These were the days before YouTube and the Internet, and how-to books from the library read like stereo instructions. My best bet was personal instruction. I eagerly signed up for a "sewing 101" class at my local community college.
I still remember how excited I was on my first night of class. The room was full of a lot of other women my age (at the time that would have been about 22-23) that I chatted with in-between instruction. They were great fun and we all had so much in common. I left my class eager to come back the next week.
A few days later I got a letter in the mail. Apparently this class was too full and to even it out they were switching me to another class held by a different teacher. It was disappointing, but I figured the other class would be just like the one I was in...so no big deal.
The next week I arrived at my new class and was more than a bit surprised. From the looks of it, no one in this classroom was below the age of 65 (including the teacher). When I walked in with my sewing machine in hand the entire room was watching. But the teacher came and introduced herself to me right away, and made me feel immediately at home.
I learned quickly that this class was going to be far different than the one I had previously attended. There was no step-by-step beginner instruction through our patterns as there was in the other class. The reason for that was simple. Every woman in that room was a veteran seamstress. When I say veteran, I'm not just talking about their years behind a sewing machine. They were expert tailors and some even had been costume mistresses. (And made a point to mention that they were NOT quilters. Ahem.) They used this class as their own personal garment sewing club. I was the only beginner in that room.
The weeks that followed were magical. I had a room full of kindly instructors who were more than happy to patiently stop their own work to give me guidance. Before long I was a really confident seamstress myself. I finished one project after another and eagerly signed up for another term with "my ladies" after the first one was complete. Those ladies gave me so much more than sewing skills with their encouragement.
I really can't recall why I didn't sign up for a 3rd term. Who knows...life when you're 23 blows you around like a leaf in the wind. So, I never saw those ladies again. But I've sewn on. And every time I begin a garment sewing project, I think of them. Always I do.
The reason why I'm bringing this up is because my mother just gifted me with a dress form and a couple books on tailoring. Last Saturday, as I was adjusting my form to fit my figure and cutting out pattern pieces, the ladies were in my head. I cannot remember their names any longer, and the faces are fuzzy...but their words haven't left me. The advice, the tips and tricks, and the encouragement. I want to get back to doing more garment sewing for myself this year, and they are definitely coming along for the ride.
Thank you ladies, wherever you are.