This Article is About
learned skill
prime motivation
silk dress
learned behavior
cutting out
Dressmaking: A Learned Skill
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    Home sewing or what was called dressmaking before pant suits and jeans became fashionable for women and girls,  has been in decline for decades.  Recently, an article in our local paper with a story and pictures of five teens who had made their prom dresses, attracted my attraction.  The reason all the girls gave was that they wamted a dres like no one else had.  That reason has always been a prime motivation for learning to sew. That, and a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.  Plus, it can be a very useful skill.

    I made my first dress when I was about the age of the girls in the article. Then  sewing was done by many, many people,  It was even taught in most high schools. There was no deep discount shopping then and outlet shopping was unheard of.  Even now, when I no longer make all my clothes,I found the skill serves me well. Recently I needed a dress for a reception and I found a possibilty at an outlet store with a sign that said,"seventy per cent off the already reduced price."  The style was hard to wear but I could see how to change it to make it work on me so I bought it, altered it and, thereby, got a lovely silk dress for $27.00, a spool of thread, two hours of sewing time, and later, several compliments.  Now, that's a useful skill.

     Like any skill, sewing is a learned behavior and practice improves its performance..  I spent the better part of one summer vacation making my first dress.  I went slowly and carefully and exactly followed the guide provided with the pattern.  I learned how important it iwas to measure and match my measurements to the pattern I had selected.  Also, since I am less than tall I learned how to shorten the pieces.  Thankfully, thse directions were included with the instructions. Another important aspect of sewing is the importance of the cutting out process.  You must mske sure the patterns  pieces are placed on the fabric as directed by the cutting guide or the seams won't match or the garment won't hang corecty.

     Knowing how to use a sewing machins is also a required skill but a standard sewing machine is not all that complicated, and comes with complete operating instructions.  If you need help sewig a straight seam, place a peice of tape the distance you want from the machine's needle.  Notion stores also sell sewing machine stitching guides.  One dress does not a seamstress make.  With sewing there is always something new to learn learn and there is help in books, DVD's, and websites to to assist you in improving your skills. Patterns today are mrked, "Very Easy," "Moderate," and "Advanced."  And, as a beginniner, you should start easy and then move on up.

   Sewing requires another important skill.  One I know you already have.  It is very important to use it to keep your clothes from looking homemade which is something that can make a beginner give up. That skill is pressing. Don't skimp on pressing.  Iron every seam as you sew it. Press,  press ,press. I usually say sewing is 50% pressing.  Well, maybe not that much but pressing is important if you want to hear,"Really! You made that? It's great looking."

    Take your time. Learn your skills.  Practice them, Get help when needed.  Enjoy!!

    


Street Talk

I enjoyed your article Dorothy! Definitely a learned skill but one that is fun and easy to master and as you pointed out very useful at various times. Just today I zipped up a simple skirt for a larger sized friend who has trouble buying clothes in her size and budget. It took around 2 metres of fabric and an hour of my time. I started sewing in school and continued doing it for 6 years there as my favourite subject. We started with a 'happy coat' that was all straight lines and advanced to a blouse that had gathering at the shoulder and buttons. I wore both things for years! Very satisfying.

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  about 8 years ago
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