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  • FIRST POST
    • Majik
    • By Majik 13th Oct 06, 3:32 PM
    • 136Posts
    • 63Thanks
    Majik
    Learning to sew....
    • #1
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:32 PM
    Learning to sew.... 13th Oct 06 at 3:32 PM
    Please don't laugh too hard, but I am seriously considering learning to sew at the ripe old age of 29 to start a wee business making sports clothes for the martial art I am involved in.

    I'll be sewing pleather, lycra, velvet and a myriad of other materials hopefully, and am looking for some way to get started. My plan is to grab a machine from either Aldi or the local second hand shop and get stuck in to try it all out, but being pointed in the right direction would help

    Anyone any tips, suggestions or insights which may help? Am I expecting too much of myself to think I will be able to sew to a reasonable level quickly with a machine? Anyone else on here sew dance costumes (the closest thing I can think of) and has a bit of experience to share?

    Cheers in advance,

    Maj (A slightly embarrassed male.....)

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    Last edited by Former MSE Rose; 02-06-2009 at 7:07 PM.
Page 1
    • skintchick
    • By skintchick 13th Oct 06, 3:36 PM
    • 14,668 Posts
    • 23,339 Thanks
    skintchick
    • #2
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:36 PM
    • #2
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:36 PM
    Hi - you will need specialist needles for leather and stretchy fabrics, and you also need a decent machine, otherwise it will drive you mad.

    It's not so much the using the machine that might cause you problems, as all the cutting out of pieces, making sure the naps runs the right way, and following the pattern instructions.

    But if you take it slowly and READ THE INSTRUCTIONS then you should be fine.

    I think you might want to start with simple patterns first, like a skirt or simple top, before trying a catsuit.

    The machine is important though - get a decent one.

    And good luck!
    DFW Nerd Club member 023...DFD 9.2.2007
    married 21 6 08 Angel babies' birth dates 3.10.08 * 4.3.11 * 11.11.11 * 17.3.12 * 2.7.12 My live baby's birth date 22 7 09 I'm due another baby at the end of July 2014!
  • Thriftylady
    • #3
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:39 PM
    • #3
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:39 PM
    Sewing itself is dead simple, its the cutting of the cloth that can be tricky, because if you don't cut it the right way (on the grain or whatever) it might not hang right once its sewn. But thats not to say that you can't learn !!
  • Thriftylady
    • #4
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:40 PM
    • #4
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:40 PM
    My post overlapped with SkintChick's......great minds think alike and all that...
    • Majik
    • By Majik 13th Oct 06, 3:45 PM
    • 136 Posts
    • 63 Thanks
    Majik
    • #5
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:45 PM
    • #5
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:45 PM
    Thanks guys - it's quite encouraging to know the pattern is the hard bit, rather than the actual sewing. I am producing my own patterns based slightly on previous garments I've purchased, so am hoping I can work out the measurements for customers from there. I'm a logical bloke, so I'm hoping so

    Just clear something up for me - four way stretch material means it goes up down, left, right - correct? As a pose to two way, which goes left, right or up, down - depending which way I have it.

    Cheers guys!

    Maj
    • skintchick
    • By skintchick 13th Oct 06, 3:48 PM
    • 14,668 Posts
    • 23,339 Thanks
    skintchick
    • #6
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:48 PM
    • #6
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:48 PM
    Not sure.

    But I would be worried about making my own patterns - do you know about darts and naps and seam allowance and notches etc???

    Making a piece bigger isn;t just about making it bigger evenly all the way round - sometimes it varies according to the shape of the piece.

    I think you could get into difficulties if you're not going to buy patterns.
    DFW Nerd Club member 023...DFD 9.2.2007
    married 21 6 08 Angel babies' birth dates 3.10.08 * 4.3.11 * 11.11.11 * 17.3.12 * 2.7.12 My live baby's birth date 22 7 09 I'm due another baby at the end of July 2014!
    • Majik
    • By Majik 13th Oct 06, 3:52 PM
    • 136 Posts
    • 63 Thanks
    Majik
    • #7
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:52 PM
    • #7
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:52 PM
    Hmmm... the problem is that for the stuff I am hopefully going to be producing, there aren't really patterns available. I will, however, go and purchase some patterns which should be close enough (i.e - your catsuit suggestion which I like) to give me a starting point.

    Oh, and you're right - I have NO idea what naps or notches are Seam allowance I can probably suss out

    Maj
    • Rikki
    • By Rikki 13th Oct 06, 3:54 PM
    • 20,648 Posts
    • 21,773 Thanks
    Rikki
    • #8
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:54 PM
    • #8
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:54 PM
    PJ bottoms would give you a patern for the loose fitting trousers.
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    • tanith
    • By tanith 13th Oct 06, 3:55 PM
    • 7,982 Posts
    • 8,589 Thanks
    tanith
    • #9
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:55 PM
    • #9
    • 13th Oct 06, 3:55 PM
    I wish you luck with your plan but can I just say that sewing leather and lycra are a devil for an experienced machinist , please don't go and buy loads of materials and stuff till you have learnt how , I also think you need a specialist machine for these items , an ordinary machine won't do....

    I think it may be more complicated than you think, you will need to overlock seams as well to stop fraying ....
    #6 of the SKI-ers Club

    "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke
  • frugalfairy
    Skintchick is right, just making pattern pieces bigger/smaller won't necessarily get a good fit, although if you're making sports clothes out of stretchy lycra it will be slightly easier as the fabric will stretch over the wobbly curvy bits. Maybe a copy of Winifred Aldrich's books (try the public library) on patterncutting will help in that respect?

    You're right that 4 way stretch means all directions, and two way usually means one way or the other (IYSWIM). You will need stretch needles for those fabrics and either special leather ones for pleather or sharp denim ones.

    I don't know what kind of machine Aldi is selling but personally I would go for a reconditioned heavy model from a second hand shop if you can find one, if you're going to be sewing tough/awkward fabrics like that, you will need a lot of patience if you go for a lightweight machine.

    Good luck (nothing wrong with being a bloke who sews - lots of designers are men!). FF
    • skintchick
    • By skintchick 13th Oct 06, 3:57 PM
    • 14,668 Posts
    • 23,339 Thanks
    skintchick
    I think getting patterns you can adapt is a great idea. If you post what things you need to make maybe we can suggest some.

    I agree with tanith that a good machine is vital.
    DFW Nerd Club member 023...DFD 9.2.2007
    married 21 6 08 Angel babies' birth dates 3.10.08 * 4.3.11 * 11.11.11 * 17.3.12 * 2.7.12 My live baby's birth date 22 7 09 I'm due another baby at the end of July 2014!
    • Majik
    • By Majik 13th Oct 06, 3:58 PM
    • 136 Posts
    • 63 Thanks
    Majik
    PLEATHER guys Not leather It's kinda shiny PVC stuff.

    I won't be spending a fortune tan, and thanks for the prewarn - most appreciated! I'll have a good old go at it, but I've sourced some lycra and pleather offcuts to start the ball rolling with practicing.

    Love the pj bottoms idea - thanks Rikki.

    Maj
    • skintchick
    • By skintchick 13th Oct 06, 3:59 PM
    • 14,668 Posts
    • 23,339 Thanks
    skintchick
    PLeather will be harder to sew than leather. What the hell costumes do you wear?? Pleather and velvet!!! Is it some kind of cult?
    DFW Nerd Club member 023...DFD 9.2.2007
    married 21 6 08 Angel babies' birth dates 3.10.08 * 4.3.11 * 11.11.11 * 17.3.12 * 2.7.12 My live baby's birth date 22 7 09 I'm due another baby at the end of July 2014!
    • tanith
    • By tanith 13th Oct 06, 4:03 PM
    • 7,982 Posts
    • 8,589 Thanks
    tanith
    PLeather will be harder to sew than leather. What the hell costumes do you wear?? Pleather and velvet!!! Is it some kind of cult?
    by skintchick

    .......................
    #6 of the SKI-ers Club

    "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke
  • tawnyowls
    Please don't laugh too hard, but I am seriously considering learning to sew at the ripe old age of 29 to start a wee business making sports clothes for the martial art I am involved in.

    I'll be sewing pleather, lycra, velvet and a myriad of other materials hopefully, and am looking for some way to get started. My plan is to grab a machine from either Aldi or the local second hand shop and get stuck in to try it all out, but being pointed in the right direction would help
    by Majik
    I didn't start (machine) sewing till I was in my 30s (turned off it by sewing classes in school) - no need for you to be embarrassed; I reckon most of us are just impressed by a chap sewing at all! The Aldi one hitting the shops on Sunday is a good one; I bought it the last time it was in (same make; Delta), and I've sewn thick fabrics such as denim and four layers of fleece with it. Even 2nd-hand, I doubt you'd pay much less, and it is quite an easy machine to use.
    • lush walrus
    • By lush walrus 13th Oct 06, 4:11 PM
    • 1,931 Posts
    • 1,605 Thanks
    lush walrus
    Other thing that may be worth mentioning, is if you are planning to put any form of sewn lettering onto them (ie: team names etc) then I would seriously consider getting a embroidery / sewing machine or getting someone else to do it on an embroidery machine.

    And watch out for the cheap machines, you need a robust one or else it will just be money wasted. To give you an idea I would not consider any brand new machine under about £600. A cheaper machine will invariably not be able to cope with the matrials you are considering.
  • laughing cow
    Have you thought about doing a course or class to get some help and encouragement? :confused:

    There's lots of nightschool classes available and you can even do courses at John Lewis. I did some day courses at John Lewis in Oxford Street and they were excellent. OK, they were pricier than nightschool at 50 for a day course (so not strictly O/S I suppose), but all materials were included, it was a small group and the teachers were great. Food was provided too, and to be honest, there was so much of it - morning coffee and cakes, hot and cold buffet lunch with puddings and afternoon tea with more cakes and biscuits, that the 50 was worth it The ladies who teach all work in the fabrics department and you can pop back to the shop for advice in the future if you get stuck with something. They also do 2 hour workshops for specific projects - eg making a bag, making sleeves etc - I think they're about 20. I'd definitely recommend them to anyone in the London area, but they are very popular so you have to book well in advance.
    • Majik
    • By Majik 13th Oct 06, 4:42 PM
    • 136 Posts
    • 63 Thanks
    Majik
    Thanks tawny - I'm hoping that even if the Aldi one gives me a decent start, then you can't go wrong for £40.

    I've looked around the area for local courses, but they're all a bit long - I need day courses to get me going and thats about it - I tend to learn better by getting stuck in and trying

    Blimey Walrus - £600!!!!! I'll start with the Aldi one and see how it goes.

    Some kind of cult Well, yes actually.... It's a dark, dark secret

    Majik
    • Penny Watcher
    • By Penny Watcher 13th Oct 06, 4:44 PM
    • 3,412 Posts
    • 5,824 Thanks
    Penny Watcher
    PLeather will be harder to sew than leather. What the hell costumes do you wear?? Pleather and velvet!!! Is it some kind of cult?
    by skintchick
    Pfft - you're silly

    At last - a question I'm qualified to answer! I studied dress-making / needlework at school for years. I even made my own wedding dress. :rolleyes:

    Just a couple of points

    • If you have stretch material eg Lycra you need to either make the seam stretchy by using stretchy thread and a slightly zig-zag stitch OR stabilise the seam by using a bias binding or thin ribbon along the seam line. I guess as you're using Lycra for sports clothes it'll be the first option.

    • As far as I remember Lycra is 'knitted' not 'woven' (meaning it's made from one long piece of filament (sp?) rather than loads of different threads woven together). This is important because if you make a whole in it, it can ladder like nylon tights. Therefore it is important to use a more rounded sewing machine needle that will push round the Lycra rather than a sharpe one which could cut through the Lycra thread (IYSWIM).

    • Read as much as you can before you start. Setting in sleeves, making waist-bands and inserting zips are an art in themselves, but far from difficult if you know what you're doing.

    • You might need to invest in an overlocking machine. These finsish off the seams, especially on stretchy material. Buy the best sewing machine you can afford, you can burn out the motor on a cheap machine. You have to be carefull to 'finish off' all exposed seams otherwise they'll fray. Have a look in your own clothes and see how it's done

    • Whatever it is you're trying to copy, buy one and carefully take it apart to see how it's made. There might be some hidden extras you hadn't been expecting - usually stiffening that gives the garment shape in collars, edges and waistbands.

    • Velvet is a whole differnt ball game. Would you believe it has a right way up and a wrong way up. It's a bit like a dog's coat in that it lies slightly flat in one direction (nap). Depending on which way up it is the light reflects from it in different ways. It's very important to have all your pieces cut in the same direction or your finished garment will look different colours and it will be difficult to sew together.

    • I've never sewn Pleather so I can't comment.


    The very best of luck and good on ya for taking the initiative. It's not quite as easy as you think to make clothes of the quality you'd want to buy, but with a bit of research and if you stick at it I'm certain you'll succeed

    You cannot live as I have lived an not end up like me.

    Oi you lot - please GIVE BLOOD - you never know when you and yours might need it back! 52 pints so far.
  • linzibean
    PVC sewing can be infuriating - but there are some ways to mak it easier. Obviously sewing with the leathery sides together will be easiest, but if not, use a coated sewing machine foot (tefln coated usually), or sew a ribbon to the garment where you want the stitching line. Not always practical of course! PVC also has directional give like velvet, so make sure you cut everything the same way (patterns will have arrows on).

    Good luck! I sew commercially now and then, and it can be a true hassle I'm doing ym own wedding dress too next year.... I;m a bit nervous as the fabric is pricey!!
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