Thursday, October 8, 2009

writing a sewing book and tutoring

I want to write a book. Or I should say I'm going to write a book. The idea has been swimming in my head for ages and I keep coming back to it and thinking of more reasons why I want to do it.

It will include everything I know about sewing and pattern-making in knit (t-shirt) fabrics. I took the hard road in my learning by taking a little bit from books, a little bit from online tutorials, a little bit from my fashion course, and a lot of trial and error.

I want to empower people to think outside the box, to express their own style rather than the looks of the magazine stylists, to never have to rely on made-in-china cheap finds in the shops, and to have clothes that fit you exactly as you want them to.

I need your help.
Have you tried sewing? Have you tried sewing knit fabrics?
If not, what's stopping you?
If you have, what info out there do you think is missing that you want to know?

I'd love to hear from every one of you! It would be a big help.


In the interest of experiece (and because I think it'd be fun) I'm looking to tutor a few local girls everything I know about sewing and patternmaking in knit fabrics, and I'm letting you guys get first dibs! If you're interested and live in Surrey Hills or surrounds in the Melbourne suburbs, shoot me an email for more details at hayley [at] Those who have never used a sewing machine before are very welcome (in fact, I'd love to teach someone from the start).


sallyannk said...

How exciting you are going to write a book! That is awesome!
Knit fabrics and I don't get along too well. I always muck it up somehow. And books on sewing clothing don't address knit fabric. I can sew clothes just fine, as long as they're for myself (then only I see the mistakes haha). I'd really like to start sewing for others and designing clothing.
Wish I lived in Australia.. would love some tutoring from you. No one I know sews.. : /

Good luck!!!

Laura said...

I would love to know where you get your fabric.. that's what I have trouble with mostly.

I would also love to have you tutor me, but I don't live in Australia. Though I am studying abroad there next year!

JulieG said...

This is a great idea!

I took a sewing class in high school, we covered knit fabrics one semester. I also sewed a bit when I was at TAFE (jeans into skirt via GetCrafty article was my favourite piece from back then).

Reasons I don't do it now: time; lack of decent fabrics (can't afford or wear Amy Butler or designer quilting stuff, which is all that's available near me); I got stuck when my machine went bung. I always got the same answer "have you tried changing the tension?" even though that gave me no results.

Suggestions for the book: what to do about machine troubles (not how to fix all problems, but where to look for info on how to fix it?); how to source good materials (online? recycled?); how to keep your projects organised in a busy household. But maybe that stuff would be better suited for a general book, I dunno.

livebird said...

This is crazy because I was about to email you with this question anyway. When I sew knit fabrics (especially those that aren't very stretchy, so don't snap back into shape after sewing) I often end up with an ugly, bulky, wavy seam that stands out from the body and looks just miserable. I'd love to know how to avoid this!

Tutoring would be great but I'm inner city. I could schlepp in to the East though...

catriona_e said...

I've been inspired by your photos and would definitely buy a book and be interested in a lesson or two!

Heidi and Seek said...

Sally - Thank you! I started out with knit fabrics and find wovens a bit less comfortable, but I hear a lot that people don't know how to sew knits.

Laura - Do you mean you have trouble choosing which fabrics to buy? Or you don't know where to buy them? I'm afraid I can't help you out with where to buy them much, since you're in a different country, but I'd always suggest checking out thrift shops first.
If you remember me next year I'd love to tutor you! How exciting to be studying abroad.

Julie - Machine troubles can be tough. And I can see how they'd put off lots of new sewers. I'll keep that in mind for inclusion in the book. Organising projects is a great idea, too, I wouldn't have thought of that. Sourcing materials I can cover.
Thanks Julie!

livebird - Are you using a regular sewing machine or an overlocker? Overlockers can do it a lot, and the way to fix it is probably by adjusting the differential feed. With a regular sewing machine you'd need to adjust your tension and make sure you're not pulling the fabric as it sews, just direct it but let it be pulled by the machine feed.

If that's confusing, feel free to email me.

Catriona - That's wonderful and thank you! Could you send me an email at so I can send you the details? Cheers!

Isis said...

Hi Hayley,

I think this is a fantastic idea and you should just go for it!

I have generally just avoided knit fabrics cos I'm sure they are just too hard. Well I have tried at times but i had no idea what settings/thread/foot/anything to use! That's why they always turned out weird. any sort of basic instructions would help me

x isis

ps. someone else is joining in on my ethical clothing pledge :)

Clare said...

I always get put off by the apparent necessity of a serger/overlocker. Also I'd have to look up what to do with the stretch if I was going to embark on this sort of project.
I think a book is a brilliant and very impressive goal.
I wish you the best of luck!

Maitreya said...

I would read this book so hard. My main problem sewing clothes is with fit, so maybe include some info about how to do final tailoring.

Girl~Lee Goodz said...

WOW...a book! Sounds like one I would definitely buy :) I typically only work with knits. It is so trial and error (don't you think). Lots of things have made their way from the sewing machine straight to the goodwill bag over the years!

Keep me posted on the book progress.



Anonymous said...

I cannot wait for your book! and I wish i was in melb. I'd love to have a few lessons with you.

I'm obsessed with refashioning T-shirts at the moment - but my overlocking is still not as professional looking as I would like (I.e not yet happy to sell any of my knit refashions). I like sewing knit - its mainly just the finishing off that I struggle with.

I'm almost tempted to have a weekend in Melb?? Maybe if you did a weekend intensive knit course I would be tempted to travel down?

How is your industrial machine going?

Sorry again about this horrible number that is coming up as my user name :-(

Heidi and Seek said...

Isis - Thank you! I think there are a lot of people that don't know where to start as well, so hopefully my book will help.

Yay for your ethical clothing pledge! Awesome.

Clare - Thanks! You don't need an overlocker really, though it is faster and easier to use one.

Maitreya - I'm glad you like the idea!
I would include how to make patterns rather than using commercial ones, and also how to fit them, and I'll probably also have a troubleshooting section, like what the problem is if it doesn't look right in this area, etc. Does that cover what you mean?

Girl-Lee - I know what you mean! I have a projects gone wrong pile, which I end up cutting up and using in a different project because I have so little patience for unpicking! It's definitely very trial and error.

Tricia - I don't mind the number!

What's wrong with your finishing?

I'll have a think about doing an intensive course, and get back to you if it goes ahead.

The industrial machine is going well. It's perfect except that one of the threads occasionally breaks, but it doesn't take too long to rethread. It's the price of a good stitch, because the tension on this machine needs to be tightish. Better quality thread helps the problem, too.