A little learnin

January 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

A number of girlfriends have asked recently about where to learn how to sew and quilt, and having stimulated my share of the crafting economy this year, I thought I would share where you can take classes, what they teach you, and some thoughts on affordability.

Sewing 101 – There are a couple of local options for this, but I went with Jo-Ann’s on Preston.  You can find their class schedule hereDo you need a machine? Not necessarily.  If you have a machine and you want to get familiar with it, definitely take it with you.  If you don’t know if you want to make the investment yet, then Jo-Ann’s usually has machines that you can use there, just be sure to reserve one when you sign up.  Do not be a sucker and pay full price–they offer all of their classes at 50% off almost once a month if you sign up during an open-house event.  The next one is February 12th if you want to take their basic sewing class.

City Craft also offers an intro sewing class, and they have a schedule posted here.  Their classes are a little pricier, but the staff at City Craft is really knowledgeable and friendly.  The vibe is definitely more hip than Jo-Ann’s, but I haven’t taken a class there personally.  I just know that they’re always really helpful when I have questions in the store, and they’re great at pointing you to online resources for tutorials and such.

I’ve also seen class schedules at Make and at Bernina stores.  I’ve never been to Make, but their intro class looks interesting, and it’s listed at $49, so that’s not too bad.  The ladies at Bernina are truly experts–they have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge.  Also, I’ve heard good things about the quilting classes at Quilters’ Connection; they’re classes look affordable, but they do mention that this is a hand-quilting class, which is great if you want to learn a purist method [read: takes a long time].  I liked that the Jo-Ann’s quilting class was more open to machine quilting.  However, the Jo-Ann’s quilting class actually ended before we ever got to actually quilting.  When it was over, we had a quilt top, which felt kind of like a rip off.  Enter the amazing Grandma Amy who helped me figure out how to finish my first one.

What to ask – When you sign up for a class, be sure to ask for a class supply list and also if you need to bring your machine or not.  I got to my first class without anything but my machine because I wasn’t handed the supply list at sign up.  Ugh–I hate being that girl.

What to expect – You shouldn’t expect to come out of a beginning class with everything you’ll ever need, but you should be able to operate your machine (take notes in class–nothing’s more frustrating than getting home and thinking, “So was it down through the hooky-thing first, or around the back of the circly-thing?”  Then learn to make YouTube and tutorial sites your best friends and don’t be afraid to try new things.  Patterns are great, but I stayed away from them for a long time, which I think was a good thing.  Patterns can be intimidating and full of jargon that you’re just not used to yet.  So, even if it says, “It’s Sew Easy” or “Quick & Simple” or something of the like on it, my experience has been that it’s really not.  Stick with stuff online for a while that says stuff like, “Cut a square,” or “Take two strips of 2 1/2 inch x 15 inch fabric…,” or something similar that works in dimensions instead of fancy cuts.

Most of sewing is not sewing – My mind was pretty much blown when I realized that most of “sewing” was actually measuring, cutting, adding and subtracting fractions, pinning, and learning how to use a rotary cutter without injuring oneself.  Crafting even the simplest project is usually 75 percent prep work.  So, what I’m saying is, dust off that math that you thought you would never use.

Ripping seams does not mean you failed – You will rip stitches.  Buy a good seam ripper–do not cheap out on this supply.  And don’t beat yourself up over it.  Say a few bad words, sit down in front of the TV with your handiwork and a glass of wine, and let the seam ripping begin.  This is tedious; it is frustrating; it is not the end of the world.

Happy learning!


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