Craftsy Course Review: Sew Smarter 30 Professional Tips

I was interested in this course for 3 reasons.

  1.  The advertising promised a section on matching pattern to fabric and vice versa
  2. The advertising promised help with sheers and difficult fabrics
  3. The instructor is Katrina Walker the same instructor from Craftsy’s  Decorative Seams (I don’t seem to have reviewed this course).


#1) Has always been and continues to be  one of my bugaboos.  I have just had 2 failed projects which I attributed to using the wrong fabric for the pattern. I was simply delighted that  Lessons 1 and 2 Katrina waded right into this mess.  Katrina does a really good job of summarizing fiber types and discussing the differences that weave can make. Her demonstration of drape is excellent. I especially liked the comparison between silk right off the bolt and silk which has been stabilized with a generous application of starch. Katrina shares several other tests to help you decide how your fabric will handle and maybe the best use for it. She’s bringing your attention to how a fabric reacts to pressing, wrinkling and under the needle.  It’s the first time I’ve heard someone talking about “sewing ease”  from the view-point of how difficult this fabric will be to sew.  When I was taught sewing, we were expected to just “know” what a fabric would do.  Maybe it really was simpler when the only fabrics to be had were cotton and wool (silk was considered to fine a fabric for novices to tackle.)  KW emphasizes testing and evaluating the fabric in these two lessons; even to the point of testing darts, tucks, pleats or any detail that your garment will require.  It’s refreshing really. She doesn’t expect you to just know what to do, but rather to discover what your fabric will do and what you need to do so your finished garment will look like the picture in your head. She shares several yummy garments during these Lessons. Many of which I’d love to have in my closet and yes they would be suitable for a range of ages and lifestyles.  Did she help with my issues? I think the thing that helped the most was her confession that she is a clothes horse and is always in a hurry to get her garment completed so it can be worn.  In that confession she said her failures are usually a result of hurrying the testing.  In a way it reminds me of TerriK who says she (Terri) spends more time planning her garment than sewing.  Perhaps this advice to slow down, is something I could take to heart.

Lesson 3 Darts and gathers was not particularly helpful for me.  I sew my darts much the same as KWs and have my own thoroughly satisfactory methods of gathering.  I was quite interested in her use of a silk square at dart points and the fact that she sews fish darts from the center out. That means, you sew the darts twice because you have to return to the center and sew out to the other point. I seldom use fish eye darts and hope I can remember her procedure just to try it. I like to experiment.  The silk square is sure to be added to my repertoire.  Numerous times, I’ve wanted to reinforce darts, pockets or places or strain. Now I know to save those scrapes of thin silks and cut them into bias squares. I plan to stack them in the sewing box next to my machine. Precut and at hand, I’m more likely to use this technique.

Lesson 4 Tricky patterns, Curves and Corners

By Tricky Patterns, KW is referring to plaids and large prints not to tissue patterns.  I prefer my own methods of handling both plaids, patterns and most curves too. But her handling of inset corners is well worth trying.  I won’t share the whole procedures but I will give you a hint: prep and top stitching. I can’t wait to try these out.

Lesson 5 On the Edge

This is one of those classes I endured. I preferred my own methods of doing things but made it through the class once so I know I didn’t miss anything. Her presentation is fine. Her ideas are fine. I just like mine better.

Lesson 6 Caution Construction Area Lesson 7 Finishing

I’m lumping these two classes together but assure you, there is tons of information in both lessons.  I made lots of notes I plan to use.  I’m embarking on a goal to master sheer fabrics. KW included many seam and hem finishes that would be appropriate, were even recommended for sheer fabrics. I was especially pleased when she defined the goal of seam for sheers as “strong and looks good from both sides”. Yes! I can handle that. I was really pleased to see 4 different seams and about the same number of hems that will be useful with not just sheers but other contrary fabrics.  Many of the things she shared, I already knew. The biggest value of these two lessons  is having all the information in one place. I made a detailed list but I can also easily return to just the two lessons if I need to review. (With my senior memory, that’s a good thing.)

I’ve been sewing and taking sewing classes for longer than KW has been alive.  It is difficult to find a class which teaches me anything  new.  Often, I’m happy for a good demonstration and only 1 new idea. To find a class which discusses two of my continuing problems and provides multiple solutions is amazing.  KW’s instructions are clear both verbally and visually. One of the things I liked about KW both in this course and the Decorative Seams  is she uses correct terminology.  Maybe it’s just me, but if you are representing yourself as an expert, I want you to talk like an expert. .

A few times I did think the demonstration contained too much detail. I was surprised that I needed to watch her chalk the approx 24″ seam lines of both sides of a proposed garment. Please, if a person needs that amount of detail, they don’t need to be in this class.  This is an advanced class. A few demo marks and switching to already chalked garment pieces would have been better.

Overall, I give the course 2 Thumbs Up!