The second question I should really answer before going onto the actual lessons. What qualifies me to be teaching you to sew? The short answer is absolutely nothing. I don’t have a degree in fashion design or education or formal training of any kind.
However, there is a longer, more complex answer that is the real reason I’m writing this blog. First, I was asked to write it. Several people, all within a month asked me for one tip, another, or an entire set of lessons. I figure I should just go along with that. As for the rest, well, I’ll just give you a quick chronology of my sewing experiences.
I’ve been sewing since I was about 7. I found out that one of my cousins was expecting (there’s a big gap between my age and that of most of my cousins), and I wanted to have something special for the new baby when she was born. The short version of the story involves my mom finding a stuffed animal panel of a carousel horse in Wal-Mart one day and letting me buy it. She taught me to hand-sew and I worked for months on it. From that point on, whenever we were expecting a new baby in the family, I would make a stuffed animal for her (we had lots of girls). It wasn’t until I was about 10 that I got to start using the sewing machine. I didn’t sew very much after I went into high school. There wasn’t time, and I didn’t have much of a use for it. During that time, though, I took up various kinds of embroidery.
I went into the Army during high school and found my sewing skills were valued by soldiers who didn’t want to pay to have their uniforms repaired or altered. Then in 2005, I got involved with the Empire of Chivalry and Steel – a Renaissance re-enactment group. It was through that group that I received the majority of my tutelage in clothing creation.
Despite what you may think of the crazy Renaissance re-enactors (or “Rennies”), they are not wearing dime store costumes. In fact, none of them I ever met ever referred to their clothing as a costume. They wear functional clothing that is made in the style of the time period ranging between the Crusades and the Elizabethan era. That means that everything I learned to make during that time was as much clothing as the shirt you are (most likely) wearing today. I was very lucky to receive my tutelage from people who had been making their own clothing for decades, one of which was and is a professional costumer in Las Vegas.
When I moved on to my university life I again let my sewing fall by the wayside. I did a little here and there, but didn’t really make anything for about two years. Then, I offered sewing lessons to one of my cousins’ daughters (we have a really big family) and found I really loved teaching her. At the time, my daughter wanted to learn, but she wasn’t quite patient enough at the time.
Then, the next year, my last at Grand Canyon University, I was lucky enough to get an on-campus job in the theatre’s costume shop. My boss was amazing. She taught me so many amazing things and increased my knowledge a hundred-fold. I also got the opportunity to teach fellow university students the basics of sewing. I also got to really expand on my skills in my own time, completing costumes that I didn’t think were possible for the Phoenix Comicon. My friends started to ask me how to make the costumes they wanted, and I helped them as much as I could.
Then I moved to Canada, out of their reach, and they still asked for my help. That’s why I’ve started this section of my blog.