Teaching a complete beginner

posted in: Finished projects | 7

My lovely daughter-in-law Bianca is off to Brazil today,  and she wanted to make something to wear in the hot sunshine. She is a complete beginner when it comes to sewing and using a sewing machine. In fact, she tells me straight away the last time she sewed something was Barbie outfits with her Grandma. She had never used a sewing machine, and had never made a garment.

I was glad that chose a nice simple top from a website called A beautiful mess.

Pattern for drawstring top
Drawstring top (pattern)

It requires a few measurements but no pattern, so we set to work. Bianca selected a bright viscose fabric from my cupboard. By choosing a check she found she would have some lines to work with. Something as simple as using the shears the right way round, and how to pin fabric together, needed to be transmitted.

Young woman learning dressmaking
Bianca cuts the cloth

Bianca was a bit worried about the speed of the machine so we set the speed to tortoise-slow. She felt it was a bit like learning to drive and she sewed nice straight seams, following the pattern on the fabric. It went off a little towards the end, giving her the opportunity to learn how to use a seam ripper.

Young woman using a sewing machine
Sewing up the straps

Bianca is good at ironing, but today she learnt to press. First to set the stitches and then to press open the seams. I emphasised how important it was to press the cloth after every procedure.

Young woman ironing
Pressing open the seams

Bianca is a perfectionist and I would say she has the potential to become a good seamstress. She works neatly and methodically, and is keen to get it right. Sewing down the seam allowances to create arm-holes required Bianca to pivot in the cloth and to come up the other side, a technique that will be useful when she comes to zips and button holes.

Close up of fabric with stitching
Nice even seams Bianca!

Sewing long straight seams to create the casing, and the hem took a hour or so. The way that the top layer is pushed forward as you sew was something I forgot to mention. We put it right with some tiny pleats on the wrong side, and I showed Bianca how to keep the fabric slightly taught  in order to keep the two layers moving at the same speed.  When you have been sewing for years you don’t necessarily remember what it is you do to get a good result. When it came to inserting the ties into the casing I started looking for a hair grip or safety pin. Bianca used a pencil and had it done in double quick time. Then a final press and she put the top on.

Girl in home-made summery top
Bianca’s first ever hand made garment


Girl in brightly coloured lose top
Back view

What a pleasure  to teach someone who wants to learn, listens carefully and has sufficient patience to follow the task through. To be honest I thought the pattern might be a bit too billowy. But I think Bianca has a good understanding of her own figure, and taste, and actually chose something that flatters her full bust and slim legs. Doesn’t she look great? As a first attempt I would certainly give her 10 out of 10!

7 Responses

  1. Kbenco

    You make an excellent team. The top looks beautifully cool and suitable for summer in Brazil. Maybe she should look out for a copy of
    Manequim whilst she is away ;).

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