In the US, this requirement became an elective, and then was done away with altogether, about the same time FFA (Future Farmers of America) disappeared from junior and senior high school campuses. Sad.
Nowadays anyone wanting to learn how to sew needs to find out what that learning involves by themselves. It isn't always an easy thing to find out how to learn to sew. It isn't a skill that has been highly valued in a world where 'ready-to-wear' clothing is both inexpensive and plentiful.
But mass-produced, cookie-cutter garments and household textiles are not always well made. These items have a nasty habit of not fitting perfectly, falling apart after the second washing, and being something every other person in your town may show up wearing, carrying, or displaying in their home. One day you think to yourself, "hmm, maybe I could make that myself, and if I did I would make it look like (insert your favourite colour and style here)."
Learning how to sew starts with knowing how to properly thread a hand needle, and continues on progressively to complex projects like tailoring, and making window coverings using a sewing machine.
There are many ways to learn how to sew. You can learn from a friend or relative willing to teach you, take a class like the one I teach, buy or get a good book from the library, or you can visit a website like:
You can use all of the above for the best results and a lifelong love for sewing:)
If you buy a new sewing machine from a sewing centre, classes on how to use the machine are usually offered as part of the purchase. These classes are a help, but if you have very little experience with sewing the best thing to do is find a class like my "Introduction to Sewing", or a friend/relative who is willing to teach you. A good teacher will put you through something like I describe below:
I start my new students with an hour long lesson on hand sewing. They learn to thread a hand needle, sew buttons on properly, and hand baste seams and gathers. These techniques are really the foundation of sewing and learning how to do these things correctly removes the frustration and disappointment that drives many people from the joy of sewing.
A good teacher will patiently take you through the ways and whys of using a bit of wax on your thread (waxed thread moves easier through fabric, and tangles less), for example; and why using a toothpick between button and fabric during the application process results in a sewn on button that is well attached yet flexible enough to withstand repeated tugging when being buttoned.
I teach my groups how to take measurements properly. They learn to take their own body measurements, the measurements of a window, and a few other typical measurements needed for sewing.
Then we move on to meeting the mechanical sewing machine; how to thread it, make a straight seam, and from there we learn about choosing a pattern. Step by step we go through the process of using those measurements to make any needed adjustments to the pattern to the hand finishing that makes a home machine sewn item look stylish and professional while uniquely yours.
Something a lot of professional home sewing teachers are doing now is adding a segment on using the 'Net as a sewing resource. It's possible now to do nearly everything online from learning to sew and finding free downloadable patterns to buying patterns-notions-fabric. We live in a wonderful time for home sewers. There are so many great websites that serve as gathering places for home sewers to learn and share!
By FrugalSunnie from Scotland
I'm looking for something, rather rare. I've only seen it once in a book, but I had a fire and it got destroyed. Now I'm stuck because I don't remember the name of the book. I want to learn to sew and would like to find miniature size pattern printouts. I don't want to waste a full size pattern or a large amount of material. I would just use it to practice with as I learn to sew. Does anyone know where I can look or get printouts?
By Nicole from Cornwall, Ontario
The sewing pages at about.com have tonnes of information and free printable patterns to learn to sew on-you'll have something usable to show for your efforts, too:)
As for fabric, a great place to buy 'fabric' to learn to sew on is the second-hand, charity, or thrift shop. Look for decent quality bed linens. Run them through the washing machine with a disinfectant and you'll have enough fabric to work on.
For example, a single sheet (twin) will get you enough fabric for a short sleeve top, a double (or full) will give you enough to make a pair of elasticated or drawstring waist lounging trousers or pyjamas. A king (queen in the US and I think Canada too) is enough for the PJ top, too, lol, and a super-king (king) will give you enough for two pair of lounging trousers and maybe a vest (tank) as well.
I've used the charity shop bed linens for lots of things; once I found a chenille bedspread that I used to make a dressing gown, and another time I found a huge fake fur dressing gown that made up into a gorgeous bunting and snowsuit for my then eight month old son.
I make most of my husband's and my clothing, and save a lot on PJs, curtains, table linens, and other things by using charity shop linens. LOL, a few weeks ago I found a huge pair of microfiber drapes that I would have used to make a winter coat (lined with repurposed charity shop sheets and padded for warmth with charity shop duvets). Someone beat me to the dang things when I left the pair on the rack as I went to consult with my husband! Sigh.
Congratulations, and best of luck to you as you learn to home sew, you will be SO glad you learned!