Thursday, March 28, 2013

DIY Month: Some Resources For The DIYer

It's the end of DIY month here on Bookish Beauty, and I wanted to leave new DIYers with some resources to help you get on your feet.

We Sew Loli

This Livejournal community for lolita seamstresses is filled with crafty, creative people of all skill levels. Whether you're a beginner or a long-time seamstress, it's a great place to talk about the craft, to share your projects, and to see what other people have been doing. To me, it's one of the most inspiring places on the net.

BurdaStyle Forums

BurdaStyle is a great resource in general. Free patterns (can't get much better than free, right?) and a thriving DIY community are to be found there. This is especially good if you have specific issues or questions, because you've got a pool of people who will be able to help when you get stuck.

Other Blog and Forum Resources

Those two sites aren't everything, of course. There are tons of resources online. See Kate Sew has a roundup of a wide variety of tutorials in, aptly titled, Sewing 101. Caro of F Yeah Lolita has a truly epic roundup of lolita tutorials that will give you instructions on everything from basic elastic-waist skirts to hats and other accessories.


There are a wide variety of books that can prove very useful to the beginner seamstress, but you have to find the right ones. Craft books with patterns and instructions for specific projects are great for those specific projects, but not particularly helpful if, say, you just want to learn how to do a pin tuck.

Personally, my favorite is the old-school Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book that hails from the 1970s. It's a lot of basic information, from pin tucks to tailoring a pattern to suit a larger or smaller bust, but it's really useful for beginners. It's also extremely useful if you suddenly come into possession of a large amount of vintage patterns whose instructions are, on occasion, less than clear.

Other great books include Singer's Sewing Reference Library set for everything from clothing fitting to sewing pillows, Fairchild's Dictionary of Textiles by Phyllis G. Tortora for every fabric term you could ever want to know, Fast Fit by Sandra Betzina for more pattern fitting tips, Vogue Sewing Revised & Updated for more general tips, and the 4-H Sewing Curriculum set for a good way to start with the absolute basics and work up.

You'll notice many of these books are old, or are a long-running series; the 4-H sewing curriculum has been around for practically forever, and I have copies of both the 1990s set and the set from the late 1960s. That's not an accident. Many more recent books are more project focused and less instruction focused. I'm not saying they're unhelpful; I just prefer the older, more reference based books for my sewing library.

And, last and probably most importantly...

Friends and Family

Know somebody who sews and is patient? Have them help teach you! My mother was a home economics education major in college, so I had someone with both experience and teaching training to teach me. I also have friends, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, cousins, and several friends from my 4-H days who sew. I can tell you for a fact that nothing beats having someone physically present to demonstrate, an extra set of eyes to make sure everything goes smoothly, and a pair of ears to listen when the stress mounts.

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