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learning to sew necessary???

wellwellwellwellwellwell 123 replies16 threads Junior Member
My daughter is in 10th grade right now and has decided recently that she wants to study fashion design in college among other design majors. She's been taking some art classes outside of school and is starting to prepare her art portfolio.

She has always experimented with her clothes cutting them to fit her body and reconstructing it into the shapes that she wants using fabric glues or basic hand stitching however she never had a chance to learn to sew properly.

Is it necessary for her to learn to sew before college? Maybe as a fashion design major applicant? Or is it okay to wait until she enters college?

Thank you in advance...
edited October 2011
23 replies
Post edited by wellwellwell on
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Replies to: learning to sew necessary???

  • bears and dogsbears and dogs 3050 replies26 threads- Senior Member
    does she ever interested in learning/ touching sewing machine?
    do you have one at home?

    We make stuffed toys and had interns from parsons, RISD some doing fashion some graphics but the nature of our job is, things are made by sewing, so kids who wants to come here generally liked to/could sew since they were young.
    It does not mean they are skilled.
    From what I know, art schools do not really teach technical stuff to become a seamstress nor need to.
    That bothered me before, but now I know US system bit better (I am from Japan) there are many many fashion "design" jobs that you don't have to know how to put zipper.

    what's worries me is if she has no interest in touching sewing machine til now, she might won't unless it is forced upon during foundation class, and she'd hate it so much she would give up.
    It is frustrating process. takes forever to get good at it. I do this as a job 25 plus years and still not good. if counted from the day I first sew, 40 plus years and still sucks.
    It is tremendous help if she is willing to learn now, and be good at it. at least know the basics, how to size, take in seam, press to split the seams. Nowadays there are many many youtube videos and cheap machines around thru internet.
    Get one and give it a try
    Where do you live? I have one old machine I don't need if you can come and get it.
    I'm in NYC.

    Far as I know, every fashion major wannabe's portfolio for FIT or Persons posted here had actual dresses made by kids along with design sketch, swatch sheets, etc.
    Scholastic winner shows usually have some sort of sewn clothes made by HS kids.
    to tell you the truth it never occurred to me that someone never touched sewing machine would want to do fashion, like painter to paints. pianist to piano.
    Then again I could be wrong (again!) anyone else with actual experience on this?
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  • fineartsmajormomfineartsmajormom 1178 replies13 threads Senior Member
    my son does not want to be a fashion designer but as a fine arts student has done his fair share of sewing (mainly by hand but I think he can work a machine) for costumes in theatre, science (make a parachute!), and for soft sculpture. My mother made me learn since she made a lot of clothes for us and all the women in the family sewed...I was/am awful. Scared of the machine. Still...if I have to hem something I can do it...I send anything that needs an invisible zipper to my mother or pay big bucks to take to a tailor/seamstress. I think Bears is right...try it now because it is likely she will need to do some of this sometime and good to have the confidence that you at least know the basics.
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  • colcon2010colcon2010 317 replies6 threads Member
    Wow, Bears, what a generous offer of the sewing machine. How nice of you! Are you really not happy with your sewing skills? I feel the same way as you do, but I don't sew for a business! I bet you are really skilled. I have basic skills; my mother is very talented at just about everything and she taught us kids how to sew when we were young. First, hand sewing those scrubbies made out of tulle (anyone remember those?!) and then little toys, and eventually clothing. I did make some of my own clothes in HS and college, back in the day when it was cheaper to sew than buy; not sure that is true anymore), but since then I have used most of my mad sewing skills (def. kidding there) to make my kids American Girl doll clothes when they were young, and cosplay costumes for my art kiddo as she got older. This summer she began sewing her own stuff on the machine, although she did make stuffed toys based on characters she drew when she was younger. Anyway, like bears I suggest she get her hands on a machine (not a real cheap one; too frustrating if mechanics aren't good) and learn the basics. Don't jump right into some awesome project! If you sew, show her all the boring stuff that you have to do to make a finished piece look polished (learn about fabrics, thread, tension, pre-washing, clipping, pressing, adjusting patterns, etc. etc.). Even if she never has to sew a garment I think it would be impossible to design without understanding the inherent qualities of each type of fabric. If she learns all this and decides not to do fashion, she will still put the knowledge to good use!

    fammom, I love the look of stitching on canvas! Also, I bet you could do a zipper. One of my D's favorite hoodies needed a zipper replacement this summer. I thought about taking it to the tailor but knew it would cost a fortune. We were in the fabric store and I decided for the cost of the $3 zipper I'd give it a try. It worked! I know it's not perfect but my D was thrilled (the hoodie can't be replaced). Whew!
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  • wellwellwellwellwellwell 123 replies16 threads Junior Member
    Thanks everyone for your inputs...

    @Bears, actually, she always wanted to learn to sew but I don't (though I could hand sew quite well) and my mom doesn't so she had to take a class or watch a youtube video (which doesn't explain quite well) to learn. She got herself a sewing machine over the summer (thanks for the offer but we live in California) and was registered for a basic sewing class at Joann but her ankle was injured badly during cheer practice and had to be in aircast with crutches so had to drop out. Maybe for someone like you it could be hard to understand, but it is a very daunting task if you have no one around you who knows how to use or even own a machine.

    @fineartmajormom, I guess I will sign her up again for a class. She always wanted to learn since she got frustrated with limited things she could do manually.

    @colcon2010, I don't know much about fashion designing but I thought the same about your remark "understanding the inherent qualities of each type of fabric" will benefit her much in the long run. Actually, she wanted to become a stylist more than a designer until now and she got the idea from watching her aunt who's a buyer at a high end women's clothes brand in NYC. She didn't want to do exactly what my sister does since that is involving more business side of industry but she wanted to do something in creative side of industry. And to do that, learning fashion design would be the basic step she thought.

    I thought she's still young and quite interested in other design fields (stage design and so on) so while studying the basic art skills and maturing her eyes and mind in seeing and creating something, she might change her mind in what she wants to do later on in her life. Anyway, so for someone like her, who's not definite about the career choice, I wanted to find out how much sewing skills she needs to have to study fashion designing.

    Sorry for the long post...
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  • melissa54melissa54 7 replies1 threads New Member
    My daughter was a fashion design major and definitely needed to learn to sew. At her school, some basics were taught in the beginning classes in her major. But, she also took a summer class to improve her sewing skills. She had very minimal sewing skills before she started college. She was never interested in sewing when she was younger but she was detemined to major in fashion design so she made a major effort to learn. Begininng in sophomore year, she was sewing almost constantly to prepare projects and to get ready for fashion shows. Students in her program were required to sew all the garments they designed and were not allowed to get outside help; I think this is typical of fashion design programs.

    My suggestion is that you encourge your daughter to start learning to sew as soon as possible. It will make things a lot easier later on, if she ends up majorig in fashion design. Best of luck to her.
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  • fauxmavenfauxmaven 1639 replies155 threads Senior Member
    I have been sewing since I was 9 , and feel it is essential for everyone to learn basic hand sewing - sewing on a button , repairing a hem , etc. Tailors charge a lot to do basic repairs ! My 3 sons all learned basic sewing and are glad they learned . Embroidery , smocking and other fancy things can come later . It's fun to make adjustments yourself to make an item fit better !
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  • bears and dogsbears and dogs 3050 replies26 threads- Senior Member
    how's her leg? which one that got hurt?
    Is it Ok now or had o be supported still?
    If you have a coffee table, put the machine on it, you can sit on the floor pillow and (this is fun part) pedal with your knee.
    Of course if you are to take class, you will need to sit along with other students.
    you are lucky to have JoAnn near by.
    It is dying skill for sure. hard to find good generic supplies in the city, where supposedly is the mecca of fashion.

    If she wants, she will get it.
    I learned watching my grandma who hand sew kimono using ancient method (she was an illiterate and what she knew she learned by eye and hands)
    we do have government issued home economics class since 4th grade on, but I sucked at big time being inpatient and could not follow restriction teachers enforced on kids. No one back then would have thought I could do paying job using sewing machine.
    I did not have workable machine until late teen. That was the first thing I bought when I had little money saved.
    I think you D is on the right track, I love the idea of cheer leading fashion designer.
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  • wellwellwellwellwellwell 123 replies16 threads Junior Member
    Wow, thank you all so much for your inputs... Very kind of you...

    @bears, she hurt her right ankle stunting, and it's not completely better but she can walk and do normal activities. Thank you for asking... ^^ She's a flyer(you know the one that goes on top of the triangle?) in cheer but she's also a jazz dancer. And because of her much experience on stages that she was considering stage design or even costume design.
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  • bears and dogsbears and dogs 3050 replies26 threads- Senior Member
    the chosen one that most agile and with bouncy-est ringlets, right?
    ever consider joining the circus?
    now, flying wardrobe mistress, I haven't met one yet.
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  • greenwitchgreenwitch 8796 replies41 threads Senior Member
    bears, can you recommend a good machine for a student? I have an old, cheap, and always jamming Bernina that is on it's last legs. D2 took it to Mica last year and has been frustrated ever since. I searched around on Amazon for machines with good reviews and we're thinking of getting her this one:

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  • bears and dogsbears and dogs 3050 replies26 threads- Senior Member
    I was thinking how much sewing machine could improve over the decades, it ain't macbook or cell phone....
    now I am embarrassed that the model I offered OP is Sears Kenmore, my pooled-moneyed wedding gift 20-sh years ago .....
    look at the low Amazon price! seriously? I bet the first US machine I had which my friends thought needing replacement badly (totally unnecessary but what can you do with those "shower" occasions loving people?) that Woolworth store-model was at least 100 bucks, am I dreaming?
    At our job, we swear by Bernina, but it might be just like HYPS myth that my (our? G?) fav parent poster always ranting about in IVY thread.
    "there are equally great, more fitting elite schools (machines) that works for your kid if only YOU, the parents know better, if you aren't pathetic ignorant gullible prestige monger!!!"

    We'd use industrial heftties for fury sewings.
    either Juki (from Japan, roughly translate "heavy machinery" in Japanese) or Brother (as is, thought it sounds cool and modern, I bet. the company was inherited by the founder's brother. also from Japan. we are big on machines.)
    Our seamstress from other continents would use industrial machines for everything, they know how to use all attachment and tension nobs (yep colcon) and have bag of tricks each with the tools for baby hem (1/8 inch finished double hem satin, I am not kidding) foot for invisible zippers etc that they would carry around with them and won't leave them unattended, like chef's knives.
    They have been sewing professionally ever since before we were even conceived. It is not worth trying to be like them, but be friendly and ask casual questions, or just spy how they do it.
    Doesn't mean I could never ever do it myself and in this way, we all have jobs.
    where was I?
    I have no idea how good this machine is. but if sewing machine got more than 700 reviews, it must be good/hot item?
    I don't see why machine had to have brain where more chance of going wrong and need fixing when we really really need one more stitching, but if it wasn't for the Mac, I am not writing this, am I?
    so... for that price, give it a go? seven different buttonholes. gawk!!!
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  • redbug119redbug119 832 replies48 threads Member
    D learned to sew on our 35 year old still-metal-body Singer. She doesn't do clothes or anything very complicated, but gets by. When the soft sculpture project came around, all the kids were vying for a limited number of machines. She ended up hand sewing hers because she didn't want to wait for machines, and her project was such that it worked out fine because it was detailed. She was, however, in GREAT demand from the guys in the class who needed to use the machines and had no idea where to start.

    If you are looking for a resonable priced machine, try your local sewing machine repair shop. I knows ours has machines that have been repaired and then left by their owners. Lots of time they have them reasonable for maybe just the repair cost, etc.

    My friend has a machine that was close to $1,000 about 7 years ago, is in her "sewing room" and I don't think it's been touched more than twice in all that time. It's a fancy one (but plastic) that does 12,576 stitches (just kidding, actually) and sings and dances. Like Bears said, why do we need all this fancy stuff. I like my Singer just fine.
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  • greenwitchgreenwitch 8796 replies41 threads Senior Member
    My old Bernina is pretty basic, not computerized at all which I like, but the bobbin tends to jam in a dramatic way, breaking the needles sometimes. It was on sale for about $450 about 12 years ago and I spend about the same amount to have it "fixed" last year! I think sometimes the sale machines are the problem ones.

    D2 may need a serious machine one day but I don't think that day is here yet and the price and reviews on the Brother machine are reassuring. Mica has all Bernina machines in their sewing dept, so that would have been preferable if she needed to borrow a special foot or whatever but, heck, we can buy a few extra instead!
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  • greenwitchgreenwitch 8796 replies41 threads Senior Member
    Speaking of tricks.... when thinking about my wedding dress, good friend A offered to sew me one. It was one of her dreams to sew a wedding dress, she said. Who am I to interfere with that??????

    We went fabric shopping and bought lots of Thai silk and organza. She knew someone in the fabric shop and asked her how she could elegantly hem the organza. This friend showed us (complete with demo) how to "burn the edge" or something like that.

    It involved running the machine on the narrowest zig zag with the highest number of stitches per inch (or maybe it was the lowest?), very fast, and pulling the organza through on a diagonal. The needle just picked up that edge and rolled it tight, into this little 1/16th circular hem like you see on silk scarves. Very impressive! Friend A picked up the technique right away because she is so amazing. She's not too shabby with a pasta machine either, I tend to be a bit hopeless with both. Thank goodness for friends!

    It's a great trick and one you can't do on a machine that's too automated, that may have 12,000 stitches but no manual override so you can't combine the narrowest zigzag with the highest (or lowest) number of stitches per inch.
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  • bears and dogsbears and dogs 3050 replies26 threads- Senior Member
    do you have the special bobbins that made/known for Bernina?
    I didn't know til I came here but it makes world of difference.
    it's,metal - any plastic bobbins should be outlawed in my opinion- got seven holes on the top and bottom, bit raised rounded center hole.
    and this is important, do not leave started winding-end of the thread sticking out from anywhere on the bobbin.
    people often don't trim that end because you can still sew fine but it cause problems when it really shouldn't (like, the only last tiny stitch left to be done, and you are at the end of bottom thread...)

    thanx for the organza trick
    donno I am capable but will try.
    no, I can't make pasta neither. super good at boiling and eating part, thou.
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  • greenwitchgreenwitch 8796 replies41 threads Senior Member
    I'm sure I have a mix of bobbins, I'll have to check and try to use only the good ones. Thanks!
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  • chiarochiaro 41 replies1 threads Junior Member
    The short answer is YES. If your student has any thoughts of pursuing fashion design, it is absolutely necessary to know how to sew (and DRAW). How can one possible understand clothing construction and fit otherwise? Bears & Dogs said it best... like a painter to paints, pianist to piano. There is so much more to design than having an eye for coll clothing!
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  • chiarochiaro 41 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I meant "cool" clothing...
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  • redbug119redbug119 832 replies48 threads Member
    For those of you watching Project Runway, they keep saying one of the girls (either the one from Trinidad or the black girl) has only been sewing for 4 months, and that is a disadvantage for them. OTOH, the Trinidad girl won the 70's challenge even after losing her money and managed to put together a cool outfit for $11. So whose to say? But you can't lose with more skill rather than less.
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  • wellwellwellwellwellwell 123 replies16 threads Junior Member
    @chiaro, as I responded before, my daughter will learn to sew soon. My real question was how much sewing skill were expected from her as an applicant. As far as drawings go, she gets much compliment from her various art teachers so I assume that she has talent and skills. She's starting some life drawing classes also as recommended by her teachers though she (15 year old) was a little intimidated by the concept of nude models.

    As a mom, I thought kids change their mind on what they want to do with their life all the time so it was more important for her to mature as an artist in general and experience many things in life rather than focusing herself on the field of fashion design only. She was quick to learn knitting and crocheting when she was little so hopefully she will be quick at grasping sewing also.

    @redbug, thanks for the info. It was an interesting story...
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