Monday, October 31, 2011
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I can still hear my father when I was young telling me that to be a great musician, you must practice every day. You must learn everything about the instrument you are playing because that will become your tool, your voice, your emotion. Then you will study the different genres of music so you can become creative in finding your own forte, style, individuality.
Your music will express what you cannot speak from the depths of your soul. Every language will understand your musical notes when you play, because music is a universal language.
Taking those teachings as a young lad from my father, and my musical teachers, it is important that no matter what instrument you are playing, you truly have to begin at knowing it from the inside out. Later in life my love of the camera, and a sewing machine would prove that without knowing your "instrument" you will have a major disadvantage in creativity.
I always believed that the basic sewing machine is where one should begin to learn. In my quest to sew, there were classes I took that wanted you to create a project, but never taught you the whole concept of the mechanics, and ergonomics of a sewing machine. Many of my students had told me when they took home -ec in school, the teachers never talked about the mechanics or ergonomics. I understand and believe this. It happened to me.
I have seen experienced teachers that have students sewing with the fabric off the edge because they did not require extension tables attached to the machine for proper ergonomics to keep that fabric flat and those seams straight.
I have seen experienced people pulling the fabric from behind on a machine with a superior feed system because they came from the old school of the Singer Stretch & Sew days where some of those machines had a bad feeding system or they were stretching knits, but still do it on woven's which is not necessary. Understanding the differences and knowing why you do what you do.
Later in life, when I became a teacher, I would teach basic sewing classes, taking a beginner with no experience, and walking them through the fundamentals of a sewing machine. Like the difference between learning how to make a cake from scratch compared to buying and making a box cake, or just buying an already made cake at the store.
Some students want to run before they learn how to crawl. In my classes, you will learn to crawl and also how to put your own socks on and tie your own shoes first, just like in life. These are fundamentals one must learn to grow from and to become independent.
I found as a teacher, when someone tells you they know how to sew already, that does not mean they understand the fundamentals of a sewing machine nor the proper ergonomics.
In many classes, some people own very expensive sewing machines, but have very little to no basic skills in sewing or understanding how a sewing machine operates.
The students who know the basics of a sewing machine, you will see how independent they are in front of that sewing machine, and how creative they can be.
I always believe in the level system, a ranking system in life. Each level up is one step closer to earning that master degree. It does not mean you have to go to college to earn this either. Many self taught people earn this through trial and error.
On a different view of a level system, as a hair colorist in the salon (my other love in life), hair color is determined by a level system. 1 being black, and 12 being pale blonde. To get from black to blonde, you have to understand color theory. With each level, you have to address the undertones.
Anyone who has studied painting knows you work with the 3 primary colors, and create all other colors from the basic three.
You "grow" from there. But you must first understand the fundamentals of color. In hair coloring, that is your tool, your knowledge, and your primary colors. That is what a client pays for.
In music, your tool can be your voice if you are a singer. An instrument if you are a musician. Your sewing machine if you are a mechanical sewer. If you sew by hand, your skills as a hand sewer is known as a "couture" sewing artist.
Advanced computer sewing machines can open up a whole new creative world for you. However, I encourage each person to first take those basic classes on sewing, sewing mechanics, and ergonomics.
Even after those basic fundamentals, it is very important to go back for lessons on how to use your new computer sewing machine. People in my age group and older by statistics, cannot sit in front of a machine and whiz through a menu like the new generations can.
Many of you have heard me tell my story about my nephew. When he was ten years old, he came to my sewing class where we were making hats for the children at the local hospital. My sister was in this class as well and nephew wanted to learn how to make the baseball hats.
We had Miami Dolphin, Buc's, and race car fabric for the boys. He was so excited. He sat next to my sister as I was explaining how to go through the computer menu on the sewing machine.
Before you knew it, he was teaching his own mother and the other women in the class. In fact, they were all watching him whiz right through the menu.
After one hour of showing him how to sew a seam, he was sewing that seam without any guard rail (standard foot, no 1/4inch foot), and he was sewing perfect straight lines. He blew the class away.
He not only had gifted hand and eye coordination, but a natural talent for mechanics.
Two sessions later, he was putting a whole hat together that took other students who said before they came to class that they "knew how to sew", weeks to learn.
On the current season of Project Runway, one of the designers named Anya only had 4 months sewing experience, and she is really showing some self empowerment on the show. A great designer.
Another designer on the show who has since been eliminated is a great sewer, but has no modern design skills. She has that basic home housewife type sewing skills, and look in her creations. What Nina Garica and Michael Kors called "home ec-ie".
Some people can play the instrument, but cannot make music with it. While others can make music, but do not know how to read notes.
In a world of a fast paced society, going back to basics when learning will always give you that stability and knowledge. It will give you that independence to create and/or produce.
If you can design and sew, you are multi talented, you can do it all, and never have to rely on anyone to do the work for you. You have total creative control.
So if you are a beginner or advanced level sewer, go back and address the basics which include the mechanics of your machine, and the ergonomics of sewing.
Without these basic fundamentals to grow from, it will make it difficult for you.
One must understand when to over ride the tension, what type of needles to use for the type of fabric and thread. Your basic stitch length to use for different types of fabrics, and the proper way to hold and feed your fabric.
I always thought the more expensive of a sewing machine a person owned, the better the sewer and designer they were. Not true.
Take lessons and find a real teacher who is teaching the basic mechanics, and ergonomics in sewing before having you create a project.
For industrial sewing methods, and ergonomics in sewing please order the following DVD's
The skills you will learn from these videos are priceless!