In my latest post with Craftsy, I watched a class I wasn’t really sure I’d be that into, but I was nevertheless intrigued. It was Sew Better, Sew Faster: Garment Industry Secrets with Janet Pray.
Now, you may wonder why I wasn’t quite sure about it. I’m all for learning new techniques in sewing. I love it! But I know that some of the tips that are based on the garment industry are meant to speed up your sewing process (as evidenced by the name of the class). And… I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking your time sewing, I really don’t! I don’t need to do everything the faster way, necessarily. But I’m always happy to learn how to sew better, and to pick and choose what techniques work best for me. And if that happens to speed up a process or two sometimes, cool!
In the class, Janet walks you through sewing a jacket she designed, called Jacket Express. In the middle of June sewing a jacket isn’t high on my list of things to do, but it’s a really cute pattern and works nicely for a variety of shapes and sizes. I could definitely see myself making a light twill version for spring or fall. The nice thing is she shows several examples in the class when she discusses selecting fabric (seriously, like 9 or 10 versions), so you can get a good idea of how it looks in different weights and types of fabric. That’s hard to convey in pictures alone!
I opted instead to just try and apply some of Janet’s techniques to my own projects, which were a skirt and a bolero. (The skirt I got cranky about last week, by the way.)
Janet covers a wide variety of topics that specifically are geared towards the construction of the jacket in this class, but many things that you can apply elsewhere, too. For example:
- sewing ergonomics (a few of which are difficult to duplicate unless your machine is inset into a table, which mine is not)
- cutting out fabric with a rotary cutter and weights (I went over to this camp ages ago because I’m way more accurate at it… it’s also one of my least favorite parts of the sewing process, so it’s a place I’m quite happy to shave off time!)
- making sure your fusible interfacing is truly adhered properly
- not back-tacking excessively (which I was definitely guilty of before taking this class)
- sewing without pins
Now that last one particularly intriguing to me! Except for tiny little sections here and there, I’ve never sewn without pins. I know people who do it, I’ve watched other instructors do it in videos without explanation, but I never thought I was that steady enough. I didn’t really understand that there was a technique to it other than, well, just sewing without pins. So I dutifully followed along how Janet instructed to hold your fabric in each hand, and lo and behold, I found myself at the end of a long skirt seam where everything had matched up, and one piece of fabric wasn’t longer than the other. Hot damn!
Janet’s technique has you hold the layers of fabric with both hands, but I moved my right hand out of the way for the sake of the photo above. Otherwise, you’d be holding onto it with your right fingers on top and thumb on the bottom, kind of cupping it as you go to keep the feed dogs from easing in the bottom layer.
For me, it was definitely one of those sewing moments where I sat down to do it and thought to myself, “This will never work.” Yet several minutes later, I’d sewn a test sample and a couple of successful seams and was eating my words!
In the class, Janet sews the entire jacket without pins, and does no hand basting. I do prefer hand basting sometimes for control, especially in places like a zipper. I like this method and it serves me well, so I don’t feel the need to change it. So when I got to that part of the project where I’d normally hand baste for my lapped zipper insertion, I went ahead and proceeded like normal. And I did need to use pins to sew on my waistband. However I later sewed several of my bolero seams without pins, until I got to the point where I was making it reversible, because I wanted to make absolute sure I was matching two different units seam-for-seam. But I did use a lot less pins than normal, and continued holding the fabric as Janet instructed.
So I’m pretty pleased with what I learned! And while I wouldn’t sew without pins in all cases (and to be clear, Janet doesn’t claim she does either), I’m pretty pumped to have successfully tried something out I always suspected was more difficult than it really was!
And interestingly, her technique for holding the fabric applied well even when I was sewing with pins, and applied to something else discussed in-depth in the class: topstitching.
There is a lot of topstitching in the Jacket Express pattern, in part because it’s meant to look like a ready-to-wear garment. She does things that most home sewing instructions don’t include, like topstitching a needle width away from a seam to keep it nice and flat. I’ve had some projects where I wondered if I “could” do that (like what, I need permission from the sewing gods?), and now I know: perfectly legitimate RTW technique.
Now, in the class, Janet does all her topstitching with a normal sewing machine foot. As I mentioned in my post on the 40 Techniques class, using my edgestitching foot has proven invaluable to me for getting nice and clean topstitching (I can move my needle position and get closer or further away from the edge if I’d like). But I did continue to hold my fabric as if I were sewing without pins, and I can see why Janet recommends doing this all the time. It’s taking me a bit to get used to it, but it does offer a better level of control than I think I was getting before. I’ll see how this works out for me over time!
And now you’ve seen a couple of peeks at my projects… the skirt I’m meh about, an the bolero I’m totally the opposite of meh about!
If you’re looking for a class to walk you through every step of sewing a cute, unlined jacket with some ready-to-wear techniques, I’d recommend Sew Better, Sew Faster. Even if you’re not, there’s invaluable sewing tidbits that you’ll pick up along the way, from Janet’s years of experience in the garment industry. I’m really glad I watched this class, and I know I’ll be referring back to it in the future, too.
50% off this class for a week!
For the next week, Craftsy is offering my readers a 50% discount on the Sew Better, Sew Faster class. All you need to go is purchase the class through that link, and for the next 7 days, it’ll be 50% off. That’s it! If you were thinking about getting this class, now’s the time.
And oh yeah, you’ll be seeing more of my latest projects soon!
(This is a sponsored post with Craftsy, however all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.)