Posted by: Leslie | March 16, 2011

Sewing Techniques class

Given that I’ve had my sewing machine for just over two months, I was really looking forward to my class on basic techniques at a quilting store in Orleans. My main interest in sewing is making clothes, but most classes on making a garment fall well outside my price range. I’m at the point in sewing that I was in knitting about eleven years ago: everything is new and intimidating and seems beyond my ability. I just can’t afford to pay $300 to learn to make a skirt, though, so I figured the next best thing was to learn some common techniques and then take a stab at a simple pattern myself.

It was an all-day class on a slushy wet day, so I was grateful to pull off my boots and sit down with my coffee and get started. Although the class was based on the step-by-step exercises in a published workbook, the instructor brought so much more to the course than I could ever have gotten out of a DIY book. Carol Voyer-Terrien has over forty years of sewing experience and seemed to have a tip or shortcut for everything, whether it was buttonholes or working with stretchy fabric or certain stitches.


Carol demonstrating a technique on my machine

As is frequently the case in Ottawa, we had a mix of English- and French-speakers in the class. Most of the instruction was in English but I was able to learn some sewing and textile vocabulary in French by listening to Carol converse with the Francophones. I also learned that you can’t use Janome’s overlock foot with a straight stitch:

At the end of the day I’d amassed a stack of successful and sort-of successful samples. I need more work on a few things, but now I can confidently put in a zipper (my main goal), make buttonholes, create gathers, and sew ribbing to knit fabric on a curve:

I picked up some cotton on sale after the class, and an A-line skirt pattern the next day. I also encouraged Carol to consider offering classes on sewing clothing–there was definitely interest among the students, and I’d love to learn more from someone with her kind of training and experience. Once I pick up some cotton voile for the lining (possibly on a trip to NY this weekend), I’ll get started on that skirt.

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Responses

  1. Well it just so happens I’m getting a BIT interested in sewing myself. Not a whole lot, but a little bit. Like you, I am afraid of rapidly getting over my head and having to spend a whole bunch on a new hobby. Plus, I am really really getting interested in weaving, and that’s what is prompting me to want to sew a bit to sew my projects together.

    • I’m really interested in weaving some wool fabric for making skirts… there’s a pattern for rigid heddle loom in one of the Ashford books, I think.

  2. Thank you for supplying details on this sewing class. It was helpful reading about the different techniques you can learn.


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