Pentamom brings up a great point about the difficulty of sewing; all too often, it's virtually impossible for inexperienced, or even fairly experienced sewers to turn out a decent product for a decent price. Why is this? Well, I'm going to go back to my "mantra"; we've confused cheapness for thrift, and we're (pun intended) paying the price.
To illustrate by an example; my wife started sewing as most do with patterns and fabrics from "big box" fabric stores. All too often, the instructions were byzantine, the patterns weren't fit to a typical real person, the fabric had a skewed grain and leaked dye (ruining whatever pattern there was), and as a result we became convinced (tongue in cheek) that the big box sewing stores were actively trying to kill the hobby by selling junk. We spent quite a bit of time deciphering poor instructions, correcting them, and dealing with poor choices in fabric.
Then we started listening to older seamstresses on the subject, and heard the phrase "everybody eventually repents of using" big box store fabric. We bought a quality sewing machine and serger, started subscribing to Creative Needle and Australian Smocking, and....believe it or not, didn't spend that much money doing it. It's about the same amount of money most guys want to spend on their lawn tractor, or a little less, even.
The result? Yesterday, my two oldest daughters, as part of their home education (home ec is a subject, no? ), decided to make a couple of empire dresses for themselves, and the eldest (age 9) got hers done except for the final sleeve and a couple of finishing touches with little help from either her mother or myself.
The difference? We bought a good pattern, and we're using good fabrics that don't "fight" the seamstress. Here's a link.
Oh, and with good patterns, we're getting the hang of pants, too. Older books on sewing have a LOT of good stuff on the subject.
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