The best way to gain sewing skills is to look at your local community colleges and find out if they have a Fashion department. It might also be called Textile Arts or something like that. Anyway, these departments are likely to have courses in professional sewing technique, garment construction, pattern drafting, and fitting/tailoring. Community colleges are totally affordable, and are a cheaper alternative (especially for hobbyists) than taking courses at a dedicated trade school.
If you have no community colleges in your area, you can also check out local mom-and-pop sewing machine stores, which usually offer various types of sewing classes or even one-on-one instruction. Joann and other fabric store chains sometimes offer sewing classes too.
The problem with trying to learn from family members is that it depends entirely on their skill level, which often turns out to be very amateur or just not appropriate for costuming. (One of my friends learned to sew from his grandmother, but the problem was that grandma was a quilter and didn't know much about garment construction. I caught a lot of bad habits he'd picked up as a consequence.) They also may not be very good at teaching, which is a whole other skill in itself.
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Last edited by Evil Bishounen : 12-02-2012 at 05:35 PM.
Reason: OP removed the sexist language