I was going to add some thoughts about your comments right in my previous post, but considering how helpful I’m finding your guidance in my sewing class dilemma, I decided to make a new post entirely. This way everyone will see it, and perhaps suggest more/different alternatives.
Actually, reading through what you’re about to read below, this post accurately portrays exactly how insane I am. Feel free to be amused.
First, let me tell you a small story. I have a rotation student right now in lab – a first-year graduate student who follows me around every day, watches me do experiments and mimics my methods when she tries things out for herself, with the eventual goal of deciding whether our lab is for her or not. The other day she told me, “you are a good teacher. You mention the tiniest of details for all procedures, never leaving it up to me to figure anything out.”
Similarly, let’s say I’m explaining to someone how to do a slipped-stitch selvedge (the fabric is stockinette or mainly stockinette). Do you think I mention that on the right side, the first stitch is slipped k-wise, and on the wrong side the first stitch is slipped p-wise? Feel free to roll your eyes at my crazy meticulousness.
So, thank you all for your words of encouragement and your suggestions! I agree with those of you who recommended I inquire about classes at a sewing machine store, preferably an upper-end one like Bernina. That’d be awesome! I haven’t seen a store like that in my area, though (please keep in mind I’m car-less).
As for being able to teach myself to sew from a book, just like I did for knitting – I’ve tried with absolutely zero success. I’ve had the easiest time with Sewing 101, but not enough to buy my own copy (just keep borrowing it from the library). I do have my own copy of Reader’s Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing, and I love that book! I leaf through in amazement because it’s so detailed and doesn’t depend on patterns to teach technique. But, wow, it’s over my head right now… one day, one day.
I also have a habit of borrowing Singer’s The New Sewing Essentials, and have just requested a copy of Sew Basic: 34 Essential Skills for Sewing with Confidence on Angela’s recommendation. They know me well at the library ;).
I’m usually quite good at learning from pictures and verbal descriptions, but… Here’s the thing – you know I’m a lab bench scientist, right? Well, learning lab techniques from a book (like this one) is frustrating, confusing, and probably useless in most cases. For whatever reason, sewing is the same way for me. I just need to see someone else do it, once, and I’ll be all set.
I’ve found it crucial to have someone on hand to guide me through the little details, like how to pin two fabrics together when sewing (how frequently, which way the pins face, the edge which should go into the sewing machine first, etc.). This is equivalent to being in the lab and having someone show you exactly how cool the media has to be before antibiotics are added. Sure, both things are explained in books, but it makes so much more sense to just see someone else do it, once.
I know it probably doesn’t matter to the final outcome, but to me, it really does. I can’t emphasize it enough – it may not matter to someone else, it may not matter to most people, but I need rigid instruction about the tiniest of details. And books/internet don’t cut it for me.
So, yeah, that’s that. I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for sewing machine stores, retired seamstresses and home ec. teachers, affordable (both in terms of time and money) high-caliber sewing classes, and new medications to ease my sewing uptightness. At least I don’t deny it ;).