Sew Fast Sew Easy: All You Need to Know When You Start to Sew

BOOK: Sew Fast Sew Easy: All You Need to Know When You Start to Sew

Table of Contents

Title Page
How to Use This Book
Chapter 1
Your Survival Sewing Kit:
Tools of the Trade
Chapter 2
Fabric Has Personality:
First of All, What Is Fabric?
Sportswear Fabrics for Casual Wear
Glamorous Fabrics
Getting to Know Your Grains
Chapter 3
Before You Start Cutting:
Chapter 4
The Cutting Rules
Chapter 5
Sewing Machine Fear:
An Industrial Versus a Home Sewing Machine
The Parts of Your Sewing Machine
Threading Your Machine
Using a Seam Guide
Chapter 6
Sewing Introductions
Chapter 7
Sewing Introductions
Chapter 8
Sewing Instructions
Chapter 9
Finishing Up Your Skirt
Getting the Right Fit for You
Finishing Off the Seams of Your Skirt
Putting the Elastic into Your Skirt
Finishing the Slit in Your Skirt
Copyright Page


I want to thank all the students I’ve had. They were my inspiration to write this book, which makes sewing fast and easy to learn in our busy lives. Thank you, Mrs. Goldberg, my next-door neighbor, who, when I was a child, encouraged all my curiosity about sewing, knitting, and crocheting. Thank you to my dearest friends, Martha Weissberg, Janice Harrison, and Dominic Harris, who challenged me by saying “No one needs another sewing book.” Carl Raymond, whose expert guidance on the book and its presentation was priceless. Dorsey Mills, who saw my vision. Georgia Rucker, for her brilliant artistic hand both on the book and on the Web site. Deborah Green, who helped organize my book, and Liz Rourke, who helped edit the book with the eyes of a beginner sewer. Julia Pastore, my editor at St. Martin’s Press, who got the book into its final shape and without whom this book never would have been the very best guide to sewing for beginners. Thanks to my agent, Susan Protter, who carried me through some tough times. And many thanks to the gals who work and teach in my place—they keep me in touch with our customer base and their needs while learning to sew. Thank you, Mom, for all your support.


Ever looked in a clothing store window and thought
could do that? Ever wanted to experiment with some fabric and create a design entirely your own? Ever wanted to just be able to sew your own hems? If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at sewing, this is the book for you. Having taught sewing for more than fifteen years, I know all the fears and frustrations of the first-time sewer—and how to solve them. Covering all of the basics, from supplies to fabrics and patterns, this step-by-step workbook will have you sewing in no time—without fuddy-duddy, time-consuming techniques.


For me, sewing has always been a form of creative expression. I remember my first sewing machine—a tiny Singer that operated by hand. I spent hours happily dressing my dolls in my own creations. A designer was born! After attending Parsons School of Design, I worked for twenty-nine years as a designer in New York’s garment district, even owning my own sportswear company for a time. Working with expert pattern cutters, drapers, and sample makers taught me the easiest, most efficient ways to make any sewing project. I’ve used those methods in classes at my Sew Fast Sew Easy shop to help hundreds experience the joys of sewing.


Students always ask me to recommend a sewing guide and I draw a blank. Too many guides contain outdated photographs, confusing directions, and are just plain boring. The
Sew Fast Sew Easy
workbook is my attempt to change all of that. With clear and easy-to-follow directions and illustrations, you’ll learn everything you need to know to sew most projects. Plus, you’ll have the directions and patterns necessary to create three of my favorites: an envelope pillow cover, a tote bag, and a skirt.


Once you have the ground rules down pat, it just takes practice, patience, and time to develop your skills. You’ll make lots of mistakes, but that’s the only way to learn. I often say to students, “If I give you a pair of ballet toe shoes, could you go on point right away?” Give it a chance, and I know you’ll find the benefits of sewing irresistible. Not only does it build confidence and self-esteem, but using your hands and your mind to create something will relax you. My greatest joy in life is being able to express myself through this craft of sewing. I hope it will be the same for you.

How to Use This Book

The first five chapters will familiarize you with the tools, terms, and techniques you’ll be using. Read these chapters carefully, but don’t worry if everything doesn’t make complete sense the first time around; it will become clearer as you actually begin to make a project. I suggest making the items in the order they appear in the workbook. You’ll appreciate the practice of making a pillow cover and a tote bag before moving on to the skirt.


Before you begin, always make sure you have on hand all the supplies you’ll need. Being well prepared will save you lots of time. Also, be sure to read through the entire assembly method. Familiarize yourself with the process, look up any terms you don’t know in the glossary, and flip back to earlier chapters to refresh your memory, if necessary. Always review the cutting rules before beginning a project.


Then, take your time and follow the assembly step-by-step. Look at the accompanying illustrations for clarification. Resist the urge to jump ahead, skip steps, or jumble the procedure. Move on only after you’ve fully completed a step. Don’t be afraid to redo a step if it hasn’t turned out quite right. And, most of all, relax and have fun.


Now, let’s get started!

Chapter 1

Your Survival Sewing Kit:


Tools of the Trade

With these supplies—or notions as they are frequently called—on hand, you’ll be able to complete most sewing projects. You should be able to find all the items in any sewing or craft store.




Scissors, an 8- to 10-inch pair.

The best kind is all metal. They will cut fabric easily and will last much longer. Remember that scissors are an extension of your own hand and are a very important tool. They must remain sharp—there is nothing more frustrating than dull scissors (don’t use them to cut paper—just fabric!). The handles of the scissors are designed for you to hold them a certain way. This will help you to cut better. The longer oblong opening is for you to insert the first three fingers of your hand and the circular hole is for your thumb.

Clear ruler, 18 inches by 2 inches
. A see-through ruler makes it easy to lay a pattern out correctly and to make corrections while fitting.

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