Sewing provides a source of joy and a feeling of accomplishment. The artful craft of sewing reaches far into antiquity but offers modern conveniences. Beginning at least 20 thousand years ago, early humans used bone and animal sinew to sew garments to protect themselves from the elements. Today, seamstresses offer tailoring services, people use elegant fabrics to create beautiful drapes and creative entrepreneurs fashion interesting accessories using sewing techniques. Learning to sew increases resourcefulness and provides a fun, and possibly profitable, pastime.
Resourcefulness and personalization are two of the rewarding benefits of learning to sew. The frugal-minded person can take once-purchased clothing and re-fashion it into modern-day garments. The young home designer can personalize a dining or living room with dramatic, elegant drapes. Learning to sew offers an outlet for creativity and connects us with the past. These benefits, coupled with learning a tradition, make sewing a unique talent that transcends time.
Hand sewing requires few tools, but the creation of complicated patterns or draperies can take an extended time if crafted by hand. Sewing a simple pillowcase or handbag only requires fabric, thread and a needle, but delving into beginner and intermediate patterns necessitates a sewing machine, tape measure and tracing accessories, to name a few. The minimum beginner sewing kit should include basic items from the five main categories: pressing, marking, cutting, measuring and sewing. Collecting the tools of the trade enhances the overall experience and makes learning to sew easier.
Choosing the appropriate fabrics to create drapes, clothes, pillowcases or blankets requires some knowledge of fabric characteristics. For example, some fabrics work better for achieving the well-formed coverage required for drapes. Heavyweight fabrics, including velveteen or wool-blends, block out the light and pool perfectly on the floor. Learning the characteristics of different fabrics is essential to creating comfortable fashions and practical items.
In the past, people constructed garments through trial and error, creativity and memory. Today, the novice seamstress benefits from using sewing patterns. The patterns define the structure of an item and provide a guideline for completing the project, but understanding patterns thoroughly necessitates some experience with sewing terminology; patterns might appear complicated to the beginner seamstress. Patterns offer information about the required amount of fabric, types of notions and an overview of the project. Manipulating the pattern and preparing it for transfer to the selected fabric takes patience, but the payoff is the structure required to complete the project.
The glue that binds fabric and notions, threads serve different purposes, add character and strengthen seams. Choosing the right thread can make or break a project; fragile threads snap and tough threads weaken materials. Thread manufacturers use a number of methods to identify thread measurements. The measurement of the thread influences how a project turns out. Learning the top five measurement methods (number, weight, composition, denier and Tex) will ease the selection process.
In addition, needles are particularly important and often neglected. The needle takes the brunt of the abuse, but many people ignore their importance. Damaged needles can also affect the quality of a project. Needles and thread work in concert to create a stunning garment. Picking the perfect balance between the thread measurement and needle size improves a needle's overall performance, and changing the sewing machine needle before starting each project provides a less frustrating experience.