Disclaimer: Although I am a Craftsy affiliate, I purchased this class on my own. This post contains affiliate links. These are my honest thoughts and opinions.
Good morning, friends!
Today, I’m sharing my experience with Heirloom Sewing: Essential Techniques by Susan Stewart. As soon as I saw this class on Craftsy, I knew it was one that I wanted to take and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The instructor was a designer for Martha Pullen and is a frequent contributor to Sew Beautiful magazine. Both Martha Pullen’s site and SB magazine are great sources for heirloom sewing inspiration.
I love heirloom sewing techniques and have been working on incorporating them in my garments. Many of them are classic touches that add unique embellishments to your handmade garments and to me, are techniques that don’t need to be saved for treasured heirlooms. I’ve added insertion lace to three garments so far (Broderie Anglaise Birthday Dress, 1920’s Egyptian Revival silk georgette dress, and Linen and Lace Sutton Blouse), but it was nice to see the “correct” way to do it. I didn’t follow any tutorials when I started using insertion lace and instead looked at photos and figured out how to do it myself.
At first glance, it might seem like this class is mostly for children’s heirloom sewing as seen by the smocking on the dress featured on the cover photo. This class does include a lengthy section on smocking at the end, but the rest of the class is more about techniques other than smocking. My only issue with this class is that the instructor is a bit condescending when discussing fabrics and seems to assume that those taking this class don’t know about fabrics other than quilting cottons. I would think that anyone taking this class would be at least an intermediate sewist with knowledge of different fabrics.
Lesson 1: Introduction to Heirloom Sewing
- Intro to recreating the look of French hand sewing by machine, a discussion of which fabrics and patterns to use.
Lesson 2: Sewing Lace
- The instructor shares and explains different types of laces and which ones will work for heirloom sewing and which thread and needles to use. She shows you how to sew lace to fabric and lace to lace and which stitches to use and how she used these techniques on a garment. One of the techniques that she demonstrates is the same way I sewed the lace on my 1920’s silk georgette dress (which is not one of her recommended fabrics as it’s not easy to sew these laces with).
Lesson 3: Sewing Entredeux
- I learned what entredeux is in this section. I’ve been told previously [by seamstresses and those at fancy lace counters] that it was called insertion lace, so it was nice to learn the correct term. Insertion lace (as she mentions in Lesson 2) is one I previously just called “lace”, as opposed to edging lace, scalloped lace, etc. In this lesson, she shows you how to do the insertion lace techniques that I’ve used previously in my Broderie Anglaise dress, which uses entredeux.
Lesson 4: Lace Shaping
- I found this lesson to be really interesting as she shows you how to make designs with your lace and shape it into scallops, diamonds and even a heart shape. I really can’t wait to try that one!
Lesson 5: Tucks and Pintucks
- I’m not new to sewing tucks and pintucks, but I liked watching how she does it. She shares tips on getting them perfect and shows you how she’s used them on garments.
Lesson 6: Shark’s Teeth
- This is a really interesting technique. She studied garments with this embellishment and learned to do it herself and shows you an easy way to do it. It’s definitely not as complicated than it looks.
Lesson 7: Madeira Applique
- Madeira applique is a fine Portuguese handsewing technique that she shows you how to do with freezer paper, water soluble thread and your machine. I have tried doing this in the traditional way, but wow, her technique is much easier and much more precise.
Lesson 8: Cathedral Lace Windows
- This is probably the most complicated section of this class, but she takes you through it step by step utilizing some of the techniques she taught in previous lessons. It was really cool to watch how she did this and how she used it in on a bag without lace and a garment with lace.
Lesson 9: Introduction to Smocking
- I’ve never done smocking before, but it seems like I’ve seen some easier ways to do it with pleating boards and elastic bobbins. She used a pleating machine that pulls all the pleats together and makes it pretty easy if you want to buy one of those. She also shares some other ways to do it as well before she gets into the embroidery. Granted, I’ve never done it before and it looks super tedious to me as well as not being something that I would wear. It looks so beautiful in the end and is truly what I think of when I think of heirloom sewing for little girls and babies.
I really enjoyed taking this class. Heirloom Sewing is one that I could watch again and again and it was truly inspiring as I thought about which techniques I’d like to use in the future. This is probably my most favorite Craftsy class that I’ve taken, but of course that’s probably as it’s fun to watch and certainly gets the wheels spinning in my head as I plot garments for my sewing list. It also is wonderful to learn from an expert and watch her create the most beautiful things. Some are time-consuming, but well worth it in the end.
Happy Heirloom Sewing!