I received this question from Josie, one of my (very kind) readers:
Did you take a shirt making class?
I am considering a Craftsy class on tailoring or “Sew Better, Sew Faster”? Do you know anything about these classes?
The Custom Tailored Shirt
As it turns out, I have taken the Craftsy class, The Custom Tailored Shirt, taught by Pam Howard, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The course is a step-by-step video tutorial on making your own dress shirt. Though I’m making men’s shirts on this blog, you can choose either a women’s blouse pattern as well as a men’s pattern, so it’s one of the rare Craftsy sewing classes that puts menswear on even footing with women’s garments.
You get an introduction to the features of a classic shirt, plus advice for selecting tools, fabrics and interfacing. Then Pam Howard takes you through every step needed to construct the shirt:
- Laying out and cutting fabric
- Collar, cuff and placket construction
- Attaching the pocket to the shirt front
- Assembling the back, including the “yoke trick” to join the yokes to the shoulders without hand-stitching
- Attaching the collar to the body of the shirt
- Attaching the sleeves and sides, finishing them with a flat-fell seam
- Attaching and topstitching the cuffs
- Sewing the rolled hem at the bottom of the shirt
- Placing and attaching buttonholes and buttons
- How to press the finished shirt
- Style variations that you can try to make the shirt your own
There’s some great tips and techniques you learn along the way, such as how to make “speed tailor’s tacks” to mark points with thread, hand-sewing techniques for collars and cuffs, and the “finger-felling” technique for doing flat-fell seams and rolled hems by hand without special equipment.
Pam Howard is simply an excellent instructor. She is organized, works methodically and step-by-step. She speaks in a calm and collected manner, clearly demonstrates techniques for the camera and never leaves you behind or wondering what just happened.
On a few occasions she makes a mistake on camera. Instead of breezing over the error or covering it up, she backs up and fixes it, intentionally using the error as a teaching opportunity as well as a confidence booster for students. Even the best make mistakes, but more importantly she shows students that mistakes can be fixed.
Even though I’ve made a few shirts at this point, I still refer back to this class regularly for refresher tips on specific aspects of shirt making. I bought this class on sale, but I can definitely say this class was worth what I paid for it and then some.
Sew Better, Sew Faster
I have also purchased the Craftsy class, Sew Better, Sew Faster by Janet Pray. I’ve already written a detailed review for Pattern Review, which you can find here.
What I like about this class is that it teaches you how to properly use a sewing machine to make garment construction easier. The techniques are adapted from garment industry workrooms, and are designed to get high quality results as quickly and efficiently as possible. Special effort is made to avoid sewing with pins whenever possible, instead learning how to hold and manipulate the fabric to get straight, even seams without pinning.
This class is also chock full of helpful sewing tips and tricks, and was also well worth the price for me.
Craftsy has some interesting free introductory sewing classes you can try. I recommend signing up for one or more of these free classes, then wait for them to send you discount emails for their other stuff.
- Sew Ready: Machine Basics with Amy Alan
- Sewing Machine 911 with Claudia Miller
- Mastering Zipper Techniques with Sunni Standing
- Sewing Machine Feet from A to Z with Steffani Lincecum
I’ve also signed up for both of these classes and will have reviews ready when I’ve finished:
- Jean-ius! with Kenneth D. King. I bought this one before starting my jeans project, and though it focuses on making a pattern from an existing pair of jeans, he shows you how to construct them as well. I’m about halfway through, and liking it so far.
- The Carefree Fly-front Coat with Kenneth D. King. I bought this one so I could learn some tailoring skills as I prepare to make my wool peacoat from Vogue 8940.
In the meantime, both The Custom Tailored Shirt and Sew Better, Sew Faster get five stars from the Line of Selvage.