Tip: Learn how to Sew

I am a beginning bellydancer in New York City. I love your website and your great ideas for costumes, the only problem is that I don’t know how to sew!
Do all of your books assume a basic sewing knowlege, or is it something I can easily teach myself? Is there a book/video/website you could recommend that teaches sewing for beginners?
I am very anxious to try the beautiful designs on your site, so any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. ~ Clueless About Sewing

ANSWER: The Costume Goddess books DO require a basic knowledge of hand & machine sewing. The exception is Book 1, Flattering Costume for Bellydancers, which is advice for choosing and designing, not making a costume. All the other books include a glossary of basic sewing terms & hand stitches, a list of useful tools, and walk you through the construction steps.

sewingroom_72 But I can’t teach someone how to sew from scratch in my books. That would make each book twice as long and at least twice the price — plus drive me batty.

Is a teacher necessary?
You can teach yourself how to sew. But like learning dance, computer programs, guitar, or anything else, without a teacher to correct you, you may make mistakes, waste time, get frustrated, and end up with a less-than-ideal result.

I taught myself how to do many things from books, experimentation and practice — but having a teacher would’ve been a faster and easier process. In New York ,or any sizeable city or town, you should have no problem finding a basic sewing class. Many sewing stores hold these classes, because they want to sell sewing machines! If you buy a new machine, many times there are free classes that go with it.

But I don’t advise you do buy a new machine, at this point. Get a decent used one at lower cost. These are advertised in the classifieds, or most sewing machine stores sell reconditioned older models.

Call sewing machine stores & fabric shops in your area; ask about classes. If the class is small, the teacher has time to address your particular difficulties, if you have any.

Skillful hand sewing is as important as machine sewing in bellydance costume. So, how to learn hand sewing, which sometimes seems a lost art?

BOOKS: A basic sewing book is useful if it has clear line drawings of the various hand stitches, which are sometimes hard to see, if you’re watching someone do it. I don’t have the name of a book at my fingertips, but do a search on Amazon, Alibris, or try the library. I found an old book at the library meant for theatrical costume designers that had excellent illustrations of all the stitches.

WEBSITES & YOUTUBE: There are instructional websites and videos for EVERYTHING on the Internet…keywords “basic sewing instruction” or something similar.

USER GROUPS: There are countless user groups on the subjects of sewing, crafts, beading, costuming, etc. You could join one of these and ask the members; they love to share advice and tips. The same goes for bellydance discussion groups like those on Bhuz.com . Ask around among the local New York area bellydance community — there must be many of them who sew.

BUY OR BARTER PRIVATE LESSONS: You might dvertise to find someone who has sewing experience, and offer to pay for lessons or exchange for some other commodity, such as computer work or cooking lessons.
~Dina Lydia