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Unread 12-06-2012, 12:47 AM   #1
avataraang17
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How to start sewing?

Hey guys, I'm pretty new to cosplaying in general, so I wanted to start making my first costume. I want to be able to make some parts of it myself, to get down to details and everything. I have to idea how to get into sewing or anything like it though. Can someone tell me what you think I should do? Maybe basic sewing kits? I'm 14 so I'm not really that old.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 01:50 AM   #2
Evil Bishounen
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I'm guessing that because you're asking here, you don't have any family members able to get you started? (That's okay if you don't. I didn't, either. I'm the only person in my family that sews, and I started by experimenting with a couple of very old machines inherited from a deceased grandmother.)

Do you have any fabric stores in your area, like Joann or Hancock? Many fabric stores offer sewing classes, so you and your parent(s) can call around to your local fabric stores and ask. Sometimes they have classes geared toward people your age, or instructors who can tutor you one-on-one.

You can also look around for sewing machine specialty shops in your area. These are small businesses that sell nothing but sewing machines and sewing supplies. (And, strangely, vacuum cleaners.) They usually offer lots of sewing classes every month, and if you don't have a sewing machine available to use or borrow, they'll probably have a lesson model around that you can practice with.

Getting a basic sewing kit is also a good idea. You can practice with hand-sewing. There are lots of simple beginner project books out there, and there's lots of ideas online, too. I started by handsewing trims onto bought clothing, or machine sewing very basic things like sashes. This is my suggestion for a starter hand-sewing kit:
- angled fabric scissors (they look like this - they are angled, not straight, and they're sharper than paper-cutting scissors)
- thread scissors or snippers
- a pin cushion
- ball-headed pins
- hand-sewing needles
- thread
- a measuring tape
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Unread 12-09-2012, 07:59 AM   #3
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In addition to EB's advice:

Since you're 14, I'm guessing you're either in middle school or just starting high school. Talk to your guidance counselor about taking a home ec or fashion class as an elective. If you're not sure which class will help you, find a time to talk to the teachers that run the home ec classes and find out which classes will best fit your needs.

If your school system offers it and you qualify, you can also look into dual enrollment at your local community college, take a sewing or fashion class there and have it count towards your credits for graduation.

Check your local library and YMCA/community center as well. They may host classes there. And your local library will have a wealth of books on sewing and fashion design to give you all kinds of ideas.

Since Christmas is coming up, you can ask your parents for a sewing machine for Christmas. Nothing fancy, but a Singer Simple should be sufficient to get you started and the manual for the machine is very easy to follow.

Also, if you (or a relative) have any old Barbie or baby dolls, make some clothes for them! It's a very cost-effective way to learn and experiment!
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Unread 12-09-2012, 11:34 AM   #4
avataraang17
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My school doesn't offer it. I try to get my hands on a beginner kit for Chsristmas though
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Unread 12-09-2012, 01:26 PM   #5
Evil Bishounen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigress View Post
If your school system offers it and you qualify, you can also look into dual enrollment at your local community college, take a sewing or fashion class there and have it count towards your credits for graduation.
Unfortunately, the barriers to entry are probably really high for someone who's only 14. I checked the policies for both of my local community colleges on allowing minors:
- The first pretty much bans minors unless it's specifically for "youth" classes (like Youth Orchestra). The child can get an exception and take adult classes if they have written permission from their parents, their school, AND the school district.
- The second only allows those who are sophomore, junior, or senior in high school. They require permission from the child's parents and their high school, and there's a definite bias in favor of purely academic courses.

This is why I didn't suggest it, even though I usually do when people ask this kind of question. =/ Sure, it's theoretically possible, but (1) it depends on how OP's parents feel about the sewing/costuming thing, and (2) it would be harder to convince a school and/or district board about the academic merits of taking a sewing class for personal hobby purposes. Of course, maybe OP's local community colleges are less strict than mine.
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Unread 12-09-2012, 01:56 PM   #6
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I would start with something easy and simple first and then work your way up, you will feel like giveing up but just keep pushing yourself.
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Unread 12-09-2012, 02:07 PM   #7
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Start out experimenting with sewing in general. Buy a pattern to make some pajama pants and learn how patterns are used, what kind of stitches are used, how your sewing machine works, etc. Doing so will give you a mindset on how to design costume pieces, along with how to refine your pieces (seams, ends of material, hemming...).

A simple sewing machine, some scissors, and a pincushion is a good start. Learning the ladder stitch (hand sewing) is a good idea as well. Everyone starts out not quite knowing what to do, and experimenting with basic patterns will do you a lot of good
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Unread 12-09-2012, 03:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil Bishounen View Post
Unfortunately, the barriers to entry are probably really high for someone who's only 14. I checked the policies for both of my local community colleges on allowing minors:
- The first pretty much bans minors unless it's specifically for "youth" classes (like Youth Orchestra). The child can get an exception and take adult classes if they have written permission from their parents, their school, AND the school district.
- The second only allows those who are sophomore, junior, or senior in high school. They require permission from the child's parents and their high school, and there's a definite bias in favor of purely academic courses.

This is why I didn't suggest it, even though I usually do when people ask this kind of question. =/ Sure, it's theoretically possible, but (1) it depends on how OP's parents feel about the sewing/costuming thing, and (2) it would be harder to convince a school and/or district board about the academic merits of taking a sewing class for personal hobby purposes. Of course, maybe OP's local community colleges are less strict than mine.
Having had been through the process to take a college level French course while in HS (and 14 too!), I can say that if you have an all right GPA, (>2.5 or so) you can get all of these things pretty easily. They're essentially pieces of paper signed by a secretary or an official - and AFAIK in my district, you don't have to present your case in front of a panel. I've known people who ended up taking things like graphic design and art courses at the community college as well. However, I will warn you it will take a while, so start early in March or April next year if you want to enroll in a summer course. I think policies do vary from district to district, but the paperwork shouldn't deter you from going into a course. Ask around and you might find good answers.

That being said, YMCA and other community centers probably offer better choices around a school/work schedule, since they are geared more to people who want to learn 'for fun' with some people looking to gain skills.
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Unread 12-09-2012, 05:23 PM   #9
avataraang17
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Look guys, the whole thing with the school is that my school doesn't offer it. I have a high GPA, and I have the choice to skip a grade next year. I really can choose to take another class next semester. The problem is, I go to a online school, and they don't have Home ect. or anything like that.
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Unread 12-09-2012, 08:15 PM   #10
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I would recommend making an apron or reusable grocery bag. Both are simple projects, neither require perfection, and are useful for real life. There are plenty of online tutorials and tips if you don't want to purchase a pattern. However, learning how to use a commercial pattern might prove useful for future cosplay projects.
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Unread 12-09-2012, 08:47 PM   #11
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If you can get the community college class thing to work, go for it! That's a great way to learn from people who know what they're doing. You could also take a 'continuing education' class, or one that's not for credit-- I mean, hey, if you really want to learn it, why should it matter if you end up getting a grade in it or not?

Now, if your community college is like mine (and won't let anyone under 16 years of age take a non-youth class without a parent present), maybe it's worth looking into summer programs. The county's Department of Recreation might have a 'summer camps/classes' list where you might be able to find a week-long day camp for fashion or sewing!

Honestly though, I would just pick a project and get to tackling it. Do your research for each part, and take a nice long look through the tutorials section here on Cosplay.com (as well as on DeviantART, Tumblr, and other crafting sites) to find things you're interested in making! The library is a great resource for sewing books too, don't be afraid to look there!

Best of luck!
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Unread 12-11-2012, 03:13 PM   #12
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Do you have a fabric store or craft store near you? Many of them have sewing classes for all skill levels. If you are in the US, a good place to look would be Hancock fabrics or Joanne's.
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Unread 12-11-2012, 03:30 PM   #13
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I learned from Youtube videos and library books. Check to see if your library has any general sewing books in their craft section. Youtube was great for me because I could actually see what they were doing, and some offer tutorials on beginner projects.
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