Learning to sew is a very good action to take nowadays -- you shield yourself against the rising cost of quality clothing by being able to sew your own. It's also a valuable skill if you want to go into textile-related industries, such as pattern making. However, sewing techniques are only one part of actually knowing how to sew. The field includes more than putting pieces of cloth together to form something. Here are some additional skills and knowledge you'll need to make that leap from knowing how to sew to being a full-fledged sewer/sewist.

Customizing a Dress Form

Dress forms are those dummies you use to form and fit pieces of clothing. You can pin fabric to them to get a better idea of how printed patterns or colors might look together or use them to make alterations. (These are available for both male and female figures.) However, you need to have a dress form that accurately represents the people you'll be trying to fit.

You must learn how to customize a form and how to quickly adjust the form if you're fitting multiple people. (You also need to know when to get multiple forms instead of creating zillions of customized measurements that you constantly change on one form.) If you're fitting one person only, like yourself, customizing is easy; take your measurements and pad the form so that it matches you. The Sew Country Chick blog has a helpful suggestion: After you've padded up the form, take one of those form-fitting or shaping tank tops and place it over all the padding, to smooth everything down.

If you're sewing for multiple people, you'll need to have kits, for lack of a better word, that you can add and remove quickly for each person. Learning how to adjust the form results in better-fitting clothing.

Sewing Machine Repair

You're not going to have to know everything about fixing sewing machines, but you've got to go beyond threading needles and changing spools. If you sew a lot, your machine is going to reach the point where it needs some care rather quickly. Instead of bringing the machine to a repair shop and being without it for a while, you can keep sewing if you know how to diagnose problems and make at least minor fixes.

Ergonomics for Sewing

Don't ignore how you sit and stand when you sew. Sewing requires a lot of odd movements, from the twisting and craning you do when taking measurements to the constant sitting at the machine (or when you're trying to hand sew, remaining very still to help with accuracy). All of this can lead to joint and muscular pain as well as repetitive stress injuries.

Pay close attention to what is recommended and how you feel as you try to get through sewing something. If you find a point where you begin to feel overly tired or physically stressed, that's a sign you need further ergonomic adjustments at that phase of the project.

Sewing is a valuable skill, but it's also one that requires wide-ranging skills that enable you to be more independent and to keep going instead of having to rely on others to help you. Learning how to adjust the forms, fix a machine, and keep yourself healthy while sewing are essential. If you're taking sewing classes, talk to your sewing teachers about where to learn more about these aspects of the field if the classes you're taking don't already cover them.