Readers, did you get good sewing instruction, and if so, from where?
There are many ways to learn to sew, and no one method will work for everybody. When I bought my first sewing machine, I had never so much as touched a sewing machine before. I had a vague idea about bobbins, but I certainly didn't know how to install or wind one. I learned all that from a YouTube video.
I like to be able to figure things out for myself, but at the same time, I do appreciate guidance. Even though I own dozens of sewing books, I still like to watch someone doing something on video (if it's well done). So many sewing books have confusing illustrations that make it hard to tell the right side of the fabric from the wrong side, for example, or are too densely written (i.e., not enough pictures).
One of my favorite videos is Margaret Islander's Shirts, etc., part of her industrial shortcuts series. Unfortunately, at more than $70, it's a big investment.
When I first started sewing, I got a lot of informal guidance via webcam from Brian of Briansews, whom I stumbled across on Pattern Review. I don't need somebody holding my hand, but it is nice to know that there's somebody to ask if I run into problems (and that there isn't a meter running).
I still refer to my books, and I have a few other helpful videos, too.
Part of the problem with many of my books (and videos, come to think of it) is that they don't address the actual project in front of me. More often than not, I just follow the instructions that come with the pattern, unless it's the kind of thing I can assemble by heart, like a men's shirt.
I've never taken a sewing class, but I do know many people who love them, and I certainly wouldn't rule it out. One of the things I like about the Margaret Islander video is that she's completely down to earth, has a great sense of humor, and doesn't put down others' ways of doing things. I find negativity and snobbishness to be a big turnoff.
I think the best instructor -- regardless of the subject matter -- is one who encourages us to figure things out for ourselves, keeps the stakes low, and is encouraging. But I've had lot of teachers in my life who didn't believe in this approach.
Friends, a few questions:
1) What do you think makes a good sewing teacher, and have you ever had one who had those qualities? (Conversely, has a bad instructor ever turned you off?)
3) Are there aspects of sewing you don't think you could ever learn on your own, and would definitely want to be taught by a professional?
I'd love to hear what you think!
IRON UPDATE: I have decided to hold off on the gravity feed upgrade for right now. It seemed like a solution in search of a problem, at least at the present time.