A lot of my sewing friends are curious and have asked about how my sewing class went, so I thought I would share my experience. I took Industrial Sewing at my local college alongside another course which will not be discussed (because drama).
First, my teacher was amazing. She’s worked in “the industry” for decades. By industry, they’re referring to clothing manufacturing.
Industrial Sewing is part of the Fashion Design associate’s degree. My program is a patternmaking certificate, but there is obvious overlap. Most of the students in the class were only there because it’s required for both Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising. With the exception of two other girls, nobody had used a sewing machine at all, or they claim they haven’t used it since they were children.
On day 1 the teacher had everyone sewing on industrial Jukis. There was very little explanation, and everyone seemed to get it… eventually. We used cones of Gutermann poly thread only (similar to what they sell at Wawak.com). There were sergers available, which we also began using the first week. The Juki sergers PURRED. They are amazing. My home serger, a Brother, seems so clunky and loud and sloppy in comparison, but one benefit to a home serger is that it can be threaded in under 20 minutes. The teacher even had trouble threading these beasts, and it took forever. The kids in the class were CONSTANTLY not leaving tails and every other time you would sit down at a machine, despite the warnings they gave us, the sergers would be unthreaded. They also had a coverhem, but apparently nobody was allowed to use it until they have taken the knits course. There was also a dusty mid-arm on a frame in the back of the room, but nobody knew anything about it and apparently it’s rarely used.
For buttonholes, there’s an older Bernina available. Nobody liked it, which surprised me because of Bernina’s good reputation. Students preferred putting a buttonhole foot on the Singer or the Elna even though it didn’t look quite as neat. The Singer and Elna were there for zig-zag stitches and buttonhole needs, but nobody sewed on them for regular sewing, either.
Knitting machine in foreground
This was only half of the studio, it took up two very large rooms.
Another benefit to the program is that there’s open lab days where students can come in and sew whatever they want or work on homework. There’s even knitting machines available if you have taken Textiles I. It’s staffed with instructors to help you with whatever you’re working on, be it drafting patterns, knitwear, homework, sewing for yourself, etc.
We had several main objectives: sew a traditional blouse, draft and sew a skirt of our own design, sew a little black dress, and make a sample book of stitches. I was in the “advanced” class which meant it was half a semester but we met twice a week so it was at a faster pace. The first project was the blouse, which was the most difficult. I’ve sewn lots of tops before, but we had to do different techniques to show what we learned, so there were different types of finishes on everything. All of the muslins were cut in the industry standard size 10. The patterns were not pretty like the indie patterns I’m used to, there are no markings except notches and holes for everything, and nothing was marked front/back/collar etc., you had to figure it out which was good in sense that we all learned. We were given an Order of Assembly and the teacher demonstrated. We started immediately, baptism by fire. We also had to make a sample swatch with every machine stitch, hand stitch, dart, hem, seam finish, closure, and facing that we could ever possibly use and keep it in a binder.
I learned so much, and I am sure I pestered the teacher by asking her every question I have bottled up since I started sewing seven years ago. Some points that really stick out to me that you can take away are: that 1) pretty much everyone doesn’t follow or know the “right way” to make sure you’re on grain, and I will post their method soon; and 2) never use a permanent marker for tracing patterns because it’s “too thick” to be accurate; 3) neckline facings should be cut in three pieces to make sure they’re all on grain or else you’ll have an ever harder time getting them flat, 4) If you’re closing a dress with a zipper, there really needs to be a hook and eye above the zipper to keep it closed; 5) tailor tacks are SO EASY and better than chalk marking IMO; and 6) nobody there knew the beauty of the rotary cutter and everyone pinned and cut with scissors.
The follow-up course, Advanced Industrial Sewing, will have us make stand-up collared shirts, a Chanel-type jacket, and trousers.