4 Reasons Why Sewing Patterns Are Great Teaching Tools

“So David accepted what she had brought to him and said to her, “Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and have granted your request.” 1 Samuel 25:35 (amp)

Hello Everyone!

Happy New Year!  I hope that you all got the rest that you needed during the holiday break in order to leap in the new year!  I know I did.  I have been slowly sewing behind the seams over the last few weeks and I am happy to say that I have enough looks sewn and photographed and i’m ready to share with you all over the next few weeks.

This week’s post was inspired by some of my students.  One of the things that I love about Mount Mary University is that we don’t require a portfolio or even prior sewing experience for admission.  All you have to do is declare the major and keep a 2.5 GPA in order to graduate.  While sewing experience does make completing the major a bit easier, we teach you everything. Even how to thread a sewing machine! Isn’t that amazing!

As last semester was coming to an end I had a few students ask me what they could do to improve their skill sets for the program. My response was to practice.  We teach the foundation, but to improve you have to practice.  Whether its illustration, creating design concepts, patterning, sewing, or CAD .  You have to practice.

Which led me to today’s post.  Most of my sewing experience is self-taught.  I never had a mentor and I only took 2 sewing classes in my life prior to entering design school.  I thank God for the internet.  As it opened up a window to great sewing communities like Burdastyle.com, and facebook sewing groups, Pinterest and the hundreds and thousands of sewing blogs and vlogs that are out there.  It was learning how to read sewing patterns though, that really taught me how to harness and improve my skills.  I still use them as a teaching tool in order to improve my patterning and fitting skills.

So I decided this week a discuss about sewing patterns as teaching tools could be beneficial to those new to sewing or maybe someone who has been sewing for a while but has never used a sewing pattern.  So let’s get to it..!

1. Sewing Patterns teach sewers sewing terms. 

From what sewing pattern symbols mean, to what a side seam is, to what top stitching is.  It can be a great learning tool to introduce sewers to the language of sewing.

2. Sewing Patterns teach sewers how to use various sewing techniques and stitches in context. 

You may have learned what an edgestitch or understitch is in a basic sewing class by sewing a sample.  There are alot of great technique based video tutorials out there that use a sample fabric to teach you technique.  These are fantastic ways to introduce the mechanics of a technique.  However, it can limiting in demonstrating to a sewer the appropriate place to use it.

I have found with some of my students, that despite taking notes about a sample that include when and how to use it, they need context. As visual people we need to learn by doing. Which is something that I think patterns do a great job of.  In the very least, it gives you a term that you can look up on google or pinterest and find a tutorial of how to execute the technique.  That then can be applied to the project that you are working on.

3.  Sewing patterns teach sewers order of construction. 

There are so many ways to approach a sewing project.  By sewing with patterns you begin to understand how a blouse is put together, how a dress is put together, How to drop a lining in a jacket, etc.  If you sew with patterns for any length of time you begin to learn the various methods that exist and eventually develop preferences. You can even keep a list of best methods of construction for various types of projects.

4. Sewing with patterns are a great way to learn next level techniques. 

Regardless of sewing level and ability, there are patterns out there that can help you acquire new skills sets.  Whether you want to learn how to sew knits, or learn tailoring techniques, or sew with more challenging fibers such as fur.  Patterns are a great way to get your feet wet into a higher level of sewing.

Now there are a few things that sewing patterns don’t teach.  That enrolling in a sewing class or purchasing sewing books would be beneficial to gaining a greater level of skill and understanding.

1. How to sew.

This is the most obvious, but if you don’t know how to sew you may not know this.  Its a great tool in the learning process.  However, you still have to learn how to thread and use a sewing machine, you still have to learn how to cut fabric,  thread a needle, etc.

2. How to fit your pattern to your body.

Fit is one of the hardest things that I had to learn on my sewing journey.  There are so many details that need to be taken into consideration.   Starting with proper measurements.  Most sewing patterns try to address this in their instruction booklets, by providing a measurment chart.  They often also provide fitting lines for bust, waist and hip measurements on their sewing patterns, along with the finished garment measurements of these areas.  There is still alot of information and fitting techniques that a sewist needs to learn in order to achieve a good fit.  A pattern doesn’t necessarily provide that.

That’s where really great books, blogs/vlogs and sewing groups can be a great resource.  I also find that this is a great place where independent pattern makers can build brand loyalty within the sewing community.   I believe, that there is such an added value that teaching fit can provide to sewers when they purchase a pattern.

Well that’s all for this week.  What about you…?  are you a homesewer that reads sewing patterns to learn or improve your sewing?  I’d love to hear about what sewing patterns have taught you.

Make sure to check out the links below. They are a short list of a few fitting books that i’ve used or other sewers have recommended over the years.  Until next time……

“Fast Fit: Easy Pattern Alterations For Every Figure” by Sandra Betzina

“Nancy Zieman’s Confident Sewing Colletion” by Nancy Zieman

“Sewing For Plus Size” by Barbara Deckert

“Pants for Real People” by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto

Smart Fitting Solutions” by Kenneth D. King

“The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting”by Sarah Veblen

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