I’m steaming right now. I purchased the class because I’m familiar with Linda Lee. I know I attended another of her class at a seminar. I just can’t remember when. I remember seeing her on “Sewing with Nancy”. I even have the fabulous book from the series “Runway Finishes for Cool Edges”. But this Craftsy class bums me. I’m trying to decide about asking for a refund.
Ms Lee is her charming self and for the most part informative and clear. She used several words incorrectly. Like she stated that the differential controlled the speed of the serger. Uh, no your foot pedal makes it serge faster or slower. The differential controls feeding the fabric beneath the needles. I also was rather surprised when she referred to the point of the needle as the “needle head”. I know you’re thinking I’m being really picky. I should have been able to tell the difference and get over it. But here’s my big hang up: This class is “Beyond the Basics”. It is not. The content is clearly beginning information about beginning sewing with knits. The other enrollees even offered the information that most of them were beginners and indeed most questions I read were beginner’s questions. To me, a beginner deserves the courtesy of hearing correct terminology from professionals. Can you image a beginner asking you: ‘ I keep turning up my differential but it won’t sew any faster”. Or how about ” I can’t weave the head into the seam?” What would you respond?” (On the second I’d be thinking why are you putting your head into the seam instead of the neck opening? and saying “Maybe I can help. Let me see what you’re doing.” )
I went through the first 3 classes thinking “Why do we need to review all of this? Wouldn’t it be better to have a prerequisite ( a beginners class)?” If this is really critical for the advanced portions of the class, won’t we need more detail? The content is all information I was given in (1) my machine guide classes (2) the machine user’s manual and (3) most patterns designed for knits. Ok ok. Maybe a beginner, especially a visual learner, would need a class which demonstrates (like my guide classes) instead of the written word (like the user’s manual or patterns). But again, this is supposed to be “BEYOND THE BASICS” class. BTW, Chapter 5, Stabilizing Knits caused me to stop in my tracks. I know that clear elastic and even fusible tape are techniques covered in patterns but a beginner could benefit from seeing it done. ( BTW only the fusible tape was demonstrated. The harder to wrangle elastic tape is described briefly.) What got me was recommending typing paper as a stabilizer. For years I’ve been told that typing paper shouldn’t be used because it dulls needles, can distort the seam when removed and can’t always be removed especially from serged seams. The mechanics even hate it because they say they dig out little bits of paper which foul the insides of your machine. When did typing paper become an accepted stabilizing procedure?
I was about half-way through Chapter VI Hem Finishes when I sat up to pay attention. She mentioned the cover stitch. “Finally”, I thought “finally we’re getting advanced topics”. Nope. She showed a finished CS’s hem compared with hems finished by two rows of stitching and a twin needle. She mentions the drilling needle, but again doesn’t show it in use. She does mention that you need 3 thread sources. Do you know any beginners? Their next question is “how do I set up 3 thread sources?” No clue from this class.
Chapter VII was titled “Edge Finishes” but should have been “Neckline Bindings”. She showed two common neckline finishes: the wrap around binding and the folded double binding. Each was sewn with a single needle at the sewing machine with the mentioning that the folded double binding could be finished by the serger. What’s advanced about that? What’s beyond the basic about either technique? BTW two different people asked if the neckband could be serged to the neckline in one step. At the time I took the course, their questions appeared to be ignored while several below were each answered. During this chapter she demonstrated how to measure the front neckline; indicated the back neckline should be similarly measured; the two measures added together, multiplied by 2 and then multiplied by 7/8. I’m here to tell you my personal experience. If you never use anything but 7/8 of the neckline total circumference you are doomed to encounter floppy or too tight neck bindings. The length depends entirely upon the stretch of the knit and the effect you want to achieve. This is a “it depends” question. Myself, I cut a long piece, fold it in half and baste it to the neckline. I often adjust the final length after pressing the binding into place and checking to see how it lays and slips over my head. I never trim or sew into a circle until I’m satisfied the binding lays the way I want it. A flat 7/8 won’t work most of the time. If you’re going to give beginners instructions, I think you owe it to them to explain somethings are “guidelines” that need to be adapted for each fabric. Give ’em the truth. It’s better than the tears they’ll shed as they throw away 9 out of 10 T-shirts because the neckline sucks.
The final chapter is a “Bonus” “Sewing a Simple Garment”. Wait, what happened to beyond the basics? I sat through how many hours of boring basics and now we’re wrapping up with how to sew a simple garment? (It was simple. It was her eshrug which you must buy and download. It is a lovely simple knit garment. But there’s nothing beyond basic about it or the sewing it.)
I saw not one single advanced technique. Nonetheless, this is a good class for a beginner especially if taken after the Tilton Sisters T-shirt class — with one cravat. I think it’s import to cover stretch not only as it relates to the body(i.e. make sure most stretch goes around the body) but as it applies to choosing pattern and fabric and maybe even what size you should be cutting. Typically a new sewist thinks she wears a RTW size 6 and that’s the size pattern she should buy. She needs that sizing and stretch bits of information even if it is confusing and sometimes hard to explain. That’s why she needs a class that demonstrates rather than talks or is written on the back of the pattern envelope.
This is NOT the class for an advanced sewist. It was a waste of both my time and money. Keeping in mind this is not a bad class. My issue is that I was expecting an advanced class, What would you do?