Now I know what I don’t know now



Hello everyone,

I had dinner last night with my wonderful mum who is an avid blog reader and avid sewist (rediscovering her skillz) herself. She was saying that I should start doing tutorial posts advising on various techniques, like other esteemed bloggers. I replied that I would definitely like to do that in future, but I had to, y’know, learn the techniques first. Cart before horse and all that. Then she said, why don’t you write a post about all the techniques you don’t know? As weird as this sounds, I thought it was a jolly good plan. Because as a beginner, there is a LOT that I don’t know. But I do know what I don’t know, which is a large step forward from when I started. Then I knew nothing at all. Now I know at least some of the things I need to know.

This blog post is beginning to sound like a weird version of 2 Unlimited.

“Know know, know know know know, there’s know limits….”

 No no limits, we'll reach for the sky! No valley too deep, no mountain too high No no limits, won't give up the fight We do what we want and we do it with pride

No no limits, we’ll reach for the sky!
No valley too deep, no mountain too high
No no limits, won’t give up the fight
We do what we want and we do it with pride


I thought I would write a list of the things I need to learn to become DEAD PROFESH and then I could revisit this every now and then and tick things off with a smug flourish.

So here is The List (in a kind of stream of consciousness order fresh from my brain)

  • Blind hems
  • Lapped zips
  • Trouser flies (you know for jeans)
  • A full lining for a dress
  • Pin tucks
  • Sewing with silk
  • Hand embroidery
  • A proper bag
  • A coat
  • Adjusting/upcycling ready to wear
  • Using a clapper
  • A shirt with a proper collar
  • Welt pockets
  • Puffy sleeves
  • Making my own bias binding
  • Using piping
  • Slash and spread grading
  • Narrow shoulder adjustment (that works)
  • Shirring
  • Making a cuddly toy
  • Using a French pattern (!)
  • Drafting my own pattern
  • A men’s tie
  • Knickers
  • A bra
  • Scuba/swimsuit fabric
  • Lace

Are there any other skillz I have forgotten that I need to know to become DEAD PROFESH? Which of these do you think is the hardest for a beginner? Which is the most fun or useful?


14 thoughts on “Now I know what I don’t know now

  1. Hm, the things on your list vary a lot in difficulty. For me, there are some less useful (blind hems and pin tucks) than others (sewing with silk, swimsuit fabric or lace and lining a garment).
    In my opinion, the most useful would be the ability to grade a pattern.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good Morning from Texas! Thank you so much for blogging, I’ve really enjoyed your writing. How about a hand bound button hole? Or a hand welted button hole? I know, the machine can do them, but I feel that understanding the manual technique for things you might normally do by machine (like a hand-picked zipper or bound button hole) really helps you improve your machine made items.

    I myself am fairly new, only been at it for a year and a half or so. If I may offer general advice, plan on it taking you two to five times longer to complete a project than you would think. Nothing I think is more frustrating to a new sewer than the self-imposed time restriction. (But I believe you’ve touched on this subject already.) And for me learning this took even longer, as I prefer couture and heirloom techniques to boot.

    As for the class, I think it can’t hurt, though I haven’t taken that particular class. I would also recommend either Ms. Cheetham’s other classes (bust and hips) Or Barbara Deckert’s Plus Size Sewing (which really is a good class for all size sewers I found.) If they interest you, the Couture Dress class (an excellent section on dress linings and lapped zippers), The Classic Tailored Shirt class and Pants Fitting and Construction classes were also most helpful to me. I feel these instructors offer a lot of technique that you can carry over to other sewing projects, not just the particular type of project they demonstrate (which for me of course is the whole purpose of learning technique over “a project”.) For instance, I always flat-fell my pajama bottom seams now, which I learned from the shirt class. I always put in my zippers by hand because it’s so fast and easy which I learned in the couture dress class, not to mention lining any garment I wish whether it’s in the pattern instructions or not. Or having no fear about adjusting a pattern however YOU need to to make it look well on you – both the plus size and pants fitting classes emphasize this.

    In the end as you know the most useful techniques will be the ones that will, firstly, give you the finished garment you want, and the ones you take the time to learn well and practice often. I hope you enjoy the grading class and will tell us about it in future!

    P.S. A quick note from a “plus-size” sewer; be very careful about how and why you grade your patterns. I can only wear plus-size RTW, and by my measurements I’m plus-size – my first sewing teacher pushed down a plus-size rabbit hole and I still had terrible looking clothes. I finally looked into it myself and realized (with Vogue’s help no less – go figure!) that I’m simply a petite with a very (very) large bust adjustment and a very large derriere adjustment, no “plus-size” patterns were needed. I spent a lot of money buying too-big patterns and far too much time grading up patterns when that wasn’t what I needed at all. If I can save anyone else the money and trouble of the wrong path I’d like to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hellooooo Texas! Lovely to have you here! Thanks so much for all this useful advice: it’s brilliant. I have the Barbara Deckert book: she is brilliant, and I have signed up for the Couture dress class too. This is fascinating about flat felling: I’m going to add that to my list! And I’m very keen to learn about putting in zips by hand and dress lining. There is so much to learn! Thanks also for the tip re: grading up. I think I am possibly the opposite to you: generally plus size all over, just with small shoulders, but it’s possible that I am not! there is so much to learn when it comes to fitting! I will definitely feedback on my classes 🙂


  3. i think the hardest would be doing a collar. but i’ve only tried one or two, & the instructions i had were pretty substandard, & the finished result was less than great. i bet it would be way easier with better instructions.

    i shirred denim for a high-waisted skirt & it was awesome. i’d never shirred before & the lady at the fabric store was all, “it’ll never work with denim.” but it did & it looked perfect! i was like, “i will now shirr all the things!” i was happy to learn how to do that because so many kid clothes are shirred. we’re swimming in hand-me-downs, but if i ever feel compelled to sew for my daughter, that’s one basic kid-sewing skill checked off the list.


  4. I’ve been sewing for about 2 years, and I still haven’t mastered (or attempted!) most of the things on this list, either! But I do agree with Friederike that some things are more useful for beginners to learn than others. I’d say things like pattern adjustments and handling multiple types of fabric are difficult, but very high-priority.

    Some of the things above can be learned pretty quickly, if you practice! Blind hems, lapped zips, etc. will make more sense to you the more times you try them–you can do it!


  5. I love your list. There are mnay things on it that I have never tried and I have been sweing for decades (on and off). The skill I think that takes things up a notch is fitting. I have a hugemungeous bust and gave only recently attempted proper FBAs instead of making tents. Fitting yourself is a nightmare, I wish I had a “fit buddy” but if your Mum sews she should be able to take all the fiddly measurements for you and you can build up a picture of what you look like in 3-D. I am off to play the tape measure version of Twister! Xx


    • Hahahha yes. I should do this with my mum. I was thinking that making duct tape mannequins of ourselves would be the most hilarious mother/daughter activity ever!

      I think FBAs are the key to amazing sewing. I need to master them properly ion conjunction with narrow shoulder adjustments


  6. Oh I love your list, Rosie! Things like flies, knotched collars and dress linings used to drive me crazy, I’d find myself with things half-bagged through tiny holes in the seam and completely turned around as to what was going where. I think that taking the time to visualise the whole process before embarking is really helpful, along with the inevitable practice and patience.

    Puffed sleeves and slash and spread grading are super easy and satisfying though. Once you master those you’ll be puffing and spreading errything!


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