On Sewing

fabrics-patternsShe who begins to learn the sewing craft has two equally important fields of study: that of the seamstress and that of the designer. When both qualities are attained, namely, that of being able to impart style and good workmanship to a garment, the triumph is complete. If the design cannot measure up to these points, there is no reason for its acceptance. Cloth is the medium of the dressmaker, just as clay and stone are mediums of the sculptor. Like the sculptor, the dress maker must understand her medium. She must know how fabric behaves, what she can do with it, and what its limitations are. Successful designers select their materials with care and handle them sympathetically – never demanding the fabric to perform things it can’t do properly, but gently guide and coax it, perhaps to do what it is known to do well, as gabardine to form a sporty suit, or discover new uses for an old favorite, for example when tweed discovers itself in pastel shades and morphs from the essential outdoor fabric into a cocktail suit to be worn with mass of beads at the throat and a smart little hat.
So, the very first lesson, the foundation upon which the whole craft of sewing is built upon, is to familiarize oneself with fabric. It is a practical quest as well as a spiritual one. One should know what one can afford to spend, and then in selecting should consider the circumstances under which the garments will be worn and how they will be laundered. Flat, simple garments are easily laundered at home; and if sent to a laundry, the charge is less than for more elaborate garments. Expensive garments beyond one’s means are not good taste. If you are not very experienced in fabric shopping, it would be wise to bring samples of materials to an advanced seamstress friend for criticism, before purchasing.

Do not let the occasional contrariness of the needle or sudden limp obstinacy of the thread turn you away from sewing! In time all difficulties will be passed, and you will become your own seamstress.

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