Sew how? Summerset's history with pins and needles

Have you been on pins and needles wondering how Summerset learned to sew? I have. Yes indeed. She whips up some fabulous creations, like her Lacroix trenchcoat, and then she shares her experience on her blog.  So. Let's not waste time. Let's find how you she learned to sew. Now. After all, sitting on pins and needles is rather uncomfortable. Don't you agree?

How long have you been sewing?

I've been hand sewing since I was 6 and sewing with a machine since I was 12; that's about 33 and 27 years respectively.

What inspired you to learn?

I've always liked to make things, and fiber arts of any sort interested me.

Did your mother or grandmother sew?

Both my mother and her mother sewed.  My grandmother also sewed in a factory making cartridge pleats on graduation and choir robes.

How did you learn? A class? Your mom? Home ec? 

I've taught myself how to sew.

What was the first garment that you made? 

The first garment I made was when I was twelve; it was a pair of bubble gum pink elastic waist culottes.  Please be forgiving; it was the 80's after all!

Did you wear them?

Yes, I wore them. 

How long did it take for you to get the basics down?

That's hard to remember; it didn't take me long as I had been watching my mother sew for years as a child.

Sew-how-sb-fur How long did it take you to feel confident of your dressmaking skills?

I've always been fairly confident of my skills, even though I'm pretty sure there have been times when I shouldn't have been!

Do you still make things that you simply won't wear? 

Yes, unfortunately.  I've become better at making things I love and that work with my body type.  If I do make something that I don't end up wearing, it gets donated quickly. 

How many hours a week do you sew? 

LOL.  Do you really want to know?  Let's just say that I sew on an average, about 3 hours every day.  Some days, more; some days, less.

What are your five favorite sewing books?

1.  Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing.  I prefer the older 70's version, even though the info in the new one is the same.

2.  Couture Sewing Techiques by Claire Schaeffer

3.  Fabulous Fit by Rasband and Liechty

4.  Cool Couture by Kenneth King 

5.  Couture: The Fine Art of Sewing by Roberta Carr

Are there any sewing DVDs that you like? If so, which one?

I've never tried any of the DVDs, so I don't have any favorite one.

If you're a fan of free online tutorials, name five for the beginning sewer, please.

Again, this is something I haven't really looked into a whole lot except when I started to make undergarments.

What garment would you suggest that a newbie make first? 

A full or A-line skirt;  for the most part, there are not that many pieces and depending on the pattern, closures like zippers are not necessary and the fitting part is easy.


A second skirt from the same pattern;  this time with a zipper or buttons and buttonholes.  Since one has already made the skirt once, that part will be easy, and the focus can then be the new skill of a closure. 

Sew-how-sb-wedding What is the favorite of all the garments you have made?

That's a hard question;  I've made *a lot* of garments from very simple to extremely complex! 

What was the first item you sewed that made you beam with pride?

Now, that's really hard to remember, over a lot of years of sewing.  I'd have to say, my wedding gown, but then again, I made a navy blazer in high school that I really loved, too.

Name your five top tips for beginners, please.

1.  Don't be afraid.  It's only fabric and thread.

2.  Start simple.  You may love a complicated pattern, but be honest with yourself and your skill level.

3.  Buy quality notions.  Scissors, needles, pins and rulers are the most important.  I sewed for years with those basics, and even in couture houses, the basics are still very important.

4.  Use good interfacing.  Poor interfacing will ruin a project quicker than anything. 

5.  Take time when cutting, and be sure of your grainlines.  You just cannot fix an off-grain garment. 

Sewhow-sumjack2 What's the last garment that you made? Are you pleased with it?

Let's see, I think it was my black faux fur jacket.  Yes, I love the jacket! 

Have you sewn with unprinted vintage patterns? If so, please share pointers for newbies who might want to try them. 

Yes, I have.  Study carefully the section on the instructions that shows all the pattern pieces.  You will find there what all the various sized punched holes and squares mean for each piece. 

Once you've looked at that, compare your pattern pieces to the diagram and identify the grainlines, darts and other features before cutting out and marking. 

How long does it take to get to the Vogue "Plus Difficile" rated pattern?  (I can dream, can't I?)

That is a difficult question to answer.   From my professional background in education, I'd have to say there are many variables to how long it will take each individual to get to

that level of sewing.  It depends on personal motivation, natural talent, amount of time spent practicing, etc.  That will vary with each individual. 

Share your funniest sewing adventure, please.

Well, I've been asked and paid to make a lot of things, among them a Star Trek Next Generation costume and once to sew Christmas tree garland onto angel costumes. 

And your most exasperating or difficult. 

Some of my most difficult projects were some of my art garments;  there were times when things never seem to go right, but I got each one finished in the end 

Sewhow-sumvogue What's your favorite pattern ever to sew, if you remember?

That varies depending on garment, but one that I really liked (and still do) is an old out-of-print Vogue suit from the '90s, which has a retro styling to it and can be made as either a dress or jacket and suit. 

I've made it three times, which is pretty rare for my personal sewing (that doesn't include sewing for my daughter).

Sew-how-sb-weddingbk Do you sew vintage patterns?

Yes.  I also wear the things I make.

Do you find instructions easier to follow on vintage patterns?

That depends on if I use the instructions.  I usually give them a glance to make sure there isn't anything unusual, but I do the same with modern patterns, too.

How many hours of sewing do you think it takes for the average person to become proficient?

This is another question with a highly variable answer based on several factors.  I think the answer will also depend on one's personal definition of "proficient".  For some people, that will be making simple garments; for others, that will be being able to draft their own patterns and sewing them using couture techniques.  As with any learned skills, the more hours spent practicing the better the skills become;  the amount of time would depend on the natural ability and personal motivation to learn the skill.