How to sew Items that sell

2 Learn for Joy Or Money – Part 1

The times they are a-changin’.

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I just marked the first year teaching sewing to complete beginners at a volunteer program at a transitional housing facility for women. I usually work with advanced professional sewers so its a new experience introducing the craft of sewing to newbies.  During the course of our sewing circles it surprised me how strongly many felt on the issue of sewing as recreation vs sewing for economic gain.

At the same time I noted 2 recurring trends on social media.

  1.  The question, “How do I learn to sew?”
  2.  Tons of folks offering workshops programs and mentorships,  aimed at teaching you to earn money teaching what you know.

I've been exploring teaching the craft art and business of sewing since 2003/4.  Trust me it's a lot more than
Whenever I’m approached to teach, I ask, “What do you want to learn to do?”

Your desire, impacts the teaching method you chose. Do you wish to learn,

How to sew a straight seam with a machine?
How to make simple repairs to your clothing?
How to alter your complete wardrobe?
How to sew up store bought patterns?
How to copy ideas you see in stores or magazines?
How to bring ideas you have to life
How to create items that look like they were purchased in a high end boutique?
How to sew so you begin earning an income?
How to sew enough so that you earn a solid profit?

Different “responses” will require different solutions! Also, there are degrees of effort in “wanting” to learn. The more professional you want to get the more time and resources you invest in it.

I also meet a lot of people who “know to sew”, till they learn to sew as such I recommend working with a professional like myself.

So let's start with those have no idea about apparel and need to understand


When learning to “Sew”

There are a couple aspects to a successful garment. While many teach stitching a garment together few actually teach you to make the pattern for the garment you want to sew.

If you want to do more than shorten. A sleeve or pants leg.

1- decide what you want to learn... and why.


Visit the retailers near you and examine the clothes. ESPECIALLY the higher priced stores, or specifically the best stores, sales options in teh niche you wish to enter. Note the differences, choose the type of garment you aspire to make. Note the


FIT – how the garment hangs and moves on your body. Good fit starts with proper measurements.

CONSTRUCTION - There is a logic to sewing.  I’m Fit focused so – I stress personal croquis, styling proper fit, as well as the visual elements of design in breaking down one’s body shape. A program that Introduces the correlation between the body and how one constructs makes sewing easier and more intuitive.

Machine & Tools _ Get comfortable with the machine
Mastering the machine and tools used in construction – start with hand stitching, you do not need a machine to sew. Then the home machine, followed by the overlock stitch. In a manner and at a pace that does not overwhelm. We focus on basics, and french seams for starters. Then you will.learn to sew specific parts of a garment.

Understandng Production- Home (Cottage), Indie, Industry, what every teh level

Everyone Should Understand the basic theories of sewing.


Just Jump In - You must have something to sew.
Start with a medium woven fabric such as cotton. Start with a plain fabric leave, Plaids, Diagonals, Stripes, or Large Designs. Do Pin and baste, hold of on the shortcuts


1- First learn the process. The a,b,c’s OF IT. Do not stress perfection
2- Second execute it on your own. A second time reinforces the “how”
3- Focus on the details that perfect the results

BONUS- Newbies learning for teh joy- Press as you work It makes the outcome seem so much better.

There are the three construction techniqes I use, and teach to create garments.

1- A simplified take grounded in the traditional European/Western methods I studied these revolve around the 4 essential basic slopers -The skirt, pants, bodice sleeves as well as the art of manipulating these to create the garments you want.

2- Ethnic patterns patten making and measuring rooted in African approaches to clothing.

3- Also ethnic, but rooted I’m my Caribbean background specifically Trini understanding fabric, cloth and its manipulation cutting, folding/pleating, wrapping, tying.



Attention to surface detail be that color, print, pattern or embellishment.

Finishing – edge finishes options and executions, perfect hems, shortening lengthening

I also focus on closing options- commercial as well as creating your own from organic to digitally designing 3d printed zippers – buttonholes ties, and yes zippers, including hidden zippers.

In this group many had never held a needle so we started with basic hand sewing..


I DO NOT USE Commercial Patterns for sewing in my workshops. Very few can be used without major adjustments and that discourages beginners.

When is a commercial pattern ok
I have been asked to show how to use a commercial pattern and will consider that with a focus on putting together various elements, such as pockets etc but its best when one understand how to adjust a pattern to properly fit the wearer.


There are YouTube videos and there are YouTube videos. In short be careful what/who you choose to learn from as a beginner. I’ve had to draw the line at correcting work put together following YouTube videos. There were simple things that were not taught, glossed over, completely inaccurate or simply misunderstood. Which is why I work and rework all videos with live participants.

It’s all about style of learning and your instructors techniques. Take at least a class with an instructor, till you find one you feel comfortable with.

Nex From Hobby To Pro-Am or Industrial

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