Thursday, May 24, 2012

Teachers... OR... There is ALWAYS SO much to learn... part 3 of... ?

One of the great joys of learning a craft like sewing and design, is that every time you learn something new, your eyes are opened to an entirely new level of what more there is to learn. It seems that garment-making can be an everlasting pursuit, and, for those of us who love the challenge, that is terribly exciting. In New York City, we have the amazing benefit of being around such incredible talent and knowledge. While we want to absorb it all, it can be hard to find the right classes, books, and teachers. I can only scratch the surface here, but I will share what I have found below. We are as individual as snowflakes, and each of us gravitates toward a different kind of learning experience and environment. Hopefully, if you are looking, you will find your match here... In an earlier post, I described a few programs offered by the big name schools in this city, and the most well-marketed programs I know of. These are the easiest to find, and likely the first thing a web search would reveal. After writing this post, I received a very helpful comment from Ashlee, who teaches at The Sewing Studio.
As an instructor at The Sewing Studio I can assure you we do offer an awesome array of beginning and advanced sewing classes. Our full class listing and all registration is done on our website, There are specific office hours for admin staff to answer calls since we are a small studio, so our website is the most comprehensive source of info and through email is the best way to receive a quick reply to any questions.
Thank you, Ashlee!

Private Teachers
When it comes to private teachers, they generally operate under the radar of search engines and broad advertising. Teaching is a very time consuming, specific, and personal pursuit. Preparation time is significant, and once a well-qualified, talented teacher gets started, it can be hard for others to even get a space in their classes. Sharon Butler
This very talented corset-maker and clothier in Manhattan is currently transitioning from private teaching to teaching groups of students in a space yet to be determined. In the meantime, she is taking inquiries to keep potential students informed as she establishes her schedule and location(s). Sharon has more than a decade of professional sewing experience both in teaching/ tutoring sewing to private students, and sewing for private clients. You can find out more about her on her website, and/or you can follow her blog
Cindy Chock
Cindy is a very focused, serious professional costume and clothing maker, who teaches private students in small groups. With more than 30 years of industry experience, she is a force to be reckoned with. You can find her contact details here. Kenneth King
And then, there's Kenneth King... a powerhouse of over-the-top glamour, and vibrant sewing personality. There is simply too much to say, so I'll post the link to his classes, books, CDs, etc. right here. Susan Khalje
If it fits in your budget and lifestyle, you can hop on a plane, and take a class with Susan Khalje. You can go with her to Paris in November, or remain stateside, and attend any of her other teaching events. Explore her whole site... there's a lot more.
I could list many classes you can take, if you want to travel, but I'll stop here for now. More info to cover.... Online classes
Now, let's say you really want to learn professional techniques on your own time, in the comfort of your own home. There are many programs you can follow, in many different price ranges. You will need to get in touch with the individual programs to get more details, but here is a list to get you started:
Lifestyle Learning Direct: Fashion Design and Dressmaking
Academy of Art University: Online Fashion School
Free Online G Fashion Design Courses, Classes and Learning materials
Online Fashion Design Courses-Distance fashion Design Courses
Pattern Making, Fashion Design For Clothing Online Courses
Start a Clothing Line” Start a Clothing Line Fashion Course
College of Fashion Design

Deep cleansing breaths...

How's that to get you started?


  1. I've worked with Sharon Butler on a private basis and would happily take a class with her. It will be fun to check out her new website.

    I've had an FIT class with Kenneth King and hope to take some more classes with him. A few times a year, he teaches draping and fitting classes at a Bayside, Queens sewing center. I've been trying to get to one for a while.

    King and Susan Khalje have in the past taught a small group class in New York. I met someone who attended and was very happy and have read positive reports on the web. Khalje also has an online couture sewing class about which I've read nice things.

    New York Sewer

    1. Great input! Yes, the New York Sit and Sew got great reviews - I just don't know if any more are planned. When you look at their schedules, that doesn't seem too likely for the very near future.

      I've been to the Bayside store, but never for one of his classes. (I happen to be very close to the owners of the competing store across the street - full disclosure)

      I do know Sharon personally (Susan and Cindy, too), and they are all quality people, which is the foundation for being a great teacher, right?

    2. I always like to provide feedback when I can. I appreciate the info. I only wrote about people I know or have heard about through people I know. I'm sure everyone you recommended is fine.

      Without doubt, having an encouraging teacher is critical. All the folks I discussed are.

      Some home/self- sewers don't understand that fitting is a very complex skill that requires experience, judgment, and taste. Even if you got an A in a draping or pattern making class at a respected fashion design school that doesn't mean that you can quickly fit an ordinary person, much less yourself. At minimum, you need a customized form.

      I went over to Sharon Butler's new blog (new to me at least) and laughed upon reading that she'd had to tell some students that she was a designer or teacher, not a surgeon. A good teacher will provide a tactful reality check and help you find a shape that will flatter.

      Kenneth King once told my class a very funny story about having to be brutally blunt with a client who was insistent on a look that would not have worked for her.

      New York Sewer

    3. Encouragement is vital, and I have had teachers in the past who were on both sides of the tact line. I do have some good stories about those times, though! But truly, some students need a tougher approach. It is incredible how many people come to me for dressmaking services invoking celebrity names like Beyonce or Kim Kardashian... as if the clothing is responsible for their figures! Add to that, that "flattering" is often a matter of opinion, as much as we'd like to believe it is fact. I do try to work with what a person wants, as well as offer advice I think will help. I appreciate your input. Valid points!


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