So you’ve been at this sewing thing for a while now, maybe you have even completed a few projects and so far our most influential bloggers have been a real help (it’s a pleasure). But now you find yourself wasting too much time restitching a seam or you’ve simply reached a plateau and you just can’t get your skills to that next level. Let’s take the “stress” out of “Seamstress”.
I want to kick off by telling you, you are already one step ahead by simply showing interest in finding out more. Knowledge is power and you are already heading in the right direction!
Now that we have the compliments out of the way (again, it’s a pleasure), let’s get to the juicy bits. You came to this blog today to find out the best way to learn to sew, and rightfully so, the learning landscape is quite different from what it was a decade ago. Information has never been as accessible as it is today and the impact of this abundance of information is that doing and learning to do things yourself is extremely easy.
From learning to play the guitar to upskilling your sewing techniques, even intellectuals have realized the shift in education. Bob Barett refers to this in his article Virtual Teaching And Strategies as a brand-new chapter in the history of education that he refers to as “virtual learning communities”.
But, alas! The question we rather need to ask ourselves here today is, is online learning the best way to learn to sew?
In my search for an answer I reached out to some of the most experienced sewers, crocheters, fashion designers and bloggers in the sewing community to help us shed some light on the topic. Before we take a look at their responses, let’s first take a look at some key differences between these two forms of learning.
What is Traditional Sewing Classes:
- Hands-on help with areas that you struggle with.
- Commitment to attend classes at a given time in a specific time frame.
- Structured according to your experience level.
- Interaction with other co-sew loving learners.
- Most classes will have supplies that you might need already.
- Lessons can be adjusted during the class to what the overall need is of current students.
- Time-based and therefore no freedom to fit your schedule.
- In most cases, you have to commute to attend classes.
- The structure of classes might not work on projects that you are currently interested in.
- Classroom learning is often the more expensive option
Learn To Sew With Online Courses:
- Saving on travel time to classes.
- Spend time on course according to your own schedule.
- Access to a variety of various courses (see below our recommended online courses).
- More one-on-one help from your tutor – no standing in line with other students to get help
- You become part of an online community of people who can help and encourage each other
- No set commitment and self-driven.
- A limited learning environment with no present teacher.
- No learning environment and interaction with other students.
- You will need to get all your supplies yourself before you can begin with your courses.
- Lessons cannot be adapted to the needs of the current students.
Now that we know what the pros and cons are let’s take a look at what influencers and industry leaders have to say on the matter.
- Ruth Winters has been sewing since the days you could buy fabrics at JCPenney. Ruth advises that learning to sew can be quite difficult on your own even with books and online courses, “but don’t give up if you find you need help”.
- Cara Stromness started sewing as a teenager and today she sews everything from home décor items to outfits for her two adorable boys. Cara said that “Sewing started out as a hobby for [her], but it has become much more than that… I now make money doing something I love. You can check out what I’m working on at SewingSociety.com”. We asked Cara what she prefers when it comes to expanding her sewing skills, “I think learning to sew in a physical class is easier for the simple fact that you have a teacher that can help you in a hands-on way. That’s how I learned to sew. However, online sewing classes have lots of advantages, too. [You can stop and rewind videos when you get stuck and you can work at your own pace]. There’s no one right way to learn how to sew.”
- Sanette Van Schalkwyk fashion designer and owner of Shifting Sands African Couture grew up around her grandmother’s sewing machine. This kick-started a lifelong passion for fashion design. 30 Years later Sanette has gone on to win a Mbokodo Award and others along with creating beautiful African gowns for brides and celebrities around the world. According to Sanette a combination of both online and traditional learning is the way to go. Sannette feels that it is better to show a person one on one how the material feels and works. Especially when it comes to pattern design. It’s easier to have someone with you who has been through the experience themselves to guide you ,than to struggle alone.
She also advises that it depends on the project that you want to tackle, “when it’s a simple project you can easily learn what you need to do online, but when it comes to design, you’ll do better in a class environment with someone whose been through the learning curves themselves”.
- Raylene Harvey is an inspirational local sewing blogger, her passion began as a young child when she made clothes for her dolls. In 2013 she started her own sewing blog where she posts her creations. “ I’m mostly self-taught, learning everything I could from blogs and Youtube People seemed to love what I was doing and it was then that I knew I had found my true calling.”
Raylene admits that learning everything online has its downfall, “I made so many mistakes! I cringe when I think about them now. For example, not knowing that you need to use a specific needle, thread, and sewing techniques for certain fabrics.” And that she would rather have started off with sewing classes, “I wish I had taken a beginner sewing class with a teacher to hold my hand in those critical beginning stages”.
Now, you know you want to take your sewing to the next level, you’ve had a look at the pros and cons of learning to sew online vs traditional classes. You have also heard/read the advice of influential sewers in the industry and now the time has come to make a decision! Oh, the dilemma, where will you go? What courses can you choose from!?
Tada! Places that you can learn to sew in South Africa and online courses we recommend.
Traditional learning environment:
SOSO Into It Academy: lecturer Amanda Badenhorst is a passionate fashion and sewing enthusiast for over 42 years. Amanda has a design qualification from the prestigious Elizabeth Galloway Fashion Design School and today she focuses all that enthusiasm and knowledge into the students in her class, from beginners like yourself to advanced students, possibly also like yourself.
Location Vredekloof Heights, Brackenfell, Cape Town
- Sewing courses (Level 1 and 2): R5 960.00
- Pattern making courses (Level 1 and 2): R7 800.00
- Comprehensive clothing design courses: R13 200.00
See payment plan here
Sew and Grow: run by Fatima Fazal, they offer a variety of courses starting at the beginner level to more advanced. They also offer courses for kids and teenagers.
Location: 17 2nd Avenue, Melville, Johannesburg
Prices: R4 500.00
Kids Courses: R3 800.00
Oakfield College: aimed at developing skills in Fashion, graphic design and other creative art direction also has sewing classes available at their various campuses.
Pretoria: Lynnridge Mall, Cnr Jacobson Drive & Lynnwood Road, Lynnwood Ridge
Cape Town: Somerset West, Bizweni Campus, Bizweni Drive
Johannesburg: East Rand, Lower Level, Stoneridge Centre, Cnr Hereford &
Modderfontein Roads, Greenstone, Edenvale.
- R6 240.00 once off
- Deposit of R2 655.00 and then 2 instalments of R 1 985.00
StickforStich: born out of Anerette’s passion for teaching less fortunate sewing skills. She now teaches students from her home to sew.
Location: 12 Montreuil St, Montroux, Randburg
- Adults: R250.00 per 2 hour sessions.
- Scholars: R250.00 for 2 sessions.
- R1000 for 4 two-hour sessions
1. So So Into It Academy: keep an eye on our page, we will be launching our online courses soon.
2. Udemy: offers a range of online courses here. Keep in mind that Udemy is an open learning platform which means that almost anyone can load and promote their courses.
3. My blu Print: like Udemy is an online course website, but unlike Udemy this site focuses more on craft. We recommend looking at these two courses:
- Sew Confident: Essential Techniques for Beginners by seasoned designer Angela Wolf.
- 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know: this course is perfect if you are looking for finishing touches on your current sewing skill.
Now that you have the pros and cons, the opinions of influencers in the industry and a list of places to learn online or through sewing classes your next step are only a click away! So what are you still reading for? Get Crocheting, I mean cracking!