What is it about this craft that has taken your fancy? Are you keen to develop a skill that you can make money from (for example, making cushion covers or creating felt toys to sell on eBay or Etsy) or are you simply looking to become more handy around the house (for instance, being able to sew buttons back on your shirts or taking up trouser legs that are too long)?
Regardless of why you want to learn to sew, you should know that there are various industries, household crafts and textile arts that make use of sewing. So before you take the next step and look at signing up for sewing lessons, take a glance at the brief history of sewing provided below and the different categories that you might like to focus your attention on.
Sewing is a craft that involves attaching or fastening fabrics to other textiles using stitches created with a needle and thread. The first reported use of the term was in the 14th century.
It is believed that Stone Age humans sewed clothing (often made from animal skin and fur) using needles made from bone, ivory or antler and thread that would have come from parts of an animal’s body, like veins, for example.
Back then, of course, all sewing would have been done by hand. In fact, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the sewing machine was invented and that sewn products could be produced on a much bigger scale. The 2oth century saw a rise in technology and we began to see mass production of items like clothing.
The first sewing machine was invented in the 19th century and has led to many more advanced versions over the years. Photo on Visualhunt
That said, hand sewing is still seen as a skill and is practised around the world.
Sewing is often associated with clothing and household linens but it is also used in a variety of industries like bookbinding, shoemaking, and sailmaking. Sewing is particularly popular in the manufacturing of sporting goods like badged football shirts or other sponsored sportswear.
Many beginners choose to take sewing classes to speed up the learning process but it is not just newbies that benefit from some sewing tuition.
A sewing instructor can be very useful in helping experienced craftsmen and women to expand on their skills. Just think, rather than using someone else’s sewing patterns to work from, you could gain enough confidence to actually design your own and be the true brains behind your creation!
That said, if you are a complete novice or someone who is an expert in dressmaking but wants to turn their attention to sewing soft furnishing, then there is a class out there for you. Research acquired by the Craft Hobby Association indicates that more than 4 million people do sewing in connection to their home and that the same number of hobbyists dabble in dressmaking.
With so many different uses for the craft, you need to ask yourself what it is you want to learn to sew for, how you’d like to learn the skill and what budget you have to spend on developing your skill.
Firstly you need to figure out what exactly you want to take away from your sewing lessons.
Are you looking to save money by refashioning some of your old clothes in place of buying a new summer wardrobe? Are you looking to repair some old bags or items of clothing belonging to the kids that you never got around to doing because you weren’t sure how best to approach the tasks? Or, might you be keen to create goods that you could sell like felt toys for toddlers or patchwork quilts for newborn babies?
What do you want to learn to sew for? Photo on VisualHunt
No matter which path you choose to go down, you are likely to want to know how to set up and use a sewing machine.
Even if you don’t have a top of the range sewing machine at home (the mini sewing machines on the market are great for first-timers who are playing around with the craft as a hobby), you can still benefit from being taught how to use a sewing machine correctly: i.e. how to thread it, which needle to use, what the foot pedal is used for and, of course, sewing machine safety.
Other areas of the craft that you might be able to learn more about, depending on the workshop you attend, are:
Do you have a pair of trousers lying around that you simply can’t wear anymore because a button is missing? Or do you have a shirt that has lost a button and is now too inappropriately low to wear out and about? You can save yourself the hassle of going out and replacing them by just repairing them, to make them as good as new.
A basic sewing class will inform you how to go about these general household tasks and will advise which equipment to use (you can easily get by for a while with just a small sewing kit like those you get inside a Christmas cracker!). For bigger projects like re-fastening a piece of leather to a trainer, you may need to use a stronger needle and thicker thread.
As we all know, fashions come back around. Who would have thought that oversized denim jackets from the 80s and 90s would make their appearance again this decade? While the well-worn look is very in, you may not be too pleased walking around with holes in your jacket so learning to sew could help you with that matter.
However, you may also like to jazz up your old statement piece, and we all know that embroidery is a big trend this season! Using your newfound skills, you could attach sequins, badges, fringes and more to your denim jacket or try your hand at embellishing it with an embroidery design.
When it comes to embroidery, a lot of skill is required. That is why there are so many businesses now offering courses in this area of the craft (not to mention because of how popular embroidery is in fashion too).
An embroidery class at sewing school will often teach you to follow patterns while also teaching you how to use a special sewing and embroidery machine. Embroidery can be seen on almost every textile nowadays, whether it’s cushions, bedding, bags, slipper shoes, shirts, blouses, t-shirts, jeans, trousers, shorts, jackets or coats.
Beginner quilting has always been quite a popular form of sewing for hobbyists, and the craft is particularly popular when it comes to children’s rooms. You could set up an Etsy shop selling your handmade quilted blankets (with the offer of personalisation another big selling point, hint hint) and begin raking in cash from new parents or people looking for an extra special gift to offer at a baby shower or following the birth of a child.
Of course, quilting isn’t just for kids. Many people associate quilting fabric like reversible quilted throws for beds as luxury items and will, therefore, pay for these high-quality bed linen pieces.
Dressmaking is quite a broad subject and isn’t restricted to just dresses. Back in the day, women wore dresses day in day out which is where the term derives from but dressmaking in today’s world covers the production of all clothing, whether for men or women, boys or girls. Why not try something quite original and sign up for a course that teaches you how to design, measure up and then make women’s lingerie?
Buying ready made soft furnishings like cushion covers and curtains can be very expensive. That is why learning to sew in this area of the craft can not only help you to cut down on your spending but it can also enable you to make products for your home that are exactly what you want.
There is no need to compromise on fabric, size or design when you can effectively design and create your own! What’s more, you may have an old pair of curtains that would be perfect for a window if it weren’t for their length. If you have the skill, you can take up such textiles and make them fit in with your space and decor.
Finally, crafts have become a popular hobby for students and stay at home mums who have access to online shops. It’s a great way of getting some income from the comfort of your own home, and all you need to do to market them is to upload some images on Instagram and attract a following. With classes, you can learn the basics in making dolls, stuffed or cuddly animals, felt mobiles for babies’ rooms, and much more.
Get your unique kids’ creations seen by setting up an Etsy shop. Photo credit: ♕ Lilla Coelho on Visualhunt
It doesn’t matter where you are based, you can find a range of suitable sewing classes for all levels across the country, in cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow.
What’s more, if you can’t find the class you want in your local village hall, you can easily access a variety of courses or tutorials online. These might cover things like sewing for beginners, cross stitch, knitting, threading seams, choosing sewing supplies, crochet, adjusting a waistband, inserting an invisible zipper or how to construct products with piping or other embellishments.
Find a sewing class in major UK cities on Superprof:
Furthermore, you might like to take your learning at your own pace and acquire the help of a personal tutor with expertise in your desired area of sewing.
At Superprof, you’ll find instructors who can either give you tips and advice by email with pictures or by having a one-to-one lesson on Skype or Facetime.