Discussion Topic: Sewing Videos

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This week’s discussion topic: sewing videos. Do you watch them to learn new techniques or get help with a tricky part? Are you a video learner, gobbling up what you can on YouTube and sewing-related websites? Discuss.

When I started sewing again several years ago I watched videos whenever I was stuck on something. I found them really helpful, in fact. I don’t rely on sewing videos much anymore, but I do watch how-to videos all the time for digital and social media-related things.

Here’s another question about videos: Do you ever pay to watch sewing videos, like those found on Craftsy or Explore sewing classes on Craftsy   make amazing clothesCreativebug? Or do you prefer to stick with sewing videos you find for free on YouTube or elsewhere. You can argue that the production values and content are better in the videos you pay a fee to watch, but maybe all you need is a quick 3-minute technique video. Discuss.

Last question: What kind of videos could we produce that would enhance and benefit your sewing experience? So far we’ve done several pattern collection videos, and have a new one coming soon. We always get requests to create how-to videos for MPC_logo_centered[1] white space 125x125individual patterns, but when you produce as many patterns as we do, it’s hard to choose which pattern(s) to make videos around. Suggestions for McCall Pattern Company videos you’d really want to watch? Discuss.

Speaking of videos, have you seen the new video series McCall’s designer Melissa Watson is doing in conjunction with Fabric Mart? They’re all about fit:

We recently shared this Chanel jacket video on our Facebook page, but if you’re like me you want to watch it again and again:

We look forward to reading your comments about sewing videos. Thanks!

We've been sewing since 1863.
52 comments
  1. I struggle with plackets and collars, for example, and while I can search you tube, I think you could highlight a couple of tricky steps that may be difficult to illustrate in pattern instructions sheets. So when you rekease a new pattern, you can direct the buyer to the corresponding video, using that same pattern in the short video. I would love such and upgrade to patterns, not as complete as a sew along, but just a couple of clips showing the trickier bits.

  2. I looked at Melissa’s video in conjunction with Fabric Mart which was interesting. However it was really irritating to see that the checks/lines of her top were not in alignment across the bodice and the sleeves, the colours were so strong, it was unmissable. Surely that is a very basic styling point, or am I being super picky ?

    1. More to the point, what does your comment contribute to the discussion at hand?

      1. I suspect that she means that quality is important and distracts from the content.

      2. I noticed that same issue immediately. I guess what we are saying is that if you are going to teach something you should look like you know something or maybe that she should have picked a different garment to wear on camera to shoot the video.

  3. I’d love to see videos on different techniques, such as a rolled hem, French seams, etc., or videos on sewing different types of fabrics, such as knits, velvets, laces, etc. These types of videos could be useful with various patterns without doing a video specific to an individual pattern. Also, a video series on types and uses of different presser feet would be fabulous!

    1. I second this! It’s a fabulous idea.

  4. Would you please post a link to the Chanel jacket video on Facebook? I can’t seem to find it.
    Thank you

    1. The Chanel video is watchable from the blog post…did you try that?

  5. Would love to see a video actually showing me how to ADDNIG A BUST DART for cup sizes larger than a B & related fitting tips, using the slashed pattern method or any others that might exist. It would be helpful to see the adjustment, how it’s measured, then cut, then sewn, and the end result on a model. I’ve seen still pics on websites but a video would be great. Also a discussion of which garment styles are most or least suitable for a bust adjustment. Thanks!

  6. I belong to a Crafty addicts FB page. Need I say more? We always are sharing videos and recommending classes.

  7. Technique videos are better than sewalong videos for specific projects, and include the links to these videos in pattern instructions. I’d also like to see videos on fitting, particularly on fitting non standard figures, how to read the wrinkles and how to adjust patterns

    1. I agree with Geri, I’m a non standard size and I find it hard to get fitting tips on my fit needs. Between fitting my own body and learning the more difficult techniques.

    2. I also agree with Geri and Shaneka. I would like to see videos on fitting adjustments on you own body. How to make adjustments when you are the one making adjustments on yourself. The videos really help me alot.

  8. I love craftsy, and find it to be of great help. I´ve learned a lot of things with their videos. Thats actually my favorite!! Im very interested to be able to learn how to sew different shoulder pads for tailoring, and I buy a lot of sewing patterns also, just love them!!

  9. I would like to see videos on specifics examples being how to make the best bound buttonhole, or the easiest/best way to make a placket, the best method for hemming various fabrics, and etc. Someone else mentioned one on the different sewing feet and how to use them, I would watch those as well.

  10. I watch Craftsy the most. I find them professional and I like the instructors answering questions. While some instructors are better than others, they all are pretty good. I’ve tried Creativebug but didn’t care for it. Some of the videos were good some were too homemade. YouTube is ok but I don’t have any favorites when it comes to sewing. Maybe high light a few.

  11. Fit videos for curvy bodies

  12. I remember watching another Chanel video showing how the classic jacket was made called The Secrets Of the Little Black Jacket by Chanel:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIYSW9_CCCI
    This one and the one above really compliment each other

  13. I’d like to see videos of updated or alternate techniques that aren’t in the pattern instructions. Setting a sleeve in flat; finishing a facings; alternatives to facings; using a server, etc. I think that would be interesting and helpful. Some of the pattern instructions rely on outdated methods.

  14. I’ll cut to the chase – I won’t be paying for any more videos. I did once, and it was a decent Craftsy “course,” but I won’t be watching it again. So, in my view, the cost of the Craftsy video was more than the value of the content. In any case, on the rare occasion that I do watch sewing videos, it is for short tips and usually on Utube.

    Is McCall thinking about making for-pay videos?

    1. That’s Youtube : )

    2. No, we don’t have any plans to make for-pay videos. We just wondered if there was a marked perception that the quality/content was better when you paid for videos.

  15. Personally, I love Craftsy videos. i was given a Gift of two classes, otherwise I may never have known how good they are, but now I continue to pay and watch. Its the production quality and the app features (taking notes, asking questions) that really make it. Being able to really see somebody do a technique makes a thing so much clearer, and makes me much more likely to tackle something totally new, like sewing a tailored jacket.
    I certainly watch the odd quick technique video on blogs, etc, but I get real enjoyment watching the longer videos.
    For you? I think you’re on the right track with videos about fitting. Rather than specific patterns, how about tackling issues that apply to several patterns. Eg: princess seam adjustments, that can be demonstrated with one pattern but applies to several others.

  16. personally, I love Craftsy but love all videos elucidating technical points.

  17. How I learn- pattern drawing have been great for me – it is less time consuming than watching a video. I don’t need a video on a specific patten.? Possible videos on. Specific techniques – diiferent seam finishes, plackets or fitting issues.
    I would like a video on introducing new products or the user of similar products in real applications.

  18. Sewing used to be a lonely world as none of my friends sew and many just don’t get the excitement that I get from buying fabric, connecting with people via instagram and and making a garment. I have discovered sewing YouTube videos that give so much information and guidance/tips. So now my sewing get world is no longer lonely. Now i am stretching myself trying different ideas. Haven’t tried craftsy videos yet but will do as I have purchased an overlooker/serger and it’s still in the box, I am too frightened to use it

  19. I enjoyed the fabric mart sew along video because it combined fabric info w/fitting tips. I actually prefer sewing blogs to Craftsyvideos. The info shared freely encourages me to sew. I find women with similar figure issues often w/wonderful step by step solutions. And I learn just as much from their mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes and keep on trying. Professor pincushion free videos allow me to spend more money on patterns & fabric.

  20. I’m strictly an amateur sewista and I am retired and I don’t need so many changes of outfit these days, so I need reminders (I seem to be a visual learner for crafts and sewing) of how to accomplish particular techniques each time I start a new project. I have several Craftsy videos. I have all of the Palmer Pletsch books and videos and I do find them to be the best for making me feel that I am not a freak for having a unique body shape. I am really grateful for that!
    Nice soothing videos about which of your patterns would suit busty larger older people would be appreciated. This is the biggest stumbling block for me these days.

  21. Since you asked, and I really love how wonderfully supportive and responsive McCall has become, here are my answers. They may not be typical. I have been sewing for 37 years and consider myself to have advanced sewing skills.
    1. Many moons ago, when I was learning to sew beyond the bare-bones basics, I videotaped every sewing show on PBS (remember VCRs?) and used them like on-demand classes. I must say that I learned most of what I use daily from Nancy Zieman. I have always relied more heavily on books, but sometimes you really need to SEE a thing done. Nowadays, I use internet videos occasionally to brush up on techniques that I haven’t used for a while or are “tricky” and I’ve forgotten the “trick”. I usually look for the shortest video I can find that just shows the technique without background information or basics more suited to beginners. I very often watch videos (and read blogs and reviews) of the latest fashion patterns and love to see them interpreted in different fabrics with different details.
    2. I did once get a free Craftsy quilt-block-of-the-month class. It had a lot of nice features and the production was very good quality. Since it was free, I didn’t mind that 90% of the content was for beginners. I occasionally look through the latest Craftsy and CreativeBug offerings, but haven’t seen anything I would pay for… yet.
    3. The videos and blog posts showing features and details of the designer samples are marvelous! I’d love seeing more of the samples you and the designers have made up of the latest patterns. Even though I’m far past the age when short skirts, low/wide necklines, and very fitted garments are flattering to wear, I do love looking at pretty clothes! So, fashion shows… yes! Also, I am in love with (and avidly collect) the reproductions from decades past, and would love some closer looks at the clever details that make them so wonderful.
    So, that’s the view from here. Hope it is helpful in some way.

  22. I also watched a lot of “Sewing with Nancy” when I was learning to sew, but also relied on books. I’m cheap and don’t like to pay for videos. I watch technique videos, fashion videos, and sew along videos. I love them all! I had spinal problems last year and lived vicariously through sew along videos when I couldn’t sew myself. I am more likely to buy a pattern that has a sew along video available for it. I check this blog almost every day for new content. I also teach sewing at a local fabric store and love to have videos to recommend.

  23. I think everyone really enjoys the fashion previews videos with each season release.

    I am sure there are ones that would like to see the basics perhaps the ‘see and sews’ patterns. Maybe you could use your most sold patterns as video examples. Even still you could poll like the sew along.

    However, I think where you are in your sewing skill will determine what they watch. I would love more of the fine details of an advanced garment like the Chanel jacket.

    You will have to determine the audience you want to focus on either.

    1. Learn to sew

    or

    2. Take it to the next level sewing…..

    Also be perpared for the….. ‘ Thats not how you do that’ ……there was recently a BIG debate on Pattern Review as to what the basics should be, including the importance of pressing, and in the end everyone agreed to disagree for the most part.

    I would say whatever you put out make sure to check and recheck the details and whoever the instructer is they should be at least advance if not expert level. HTH 🙂

  24. I’ve just purchased my first Craftsy classes, so we’ll see on that front ….

    I’m pretty picky with regard to production quality. For instance, I won’t watch any of the clever “Pressinatrix” videos from Ann @ Gorgeous Fabrics because of the damned background sound. It drives me insane.

  25. I watch Kenneth King’s zipper fly tutorial (part of his Craftsy Jeanius class) and his welt pocket tutorial (again Craftsy – Designing Details: Pockets) every time I sew a zipper fly or a welt pocket. I actually like seeing how something is done in a step by step way that you just can’t get from a book (as much as I love my sewing library). I like that I can go to just the “chapter” for the technique that I want rather than having to watch the whole class.

  26. I have quite a few Craftsy classes and like the techniques classes the best. I love your pattern collection videos – keep them coming!

  27. I am HUGE sewing video fan! I have purchased several Craftsy classes, I watch PowerSewing with Sandra Betzina, Nancy Zieman and Peggy on their PBS shows and youtube regularly. These are just the major ones but I’ve watched a few others besides. I prefer video to books although I have a few books for quick reference in my sewing room if I’m just too tired to do some sewing I sit and watch a few videos. I’m excited to read there are more coming!

  28. When I wanted to learn to sew there were very limited resources. Local sewing shops either taught classes on quilting or very basic “how to sew pajama bottoms” classes. For more advanced garment construction there was practically nothing hands on or visual. I bought many, many books which were helpful, but when I got the Islander sewing videos from my local library my sewing went to a whole new level. I love video instruction. I have about a dozen Craftsy classes and am delighted that they continue to offer more advanced garment sewing.
    I love your blog and always find your posts interesting and helpful. I also love the pattern collection videos. Thank you!

  29. Since you asked, I don’t watch video how-to’s and don’t find them helpful. As one of the commenters made, most are directed to beginners. I will admit to trying to finish my housework and errand to be home in time to watch “Sewing With Nancy” but I tune out if it is about quilting, which is most of the time lately. My favourite part of the show is when she showcases other sewing folks and their work. As far as paid for videos, I haven’t paid for “a class” more because I rather do my own research and that consists of pulling out my collection of sewing books (I’m ol’ school like that). I rather sit at the table and read different methods of tackling a projects passed on over the decades (I refer to vintage and present-day books) to figure out what I think will work for my pattern and fabric. This gives me an opportunity to take a break, have a tea and makes a plan. That said, I will admit to watching a video that came with the book on the Cardigan jacket by Claire Shaeffer that I find quite enjoyable. I’ve yet to make one though. Now, listening to podcasts, there is another topic and love.

  30. I have obviously misunderstood the term ” stable knit” based on the examples in the Fabric Mart fit along video. What is the opposite of a stable knit? (Unstable?) What are some examples?

  31. I love Craftsy! I think my favorite classes were the Suzy Furrer series, since I’m interested in drafting and learning how to manipulate some core patterns that fit well. I like the ability to follow along and replay parts, plus it’s neat to be able to ask questions to the various teachers. I usually stick with teachers I’ve heard of before ( Kenneth King, Katherine Cheetham, or have written a book that I own ( David Coffin, Barbera Deckhart). Since I could never afford the costs to take a workshop with them, this works for me.
    I only hope they can keep the ‘access for a lifetime’ promise.

  32. I would love to see a video for putting the placket in on McCall’s 7094. It is such a cute top but the instructions for the placket are confusing.

  33. Recently I searched for a good video on how to put a gusset in a kimono sleeve because I didn’t want big baggy sleeves, but something reasonably fitted to my small size. There were many available infos and a video or two, but not very good ones. Maybe you could add one clearly explained. I did see that you have a kimono pattern , Vogue I think. BD

  34. I love the videos from Peggy Sager (Silhouette Patterns), sometimes for sewing tips and sometimes for inspiration.

    I go back to the Welt Pocket tutorial over and over again: https://youtu.be/YiutLenc-ic

    I have & like Craftsy vids, but spend more time on youtube.

  35. I love videos! They are especially helpful when using a specialty foot – like the blind hem foot, or the buttonhole foot, etc. It’s also helpful for newbies for trickier techniques – like collars, setting in sleeves, etc. You know what would be really great? If patterns included a URL to a video for some of the trickier steps in a pattern, or one of those icons you can scan with your phone or iPad to link to a demonstration video. I prefer to watch videos for specific techniques rather than sew-alongs.

  36. I was so excited to see this post because, yes, I LOVE sewing videos. I am a beginner sewist and I use them for everything. I have purchased around 7-8 Craftsy classes to get some techniques under my belt and sew a few projects. In my opinion, there are already plenty of tutorials available on YouTube about isolated techniques such as ‘installing a zipper’, but there are barely any videos made purely to inspire and guide, such as videos showing one pattern and how it works with different fabrics or different finishing techniques. As a beginner, I need a pattern to capture me from its cover design, because at this point in my sewing journey, I am unable to see the pattern’s potential to be something other than the picture on the front. The same goes for fabric on the bolt. I am incapable of imagining it in garment form, and struggle to make the right choices. My favourite sewing videos at the moment are by SewOverIt on YouTube. She does fabric hauls, which give me fabric inspiration (because I see fabrics I don’t care for being turned into beautiful garments that I have to have right now) and pattern inspiration (because I see a pattern that doesn’t appeal to me in a fabric I like and suddenly I have to buy the pattern and make that exact garment right away). I would also like some more guidance about when to use certain techniques such as French seams or Hong Kong seams, or when to add a pleat here and a tuck there. I feel so lost in that aspect of sewing. There is so much to know and I really don’t know how to go about gathering information for the things I don’t know I should know, if you see what I mean 🙂

    I want to thank you all at McCall Pattern Company for being so incredibly supportive and can assure you that it has had a huge influence in securing my loyalty to sew McCall patterns. I didn’t even realise you had a whole range of videos, and I am so excited to have the chance to binge-watch them all.

  37. I enjoy videos on fitting. I have paid for craftsy classes and do enjoy them more because of the level of information given vs youtube tutorials. I think it’s equally important to have both, quick hits and detailed videos with instructions.

  38. I love listening to youtube video while I sew. I do own quite a few Craftsy classes, but I only did a trial version of the creative bug platform. (I didn’t like the commitment). I wish there were more sewing videos on Youtube, and I appreciate all of the McCalls videos. Thank you for going though all the effort to produce them!

  39. I far, far prefer to consult a book to solve sewing problems, than to look at a screen. Or, I’ll work it out with a muslin. Or, I’ll meet with an actual human being. I can leave a book open at the right spot, and it doesn’t move. It doesn’t go to sleep and require me to remember the password to refresh it. I can flip pages faster than moving forth and back on a video screen. And if I spill something on the book, it won’t cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace.

  40. “Threads” website has some useful videos. You might need to ne a “Threads Insider” subscriber, but an anuual subscription is quite reasonably priced.

  41. I really appreciate the tissue fitting videos that are available on YouTube. I have just become interested in garment sewing, and before I have only done quilting. Adding on the three dimensional aspect and seam finishing, not to mention understanding a pattern, choosing the right size, etc. is a bit overwhelming. I like Melissa’s videos because she methodically shows each step in a slow, but not painstaking, way. It has given me the confidence that if I go through all the trouble, I will end up with the garment that looks great and fits me well. I went to my local library to find the book she recommended, “Fit for Real People.” This is a very good resource, more than I can use as a beginner, but I think I will buy it, and as my skills grow I will use it more and more

  42. I need more instructions on reading McCalls pattern instructions. I am working on McCall’s Fashion Accessories M6297 bag C. Instruction 7. Do you bast the bottom of the bag. I did on my practice bag, but not on my actual bag. 15 took me all day to figure out, and then when I did the back side it was hard even the second time. When it says “stitch” does that mean seam allowance width? When it says baste, is that also the seam allowance width? Layout for Tote C. I don’t understand on piece 8 it says it is to be on the fold. But the dirctions have you flip the pattern over and cut 2 pieces not on the fold. I did not do it that way. I cut both on the fold. Also # 9 is supposed to be cut on the fold and the lay out does not have it on the fold. I figured a way to do it but the layout does not make sense. As you can see I am a new sewer, and I need to have some one go through a more complected pattern and explain it. I have watched numerous videos on patterns and none of them cover these types of questions.

    1. Hi there! I don’t have that particular pattern, so I can’t answer all your questions. I can tell you that when you “baste” it is to hold something together temporarily. You can either use regular stitching inside the seam allowance where it will not show after seaming, or you can use long stitches that you will remove after seaming. “Stitch” usually refers to sewing along the seam line with a stitch length that will hold the seam together permanently. As for cutting out your pattern, I usually go by what is written on each pattern piece rather than using the layout diagram. Bags are not always easy to make because of multiple layers, tricky areas like corners, and having to sew without catching the wrong layers in your stitches. I would imagine it is difficult to write instructions for them, as sometimes it isn’t clear what you’re supposed to do until you’ve done it! Anyway, keep plugging away. I’ve been sewing for over 35 years and I still learn something new with every project! You might want to check at your local fabric and sewing shops to see if there is a sewing or quilt guild in your area to connect with people who can give you hands-on help.

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