifts to give away when I go back to France.
The Next Steps
The thing about sewing, is that you’re constantly trying to challenge yourself. I became interested in making clothes, and I needed more guidance for that. My next set a classes was at Make and Learn, a lovely little studio in Sydney’s east. Over the course of a few weeks, I made my first dresses and found it incredibly rewarding. They weren’t perfect but they were mine and the satisfaction of wearing something you’ve made is amazing. And the compliments!
- Random Girl: “Lovely dress, where did you get it?”
- Me: “Oh, I made that…”
- Random Girl: “You did whaaat?”
- Me: …
Need I say more… You may spend your weekend slaving over the sewing machine and forsaking all social life, and yet, you are so cool!
I wanted to make more and more clothes, and I thought a regular sewing class would be good. I really like the ones at Sydney Community Colleges
A regular circle where help is available when I need it, because reading those patterns is a bit tricky…
Sewing is a great life skill
And so, three years on, here we are. I’ve learned a lot, made so many things with my hands and became so confident in my ability I tackled major projects such as curtains, cushions, bed linen and couch covers. So, if I can do it, you can do it. Get started, buy or borrow a machine, buy some fabric, follow some tutorials and create!
How did you get started in sewing ? As early as school or did you come to it later ?