Thursday, 13 May 2010

Learning to sew

The problem with being self-taught is that you don't know what you don't know. It's hard to figure out what questions to ask if you don't know that you need to know the answers.

My sewing skills aren't entirely self-taught; my mother taught me the basics, and set an incredible example. But being the kind of genius improvisational sewer that she is, she treats instructions the way some people treat the picture on a jigsaw-puzzle box: it's fine to look if you need to, but that's sort of like cheating and the fun is in working it out yourself.

What tends to happen to me, though, is that once I figure out/stumble on a technique or solution, I stick to it. This works fine, so why figure out another way?

Enter Ruth Singer's Sew It Up. It's a sewing book similar to The Best Knitting Book In The World (Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook). It's a book of techniques, full of instructions for the proper ways to do things, and explanations of why these work - so important for the stubborn self-taught sewer. Like the Knitter's Handbook, it shows different ways of doing the same thing, for instance hemming fabric. It explains which technique is suitable for what, and why.

And that's why it's the perfect rule-book for breaking the rules. Knowing why something is done allows you to decide whether you can get away with not doing it. With this in my hand, and my mother's voice in my head, I'll have the perfect strategy for any sewing project I'm likely to attack.

(Ruth Singer blogs here.)


Carina said...

Ohhh, I think that book needs to go on my wishlist (why is Christmas so far away!?). My mum did try to teach me some stuff when I was little/younger.. but I never had the patience. So everything I know I either just soaked up by being around her or it is self-taught.. :-)

Billy said...

Thank you for the recommendations, Jesse. They´re now (both sewing book and knitting book!) on my wishlist. :)

L'Atelier said...

oh sounds like a book to get... and i love your sewing technique!

Freshly Found said...

Being the passionate How-to-er that I am, I must look out for this one to add to my library!

Anonymous said...

Sounds great!!!